#HOGWild18: Day 4 – Knoxville to Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Tennessee & Asheville, North Carolina

Leave Me Alone

Day 4 was scheduled to be a low-key day of travel through the Smokey Mountains with only about 120 miles of biking. Leah hadn’t slept well since we’d left, so she said sleeping late was her goal. By late, I assumed she meant about 9:00am. I was incorrect.

I was up at 8:00am and gave her my usual morning rally cry, “Let’s roll.”

Unfazed, and with covers, pillows and an arm covering her face, she replied as usual, “Leave me alone.”

So around 11:00am, I tried again. It worked. Kinda. But we did beat the 1:00pm checkout. But not by much. To be fair, she said a Charlie horse had slowed her down. Honestly, I don’t recall hearing any screams associated with a cramp.

Sweet Surprise

The moment we pulled into Pigeon Forge, we felt the positive energy. Neither of us had ever been to this area, but have heard from so many friends how wonderful it is. They weren’t kidding. The streets were full of motorcycles, Jeeps and families loaded down with camping and recreation equipment.

I’m not sure where my mind was, but it never dawned on me that Dollywood was located here. We saw the sign for Dollywood Boulevard, and like a lightening bolt, I realized we were close. And just like that, there it was in all of its glory; Dollywood.

Now I’m not a big Dolly Parton fan, but you have to appreciate all that she has accomplished and the Americana of it all. I guess Dollywood has found its place in our cultural lore, so it was a nice surprise to see it.

We drove through Pigeon Forge looking for the Rocky Top Harley Davidson shop. The main street was lined with multi-level go-kart race tracks, putt putt golf and tons of family fun activities. We can’t wait to bring the kids here for a vacation.

Of course, Leah and I are crazy competitive. Last summer we spent about $500 bucks racing each other around a 3-story wooden go-kart race track. It wasn’t pretty, and the kids were starving by the time we stopped. But it was a great opportunity for them to learn patience. And sometimes that we talk smack to each other. I won every race that day.

Great Recommendation

Leah had asked on Facebook about places to eat lunch. Several very wise sages recommended the Old Mill restaurant. We found a great parking spot and hustled over to be seated immediately. I’d like to think Dolly was in the kitchen making us some fixin’s.

It drives my bride crazy that no matter where we eat, about 95% of the time, I order grilled chicken. Well, she wanted to show me, so she ordered the chicken too. The special southern fried chicken. I don’t know if it was good, but from the look on her face, I really do think Dolly had magically prepared that meal with her own sweet fingers.

Down The Road

After a stop at the Harley shop, we headed down the road to Gatlinburg. Like Pigeon Forge, it had a very unique vibe, but very different from where we just were. The traffic along the quaint downtown street was jam-packed with bikers and pedestrians.

Balancing a big bike with a full load, and two adults in super slow, two-way traffic with people darting back and forth is a challenge. I mean a real challenge. My poor clutch and patience were worn out by the time I squeaked through a red light to get a little space from the rest.

Of course we had to stop at the Hill Billy Harley Davidson before heading out-of-town. Last year we bought t-shirts from every town’s Harley shop as is a tradition. This year, we smartly only bought the plastic poker chips with the shop’s name.

The Big Climb

Heading into the Great Smokey Mountains, there was a gentle sweeping of roads that allowed brilliant glimpses of massive vistas. We climbed the Rockies last summer, and there is a definite difference between the two majestic ranges. Today seemed more graceful and lush. It was so beautiful, that I completely lost track of how high or how far we’d travelled.

When Both Are Mediums

Once we coasted off the mountain, we came into a very cool town called, Cherokee, North Carolina. As we prepared to re-enter another stretch of curved mountain roadway, Leah “claimed” to have felt a rain drop. A trick I’ve learned to check for driving into rain, is to watch the vehicles coming toward you from that direction. If their vehicles are wet, it’s raining up the road. If their windshield wipers are on, it’s raining very close and we’re about to get wet.

Leah’s miracle rain drop was the only atmospheric moisture in the tri-state area. Of course, that meant we had to skid to a stop so she could slip on her impermeable rain suit. I handed her the pants, but they didn’t meet her standard, so I  I handed her another pair of medium rain pants. How could they both be a size medium?

I shoved my hand back in the designated rain-suit bag, and there were no more options. Oddly enough, both of her rain suits were packed, and zero of mine. As if I wasn’t about to lose it, she assured me it was okay because she only needed the one pair. I think bears fainted at my mountainous roar.

Beloved Asheville

Leah and I stumbled across this city a few years back by complete accident. We fell in love and stayed a few more days. We’ve agreed that we’ll buy a home here one day as a vacation / retirement property. Every time we mention Asheville to others, they respond with as much enthusiasm about it as we share.

I think I scare people in this gentle city, but Leah helps balance the effect. Of course the staff at the Village Wayside were very cool and helped us enjoy a super supper after a wonderful day. My biker beard has slipped over to the other side and is in a zone I like to think of as in desperate need of a shave. But, I committed to the effort because actually, I have no idea.

It’s nice to have gotten a few hours to do nothing tonight, but lay in bed. Tomorrow is another day in the mountains. We’re starting on the Blue Ridge Parkway and possibly heading to Boone, North Carolina. I did a bicycle race there called Blood, Sweat & Gears – a 100 mile race through the mountains, and Samaritan’s Purse is headquartered there. It’s the home of Franklin & Billy Graham ministries.

We appreciate you keeping us in your prayers,

Scott & Leah  

#HOGWild17: Day 3 – Omaha, Nebraska


We decided to skip the extra day in Eureka Springs, Arkansas and power through to get closer to Montana and South Dakota for spending extra time sightseeing. We really enjoyed our time riding the other side of Pig Trail, and of course had to stop at the Pig Trail Harley Davidson shop.

We met a cool couple who gave some suggestions similar to what many of you said about the area around there and Wyoming, so we headed out at noon and biked to Omaha, Nebraska. What that really meant was after a great ride from Eureka Springs to Bentonville, Ark, we rode through Missouri, and rode and rode and rode.

Oh, and we hit Iowa before landing in Nebraska.

I don’t intend to sound like it wasn’t a wonderful day, but we knew there was going to be lots of miles piled onto today so we were better positioned in the morning to make it to South Dakota. We put in over 500 miles with several hours into the night before arriving at the DoubleTree Hotel in Omaha at 11:30pm.

We did make time for a Cracker Barrel along the way. It wouldn’t be a US trip without it. Leah also learned she can snack on the back of the bike. But what she didn’t learn was to keep her cup holder right-side up. Once it turned over and all of her drink poured out. The next time, her metal cup and metal straw fell out of the holder and rattled along the interstate in Kansas City.

I guess it didn’t hit anyone. I guess. But alas, she’s rightfully without her cup. She did manage to hang onto the beef jerky. Had I known she was photographing while hand feeding me like a dog, I wouldn’t have accepted it. Wait….yes I would.

I learned a valuable lesson today when riding through very familiar looking farmland. Check your route before hopping back onto the interstate. Most gas stops brought us into small towns, so the interstate was a few miles behind us. We stopped at this modest spot, and I was finally able to upload my Spotify travelling soundtrack – Dolly Pardon and Kenny Rogers favorite hits.

When we headed back to the highway, I was so enraptured with singing “The Gambler” I might’ve turned the wrong way. We were almost 15 miles down the way before Leah recognized a barn that had caught our attention once before. You know, while we were going the right way. Good catch on that one. We’d have ended up back in Eureka Springs before I would’ve stopped singing Islands In The Stream.

We stopped at this store for gas and water. I’m not sure why I thought it was funny, but I tried to snap a pic of Leah walking out of it. Of course, that only made me look like a stalker, so I just snapped a pic. I’ve never seen these stores. Maybe it was just funny to me. Leah said the water was expensive.

I’ll share that we’ve been in total awe as we’ve been blessed with wonderful weather. God has done a great job with climate control. We even had to sport jackets this evening as we arrived through the KC area after it had rained. It was so cool, and comfortable. I don’t think we’ve sweltered once so far.

Fancy pants wasn’t pleased that her big-girl riding tights were smattered with bug inners after the sun went down. Of course she only laughed each time she heard the crash of a bug into my helmet through the intercom.

After mountains over the first 2 days, the flatlands were different. Very different, but it was beautiful. I always try imagining what qualities about a geography attracted the earliest settlers. It’s easy to see why this territory was so popular and prosperous. Besides it’s rolling serenity, it’s magnificent farm and dairy land.

We’re beat, and actually Leah is sound asleep next to me while I finish this up. She said do it in the morning, but I always remind her that cowboys tend to their horses before all else. She said it made no sense, but I know how important it is to prioritize what needs to be taken care of. It just makes me feel better to think about being a cowboy!

Last year we were in Europe for the 4th of July. It was odd. This year we’re in the midst of America’s heartland, and I cannot wait to share it with her and you. We’ve got a gorgeous country, and a God who has blessed it in so many ways. I pray that you’ll find the beauty in your celebrations.

God Bless America

Scott & Leah