Life on the frozen tundra of South Dakota Life on the frozen tundra of South Dakota

08/23/2013 Through 08/27/2013

08/23/2013 Through 08/27/2013

In planning this year's trip, for a while I was seriously toying with trying to make it to the Tail of the Dragon in Deal's Gap, NC. Looking at the map and planning a route, I figured out that with this trip I could add many new states to my map (I've got a goal of travelling to every continental U.S. state by motorcycle.) That was an exciting proposition. Unfortunately, to be realistic it would take at least six days to make this a viable option. Seven days would be even better. I'm not yet at a point in my life where I can get away with a trip of that magnitude, so I had to come up with another option.

Thinking about my goal of riding to new states, I came up with a shorter (but still long) route that would take me through five new states: Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Indiana. This route wasn't about riding to a particular destination as much as it was just riding for the sake of riding. In fact, upon my return I was surprised with how few pictures I took on the trip. Many of the days were just long stretches of riding with little to see.

When mapping my route I did try to pick a few interesting places that may not have been exciting enough to make a destination in and of themselves, but would be worth riding through on the way.

Back in 1982 my family took a trip to Tennessee to visit the World's Fair in Knoxville, and on the way we spent the night in a motel in the Land Between the Lakes in western Kentucky. I don't remember a whole lot about the area, but it looked interesting on the map so I ran my route through it.

On the way back I thought it might be interesting to ride along the west shore of the Mississippi river from the Quad Cities in Iowa all the way up to LaCrosse, WI.

In plotting my route I discovered an interesting turn-around point would be Muscle Shoals, AL. This is the home of the legendary FAME recording studios, where many legends in the music industry have recorded. Muscle Shoals is mentioned by name in the song "Sweet Home Alabama." So I added that to my list as well.

I have a few friends that live in Nashville, so I thought it would be nice to pass through there as well.

Given the length of the trip, I decided to add an evening to the length of the journey. Working my route backward on a four day plan would have meant I needed to make it from Sioux Falls to Paducah, KY in one day. While physically possible, that would have been one long painful day. I decided to leave the evening prior to my first day and knock a couple hundred miles off the ride to Paducah. This meant an extra night's hotel stay, but I decided it was worth it.

Speaking of hotels, once again I chose to stay in them versus a tent. I guess I'm just getting old as the thought of laying on the ground in the heat wasn't appealing to me. I'm not saying I'll never do it again, but this year I opted not to.

Another thing I did different this year was to not make hotel arrangements ahead of time. For some reason I was hesitant to book and pay for a hotel before I knew for sure I would be where I originally planned for the evening.

A week prior to leaving I serviced my bike with new oil, transmission oil, spark plugs and cleaning the air filter. I also fixed my driving lights which I noticed had stopped working at some point in time.

The day I left I did go ahead and make hotel reservations for my first night. With everything prepared I just had to wait to get off work on Friday.

Continue on to day one...

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