After leaving Wheels Through Time, I rolled through the twisty roads of the Smokey Mountains to Tennessee. I am getting used to the rain and luckily, today it was sporadic. Although this is my fifth cross country adventure there are some matters of preparation that have become instinctive and others that I have to learn or relearn through continued experience. The battle with rain falls into both of those categories. Rain is a bitch and the battle is endless. I decided to escape the rain by visiting a site I had marked on my map last year, but instead opted for a more southern route. I went to Chattanooga and stayed on the Delta Queen.
The Delta Queen is old steamboat that once traversed the waters of the Mississippi and now resides on the Tennessee River in Chattanooga. Some of the magical allure was was lost for me when I was told my room was on the top level. I explained how awkward and heavy my bag was and they graciously set me up on the main level in the Maryland State Room. Nice !
Had I gotten the room on the top level I would have dragged my bags up and addition flight of stairs and entered from the wet deck outside.
But with the aforementioned change, I entered from a luxurious lounge area filled with antique furniture and crystal lamps.
In the morning I left Chattanooga and headed west acrossRoute 64. I continued down the road for a while when I realized it was getting increasingly smaller. I must have missed a turn. I ended up riding into the town of Pulaski. While making my way back to 64, I came upon this grand old bus.
As I was taking pictures, a pick up truck stopped beside me and the bearded driver asked me if I would like to look inside the bus. “Sure!”, I said. “Let me shut off my bike.” By the time I turned off the engine, another bearded fella was there. And then another! I didn’t feel threatened. They were very friendly. Maybe too friendly? But I was amused and carried on. Then I saw a brochure in one of the guy’s hands. Turns out the are involved in some religious community all about community living. Whatever, I still wanted to see the inside of the bus. We went inside and they showed me a photo album of how the bus was built out of numerous old busses. It was bad ass!
These dudes weren’t preachy at all. More hippyish if anything. They just said that they were into peace and love and their group had communities all over. They invited me to have lunch. I declined. Then this guy handed me the brochure and showed me the many locations they had and I was welcome to stop by any of them anytime. Thank you and adios my bearded brothers.
I stopped in Pa’s Barbeque for a bite. Inside were 3 old fellas sitting at one of the two tables. I guess the one who got up to get my grub was Pa. We started talking and Pa sang the praises of those deer whistles you put on vehicles and said he was getting some for his car. After lunch I stopped by a WalMart and got some for Bonnie.
As I continued westward I saw this old attack helicopter in front of the police station in a town called Crumb.
Then in the next town of Adamsville I saw a sign directing me to the former home of Buford Pusser. The man made famous by the “Walking Tall” movies. His home is now a museum that closed at 5:00. I arrived at 5:25.
As I stood there staring at the home of the man who cleaned up a corrupt town with a big stick instead of a gun, I saw and old man approaching with two young girls riding an electric wheelchair. The younger of the two starting waving as they approached. I noticed the old man had no teeth up top as we got to talking. He used to ride. He said his dad was a military man. He was raised on a base. His dad rode a Norton Commando. The old man said he like to ride it around the base because everyone who saw him would salute thinking it was his dad. Then his dad got him a Honda. There was one rule. He could only ride on the base. One day the old man said he tested the boundaries of that single rule. He knew his dad was leaving the base for the day, so he figured he would too. He rode off on his Honda. He did not however count on his dad having to come back to base early. He knew he was busted and there would be consequences. He did not know how severe. He found out shortly thereafter when his dad showed up in a big ‘ol halftrack and crushed that Honda before his eyes. Dad giveth and dad taketh away! Damn! I mean…Damn, Sir!
I hit more rain. When it stopped, I saw another rainbow. But unlike in the Blue Ridge Mountains, on this occasion I pulled over and took some pictures.
That night I camped in Chikasaw State Park overlooking a lake.
This little guy (I almost stepped on) was a member of nature’s orchestra I was listening to during the night. It’s common to think the sound you hear are crickets, but there are numerous species playing their individual parts to make up the evenings symphony. (That comes from more hammock observations.)
An old Tennessee homestead, moved to Chikasaw State Park.
I continued along toward Memphis and stopped to look at a few small towns.
I debated back and forth on whether to stop in Memphis. With all my exposed gear it’s difficult to comfortably stop in cities and leave everything unattended. I was thinking I’d grab a Po Boy on Beale Street and soak in some bluesy flavor, but as I approached Memphis a huge black cloud hovered above it. So I opted for a Chinese/Japanese buffet outside of town. I let the storm pass. This year I have an iPhone so I can keep close tabs on impending weather, provided I can get a phone signal.
After eating, with the skies cleared ahead, I decided I would skip Memphis. As I whipped around Route 240 with the intentions of crossing the Mississippi River into Arkansas, I saw this sign: STAX RECORDS MUSEUM EXIT 27A. So I made one stop last stop in Tennessee.