|Crossing the Mighty Mississippi River entering Memphis.|
After the delay and expense of my mechanical failure I realized that I was running my bank account down much quicker than I had anticipated. One of my priorities had been to make it to the East Coast, so I decided to pass on the Carlsbad Caverns and put some miles down. Across Texas and Arkansas. I did stop long enough at a Texas trading post where I bought a pair of steer horns, which I carried throughout the entire trip. These garnered quite a few humorous observations. These steer horns are still hanging up in my garage!
I entered Memphis, where gas rationing was in full effect. I almost ran out of gas and was running on fumes. Drivers were limited to five gallons per purchase. That didn't bother me, my tank only held a little over three and half gallons. The hour long wait did bother me though. Lot's of folks were pretty upset, five gallons won't take your Buick Electra very far.
I made a stop at Graceland which was one of my most anticipated destinations. Unfortunately, this was the weekend that Elvis' Father Vernon had just passed away and Graceland was closed down until after the funeral. While I was parked in front of the gates I was interviewed by a local television news crew. I'll never know if my interview made it on the air.
|There was a thriving economy based on the mansion.|
|So close, yet so far. I still haven't gone back.|
|There was a large crowd waiting to get in.|
|This motorcycling couple hadn't come as far as I had, but they were still disappointed.|
|Just a glimpse of the grounds was all I got.|
I found that the area consisted of the mansion and surrounding museums and souvenir and trinket shops. There was a lot of tacky memorabilia of all types available. I have been an Elvis fan for a long time but I could do without most of this stuff. I saw the motto "TCB" used on many of these items. I asked the clerk what that meant. I was informed that it stood for "Taking Care of Business." A good idea so I hit the road again.
|Town square, Cherokee North Carolina. That is a statue of Daniel Boone.|
This was a typical sight in these small Southern towns.
|I had read about this road in so many touring magazines, it did not disappoint.|
The Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline drive were enthusiastically portrayed in all the touring rider literature I had been reading. I was really looking forward to seeing this beautiful country and I was not disappointed. The speed limit is very low, thirty five miles an hour, and the road can be choked with slow moving cars and especially motor homes. Passing is not allowed. I don't blame the motorists for driving even slower that 35 mph. so that Granny can take in the sights, but it's hard to ride a motorcycle that slow on a curvy road. It's just impossible to get in the rhythm of the curves, which makes riding a motorcycle enjoyable and even effortless in these situations. I would ride until I encountered a group of slower vehicles then pull over and wait for ten to fifteen minutes and hope that they had pulled into a pull out. President Reagan once said that if you've seen one tree, you've seen them all! This was one time that I had to agree with him.
It was quite an experience to actually ride on this fabled roadway, traffic not withstanding. It was beautiful with the fog covering the higher passes.
Skyline Drive is just an extension of the Parkway.
When I reached the end of Skyline drive in Roanoake I was ready to get back into the highway hustle and bustle.
I had read a a magazine article about the Lynchburg Virginia Harley dealer who had an impressive collection of vintage bikes. It was on my itinerary as I planned to stop. This was the first time I had seen a collection of classic Harley Davidsons. Motorcycles had not really been considered as museum items and a collection of this quality and size was quite unique. The owner was very accommodating and let me take some pictures while I sat on the bikes. I think he was impressed that I had ridden all the way out from California to see his collection.
A group of people were there from Albuquerque, (what a coincidence!) and they said that they would keep an eye on my gear while I did some sightseeing. I set up my tent and left my bike behind for the weekend. My plan was to take a the camp shuttle into D.C. where I could join a bus tour of the city.
|Washington DC Visitor's Center.|
Taking a bus tour was really a good idea. Finding my way around and locating parking would have taken up most of my day. My favorite monument was the Lincoln memorial, just so impressive.
Dinosaurs, now you're talking! The Museum of Natural History had this great Stegosaurus statue out in front. I was so jazzed to see this. When I was a kid growing up most young boys were mad about dinosaurs. Anytime there was going to be a TV show or movie we would discuss it for days before and days afterwards. Most of the time the "dinosaurs" were just some iguana with a rubber fin glued on their back, nothing like the exciting pictures in the science books. At least this Stegosaurus looked like the real thing! Kids today are spoiled. Once Jurassic Park came out and dinosaurs were brought to realistic life on the screen, kids seemed to lose interest. Inside the Museum were displays of dinosaur skeletons . There was also the museum of Science and Technology which was crammed with interesting displays.
I didn't have the time to check out the Smithsonian Museum, much to my regret. It, and the Henry Ford museum are still on my bucket list.