Saturday, September 22, 2007

Lake Wappapello State Park to Knoxville, TN

Got an early start; up at 6:30am and on the road by 7:30. Decided to head southeast to cross the Mississippi on I-155, in the southeast corner of the state. Found breakfast at a small mom and pop cafe in Campbell, MO. It was good and filling.

Rode south on Hwy 53 to 412 and then to the Interstate. All uneventful.

Decided to try the secondary roads east, staying off the main roads. Good idea, poor execution. While the routing worked fine, after about 4 hours of riding as hard as was safe, I had covered only about 125 miles! Interesting, but much slower than I had imagined. While the speed limits were generally 55, at every town along the way (and there were many), the speed dropped to 45 about 3 miles out of town, and the last mile would be at 35. Through town itself, it was usually 25. And the reverse going out of town. Then just as I'd get back to speed (after following someone in a slow car or truck for several miles), the next town came up.

So, just south of Nashville, where Hwy 100 crosses the Natchez Trace road, I had lunch at Loveless Cafe/Motel. I had never heard of it, but it is a famous place with a rich history of feeding people coming up to Nashville from the south. Lots of bikers stop there.

Had meatloaf, creamed potatoes, and green beens, and it was average. Not great, not bad, but okay.

Decided then that if I was going to get home sometime Saturday, I needed to make some miles. Called to get a place to stay at a Quality Inn in Knoxville.

Jumped on the I-40 slab and rode into Knoxville. Using the GPS, I selected the only Quality Inn in Knoxville (didn't check addresses to see if the one I chose was the one I reserved--lesson to be learned here!). Rode to the Quality Inn, went in to get my room, and they did not have a reservation for me. I asked if there was more than one Quality Inn, and of course, there was another one about 15 miles away. DAMN!

Jumped on the bike, put the correct address into the GPS and took off again.

Backtracking where I had just come from, and tired and aggravated, I missed the correct exit at the next significant turn. There were 2 exits within about 100 yards of each other, and I took the first one instead of the second one. Fatigue!

So, now I was completely retracing about 10 miles of unnecessary roads from missing the exit I needed. So aggravated at myself...

Finally got going the correct way (which was straight through Knoxville to I-40 east of town), and suddenly about 5 cars in front of me, the traffic stopped. All the traffic on all 4 lanes! Police cars had the interstate blocked!

I was stopped just beside an exit and had to decide whether to wait for traffic to clear or whether to take the exit and reroute to the motel. I decided to take the exit.

It took a bit of trial and error, but I finally got an alternate route east on Hwy 70. Right through the University of Tennessee campus! Friday night at dinnertime it is very busy there. Hot. Crowded. But I got through the campus area finally.

The routing was working great, keeping me away from the interstate while working my way east, when, after one turn, the road I needed had a big detour sign. The bridge was out!! I was beginning to think it was not meant for me to get to the motel!

The GPS kept rerouting and finally I found the motel, with a room reserved for me. Actually, a very nice room beside the lobby with my bike 25 feet away in good sight.

Learned on tv later that somehow an 18 wheeler and a van had collided head-on and that is what had the interstate closed. It was still closed at 11:00pm (taking the exit was a good choice)!

Then it hit me that God had taken me the wrong way so I wouldn't be a part of the wreck... I don't know about things like this, but I do know that if I had put the correct address in the GPS, I would have been going through that area close to the time the wreck happened...

Got in the room, unpacked the camping gear that was wet from dew (so it would dry out), watched a little TV, drank a beer, and collapsed.

Right at 500 miles today.

Tomorrow, home....

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