Posts Tagged ‘blue ridge parkway’

american byway

Interactive map of American Byways

A few years ago, I wrote about a website the federal government got right, their “America’s Byways” website.

What I did not know, at that time, was that the authorization for identifying and creating new byways had expired in 2012. From 1991 until 2012 nearly 150 roads were defined as an American Byway or an All American Road.

Now, it turns out, that both the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed the “Reviving America’s Scenic Byways Act” and it is now with the president to sign. And who said that they could not work together to make something happen.

This act requires the Secretary of Transportation to seek nominations for and eventually make a decision of those roads that can be added to the list. This program also provides resources to those communities along the roads to help further improve the byways.

plan a motorcycle ride

American Byways info page

This website is a great source in helping plan a future ride. We have used it and have rode several of these byways ourselves including: The Highland Scenic Highway, George Washington Heritage Trail, George Washington Memorial Parkway, Northwestern Turnpike, Skyline Drive and the Natchez Trace among others.

For those of us that like these roads a special thanks must to go out to the American Motorcyclist Association. The AMA is part of the coalition that has gotten us to the point of renewing a government program that actually works.

plan a motorcycle ride

American Byway map page

One of our goals of this motorcycle vacation was to ride the entire length of the Natchez Trace Parkway.  For those that may not be familiar with the Natchez Trace it is a National Parkway similar to the Blue Ridge Parkway or Skyline Drive.  But as it runs 444 miles between Natchez, MS and just south of Nashville, TN there are few mountainous sections or twisties involved. Yet this parkway is a SPECTATULAR substitute for any interstate trip if you are headed in the general direction of those two cities.

What you miss in twists and turns is made up in miles of wonderful cruising with no large trucks (prohibited) or traffic snarls around metro areas.  If you are a history buff there are dozens and dozens of roadside stops to check out.

In our case we started at the southern end of the Trace, knowing we would not Ijustwant2ride.commake the entire length in a single day (hey, we started south of New Orleans).  We checked out the visitors center grabbed a quick bite and hit the trail.  It did not take long to settle in; with next to no traffic we were free to enjoy the views and the ride.  We stopped at the historical sites that were of interest to us and just had a lovely time.

In 2011 a series of tornados ran nearly parallel to the parkway for nearly eight miles. The amount a damage still remaining to the forest on both sides of the road is amazing.

ijustwant2ride.comAs we were passing Tupelo, MS we decided to head off the Trace to have lunch at Johnnies Drive In.  This is the little dinner that Elvis Presley frequented as a child and young adult. The food was excellent and if you have time the Elvis Presley childhood home park is nearby (we did not stop).  Turns out we sat in the “Elvis” booth, the one he nearly always used.  We did not know that until others were turning down seats in order to wait for use to leave. LOL, we did not take our time, but we did not rush either.

Back on the parkway we continued to make good time even though we stopped at multiple historic sites and a visitor’s center.  Near the end of the parkway was the historic site called “She Boss”.  The story behind this stop was that widow who owned a small lodge along the trace remarried a local Indian who spoke little English.  As visitors approached he would point to his wife and say “She boss”!

We rolled of the Trace in the late afternoon and, thanks to friends we made on the HOG Rolling Rally, knew to stop at the Loveless Café for dinner.  Wow, were they right about stopping for a meal at this restaurant. This was some awesome down home cooking.

There are a few things you need to know about the Trace 1) keep an eye on your fuel you have to leave the parkway to top off  and 2) there are a lot of animals out and about (we saw squirrels, rabbits, turkey, deer and a mule).

I also recommended that you take a few minutes before you ride the trace to look at all the possible stops and pick out the ones that gain your interest.  It would take four days of riding to stop and investigate each and every historic stop along the way.

If you can’t tell, I really enjoyed our ride on the Natchez Trace Parkway.  If you are not pressed for time I highly recommend the Trace to the interstate highways.


(Although I could subtitle this Beach to the Mountains via a lot of traffic and a lot more rain)

After a few days chill-laxing on the beach (Part 1)….without the excitement of sharks, we packed the bike up and headed to Smokey Mountains. In particular, we were headed to Maggie Valley, NC and the Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum.

What should have been a 5-6 hour ride turned out to be a nearly twelve hour ordeal. Unfortunately there were multiple accidents on our route, one of which resulted in multiple deaths and closed Interstate 26 for about 8 hours.

In addition to the traffic issues we also had a lot of rain in fact you can quantify the rain into the following:Ijustwant2ride

2 rain showers

2 thunderstorms

5+ “sprinkles”

1 wet t-shirt contest

The reason for the wet t-shirt contest was we became tired of putting on and removing the rain suits. If it was not raining the sun made the suits intolerable and the last shower…we just decided to ride through.

One highlight of the day was, I thought, the built in infotainment system. The system worked very well, within the limits of the road network, and rerouted us through different parts of South and North Carolina. With the exception of a 30 mile section of I26 we were on the move most of the time. But that 30 mile section left my clutch hand very tired and sore (I required a couple of pain pills that evening). At dusk we gave in and got a room about 8PM and hoped for an early start to get to Maggie Valley.

We left the hotel for a quick McDonalds’ breakfast the next morning and met another couple on their own bike vacation. They were on the return leg of their trip, headed back to north Indiana on their GoldWing Trike. Back on our bike we were at Maggie Valley and the museum within an hour.

If you love motorcycles then you must visit the Wheels Through Time Museum. The bikes that Dale Walksler has assembled is nothing less than fantastic. But, what puts it over the top is that they all run, in fact he started a couple while we were there! He rode a 1930’s Harley trough the main lobby and out the front door. We also saw him riding a 1920 Harley with youngster in the side car.  Unfortunately Dale’s Discovery TV show “What’s in the Barn” was canceled.

There is no way that I can do justice to the quality of these museum with just a few paragraphs. If you are in this area of North Carolina/Tennessee for the awesome riding you must stop by and check out what the museum offers.

Ijustwant2ride.comAfter a few hours we needed to mount up and put some miles down. This day the weather was perfect for riding, cool, clear and wonderful. We were headed to the Blue Ridge Parkway but decided to ride through the Smoky Mountain National Park and the Cherokee Indian Reservation to stop by Cherokee Harley Davidson, where I picked up another pin. We jumped on the Parkway and headed north crossing the highest point on the parkway and riding through multiple tunnels.

Although the speed limit is 45 MPH the parkway is still a great ride with awesome views of the Smoky Mountains. We either passed, or met at the overlooks, several hundred other bikers out for a great ride.