Day 6 - Begin With Tires, End With Shoes, And a Whirlwind In Between

Published: May 31st 2017
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Today was destined to be a busy day. With Memorial Day weekend behind us, everyone, but us of course, was back to work and the world was resuming its normal course of events. Again, no big rush to get out of here this morning, as the first item on the agenda was to head over to Southern Powersports and see about replacing the rear tire. We pumped up the tire and hit the road at about 8:30 as the dealer was only about 6 miles away. Southern Powersports turned out to be one of the largest Honda dealers in the southeast. They had lots of Goldwings and even do trike conversions on-site. When the service guy arrived at 9:00, I told him the problem and told me he had the tire in stock and would get right on it and I should be out of there in about an hour. While sitting around waiting for my tire to get changed, we met a local guy, retired from Dupont, who also rode a Goldwing and was getting some warranty work done. We talked for a while of each others adventures and the time passed quickly. But by an hour and a half, my bike still wasn't ready so I was beginning to worry. Turns out there was some sort of problem with a defective tire, so they ended up changing it twice. But by 11:00 all was right with the world and we were ready to go. They didn't find an obvious puncture in the old tire, but the new one seems to be working perfectly so far. Since we are leaving town tomorrow, I will check the pressure in the morning before we leave just to make sure everything is still ok.

After getting the new tire, the plan was to head over to Ruby Falls. Unfortunately, we left the camera back at the hotel, so we had to make a quick detour. Fortunately, Ruby falls is only 5 miles from the hotel, so we didn't lose much time. The ride up Lookout Mountain to Ruby Falls was awesome! Steep hils with sharp twists and turns, just what I needed to check out the new rear tire. Made it to the Ruby Falls parking lot before a grizzled old parking attendant with a Santa Claus beard flagged us down and asked us to head back to the entrance because that's where they liked the motorcycles to be parked. That way they can keep an eye on them as they tend to be an attractive nuisance and they have had trouble in the past with kids climbing on them when they are parked in the regular lot. So we gladly complied, drove around the lot and met the parking attendant where he wanted us to park. He was funny and we talked to him for a little bit before we headed inside.

It's been about 17 years since Jody and I have been to Ruby Falls. We came here on our first extended motorcycle ride to the Honda Hoot in Asheville, NC in 2000. It was the first cave we had ever visited and we didn't remember it very well so we were looking forward to visiting it again. Now that we have been to dozens of caves of all types all over the country, we could better compare Ruby Falls. As a cave itself, it's not particularly unique. Quite a bit of the passages are man-made, and most of the formations were damaged years ago which is not unusual for a show cave. But the falls themselves are nothing short of spectacular. There is a 145 foot waterfall inside of the cave that falls from the peak of a huge cathedral cavern room. We've never seen anything like it anywhere else! Well worth the visit. Once we finished with the cave, bought a t-shirt, and checked out the observation platform, it was time to head over to the second of the three sights, Incline Railway.

Incline Railway has been around since the turn of the 20th century. It is essentially a rail car, actually a pair of rail cars that follow a train rail from the bottom to the top of Lookout Mountain pulled up the tracks by a cable. There are actually 2 cars following the same track with a bypass siding at the halfway point so that while one car is going up, the other is going down so that the weight of the one going down pulls the one going up with some additional help of an electric motor at the top. The steepest it gets near the top is a 72% grade! We decided to start at the bottom and ride it to the top first, and then ride it back down to the bottom. I think it's more spectacular that way as the bottom is flatter than the top so it keeps getting steeper as you go up. When you get to the top, there is a little gift shop, a snack bar, and an observation platform. We rode to the top, bought some t-shirts - they actually had a good women's t-shirt for Jody. Up at the top, there was a huge group of Mennonites, evidently on vacation. There were so many, that we had to wait for the next car down as the Mennonites were if front of us in line and they filled an entire car!

By the time we left Incline Railway, it was getting close to 4:00 and we were getting a little hungry. But to get back on schedule for the time missed this morning with the tire, we still needed to hit Rock City. Fortunately, they are open until 8:00 so we wouldn't have a problem. At the entrance to Rock City is a Starbucks, so a nice large iced coffee held us nicely for our trip. Now Rock City is the one we remembered least about from 2000. I'm not sure why, because it's easily the best of the 3 places. Essentially it's a huge rock garden with footpaths through various rocks and caves with waterfalls, observation platforms and a Lovers Leap. It even has a suspension bridge! There is a gnome valley full of garden gnomes and a Fairy Tale Cavern which is full black lighted fairy tale scenes. The paths are well laid out and easy to follow so it took us a little over an hour to see it all. On the way out, we were disappointed with the t-shirts, until Jody found one she really liked in one of the specialty gift shops.

By the time we got back to the hotel, it was close to 6:00, and we were really hungry. We had decided yesterday that we would try Lupi's Pizza Pie as it was closed yesterday and open today. The pizza was excellent and we ate almost the entire 16" pie. After dinner,I was beginning to think about the blog and packing it in for the night. I didn't realize that Jody was on a mission. Her feet were really beginning to hurt in the LL Bean hiking boots. She probably should have broken them in before she left, but doing it now didn't really make sense. On our last trip she had a pair of Merrill hiking boots that we got at Dick's Sporting Goods, and she looked and there was one in the area. When I checked on MapQuest, it was only 15 minutes away and since it was only 7:00 and not yet dark, there was time to get there and back.

The ride wasn't difficult, in fact there was even a long tunnel on the way. But the red lights were unbelievable! There were dozens, that seemed like hundreds, and almost every one was red when we got there. There was even a railroad crossing light that was blinking! Turns out the railroad crossing light was just broken, and the siding was abandoned and the light was blinking on the way to Dick's and still blinking on the way back. When we got to Dick's there was only one style of Women's Merrill, mid-height, waterproof hiking boots. They only had a few sizes, but fortunately there was a 7 1/2. Jody tried them on and they felt great! I'm glad we found the shoes, because it's no fun being on a hiking vacation when you have shoes that hurt your feet. We'll just ship the LL Bean shoes back in the first Post Office package we will be sending out soon.

Tomorrow we are off to Mammoth Caves in Cave City, KY. I am holding off making reservations for tomorrow night until I verify the tire pressure in the morning to be sure my slow leak is behind us.

53.4 Miles Today

953.5 Miles Total

4.493 Gallons Today

27.677 Gallons Total

Additional photos below
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