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How I spent my summer vacation, or 6000 miles on a WR250R

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by skierd, Aug 27, 2009.

  1. Monty

    Monty Calm Like a Bomb

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2006
    Oddometer:
    202
    Location:
    Texas
    :lurk

    Great report.
  2. Oldmanx

    Oldmanx Aimless wanderer

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,111
    Location:
    S.W.Pa., USA
    I've been late to work 2 days this week myself, reading this wonderfull report. I'm going to be out of work by the end of 1st quarter next year. This RR has me seriously considering buying a distance capable bike and taking off on my own adventure.
  3. skierd

    skierd Wannabe Far-Rider

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,414
    Location:
    Fairbanks, AK
    Do it! Thats what my dad did and is doing in his retirement, except in a car. Got rid of basically everything except for a few keepsakes that went into storage, sold the house, got in his car and drove off into the sunset. If it didn't fit in the car (350Z convertable), it didn't go. I actually need to go ship him his luggage as he's planning a trip to China in November (lucky bastard...) from his new home base on an island in Puget Sound (lucky bastard...).
  4. MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2003
    Oddometer:
    13,630
    Location:
    Eureka, Calif
    This geological formation looks anatomical. :lol3

    [​IMG]
  5. skierd

    skierd Wannabe Far-Rider

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,414
    Location:
    Fairbanks, AK
    Day 16 - Pikes Peak to Golden to Limon, Co

    Up late-ish, mainly because the purpose of the day before and today was to take it easy and rest up for the run east to home. But first lets get high:
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    My dad and I went here on a trip we took when I was about 10 years old. We didn't drive up then, instead took the cog railway. Now, 16 years later, we were back to have another go at the mountain and see what changed. I also really really wanted to ride the highway after watching some videos of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb this year.

    Passing the resevior

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    On the way up, I mainly rode and tried to have a good time when I wasn't stuck behind one lumbering vehicle or another or a herd of Christian bikers on cruisers who didn't seem to have a terrible amount of dirt riding experience, so not many pics from the way up. Except this one... getting up there!

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    I ended up stopping to check on one of the bikers on the way down... they had a flat tire and managed to not fall off the mountain muscling a 800 pound bike to the small shoulder. Offered to help, but none of us could figure a way to get the bike up in the air on the slope. The caught a ride with another one of the group and got a truck up to get off the mountain.


    The summit!

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    There was also a ADV-type bike rally there that day in addition to the Christian bikers, I think Rawhide Adventures? Lots of GS's, a few KLR's and even a DR650. I was the smallest bike up there, and given the nature of the tires and the sheer amount of cleanliness on all the bikes, I had to wonder what kind of adventure it was. :rofl

    The more you know?
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    Oh beautiful...
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    The song's right...

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    Your's truly.
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    So how does the bike run up there? To be honest, not as good as it did several thousand feet lower. It was definitely down on power, even compared to what it had two days prior at ~12,000 feet. Thats not to say it was running poorly, it was just weak compared to normal which is understandable. Frankly, I'm definitely not concerned with its performance anywhere in any condition now.

    Coming back down
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    Just a little further...
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    More traffic...
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    I liked the mandatory brake check at the ranger station where they were actually using an infrared thermometer and stopping people whose brakes were over a certain temperature. There were definitely people who needed to ease the hell up and let the car roll a little as the smell of fried brakes was foul in the air. Fortunately the ranger took one look at me, chuckled, and waved me through without looking at my brakes. I guess no one's concerned about a dirt bike. :lol3

    At the gift shop at mile 8? my dad and I parted ways. He was headed west to Washington after a tour through their wine region and I was headed east for home to start classes. Wished me a safe trip, wished him the same, said our goodbyes and off we went. Hopefully one day we can actually do a whole trip together instead of just a few days...

    Well, it wasn't quite time to head for home yet for me though... I had a friend from high school who moved up to Golden. So, lets go get a beer! On the road
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    Woo, made it!
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    Uh... problem. Gave her a call as I got into town. She neglected to tell me that she was going to Europe, and was in the airport about to board her flight as I got there. This was someone I thought was a pretty decent friend back in the day, so this stung pretty badly and I took it pretty personally. C'est la vie...

    Fuck it, lets motor. Get me the hell out of Colorado. Of course, its rush hour, and the good citizens of Denver really just don't seem to have a goddamn clue on how to drive in traffic. Eventually broke free and headed east on US 40 East, about 1500 miles west of where I had picked it up on my last trip.
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    On the road...
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    Made it as far as Limon, Co before it started getting dark. Ate dinner, got gas, and started looking for a place to stay... I was tired of hotels. I was tired of campgrounds. I ended up pulling off 40 onto a side road and found my way onto a field that had a cluster of trees and stealth camped for the first time. First time I had a perfect pitch on the hammock too, which is good considering I was hoping to be partying with a "friend" about the time I was falling asleep in some farmers field. Ah well...

    And then it struck me... I really need a drink. A strong drink. And there's only one place in America I could think of going to get it.
  6. foobert

    foobert Hands-free adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    97
    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    Great ride report. Can't wait to see what's next.

    Feelng guilty spending these hours reading your most excellent report when I shold be finishing my own from a month ago...
  7. Boxall

    Boxall Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2005
    Oddometer:
    99
    Location:
    Northwest Georgia
    A most excellent adventure!
    :freaky
  8. toneout

    toneout Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2008
    Oddometer:
    23
    Location:
    Samsula, FL
    Very good RR. I have been following this daily and its funny to know that you are already home and back to school. Here we are waiting to know where you got that drink. :D
  9. achesley

    achesley Old Motorcyclist

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2003
    Oddometer:
    3,567
    Location:
    Jennings, Louisiana
    Great report and pictures. Love the WR250. I did my first bit of TAT back in '98 on a '97 DR350SE with full camping gear and solo also. My preferred method of travel , even today. What a load. I was all over the place in the mud of East Arkansas :lol3
  10. Bbasso

    Bbasso my name is Rob

    Joined:
    May 18, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,916
    Location:
    North Carolina!
    Kick ass ride!
  11. rocks

    rocks Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2004
    Oddometer:
    417
    Location:
    North Wales UK
    Great report. Looks like the bike coped very well.
  12. DuckWV

    DuckWV Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2009
    Oddometer:
    870
    Location:
    Central WV
    :lurk

    Great report! Keep it up.
  13. skierd

    skierd Wannabe Far-Rider

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,414
    Location:
    Fairbanks, AK
    Day 17 - Into Kansas

    This may have been my favorite night out in the field in the hammock. The weather was cold, but crystal clear all night. I was well off the road, back in the middle of a small cluster of trees in the middle of a fallow field. The ever present ebb and flow of the prairie winds gently rocked me to sleep, spent the night swaying above the tall grass and with the two large trees that comprised the foundation of my home that evening, and woke as the colors around me change from the darkness of night into the delicate shades of early morning as the sun began to creep into the sky to start the day. Got dressed, deflated the camp pad, stuffed the sleeping bag into its stuff sack, packed the hammock into the snake skins, stuffed everything back on the bike into their respective homes, and was away within about 30 minutes of the sun breaking the horizon with no trace that I was ever there. Perfect. :clap

    Have I mentioned how much I love the great wide openness of the plains yet? No? Well I frickin' love it.

    Back on the highway (still US 40):
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    The first couple towns seemed to basically be abandoned or not open yet, unfortunate as I was pretty hungry and looking forward to stopping someplace with coffee and hot food. First place I came across with such amenities was Kit Carson, CO. The trading post was all that was open, and the only place there seemed to be, so the choice was easy.
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    Great food, good coffee, and really nice people inside, stop by if you're there one day. By the way, did I mention it was cold out? I had my cold layers on underneath my rain gear trying to keep warm, but the previous nights gentle winds had found new strength with the new day. Oh well, nothing to do but keep the fingers wiggling and hope for someone to turn the heat on...


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    Stopped at a little roadside history slash rest area.
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    I always think its neat that these easy to drive and navigate highways, especially the major east-west US routes follow the original trails west first blazed thousands of years ago by migrating herds, followed by the Native Americans, and eventually the first white settlers. Still, its hard to ignore the starkness and vastness of this great American landscape.

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    The winds were simply terrible most of the morning, coming directly from the south or slightly to the south east nearly all day. Unfortunately as US 50 East was my intended way south as US40 ends up co-signing with I-70 for much of its length, that meant a nice 60 mile jaunt south directly into it. Not a ton of pics of that transit because of the wind, but I did get off the pavement for it and pack on to the gravel/sand county roads. Fortunately it did eventually warm up into a quite nice day and I was able to pack my cold layers just before noon.

    Once on US 50 I started seeing signs for Garden City that make it seem like quite the destination and seeing signs advertising the Garden City zoo. Check the Garmin... hmm I'm making fantastic time... Screw it, I haven't been to a zoo in years, lets see what they got out here.

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    First nice surprise: It's FREE! Second nice surprise: not only are the grounds pleasant the facilities much appreciated, they also have a ton of cool stuff.
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    Third nice surprise: this is a serious zoo! The Rhino:
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    A great sign on the lion cage:
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    Fortunately he was sleeping on the other side. :lol3 They had a damn decent collection of very rare animals, especially big cats. Unfortunately for the cats but fortunately for the visitors, they were in pretty small pens and therefore easy to see up close. Snow leopards, several jaguars and leopards, a Siberian Tiger, a couple lions, and more. They also had a breeding pair of giraffe's, some of the few remaining Pere Davids Deer, several camels and a bunch of other cool animals from all over the world. Definitely more of an old school "Go see the animals" type zoo, it was a nice place to wander around for about 2 hours.

    On the way back to the bike, I saw this memorial bench...
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    Thanks Darlene, I hope to.

    Another neat historical marker...
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    Yes, that said I was standing on the banks of the historical Arkansas River. The river was no where to be seen however, as centuries of agriculture and irrigation has catastrophically altered the aqua system of the region. There was actually a large exhibit on this at the zoo describing the massive environmental impact of the farms that surround the town have in very clear and refreshingly fair and realistic terms. Kinda scary when you think about how much food this region provides for the world...

    Back on the road, US 50 continues to follow the Sante Fe Trail that I had first joined south in Oklahoma and west in Colorado on the TAT.

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    Can you see the ruts? I sure as hell can't. Then again, I can barely imagine the courage of the folks who originally ran the trail in the 1800's.
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    Dodge City!
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    What a disappointment. They're trying a little too hard to squeeze the toursit stone there, very artificial. It was cool to see the original old building that made up the historical downtown, still there and still in use just as they were a century plus ago... filled with regular boring stores and restaurants. Not needing my nails done, a pawn shop, check casing, or chinese takeout, I kept moving.

    I did eat at a cool little local bar called Kates, a little off the beaten path but great food for cheap. Beer specials were pretty good too.

    Fort Dodge
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    More about the trail...
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    This wind... this devilish, demonic wind... as I came up on this...
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    WHY AREN'T THERE MORE OF THESE OUT HERE!?! This was the first and only wind farm I passed, but damn of the wind hadn't blown all damn day and night on the way across Oklahoma just over a week prior, and damned if they didn't blow the entire damn way from Colorado to the Mississippi. It was also sunny and beautiful the entire way (something I know isn't necessarily the the case out here always). Hell, we don't even need massive wind farms like this. Every farmer, every rancher, every homeowner out here, put up a wind generator and a few solar panels on the roof. Drastically reduce your power consumption from the grid, hell it'll probably run backwards most of the time since you'll feed in to the system. Give 'em a tax break or a rebate, I bet we'd see a massive reduction in our overseas oil consumption. Sorry to bring politics into this, but this doesn't seem like rocket science.

    ANYWAYS, moving along. I'm making good time still, but with my long stop its getting dark. Only thing is... I'm not at all tired, again thanks to my stop. I hadn't ridden at night since I started this trip, with good reason. Deer, unknown potentially bad roads, etc... Now I'm on well traveled pavement, so lets motor.

    Made it as far as South Hutchinson, KS, home of Morton Salt.
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    One of those little surprises. I knew salt was mined, just didn't know where. Now I do heh.

    Ok, its late. Time to find a hotel. But not here, a little further down the road in Newton, KS. For those of you keeping score at home, I was just outside Limon, CO that morning, for a grand total of...
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    448.4 miles. Did I mention the bike's kinda comfortable, and is fine to ride on all day long at 60-70 mph?

    Stayed at a nice Best Western, at least in terms of the rooms. The neighborhood was a bit sketchy, so I brought her inside.

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    Tomorrow, goodbye Kansas, hello MO!
  14. gaff

    gaff Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
    141
    Location:
    Typically at the G-Spot
    Have really enjoyed your ride report.More!!!!! More!!!!!:thumb
  15. skierd

    skierd Wannabe Far-Rider

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,414
    Location:
    Fairbanks, AK
    Moar you say?

    Day 18 - Newton, KS to Jefferson City, MO

    Another long day across the plains, and unfortunately my last. Not a lot to say nor take pics of, just more of the same. Which was fine by me. :)

    Some more history
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    Clements Stone Arch Bridge, built in 1886. Condemned and bypassed, but a beautiful structure.
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    Nearing the end of the plains...
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    Soon to be replaced with hills and the start of the Appalachians...
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    Another "The more you know" moment
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    Old US 50, the "modern" route is cosigned on the interstate a few miles north. I like the old route better
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    Another cool little abandoned structure by the road side.
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    I tried to stop in Kansas City to get some Oklahoma Joe's BBQ... but they were closed (Sunday). :( Boo hiss, its been on at least one "Places to eat before you die" list and I was really looking forward to it. Too bad, maybe next time.

    Love the 8 ball water tower
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    A quick pit stop in Tipton
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    I found a campground outside of Jefferson City just about as it was getting dark. There was a sign saying it was full and reservations must be mailed in advance, and there was a sign saying fill out a slip and pick a campsite, then hand the envelope to the camp host. Hmm... lets do the latter.

    Found a nice shady spot and setup. The best spot for my setup was next to a large RV, which was good because my neighbors turned out to be quite pleasant. A husband and wife team, they lived in their 5th wheel, they consulted with campgrounds and such across the country to help them run more efficiently among other things. It pains me that I didn't write down there names, but they were extremely generous in sharing some food (fresh baked beans and cornbread) with me that was simply delicious (especially added to my regular rice+fish poor boy meal) and invited me over to sit by their fire and chat after it got dark.

    In the end, another decent day miles and road wise, about 350 miles. Tomorrow... time to get to that well earned drink.
  16. skierd

    skierd Wannabe Far-Rider

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,414
    Location:
    Fairbanks, AK
    Day 19 - Missouri and points east

    Another cold morning and wonderful nights sleep, warm shower at the campsite in the morning to wake up, and on the road again by 7am. Just in time for rush hour it seems, Jefferson City was bustling and crowded, and US50 had been mostly "improved" to either a 4-lane expressway or through the heart of the city. Boo... Eventually it cleared up though, for a while anyways:
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    Another rest area, this time for an early snack, to stretch out and adjust layers accordingly again. And because it was pretty.
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    Getting closer to where I would cross back into the "east" again, another little roadside attraction, only this time the road was the attraction:
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    Part of the original US 66, preserved and out of use, replaced by US 50(?) and others.
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    Old and new
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    "Then you took me to St. Louis later on (down the river).
    A freighter said she's been here but she's gone, boy, she's gone."

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    Sorry US 50, you were fun while you lasted but you aren't on my route anymore. Flying blind at this point, the Garmin doesn't understand my fixation on my new destination nor my desire to stay off the interstate so I resort to the old fashioned method of maps. Fortunately the route was simple to follow as there were roads taking me just about directly where I wanted to go in the manner I wished to travel.

    Illinois backroads
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    Hello Indiana
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    Lots of rivers to cross today.

    We're definitely out of the plains now, back into the eastern woodlands
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    As I got close to my next river crossing, the hills turned into great towering limestone cliffs, riddled with caves and coves and trails that begged for exploring.
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    But alas, daylight was running thin and dammit, I need that drink! One last river crossing... and about 60 miles to go...
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    Tomorrow, a well deserved day of rest. Mostly.
  17. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    853
    Location:
    Château d'If
    Love the way your number plate is all dirty and illegible:rofl

    I guess Missouri Five-Oh were looking the other way.

    You guys in the US seem to have different laws state by state for plating a dirt/enduro bike for road use.

    I assume once a bike is plated and deemed road legal in one state then it can be ridden throughout the country?
  18. MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2003
    Oddometer:
    13,630
    Location:
    Eureka, Calif
    Yes, each state offers "reciprocity", for lack of a better term, to the other states and respects their registered vehicles and equipment laws. For example, some states require two plates and some states only require one plate for cars, but the 1-plate cars can operate in the 2-state plates. Same for window tint laws, lighting laws, etc. As long as you are compliant in your home state you are legal in every state.

    But.... his WR250R is 50-state street legal from the factory. :thumb
  19. skierd

    skierd Wannabe Far-Rider

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,414
    Location:
    Fairbanks, AK
    Yup, the bike is 100% street legal from the factory everywhere in the US.

    I don't clean the bike on road trips, hence the muddy plate. Yeah... thats it. :rofl

    Day 20 - A well deserved rest

    Pushed another 450 miles the day before to make Bardstown, KY by around 10pm. Time to see where my favorite spirits are made! I rode about 40 miles today to get to and from my initial destination, the rest was spent on foot. It was nice to be off the bike for a little bit.

    First stop... Time for that drink:
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    First stop, the Maker's Mark Distillery. Its about 30 minutes outside of Bardstown in Loretto, KY. Everything was shut down for summer cleaning as the water temps from their source was too high for optimal distilling, but the tour still took us through the entire facility.

    Inside one of the warehouses:
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    The condensors

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    Inside one of the giant fermentation barrels used to make the beer that will be distilled.
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    Maker's is a fairly small facility that makes just the one whiskey, Maker's Mark (duh) so its a pretty small and (for mass production) boutiquey type shop. The grounds are immaculate, the buildings are all pretty, and the bottling line is a small and efficient operation.
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    As the tour girl led us back to their warehouse/tasting room and got to talking about the whiskey aging in the barrels, a little hound dog puppy followed us in. I miss my hound dog...
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    The tasting room was almost painfully ultra modern, especially as you come in from a century old wooden warehouse surrounded by the wonderful smell of bourbon aging. They did have samples of both Maker's and the 'white dog', which oddly enough I kinda liked better. I guess because it still has some kick left to it that aged Maker's doesn't?

    On the way back to Bardstown, I passed the entrance to Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, LTD and had to stop in and see who they were since I hadn't heard of them before...
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    Definitely not a tourist destination... I later learned they are responsible for many of my favorite high end bourbons, including the Rye I bought later today at Toddy's in Bardstown.

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    Passing the new Heaven Hill
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    Dropped the bike off at the hotel and started walking around Bardstown, killing time before the next tour at the Tom Moore Distillery. Lots of neat stuff in this town, very charming little place with lots of history. Ok enough of that, more whiskey!

    Tom Moore Distillery, formerly Barton Brands.
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    This was the polar opposite of Maker's. Even though its on the Bourbon Trail, its still primarily a working distillery that happens to give tours. You have to call ahead for a reservation (nominally, I called about an hour before the tour started as thats when I walked up and found out I needed a reservation) and be met at the gate by the guide. They limit the tours to 12 people... but I got lucky. No one else showed. So I got a personal tour of the facility. :D

    The original spring that the water is still taken from
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    The barreling line
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    Inside Warehouse Z
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    No hound dogs, fancy tasting rooms hidden in back, or other gimmicks here. Just thousands of gallons of my favorite go to bourbon aging quietly (1792 Ridgemont Reserve).

    The smell is something I wish someone could turn into a candle or something. The mixture of old wood, dust, summer heat, and whiskey was magical.

    What they make here:
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    They also bottle under contract for a host of other companies, today they were actually bottling Paul Mason brandy.

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    The warehouse, ready for shipping
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    Two of their retired column stills, still functionally ready but not in use as Americans are drinking less these days.
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    They have a little park for their employees and guests
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    that features the world's largest bourbon barrel.
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    It was originally intended to be part of a tourism drive for the county to celebrate the town's heritage as a distilling capital, but there were aparently enough people against the idea on the grounds of it would "corrupt the children" and "set a bad example" that it was put into storage until the distillery bought it and put it on display.

    No drinks on the tour unfortunately, as they do not have the facilities for it. I did get directed to a great liquor store (Toddy's, see above) that had damn near every common and not-so-common bourbon on the market. I then stopped for a late lunch at the Old Talbott Inn. The dining room:
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    Had a great country fried steak, and then got to work with the bourbon sampler. 5 full shots of the bourbons of your choice you say? A shot of 1792, Bookers, Blantons, Mitchtners Single Barrel, and 4 Roses small batch later, plus two beers that I forget the name of lol, I was feeling right. Paid the check, stumbled back to my hotel, and settlied in by the pool with a pint and spent the rest of the day doing a whole lot of nothing.
  20. skierd

    skierd Wannabe Far-Rider

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,414
    Location:
    Fairbanks, AK
    Day 21 - Buffalo Trace and points east

    Time to leave, but gotta make two quick stops first. Wild Turkey was first:

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    After the other two tours, it was kinda disappointing especially since they couldn't really take us anywhere with the distillery being shut down for summer cleaning. I didn't really need to see another warehouse and not get to sample bourbon, so I cut out early and made tracks to Frankfort for my last distillery stop, Buffalo Trace. I did run in to some guys at Turkey who were on their way to the MotoGP in Indy, sounded like fun, maybe next year.

    On the way to Frankfort, I passed this little gem.
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    A fine original example of a Lotus Europa. Its for sale if anyone's interested, I took down the GPS coord's just in case.

    Made Frankfort for the last tour of the day at Buffalo Trace, which is the distillery I really really really wanted to see as they make my favorite bourbons and ryes (George T Stagg and Sazerac 17 respectively).

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    Its the oldest continuously operating distillery in the US (one of 5 allowed to stay open during prohibition), hence the warehouses made of brick instead of sheeting.

    The small batch bottling hall
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    Today they were bottling Blanton's, one barrel at a time.
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    I did get to sample a full range made from the same mashbill: Buffalo Trace white dog and 8year, Eagle Rare 10 yr (Single Barrel), Rain Vodka, and Buffalo Trace Cream liqueur. They also had root beer from a local place. All very tasty!

    Alas, it was time to leave the bourbon trail behind and make for home. Frankly, I was ready to be back, 3 weeks is a long time on the road.
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    The bridge out of Kentucky, to Ohio.
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    The route number I took eludes me, but basically it follows the river up to where US 50 crosses into West Virginia, where I'll rejoin 50 E.
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    Coolville, son.
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    The bridge to West by God Virginia. Almost home!
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    Rode about 400 miles today and ended up in Bridgeport, WV. Tomorrow... home.