When Rich and I left Rod and Trish, we headed east out of Missouri towards St. Louis. Rich wanted us to see the “Archway to the West” and as we rode I-64 I was able to get some decent shots of the archway and the St. Louis skyline. Then we crossed the state border into Illinois going almost halfway across to spend the night in Mount Vernon. We attended Mass in the lovely church of St. Mary’s on Saturday 27 August which left us free to have a small lie-in on the Sunday before making tracks for Louisville, KY and Richard’s family.
Like most of the days on this trip, God blessed us with perfect weather for riding as we finished crossing the state of Illinois, clipped the bottom of Indiana, and rode into the blue grass state of Kentucky. I could feel Richard’s excitement mounting as we rode closer to “home”. The plan was to head to his sister Rose’s home, unpack the bike, then head over to the Kentucky State Fair with Rose, her husband Ronnie, and their kids, Megan and Kalin, to meet up with another sister, Robin, and her daughter, Brittany, and his brother, Robert and his wife, Sylvie, and their son, Patrick. Wow, what a reunion!! I had not seen some of these folks since Thanksgiving 2004!
We spent several fun hours at the fair. I found some great HOT dip mixes and some wonderfully decadent fudge, while Richard ate a Krispy Kreme hamburger?????? (yes, that was a hamburger between two doughnuts!!), and later he could not resist trying some “fried Koolaid”. While some of the others went to a concert they had booked to see, Rich and I strolled around the rides for a while. We had fun tempting the “guess your age” guy who made my day and gave me a “prize” after guessing me to be 15 years younger than I am. Whether he was being truthful or gallant in his guessing I’m not sure, but I was happy. Then the tiredness of the ride hit in and we headed home to get a good night’s rest. We needed to get our beauty sleep because the next day we were putting on a Bar-b-q for the family and even more people were coming.
So on Monday we went shopping then got busy cooking and preparing food. By 4pm yet another sister, Rhonda, arrived with her daughter, Ginny, followed shortly afterward by Rich’s step-Mom Ruth, his step-brother Ryan and his step-sister Rachel and her husband Michael with his son in tow. The crowd was rounded out when Robin got there with her son Dustin, and finally we were able to tuck into all that good food. A little later, as we rested full tummies, Kalin took Dustin and they went to pick up Brittany and her girlfriend who had been attending a school sport meet-up. By that time we were ready for some dessert and enjoyed some wonderful concoction that Sylvie had made.
Our final day in Louisville, Rich went to get his (final?? who knows) tattoo in honor of his retirement. Of his eight tattoos, Lucky in Louisville has created 5 of them. This one he actually created around a small existing one of a dolphin that Rich had done in Washington, DC some years ago. Lucky extended the water/wave line under the dolphin , then added the letters USN over the top of everything with a sunrise and the year Rich entered the Navy at one end, and a sunset with his retirement year at the other. It’s really beautiful.
That evening we hooked up with Rose and Ronnie and the kids, Robin, and Richard’s old school friend and partner-in-crime, Fonda with his wife Sherry. We had a great meal and wonderful socializing at a very good Mexican restaurant, where we all ate a bit too much because the food was great!.
Next day, Wednesday 31 August, it was time to load up our faithful Harley, say our farewells, and hit the road again as we headed towards North Carolina. It had been a good visit with family and hopefully it won’t be so long before we see each other again.
It’s hard to believe. Rich has finally retired from the Navy after 29 years active duty and one year “delayed entry”, for a total of 30 years career. No more alarm clocks ringing at 4.15am. No more white t-shirts in the wash. No more 24/7 being “beholden to Uncle Sam”. It is still rather surreal and I’m sure I won’t feel the full impact until he has been home 24/7 for at least a month once we return from our bike trip.
And that’s what this post is about – our Harley trip from Jacksonville, FL, through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois and Wisconsin until we get to north Minnesota where we will spend four days with good friends from Jacksonville in their summer home. Between Illinois and Wisconsin we will be stopping in Zion for lunch with some old friends from Naples, Italy. We will then swing down through North and South Dakota into Missouri where we will spend a couple of days with some more friends from our time in Naples, Italy.
After that we will head over to Louisville, KY, passing through Illinois (again) and even touching a tip of Indiana. we will spend three days with Rich’s family in Louisville, taking in a few hours at the State Fair and enjoying a Bar-B-Q with the family. We will then head south east to Asheville, NC for two days before going a little further east to spend two days in Fayetteville with LeeAnn, yet another friend from our Naples, Italy experience. At this point we will point Harley straight down I-95 south for the home leg.
Today is Tuesday 16 August. We left home yesterday morning about 9am and covered three hundred and eighty three miles, reaching our first night-over in Marietta, GA at about 4.30pm. We had an excellent day of smooth riding. There were no traffic problems, the weather was glorious, and we got to enjoy a lot of God’s creation along the way. Because we ate a light lunch at Subway just north of Macon, GA, we were very happy to see an old favorite, Cracker Barrel right on the door step of our hotel. We enjoyed a great dinner there before retiring early for a good night’s sleep.
This morning saw us on the road by 9am. It was perfect riding weather: slightly overcast yet warm and not a drop of humidity in the air. As we made our way through the mountains of northern Georgia and then on into Tennessee, we really enjoyed cool-warm weather with balmy breezes. Lunch time found us in Joelton, TN where we found a superb Mexican restaurant called Mazatlan. If you’re ever in the area try it. The food is really good and the service was excellent.
We arrived at our little B&B called “Escape” in Paducah, KY at about 4pm and we’re just relaxing down and chilling out before heading out somewhere to get some dinner. There’s a hot tub with our names on it in a room adjoining our bedroom. Hopefully along the road I will get to share not only about our ride, but will also be able to catch up on some other news that I simply have not had the time to right about in the past few weeks. Happy summer, happy trails!