After a fun day at the MOA Rally, Karen and I pack up and start to mosey our way back home.
Day 3 – Hangin’ at the Rally
I started the day by getting up in time to attend a seminar on touring Newfoundland. The presenter is a resident of the island and had great information on how to tour both Newfoundland island and the Labrador mainland portion of the province. I’ve wanted to tour Newfoundland for years, so I took copious notes.
After the seminar I found Karen and we decided to skip the limited breakfast offerings from the food vendors and wait for lunch.
We proceeded to visit all of the vendors, starting with the outdoor ones and finishing with the indoor (i.e., air-conditioned) ones. During the vendor perusal, I realized that I spent more time chatting with vendors for products I already had than I spent shopping for new stuff.
- Vanson – I’ve worn one of their jackets since 2001.
- Metzeler – I run their tires (Roadtec 01) on the Nightowl.
- Clearwater – I have their Krista lights on the Nightowl.
- Sena – We use their 20S headsets for rider/passenger intercom.
- Shoei – We wear their Neotec helmets.
- RKA – We use their bag liners on the Nightowl.
- Iliumworks – I have their engine guard and highway pegs on the Nightowl. I found out that I could buy just the peg and attached tread, which is good since the rubber tread on my current peg is wearing out.
On the new stuff front, we picked up a few T-shirt’s from the MOA booth. I also took at good hard look at the National Cycle windscreen for the K1600; I may need to pick one of those up (If it weren’t so damned hot I would have bolted one on the Nightowl for a demo ride). At the Sena booth, I mentioned that we were having chronic problems with our old 20S intercom units and jokingly asked about a special upgrade price to their current 20S Evo units. (My unit was starting to allow water to ingress during rainstorms, and I’d already used JB Weld epoxy to repair the flimsy 20S antenna… twice.) The Sena crew chuckled but then mentioned that one of the other booths has a few units in stock and would probably give me a good price. I took the advice and ended up buying a dual pack of Sena 20S Evo intercoms for a very competitive price. I hadn’t intended on performing the upgrade until the end of the season, but this will (likely) eliminate the chronic intercom problems during our upcoming trips to MISFIT and Yellowstone.
We also had a great chat with a motorcycle tour organizer from New Zealand. The tour they offer definitely sounded first class, but also cost over $10,000 (US dollars). Something to look forward to after Karen and I win the lottery.
With our shopping complete, we had lunch and spent the remainder of the afternoon wandering around the fair grounds.
Just before dinner time, the closing ceremonies began and all the remaining attendees gathered on bleachers for prize drawings and presentations. The riding demonstration was pretty cool and the prize drawings started lively enough, but there were so many and most of them were tour certificates that demanded that the crowd sit through a video (or two, or three) before the drawing. I get that we need these sponsors to be able to promote their products, but near the end of the ceremonies, the MC said the words, “…we ask that you watch this short video…” and the crowd let loose with an agonized groan.
The good news is that Karen one a 10-day motorcycle tour in Colombia (South America). Unfortunately, she’s not really interested in going and we’re not sure if they’ll let us transfer it to me (or someone else). Still, it was cool that Karen won something so expensive. (All I won at the Fontana Getaway was a nice MOA hoodie.) We’ll see how the Colombia thing works out.
We found BBQ for dinner at one of the vendors and hung out in the beer pavilion until it was time for sleep.
Day 4 – Crossing Kentucky Towards Home
For the trip to the Rally, we were moving with purpose. The route was mostly super slab and was crammed into an evening (after work) and just over half the next day. For the trip home, we had two full days to wander around in a general northerly direction.
We were decidedly not in a hurry.
The previous day, I’d briefly scoped out a route that stayed away from major highways and included a lot of dotted roads (scenic routes, according to Rand McNally). We hadn’t planned where we would stay that night since we really had no idea how far we would get.
By the time we woke up and started breaking camp, most of our neighboring campers were long gone. We hadn’t started quite early enough, so we lost our morning shade shortly before I was done packing the tent. It was another hot day and even standing around in the sun made you sweat. I was lucky to get the bike packed (especially with our extra shopping wins) before I got heat stroke.
By the time we started the Nightowl and rolled through the fairgrounds, we almost had the place to ourselves. There were only a handful of riders still packing up, along with one guy who was dealing with a dead battery. He said he had a power pack but had to dig it out. Now in full leathers in the direct sun, we didn’t hang around to see if the power pack worked.
We headed north to Westmorland and turned east on TN52 across the northern edge of Tennessee. I had originally intended to turn north on TN61 just east of Celina, but I pulled the trigger early and turned north on TN56. I didn’t have the route committed to memory and my preferred route app, Waze, doesn’t do multi-waypoint routing. I guess I’ll have to switch to Apple Maps or Google Maps for these situations.
The early turn ended up providing a bonus. After winding my way across the state line into Kentucky and the pleasant little berg of Tompkinsville, I turned northeast on KY100. KY100 ended up being a nice road with very little traffic, plenty of scenic views, and more than a few strings of technical curves to devour. I did see a few bikes on this road, so maybe it’s not a secret. Still, if you’re in the area, KY100 between Tompkinsville and Waterview is a nice diversion.
We turned east on KY90, crossed the Cumberland River valley, and stopped for lunch and gas in Monticello. I was hoping for a local sit-down restaurant/cafe/diner/grill but the only one we saw was a steak house that looked rather busy. We settled for personal pan pizzas at Pizza Hut.
After feeding ourselves (and the Nightowl), we continued east on KY90 until we turned north on US27 into Somerset. This time I actually remembered the necessary turns to take in town to exit the city northbound on KY39, another dotted road that I chose from the Rand McNally app.
The main route between Somerset north to Lancaster is US27. That makes KY39 a secondary (tertiary?) route that has very little traffic and plenty of character. Even the town names along the route sound interesting: Bandy, Dog Walk, Crab Orchard, and Preachersville. KY39 didn’t have the same curviness and elevation changes like KY100, but it was still fun to ride. We saw plenty of small farms, a few fruit orchards, and one guy pissing on the side of his mobile home. Like I said: plenty of character.
Turning east at Lancaster, we made quick time of KY52 to Richmond. About the time we passed the tiny community of Paint Lick, I noticed that we had climbed a bit and had a good view of the surrounding hills towards the horizon.
In Richmond, we passed the Eastern Kentucky University campus and into the center of town. Once again, I successfully remembered the secret handshake with the local roads to exit town on the desired route. I’m not sure this one even had a highway number (388 perhaps?) but it follows a railroad track before switching to follow a deep river valley lush with greenery and full of humidity. It terminates (on the north end) at Fort Boonesborough State Park.
Turning right from the state park, we found our selves northbound on KY627, which took us to Winchester. The heat of the day in full leathers was taking it’s toll on us so another stoplight festival through downtown Winchester was not something we wanted. Luckily, I was able to take the “bypass” route around the west end of Winchester. This bypass doesn’t maintain it’s four-lane convenience all the way to the north side of town, but if you stick to the road on a long tour of a business park, you will end up back at KY627.
About now, Karen was cooked just about to medium rare. She requested a stop for air conditioning and, preferably, ice cream. We took a quick look around northern Winchester along KY627 but there was nothing but hotels. I promised to find something at the next town to the north.
That town was Paris and, luckily, they did have a Dairy Queen. We did have to double-back to the west side of town to pay it a visit, but the air conditioned interior and Blizzard treats (cookie dough for Karen, Heath bar for me) were just what two sunstroked, leather-clad, riders needed. While waiting for our order, we decided to ride as far as the Ohio state line at Maysville, KY and indulge in an air-conditioned hotel room there.
Not long after we sat down I remarked that the weather forecast for scattered thunderstorms hadn’t hurt us yet since we’d spent most of the day under sunny skies with a few broken clouds. A quick check of weather radar (my trusty MyRadar app) revealed that our luck was due for a change. A nice bright splash of green, yellow, and red was advancing across the map towards our location. We finished our Blizzards as fast as we could without causing brain freeze, donned our gear, and made a break eastbound on US68.
We made good time and easily stayed in front of the advancing storm all the way to Maysville. We acquired our hotel room but noticed that none of the enticing food venues were within easy walking distance. I suggested that the oncoming rain wouldn’t last long; as long as we got to the restaurant before the rain started, only the Nightowl would get wet (and it could use a wash).
This plan worked to perfection. We moved the necessary luggage into the room, removed our chaps, and headed back out the bike for a short trip to Mi Camino Real, a local Mexican restaurant that Karen said reviewed well. We walked into the establishment, were seated, and ordered two Margueritas. No sooner had the drinks arrived at our table than the heavens opened and you could barely see out the windows across the parking lot. The storm was short-lived and was long gone by the time we exited to return to our hotel.
Overall, the day was quite enjoyable, even with the heat. We saw a lot of nice country from the low angle of a motorcycle saddle, passing through it at a spirited pace. Here’s the map for the day.