I had two weeks of leave available prior to attending a 90 day training course (ARMY TRAINING!) and so my wife I and rented a cabin in the Great Smoky mountains to spend a week hiking. Following that, she would drive home and I would ride home from the Smokies following Sections 1-4 of the MABDR. My plan was to install an aluminum hitch carrier to tote my KTM 690 down. After reading mixed reviews from inmates on bike carriers, I did what any good inmate would do -- I ignored all the advice and bought the cheapest one anyway: a Black Widow 400lb'er from DiscountRamps.com. I slapped it onto my 2017 Land Rover Discovery 5 (if you're a Rover guy, hit me up and I'll spin you the saga of getting a Class III hitch onto these new Tata Motors Rovers). Then I did the most dangerous, stupid thing I've done in a while... I rode the bike (using just my arms) up the included ramp and onto the carrier. The KTM almost came crashing down at several moments during this foolish endeavor. Build quality on the Black Widow was ... agricultural. It's not the prettiest thing, but it came together well and once strapped down there is very little flex or sway. So we depart. It was an 8 hour drive from Maryland to the Smokies and I was sweatin' it the entire time. I'm certainly not an engineer, but I know enough about aluminum to know that if formed and welded incorrectly it will crack or shatter -- perhaps catastrophically. For $200 I don't think DiscountRamps.com uses the aluminum they roll out in Spokane to build airplanes and satellites. You know, the stuff that's cooled with the freshest mountain water -- not some formaldehyde blend pulled out of the Yangtze River. The Black Widow did totally fine. I would recommend it to anyone. Just have a buddy there to help you load/unload. I'm 35 years old -- relatively young by inmate standards, but old by the internet -- and I've avoided using AirBNB or VRBO or any of these newfangled San Francisco vacation booking tech company things. I've long preferred shitty websites and phone calls to book cabins in woodsy places. But I think those days really are over for good. So I used VRBO to rent a place near the Smokies. My wife's requirement was only that there was a view. There was: I think most southerners would consider me a Yankee. Perhaps unfairly. I've had several different passports, I've lived all over the place, and I'm a career US Army officer. But I talk like a Yankee, I guess, and that's usually not enough to overcome that I have deep, deep roots in the Smoky Mountains. My great-grandfather was Dr. FF Brown, the longest-serving pastor of First Baptist in Knoxville, TN and once the leader of all Southern Baptists. Presidents Wilson and Roosevelt both called upon him in times of need. If you are Tennessean, a Baptist, or otherwise, the legends, myths, and stories about him are fun to read: One of his daughters -- Mary-Elizabeth Brown (my grandmother) -- joined Chicago and Southern Airlines as a stewardess after graduating from the Univ of Tennessee in 1946. The photos & memorabilia from this part of her life are fascinating. C&S Airlines flew people around in DC-3s (aka C-47), Lockheed Connies, and Skymasters over short flights across the midwest, south, and a few spots in the Caribbean. Many of her passengers had never flown in an airplane before, and a great deal of them sent telegrams back to Chicago & Southern Airlines HQ describing their journey and how well they were treated by my grandmother. She kept them all (the telegrams) and they're a fascinating insight into the adolescence of air travel in the United States. On a layover in Jamaica in 1953, she met a Dutch doctor finishing his residency in Aruba, then a Dutch colony. They were soon married and she moved with him -- my would-be grandfather -- to the Netherlands shortly thereafter. They never left and she raised 5 children in the Netherlands. Anyway, she died recently, well into her 90s with her son and daughters (my mom included) at her side. My task was to reconnoiter where she spent her "glorious summers"; specifically the swinging bridge at Kinzel Springs, Tennessee where her family had a summer cabin. From here she, her sisters and brother would jump into the Little River all those years ago. Her memories of the Smokies were present in her conversation until the very end of her life. And so that's where we would spread her ashes. The bridge exists today much as it did then. The padlocks are love locks like you see at the Pont du Neuf in Paris, I think... just the rural Tennessee version: Visiting this place that my grandmother loved so much in her youth, so recently after her death, filled me with a great deal of melancholy. I made a promise to myself that I would take my own children to play in these waters. My first is due in October.