Road trip, St. Louis, MO to Nags Head, NC - Wrist Twisters
 
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post #1 of 20 Old 08-11-2007, 01:28 PM Thread Starter
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Road trip, St. Louis, MO to Nags Head, NC

Well, I made it here, and my first motorcycle trip over 300 miles went by almost without a hitch. There was only one major screwup, but there was some of the most beautiful riding I've ever done.

Wednesday, 8 August, 2007
I was so excited on Wednesday that I had a hard time getting to sleep. I kept trying to think of things that I had forgotten or something else that needed to be done before I left in the morning. Eventually I made it to sleep and slept well...

Thursday, 9 August, 2007
I woke up early, wanting to get out of St. Louis before traffic hit, and get some miles under my belt before it got really hot. This whole heat wave thing wasn't thrilling to me. I had packed everything onto my bike the night before, so I woke up, took a couple of preventative Excedrine (didn't want the coffee "effect" an hour into my ride), ate some toast and a granola bar, got ATGATT'ed up, and hit the road. It was fairly cool out, and still a little dark. I snapped a couple pics of my bike all geared up, and hit the road. Going through St. Louis on I-70 wasn't bad, no traffic to speak of. I got lucky because there was a big accident on the other side of the road, and even pre-rush hour traffic was awful. All three lanes were closed, and one car at a time could sneak by on the shoulder.

I got onto I-64 and stayed there through Mt. Vernon, IL and then headed south on I-57. Nothing really interesting to see, although the humidity and haze made for an awesome sunrise. The temperature stayed quite nice until about 9:30am, and then it shot up quickly. Around Goreville, IL, I got on I-24. I was making good time, and feeling good about the trip. Even with the Airhawk seat, my butt lasted about a tank of gas before needing a stretch, so that was convenient.

I finally make it into Nashville, and here's where I made my mistake. I got into a conversation with a Harley rider. Ok, ok, there were probably more contributing factors than that, but it's nice to have something other than myself to place blame onto. So I need some gas, and it's about lunchtime, so I pull off at a gas stop and refuel, rehydrate, and eat a sandwich. After this, I'm gearing up again, and a Harley rider comes over and strikes up a conversation with me. He was asking where I was going, and I told him, and he said that he was going to meet some people in Chattanooga, then head up to Maggie Valley the next day. I (as some of you know) was planning on heading to Cherahola Skyway, Tail of the Dragon, and end up in Cherokee, NC for the night. The second problem was that my list of directions were probably listed a little close together, so after I hit the road again, I glanced down, looked at the wrong line that said to go on I-24, and since I had just talked to this guy about Chattanooga, heading on I-24 didn't feel "wrong". That combined with probably being a little dehydrated and not thinking completely clearly lead to me taking I-24 instead of I-40 to Knoxville. Anyway, so I didn't actually identify my mistake until I was almost to Chattanooga, realized I wasn't seening the towns that I expected to see, and then saw a sign that said X miles to Georgia border. My heart sank, and I pulled over to see what kind of damage I had done to my trip. I saw that I could head north on I-75 and pick up my trip from just before the Cherahola Skyway. I didn't know what kind of impact that had on my time schedule, so I just went for it.

The Cherahola Skyway was at that point the most beautiful road I had been on to that point. There was light traffic, but fortunately I cleared that before it started getting twisty. I had a beautiful ride along this gorgeous landscape in cool mountain air that felt awesome after baking for hours in full gear. I wasn't really going full bore into the twisties, because of all the gear I had on my bike, and I was pretty tired. I came around one corner into a long straightaway, and there was a black bear ambling across the road. That was pretty cool, I've never seen one before in the wild. It was slightly unnerving as I realized I no longer had my "cage" to protect me. Unfortunately, since I was feeling the time crunch, I didn't pull over at all to take any pictures of the beautiful scenery.

Where 143 met with 129, I had to make a decision. Due to my side trip to southern TN, I was about 1.5 hours behind where I wanted to be. It was almost 7pm, and I estimated about 90 or so more miles to the Tail, back down, then over to Cherokee. I had now gotten behind traffic, so I was guessing that with the traffic, and the slower speeds that I'd have to run on the Tail, that it would be at least 2 hours before I would get to Cherokee. I didn't really know the area, and I really didn't relish the idea of trying to find my way to the hotel in the dark, when I can't see my maps, so regretfully, I headed south on 129 instead of north, and went straight to my hotel in Cherokee. I was pretty bummed that I came all that way to miss the Tail, but still was happy to ride the best roads I've ever ridden, have no problems other than a little out of the way trip, and be safe in my hotel room. I grabbed a bite to eat, rinsed out my clothes, drank about a gallon of water, and went to bed. Even though I had been consistently hydrating all day, I couldn't get enough to drink...pretty amazing how much you can sweat off.

Left Missouri: 6:00 Central time. About 650 miles later, arrived at my destination at about 8pm, Eastern time. Average speed (including stops) of about 60 mph.

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post #2 of 20 Old 08-11-2007, 01:29 PM Thread Starter
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Friday, 10 August, 2007
Again, I woke up early, and packed the bike up. I grabbed some free breakfast at the hotel...some cereal, fruit, and juice. I headed out on the Blue Ridge Parkway through the early morning, just as the sun was coming out, and rode the most beautiful roads I've ever ridden on. The air had a slight chill to it that I relished, knowing what I was in for the rest of the day. For 80 miles I rode through those awesome mountains without a single car or motorcycle in front of me. I pulled over frequently to snap some pictures and didn't feel rushed at all. At times I pushed the bike pretty hard and other times I took it easy and just cruised. In Missouri we do have some twisty roads, but nothing like those, especially for that kind of distance. I learned a lot about riding in the twisties just on that 80 miles. Well, maybe I didn't learn a lot, but I experienced a lot of things that I had only read about. Stuff like using the front brake in turns makes the bike want to pop straight up. Using light rear brake for small speed adjustments in a turn keeps the front wheel planted. It's better in a turn to lean further instead of braking. I put my trust in my 9er, and she returned that with a big smile. She loves the roads, and she loves those Conti Road Attacks I put on her. So glad I did that. I finally ran into some traffic with about 5 miles to go, then got off, got onto I-40, and was on my way again wearing a big smile. If I lived out there, I believe I'd get and extra 3000 miles out of each set of tires, just because you use the whole thing.

I-40 quickly went from mountain fun-ness into flatness, and the heat came on quickly. The trip was uneventful from that point on. My shoulders were getting sore from two days of holding my arms out in front of me, but I was able to move around enough to ease it. Oddly enough, it was my left shoulder that was the worst. The cramp-buster for the throttle probably saved me. Don't know what kind of shape I'd have been in if I didn't have it. I finally got off of I-40 onto US-64, and headed on that for a long time. The second mistake I made was less technical. I somehow wrote the wrong mileage that I had to go on US-64, so according to my paper, I had about 95 miles on US-64. After about 70 miles, I was getting skeptical of those numbers because I wasn't anywhere close to where I thought I should be. Almost exactly as I reached the 95th mile, I saw a sign for Manteo, 91 miles. D'oh!!! Manteo is about 5-10 miles from my final destination. I was pretty beat at this time. The heat and humidity had taken its toll. That and the lack of interesting roads just put me in a place where I wanted to be done already. Finally made it into the Dismal Swamp area, which I knew is close to my destination, then across several bays, and finally, across the sound. I got a new burst of energy as I realized that I had done it, done it safely, and had a darn good time too.

I guzzled a ton of water (of course) and was about to go down for a swim in the ocean, when a cold front rolled in, and a storm kicked up, just about 1 hour after I arrived. I was thankful that I hadn't dawdled (or gotten off track again), thankful that the weather had held up for enough time for me to get safely to my destination. The storm was awesome, you could actually see the fronts meeting over the ocean, and lightening cracking into the water. Very cool end to a long, but fun day.

Left Cherokee, NC: 6:30 Eastern time. About 540 miles later, arrived at my destination at 3:30 Eastern time. Average speed (including stops) of about 60mph.

Here's the updated map of my actual route on the first leg

Pictures are in the spoiler section. Click on them for the large version of the picture.

Spoiler:

Early A.M., 9er loaded to the gills in Missouri.

Ready to roll.

On the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Let's roll!

Sun peeking up over the mountains (blinding me occasionally)

Twisty roads into the sun.

Lovely A.M. view of the surrounding mountains.

The 9er is anxious to get back on the road.

Can't wait to hit that corner.

The long shadow of a 9er.

She tamed the mountain.

Me, tired, bug splattered, and road-grimed after 9 hours on the road.

Mr. Cold front, meet Mr. Warm front.

Over the sea.

Glad I wasn't riding in this.

Storm over Nags Head.

The storm did result in a fantastic sunset.

Glad I wasn't on it when it got soaked.



Once again, thanks to every single person who gave me advice, and offered their help if I needed it. You all are great, and I would have been less safe, and more uncomfortable without your help. I was thinking of posting an inventory of everything that I took...let me know if you'd like to see this.

My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.
- Stephen Hawking
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post #3 of 20 Old 08-11-2007, 01:36 PM
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Nice write-up. Keep safe. I'm in Evansville next week. So, if you pass through on I-64 drop me a line.

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post #4 of 20 Old 08-11-2007, 01:47 PM
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Nice write up, sounds like a good trip. str8:

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post #5 of 20 Old 08-11-2007, 01:47 PM
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Fantastic report! The Blue Ridge Parkway is my all time favorite ride. Hoping to ride the new bike to FL this Fall and that is my favorite part of the ride. Thanks for the great trip report!

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post #6 of 20 Old 08-11-2007, 06:09 PM Thread Starter
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Fantastic report! The Blue Ridge Parkway is my all time favorite ride. Hoping to ride the new bike to FL this Fall and that is my favorite part of the ride. Thanks for the great trip report!
That would be awesome! When I lived in VA (without a bike) I always yearned for the day that I could ride on the BR Pkwy on a motorcycle. Those 80 miles were fun, but I'm sure not as good as 460-some miles. That would be one helluva WT group event, right there...anyone, anyone? 2008?

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post #7 of 20 Old 08-11-2007, 07:09 PM
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Thanks for the great pics and ride report cmelnick.
Looks like you had a great trip.

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post #8 of 20 Old 08-16-2007, 11:04 AM Thread Starter
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Tour of the lighthouses of North Carolina Outer Banks

I decided to augment my road trip with a trip down the Outer Banks to visit the lighthouses of North Carolina. Loaded up myself and my wife on the 9er, and headed NC-12. We stayed on NC-12 pretty much the whole way, as it's the only road that runs the majority of the length of the Outer Banks. The weather was quite nice, not too humid and a predicted high of 85. Just a few miles down the road, the first stop was the Bodie Island (pronounced "body") lighthouse. This lighthouse has horizontal black and white stripes. It was finished and lit for the first time in 1872. We hopped off, snapped a couple pictures, then back on the bike.

In front of the Bodie Island Lighthouse


The lighthouse wants a ride!


We crossed the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge to Hatteras island and continued down NC-12. There is a stretch of about 40 miles between the Bodie Island lighthouse and the Cape Hatteras lighthouse. The majority of this is through the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, so there are no houses, stores, or buildings except for the occasional public beach with a rest room. It was a very nice ride through the dunes and several small towns. We passed the bungie tower where I first jumped about 5 years ago. Finally, on the southern side of Hatteras is the Cape Hatteras lighthouse. This is probably the most famous and distinct lighthouse in North Carolina with spiraling black and white stripes. It is the tallest brick lighthouse on the American coast at 208 feet , and was completed and lit in 1870. In 1999, the lighthouse was jacked up, placed on rails, and moved approximately 1/2 mile back from the receding shoreline. I was there to see part of the move in the summer of '99...pretty intense engineering. We got off and climbed the 268 steps to the top to reveal a superb view. The guide at the top said it was the clearest he'd seen it in months, and said that we had over 40 miles of visibility (which seemed to be the case as we could see the Bodie Island lighthouse, which is at least 40 miles away). Again, snapped some pictures, and hit the road.

The 9er from the top of the lighthouse.


Staring down the largest barber shop pole you'll ever see


From a distance


We continued throught the town of Frisco to the Ocracoke Island Ferry. We got on with no problems, and headed through the Pamlico Sound to Ocracoke Island. The ferry ride took about 30 minutes with some pretty cool scenery through little sandy islands.

Chilling on the ferry


The first section of Ocracoke island is very similar to Hatteras. Unpopulated beaches and dunes everywhere. About another 30 miles of riding, and we reached the town of Ocracoke which is a very quaint little sea town. The Ocracoke lighthouse is the oldest of the lighthouses we saw, and was built and lit in 1823. It is a lilliputian 75 feet with no pattern on it, just plain white. We had lunch in a little cafe, then headed back to Nags Head.

The tiny Ocracoke lighthouse


Here's a map of the route we took:
Spoiler:

My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.
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post #9 of 20 Old 08-16-2007, 11:11 AM
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Awesome that you got some free time to see the lighthouses. Bonus with the wife on board. We spent a long weekend at Ocracoke a few months ago, and I can't wait to go back.

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post #10 of 20 Old 08-16-2007, 11:41 AM
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Awesome that you got some free time to see the lighthouses. Bonus with the wife on board. We spent a long weekend at Ocracoke a few months ago, and I can't wait to go back.
You spent a weekend with his wife?

j/k...Nice picks. Looks like a good time.

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post #11 of 20 Old 08-16-2007, 11:48 AM
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You spent a weekend with his wife?

j/k...Nice picks. Looks like a good time.
Better than spending it with dear ole dad. He never goes anywhere unless BBQ is involved.

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post #12 of 20 Old 08-16-2007, 03:47 PM Thread Starter
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You spent a weekend with his wife?

j/k...Nice picks. Looks like a good time.
Dang. She did seem to be rather familiar with the area, even though I had never taken her down there.

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- Stephen Hawking
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post #13 of 20 Old 08-16-2007, 03:57 PM
 
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Those were some absolutely gorgeous pictures! Great write up as well. Thanks for sharing. Very enjoyable!

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post #14 of 20 Old 08-16-2007, 04:11 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Those were some absolutely gorgeous pictures! Great write up as well. Thanks for sharing. Very enjoyable!


You're talking about this one, right?


Seriously tho, thanks for the nice comments about the writeup and the pics...it's been a beautiful week.

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- Stephen Hawking
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post #15 of 20 Old 08-16-2007, 04:24 PM
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THe storms you saw....

I rode through them on the way to Raleigh on RT64 that day.

IT SUCKED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The wind picked up sooooo much it was rediculous.

I am only 1.5 hours north of Manteo. So I have ridden lots of those roads.
RT64 is boring, but beautiful. Farms and trees as far as you can see.

If you went to Wilmington, I40 is worse for scenery.

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post #16 of 20 Old 08-16-2007, 04:45 PM Thread Starter
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THe storms you saw....

I rode through them on the way to Raleigh on RT64 that day.

IT SUCKED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The wind picked up sooooo much it was rediculous.
That does suck...you must have been about 1 hour behind me or so. I was really happy to not end my trip in a storm. Thx for the award, btw!

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post #17 of 20 Old 08-17-2007, 05:08 AM
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cmelnick-thanks for more pics.
I love Ocracoke! Hang out at Howard's Pub, then 4 wheel it out to the end of the beach. It's probably one of the few east coast beaches left that you can find peace and quiet. Just watch out for the nesting plovers.

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post #18 of 20 Old 08-17-2007, 05:17 AM
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Quote:
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cmelnick-thanks for more pics.
I love Ocracoke! Hang out at Howard's Pub, then 4 wheel it out to the end of the beach. It's probably one of the few east coast beaches left that you can find peace and quiet. Just watch out for the nesting plovers.
Ha! I totally forgot about Howard's Pub. That is a great place. There is also a little hole in the wall restaurant/bar that serves steamed shrimp every day for 15 cents each.

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post #19 of 20 Old 08-18-2007, 10:32 PM Thread Starter
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I'm back safe and sound in Missouri. I left NC at 5:30 EDT, and arrived at 9:30 CDT ~1040 miles and 17 hours later. My a$$ got really upset at me when I arrived in Charleston, WV, and told it that we were 1/2 way, and got to do the whole thing again. Definitely not easy. I didn't get tired at all, but about 100 miles through each tank of gas, I started getting fidgety, then at about 140 I was ready to jump off, and 170 I was leaping off the bike happily. The weather was absolutely beautiful all day long until the last (literally) 1.5 miles out of 1040, when the heavens opened up and drenched me just in time to arrive home. Damn you, mother nature. I'm gonna go warm the globe or something.

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post #20 of 20 Old 08-19-2007, 08:25 AM Thread Starter
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Here's the exact route that I'll be submitting to the IBA.

http://tinyurl.com/2rotx4

My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.
- Stephen Hawking
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