The Long Way Home. Huntsville to Cleveland on a 250.

Discussion in 'Day Trippin'' started by klaviator, Jun 26, 2012.

  1. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    Thanks for following along. I did end up coming through your neck of the woods on the way back. Stay tuned.
    #21
  2. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    After lunch I headed north on 52. It was nice ride and lead me to this:

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    This is the Big Walker Lookout. I had been here many years ago on an HSTA ride but didn't realize it was here. For six bucks you can climb to the top of the tower but I just headed into the store.

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    Where I spent two bucks taking care of one of my addictions.

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    Even without climbing the tower it's a pretty good view from here.

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    Then I headed down the mountain on 621 / Old Mountain RD, another scinic ride with lots of curves.

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    Then it was left on 42 to get to one of the places I wanted to see on my trip, Burke's Garden. For those of you who haven't heard of Burke's Garden, it's become somewhat of a popular destination for motorcycle riders. What is Burke's Garden? Well just follow along. There are, as far as I know, only two ways to get there; 623 from the North or 623 from the South. So I followed 42 to the southern end of 623.

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    and headed north on 623.

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    No, the southern end is not paved but it's pretty smooth and can easily be done on a street bike.

    It has plenty of curves:

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    It's very peaceful here and I didn't come across any other traffic.

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    this looks like a mailbox but is way up in a tree in the middle of nowhere.

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    A hiking trail crossed the road here. A rest stop for hikers?

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    There was a sign saying that the water bottles were courtesy of a local church and this:

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    #22
  3. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    A view onto Burke's Garden.

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    another of many hairpin curves:

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    Another scenic view.

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    And then the road became paved and I was in Burke's Garden. So what exactly is Burkes Garden?

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    There really isn't much there. It's just a scenic and peaceful valley completely surrounded by mountains. Other than some farms, there's not much there.

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    Judging from the price of gas, this hasn't been used for a while.

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    This country store closed at the end of 2011.

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    Then I rode North on 623. It's a great twisty road and I passed a few motorcycles coming the other way. It was a great ride but I think that coming in from the south is more scenic.
    #23
  4. Dabears

    Dabears --------------------

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    Klaviator- great ride report- thanks for taking us along with you!
    #24
  5. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    After Burke's garden I headed to the town of Tazewell. I just rode through taking one Pic as I rode.

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    Then I turned on to 16 South. Yes, I know that the way to Cleveland was north but one of the things I wanted to do on this trip was ride 16 between Tazewell and Marion. It's a great road that twists and turns its way up and over three mountain ridges. Since I was headed the wrong way on 16, I would have to ride that section twice:evil. Oh well, if someone had to do it, it might as well be me.

    Just outside of Tazewell I came across this:

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    It's a chicken farm....or maybe ranch is a better term. Each chicken had its own little shelter and was on a leash. Definately different from the typical chicken farms we have in North Georgia.

    Then it was some fun riding through a bunch of twisties. IMO, this section of 16 is much more challenging than the much more famous (infamous?) Deal's Gap.

    I did stop for a break. I turned down a dirt road.

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    went a short distance and parked.

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    Good thing I was not in a passenger car:D Of course what fun would driving this road be in a cage anyway:D

    If I was on a dual sport I probably would have enjoyed seeing where this road went. There were a number of other dirt roads along 16 but this was the only one with a warning sign.

    After crossing all three mountain ridges, I came to Hungry Mother State Park. The park may have a strange name but it sure looked like a nice park.

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    I;m not really much of a beach person. Beaches in Florida leave me bored after a couple of hours but there is something about rivers and lakes in the mountains that I find really beautiful. It was still too early to stop, especially since I already lost so much time getting a tire this morning. Despite this, I decided to stay here for the night. I had only ridden a little over 100 miles and was only about five miles north of where I spent last night but since I had no real plan, no reservations, and plenty of time, I decided I could afford to do this.

    So I paid for a campsite. It was a little pricey;$21 plus a five dollar 'processing fee" whatever that was. It did include entry into the park and also the beach.

    I went and found a campsite and set up my tent.

    Then I headed off to the beach. Throwing caution to the winds, I rode that half mile to the beach in water shoes, T shirt, swim trunks, helmet and gloves.

    I took a few pics then went swimming.

    There was a platform with a couple of diving boards.

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    Did I mention it was very scenic here?

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    and more scenery:

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    The water was perfect, a little cold at first but nice and refreshing once I got used to it.

    Then it was back to my campsite.

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    These campsites were unusual since all tents had to be on these wooden platforms. There was a nice bath house about 50 yards away and the area was on the side of a mountain and completely tree covered.

    For dinner I rode into Marion and ate here:

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    Good food, good service and reasonable prices. I'll give the Tuscan Italian Grill a thumbs up.

    Then I stopped at McDs for a milkshake and then back to the park. Total mileage for the day: 132. Total progress toward my destination: around 5 miles.
    #25
  6. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    Thanks for following along. Stay tuned, I still have a long way to go to finish this report and I did pass through Murfreesboro on my way back to Huntsville.
    #26
  7. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    Just like my my first night of camping on this trip, I wasn't all that comfortable sleeping on my thin mattress. At least I was not cold this night. In exchange for a little discomfort I saved some money by not staying in a motel and also had the chance to meet some interesting people camping near me. First was a couple from PA. riding an SV1000 and Nighthawk 750. They were about half way through their trip and where going to head south to the BRP and then back to PA. Having 2 bikes and being able to share the load of camping gear between them they had a large tent and a real air mattress. It was nice having some fellow riders to talk to. I also met the couple camped right across from me. He husband had just retired from the Air Force reserve and they were on a road trip. They where in a Chevy Avalanche so they had plenty of room for camping stuff but there is no way they could enjoy the trip through the mountains as much as I did on my scooter.

    Despite A less than perfect nights sleep, I got up reasonable rested and had a couple of granola bars for breakfast. Then I started my day's ride by having a blast riding 16 to Tazewell:ricky:wings:ricky

    Riding through Tazewell, I managed to miss a turn somewhere and ended up somewhat lost. Well, I wasn't totally lost, I just didn't know which way to go to get back on 16. I ended up on route 460 which is a major 4 lane highway. I stopped at a gas station and decided to get something to eat. It was a little late for breakfast but early for lunch so I compromised. A Pizza Pocket, sprite and some donuts hit the spot. Then a had to ask several people before I found someone who knew how to get to 16 north. Even those directions where a little of but the did eventually get me there.

    16 heading north out of Tazewell was a nice, curvy scenic road that took my into West Virginia. In WVA, the mountains became more rugged and the road more twisty. I came down from a twisty pass to this:

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    Interesting name for a city. It is supposed to be the southernmost incorporated city in WVA. Based on what I saw I would consider it more of a town than a city but it was the larges city/town that I would see for a while. It was even large enough to have it's own Dollar General.

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    This looked like a rugged coal mining town but I still though it was scenic because of the way it was situated in this very rugged countryside.

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    This is definately not a tourist trap town but at least it did have a Hotel, the last one I would see for a while.

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    Some more pics of War.

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    #27
  8. Davidc83

    Davidc83 Been here awhile

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    scrappy: I have ridden to Florida from southern Indiana and back (2500 mile round trip) on a 250cc bike before; no problems. Half the trip back was even on the Interstate (needed to get back home). Many different routes you can take to Florida once you get south of the Ohio river. US31 goes all the way to Florida. If you want to kick over and do the Dragon, keep going south on the same road (us129) and it will also take you to Florida. Same goes for US27. Have fun man.
    #28
  9. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    It's Sunday afternoon. Instead of writing this ride report, I really should be out riding. I should be but the 105 degree temperature outside has just put a damper on my riding enthusiasm. So I've been working on odds and ends around this house, working on this report, and occasionally watching the TV which is on in the background. The movie that just finished is one I have seen before but is very appropriate for the next part of this report. The movie is Doc Hollywood. For those who have not seen it, it's about a young doctor who gets delayed and stuck in a small southern town on his way to a job interview in Hollywood. It's plot revolves around the attractions of the big city versus a small town, as well as the usual romantic plot.

    What does this have to do with my ride? This part of West Virginia has lots of rugged landscape, and some small towns. I just posted some pics of the booming metropolis of War. I found it a very interesting little town (I consider it a town not a city). I did some research. War has a population of just under 900. It's not exactly a big city but it seemed pretty big compared to most of the small town I would pass through on my ride through WV. It even had a Dollar general. Many towns had nothing but some houses. Here's a couple of pics I took after War:

    The road is always in a valley unless going over a mountain pass.

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    A typical small town.

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    Then came to a small town which is supposed to have around the same population as War but I suspect is now much smaller. It used to be a much bigger town but shrunk after it's main industry, a coal mine, was shut down. This town, however, has become famous due to the movie October Sky. If you haven't seen October Sky, you should.

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    The movie is based on a true story about some boys in a poor coal mining town who manage to build some rockets and then go on to win the state science fair. They get college scholarships and one even goes on to become an engineer and work for NASA.

    In the movie, the town seemed much bigger than what I saw here. All I saw were a few houses, one gas station/convenience store, and this sign:

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    In the October Sky, the Rocket Boys are successful because they get an education and escape Coalwood and the mining industry. In Doc Hollywood, the main character chooses a small town (and the girl) over the big city. Riding through this part of WV made me wonder about what it is like to really live in a small town. Compared to much of the country, these people are poor. Most have no McDonalds or Wally World within 10 miles. They probably don't even have (gasp!) 4G cell service.:eek1 But, they would be considered rich by most people living in third world countries.

    I really was thinking about this stuff as I passed through all these small towns. I wondered if these people were happy here or were hoping to escape to the big city.

    Most of the houses were small but many appeared to be well maintained, some didn't

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    #29
  10. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    The first town of any size I came to in WV was Welch

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    With a population of 2400, it's relatively big but still small compared to the smallest city I remember living in, the city of Bath, ME with a population of around 10,000.

    I found Welch very interesting and stopped, parked my bike and walked around a bit to get some pics:

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    #30
  11. red bud

    red bud alky w/motorcycle problem

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    :huh a pilot that doesn't recognize airmail when he sees it
    #31
  12. Laconic

    Laconic Anodyne

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    I've seen that mailbox before. :D

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    I always get depressed when I ride through those dead and dying towns in West Virginia.

    I'm enjoying your report. :lurk
    #32
  13. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    Thanks for following along. How's your scooter search going?



    :lol3:rofl:lol3:lol3

    My wife always tells me I'm not very observent:lol3



    You got a much better pic of the mailbox than I did.

    I found WVA very interesting, not depressing. I do hope that those areas can find something to replace coal mining. Eastern WVA seems to have been able to attract a lot of tourists, especially motorcyclists. Maybe they can do the same thing in Southern WVA. With the addition of a few tourist facilities and some clever advertising, I would think that War and Coalwood could attract some tourism. War already has the War Hotel.
    #33
  14. Laconic

    Laconic Anodyne

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    I didn't mean it was all depressing, just those towns that were hit especially hard by the joblessness. Heck, we just spent last weekend up in Marlinton. :D
    #34
  15. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    I understand what your saying. Around 15 years ago I came down 16 with a friend. He found it depressing too. Most of these towns were built by the coal industry. Coal was a major factor in the economic growth of this country but coal mining is hard, dangerous work and judging by these towns, didn't pay all that well. Coal mining is decreasing in the face of environmental concerns as well as cheap natural gas so that source of income for these towns is going away.

    Is the joblessness in this area worse than the rest of this country? I don't know. What I do know is that this part of WVA has a natural, rugged beauty that most parts of the country can't match. I hope the people of the area find a way to capitalize on that beauty. I believe that eventually they will.
    #35
  16. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    After Welch i continued north on 16 passing through countless small towns as well as the city of Beckley and the New River Gorge area. Last time I came through here, if I remember right, 16 passed over the New River Bridge. It must have been rerouted and I ended up going over the Gauley river. I ended up missing the New River Bridge but at that point I didn't feel like going out of my way. I had underestimated how big WV was and also how slow my progress would be on these roads. Originally I was planning on cutting over to eastern WVA after Beckley but changed my mind and stayed on 16. Here's a few pics I took along the way:

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    After crossing I-77, the landscape changed becoming less rugged.

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    It may be difficult to see what's in this next pic but it's a drive-in movie theater that was still in operation. How many of you remember going to drive in theaters?

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    This was something I remember see often as a kid in the Ohio and Pennsyslvania countryside:

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    #36
  17. 351 power

    351 power Adventurer

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    nice report sir. will keep watching
    #37
  18. tastroman

    tastroman Long timer

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    There is also a forest service road that will get you into Burke Gardens. Probably a little rough on a scooter but it can be done.
    #38
  19. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    Thanks, i hope you enjoy the rest.

    I had heard there were only two ways in and out. I'll have to check it out if i make it back to that area.
    #39
  20. steveb126

    steveb126 Adventurer Anonymous

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    There is a road from the E, but I've heard its much rougher than the route we took in.

    Great report, yes we did take a few pics of the same things didn't we ?
    #40