Last night in Nashville was a bit of a bust, and frankly kind of a down­er.. I made the deci­sion to splurge a bit and stay down­town, but by the time I got show­ered and a load of laun­dry fin­ished, pret­ty much every­thing was shut down, and there was very lit­tle to do but drink. All the bars were open, but it turned out to be a total dude-fest. There were no women in any of the places (save the servers) any­where in the going-out dis­trict.. It was kin­da weird. I end­ed up chat­ting with a cou­ple of gents that work the rigs down in Texas.. Fig­ures, I dri­ve 2500 miles to meet oth­er peo­ple in Oil and Gas..

I’d thought about spend­ing the day in town but frankly, I just want­ed to leave in the morn­ing, so I hopped on Thirsty­Girl and head­ed out to see A&R’s place just out of Knoxville. I was real­ly look­ing for­ward to that, and it turned out to be a great deci­sion because the whole area is stun­ning­ly beau­ti­ful.

The city of Knoxville has a real­ly great col­lec­tion of old brick build­ings that have been main­tained and pre­served real­ly well. They make up a fair­ly large walk­ing dis­trict full of restau­rants, cof­fee shops and pubs. Oh, and archi­tec­ture firms.. It’s real­ly a great place to walk around. The uni­ver­si­ty cam­pus takes up a fair chunk of the down­town foot­print, along with a few sports arenas/stadiums too and to me at least, gives the town a young-hap­penin’ vibe..

Whilst out at A&R’s place, I man­aged to just total­ly decom­press, both from the long ride behind me, and the last year and a half of work. We man­aged to get a few projects done around the yard of the acreage, most­ly clear­ing and burn­ing of brush piles which seemed daunt­ing at first, but real­ly end­ed up not too bad at all. Ther­a­peu­tic even..

1/3 Done

1/3 Done

98% Done..

98% Done..

The prop­er­ty fea­tured an out­house (anoth­er two-seater.. go fig­ure!) which the orig­i­nal occu­pant of the house built because, if you can believe it, he’d nev­er had indoor plumb­ing before, and couldn’t bring him­self to do his busi­ness inside the house. It’s been stand­ing for at least four­ty years, and real­ly need­ed to come down to make way for.. yep, the chick­en coup!

Outhouse

Outhouse seats
And the new coup: Half fin­ished.. These chick­ens are gonna live in style, lemme tell you. :) That’s real house sid­ing around the out­side, and just wait ’till you see the inte­ri­or..

Chicken Coup 1/2 done

 

We decid­ed to use some left over click togeth­er hard­wood for the floor­ing..

High end chickens

 

And then kept going..

Hardwood Chicken Coup flooring

Some­times, it’s just tough to know when to stop! :)

The near­ly fin­ished coup as I left it.. (work will con­tin­ue in my absence–Life goes on!)

Things on the fin­ish­ing list:

  • Shore up roof, add front peak, tar-paper and shin­gle it.
  • Build chick­en box
  • Build Chick­en door
  • Build mesh chick­en run out the back
  • Plexi-glass win­dow for the door
  • Chick­en­wire the win­dow

Nearly finished chicken coup

The best part of this project is that we used left-over and pre­vi­ous­ly used build­ing mate­ri­als for almost the entire build­ing.  Stuff that would have oth­er­wise gone to waste.  The only new mate­ri­als we used were three sheets of ply­wood (for the roof, chick­en roost­ing box and chick­en door, about 6 — 2x4’s, some extra trim and a screen for the large win­dow. Oh, and chick­en wire, we’ll need that too!

So, a lit­tle re-cap-over-lap:   Upon Smoky Joe’s rec­om­men­da­tion, I’d trav­eled down in to the Shawnee Nation­al For­est to head up to High Knob to watch the sun­set.   As I cruised through the wind­ing for­est road, I was struck by the sheer beau­ty of the tree lined tar­mac. After hav­ing trav­eled through thou­sands of Kilo­me­ters of flat and rolling prairie, I’d arrived some­where famil­iar, serene and very at-home.

Pulling in to High Knob, which I’d thought was just a view­point, I real­ized it was actu­al­ly a camp­ground cater­ing to horse­back rid­ers, and sit­u­at­ed with prime access to some of the best horse­back rid­ing trails in all of Shawnee.  As I rolled through the grounds, I was imme­di­ate­ly impressed with the numer­ous themed out­build­ings that dot­ted the prop­er­ty and most­ly with the seren­i­ty of the whole place.  Save the inter­mit­tent whin­ny of the sta­bled hors­es, the camp­ground was silent..

It was an easy deci­sion to camp there for the night (after all, I’d hauled a tent down this far) but as I spoke with JoJo, the own­er of the camp, she offered a cou­ple of even bet­ter options.  At High Knob, in addi­tion to camp­ing, it is pos­si­ble to sleep in a com­mu­nal bunk house or even in a pri­vate cab­in.  I chose the bunk house (as it hap­pened I was the only occupant–it’s usu­al­ly used by hunters, and, well, this isn’t hunt­ing sea­son). The accom­mo­da­tion is rus­tic, but per­fect for my night’s stay and after mov­ing in I head­ed to the top of the hill to catch sun­set.

[tube]9Mso3iaraY8[/tube]

After a good night of sleep, and a rather late ten o’clock start, I wan­dered in to the gen­er­al store where I found JoJo mind­ing the shop..   Rather than just nip­ping in for a quick cof­fee and hit­ting the road, we end­ed up chat­ting for the bet­ter part of a cou­ple of hours..   After talk­ing busi­ness, mules vs. hors­es, cus­tomer ser­vice, trav­el and cul­ture among oth­er things, JoJo shared a bit more about the area, and the his­to­ry of High Knob camp­ground. I was thor­ough­ly impressed with her gen­uine con­cern for ‘her campers’  their hors­es, and the areas around High Knob.  Were I able to get here more read­i­ly, I’d seri­ous­ly con­sid­er get­ting myself on the wait­ing list for one of the few per­ma­nent camp spots that come avail­able each year.  Well, that and I don’t have hors­es..

Inci­den­tal­ly, accord­ing to JoJo, there are mule peo­ple and there are horse peo­ple (much like dog and cat peo­ple).  And, as it turns out, mules are actu­al­ly incred­i­bly intel­li­gent and have a high self preser­va­tion instinct (which is help­ful if you’re try­ing to ush­er the beast through ter­ri­to­ry that may not be best for the health of either of ya’s)..  The things you learn on the road! :)

Any­way, it’s tak­en ages to get this post up so I’ll fire a few pho­tos up and a quick video for your perusal! :)

High Knob Cemetery

Telegraph Office

High Knob Saloon

Fort Knob

High Knob Gun Shop

Used fairing-saver
Jay, you’re one of the few peo­ple that’ll appre­ci­ate the irony of this..  I man­aged to dump the bike while I was load­ing it..  Soft ground, the fair­ing-saver just dug in.. :)  Rook­ie mis­take.

JoJo sent me on my way with a can of her favourite Soda Pop (Red Fay­go), and a pack­age of mini-dough­nuts, and a direct order to vis­it the Rocks of the Gods a few miles away from the camp­ground. Which I did, and I’m pleased to have done.. It was real­ly spec­tac­u­lar scenery and I felt it fit­ting to drink my Fay­go right there with a toast to JoJo!  Thanks Lady! :)

Red Faygo

The ride to Nashville was pret­ty unevent­ful after all of this, but enjoy­able nonethe­less!

[PostE­d­it] Actu­al­ly one thing about the ride strikes me as note­wor­thy.. Some­how, the south­west­ern cor­ner of Ken­tucky smelled exact­ly like Grape Soda. I don’t know what it was that caused the deli­cious aro­ma, but I shall for­ev­er more asso­ciate Grape pop with Ken­tucky..

Your map Sirs and Madams:

View Larg­er Map

After a few great days with John and Kate, I hopped back on the bike to get mov­ing south again..  The weath­er has been incred­i­bly warm, and this after­noon when I left was no excep­tion. I did bun­dle up in my rid­ing jack­et but jeans would have to suf­fice..  By after­noon, I was down to rid­ing in a long sleeved shirt for com­fort alone.

Most of the day has been spent on the Inter­state, in part to con­serve time, and most­ly because it was head­ing in the direc­tion I want­ed to go. By the time I got past the city of Mt. Ver­non, I was start­ing to get a bit peck­ish, but also kin­da frus­trat­ed that I couldn’t find food oth­er than chain restau­rants and fran­chised rapid-meals..  Yuck.  I’d actu­al­ly resigned myself to skip­ping lunch entire­ly and find­ing a good sup­per once I’d found my way back to in to the small towns again.   Only, this was Sun­day, and East­er was com­ing, so very lit­tle in the way of non-essen­tial ser­vices (oth­er than gaso­line, cheap tobac­co and fire­works again) were even remote­ly close to open..

After stop­ping at an estate sale in hopes of find­ing some good antique books (no luck..), I head­ed down the 45 free­way in the hopes that I’d make it some­where with a bit of food by night­fall.

In a bit of a lull, I found myself fly­ing down a stretch of open high­way, sur­round­ed by trees on both sides when I passed a small BBQ sign on the side of the road.  I didn’t quite clue in to what I’d read until in the cor­ner of my eye I noticed the restau­rant on the side of the road, and across a gul­ley that I was rapid­ly pass­ing.   Once I’d near­ly flat-spot­ted my tires, I hauled Thirsty­Girl around and head­ed back for the dri­ve­way..

Big Daddy's Barbeque

As I pulled up and tried to park my bike on the grav­el road behind the smoke shack, I was imme­di­ate­ly impressed by the smok­ers and the build­ing itself. There isn’t much to it, and to call the place rus­tic would be kind, but it’s an hon­est, no-non­sense kin­da place and the smok­ers were hand built. To me, this is pure heav­en.

Big Daddy's Smokers

Inside the restau­rant was built like a place you’d want to hang out.. Signs and mem­o­ra­bil­ia cov­er the walls, a col­lec­tion of mod­el cars and var­i­ous relics make the whole place awe­some!

Smoky Joe - Big Daddy's Barbeque Depot

Smoky Joe him­self has build most of the build­ing you see behind him, and the lac­quered bar­top tables under his arm. He took the time to sit down and vis­it with me after mak­ing an incred­i­ble plate of ribs up for me.

To be clear, I was so excit­ed about the food that I’d already dug in before real­iz­ing I need­ed to take a pic­ture for you.  I was in such a hur­ry to get back to my meal that the pho­to I did take was kin­da half-heart­ed.. It doesn’t do this phe­nom­e­nal meal any jus­tice, but take my word for it–SO tasty! :)  This was only half of my rack of ribs, the pota­toes are hand cut and the cole slaw made from scratch. Again, good, hon­est, food.  I can­not stress enough, how much I val­ue good, real food.

Make sure if you’re in south­ern Illi­nois, that you make a point of stop­ping in to Big Daddy’s.  It’s just off the high­way so be care­ful not to miss it, but you’ll find Smoky Joe there on the week­ends for sure..

Big Daddy’s Barbeque Depot

One mile north of 141 on 45, Nor­ris City

Open: Wed. & Thur 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Fri. & Sat. 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Closed Sun­day, Mon­day & Tues­day

(but call first: 618÷962−3602 I think he may have changed the hours.  I can’t quite seem to find the card with them list­ed!)

Try the ribs, try the samich­es!

 

Half rack of ribs

Joe was a true char­ac­ter, and we man­aged to talk pol­i­tics, cul­ture and local his­to­ry all in my short time there..  I was look­ing for a good place to camp for the night and he sug­gest­ed head­ing up to High Knob Camp­ground in the Shawnee nation­al for­est to watch sun­set with the eagles.

Which I did..

And in [THIS] spot you may even see a video if you check back..  My lit­tle lap­top had a ter­ri­ble time doing any sort of work with HD video so if it ren­ders before Sun­set tomor­row, I’ll post a video of the sun­set from tonight.. ;)

Turns out, this is a fan­tas­tic lit­tle hide­away, espe­cial­ly for horse and mule rid­ers..  More on that tomor­row..

And your map:

View Larg­er Map

So, noth­ing much to report for today. John and I made a trip to Rur­al King for sup­plies and made a dis­cov­ery.. It used to be that you couldn’t buy Robert­son screws here in the States. They’re by far the best screws for any wood work­ing project or chores that require you to use a drill or one hand to dri­ve the screws.. At any rate, they have’em here now, though they’re called “Square Dri­ve”.. Trust the cre­ators of Free­dom Fries to rename such a quin­tes­sen­tial Cana­di­an inven­tion.

After sup­plies were bought, we hung up a cou­ple of show­er cur­tain rods, and ate our Jim­my John’s samich­es out on the deck with some of Kate’s fam­i­ly. All in all, a won­der­ful day!

Some­how, it appears that I’ve enjoyed the sun­shine a bit too much. I mean, who spends an hour out­side with­out sun­screen?

Oops.
Sunburn self portrait..
(also, this is a very rare bath­room-self-por­trait, please don’t get used to it! ;)

If you’ve already read yesterday’s post, you may want to go back and read it again, I’ve added a few pho­tos from the ride down.

Today I spent the day in St. Louis with John and Kate to go take a ride up inside the arch.…

20120330-224835.jpg

You read that right: INSIDE!!! How cool is that? For all my life I’d thought the arch was made of sol­id con­crete. Turns out it’s made of stain­less steel (at least on the out­side).

20120330-225017.jpg

Inside the arch is actu­al­ly quite hol­low. Enough so that a sin­gle (very cramped) tram/elevator trav­els up and down inside each of the north and south legs.

The four minute ride puts groups of 40 peo­ple (split up into pods of five) at the apex where small rec­tan­gu­lar por­tals pro­vide a view of down­town St. Louis and the Mis­sis­sip­pi riv­er.

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We had talked a about doing sushi for sup­per but end­ed up opt­ing instead to head direct­ly for a hon­est to good­ness fish fry-up being held at the church where John and Kate were mar­ried. Until now, I’d nev­er eat­en cat­fish I’d enjoyed; this stuff though was heav­en­ly!

Tomor­row, John­ny has promised that they’ll take me to Jim­my Johns for a sang­which that’ll change my life.

So look­ing for­ward to that!

Hey all,
I’ve only got Inter­net on my phone tonight so this is just a quick update to let you know I’ve arrived at my des­ti­na­tion in Mis­souri and will be stick­ing around here for a few days. Will do some updat­ing and the rest of my email­ing when I get the Inter­net sort­ed out. :)

Adden­dum: there was a lot of pret­ty coun­try up in north­ern Mis­souri. Cou­pled with some of the recur­ring Amer­i­can road­side odd­i­ties that one encoun­ters down here.

The one that gets me most is gas sta­tions. Most of which you can buy beer and hard alco­hol at, but some even car­ry fire­works too. I can’t think of a bet­ter com­bi­na­tion that booze, explo­sives and gaso­line.

Like this one (note also, antiques and the real­ly beau­ti­ful coun­try­side)

I liked this ad in the win­dow for Cono­co gaso­line:

20120330-231855.jpg

And I par­tic­u­lar­ly liked the two toi­let bath­room set­up. Pre­sum­ably ‘his’ and ‘hers’??

20120330-231916.jpg

And your map for the day!


View USA — Day 5 on a larg­er map

Today,
Anoth­er late start.. Could. Not. Wake. UP! Dun­no why, but I had a heck of a time get­ting out of bed despite a real­ly rea­son­able sleep. I think the wind just beat me that bad­ly the day before..

Not much in the way of news to report, more cool weath­er today in the morn­ing, but by the time I got to Oma­ha NB, it was shorts and teeshirt weath­er! Fan-freakin’-tastic! The last cou­ple of states I’ve been through have no appar­ent hel­met laws and every­where I go, there are motor­cy­clists sans-lids and I’m astound­ed they can even man­age giv­en the thick coat­ing of smashed bugs on my own visor and wind­shield. As much as I love to ride with­out a hel­met, I’ve no desire to do it here for sure!

A cou­ple of shots from Sioux City Iowa, where I stopped for a peek on my way through. They’ve got a his­toric dis­trict full of beau­ti­ful old build­ings that beg anoth­er vis­it. It was pret­ty qui­et peo­ple-wise though so I decid­ed to con­tin­ue on to Oma­ha..
Self Portrait - Sioux City Iowa

A neat ol' battery shop in Sioux City Iowa

Just watch­ing the weath­er chan­nel right now as I lis­ten to deep dis­tant rolling thun­der.. It appears that I’m head­ed direct­ly into high like­li­hood of tor­na­does and thun­der­show­ers tomor­row.. Though Kansas City is gonna be close to 80 degrees F! (Bring on the heat!)

Again, it’s super-late and I’m behind on my email.. I’ll answer that tomor­row and per­haps tell a few more sto­ries about the Oma­ha-Coun­cil Bluffs rival­ry and grass between my toes.. G’nite!

Your map:

View USA Trip — Day 4 in a larg­er map

Well, it didn’t feel like a trip through Scot­land, but it seems that there may have been more than one bek­ilt­ed set­tler around these parts at some point in the past. Regard­less, there def­i­nite­ly is some pret­ty coun­try­side between the towns of Glas­gow MT and Aberdeen South Dako­ta.

Best burger EVER!The morn­ing, as is my cus­tom, start­ed off pret­ty slow. I woke up late, and took my time get­ting ready. On my way out, the hotel staff rec­om­mend­ed I stop at Bergie’s in Nashua MT for a bite to eat.. I’m so pleased that did, this was quite pos­si­bly one of the best burg­ers I’ve eat­en in ages. FRESH bun, incred­i­ble hand­made pat­ty, tasty but uniden­ti­fi­able spices and a sauce to beat all sauces..: I could wax poet­ic about it for ages, but I shan’t. Instead, please be sure to stop by there if you’re in this neck of the woods!

Room for more.. Small Town Bar

Fertalizer Plant

Con­tin­u­ing on, (with bel­ly full) I made my way south through some pret­ty incred­i­ble ter­ri­to­ry. Sim­i­lar to the Bad­lands in Alber­ta, the Mon­tana Bad­lands include the req­ui­site dinosaur muse­ums and tourist traps com­mon to these areas..

Montana Badlands
Along with some spec­tac­u­lar coulees and wide open fields, there came one of the most ridicu­lous wind­storms I’ve expe­ri­enced on the bike. Since it was com­ing direct­ly out of the west (I was actu­al­ly rid­ing across the weath­er front) it was either at my back or direct­ly at my side. For those of you who don’t ride, a cross-wind push­es the tires of a bike out from under the rid­er in a lean that’s sim­i­lar to high-speed cor­ner­ing. A big bike like this FJR presents a pret­ty big tar­get for the wind (think barn door) and some of the gusts I caught were awful­ly aggres­sive. The bike han­dled them with ease, but it was exhaust­ing as a rid­er to con­tin­u­al­ly fight the wind over this 400+ Km leg..

I had an inter­est­ing encounter with an old Indi­an man who called him­self Low Bear, on the Stand­ing Rock Indi­an Reser­va­tion.. He and anoth­er man approached me to chat whilst I fueled Thirsty­Girl and had a quick snack of chick­en wings..

We spoke of his trav­els to vis­it fam­i­ly up in Cana­da, and his love of the Rocky Moun­tains (and fear of bears of all things!). Toward the end of our con­ver­sa­tion, he shook my hand and with­out let­ting go, sang me a tra­di­tion­al song for trav­el­ers.. It was one of the most touch­ing expe­ri­ences I’ve had in my trav­els to date.

I stopped here short­ly after that encounter to col­lect my thoughts and look over the val­ley below.
My first sunset stop

And, as promised, the movie (I’m dis­gust­ed with the video qual­i­ty) of what my sun­set sound­ed like.. If you squint, it might just look nor­mal.. :)

And Today’s map

View USA — Day 3 in a larg­er map

This morn­ing began with a frosty wind­shield and very lit­tle in the way I excite­ment which, frankly, suit­ed me just fine giv­en the inch­es of grav­el piled and spread about the city of med­i­cine hat.

Spring Roads in Saskatchewan 2

Where I’d been..

From Med Hat to Moose Jaw the sides of the road were awful­ly snowy, and the road sur­face itself was cov­ered with what I can only guess was a lay­er of salt from the last snow­fall.. It had the appear­ance of frost though and despite fan­tas­tic trac­tion from both of my tyres, each cor­ner I did ride was cause for a teen­sy bit of con­cern.. :)

Spring Roads in Saskatchewan.

Where I was head­ed..

Con­trary to what you’d might expect, rid­ing at near freez­ing tem­per­a­tures isn’t actu­al­ly that uncom­fort­able if you’re geared up right. I did tend to notice where my rid­ing gear let a bit of a draft in, but over­all, until my hands start­ed sweat­ing a bit in my win­ter rid­ing gloves, I was com­plete­ly com­fort­able.

Still try­ing to fig­ure out where my fuel stops should be for this bike I near­ly ran out of gas twice this after­noon. That this bike only drinks pre­mi­um gaso­line com­pli­cates things a bit as I’ve been accus­tomed to stop­ping at whichev­er town hap­pened to be at the end of my range. Turns out, small towns in Saskatchewan don’t actu­al­ly car­ry pre­mi­um fuel. –first world prob­lems.

Mov­ing for­ward, I’d intend­ed to cross the bor­der in to North Dako­ta (at a 24hr. bor­der check­point) how­ev­er through some colos­sal nav­i­ga­tion­al error on my part (pos­si­bly pre­cip­i­tat­ed by my over­rid­ing con­cern about being strand­ed with­out fuel on a lone­ly prairie high­way), I end­ed up back­track­ing west toward Mon­tana again. Right about the white dot south of Regi­na on the (larg­er) map below is where things all went pear shaped.


View USA Trip in a larg­er map

Though I lost sev­er­al hours in trav­el time, the dri­ve itself was beau­ti­ful.. I had a feel­ing like I should have dug out the video cam­era to cap­ture some of the real­ly beau­ti­ful ter­ri­to­ry I’d cov­ered, but I fig­ured screw-it, if you’d real­ly want­ed to see that, you’d be here with me. Right?

A few pho­tos will have to suf­fice if you’d like to have been there, but weren’t invit­ed.. ;0)

Borderlands 2

Shades of things to come

Borderlands

A good place to open ‘er up!

So, with ears ring­ing from music too loud and incred­i­ble wind noise, the end of the day found me in the town of Glas­gow MT, which bears lit­tle resem­blance to its Scot­tish name­sake. It does how­ev­er have a sim­i­lar feel to many of the small towns I’ve worked in over the past years, name­ly that it’s full of dudes in work­boots. Seri­ous­ly, I’ve only seen one pret­ty girl here the whole evening. If I need­ed an excuse to di-di on out of here in the morn­ing, that’s it!

And with that, I’m head­ing to bed to get an ear­ly start. One thing I will say for Glas­cow Mon­tana, it’s beau­ti­ful­ly qui­et at night, and the weath­er has warmed up to a point where I actu­al­ly want to sleep with my win­dow open.. So, real­ly, it ain’t all that bad. :)

Well, it’s offi­cial! Leav­ing Cal­gary was a real­ly great idea!

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And even though it’s beau­ti­ful here in Med­i­cine Hat, a lit­tle frost nev­er fails to make things excit­ing. :)

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