Monday, April 6, 2009

Psycho Therapy


Nothing makes me feel so good, as taking a long ride to no where and back home again.

Of course, there is no such thing as “no where”. Anytime you leave one spot for another, your somewhere! I left my home in Johnson City TN, with the idea of following a map I had routed out a week or two before. The map idea lasted until I got to Bristol. Nothing worked after that, mainly because I can’t remember directions past the 2nd turn. I stopped for breakfast at Krystals...they have a cheap breakfast and its good!

But that’s best left for later. Once in the city of Bristol, I made my way west on 11E toward Kingsport TN. About 4 miles out of town, I found what I was looking for. I had read about this on the internet, but had never seen it. It’s not what I expected, but it sure is pretty cool all the same!
A building in the shape of a guitar!

I stopped, placed my bike in front of the building and started snapping away…cool…me and my bike out for a great Sunday ride, kinda doing a theme thing. I thought I would stop at all the neat things I had found on the internet, you know, the weird but true historic and no so historic places of interest to visit? I was feeling pretty cocky this morning when I left out, even more so by the time I found the guitar building…and feeling quite smug by the time I left.

Climbing on the little girl, I had left the bike in gear…no excuses; I was not into looking for neutral at that time. Pulling in the clutch lever, I cranked the bike up and made sure she was in first gear…sliding the lever out slowly, I pull out onto the road. Once both wheels were on the road and out of gravel, I twisted the wick…in short order I was ready to kick her into second and I did. Oh oh…something wrong. Damn you Mr. Murphy! Damn you all to hell! My shift lever came off the shaft…it was dangling on the toe of my boot. Don’t move your foot Chessie…slowly shut the bike down, find a safe place to pull over, and hope there are no bumps to knock the shift lever from your boot…there’s cars behind you, you don’t need that pot ash material getting run over by a car or truck…oh no…no…no.

Whistles and fanfare…I did it! I might of pissed off the driver behind me…who cares? He didn’t run me over and I still have the shift lever dangling from my boot! I’m off the road and off my bike. I open my tool bag and pull out the hex head wrench needed to tighten the leaver back on. OK…lever on the spline correctly tighten her down.

Are you fricken kidding me? Nothing seemed to fricken fit! Found one that would kinda sorta work. I couldn’t see the hole on the tighten down bolt, so I just assumed it was stripped and that was the reason I couldn’t get the thing to tighten down well. While I was lying on my back peering under my bike and trying to tighten the bolt…I noticed a middle aged woman pull over. She had passed me on the other side of the road, when she decided to come back around and offer tools or assistance if needed. Cool…I was impressed…this woman was like me and carried all the tools she needed to work on her vehicle. I liked her, and thanked her profusely for stopping. We discussed what was going on with the lever, and I asked her if there was an Auto Zone or something up the road.

Yes sir reee Bob, about four miles up the road just before coming into Kingsport. I found a NAPA store that was open! I worked for a NAPA store who mostly catered to jobbers…they wouldn’t have opened on Sunday for Jesus…but these guys were! Amazing…and the guy was most helpful.

Turns out the screw that was being used to tighten the lever onto the splined shaft was a star head screw…no fricken wonder I couldn’t get it to tighten up well. By the time I was done with it, it most certainly was buggered! The guy behind the counter went to his bolt bin and found me a hex headed bolt to fit. Well, it may not be pretty….but it bolted on and stays tight!

Continuing on in a westerly direction, I realize I simply can not keep to the directions. Christ on a crutch…I would be pulling over every 5 minutes trying to remember which fricken street to turn at now. I gave up. Now I just figured I would go on roads that looked like they would take me to Greeneville, without me getting on a major road. You know, sometimes I think I’m so fricken smart.

I find myself on Tenn.93 South…or is it West? I don’t remember anymore. I’m following that for a while, before I think to myself, “This road is bigger than I want…I’m getting off at the next promising turn off and see where I go.” Uh, stupid, did you forget you’re in the country? Did ya figure there was gonna be gas on a smaller secondary road than TN. 93? Did you even bother to look at your speedo to see what your mileage was? The answer to all these questions and a few more was and is a resounding NO!

At some point down Bailyton Road, I did check my mileage, and almost panicked. I pulled the bike over, got my trusty phone out of my bra…and asked it to go to GPS. I asked it to find me the fastest route back to TN. 93. OK…so I put the phone back in my bra and go on memory once more. Another smooth move there Ex Lax…you missed your turn, and you didn’t even notice for four miles. Now your at 68 miles on your speedo. Not good. You run out of gas at 74 miles. Always.

I get myself turned around and find Jaralsburg Road. I cross under TN.93, no way to get on it. Well now, this isn’t good. And I still am trying to follow my phone while it’s in my pocket. Another no good way to do things. I pull the phone out, and remember how I am able to wedge the phone up between my helmet strap and my ear/cheek. All right! Cooking with gas now!

The GPS talks to me…so I just do what it tells me to do…when it tells me to do it. You know, I got 78 miles on the bike before I could feel it starting to suck air. As things worked out, I was within feet of barn or equipment shed where a farmer was standing outside talking to a buddy.

I pulled into the drive and asked where the nearest gas station was…and the guy says, “There’s one about nine miles up the road…” I must of looked crest fallen, cuz he says, “You out of gas?” I flip the bike back and forth between my knees…sloshing what was left in my tank… “Yeah, I don’t think I’ll make it to that sign over yonder.” The farmer goes inside his shed, comes out with a 5 gallon gas can and says… “Here ya go, I don’t have much left in here, but it’s enough to get you to the gas station up the road.” You know, people in TN. are a right good bunch of neighbors. Your never gonna be stranded for long in Northeast TN.

You know, its spring here, and the entire ride so far has mostly been through rolling hills with new grass, new leaves…with bright colorful buds of purple, pink, white…and yellow. It’s the time of year, where every hour if the sun is out, everything is becoming alert, growing new growth right before your eyes. If you stand in on place long enough, you will have noticed the grass is now past your ankles. Funny could of sworn when I stopped there, the grass was just coming up past the soles of my boots! You can’t believe how fast the greatest show on earth is moving on! You can bet Barnum and Bailey’s Circus doesn’t have half the pomp and circumstance that Mother Nature exhibits!

In many of the fields the farmers have turned out their new crop of young calves with their moms…I really do think young cows and bulls are cute…I can’t get enough of them. So spring is my favorite season to ride…where else do you get to enjoy the earth and the animals as they spring forth to repopulate the earth with young growth! AWSOME…TOTALLY FRICKEN AWSOME!

I arrive at the gas station, which is where I get on TN. 93 and then right back off in a split second or maybe two shakes of a fairies ass. I’m on Main Street in Greeneville. My 2nd destination was just one mile away. It’s a church that has a cannonball stuck on the wall near the front door.

It was blown in there by errant cannon fire…from the Yankees…the church elders decided to keep it there for a reminder of the blunders of war…or for some reason. You know, it’s over a hundred years later, and that darn cannonball is still there…It’s pretty cool actually, I found it interesting. I pulled off the road, swung out my camera and started clicking away…have look!

Once I had shot what I could there, I got back on my little girl and pulled up to the next light on the corner. I looked right out of curiosity and saw a large brick building that I knew was old and appeared to me to be like one of those Southern Mansions. Here take a look for yourself…it’s a fine building for sure!

I take a few photos, then its back on the horse again and continue down Main Street. I’m glad I did, I didn’t know Greeneville was the home of a president of the United States. Did you guys know that? Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States, he filled in after the assassination of Lincoln. If you would like to know more about this unlikely Southern man to fill Lincoln’s shoes after his assassination…click on this link:

A couple of blocks down from the church is the County Court House. It’s from the early years of the Union as well, so I stop and snap a few more pictures. I realize the town has used the front lawn of the Greeneville Courthouse as a place to honor their fallen Military heroes. From the Civil War to World War II you will find plaques and statuary dedicated to the fighting men and their women of this area of TN. I found this very touching to me as a military brat…very touching indeed.
As I’m crossing the street back to my bike, I realize I’m parked in front of an old style movie theatre with the huge colorful marquee out front, too cool too…so I photographed that too!

Once again on my little girl, I’m still on Main Street, when I come across Andrew Johnson’s home. It’s a regal brick building on the main thoroughfare of old historic downtown Greeneville. It was, in fact it still is an imposing structure as far as I’m concerned!

I’m back on my little girl, and a few blocks from the Johnson home I see a sign directing me to The Andrew Johnson National Cemetery. I missed the turn the first time though and had to make a U turn to get there. I would have thought, a cemetery that housed a President and our treasured war veterans, from the civil war through the present day, there would have been more fan fare for the place. But on reflection, I’m glad there wasn’t. It’s nice to find a quiet well kept place of honor for our service personal’s final resting place. I’m glad it isn’t advertised and run like a circus.

Here are a few of the pictures of the National Cemetery. I’ll not write anything in between the pictures. I feel the pictures say everything there needs to be said.

By the time I’m done wondering the cemetery, I realize it’s time to head home. There is no time to move on to Seiverville as I wanted. It’s 3.30PM…and I am already late in getting home.

I find my way to TN 19E/11E and begin my journey home. I didn’t want to travel that road today, I’ve been on it before and I really was looking forward to traveling the by ways of TN. that I had yet to explore. I was pleasantly surprised to see TN 107. I forgot it came up here from Erwin. I hadn’t been north on 107 before, so I took a quick right and found myself heading back into the country roads of NE Tennessee. I was also heading straight for a line of mountains. It was so lovely there in the distance, I took quite a few pictures while I was riding of these purple majesties…and they were purple off in the distance…so cool…so very cool.
As I’m riding along, I see a few things of interest, which causes me to stop here and there to snap a few pictures. This is one of my favorites…it sure reflects the heritage of TN. don’t you agree?

It took me another two hours to get home. Stopping here and there to get these photos…well worth being late…and I’m sure once my family sees the pictures, they will agree with me…

What a wonderful country we live in!