Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Kentucky an Unexplored Motorcycle Frontier: Highway 100 to Dale Hollow Lake

It's starting to become difficult to find new motorcycle rides here in Tennessee.  After riding to all 95 Tennessee Counties and over 10 years in the saddle locally, there are not many new roads.  So we turned our bikes north to the State of Kentucky that is largely a mystery; to test the waters, so to say.  Kentucky is a large motorcycle friendly state that has a lot of great roads and friendly people.  So we make reservations at the Dale Hollow State Park Resort and set a path through uncharted waters.

We leave on a late summer Saturday morning.   We cross the border on US Highway 31E North, crossing from Tennessee into Kentucky.   We stop for lunch in Scotsbourgh where we pick up Kentucky Highway 100.  This road is full of great turns.  If you ride this road hold on tight. It will definitely give you what you need.

We come to the Historical Marker for Camp Anderson. Since my
sir name is Anderson, it's hard not to feel a connection to this place.  During the Civil War Kentucky was an enigma, having both a union and confederate personality.   The Union Camp here on highway 100 was just one example.  The Confederates tried to capture me here but I had left just in time.  I'm everywhere just like on my motorcycle.

We stay on Highway 100 making our way to the Tompkinsville and the Old Mulkey Meeting House State Historical site.  The oldest meeting house/chapel in the state.  The burial site of many revolutionary war soldiers and Daniel Boon's sister, Hannah.  They were having a wedding there later in the evening.  It would be a special spot for a wedding ceremony.

We then head to our destination for the evening, Dale Hollow Lake State Resort, which sits on a mountain overlooking the lake.  We splurge and get a room with a lake view. It was great drinking coffee and taking in the lake views in the morning.

The next day we ride off the mountain to Highway 90 for a quick trip to Glasgow Kentucky, which is named after Glasgow Scotland.   We stop in the center of town take a quick walk around town to the courthouse square.   The Confederate memorial debate seems to be being played out in Glasgow.  They do have a memorial to the Confederate dead,  but they also have a memorial to an important African American woman in the square.  It seems like Glasgow is trying to find a balance to the whole question.

After leaving Glasgow it's a quick trip down US Highway 31E back to Scotsbrough.  We then re-joining Highway 100 for the trip to Franklin, KY and finally back home to Clarksville.  It was a great trip with a lot learned.  Kentuck has a lot of un-ridden roads which we will be exploring over the next few years.  It is a great state.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Two Old Soldiers Walking Hadrian's Wall

About a year ago an old Army buddy a fellow Warrant Officer Bob Gambert was telling me about this walk across England. A walk that followed a Roman wall that stretched from the North Sea to the Irish Sea. At the time I was limping around on a bad knee, all I wanted was for it to heal and feel better.   Walking was a struggle, but this walk was something I decided I wanted to do.  

Hey, I'm the Wandering Soldier right, what better to walk 90 plus miles with another retired warrant officer.  So after many a discussion over a beverage or two, we set a date for the next summer. So that gave me a year in which to lose a few pounds and get my knee right.  After a couple of cortisone injections and walking  60 miles a week for the last 3 months I'm ready to go. 

So we did it, we walked from  Wallsend, Newcastle to Bowness-on-Solway past Carlisle.  It was an amazing experience and an even better experience with a fellow Warrant Officer.  We took the Tube from Newcastle to start at Segedunum at Wallsend.   Segedunum is just one of many Roman Forts and Museum along the route.  When we started as 2 old soldiers, we immediately felt a kinship with this route.  We could feel the ghost of the Roman legions that were stationed on this wall.  One much like the Iron Curtain we had been stationed on in Germany. 

There were lots of challenging days with mileage total, over 90 miles walked over 8 days.  The first 4 days we averaged over 12 miles a day.  We stayed in Bed and Breakfasts along the route.  Most were marvelous English country homes. Some of these homes were actually built with stones from the Hadrian's Wall.   The beginning and end of the march there is not much of the wall left it was dismantled and used for other things.   

One of the more memorable B&B stays was like being in an episode of Downtown Abby. We all had drinks in the parlor then we're told to pass through for dinner.  Yes, he said it, "it's time to pass through". All of the people at the table we had already met on the hike it was very interesting. Also, Nelson Mandela had stayed here in the 90's. At dinner, our host told us stories about fox hunting. 

 Then there was the Nutbush B&B and Malcolm, what a great guy totally relaxed.  He took us to town to a local pub instead of fixing dinner at the house.  He was a joy to talk to who always had a laugh. I can't express enough my love for this place, Malcolm is the man. He made our stay so enjoyable. Very down to earth who made us feel like his home was our home. 

In the middle of the march is where the base of the wall still exists, you can see the wall in the rolling hills for miles, it's an incredible sight.  You can imagine what it was like to be a soldier on the wall.  Strangely,  a soldiers life hasn't changed much over the centuries.  There was guard duty, kitchen police, the local town where soldiers went to blow off steam.   The Romans built the wall to keep people out, but it ended up being an economic hub for over 300 years. 

One of the highlights of the March was our stop in Carlisle.   Carlisle Castle was a focal point for the wars between Scotland and England. Mary Queen of Scots was executed here in 1587. It was originally a Roman fort. There was a fantastic military museum there also of the British Border Regiment which was stationed here. 

On our last day of walking, we found a small church that offered tea coffee and biscuits for a small donation. They had a small museum in the church. It was good to get out of the rain.  It felt good to enjoy a hot cup of tea and warm up in this little sanctuary. 

It was an incredible 8 days that overwhelmed the senses.  A big shout-out to Baggage Transfer Plus and Ian Blythe. Who made our 90-mile walk across England worry-free. We had great accommodations and baggage transfers all across Hadrian's Wall Path. Would highly recommend this service. I would say this walk along the wall was one of the Top 10 things that I have done in my lifetime; a great experience.