Ohio/Erma Bombeck

BTH 4-15-10

Howdy from Dayton, Ohio!

Left Austin on Tuesday and there isn’t a whole lot to say about the first two days of travel.  Of course, Day One consisted of getting out of Texas, and a lot of  Day Two was spent on the parkways running through Kentucky.  To my surprise, the “parkways” were actually 70-mile-per-hour interstates, but the scenery was great and there weren’t the usual billboards and strip malls lining either side.  Lots of pink and white dogwoods, redbud and other trees beginning to bud.  With clear skies and calm wind, it was as pleasant as interstate riding can ever be.

Today, though, I was able to slooooooow down and thoroughly enjoy Eastern Kentucky and Southwestern Ohio on scenic, fragrant (you don’t get that in a car!) two-lane roads.  The Lexington area was especially gorgeous, green, and perfectly manicured.

As it happens so often on the two-lane roads, there aren’t many opportunities to safely pull over and take pictures.  Today’s only photo shows a typical Kentucky scene.  You can see that spring is just now springing this far north and some of the trees are still bare.  By the way, according to news reports, a lot of pollution is trapped over Kentucky, which is why it looks so hazy and the air quality is poor.  While I was taking this picture, a flock of loudly honking Canadian geese flew over in a V formation, which was both entertaining and inspiring.

So what am I doing in Dayton, Ohio?  Attending the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop — and, aside from the fact that my good friend Cindy talked me into it several months ago, please don’t ask me what the heck I’m doing here with all these real, accomplished writers!  The truth is, as the conference date has drawn nearer, I’ve been increasingly reluctant to even show up for it and, as I settle in for the evening, think I finally understand why.

Last November my dear brother Alan, who unconditionally supported me from the day I was born, died from heart failure.  Since Biketrash Holiday first appeared two years ago, Alan, sometimes relentlessly, encouraged me to “do something with it.”  Now the time has come to put up or shut up, and I’m afraid of letting him down.  Silly, huh?

Honestly, though, having been through the difficult experience of finding words to speak at his funeral, writing Biketrash Holiday is a cinch!  So let’s see if I can learn anything in the next two days!

After the workshop, I’ll visit my aunt and uncle in Columbus.  For the ride home, weather permitting, the plan is to ride the entire length of the Natchez Trace Parkway, so it could be interesting!

Peace on the Road!

BTH 4-20-10

Howdy from Hohenwald, Tennessee, which is a small town at the north end of the Natchez Trace Parkway.

To bring y’all up to date, the workshop in Dayton went well and, with my new knowledge, Biketrash Holiday will receive a complete overhaul in the near future.  I do believe my brother would be pleased.

Had a great time in Columbus visiting my aunt and uncle and their black labrador.  We spent most of yesterday visiting some parks my landscape-architect uncle helped design and build.  Saw a pair of roosting bald eagles and were told they’re squatters in a hawk’s nest.

This shows beautiful Inniswood Metro Gardens, which is part of a larger nature preserve.  Mike says that white tree is a rare white redbud tree.  Made me proud to see some of the wonderful projects he designed within the parks.

This little guy quietly minded his own business while the human world passed overhead!

By the way, do you remember me talking about how entertaining and inspiring, blah, blah the Canadian geese were in Kentucky?  Well. . . so I get to Connie and Mike’s house, which has a pond in the back, and Mike is chasing off  a small flock of — you guessed it — Canadian geese with a rattle can full of pennies!  Says they poop all over the neighborhood and everyone thinks they’re a nuisance!  I guess one girl’s inspiration is another boy’s mess!  Like Judge Thurman used to say, it’s all your point of view, isn’t it?

Left Columbus early this morning wearing my electric jacket since it was so cold. Once again, the ride through Kentucky had stunning scenery, but it’s still interstate and semi trucks.  By the time I got to the Natchez Trace Parkway south of Nashville at around 2:30, I was at my wit’s end.   (Thanks for the line, Erma!)

Here is Lizzie at the entrance to the parkway.  I can’t tell you what a welcome sight that was.  There has been way too much 70-miles-per-hour riding this trip!  The Natchez Trace is basically a 50-mile-per-hour, 444-mile greenway that stretches from just south of Nashville to Natchez, Mississippi.

This is the Water Valley Overlook, and I sure hope I don’t end up with chigger bites from that ill-planned trek!  The faint purple blooms in the bottom left-hand corner are mountain laurel.  What a wonderful, sweet smell! 

The plan is to spend the next two days exploring the trace.  While it may not be spectacular and awe inspiring like the Blue Ridge Parkway or our poopy Canadian geese, it’s so danged relaxing, green and full of history.  AND, by the way, it cuts through Tupelo, the birthplace of the King!  It’s supposed to be chilly again tomorrow morning so I’ll most likely get a late start.

Peace on the Road!

BTH 4-21-10

Hello from Tupelo, Mississippi, birthplace of the King of Rock ‘n Roll!  You know what that means, but we’ll get to it in a minute.

Got a late start this morning, which I enjoyed.  Took all the time in the world on the trace and, in fact, only rode 154 miles today.  Had the usual tuna and crackers for lunch, which always tastes good in a place like this.   Here is my very own secluded picnic area at the Metal Ford stop.

 How about this perfect blue sky?

Don’t ask why, but for some reason I really like this next picture.  Perhaps it’s a subtle reminder of our northern winged friends?  Check out that blooming dogwood. 

The highlight of the day was the visit to Elvis’ birthplace and museum.  Supposedly, it’s, in fact, the real house at the real location.  The experience was tacky and cheesy as all get out, but a lot of fun.

These are the ladies who sold me the tickets to the museum and house.  Since I arrived shortly before closing, they were nice, but all business — made darned sure I didn’t dawdle in the museum!

Here is my tour guide for the house.  Her memorized spiel took about a minute and it took about one more minute to look at every detail in the tiny two-room house.  Elvis lived there until he was three.  What a humble contrast to Graceland!

Yours truly in front of mural showing EP’s birthplace (closest house) and neighborhood on the museum wall.

In spite of the easy traveling today, I keep nodding off here and think I’ll hit the hay.  It was such a good day!

Peace on the Road!

BTH 4-22-10

Greetings from Natchez, Mississippi!

Got a reasonably early start from Tupelo this morning, but, once again, made a lot of stops and only traveled 164 miles.  The weather was perfect, traffic was light, and it was another great day.

More green trees and blue sky along the parkway.  Oh, yeah! 

This was taken at French Camp.  It took two separate information centers and three wildflower books to definitely identify those yellow flowers, which are common buttercups. 

Crawdad nest in the buttercup field.

Stopped in Kosciusko, MS, where Oprah grew up.  Unfortunately, though, according to the woman at the info center, the signs with Oprah’s name have all been stolen, the road up to Oprah’s old church is narrow and unpaved, and she advised me to not drive the motorcycle up there.  So much for Kosciusko.

This was my lunch stop.  Good for digestion! 

So I can now say I’ve ridden all 444 miles of the Natchez Trace, from start to finish, and it’s been a wonderful experience.  No, it’s not as incredible as, say, the Grand Tetons, but certainly worth what you put into it.  Sometimes a girl just has to get out and see some green.  I enjoyed the Tennessee portion best with the rock ledges and blooming dogwood.  South of Jackson there are a lot of open areas and the road is not as curvy and sweeping as it is to the north.

Time to hit the hay early so I can get up early.  Looks like tomorrow is gonna be wet!

Peace on the Road!

BTH 4-23-10

Howdy from Austin, Texas!  I’m sitting at home on the front porch as I write this, smelling the neighbor’s honeysuckle.  Ah, spring in the South!

Left Natchez at 6:15 this morning prepared for rain, and that’s exactly what I got until Jasper, Texas, or about half the ride.  Unless it’s severe, rain is no big deal if you’ve got the right gear, so I simply slowed down and took it easy.  Looks like all the scary weather was north and east, and a tornado touched down in one of the places where I was yesterday.  Yikes!

Normally I don’t particularly enjoy the ride in and out of Texas, but today was different.  Our Lone Star State was as fresh and green as that ole Kentucky, and the roads were lined with Indian paintbrush, our version of buttercups, black-eyed Susans, Mexican hats near College Station, and overheated and spent bluebonnets close to Austin.  You know, I’m so lucky to be able to go on these trips around the USA, but am even luckier because of the fact that I always look forward to returning to Desha and our home.  (Okay. I’ll stop before everyone gets nauseated!)

As wonderful and varied as this trip has been, I must admit, pathetically, that the highlight may have been when I drove into Columbus not using the GPS and, after two years, miraculously remembered which exit and street to turn on. You won’t understand why that’s such a big deal unless you’re over 50; and if you’re under 50, just wait!

Now that the traveling is over, I’ve got my work cut out for me as I start up a website and what I hope will become a twice-a-month riding blog.   As you all know, though, Auntie Biketrash operates on retirement time, so who knows when it will all happen!

Thank y’all for sharing the ride!  Long live long rides!

Peace on the Road!

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