Road to the Smokies – Day 1

This is the story of my road trip from Pekin, IL to Gatlinburg, TN on my Honda CBR 600 RR motorcycle.

I suppose I’ll start this off with why I’m taking this trip in the first place.

Since I was a kid, our family has visited Gatlinburg, TN for vacations. When I say family, I mean the entire family. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, siblings, pets, etc. It was always a blast and I have so many memories of staying in the mountains that will always hold a special place in my heart. The best of good times. That is why when I had the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream of mine, a solo road trip, Gatlinburg was easily my first choice. What made it an even better choice was the fact that the Smoky Mountains have some of the best motorcycle roads in the world. I didn’t need anymore reasons. So about a month ago I started buying everything I would need to make this happen. I bought bags for the motorcycle, full riding gear, made the hotel reservations, and lined everything else up.

Fast forward to today, Sept. 25th, 2010.

I woke up this morning at 8:30, showered, and finished packing my bags. After getting it all mounted on the motorcycle I suited up, said goodbye and took off down the road right at 10.

Today I was shooting for Louisville, KY which is just about the halfway point between Pekin and Gatlinburg. I started out on I-74 out of Morton and headed towards Bloomington. By about noon I had made it to the Indiana border and was still very comfortable on the bike and only had to fill up on gas once.

All ready to go!

I met a really nice old lady at the gas station in Vedersburg. I asked if there was a Walgreens or CVS anywhere near because I needed to pick up some Aleve just in case my knees started bothering me. She quickly adopted a great concern for my well-being and told me I should stop every 30 minutes to rest and be sure to drink plenty of water lest I get dehydrated. It was too funny. She did eventually tell me that I’d find a Walgreens in Crawfordsville just down the road.

After stopping in Crawfordsville to snag some Aleve, I hopped back on I-74 and headed towards Indianapolis. Instead of going through Indy I was going to take I-465 around it, and then hop on I-65 and go straight to Louisville. When I got to I-465 I ran into absolute gridlock, and it sucked. I don’t know how many of you have had to roll a motorcycle at 3MPH constantly for about 45 minutes, but I can tell you it’s freaking terrible. By the time I made it out of the construction and onto I-65 both of my hands were completely numb. Google-fail for not warning me about construction, mmhmm.

About 30 minutes down the road I stopped in Franklin to fill up on gas and eat at one of my favorite places in the world: Waffle House. If you haven’t ever eaten at a Waffle House while on the road, you haven’t been on a road trip. The moment someone mentions Waffle House all I can think of is the summer trips that my brother David and I used to go on with our grandpa (Paco). Convincing him to finally stop at a Waffle House was pretty much akin to trying to control the weather, but the hassle was always worth it.

After an awesome ham and cheese omelette, I hopped back on I-65 and headed towards Louisville. I was quite surprised by how beautiful the southern part of Indiana is, and being able to breathe it all in the entire time made it even more awesome.

Before I knew it, Louisville was popping up along the horizon in front of me and I started to wrack my brain trying to remember what exits to take. I couldn’t quite remember every exit number but somehow managed to make it to my hotel without any problems. I checked in, got my key, lugged everything up to the room, and here I am writing this blog. Tomorrow, I head from Louisville to Gatlinburg and officially start breathing mountain air.

Sorry about the lack of pictures today. I was just focused on getting comfortable in my riding suit and getting to Louisville in one piece. I promise I’ll have more tomorrow and the days to come!

Lessons Learned Today

  • Southern Indiana is unexpectedly beautiful.
  • People like to stare at you when you’re dressed like RoboCop. It’s really entertaining.
  • Hotel maids who write “Have a blessed day :)” on the back of the ‘welcome to your room’ card are awesome.

You can see all of the photos from my trip in my Facebook album:

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