#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  

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#HOGWild18: Day 2 – El Dorado, Arkansas to Memphis, Tennessee

We spent our honeymoon a few years ago bicycling from San Fransisco through Sonoma County wine country and along the PCH until we reached Healdsburg, California.

As a long time road cyclist, I loved it. Leah, who was not a fan of cycling, actually passed out on the first day’s first serious climb. But, she did survive to go on and finish the tour.

I later asked her why in the world would she book a trip like that if she hated cycling, and had spent about the sum total of zero hours training for it. She said, “Because you love it and I love you.” Okay, point made.

Fast forward to today, and we spent our anniversary on a motorcycle during sun-soaked hours while cruising along the scenic highway toward El Dorado, Arkansas to Memphis, Tennessee. Good news is, although Leah is sunburned, she didn’t pass out; yet.

Oh, and before you get too worried, we did find a Cracker Barrel in Arkadelphia by lunch.

The ride to Memphis was a mixture of winding back roads and 18-wheeler in left and right lanes interstates. It got brutal for a few hours, but the goal was Beale Street and BBQ by night.

Memphis is a very cool, but confusing city. There’s a giant, Egyptian pyramid in the downtown area. It’s a Bass Pro Shop. Now, I’m not complaining, but it’s a Bass Pro Shop!!! 

Okay, back to the run up to the Bass Pro Shop. Traveling cross-country is incredible because you never know what you’ll find. One turn reveals a lake and old train tracks, while another offers sweeping vistas or ancient swamps peaking from the thicket of trees and foliage.

A quick turn Downtown, USA and charming southern homes stand guard over historical buildings and long-ago signage weathered by time and progress.

It’s America, and it’s breathtaking.

Well, it had to happen eventually. Tennessee is a helmet law state, so we swept into a parking lot before the state line to don our new summer bonnets. I was glad because it was a break from the sun bouncing off my noggin. Sure, it was coated with high SPF sunscreen, but it’s still sun.

These are the thinnest, lightest official DOT helmets made. Oddly enough the brand name is Badass Helmets. They also come with a big sticker that reads the same for your helmet. Leah tried to sneak it on mine, but I caught her. She’s tricky, but not that tricky.

Looking at this picture, I realize that my biker beard is ridiculously out of control. But I committed to it, so that rug is staying put until we get home. If you’ll look close at Leah’s eyewear, they are big, bug glasses I bought her in Biloxi for one dollar. They look cute on her.

Folks, I’m going to get serious with you for a moment. if there are kids in the room, you might want to send them away.

Now y’all know it was our wedding anniversary, so I promised my bride I’d take her anywhere she wanted to eat. As long as it was within walking distance, and I wasn’t wearing pants. Shorts yes, more pants, no. Also, we’re a block off Beale Street, so there are lots of options.

We returned to our favorite spot called Rendezvous BBQ. If you’ve ever eaten here, you know how weird it is to walk down an alley, squeeze past the giant dumpster, and walk into a basement. I know, if we were giving directions to our kids, they’d think we hated them. But this place is worth the odd obstacles.

I had chicken breast. My carnivore had meat.

After this amazing experience, she stopped to mug in front of the iconic Peabody, and then onto Beale Street for a quick walk before zipping back to our room to “type” this up!!

Sorry, we missed the march of the ducks at the Peabody.

Ha! I just saw the guy taking our pic as I was taking this. Or he was taking a selfie. Who knows.  So we headed back to the room to rest up for day 3. It’s about a 600 mile day, and while we’ve regularly knocked those out, still recouping from a virus and the extreme heat, might have better sense cutting the day off in Nashville instead of our goal of Knoxville.

And off course, what’s a trip to Memphis without running into the King.

Do Good,

Scott & Leah

 

 

 

 

 

#HOGWild18: Day 1- Dallas To Magnolia, Arkansas

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Well, it’s here! The official start of #HOGWild18. Scott and I didn’t think it was going to happen because we first had an issue at the house and had to wait on a contractor (and you know they never do anything fast), and then we caught a stomach bug that would have made things very awkward if we weren’t married. As it was, we staggered our illnesses so we were able to take care of each other. Yay marriage!

Speaking of marriage, it’s officially our anniversary. We pulled up to the hotel in Magnolia, Arkansas one minute until midnight. We kissed, high-fived, and thought about dancing under the carport, but we were both hungry and tired, so we’ve put off dancing until tomorrow night (uhh…later tonight since it’s past midnight).

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(this is us after the kiss and high-five)

I should go back to the beginning of the day, since we didn’t just arrive in Magnolia by magic. We had no plans to leave today. We had no plans at all since we weren’t sure how we were going to feel coming into this trip. But we’ve got tickets to see Harry Connick Jr. in North Carolina, and my will is strong where he is concerned.

I went to get my nails done before the trip, and while I was sitting in the chair I had an epiphany. Since neither of us were no longer vomiting, we should head out immediately. Like tonight. While it wasn’t 5,000 degrees outside in the midst of a Texas summer.

I immediately sent a text to Scott saying we should leave at 7:00 and just ride until dark, just to beat the heat and take some time off our ride. He said okay, and then I immediately sent him a frantic list of all the things that needed to get done before we left. He didn’t seem impressed by my list, and he didn’t seem in a hurry. I was perplexed.

I sped home with the list on my mind and was grateful to see he’d read his texts. He was pulling out shirts to wear so I could get the bags packed. But there were still so many things to be done. I told Scott to leave the packing to me (because otherwise he’d leave the house with a pair of underwear and a bandana, and forget all the stuff in between), and I asked him to go take the sheets out of the dryer and put them back on the guest bed.

I was chugging along, ticking things off my packing list, and I needed to ask Scott if he was going to pack his flip-flops. So I went off to find him. In the guest bedroom. Where he was supposed to be putting sheets on the bed. Mind you, he’d been in there almost half an hour. When I stepped into the guest room, there he was, laying in the middle of a bed with no sheets on it, watching Fox News on his phone.

I gave him the same look I give the kids when I catch them doing things like that. And he gave me the same grin the kids give when they know they’ve been caught. Scott is very good at getting out of trouble. All I know is we were suddenly dancing in circles and I was helping Scott make up the bed. I’m not sure how he does it.

Anyway, we were behind schedule so I went back to packing and laying out my clothes for the night ride. That’s when he asked me if those were my clothes for the next day. I told him, “No, those are my clothes for tonight.” He looked confused and then asked why I was wearing them tonight. I told him it was because we were leaving to go on the trip tonight. He seemed very surprised by this information.

I asked him if he actually read any of the texts I sent, or if he just responded okay out of habit. But to be fair, I did just say 7:00 and didn’t specify whether it would be a.m. or p.m. (though I personally thought it was self-explanatory enough, but whatevs).

But I did discover why he wasn’t in as much of a hurry as I was, which made total sense considering he thought we were leaving the next day. Somehow we managed to get packed, get the house straightened, and I’m pretty sure we didn’t forget anything too important.

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We were treated to a beautiful sunset over Rockwall Lake, and the weather was perfect into Arkansas.

It’s about an hour and change into our anniversary, so I’m going to wrap this up by saying I’m so thankful to be married to a man like Scott, and I look forward to many more amazing years. We’ll let you know how anniversary day went in tomorrow night’s post.

Until Tomorrow! (I promise I’ll take more pictures tomorrow, but it was dark most of the trip tonight)

Leah and Scott

#HOGWild18 – Motorcycle Cross Country Adventure Starts Soon

Hi All,

We’ve put some fantastic miles on the bike since our cross-country adventure last year. It was such an amazing experience that we’re doing it again. Except time we’ll be heading east from Dallas.

When I think back to just a year ago, Leah & I were so excited and nervous about doing this. We asked for and were blessed with so many suggestions about what to pack that I think we incorporated them all. It was a big list and we probably looked like the Beverly Hillbillies.

We feel so much more ready this time around. The big lesson was that it wasn’t about the technology or the gadgets. It was about the road. As each day passed last year, we became unconnected to the world, and closer to God and each other.

Come along this year and we’ll try our best to post after each day’s adventure. We had a ball taking turns sharing each other’s perspective on alternating days. Sign up or click to follow the blog, and check us out at Marriage Matters while you’re in the Like clicking mood.

We’re praying for a similar experience this year. We’re also packing fewer miles into most days so we can spend more time enjoying the locations and meet up with friends along the way. There might even be a Harry Connick, Jr. concert along the way. If you’re along the route, let’s connect if possible.

We’ll be heading toward different terrain than last year, so if you have good advice or experience, we’d love to hear about it. We’re connecting with friends from our church’s small group. It’s a married group of motorcycle enthusiasts from Gateway Church. They’re introducing us to cool places like the Tail of the Dragon at Deal’s Gap, TN and Blue Ridge Parkway, so please pitch in suggestions about these and more.

Here’s a tentative schedule. Let us know if you’re on the route. We head out for June

God bless you,

Scott & Leah

Check It Out:

Dallas to Hot Springs, AK

Hot Springs to Memphis, TN

Memphis to Nashville,TN

Nashville to Fort Knox, KY

Fort Knox to Lexington

Lexington to Charleston WV

Charleston, WV Seneca Rocks, WV

Seneca Rocks, WV to Skyline Drive VA (Shenandaoh Nat Park and Blue Ridge Pkwy)

Blue Ridge Pkwy to Washington Nat Forest to Beech Mountain to Cary, NC

Cary, NC to Asheville

Asheville to Charlotte

Charlotte to Bryson City to Chimney Rock to Blackberry Farm

Tellico Plains to Memphis, TN

Memphis to Monroe, LA

Monroe to Dallas

Give us a LIKE if you enjoyed – #HOGWild18 – Motorcycle Cross Country Adventure Starts Soon

Romance Writers of America: #RWA2017 – Orlando, Florida

Soooooooooo….what do you do to follow up on a 21 day, 6,000 mile motorcycle adventure across America?

Get home on Saturday. Wash piles of dirty clothes. Go to bed about 3:00 am. Wake up and throw clothes into suitcases. Fly to Orlando Sunday morning.

I was also surprised once we picked up the car at the Orlando Airport. Seems fancy pants ordered a convertible Mustang. Besides her gigantic suitcase not fitting in it, we couldn’t figure out how to pull back the top. We ended up Googling how to do it, but when we tried opening the top while we were flying down the interstate, we got an alert on the dashboard to cease and desist.

 

Once our bodies stopped lurching in forward motion, as if still wrangling against the wind on the bike, we collapsed in our Disney World hotel. We woke up Monday around 2:30pm. Neither of us panicked at the time. The weeks had taken a physical toll.

The writer’s conference began Tuesday, and immediately we began running into friends. Running into friends is what makes all the meetings and signings during the week worth it.

Today was a fun time, where Leah got to hang out with a few authors to do a live video promotion for an anthology they all contributed to. Julie Kenner, next to my bride, is our friend who we promised we’ll visit soon at the shooting range. Then Leah mentioned something about a spa weekend.

I enjoyed being there to broadcast this chat session on her Facebook page. BUT, I got a little distracted and started taking taking my own pics with another very cool friend while the professionals chatted up their work. It’s a fun pic with Melissa MSRheilander Consulting, me and my beard. Yes, I’m still sporting it.

There’s a long commons area where everyone seems to hang out when they’re not attending courses and meetings. It’s kind of where Leah and I hung out to do what I love to do. Talk to people.

Leah, on the other hand, is a bit of an introvert, and she wanted snacks. She has also developed what I think is an unhealthy desire to watch Forensic Files. I’m not sure if I should be worried.

I would like to take this moment to say that this wasn’t my donut. I’m not saying Leah ate it all, but it’s not mine. And maybe she did eat it all.

For those of you who follow our Faithful Marriage blog, we had lunch with the amazing Hallee Bridgeman, who writes incredible articles for the blog. We love her dearly and treasure her friendship and wisdom.

Besides the meeting and greeting, we had fantastic eating. Shula’s Steakhouse happened to be where we ate two nights in a row. I was happy to give it a try because The Miami Dolphins were my all-time favorite team in the 70’s. The menu was a football with Coach Shula’s autograph. I gotta tell ya, if Leah had not stopped me, I was going to dine and dash with that thing in my prized menu.

Now, in all honesty I would’ve never tried that, but I was about one more delicious sour-dough bun from convincing Leah to high-tail it with the pig skin.

We did end up breaking away from the consecutive nights at Shula’s. Leah’s agent, Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency invited us to dinner at Columbia’s Restaurant. We were joined by several other of her clients who are all amazing people, as well as authors. In addition to the great time and meal, we figured out how to drop the top to the convertible.

It was a fun ride during a cool evening to taxi these ladies back to the resort. As an added bonus, our 15 year old is crazy about author Ally Carter, and we got a picture to prove it to give us street cred. Oh, and there is the fantastic Kristin Nelson behind Leah who didn’t get nervous about the impending rain and lightning. Like we did. Notice the lack of a low-slung black canvas top. It’s official, we’re driving a rented convertible.

Now, I won’t say Leah has been a bit aggressive since getting all bikered up after the #HOGWild17 motorcycle adventure, though maybe she has been a little aggressive after all the Forensic Files. But this was the last thing I was able to escape before bedtime. I know what you’re thinking. I’m a little frightened too.

Big day tomorrow. We’ll see you all soon.

Scott and Leah

 

 

 

 

#HOGWild17: Day 19 – Lubbock, Texas

Yesterday Leah asked if we just wanted to hit it hard and head home. I considered the benefits of getting home a day early, but suggested we finish strong as planned. After easing into our hotel room after 1:00am, I had regrets. But not for long.

You’ll notice all of the outdoor pictures have one thing in common – SUN. Oh yeah, and it’s flat.

Albuquerque, New Mexico is hot and sunny. Not Big Sky sunny, but the clouds create a unique illusion of a copperish gold. It’s really beautiful.

Yesterday’s super long ride and late night arrival left us flat. We finally left the hotel room after housecleaning kept knocking and management kept calling. But we, and our push luggage rack, strolled out of there slow and cool. Ha!

Once we finally dipped ourselves into the gold of New Mexico’s sun, we scrambled over to the nearest Cracker Barrel. It was cool inside and we enjoyed having the waitress explain what each gold star on their aprons means. This young lady deserved every one of hers.

So after that, we headed over to Thunderbird Harley Davidson to get the bike checked out. The oil light came on yesterday, and although I’d added some, I still wanted to get it looked at. So like the dutiful service technician he was, this guy grabs a rag and walks out to the bike in the parking lot.

He cranes over and removes the “dip stick.” He smiles with a full belly of confidence and proclaims, “You got oil.”

As if that wasn’t earth-shattering enough, I walk into the store to discover my bride doing what else? So it then goes like this:

“We got oil.”

“If we buy three shirts, we get one free.”

“The guy says the bike is good to go.”

“Did you see these shirts? We can get a free one.”

“I’m going to the bathroom?”

“Wait. Hold this helmet.”

While in the bathroom trying to figure out how we went from oil to buying more t-shirts, I noticed how progressive Harley Davidson was about their bathrooms. They accommodated both choices. The right and the wrong way. Which are you?

I’ll share a little insider information from the writer’s world. Almost all romance writers are women. Many work closely with their husbands to handle the business and marketing tasks. There’s a private group of us guys who pool ideas and suggestions to help promote the craft our wives create.

One of the guys on our team (I’ll refer to him as The Guy because I forgot to ask him if I could include him) invited us to spend the afternoon with he and his wife, author Shelly AlexanderWe’d actually detoured to New Mexico because I wanted to meet him in person.

We’d grown close through calls and texts, and let’s face it, we guys gotta stick together. We thought we looked pretty menacing in this pic, so I decided to post it anyway. BTW: I’m the guy in the leather pants.

Not to be outdone, the real talent in this group had to front for the camera. They refused to mean mug it. Leah is the one with the red muscle shirt. Oh, and the leather pants.

We were sitting in their living room when I looked at a clock. It was after 5:00pm. We had a very long ride ahead of us. I don’t mind the miles or hours in the saddle, but riding at night is an entirely different dynamic. We hustled out on our way to Lubbock, Texas.

So we braced against blistering winds, 18-wheelers refusing to clear the left lane, and yes, more golden sun, and we blasted our way toward Texas. I’ll tell you, it was a tough ride.

And to top it off as we navigated a single-lane road someone thought would be a good joke to call a highway, we watched a deer hop across the way in front of the bike.

It’s really a frightening thought. I told Leah if one jumps too close to avoid, to just hang on because we were going to hit it and hold on.

She said, “Why don’t we just swerve around it.”

I said, “Yeah, we could do that.”

We got to Clovis, New Mexico way after dark and with a long way still to go. I yelled over my shoulder, “Want to eat?”

She responds with this.

 

So we landed at an IHOP and enjoyed a quick bite before arriving in Lubbock after 1:00am.

It’s onto Waco, Texas for day 20. In addition to the detour to see The Guy and Shelly, Leah also wanted to stop at Magnolia Market at the Silos. This is Chip and Joanna Gaines‘ place, so I’m thinking that either the bike will be bogged down by furniture or UPS will be busy delivering to the house.

Well, it’s after 3:30am and after Leah challenged me to stay up to write day 19, I can gently shake her from the snooze, and whisper, “BAM.”

See y’all tomorrow,

Scott & Leah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#HOGWild17: Day 12 – Helena, Montana

Day 12!

I don’t even know what’s happened the past couple of days. We’re high on mountain air and delicious food.

Apparently, riding a motorcycle for ten days in the heat fries the circuits in the brain, and then you end up looking at condos and putting in an offer.

This is a shot of the living area. Scott wanted to stretch out across the couch to make the scene look more homey, but I talked him out of it. I told him the picture of him laid out on the massage table was enough for a twenty-one day trip.

So…that’s what we did today. Just a normal day in Whitefish, Montana, which we’ve never been to before, but fell in love with immediately. I think it’s easier to justify this because we travel so much and have seen a lot of incredible places in this country.

And this is one of our favorites. That says something. Now everyone needs to come to Whitefish. We have a place for you that sleeps up to 8!

And the balcony has a fire pit and TV.

And it has a pretty awesome view too!

Condo-buying takes a while, so we didn’t actually leave Whitefish until five o’clock this afternoon. But because Scott learned his lesson a few days ago when we left town and then discovered there weren’t restaurants for a couple of hundred miles, I suggested we eat something before heading out. He readily agreed.

Our realtor suggested a place called Loula’s. It’s in the basement of a corner building in downtown Whitefish. And it was awesome. If y’all know me, you know pie is my favorite dessert. I adore pie. And Loula’s is famous for their pies.

You can buy them by the slice or the whole pie. I was tempted to get the whole pie and just eat it on the back of the motorcycle, but Judgey McJudgerson would’ve written about it in tomorrow night’s blog post.

After we had pie and signed a billion papers, we finally left Whitefish. We were sad to go, but we’re supposed to be back home in another ten days so we can catch a flight.

I know, we’re crazy. But we have to get back to work, though I’m not going to think about that right now.

Our realtor also suggested we head to Helena instead of Butte, which was our original plan. He’s a motorcycle guy too, and said the drive was gorgeous. He wasn’t lying.

But first, we had to stop at Glacier Harley-Davidson. It was on the way, and Scott was able to add to his shirt collection, even though he doesn’t shop.

The ride truly was spectacular on the way to Helena. And we couldn’t have asked for better weather.

This was the view on one side of the highway.

And this was the view of the other side.

 

It was like that the whole way, which is why y’all need to come visit Montana. It took right at four hours to reach Helena, and we checked into the hotel.

This is the part where Scott wants to write a guest paragraph in this post, because he’s got some drama, but I told him it’d be better if I just laid out the cold hard facts.

When we checked into the hotel, there was a tray of iced tea cookies sitting on the counter for hotel guests. The guy checking us in, we’ll call him Ryan (actually, that’s his real name, we don’t keep secrets here) told us he was very tired and the end of the day had caught up with him.

Scott couldn’t pick out Ryan in a lineup, but he could pick out one of those tea cookies.

After we checked in and unloaded the bike, Scott went to go park it, thinking he’d just get a cookie once he came back inside. Unfortunately, within the span of five minutes, the tray of tea cookies disappeared.

And no one was behind the counter. Scott scouted around for stray crumbs, but someone had cleaned that counter like it was the week after a crime scene and the apartment needed to be rented.

We checked into our room, where we discovered our room is connected to the hotel pool. Literally. We just walk out our door and if we’re not careful we’ll fall into the water.

That excited Scott to no end until he saw the pool closed at ten and people weren’t going to be belly flopping outside our French doors.

We changed clothes for dinner, and then we walked back by the counter. The culprits had reappeared. You know Scott, he’s all about confrontation. Actually, he hates confrontation. Unless it has to do with missing cookies. 

Ryan was talking on the phone, but his eyes were shifty and he was sweating. Scott zeroed in on the woman and asked point blank where the cookies were.

She cracked under the pressure and threw Ryan under the bus, confessing that he ate the rest of them. I guess the stress of the end of the day got to him. But that didn’t leave Scott with any cookies.

I got to hear about Ryan and his cookie eating as we walked down the block to the restaurant on the corner, and Scott mentioned something about Ryan eating six cookies and the kind of person who does such a thing.

He also told the hostess all about Ryan. I think she was traumatized because we had to wait for a table.

This was me waiting. The chair was giant, and I felt like Lily Tomlin.

By the time we got back to the hotel room it was after ten-thirty and still light outside. Our times are totally thrown off. Tombstone was on the TV when we got in.

Scott’s never seen it. I know. It’s a crime. And he seemed a little scared when I told him, “I’m coming after you. And I’m bringing hell with me.” After an uncomfortable pause, I explained that was a line from the movie.

We’re heading to Red Lodge, Montana tomorrow, where we’ll do all the necessary preparations for riding Beartooth Pass. There aren’t really any preparations other than visiting another HD store and looking for a Cracker Barrel.

See you tomorrow!

Leah and Scott

 

#HOGWild17: Day 8 – Great Falls, Montana

Huh?

It’s day 8! I think.

I don’t know what time it was when we got up this morning, but the sun was pretty high up in the sky. it’s all blurry in my memory, but I know I slept like a baby and Scott’s lip was swollen when I woke up. Sometimes these things happen. Also, this is my blog post so I can retell the day how I want to.

Once we’d prayed, showered, dressed, and taken full advantage of late checkout, we headed to Beartooth Harley-Davidson. I have to say, this might be my favorite HD yet. Before Scott tells you I “shopped” again, I’ll confess that I bought a couple of shirts. But so did he, so I’m not taking the heat all by myself!

 

Bears Everywhere

Beartooth HD was filled with bears. Scott was scared of the big one and wouldn’t stand too close.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shopping at HD was pretty taxing, and since it was past lunchtime at this point, we mosied down the street to the Cracker Barrel. Yes, the same Cracker Barrel we ate at last night. There’s only two in the whole state of Montana, so we wanted to take advantage.

Stay Golden

I saw this sexy man on my way into the Cracker Barrel and he bought me a meatloaf lunch, so I’d say I started the day off “winning.” Also, I’m digging the cut-off shirt. It reminds me of The Outsiders. What do you think?

The meatloaf really was delicious.

Montana is really big. And really hot. Like…super hot. We left Texas thinking we’d come north and spend a cool month of July cruising the highways. Well…we’re cruising. But today it was 106 degrees, so we haven’t experienced cool yet. Montana is gorgeous. And the roads are long. There are stretches of hundreds of miles with nothing but highway and hay bales.

But there’s a reason they call it Big Sky. Pictures don’t do it justice.

Road Life

Also, the wind was brutal. At one of our gas station stops to refuel and guzzle some water, Scott had to hold down my hair so we could take a selfie. It didn’t work.

I think motorcycle living has changed us. We’re not sure what day it is or where we are most of the time. Scott and his jeans are one with the road, and my headbands are covering growing gray roots. Our bodies are patchwork quilts of various and unusual tan lines. But the journey has been incredible as we approach the middle half of our trip.

We got to Great Falls, Montana late in the afternoon and were greeted with this beautiful sight.

By the time we got to the hotel, we were hot and thirsty. I think Scott is planning something nefarious in this picture. We talked about putting on our swimsuits and getting into the pool to cool off, but we ended up facetiming the kids. Then Scott decided to work out because he’s an overachiever, and I decided to lay on the bed in my underwear and eat Bugles because I’m on vacation.

NightLife

We eventually drummed up enough energy to head to dinner. The lady at the front desk recommended a place called Jakers Bar & Grill. It was delicious. And I could’ve eaten a dozen of their rolls by myself.

This is what greeted us on the way back to the hotel.

The entire day can be summed up in one word…gorgeous. This country is so beautiful, and we’re so blessed to see God’s creation and meet some incredible people who are on journeys of their own.

Tomorrow we’re heading to Whitefish to stay for a couple of days and rest up, and also meet with our friends John and Kristen. We’re looking forward to beautiful scenery and great company.

See you tomorrow!

Leah and Scott

#HOGWild17: Day 7 – Billings, Montana

Looks like I get the honors on day 7. It’s not like I just motored all day. But I’m not complaining, because I get to tell my version of today’s events. The truth may bend, but it’ll never be broken.

Mail Call

Before we did anything, I insisted we mail dirty and newly bought clothes back home. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you the bike was to the brink of busting open, thanks to her shopping sprees.

The lady at the Post Office was nice, but surprised we’d amassed so many clothes in just 6 days. I just shrugged and pointed at her.

Joy

We’re both feeling the groove of the road. We’ve gotten into a good routine for loading and unloading the bike, navigating, and doing the little things that might not be an important part of the trip, but sure add to the joy. During this morning’s prayers, the word joy was placed on my heart.

If biking from Deadwood, South Dakota through Wyoming and along a thin black ribbon across Montana counts as joy, then oh boy, did we have joy!!

Deadwood has stolen our hearts and imaginations. I’m pretty sure this town is going to end up in one of our next novels. We spent the morning there, and left after a visit to the Deadwood Harley Davidson. We met a very nice lady who told us a bit about the town’s history.

We also had a great lunch at Maverick Steakhouse. I had one grilled chicken breast and my beautiful wife had….well, a lot. I made a comment and she said she wasn’t going to apologize. Not pictured are the “side” salad, mac-n-cheese and possibly dessert.It takes a good sense of humor, flexibility and a sense of situational awareness while travelling. This can also apply while driving across town, but especially on the road.

Strange

The things you see once leaving your comfort area can be funny. We live in Dallas and are used to city life. Nowhere, USA isn’t Dallas, or actually, any other place we’ve seen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All I can say is at least the flies weren’t in our food, and this realtor must be crazy…crazy like a fox.

Do-Do-Do-Do-Do

Speaking of crazy, we went to see Devil’s Tower. It’s pretty odd, but also a testament to the wonder of this world. I mean really, besides being featured in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, it’s a marvel. Though there was no Richard Dreyfuss or aliens. Here’s a nostalgic clip.

Someone suggested we walk the base of the tower. Have you seen how big that sucker is? No way were we walking it. We drove by and took a selfie. It’s that big hill in the background. 

After this excitement, we began the drive to Wyoming and then Montana. This area is called Big Sky. The scenery is unbelievable. We went hundreds of miles with only farmland and livestock.

Dude Chat

We did find a lonely gas station where I met a guy from Florida. He seemed less than happy to have taxied his 14 year old daughter and wife all the way to see Old Faithful.

I asked, “Was it worth it?”

He said, “You’re not heading there are ya?”

I lied, “No, of course not.”

He huffed, “It was less than impressive.”

I felt bad, “Actually, my wife wants to go.”

He handed me the gas nozzle, “Good luck with that.”

I felt like we’d shared a Bro Moment. I didn’t tell Leah I’d thrown her under the bus. Again.

So after I cat-walked the bike across the gravel parking lot like a primadonna, we hit the endless black ribbon across Montana’s Big Sky until we came to Billings. This was my view for most of the ride. I guess that fly strip didn’t catch all of the bugs after all.

The actual view was incredibly beautiful as I sit above the height of the windshield, but I leave the photography to my-copilot.

Working It

I’ll happily admit that a wife is genius at motivating husbands when properly enticed. After my mojo had been blown with the news we had another 260 miles to get to Billings, Montana, Leah tapped my shoulder and whispered those oh so sweet words.

“They have a Cracker Barrel.”

With that news, I would’ve put her on my back and run the distance. We both enjoyed a fantastic late night breakfast menu. It was worth the long day ride.

Well, it’s another night of resting sore booties and trying to remember everything that happened today. We can’t even recall what it was like when we first left home. It seems like so long ago. A friend said after a few days, you’d become one with the road.

I was suspicious of that, but beyond the esoteric contemplation, it’s the truth. You stop having to work at it as it becomes very natural. The ebb and flow of being out on the open road has a rhythm of it’s own. I even found that Leah was feeling frisky while on the bike, or just tried to bug me by doing what drives me nuts. It’s all fun.

Zen

People are different, and those also travelling respond to you very differently than those who are not. I can’t say I blame the others. After a week baking in the sun and wind, I look kinda…crazy (notice the goggle white rings.)

Well, I’ll wrap this up before my love decides to start reading over my shoulder. Day 8 is a shorter run to Great Falls to see what, I have no idea. I’m guessing waterfalls.

See you all tomorrow,

Scott & Leah

 

 

#HOGWild17 – Day 6 – Deadwood, South Dakota

Let’s Start

Day 6! I don’t even know where to start.

Seriously…the beginning of the day feels like a million years ago. Some of us slept like a baby last night in Rapid City, South Dakota. And by some of us, I mean Scott Silverii.

I finally dozed off sometime around two-thirty after going over our schedule again and playing three hundred and thirty-two rounds of Cascade on my iPhone. I think I was just at the point where I was so exhausted that I couldn’t shut things off.

And then the sun came up, and some of us woke up a good half hour before the alarm was set to go off. “Some of us” once again refers to Scott, and boy, was he bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. From this point forward, Scott will be referred to as BEBT.

Custer

We did manage to get out of the hotel a good bit before noon today, and we headed to Custer State Park. The temperature was at least twenty degrees cooler than yesterday, so it felt amazing outside.

We took the Wildlife Loop around the park, and BEBT found himself face to face with his spirit animal. You guys know how much that man loves a donkey.

It’s hard to put into words how beautiful this part of the country is. I can’t count how many times the word “wow” came out of our mouths. And the roads are fantastic for driving.

Crazy Horse

We left the Wildlife Loop, getting to see numerous donkeys, buffalo, and deer, and headed to Crazy Horse, which was just down the road. You can see Crazy Horse (whose original name was apparently Curly) behind me and BEBT in the picture.

We were starving by this point, so we mosied on over to Laughing Fountain Cafe, where I “think” I had spaghetti and BEBT had chicken strips. I tried to get BEBT to stop in Custer for the #1 rated burger in the Black Hills, but he was excited to see Crazy Horse and missed the opportunity.

We decided they’ve got a lot of work left to do before they finish this thing, but there are plenty of smaller versions all over the place that they were able to make real quick. Like this one.

We were detained for a few minutes at Crazy Horse because of a random thunderstorm, complete with hail. It was weird. And it was over almost before it began, but it got the bike wet, so we were finally able to use the chamois I packed in the emergency bag.

Four Faces

Once we left Crazy Horse, it was time for the Big Deal. BEBT has wanted to see Mount Rushmore since he was a kid. And he was as excited as a kid the closer we got to seeing it.

Black Hills National Park doesn’t disappoint. Every corner we turned revealed jutting black stones, towering pines, and crystal clear lakes. It was majestic and surreal, and I told Scott there was a point as we were climbing the mountain on the motorcycle where tears pricked my eyes. God’s creation is an absolute masterpiece.

And I loved getting to experience Scott’s excitement for realizing a childhood dream. It was such a cool experience. When we prayed this morning, Scott thanked God for the blessings we’ve been given to get to experience things like this, and that we’ve been given the time to grow closer to Him and closer to each other. We don’t take these experiences for granted, and we’re eternally grateful.

Ice Cream Buddies

Scott was also excited to learn that Thomas Jefferson made the first ice cream recipe. I didn’t get to read the recipe because I was too distracted by the handsome man in the picture.

We also stopped and talked with an older couple who were enjoying the shade and a park bench. The woman shared she’d been divorced for twenty years and the man next to her had been divorced for twenty-five years when they’d met, and that both of them had determined they’d never marry again.

Scott was able to share his story with them since he’d also been divorced and single for twenty years before the two of us met and married. They were a sweet couple and we shared some laughs as the man shared what he’d learned about marriage. They recently celebrated their seventeenth wedding anniversary.

Harley Hopping

After we left Mount Rushmore we made a stop at Black Hills Harley-Davidson. This is the fourth HD shopping trip we’ve made along the way. I’m not sure how we’re getting it all on the bike, but I think we’re going to have to find a post office soon and start shipping things home. It also started warming up about this time. Scott said I was looking a little dehydrated.

We left Black Hills HD and went to Sturgis. Because you can’t come to this part of the country and not make a stop in Sturgis. I love seeing all the bikes parked at the businesses and passing us on the highway. Of course, Sturgis also has a HD store. We went in. You know the rest.

BEBT likes to tell the other bikers that I like to shop in every store we come to, which is true. But I’d like it known for the record that I’m not the only one who likes to shop. See the evidence in the photograph below. These are just a few pieces of his “booty” from today.

New Novel

By this point, we were pretty spent. We covered a lot of territory today and saw everything that was on our list of “must sees.” So we got back on the bike and headed to Deadwood. Which I’m pretty sure is going to be the setting of a new novel. It’s a really cool town.

We’ll be up again tomorrow (this time when the alarm goes off), and hitting the road again for Day 7. We’re not a hundred percent sure where we’re going yet. We’re still trying to decide whether we want to head into North Dakota or into Wyoming so we can see Devil’s Tower.

That’s part of the fun! We’ll figure it out later.

See you tomorrow,

Leah and Scott