I was planning to have breakfast with JP and Rosi then get on the road, but I woke up early. I kept evaluating the ride ahead, and decided to leave, because I had so much ground to cover. I thought about this, as I rode, realizing it was a metaphor for life, this thinking that our plans are solid we that we always have more time with the people we care about.
Hopping on the bike and gearing up, I found I had lost a glove taking JP for a spin yesterday. I am an idiot. Damn! I ran the route we took, but did not find it. Still, I had my throttle hand glove, and I was good to go. JP and Rosi told me to try Route 70 as an alternative to Interstate 40, and I was really glad I did it. What a beautiful road.
I stopped to get gas, and I had become so used to riding without a glove that I forgot to put the one I had back on. And, I lost that one, too. Are you kidding me? I am a total idiot. Double Damn! I stopped in an O'Reilly Auto Parts and bought a pair of $9 gloves to hold me over and provide some protection.
I was really surprised by Arkansas. I thought I knew what rural was, living as close as I do to Lancaster, PA, but I have never seen rural areas like this. Surprisingly beautiful, Arkansas' farms spread for miles and miles, with alfalfa, soybeans, and even rice paddies. The road kills were also unusual, consisting of armadillos and snakes. So. Many. Snakes. But, when I remember Arkansas, it will be the beauty of it that I remember.
I rode into Memphis, Tennessee, crossing the Mississippi on Interstate 40. There is a HUGE pyramid at the edge of the city, on the river, and it now houses a Bass Pro Shop and Ducks Unlimited. There is little attractive about the pyramid or the town, from the brief pass-through I did. Apparently, Danny Kaye is a big deal there, and I decided not to stop at Graceland, because I just could not do it without Mrs. Fish. It was something that we always wanted to do together, from the time we were dating. Still not crossed off, and that's okay. The King can wait.
After Memphis, I hopped on and off I-40, going back and forth, on and off. I hit Nashville and wished I had time to visit this city. It is, in my opinion, the prettiest city in Tennessee. I was there once, more than 15 years ago, and though I am not a country music fan, I really liked this city. I will definitely come back to Nashville, and would love to check out the music scene there.
Route 70 goes from town to town, with space inbetween to really get out and ride. You slow down in the towns, then let her go in the spaces between. One of the more interesting towns I went through was Ozone Falls. It actually lived up to it's name that day, and it smells and feels like a cloud has descended on the town. It's cool temperature and misty appearance, coupled with the smell of ozone, made it a multi-sensory buffet, like flying through a cloud.
Route 70 continued to weave through towns like this, and, occasionally, I would see a fire road shooting off to the side. I decided to take one, and was not disappointed. The road wound sharply upwards, then opened up to a view from the top of the entire valley.
At the bottom, you can see lakes, which I would wind down and down to, then ride alongside for many miles. Tennessee was probably the most beautiful state I visited, and Central Tennessee was the most beautiful area of that state.
Coming down the mountain, I saw a dirt road shooting off to the right. I switch the Multistrada into Enduro mode and went to investigate. I took a short, dirt road ride...
...and arrived at an overlook of the valley below, where I had just ridden.
I eventually got to Lenoir City, Tennessee. I was riding the Tail of the Dragon the next day, so I was looking for a place that was close by. A quick web search showed the EconoLodge to be a bargain.
As I was checking in, I started talking with the lady behind the front desk. She talked about how "particular" the owner was about his property, and what a wonderful boss he was because he was demanding but a great guy. He empowered them to make decisions to help the guests. She talked about how he called her at home when she had surgery, always asking if he could do anything for her. He sounded like a nice boss, and it was clear she respected him.
Then, I checked into my room. I have stayed in a lot of hotel rrooms, but this was the most ordered, clean, and "particular" room I have stayed in. Everything was laid out perfectly. The bed was made with military precision. And, it was spotless. It turns out the guy does run a tight ship. I slept like a baby.