2012 Summer Ride TET & TAT Part I

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Trailace, Aug 21, 2012.

  1. Trailace

    Trailace Long timer

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    2012 Summer Ride TET & TAT Part I

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    After completing the CDR with my son Cameron last summer, our ride plan for 2012 was to go to Colorado for a week of riding. I read a ride reports on ADV Rider titled “Coast to Coast”. A father and son rode the TET then hooked up to the TAT and rode it to the end. This made me think that would be a cool ride for Cameron and me.

    Once we decided on a date, we had three weeks to prepare. I took out the credit card and started ordering maps and equipment. My bike, a BMW 650 XChallenge, was ready to go except for a chain and tires. Cameron’s bike, a Yamaha WR250R, was still stock and needing upgrading. I ordered a 4.7 gal gas tank, Andy Strapz saddle bags from Australia, a saddle bag frame from Dirt Bags, a tank bag, tires, GPS mount, numerous electrical hookups etc etc etc. Now the wait was on to see if everything would come in on time.
    While I was waiting, I converted the maps to a GPS file. It took about a week to break the routes down by day and add in campsites and gas stops. By that time all the farkle had arrived and it was time to start installing. But first I had to travel to California for work; this was one week before our planned departure date. Cam came over the weekend before I had to leave so that we could have the bikes ready to go when I got back.

    Working on the 250
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    Changing the Oil
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    Testing the new saddle bags fit
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    New tires and chain on the 650
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    Glitch number two, while I was in California, Cam informed me that his class was going to end later than expected. That pushed our departure date from Friday, 8/3 to Monday, 8/6. On the bright side, that gave me a few extra days to make sure everything was ready to go.

    #1
  2. Trailace

    Trailace Long timer

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    Day 1 Houston , TX to Jackson, MS 395 miles

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    We left the house at 5:30 a.m. on Monday 8/06 and headed east to Mississippi.

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    I had decided to take the toll road in order to miss some of the rush hour traffic. I had change so we could just ride thru one of the unmanned toll booths. What I thought would be a time saver turned out to be one of those “good grief” moments. The toll lane did not register our bikes therefore, even though I had thrown my money in the basket, the arm refused to budge. So there we sat. I am not sure what the people behind us thought but we decided to just go around the arm before we got run over.
    Cam on frwy
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    We took mostly pavement so that we could make better time so there was not much to see or comment on. We stopped for gas and a bite to eat at Burger King yummy

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    Natchez Trace Bridge
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    Second gas stop
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    Ten miles from our final destination for the night, we hit rain. It wasn’t bad enough to make a stop for rain gear but it was a foreshadowing of bad weather to come. We arrived at Roosevelt State Park around 4 p.m. Our camp site was in the primitive area and came with a handy pavilion. It looked like more rain might be coming so we wisely set up our tents under the pavilion.

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    Five minutes later came a torrential downpour which included wind and lightning. The conditions were so bad that we still got wet under the pavilion. There was some flooding in the low areas.

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    The heavy rain lasted for an hour and it continued to rain off and on throughout the night. Despite the weather , our tents were dry and we remained in good spirits.

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    Stats
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    Elevation
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    #2
  3. intothenew

    intothenew Briar Patch Navigator

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    :lurk
    #3
  4. roberts

    roberts GS'er

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    It looks like another great adventure, and I'm looking forward to your report. :clap You have been many places on your XChallenge and it must have many miles on it now. Sometimes I regret selling mine.

    Robert
    #4
  5. Blaise W

    Blaise W Been here awhile

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    Looking forward to the read. We took about the same route last year to the TAT start, but had no rain until after hitting the trail. My son and I are about to head out for Forever West in a week, our first long trail ride together. I'm wondering if those 606's went all the way.

    Are you going to finish the TAT next year?
    #5
  6. Han Solo

    Han Solo Adventurer

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    My girlfriend and I are on the TAT in Missippi right now headed west. Not sure what to do from Oregon. What's the "TET?" and or is there dirt route headed back? On a WR and a T Dub and don't want to ride the highway.
    #6
  7. Trailace

    Trailace Long timer

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    Robert,
    I love my X its a great little Dual Sport and after this trip it now has 35,000 miles.

    We have a plan to do the Trans-Labrador Highway next year but I also want to complete the TAT. So we will just have to see what happens. :norton

    By the way our 606's completed the trip. :clap

    Here is a link to the TET link

    Work is real busy but will add more to the report soon.
    #7
  8. Trailace

    Trailace Long timer

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    Day 2 Jacksonville, MS to Tybee Island, GA 567 mi.

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    Because of the storms the night before, we decided to wait until daylight before getting on the road.

    Bikes loaded and ready to go.
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    Sunrise over the lake
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    We ran into some fog once we got onto Hwy 20 so it was good that we had delayed our departure.
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    We would be covering a lot of highway miles so there isn't much to write about.
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    We got lucky and dodged rain for the first 300 miles. The weather then started looking ugly so we stopped to put on our rain gear. Cameron went with his rain jacket only which was a decision he would regret later.

    Putting on rain gear.
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    Soon after that, we ran into torrential rain which continued for the remaining 260 miles.
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    When we arrived at Rivers End Campground at Tybee Island, GA, it finally stopped raining. We quickly set up our tents and got out of our wet gear.

    Tents
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    Rivers End Campground had great amenities. We were able to shower, do laundry and surf the web. We would have clean dry clothes when we go back on the road to start the TET.

    Stats
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    Elevation
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    #8
  9. Fishin33

    Fishin33 n00b

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    For Cameron's luggage - how did the Andy Straps do? Were they waterproof?

    On the X - is that just a large waterproof duffel? Or what were you carrying? I'm debating on what type of setup to get and noticed yours is pretty simple. Any complaints?
    #9
  10. Trailace

    Trailace Long timer

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    The Andy Straps bags were great and never leaked a drop of water. Now if you don't close them or mount them on the bike right you could have an issue. :huh

    The duffel on my X is a regular size Cabela's Boundary Waters II Duffel Bag and I keep all my gear in it.
    I used this system for the pass 35,000 miles with no real issues. It is hard to get to your stuff once its packed and loaded on the bike. I might get another set of the AS bags before out next ride since they worked so well. Here is a old picture of what is in my duffel.
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    #10
  11. Mudclod

    Mudclod Mojo Moto

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    Howdy Trailace!
    #11
  12. Trailace

    Trailace Long timer

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    Howdy :D
    #12
  13. Trailace

    Trailace Long timer

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    Day 3 Tybee Island, GA to Watsadler Campground on Hartwell Lake, GA 318 miles

    Although the rain had been troublesome, it had lowered the temps a bit and we slept well. The skies were overcast when we got up so I checked the radar. It looked like we would have 5 to 10 minutes before the rain started again. I told Cameron to get his butt in gear or we would be packing in the rain. This lit a fire under him; I think he was tired of getting wet. We were almost thru when the skies opened up.
    We rode to the beginning of the TET which is right on the coast of GA. Fortunately the rain stopped long enough for us to get a few pics.

    Cam and Me
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    Cam and Me at the start of the TET
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    Rain coming our way
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    As soon as we got on the trail, the rain started pouring down and continued for several hours. At one point it was raining so hard we could barely see. This part of the trail looked like it would normally be deep sand. With all the rain, the sand was packed and made for good riding. (except for the afore mentioned rain)

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    Wash out
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    When the rain finally let up, we stopped at the Headhunters Hair Salon to take a break.

    Headhunters Hair Salon
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    Stormy skies
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    Vapor coming out of plant Maybe this is a rain making plant
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    By the time we stopped for lunch in Augusta, GA, the skies had cleared.
    Drying out the gear
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    The next section of roads were mostly gravel
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    Another good thing about the rain, it kept the dust down.

    Cool bridge
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    We stopped in McCormick for gas. Cameron was complaining about his wet feet in his wet boots so we decided to take a break.
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    While Cameron aired out his feet, I check the GPS to see what our destination would be for the night. It was 57 trail miles to the Watsadler Lake area so that’s where we headed.

    A few miles before our destination, it started to, you guessed it, rain. We decided to stop and put our rain gear on, jackets AND pants this time. Of course we never saw another drop of rain. (that day)
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    Home for the night
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    We rode into Hartwell and had dinner at the La Cabana Restaurant.
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    After dinner, we returned to camp to take showers and hang up our wet gear, The facilities as the camp ground were very nice.
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    We decided to put the rain flies on our tents because we could see and hear storms all around us.

    Stats
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    Elevation
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    #13
  14. klr6413

    klr6413 n00b

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    What kind of tents were you using? Trying to find something similar
    #14
  15. Trailace

    Trailace Long timer

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    We both have a MSR Hubba Tent for one and it work well with no issues for many nights. :clap
    #15
  16. Trailace

    Trailace Long timer

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    Day 4 Hartwell, GA to Tellico Plains, TN 231 miles
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    Maybe our luck was changing. There was thunder and lightning all around us but we had a rain free night. After covering so much ground yesterday, we thought this day would be easier. We had approximately 231 miles to ride to our destination, Hunt’s Lodge and Motorcycle Resort in Tellico Plains, TN. We were both feeling good and ready to get on the road.

    Goodbye
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    Gear check
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    Many of the roads at the beginning of the day were paved but they were fun.
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    Hale Ridge Road was a fun dirt road that zigged and zagged up Cabin and Rocky Knob Mountains.
    Hale Ridge Road
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    We stopped in Dillard, GA for lunch at Subway.
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    Mountains and stormy skies
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    Soon after lunch, we crossed into North Carolina. This area was full of great twisty roads that took us up and over mountains and thru thick forests..

    Heading up
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    3200 feet and climbing
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    We stopped at this cool cable bridge
    Pic bridge
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    Our luck finally ran out, more rain.
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    We stopped to take a picture of this waterfall.
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    I decided to take a pic with Cameron in it. Can you spot a potential problem?
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    As we were taking the pic, I asked Cam if he smelled something burning. No sooner had I said it I noticed Cam’s rain gear bag was loose and laying on the top of his muffler exhaust exit. The bag had a big hole burned in it and was still smoldering. The bag and the jacket liner inside were a total loss. We learned a valuable lesson, or did we.
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    We came across this big pipeline that followed the trail for a few miles.
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    At this point the rain was not too bad but the skies were threatening.
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    Tatham Gap Road is part of the Trail of Tears.
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    Tatham Gap Road was about 70 miles from our destination for the night. Who knew what perils laid ahead of us in those 70 miles? The rain started coming down in buckets as the elevation rose. We were riding thru low lying clouds and very dense forests. Even with all the rain, the roads were still manageable although some had small streams running thru them.
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    All the conditions mentioned above conspired to interfere with the satellite signal. This made navigating quite a challenge. We had no detailed maps of the area so we rode until we came to clearings in the forest where we could regain the signal. At each clearing we tried to memorize the distance between the next several turns. We navigated this way for 2 hours. The going was slow but we managed to stay on the trail.
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    As we came over the final rise, we could see that the skies ahead of us were clearing. This was a very good thing because we were worn out.
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    Under sunny skies we rolled into Tellico Plains. We made camp in the only dry area of Hunt’s Lodge and Motorcycle Resort.
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    As Cam unloaded his saddlebags, he noticed that a quarter size hole had been burned into the right saddlebag. The bags had shifted and were not sitting correctly on the frame. Fortunately, nothing in the bag was damaged but we were left with the dilemma of making repairs. We had just decided to ride 20 miles to find repair items at Wal-Mart when Jack and Lori drove up to our campsite. Jack and Lori are the owners of the campground. Jack accessed the problem and volunteered to help with the repairs. He cut 2 pieces of Formica and put it, and an o-ring on each side of the hole and held it all together with a nut and bolt. Problem solved. (I have some pictures somewhere and will ad them later)

    Thanks, Jack, for taking the time to help us. Jack is a fellow rider and an all around nice guy. As he was making the repairs, he told us about the 4 water crossing we would face the next day on the TAT. He showed us a video of the fourth water crossing and advised us on the best line to take. His last comment was “With all the rain we had today, the water will be so deep you probably won’t be able to see any of the rock formations so just stay to the right”. This gave Cameron and I something to discuss over dinner and later over a few beers.

    If your ever in the area make sure you stay at Hunt’s Lodge and Motorcycle Resort its a great place to stay.
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    Nice sunset.
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    Stats
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    Elevation
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    #16
  17. TN3Sport

    TN3Sport East TN DS Rider

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    Chattanooga, TN
    Great report.
    Next time you are in Dillard, forgo the Subway and eat at the Dillard House. Its a classic.

    I traversed the Witt Rd. water crossings a few days ago. Don't fly through any of these, but the forth one (heading the direction you will be going) will be the biggest challenge. Stay out of the middle. Either cross it left or right. The slab rock formations have a tendency to make your front wheel slide out. But, cross it either way left or way right to the extreme edges. If you cross it on the right side, you should exit the water just barely in the overgrowth. Left side will likely be too deep given all the rain we had, but I crossed it on the left side easily a few days ago. (Before the rain began.)

    Good luck.
    #17
  18. Trailace

    Trailace Long timer

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    Day 5 Tellico Plains, TN to Tims Ford State Park, TN 185 miles

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    We had a lot of good riding the 2 days we were on the TET. I would like to come back some day and finish it. Thanks again to intothenew, 9Dave, AugustFalcon, BlueLghtning, MoBill, NorthernTraveler, Rob23 and anyone else who helped for the great job they did creating the tracks and then sharing them.

    Now it was time to begin the TAT. It was no surprise that it was raining when we woke up. We were concerned that with all the rain that the water crossing might be impassable. We would deal with that when and if it became an issue.

    Beginning of the TAT
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    Approximately 5 miles into the trail, we came to the first water crossing. The water was deep but the current was slow. We were able to cross with no issues. We didn’t even stop to take a picture.

    The second crossing was out of its banks which made it very wide. There were a couple of downed trees blocking the trail.
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    Cam crossing
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    The third crossing was not an issue either so again, we didn’t stop to take pictures.

    The fourth crossing was the one we were concerned about. When we got to it, I had to move two small logs out of the way.
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    We didn’t take any pictures of us crossing because we wanted to be ready in case we got into any trouble. Oh, by the way, it was still raining.
    Still raining
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    Cam at railroad crossing
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    It finally stopped raining so we made a pit stop to take off our rain gear, get gas and a snack.

    Gas and donut stop
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    We were making good time because most of the roads were paved. We made another pit stop for lunch in Palmer, TN, this time at Peggy’s Pit Stop.
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    We made a new friend. He enjoyed the pizza as much as we did.
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    Next stop, Tims Ford State Park. We got there early so we set up our tents and relaxed for the remainder of the evening.
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    Stats
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    Elevation
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    Day 6 Tims Ford State Park to Pickwick Dam, TN 220 miles

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    There was a lot of activity in the campground last night so we had difficulty sleeping. When we arrived the campground yesterday afternoon there were only 12 other campers. When we got up this morning, the campground was full. At least the weather was nice; no rain.
    Cam fashion statement
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    There were miles and miles of farmland on this part of the trail.
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    Barn
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    There were four more water crossings on the route today. I had been taking the lead on the water crossing but today I asked Cameron to take the lead so I could get some action shots. After taking the lead on the first one, he decided to take the lead on all of them.

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    The fourth water crossing was very wide and had a gravel bottom but we had no issues crossing any of them.

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    One of the towns we rode thru was have an old tractor parade.
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    The day went by very fast and before we knew it we were at Pickwick campground on the Tennessee River just north of Mississippi. It was Saturday but the campground was empty. The bad economy must be taking its toll on the Tennessee parks systems. There were no attendants and the facilities were poorly maintained.

    Campground
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    Cameron in his tent
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    Rick’s fashion statement
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    The repairs to Cameron’s saddlebag were holding up well
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    Stats
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    Elevation
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    #18
  19. BAH650

    BAH650 n00b

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2012
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    Location:
    Fort Worth,Tx
    Hows this ride going?
    #19
  20. Bob

    Bob Formerly H20Pumper

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    Great start, waiting for the next segment.
    #20