2016 – USA (week 2)

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17th September 2016

This is the start of week 2 then. I left Maryville with the morning sun shining brightly and started heading west along Highway 321 before continuing along Highway 70 towards Nashville. Not as stunning to drive as roads earlier in the week but I bowled along nicely.

My plan was to visit Nashville but as I got close the sky darkened and i felt a few drops of rain. I stopped and put the half tonneau on and my jacket and continued on. A few minutes later I could see lightning in the distance – not good. A short time later the heavens opened and the torrential rain came down. I could hardly see where I was going and I was instantly soaked. The rain continued on, eased off then came again. I decided that Nashville was not going to be any fun under a heavy storm in wet clothing so i decided to push on. I made sure my route avoided any motorway and continued on. At least is was not cold so as things eventually eased I dried out quickly. At least I did from the waist up as I was sitting in a puddle.

I was getting low on fuel so I needed a gas station. What I didn’t know was that there was some sort of pipeline problem affecting this part of the USA and there was a shortage of gas! I pulled in at the first gas station – no gas. I pulled into the second gas station – no gas. I was on 0% on the gauge for some time before the third gas station – No problem. Phew! I filled up and also filled up the spare fuel canisters I was carrying that I had planned to fill for when I get further west and gas stations are further apart – just in case!

Things gradually dried up as I got towards my hotel near Oak Grove Kentucky. The roads dried up, the car dried up but my trousers didn’t. My things should be fine by morning. The weather looks good for tomorrow.

18th September 2016

I woke up to bright milky skies this morning. It was dry and quite humid. I ate breakfast off a polystyrene plate and loaded the car. I drove away from the hotel and settled into my seat for the 239 miles I have planned today. My route to St Louis could have been a very boring Interstate but I think I have planned a more interesting route along the backroads. I say backroads, but most of these roads are wider and smoother than most of the roads back home.

I follow the road to Hopkinsville before turning off north westwards on the 91. Not a bad road and I bowl along quite quickly racking up the miles in pleasant sunshine. At Princeton I cross Interstate 69, glad I am on a different route. After I pass through Merion I arrive at the Ohio river dividing Kentucky and Illinois. No bridge this time, I cross on the little ferry while chatting to yet another biker interested in the Morgan.

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The little place just over the river was called Cave in Rock. Guess why? I went to take a look at the cave where a scene from How the West was Won was filmed. There was a nice little restaurant so I stopped for lunch.

It was now very hot and humid (at least for a Brummie) and I pressed on for St Louis. The roads flattened out and the hazy sky cleared. Less humid but the sun was strong. I didn’t want to get caught out again so at 50% I started to look for a gas station to fill up. I found somewhere on route in Mt. Vernon. I took the chance to get a cold drink for myself and to call home before continuing on again. As usual the stop was extended as more bikers turned round to look at the car. Very nice people as always and I promised to put their photo up on here as they are going to take a look. It was nice meeting you today…

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I push on to St. Louis and arrive in time to see the sun set after I check in and cool down. Very nice hotel tonight right by the arch.

19th September 2016

The highlight of today was very high indeed. I went to the Arch for 9.00 when it opened and went straight in and up to the top. The ride up is a little strange as the tiny pod into which 5 people are squeezed changes tilt as it rises up. 3 minutes later you are at the top of the arch. The windows give spectacular views of the city and of the Mississippi river 630 feet below. It is definitely worth a trip up if you like views from high places.

After the inevitable shop, I loaded up the car and off we went. After going round in circles for a few minutes while my sat nav sorted itself out I was heading out of St. Louis. Once away from the city the road to Jefferson City was quite good, fast and flowing. I was surprised at one curve when a tortoise was crossing in front of me. With traffic coming the other way I managed to thread him between the front wheels while also missing him with the back wheel. That must have been close!

The afternoon drive was not as interesting with long straight roads into the sun. It was pretty hot and I stopped several times for a drink and to cool down both me and the car. Having told the sat-nav to avoid the highways i drove through downtown Kansas City. With a number of diversions, this was very hot and I was glad to be heading out of the City westwards to my hotel.

20th September 2016

Sometimes on a long trip you have days where it is just about getting the miles done. Today and tomorrow are such days. My limited time for this trip means I have to have a couple of days like this. The roads are straight, the countryside is flat and it is H-O-T. The temperature outside one restaurant I passed was reading 103 degrees this afternoon. I broke the day up with a few stops as I make my way across the plains of Kansas but nothing very exciting. I am now at WeKeeney. Not much to report about here. I am looking forward to getting to Denver when the second part of this trip really starts.

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21st September 2016

Just over 300 miles today and I find myself in Denver. That is the longest planned distance in a day for this trip. I avoided the Interstate where possible today taking back roads where possible. A few light showers were visible as I drove and I passed quickly through a couple. I was travelling at speed so didn’t get wet.

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The roads were mostly long and straight. I was surprised when I came over the top of one crest to find two huge trucks side-by-side as one was overtaking another coming straight towards me. Maybe they hadn’t seen me coming because I am so low but they were travelling quickly and no way was one going to get in front of the other before they got to me. I stopped on the shoulder and they hurtled past. I had plenty of time to get out of the way as the roads are so straight but unnerving none the less.

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Eventually the mountains became visible in the distance so after several days of flat driving I am looking forward to getting into the mountains. Lets hope the weather remains fine.

22nd September 2016

I woke up this morning feeling very homesick and missing my wife and daughter. I suddenly feel a very long way from home. However I am looking forward to the day ahead heading up into the mountains.

The journey through Denver was not the best and I was glad to be heading for the hills. I was soon on the Mount Evans Highway on a perfect sunny day. My timing could not have been better with the trees changing to their Autumn colours. What a fabulous display of colour. They are predicting strong winds in this area tomorrow so it looks like I have chosen the best day of the year for todays route.

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I wind upwards to over 12000 feet on Mount Evans. The views are movingly beautiful and wow, how fresh was it at the top. The temperature difference was considerable and the wind certainly had a chill. You could also feel the altitude walking around.

I continued westward and even the time spent on the Interstate was enjoyable through such amazing scenery. I really enjoyed Glenwood Gorge as the sun was getting lower and changing the light at every turn. I really didn’t want to reach my hotel tonight – the sign of a great days driving.

Glenwood Springs is my base for tonight. Rain is forecast for the morning so I may take my time before setting off tomorrow. Apart from the storm around Nashville I have done very well with the weather so I can’t complain.

Today has certainly been a brilliant day in the mountains.

23rd September 2016

What a day of contrasts today. I woke to the rain that had been predicted. It was heavy and persistent. I took my time over breakfast and got my waterproofs on and checked out. I moved the car under the hotel front porch to load up so at least I kept my seat dry.

It rained continuously for at least an hour. I missed my full face helmet that I have used in rain before but didn’t bring with me this time. I had one nasty moment when I hit standing water at about 50 mph and aquaplaned for a few yards before regaining control. First time I have experienced that in the 3-wheeler even after all of the wet miles I have done. I keep a lookout for standing water from then on.

The rain gradually eased and by the time I got as far as Grand Junction it had stopped and clearer skies could be seen ahead. I had a coffee and dried off. I continued on my way without the tonneau or waterproofs confident I wouldn’t need them again today. The road out of Grand Junction was pretty rough and I could see a shower ahead. I stopped and put the half tonneau on and my jacket. I glad I did because within 10 minutes I was hit by a shower of hail. Hail is not nice at any time but without a full face helmet it really stings. Luckily it didn’t last long and a few minutes later I was under clear skies.

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I took route 128 which picks up and follows the Colorado river towards Moab. It gives fantastic views of the red stone landscapes of this area. I chat to several people who follow me into viewing spaces to look at the car including a photographer from Moab Action Shots who has put up a post about me on his Facebook page.

The road towards Moab was breathtaking. I’ll let the photos tell the story. You can hardy believe that I was driving through hail an hour earlier.

Moab tonight and then heading south for a change tomorrow.

6 thoughts on “2016 – USA (week 2)

  1. Hi Richard,
    Looks like you are having a good run. If I read your map correctly, it looks like you will be in the SoCal area on the the 27th. I think you mentioned that you are having a service at MorganWest, traffic getting to MorganWest is horrendous so be prepared. Traffic in LA is awful at any time of day. The offer of lodging still stands although my wife said to mention that this is our summer place and technically a cabin in the woods. We do, however, have a good Mexican Resturant that makes excellent margaritas. Check your map for the “Peak to Peak” highway out of Denver, another good road! Let me know when you get close and I will forward my phone number.
    Best,
    Roland aka rolsmith

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  2. We had a hydro planing incident in the rain in Oregon last May. We wound up spinning out in front of a Truck and then sliding down a grassy slope into a grove of pine trees. I am absolutely amazed that both we and the car were unscathed. Be careful out there!

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