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Old 05-13-2007, 06:07 PM   #1
gosling1 OP
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Trans America Trail - TN -MS segments

Posting my first RR here on ADVRider - somewhat as a "supplement" to Cannonshot's EXCELLENT one he did a few weeks ago. I know that there are others on this forum planning on doing the Eastern section within the next several weeks, so hopefully these ride reports will give some perspective on what to expect - I know Bryan's was a good primer and timely too - he started posting in the days before our departure!

I had been planning this ride for some months now, having stumbled across
the TAT in emails from other riders and then in more detail on this site. Being a West Tennessee native, I was anxious to see more of my homestate besides what one sees along I-40! I decided to purchase the TN & MS maps from Sam and to do this originally as a solo effort on my '95 Triumph Tiger. However, my good riding buddy, Mark, couldn't resist inviting himself along - a prospect that made my fiancee' more "comfortable" about this undertaking! It was our plan to leave on a Friday afternoon and travel via Interstates to Jellico. In addition, we would try to camp as much as possible - both to help defray expenses and to add to the adventure. I'm sure that most of you that are contemplating the TAT are aware of, Sam's excellent maps/directions only provide motel/hotel stops - if you're camping, hopefully this RR will shed some light on what to expect.

We left my house in the Greenville, SC suburbs around 2:15 PM Friday, May 5th and headed to Jellico - I aboard the Tiger and Mark on his '99 KTM LC4 640. Looking at the Weather.com site in the previous days to our departure showed a good chance of rain most days of the trip . Sure enough, we ran into a real deluge on I-40W going through the gorge at the NC/TN state lines. Ran through that storm within 30 minutes, the only ill-effect was the intense downpour playing havoc with my turn-signal switch - which in turn treated Mark to a "light-show" as the Kisan Signal-Minder developed a mind of its' own - causing the turn signals to alternate between 4-way (hazard) and wig-wag patterns amongst others .

After fighting rush hour going through Knoxville , we arrived @ Jellico around 6:30. Wish I'd taken more photos of Jellico - it's an interesting town with down-to-earth folks. After quickly assessing the weather, we decided to chance camping and proceeded to Indian Mound State Park on the other side of town. On approach to the SP, I didn't have high expectations since it was on the edge of town and next door to the town's waste treatment facility. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find a modern, well-kept site. There are no dedicated tent-only sites at this SP - we just set up at the edge of the run for a trailer/RV. We had no sooner finished pitching camp when the downpour started! Quickly, we got on the bikes and rode across the campground to a covered picnic shelter that we'd seen on the way in. Got the bikes under the shelter and preceded to cook dinner



Shortly, we were in the midst of a severe thunderstorm - complete with high winds that had stray ducks and a lone dog seeking our shelter. It was so bad, a metal garbage can lid that wasn't fastened to the can went flying down the shelter between the Tiger and the tables - barely missing me in the process. Last time that we saw it, it was rolling out of sight down a road. After a brief respite, we made our way back to the campsite where we enjoyed an hour or two of no rain; it was to be short-lived, as it resumed raining after we had retired for the night and continued to rain all night long.


gosling1 screwed with this post 05-13-2007 at 06:25 PM
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Old 05-13-2007, 06:09 PM   #2
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Old 05-13-2007, 06:15 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cannonshot
can't figure out how to post the photos from SmugMug - seems easy enough! Any suggestions!
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Old 05-13-2007, 06:18 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by gosling1
can't figure out how to post the photos from SmugMug - seems easy enough! Any suggestions!
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Old 05-13-2007, 06:21 PM   #5
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Old 05-13-2007, 07:56 PM   #6
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Day 1 - Jellico to Rock Island SP

After a rainy night, we awoke and took advantage of a short break in the rain to break camp and cook breakfast. That done, we headed over to the starting point for Day 1 of the TN segment of the TAT - the Jellico Days Inn. Along the way, I snapped a photo of Mark under a now familar Jellico "landmark" - notice the difference in temp between this and Cannonshot's departure - we're not complaining!


Next stop was to gas up for the day. My Tiger is easily capable of going 240 miles + off-road on a tank, but Mark's KTM could only go at most 200 - and that was with the reserve thrown in - still, that should be sufficient for each day. It was at this stop that I discovered the first snafu of the trip when I tried to load the 1st days' route into my Garmin GPS60c - I was "informed" that it would handle a max of 50 waypoints per route. WTF! I distinctly remember researching this on the Garmin site and in the manual as I was composing the routes several weeks ago. A few minutes of panic set in as I tried to do a workaround. We had the maps & rollcharts with us, but no rollchart holder; we (I) was planning on using the GPS exclusively with the maps/rollcharts as a backup. Fortunately, I figured out how to create a new route on the GPS using the existing waypoints . This workaround was not without a hidden cost - on the average of every 45-50 minutes, we'd have to stop at the side of the road for 5+ minutes while I created a new route for the next leg of the trip. It did give us (Mark mostly) the opportunity to stretch legs, snap photos, apply weedkiller to roadside vegetation, etc. I figure this cost us at least one additional hour on the road a day - there's probably a better/easier way of doing this, but being still new to creating routes with MapSource, it's all I could pull out of the hat on short notice.

I'm not going to try to duplicate the photos that Cannonshot took on his earlier trip as he did an excellent job of coverage. However, I will post photos of creeks, water crossings, rivers, etc. that were adversely affected by the 4+ inches of rain that East & Middle Tennessee received within 24 hours of our arrival in the area. In one instance, it caused us to forego a water crossing due to elevated water levels and especially the increased current - more on that later. One can compare the two to get an idea.

It started raining lightly again as we entered the foothills outside of Jellico. Saw lots of deer in Tennessee - can't stress enough to be careful!

Was climbing along a ridge 45 minutes outside of Jellico and happened to see this in a field off to the left.



While I had seen these for the 1st time on a trip out to CO last fall to attend a rally, I'd never seen one up close. Time to dismount & recon



Mark informed me that they were common in the area, especially in WV where they're part of a war-time supply of oil. There's usually a holding tank with a 1/4 mile of one of these and sure enough, the one for this one was around the next bend. A look back along the road we'd traveled so far



The trip was uneventful until we were passing through Wartburg, TN. I'd just made a turn when I looked in the side mirror and notice Mark stopped in the road with a large black object on the road near his bike - thinking it was from my bike, I quickly scanned all bags, etc. - all accounted for. One of his Ortlieb saddlebags had decided to part company in the middle of the turn. We pulled into the parking lot of the local Subway to effect repairs. Gee, Mark, weren't those the Ortliebs I sold you earlier this year?


Decided to have lunch in Wartburg and then headed out into, you guessed it, rain. Rolled through the Obed River valley - beautiful scenery and twisties! Next, entered the Catoosa Wildlife Management Area. Here, we had our first water crossings - mostly low-water bridges that were uneventful.


See the photo below where I'm taking photos of one of the creeks and notice the water level/currents due to the recent rainfall







We made a few wrong turns in the WMA courtesy of the GPS which had us going down this 2-track to nowhere. Fortunately Mark stopped us before we got too far.


Got out of the WMA and took a wrong turn - I'm going to blame the GPS again! We were doing a "nav check" when a guy walks out of his driveway and starts talking to us about the trip, etc. Sez he's got a KLR. Thinking back to Cannonshot's RR and remembering an inmate in the area offering assistance/camping, I asked if he was on ADVRider. No, but his cousin nearby was - believe it was inmate flyinfuzz.

Next photo op was crossing a bridge and seeing the raging waters below. Seeing a group of locals on the bank, we wheeled around and joined them. They indicated that it'd been years since the water was this high and furious. Cannonshot had taken a photo of this very same river - what a difference a few inches of rain makes!



It was after this stop that I began to worry that we'd somehow missed the railroad grade road. No fear - it came up soon enough - completed with a "road closed" sign! WTF! Do you believe ADVRiders pay attention to such warnings? Nope, and neither did we! Got up to the cut-through and stopped to take photos as well as to check out the garbage dump over the side of the grade. It appears to have been burned very recently as there was a strong odor in the air. We believe that someone was in the process of cleaning out/up the mess, hence the road closed sign. About this time, some locals in a pickup came by and asked if the road was closed in the direction we came from - apparently it was posted on the other end as well. The fact that they'd made it through was a relief that we wouldn't have to detour.




We then made it to Sparta where we refueled and decided to press on to Rock Island State Park where we intended to spend the night camping. I asked the young girl at the gas station how far it was - she replied "something like 20 minutes or so"...I said "okay, not the way we're going!"
It was ~45 minutes further on along the route - a beautiful spin through farmland with the setting sun (yes, the rain had finally stopped by now) to guide us. The TAT goes right through the SP, so it's not out of the way in this case. We arrived & pitched camp in a tent-only section of the park. Nice facilities - quiet...


End of Day 1 - Jellico, TN to Rock Island State Park: ~ 232 miles.

gosling1 screwed with this post 01-01-2008 at 06:06 AM
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Old 05-13-2007, 09:46 PM   #7
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Glad you made it allright in the rain storms. Yea that guy is my cousin,we call him MacGyver . Give him enough time and beer and he can fix anything. I went out on the WMA the next day and some of the wooden bridges to the northwest was under 6" of water. Had about 6 other bikes come thru the next week.
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Old 05-14-2007, 07:13 PM   #8
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Day 2: Rock Island SP to David Crockett SP

Awoke the next morning to cloudy skies and temps in the low 60's - best of all, no rain! After a quick breakfast, it was time to break camp and get moving -


The view of the rest of the tent-only section of Rock Island SP.



Pulling out of the campground, we decided to backtrack up the road a short distance for photo ops, etc. that we were in too much of a hurry the night before to take care of.

The Great Falls of Rock Island SP


The buzzards hangin' out @ the TVA Great Falls powerhouse - should've fed them the chihuahua from the campground that was pestering us last night as its' owner walked to the bathhouse

A few views of the wooden bridge atop the dam - room for only one vehicle at a time - at least with 4 wheels



Lots of good roads, both paved & gravel, ensued the next few hours - often with pleasing elevation changes. I was running down an idyllic road
when I heard the most godawful screeching from the left - this is what I saw


Since we were nearing the end of our "mini-route" and it was time to "feed" the GPS as well as ourselves, we took a break to check out the menagerie







Our next stop was in the town of Bell Buckle, TN - a historic and affluent town near Shelbyville. We were able to score covered parking with the locals while we tried to find some lunch.



The only cafe in the little strip was overflowing with the Sunday church crowd, so we hustled across the RR tracks to get a "deli" sandwich. We made up for it by having dessert at this quaint ice cream parlor/antique store. Not only did they have some tasty Blue Bird ice cream in some killer flavor combos, it was styled in the past, complete with a counter. The proprietors, an elderly couple, were more than friendly and willing to answer our questions about Bell Buckle and it's landmarks. I highly recommend stopping by for a refreshing treat!



The next few hours were non-eventful and no real photo ops were taken until we arrived at this water crossing. Rounding the bend in the gravel road that led to it, I immediately recognized it from Cannonshot's RR and his advice on crossing it. We dismounted to survey the scene -




Given the increased depth of the water and the noticable current, we elected not to make this crossing. You can't tell it from these photos, but we saw where a 4-wheel vehicle (truck most likely) had crossed from the other side. The current had pushed them downstream past the outlet and they had to come up the grassy bank to the left - no thanks! The detour around this water crossing was short and easy - for once the GPS showed us the good way!

A little later on, we came to a stop for a GPS update and I decided to take a few photos of a Sunday afternoon in the country - it was peaceful - weather was beautiful, though the temps were now in the mid 80's - made finding shade for these stops a good idea!




In time, we passed through Rally Hill, where Sam has a "bypass" for a creek crossing. We went straight through and over the concrete low-water bridge without incident.

By this time, we were approaching Columbia, TN - the suggested motel stop for the night. As we were doing the zig-zag course changes, the GPS decided to play stupid again and I pulled over on the shoulder to dig out the TAT map and get a fix. I'd been stopped for a few minutes studying the maps when Mark, who'd stopped a little further up the road from me, called out "check six" - turns out a Maury County sheriff's deputy was pulling up to see what was going on. He ended up getting out of the car to discuss business . Turns out this particular stretch of road was known in his circles for a) drug trafficking and/or b) illegal dumping. Well, things went fine - he suggested an alternative route and took interest in our bikes and the trip. After Mark had snapped this surreptitious photo, he joined in our discussion.


After a few minutes, he went about his business while we followed the route once more. We got to the point at highway 150 where we'd turn south for the night's destination, David Crockett SP in Lawrenceburg. Since Mark was getting low on fuel, we decide to ride north to Columbia for fuel and some additional food for the night's dinner. At the fuel stop I came out from paying inside to see Mark pointing at the rear TKC80 of the Tiger -



WTF! How did that manage to get in there like that! Though it wasn't a threat, I'm glad I had the tubeless conversion done just the same! We elected to wait until at the campground to attempt removal in case something went awry.

After running US43 down from Columbia and through Lawrenceburg itself, we arrived at the SP. I'll take the opportunity to point out that there were one or two other campgrounds in the area, but we wanted to stay with the Tennessee state parks as much as possible. David Crockett SP doesn't have a dedicated tent-only section - it's all set up for RVs, so we tried to pick the best spot. Even so, circumstances found us pitching the tents on a slight incline. Though it was a Sunday evening, the beautiful weather brought out the crowds to the park. We took advantage of the warm, sunny weather to finally give our tents, still damp from Friday's rain, a chance to finally dry out while we prepped dinner.


Mark and I each had an alcohol stove - and they worked great. We had brought freeze-dried meals for dinner, so one of us would boil the water for those while the other would "grill" the garlic bread loaf that we picked up going through the last town. Throw in some cheddar cheese strips, Italian dressing for dipping regular bread in, and we ate well that night!



End of Day 2 - Rock Island State Park to David Crockett SP; ~ 229 miles
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Old 05-15-2007, 04:52 AM   #9
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Old 05-15-2007, 05:32 AM   #10
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More please! Great so far and thanks for sharing.
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Old 05-15-2007, 08:00 AM   #11
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Local history of the area your are traveling through. Down near Lawrenceburg, in Summertown is a camp named "The Farm". The Farm Community at one time the largest hippy community in the world and still one of the most significant.



http://www.thefarm.org/general/farmfaq.html

You will also notice that there are water troughs in front of all of the business for the Amish community.

TWO very different life styles living in the same community. I just thought you might like to know.

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Old 05-15-2007, 10:58 PM   #12
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More Please!

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Old 05-16-2007, 03:06 AM   #13
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More Coming!

Quote:
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Sorry folks! Had a 14 hour day yesterday @ work . By the time I got home, I was too worn out to post. Will post the next day's installment tonight - I promise .
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Old 05-16-2007, 03:27 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajones
Local history of the area your are traveling through. Down near Lawrenceburg, in Summertown is a camp named "The Farm". The Farm Community at one time the largest hippy community in the world and still one of the most significant.



http://www.thefarm.org/general/farmfaq.html

You will also notice that there are water troughs in front of all of the business for the Amish community.

TWO very different life styles living in the same community. I just thought you might like to know.

AJ
AJ -

Thanks for sharing the info! We passed through the outskirts of Summertown on the next day's ride, which I will post tonight. The Amish will be addressed then, but I didn't observe the "hippy" influence during that segment - guess I was too taken with the Amish. I'd lived in Tennessee for 23 years before moving to SC and never knew about these 2 groups until the ride came about!
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Old 05-16-2007, 09:16 AM   #15
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Rain

Gos mentioned comparing pictures before and after the rain.

Before and after . . .












Great report Gos! Lots of good info and pix - very helpful! Looking forward to the next installment.
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