So my father turned 68 this year. I thought it would be a nice gift to give him my tractor lawn mower and a few other items that I knew he could use that I simply no longer needed. The main issue was getting the tractor to him.. I mean this thing aint small and I no longer have a truck.. I decided the best bet would be to rent a truck and haul it to him.. It's a thousand mile trip from my home in Texas to his in Tennissee and I didn't really look forward to that drive in that truck.. I certainly didn't want to make it twice! So I also loaded up my Motorcycle with the plan of riding it back.
First to the truck; I rented a Penske 16' truck and told the lady on the phone what I wanted to do. She didn't seem to care, even though once I got the truck they label on the wall said no gasoline powered vehicles.. shrug I told her what I was planning to do, so as far as I was concerned I was okayed to do it.. The mower was out of gas anyway and the motorcycle had very little in it.. I think their intent was to keep you from causing a fire and that was my intent too, so all was well..
Loading everything into the truck was a bit tough since the wheels on the mower were wider than the ramp hehe.. but once in the truck everything was fine.. I had LOTS of room to spare, but it was the smallest truck I could get.. ( and the cheapest)
The reason I rented Penske was because they were down right cheap compared to everyone else, and the truck was a nice one for the most part.. Extremely minimalistic and it seriously needed cruise control.. but other than that it was a good truck. I was able to rent it for $230.. U-Haul wanted almost $900!!! The other places I called were either just as expensive or wouldn't let me take the truck out of state.. Yay Penske! You just earned my business..
Once I got everything loaded up I headed out.. The trip to TN from TX was fairly uneventful.. I ended up not leaving until around 6pm just due to circumstances beyond my control so I knew I would be driving kind of late.. Around 2am I decided I was tired and needed to stop.. I only got about 450 miles.. The second day I got up at 9am and made it the rest of the way, getting to their house around 9pm their time. I wish that truck didn't have a speed governor in it.. It flat out wouldn't go faster than 75 miles an hour, unless you were going down hill. And at 80 miles an hour it would kick in an engine break and you'd slow down no matter what!
Over the course of the next several days I got to hang out with my father, step mother and step brother.. It was a nice time.. We didn't really do an awful lot, just visit mostly.. We went out to eat a couple times and went walking through the sprawling metropolis of their small town (it took about 15 minutes..hehe)..
And of course I got to play with Maggie (the dog) and Bella (the cat) when they would tollerate me. Maggie was just about never there but rather out trolling the neighborhood, Bella was a constant bundle of energy and was quite amusing to watch.. Kittens always are..
I kept telling Dianne I was gonna take bella home with me =) I might have too had I known it would have been a sure fire way of being kicked out of the family.. hehe Bella seemed pretty attached to Dianne.. So much so she followed her around like a shadow..
The only down side about the whole trip to be honest was how tired I was.. I have no idea how Ed drives all day long like he does.. Driving long distance wears me out.. I think partly because it bores me, but traveling in general just makes me tired.. The truck drive up there in the rain, in a vehicle I wasn't really comfortable in, going someplace I had never driven to before..etc.. only served to tire me.
Add to this now the fact that I would be sleeping the next 3 days on a pull out sofa bed that had a bar strategically placed to keep guests from overstaying their welcome, and that generally speaking my folks get up about 2 hours before I do and you begin to see the issue.. I just didn't get much sleep.. I was tired to begin with, sleeping on an uncomfortable and foreign bed, in a house that isn't mine, with folks who get up before I normally do ..etc.. I was doomed to be tired.. hehe
My wife actually commented to me on one of the few occasions I had cell service while up there that I looked completely zonked.. She was amazed at the bags under my eyes.. I didn't really realize it until I saw the photos.. Man I was tired.. I look aweful.. (More than normal..)
I did finally get to ride the cherahala skyway on my motorcycle which is something that my folks have been after me to do for a while. It's a very very pretty ride with tons of other bikers up there for the view and the fun of it.. Bikes of every kind going every which way up and down a very twisty road..
It's just gorgeous.. My favorite area is the Bald River Falls area, which technically isn't on the skyway but rather a turn off of it.. its a nice long ride (18 miles or so) where you pretty much have a cliff face on one side with forest and what not, and a drop off on the other side with a river running down it.. No guard rails for most of it and the road gets down right narrow on a few parts of it.. People drive way too fast down that road, down all roads in TN to be honest.. I almost got ran off the road once when a pack of about 10 Honda S2000's zipped by me doing some sort of group run..
I stopped at Bald River Falls and took a bunch of photos, most of which came out nicely but you see one picture of forest you've seen them all.. The falls itself is very pretty.. The image I have included is a large picture for those that want to use it for something..
I would have stayed out on the road longer and taken my time but it was raining.. You can't see it in the falls picture or the road picture, but it was down right wet.. The weather was the pits the whole time I was there.. It was always sprinkling at the very least or a full blown gully washer at one point..
I spent time with dad talking about wood working and he showed me how to make a bowl (that was cool), but we got trapped out in his shop by the rain. It was raining so hard while we were out there that we could pretty much just look at one another, the metal roof kept us from talking (or rather from being heard..) but I got to see him rough out a bowl on his big lathe, that was pretty neat. Ed took pictures of it and I hope to get them from him so I can post some.. it was an interesting process.. Makes me kind of want to try it.. I just don't have the lathe, or the money to get one..
Eventually I realized that I needed to ponder heading home.. My original plan was to wait until it stopped raining and drive home then.. Yeah its a week later, and its still raining up there.. One look at the forecast and I knew that the whole "wait for the rain to stop" plan wasn't going to work..
So I went the other route; Take extra days getting home and go slow. Motorcycles in the rain aren't nearly as bad as most people think.. Put on enough rain gear and you stay quite dry.. infact, I never got wet at all even though I drove through about 600 miles of wet weather..
The issue really is the water on the road and the big trucks.. You know how when you're driving down the road in your and there is a big puddle that you can't avoid, you throw up a bunch of water and kinda hydroplane for a few feet.. yeah that's bad on a bike.. Also the big trucks that throw a lot of spray, also bad but for different reasons.
So I intentionally left a day early with intent to take my time getting home.. And while the road was wet and it was raining nearly the whole first day, it wasn't bad at all.. I never felt in danger..
The first day I ended up driving 650 miles before I just had to stop.. I had to stop not because I was wet, or tired.. but because I was SORE!
My lower back was complaining loudly as were my knees.. Other than that I was fine.. I was in good spirits, I had my audio books and music to listen to and the bike was eating up the road like no tomorrow, but my back and knees were barkin' and I had to raise the white flag..
I stayed at a motel on the side of the road (A days inn I believe it was) for the night and then started over again in the morning.. The next day it didn't rain a single drop and it was beautiful the whole time.. I got home faster than it took me to get there!
On the one hand I felt bad because I had left a day earlier than I had originally planned, but on the other I was glad to be home.. I missed Melissa and it was nice to come home and give her a hug.. (shrug She smells good..)
I'm 100% thankful for the "Throttle meister" my motorcycle has.. The fellow who had the bike before me spent the extra $200 to put what amounts to a cruise control on the bike.. Thank god.. Holding the throttle open for over a thousand miles would have killed my hand.. Primarily because the throttle has a fairly stiff spring and is resisting being turned.. as it should.. The throttle meister basically holds the throttle open for you..
The second thing I'm thankful for is my bikes gas milage. It cost me $58 to drive 1055 miles on my bike, and that's buying the expensive gas.. It cost almost that much for one tank full of the cheap stuff on the truck drive up there..
All in all it was a fantastic trip.. I very much enjoyed the time I spent with the folks while up there, and had a hell of a good time on the ride home.. My initial reaction upon getting home was to think; "Dear god I'm not doing that again any time soon".. primarily because I was sore.. But upon reflection, I was only sore for a day.. I would do that trip again..