Day 49 – The final countdown
Date: 07/20/2016 Wednesday
Starting Location: Charlottesville, VA
Ending Location: Indian Land, SC
Starting Odometer: 14,802
Ending Odometer: 15,160
Mileage Driven (days): 358 Miles
Mileage Total: 8306 miles
Today’s MPG: 42 mpg
Total Average MPG: 41 mpg
States Visited: CA, NV, AZ, UT, NM, CO, UT, WY, ID, WY, MT, WY, SD, MN, WI, MI, WI, IL, IN, OH, PA, NY, CT, MA, VT, NH, MA, CT, NY, PA, WV, VA, NC, SC. (26 States in total)
The morning departure
I got up in the morning, and couldn’t quite get myself motivated to jump out of bed. The bed was so comfortable, I stayed in bed until about 6AM, which is pretty rare for me. That said, I did get up, did a little packing and then headed downstairs for some Hazelnut coffee, from Dunkin Donuts. Exquisite…
Lee made an omelette for me for Breakfast, and then I finished packing and put the panniers on the bike while Lee cleaned the previous day’s bugs off of the windshield. By the time 8:00 AM rolled around, the bike was packed, I was fed, and I was ready to leave the area and head south, to my new home.
Channeling John Denver
I’ve always liked John Denver, but I would not say that I’m a huge fan. That said, as you’re riding through the Blue Ridge Mountains, it certainly seemed appropriate to be listening to John Denver singing about the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah River.
As a reminder of how the song (Country Road) goes, I’ve included the lyrics below. Reading the lyrics as I rode through Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina just seemed appropriate.
Almost heaven, West Virginia, Blue ridge mountain, Shenandoah river, Life is old there, older than the trees, Younger than the mountains, growing like a breeze Country roads, take me home To the place I belong, West Virginia, Mountain mamma, take me home Country roads All my memories, gather round her Miner's lady, stranger to blue water Dark and dusty, painted on the sky Misty taste of moonshine, teardrops in my eye Country roads, take me home To the place I belong, West Virginia, Mountain mamma, take me home Country roads I hear her voice in the morning hour she calls me Radio reminds me of my home far away Driving down the road I get a feeling That I should have been home yesterday, yesterday Country roads, take me home To the place I belong, West Virginia, Mountain mamma, take me home Country roads I hear her voice in the morning hour she calls me Radio reminds me of my home far away Driving down the road I get a feeling That I should have been home yesterday, yesterday Country roads, take me home To the place I belong, West Virginia, Mountain mamma, take me home Country roads Take me home, country roads Take me home, country roads
The ride along the Blue Ridge Parkway
My trip along the Blue Ridge parkway was a combination of two separate segments separated by a 5 mile dirt road, and some secondary roads. In total, I think I traveled for more than 110 miles on this road, enjoying every minute.
This road is a seemingly endless sequence of turns, with only the shortest of straightaways in-between. It’s kind of hard to imagine a nicer road to ride a motorcycle on. For all of you West Coasters, imagine what it’s like on Skyline Blvd, only a little bit wider, with views on both sides of the road, for hundreds of miles.
While I only road 110 miles, the road starts in Virginia and seems to go all the way into Tennessee. I guess that’s about 450 miles or so. That’s a whole lot of great riding.
Below, you’ll find 2 maps that show the section of the ride that is across the Blue Ridge Parkway. Notice how continuous the curves are on this road.
In the second map, the windy roads continue, taking me further south, until it is time to exit the BRP, and enter the more civilized roads of North Carolina.
And, to provide context of the entire day’s journey, I’ve inserted a map that shows all 358 miles that I completed on this day. Notice that I don’t enter South Carolina until I’ve got only 10 or so miles to go.
Oops, running out of gas again
OK, OK, if you want to give me a hard time, there’s no denying that I deserve it. But, for a 2nd straight day, I’ve managed to miscalculate the location of gas stations, a and ended up running very log on gas, having to divert to a gas station that was not on my route.
In the end, this little diversion probably added about 25 – 30 miles to my trip in total, but I think I’ve learned a lesson. The lesson is, at the start of every day, fill the tank with gas, and then plan so that you arrive with about 1/2 tank of gas at your destination. This approach will make me stop more frequently, and gas up more often, but given that I ended up losing 30 minutes or more, it just makes sense to do it this new way.
The rest of the ride
After you leave the Blue Ridge Mountains, the scenery starts to change, and the road becomes more open, with a whole lot more sun bearing down on me. The last 3 hours of riding was done in the sun, on secondary roads and Interstates, which are not that picturesque.
The final 90 miles are on Interstate, and the traffic volume also started to build, until the point that there was stop-and-go traffic, and crazy drivers everywhere. By the time I reached the North Side of Charlotte, I had stopped to put on Sun Tan lotion, lip balm, and to get another drink. During this last stint, the temperature rose steadily until it reached 99.5 degrees, as I entered South Carolina, and began my travel on route 521.
Arriving in Indian Land
I approached Indian land as a tired and overheated rider. Looking for some cold water, and a chance to relax and take a shower. And so, at 4:10 PM, on the 20th of July, my trip came to an end. I arrived in Indian Land, and parked the bike. I was now in the land of my new home. There is still a great deal of fun to be had on the Motorcycle once I move into the new home, but for now, I think I’ve spent a good deal of time on the bike, and am ready for a little break.
Below, you’ll see a video of my arrival in Indian Land.
Thanks to all of you for your support, well wishes, and comments. The combination of all of these things made the trip more fun, and made it possible to enjoy writing the blog, which can sometimes take up to 3 or more hours to create a single post.
After enjoying 50 days traveling, I want to wish all of you good fortune, and I hope that someday you also have a chance to enjoy a trip like this. America is a large and wonderful place. it’s full of different opinions, different people, and different cultures. Taking them all in is a great deal of fun, but you really must maintain an extremely open mind if you are to succeed, and if you are to enjoy this kind of trip.
For anyone thinking of doing this kind of trip on a motorcycle, I would say that if you’re thinking of taking a trip like this, you should do it on an Adventure bike. Some of my best and most lasting memories are of the trips that I took on dirt roads and out of the way places, that are only accessible when you’re riding a bike that can thrive in the dirt.