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Dan and Libby Payne,

East coast USA 1998

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Rolling the Coast

The trip was to last approximately ten days. Savannah, the first stage of the journey was also the hottest. But I’m getting ahead of myself, and I don’t want to do that. Our departure from Kokomo, Indiana on August 28 was uneventful, we filled the tank with premium and headed south.

It was a most pleasant ride, a cool morning breeze was blowing and our warm riding gear felt good. We did ride through a slight amount of rain around Columbus on Interstate 65. We stopped for awhile to eat at a Cracker Barrel there. Dave and Kathy were enjoying the ride also. We gassed up and hit the road.

Crossing the bridge into Kentucky is very scenic. We headed east on Interstate 64 towards Lexington. Traffic seemed to be moving along nicely. Upon arriving in Lexington we changed direction and headed south toward Knoxville, our destination for the night.

We stayed at a Comfort Inn on Interstate 40 northeast of Knoxville this night. It was a long hot ride from Lexington south on Interstate 75. Pretty scenery but a long ride and we were ready to get off of the bikes and relax in their swimming pool and air conditioning. If we had known then the heat that awaited us upon leaving the mountains we might have just stayed there. But I guess that’s the point of taking the trip. Its all of the little problems and discomforts that you must deal with in the course of traveling. They make it all worthwhile and you remember it more.

The Smokey Mountains are breathtaking in the morning with the mist hanging around the valleys. The sun was out full and we were enjoying the views as we made time on our way to Ashville, N.C. There is a long descent out of the mountains into North Carolina, and there are some very scenic spots to take photographs. As we descended the day began to heat up.

The short ride to South Carolina was uneventful. Upon reaching South Carolina the heat and humidity began to take its toll. We didn’t ride as far between rest stops. And made a point of stopping where air conditioning was available. I think we drank a gallon of water that we carried on board the trailer that we towed behind the Electra Glide. Dave and Kathy also towed a trailer behind their Road King.

As we approached Columbia the heat was around 100 degrees, and the road temperature was around 120. Libby would put ice down the back of my shirt to cool me off while riding down the interstate. We would fill the cup with ice at a McDonalds and it would melt within 20 minutes. That is one of the most important lessons of hot weather, drink plenty and you can handle it.

We found our hotel in Savannah and checked in. They had our names listed as being part of the H.O.G. group staying at the hotel and we parked in the parking garage under the hotel along with 100 or so of our Harley riding compatriots. What I noticed right off was how friendly everyone was. Maybe it was the ride that had everyone in such a good mood, or the fact that they were in air conditioning now.

Savannah is an old and historic city and has much to offer the tourist. At various times while in Savannah we took a tour bus of the old and historic squares that the city still takes quite good care of. For some more recent history, in the movie “Forrest Gump”, the scene where Forrest is sitting on the park bench eating his box of chocolates was shot in Chippewa Square. There is River Street, along the Savannah River, which offers dining, shops, and nightlife. There is the City Market that also offers shopping and dining galore. The riverboat cruise was equally as good and I think when I come back I will do it again. It was worth the visit. And now I must add it to my ever-growing list of favorite places.

Early Monday morning we pack the trailers and start for Myrtle Beach, S.C.. We crossed the Talmadge Memorial Bridge and left Georgia behind.

The ride south had been a couple of 400 mile days, but today’s ride would be shorter so we would have more time to stop and look at the local scenery. We wanted to go through Charleston on the way, and stop at Low Country Harley-Davidson. Nice folks, they had refreshments available for the riders on the Rolling the Coast tour. So now we were on our way to Myrtle Beach, a beautiful ride most of the day. As we neared the end of our day of riding, some loud claps of thunder close by woke us up. As we settled into our hotel the rains started and lasted most of the evening.

Next day dawned sunny and bright and we were up early to proceed on to Wilmington N.C.. We were staying on Wrightsville Beach this time.

A good ride this day and an afternoon spent around the pool talking to other riders and guests at the hotel. The area had been hit by Hurricane Bonnie and sustained some damage. Another good nights sleep and we were ready to travel on to Nags Head, on the outer banks. We had thought about taking the ferry across, but in the end decided to ride up the coast on highway 17.

A good choice as we rode through sections of the Dismal Swamp on Route 264, a road that is great for motorcycling, little traffic, curves, and a few small towns make it perfect.

Upon arrival, we unpacked for two whole days at the same hotel. There is much to see in the Nags Head area, and we planned to see as much as possible. There are five lighthouses on the Outer Banks and they are well worth the effort to see, and climb. Kitty Hawk is one destination that I am glad we went to see, its quite interesting. The food was good at the restaurants we ate in. One, named Sam and Omies was our favorite. Reasonably priced with lots of local charm. On our departure date Hurricane Earl had decided to move up north and we caught the remnants of the storm. Nothing to bad, a little wind and rain that was worse around Norfolk, Va. Today our destination would be Williamsburg. We had deluxe accommodations and were ready for some fun. Harley Owners Group had rented the Jamestown Settlement for all of the Harley riders on the trip, and had a big cookout planned as well. The food, atmosphere, people made the Rolling the Coast tour worth while. The logistics of just feeding all of the people was well planned and everyone seemed to have an excellent time.

Well on Sunday we were headed home, back to Indiana, with lots of memories and good times to think about. But there was one more stop that Dave wanted to make and that was Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. It was a half-hour wait for the tour but worth the wait. After a two-hour stop we were on our way again, our stopping point would be Charleston, W. Va.. Good weather and a friendly Cracker Barrel made our day. Our last day out dawned gray and windy. The ride through Kentucky was one of the windiest that I can recall. Turning north at Louisville we had a tailwind and made some good time on the road. We arrived home tired but glad we had done the Coast. On reflection, we get ideas about planning our next trip. Yes, we learn new wrinkles as we go. That’s the whole idea of traveling by motorcycle.

By Dan Payne

© Dan Payne 1998-2002

 

 

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