Changing Times

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Well-known member
Aug 5, 2011
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Lafayette, LA
Changing Times

I recently had 11 days and 2900 miles of great fun riding my motorcycle throughout the Appalachian range.  Taking an autumn bike trip has become quite a tradition for me over the years.  The summers in south Louisiana are so long and brutal.  We sweat and we wait for the north wind.  And when it gets here, we run outside like Banshees.  We laugh and cheer like 4th graders on the last day of school.  It’s going to be good now, at least for a few months.

This year the north wind was late and by early October, we gave up on waiting and decided to go find it elsewhere.  My good buddies MikeP and Tom, with their fine Kawasaki Versys 1000’s, were as ready as I was, and it didn’t take much convincing to get them on board.  We invited others, but they were tethered to life at home.  So it was the 3 musketeers, one for all and all for one.

We planned it my way:  NO PLANS!!!  Rule one:  Ride places and eat things.  Rule Two:  there are no other rules.  I spend my entire real life in a box.  Schedules, appointments, deadlines, you name it – it’s exhausting.  Most of my non-riding family must think that I’m riding a motorcycle in an act of rebellion.  Throw caution to the wind, and all of that jive.  What they might not realize is that the source of my rebellion is not what they think it is.  I’m acting out against the normality of my life.  For a short time, taken in context, I get to be irresponsible.  No worries, no plans, and no rules.  We do not regret what didn’t happen yesterday, nor do we worry about what might happen tomorrow.  We will only immerse ourselves into what is happening NOW.  And we will go wherever we want to go.

I brought this attitude home, and I’m having a hard time shaking it.  Changing times, to be sure.

I hope you enjoy the pics.

Day 1:  Lafayette, LA to Piedmont, AL, approx 500 miles.

I packed my horse the night before and checked all mechanical systems – all good!


As usual, on this work day, we have to be mindful of the crap show otherwise known as Baton Rouge traffic.  For our own safety and peace of mind, we choose to leave early and get past it before it starts.  With kickstands up at dark thirty, and temperatures already in the mid-70s, we slog east.  All clear and good, and right past the Old Man River crossing, we turn north, and the nervousness instantly lessens.  We crossed into Mississippi and stop for bike fuel and body fuel. 


The US Highways in the south are an EXCELLENT alternative to the interstate.  They are largely desolate, and with generous speed limits, we find it a good way to make time.  We figured that since today is going to be stupid hot, we might as well just sit there and twist that and get as far northeast we can.

US Highway 84, cruise control set at 84, and hugging whatever shade I can find!!


Looking quite well, my friends.


100 degrees before lunch on October 3rd.  (sigh)


There will be curves up ahead, I promise!!


In the afternoon, we skirted the Talladega National Forest searching for shade.  Despite the heat, I was really having fun.  I had good tunes coming through my ear buds.  The backroad scenery was entertaining enough.  I was content to sit still and day dream about better things ahead.

Late afternoon, we called it quits in Piedmont, AL and found cheap rooms at this place.


It took a little work, but I found this one brewed in nearby Birmingham.  It sure hit the spot after a day on the bike drying out like a raisin.


The hotel clerk said the Mexican place two blocks down the road was the best place to eat.  To my surprise, it was really good.


We passed out about 9:30 pm.  Tomorrow is another day.

Day 2:  Piedmont, AL to Suches, GA, approx 175 miles.


I was a bit restless last night.  Usually on the bike trips, it takes me a couple nights to get into the grove, sleep wise.  I think its part excitement, and part routine deprivation.  None the less, after crappy hotel coffee and Mickey D’s breakfast, we on our way.

I see you up there, my north Georgia friends!!!


Last night, upon arrival at the hotel, Mike P opened the saddle bag that he keeps his clothes in to discover…. NOTHING!  In haste, he left the house with his clothes bag liner neatly packed and on the kitchen counter.  Let the adventure begin.

This morning, we’ll detour very slightly over the Cartersville for some suitable shopping.



I angle us northeast toward the green on the map.  It’s always better when you are in the green.  Soon, we find our way to Dahlonega at lunch time.


This is a good place in the square – I’ve eaten there many times.  Brisket sandwich was lean.


Now early afternoon, and while we certainly could press on farther north, we decided “why rush it?”.  So we ran up Blood Mountain to Suches and pitched our tents at Two Wheels Only (TWO).


With plenty of daylight left, and unloaded motorcycles, we hit the twisties.  MikeP wanted to stop at this little shop to buy, of all things, some soap for his wife.

Happy Fall, Ya’ll!!!!


I get giddy when I come to this area.  It feels so much like home to me, and with good reason.  I’m very close to retirement now.  My wife is already retired.  Soon, we plan to move to this area and spend our retirement exploring these mountains.  The first time I saw this place, it moved me although at the time, I didn’t know why.  I can’t really explain it, try though I may.  There is just something about north Georgia that keeps pulling me.  It has just the right mix of civilization and desolation, if that makes sense.

While the others shop for soap, I am content just to stare at my future home.


We turn onto Hwy 348 and start climbing.  Even up here, its pushing 90 degrees and drastic circumstances call for drastic measures.


It’s a nice walk down to the falls.



That water is just too inviting to pass up.


Daredevil Tom taking the plunge!!!  My timing was just a smidge early.


This is a nice place.


Brasstown Bald is the highest point in Georgia, and this afternoon, she is shining quite nicely.


Refreshed, we detour quickly to Helen for beverages to go, and then motor back to camp for Happy Hour.  This one is like a favorite of ours back home, with its fruity undertones.  A great summer beer, and on this hot October day, it works!!


In case you haven’t heard, TWO is motorcycle nirvana.  The owner has sunk big money into the place and it is setup perfectly.  If you don’t tent camp, there are sleeping cabins.  The restaurant is pretty good.  And the bathhouse is first class.


After dinner, we sat around for a short while and turned in.

Day 3:  Suches, GA to Hot Springs, NC.  Approx 200 miles


I slept better in my tent last night with the rain fly window open and the mountain breeze.  After a good country breakfast at the camp restaurant, we packed up and pointed the bikes toward the curves!


It’s Saturday, and we are looking to avoid the crowd.  So in Clayton, we hop on Warwoman Road, and then take Hwy 28 north.  We stopped in Highlands and choose to eat away from the crowded downtown square.  This gas station bistro was pretty convenient, even though the chicken sandwich was only “so so”.


From Cashiers, I pointed us north on Hwy 107, which is a terrific road less traveled.  The fog is damp, and we stopped at Lake Glenville to add a layer.


It’s starting to get good…


Bigger mountains up ahead!



Hwy 281, Hwy 215, and Hwy 209 – quite simply the BEST motorcycle riding east of the Mississippi River, in my humble opinion.


We are having great luck in the village of Luck, NC.


We wiggle our way up to Hot Springs and set up camp at the resort campground on the French Broad river.  The campground is packed, but we find a tent site away from the RV barges and it will have to do.

We mosey into town looking to wet our whistles.


Decisions, decisions…..



They put the burgers on Texas toast – it works.


We found wifi at a place across the Street.


Here is why I don’t care for this campground.  An active railroad runs right through it.  I wore my ear plugs to sleep and either no train passed or I slept through it.  Those reflective shapes just beyond my tent are from a train blasting through about 6:30 in the morning.  Good morning, darkness.


Day 4:  Hot Springs, NC to Roan Mountain, TN  Approx 150 miles


After coffee and breakfast, we saddle up and hit the mountains.  I can already tell it’s gonna be a great day.



We stopped wherever the mood suited us.  The weather is nice – about 60 degrees and the road is dry and it would seem we have it all to ourselves.


Between stops, I found myself thinking.  Not overly dwelling, mind you, but… thinking.  My email from work has been blowing up.  I’ve got a couple phone calls to make tomorrow to the office.  Seems even though I’m gone, I’m never really “gone”.  The weight of that is getting to me.

It’s time for some changes.

Time to re-prioritize things.  Time to think about what is really important.  What matters now has little to do with where I get my pay anymore.  I’ve done that, and I’m done with that.  No more climbing ladders.  No more unpaid overtime.  No more initiating new policies or new procedures or even new ideas.  For decades, I gave them way more than they paid for.  It wasn’t unappreciated, but it certainly wasn’t rewarded.  Moreover, it just doesn’t matter that much to me anymore.

So it’s time to let it go and let ‘em figure it out on their own.  Changing times, indeed.

We stop in Bakersville, NC for lunch..


A retired geologist, Tom is an old rock hound and he enjoyed checking out the counter in the restaurant.


We all had the Sunday special – poppy seed chicken casserole and fixings.


The Heath Bar Cake for dessert was better, though.


I love the quilter’s patterns that are used to decorate the buildings throughout this region.  Each one is unique, and I find that really cool!



After lunch, we run north up and over Roan Mountain, then turn east on Hwy 19E for a short distance to our home for the evening.


This is Mountain View Campground in Elk Park, NC.  MikeP found this place looking around and Mark-n-Jeanine are first class hosts!  Mark is a motorcycle mechanic and created this place as a way to supplement their income.  They have a campground for tenters, and an Avion S/S Camper for people to rent.

But we choose the bunk house for just $25.00 a night.  Let me show you around.

First, there’s covered parking for the bikes.


The five bunks are very comfy.


Full restroom with hot shower is first class.  Excellent “reading material” in there, no extra charge, thank you.


There’s a nice sitting area as well with a counter, wash sink, coffee station, etc.


Even the décor is awesome.  It’s a really cool setup.  We liked it immediately.



Still early in the afternoon, we rode a short distance through the local forest.


Just a smidge of color starting to pop in these parts.



We stopped at Elk River and walked to the falls.  This is one of my favorite pictures of the entire trip.


This is one cool place, man.


The view from on top of the falls was neat.


My scientist buddies, doing their thing……


This is a spectacular waterfall.  About 50-ish foot drop and with HUGE flow today, especially considering the time of year.


We walked the forest service road a piece down river.  It was good to stretch out the legs after a few days on the bike.


I’m telling you, folks – the good stuff is there.  It’s out there and it’s everywhere.  You just have to go get it, and get it often.



If I’m lying, I’m dying…..


Mark and Jeanine suggested this place for dinner.  It would appear to have all of the essentials.



Highlands Brewery (Ashville) Galic Ale.  This is one good beer.


I’ll have my carbs in liquid form, thank you.


After dinner, we shot a couple games of pool.  I beat both of those turkeys, but politely declined “$10.00 a ball” from the local shark.

I brought this one back to the bunkhouse for a nightcap.  Again, delicious.


Mark’s mother’s homemade Rum Cake and a local apple for dessert.


Great weather, great roads, great waterfalls, FANTASTIC beer, and homemade rum cake.  We are living pretty large, my friends…..

Day 5:  Loop ride around and back to Mountain View.


I slept peacefully in the bunk and woke up early, grabbed a cup of joe, and started poking around.  Again, these people know how to market riders.



We gear up and get going - Tom looks ready for adventure.


We elected to start the day with a GPS adventure that included two bonified goat trails complete with sections of hard packed gravel.  But the view from Beech Mountain was well worth it.


I wonder if these people know that they are living in paradise?


With a little encouragement from a local, we came down of the mountain to US Hwy 321, and made a right onto Hwy 67 toward Lake Watauga.



In Mountain City, I took the lead for a run up and back on The Snake (Hwy 421).  The road was dry, clean, and traffic free.  I down-shifted the big girl and let her rip.

Mid way, we stopped in Shady Valley for lunch.  One day, I’d like to check out the Cranberry Festival.



There’s good riding in them thar hills!!


We doubled back to Mountain City, and then took a left onto Hwy 167 for more roller coaster.


It’s pretty good, ya’ll…..


We pulled into West Jefferson, mid-afternoon. 


Those of you who know me surely must realize what’s coming next….



I felt like cooking, so we stopped in Banner Elk for groceries and brewskies.


MikeP is simmering some black beans, and I’ve got some peppers sautéing as well.


We invited our host to join us for a Cajun Chicken Fajita smorgesborg.


After dinner, a couple of sippsies and it was off to bed.

Day 6:  Roan Mountain, TN to Elkhorn, KY, approx 150 miles

Yesterday, I bought groceries to cook breakfast.  Here’s all you need.


It doesn’t look like much, but it’s not too bad for an easy fix.


The weather running through this area is taking its time, but if we look just a little to the west, it’s already passed.  So we make the difficult decision to pack up and head west.  Turn by turn on a paper plate?  That’s how I roll.


We paid our host and bid them farewell, but not goodbye.  In the morning, I noticed that MikeP had a burnt headlight.  He fixed that proper in the gas station (always keep a spare bulb under your seat).


Somewhere near Falls Branch, TN, in a gentle right-hand sweeper, I hit something and it just didn’t feel right.  A short distance later, it was clear that I had a flat rear tire.

Rolled over this bolt.


While MikeP was on the phone looking for a tire, Tom and I got to work.  I put two string plugs in the hole and as we started airing it up, there was a small leak to one side of the plugs.  While Tom held the two plugs off to the side, I stuck a third one in the hole and unbelievably, it held air.


MikeP found a cycle shop with tires in stock only about 8 miles away.  So we rode with the emergency flashers at 25 mph to the shop.  Why 25 mph?  Because that was about as fast as I was willing to crash that morning.

Thankfully, we made it unscathed.


They got to work right away….


…. While we walked a couple blocks for pizza.


Ninety minutes later, with bellies full of pizza, and two new Michelin Road 5s on my bike, we were on our way.  Good bike service in Kingston, TN.


We crossed and skirted the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky, and made our way to Breaks Interstate Park on the KY/VA border.  After setting up camp, I put the FJR Sherpa to work.


We have Vienna Lager – it can’t be too bad.


After a subway sandwich, we lit the fire and enjoyed a quiet evening.


It can’t be called a legitimate adventure if you don’t have some adventure.  My flat tire tried to put a damper on things, but we refused to let it.  Nobody got hurt, and although it cost me some money, we found good help relatively close, and at the end of the day, a good camp fire makes everything go away.

Tomorrow’s another day.

Day 7:  Elkhorn, KY to Grayson Highlands, VA, Approx 150 miles


The wind died down last night, the fog cleared, and I slept like a baby and woke up rested and ready for whatever comes next.  But first, the sweet and creamy dark nectar of the Gods…


After breakfast, with camp broken, we rode to the overlooks in the park.  They are something to see.



Then we took a curvy county mountain road down to the Russel Fork of the Big Sandy River.  It is just gorgeous.



Then it was more wandering and roving.



We crossed into Virginia and in Tazwell, turned south on Hwy 16, otherwise known as the Back of the Dragon.


The views there did not disappoint.




Then we hit Hwy 58 toward our destination for the evening.


We picked a nice campsite.


Grayson Highlands is located on (or very near) Mt. Rogers.  We camped at well over 4,000 feet, and there was some color to look at there.


We brought groceries to cook and when we got to the campground, we learned that there was a burn ban in the park because of the dry conditions.  We know it just rained here big time, but apparently the forest rangers didn’t get the memo.

None the less, you can’t eat raw pork chops, so we built an Indian fire and got down to business.



You come moto-camping with Pants, I guarantee you won’t go hungry…..


Cookies for dessert!!


It’s hard to imagine that it can get any better.  Just wait…. It does!!!!

Day 8:  Grayson Highlands to Roan Mountain, TN.  Approx 100 miles


Once again, I slept well and woke up before sunrise.  Lots of goodness happening this morning around the breakfast table.



Today, we are going to hike Mt. Rogers within the park.  We pack the bikes and leave them at the trail head with our riding gear.  Right out of the gate, I can see this is gonna be good.



We chose the Rhododendron Gap trail today.  This sign was located well into the hike – it was about 5 miles round trip.


The Appalachian Trail (A/T) runs through this area and we walked a bit of it too.  Normally in this part of the world, hiking trails follow a creek up or down a mountain.  The hiker is blessed with the white noise and beauty of the cascading water, but he/she is shaded and shielded by the adjourning forest.  If lucky, there might be an overlook at the top of the mountain, but usually not.

The beauty of this particular place is the vastness of the vistas.  You start at about 4000 feet and this trail climbs 1200 feet before you reach the Knob.  The whole way you are treated to the majesty of the mountains.  The visibility is usually boundless.

I’m quite certain Tom would agree.


At times, we had to scale some boulders.


This area is known for a herd of wild ponies that live on the mountain.


They are friendly and like it when you pet them.


It was so much fun – the highlight of the trip for me.  The weather was perfect and visibility was terrific as the recent rains washed the sky of particulate.  The exercise was great for the body.



For this flatlander, a walk in the mountains is very therapeutic.  I live my regular life in 2 dimensions.  In climbing, I get to see nature’s depth of field.  It reminds me that in the grand scheme of things, we are very small and it puts my problems in perspective.








What a terrific morning.

We got back to the bikes and turned west on hwy 58 toward Damascus for lunch.


I’ve eaten here before and the food is good.


MikeP bought me a treat – thanks buddy!


It’s pretty cool to have buddies with like interest.  I’ve known these two a while and we’ve spent many miles and many smiles together.



In the afternoon, I ran across a brown sign that said “Blue Hole”, with an arrow pointing to a side road.  Pants finds these signs irresistible, so we took the bait.

And boy-o-boy, was it worth it….



We didn’t jump in, but the water here is deep.  I will be back to this place one day, with swimming trunks at the ready.


We ended up back at the same bunkhouse near Roan Mountain.  Jeanine and Mark welcomed us back with open arms and tail wagging dogs.  We ordered a few wood-fired pizzas from the local place and I even took a few minutes to wipe the bugs off my red horse.

It’s been a great trip, but time to start heading toward home.

Day 9:  Roan Mountain, TN to Tellico Plains, TN, approx 250 miles


We had leftover pizza for breakfast, packed up the horses, and left the bunkhouse heading generally south.

Hwy 197 is a terrific road to ride.



But we found out that there is a small section just north of Bernardsville that isn’t quite right.


It’s not paved.  MikeP checked the GPS and it looked like only about 4 miles.  So we went on another GPS adventure.


It worked out just fine as the gravel was in good shape and hard packed.

We stopped along the French Broad River to poke around.


At lunch time, I pulled into the village of Trust, NC, and the local café’ looked like the only choice in town.  As I turn into the parking lot, I see two familiar 2014 FJR’s just like mine and in an instant, I knew who it was.

Iris and Jim were having some adventure of their own.


Pretty good salad for lunch…


After lunch, we rode wide around Ashville and ended up on Hwy 74 heading west.  Before Robbinsville, I turned right for some afternoon fun.  Fontana Lake has been drawn down a lot.


In route, we learned that Tom hasn’t had the pleasure of riding the infamous Tail of the Dragon yet.  Now, it’s Friday afternoon.  The weather is nice.  Normally, we’d avoid that like the plague.  It’s gonna be crowded and potentially dangerous.  But we wanted Tom to have the experience.  And so, off we go!!

We get to the Deal’s Gap store and MikeP decided to pass on the run.  Tom and I unloaded the bikes and took off!




Once I got some heat in the new tires, they stuck like glue!!




It was crowded, but we had a good time.

From the Dragon, we ran across the Cherahola Skyway to Tellico Plains and setup camp at a private campground just out of town.


Our camping neighbor offered us each a cold beer, and we enjoyed it under a full moon rising.


We ate dinner in town and called it a night.  I miss my wife.  It’s time to start heading home.

Day 10, Tellico Plains, TN to Meridian, MS, approx 500 miles


We packed up the site early in the morning, and rode down to Blue Ridge, GA for a late breakfast.  Mercers is a great place to eat, the downtown location is in an old bank.


Good stuff.


From Blue Ridge, we rode through Suches, Dahlongia, Dawsonville, and then in a more southernly directly.

Any moto-tourer will tell you that this picture speaks a 1000 words.


In Alabama, the road straightened out significantly.


I actually enjoyed the mundaneness of it.  Staring well down the road put me in a peaceful state of mind.  It gave me a chance to think.  I thought about how truly blessed I am to be able to do this.  I realize that many people rarely if ever get the chance to travel.  Any travel is good, but I’m not referring to any travel.   I’m referring to the kind of travel without plans or commitment.  Take the chance to explore and adventure.  Allow your mind to be open to anything that might come next.  To not feel pressure to be anywhere at any time, and by association, to immerse themselves in the “now”.  To free your mind from all that concerns you.  To sincerely experience the present time as the blessing that it really is.

I freely admit that many times at home, I struggle with this concept.  My recently retired wife is leading me by example.  And trips like this are wearing me down in a very good way.  The most valuable commodity in anyone’s life is time.  None of us know what quantity we are given, nor have left.  That part is out of our control.  But all of us are empowered with the ability to control the QUALITY of the time we have.  It’s up to each of us to decide what that means.  I wish I realized that a long time ago.

The clouds darkened and we got a few hours of light rain in the afternoon.  About dinner time, at an unfamiliar road crossing, we spotted this place and decided to give it a try.


It was more of a “Bar” than a “Grill”.  I ordered the Grilled Catfish, but had very low expectations.

I was wrong….


This was the best meal of the trip.  The fish was fresh and seasoned just right.  The homemade sweet potato fries were not greasy.  Good food.

We pressed on to Meridian in the dark on the US Hwy 80 and a small stretch of I-20 and stopped at clean Super 8 motel.  I miss my wife.  It’s time to go home.

Day 11:  Meridian, MS to Lafayette, LA, approx. 300 miles


The white noise of the hotel air conditioner lulled me to sleep, and 8 hours felt like 8 minutes.  At my age, I’m coming to realize that one of the finest things in all of life is a truly good nights’ sleep.

We walked next door to Cracker Barrell for breakfast.  I forgot what I ordered – at this point, it’s kind of all tasting the same to me.  More like calories than a meal.  I need some good home cooking.

We left the hotel fairly early and slogged it south, with a stint on I-59 to Laurel, MS, followed by a right turn onto Hwy 84 West.  Again, the US Highways are straight, but you are left alone and if you need to make time, this is the way to go in my opinion.


We all arrived home about 2:30 pm, safe, sound, and refreshed.  For the last 50 miles, I day dreamed about seeing my wife, who always greets me with the warmest welcome after a bike trip.  I know that she worries and with good reason.  I’ve made mistakes riding the bike before, and another one could be devastating.  But to her devoted credit, she suppresses her feelings and accepts my need for this.  After 32 years, it’s hard to imagine that one lady would continue to put up with my crap.  I quit buying tickets years ago.  NO ONE wins the lottery twice.

With the onset of every Fall season, changes are plentiful.  The weather changes and the scenery changes.  Colors change and smells change.  But for Pants on this autumn ride, I sensed my feelings changing.  As I move toward retirement and the next phase of my life, what I’ve been preaching both externally and internally is starting to actually sink in.  It’s time to start letting things go.  It’s time to enjoy the NOW much more deeply.  It’s time to stop worrying about what won’t happen.

Changing times, to be sure.

Stay thirsty, my friends….

Wow, I keep talking about my "Mythical" trip out west, but crap, all these places are just up the road from me. Thanks, for pointing this out to me.

One comment, and it's not meant to be critical, but you keep saying you just "let it all hang out" and "go wherever" but you ride phenomenal roads and stay at awesome places??? There must be SOME planning?  

Anyway, thanks for doing all this work, these travel posts are just about the best thing there is online. Phil

Thank you for reading my ride report.

Phil - I've been riding that region for 12 years.  I know my way around there as much as the next guy.  So if we decide "let's go _______", in general, I know the better way to get there.  Also, believe it or not, the State highway maps do a great job of identifying good sights.  Sometimes I check that out.  Or pull up the phone and let google decide.

When I first started touring on the bike, like the rest of my regular life, I planned EVERY SINGLE STEP.  I'm an Emergency Manager and a Risk Manager by trade.  Trust me - I know how to write and run a plan.  I would have lists upon list.  I spent hours at the computer studying maps, writing these beautiful and wonderous turn by turn documents for which to follow.  I made reservations for evening stays.  Itineraries of things to see along the way.  It was fun, but exhausting.

Then one day, I was on a bike trip to Arkansas with a buddy.  This guy never planned anything.  It was the first evening at the campfire.  I was looking over my notes for the next day, and out of the blue, my buddy exclaimed:

"Pants, I've got a suggestion.  Why don't you shit can those plans and lets just wing it for the rest of the trip?  Take a chance and see what happens."

It was something about they way he said it.  It was convincing and sincere.  And looking back, I now realize that the context of what he was suggesting went well beyond motorcycle trips.  I was too wound up.  I needed to let some crap go.  So I pitched the papers in the fire and the next day, we let fate take its course.

"Fantastic" doesn't do it justice.

It was STUPENDOUS!  We had so much fun.  i took sweep and let Gus lead me to wherever the wind blew him.  When I got home, I realized a few things:

1.  It's all good.  Every single mile of it.  It doesn't matter what you might think you are missing, because whatever you are getting is just as good (or better) than that.

2.  The anticipation of the unknowing enhances the ride tremendously.  Since you have no plans, you don't know what you might find.  But if you believe that it's all good, then whatever you find will be awesome.  And who doesn't look forward to awesome?

3.  This way is sooooo much more relaxing.  I never fully appreciated how much brain power it takes to work a plan.  You've got to adhere to schedule and route.  People or things are counting on you, and that makes you feel responsible and sometimes anxious.  Winging it frees that part of your mind.  It allows you to lay your burdens down.  At least for me, it does.

4.  There is something to be said for living in the now.  I get the importance of history and planning (Lord knows, I do), but the older we get, the more valuable time becomes.  My days today are worth way more than they were 35 years ago.  Way more.

The night before or in the morning, we kick some ideas around.  "Ya'll want to do a hike today?"  "Who's up for a waterfall?"  "Anybody feel like ripping some tasty twisties?"  "I'm craving a Ruben sandwich at that cafe' in xxxxxx-ville."   <<<  That kind of stuff.  But otherwise?  NO PLANS.  Just ride places and eat things....


the reason we got our trailer is for the reasons you list above.  We found ourselves riding from reservation to reservation.  The enjoyment was gone.  Now we point in a direction that we want to generally go, and end up where we end up.  There are many times we end up in a totally different place then we set out to go due to weather or something else that caught our eye.  Enjoyment and relaxation factor went way up.

Longer trips still have a general goal for each day, but the route is usually open so we can divert if the urge hits us. 

Alaska is different and planing is very important due to remoteness and having to be prepared to deal with unexpected things.  There really are very few roads, and it is about seeing the sights. And you have to log the miles just to make the round trip.  That being said, we still plan short days and days off the bike so we can see the local sights.  It is still an adventure and once you leave you are just riding the plan and enjoying the views.  Mechanical and weather can cause changes, but the route is still basically the same due to how few roads there are.  Since we have been there three times, we have favorite spots that we try to line up to camp at because the facilities are good and reasonably priced which also makes the planning much easier than the first trip up.

Loved the RR!  I took notes on a few roads when I get back to the GA and TN area.

Also loved your kind comments about your wife.  Mine too! I quit buying tickets as well! 

Ride well and stay well.  Retirement is coming ... whenever you want it to.