Monday, June 4th - I know it's not Sunday, but it is day 1 of the ride to Lexington. Eight of us (WHN, Cathy, Cathy, Sharon, Bill, Larry\, Steve and me) met at the Cracker Barrel in Oldsmar for breakfast at seven ayem. After chow, we headed north to the toll road, then up the toll road to US 98. Theat part of the trip was fast, but without traffic or traffic hassles. Up Us 19 to just south of Chiefland. A small County Road took us to US 129. We encountered a very large bird that looked like an owl to me swooping down just ahead of me, but obviously focussed on something else. We passed the zebra (once again I didn't see it) in the donkey pen, along with lots of other cattle farms. We did pass through a couple small towns, but Live Oak and Jasper were the only cities of any size. It took until Lakeland Ga. to find lunch (Subway). US 129 is a lonesome road - not much traffic, not much in the way of towns, few fuel opportunities, no potties. When we did find civilization, the store I chose had no public facilities, so back on the road to McDonalds and frozen lemonade. We reached the hotel at 4:30 after just 364 miles. 90 minutes later was dinner time at Longhorn, the adjacent restaturant. No issues at dinner. Back to the hotel, ready to call it a day.
Tuesday, June 5th - Headed out of Perry about eight ayem, on plan. The weather report isn't all that good. We have 280 miles to Sweetwater, Tn today. Because of the overcast (or maybe storm clouds?) it's mid seventies almost all day. The roads are good, clear, little traffic, but a few later in the day are wet. Some of the believers (make that 5 believers) put on rain gear when we had our morning comfort stop. Their confidence kept me dry most of the way to the hotel... we hit three patches of very light drizzle / rain. About two pee emm, the sun came out like a 1000 watt bulb and drove the temp up to eighty. By the time we got to the Inn, it was back to seventy eight. Tough day!! No unique animal sightings today other than a deer hosting a small flock of vultures at the roadside buffet. Many lazy squirrels sleeping in the road. One long stop for road construction was the only real delay. The hotel du jour is close to I-75, but not close to dining options. Looks like shuttle service in the Acadia. Tomorrow is a mere 200 or so miles... we will probably get there before we need a fuel stop.
Wednesday, June 6th - last leg to Lexington. We started with almost two miles of I-75 to get to Tn 322. When i reached the end of it, I wanted to go back for another pass. GREAT ROAD! Temps in the low to mid 60s, clear and calm. Next was Tn 72... almost as good as 322. Look these up when you're in this area. Tn 58 was the link to I-40 (yes, another 2 miles of Interstate on this ride) which in turn took us to US 27. Back up - Tn 58 was another good road, just straighter and wider, with a town or two thrown in to change the view. US 27 continued the good road experience and the temps stayed in the 60s until lunch. After lunch, the temps rose dramatically into the 70 range, the road widened some more and got straighter. Still not bad. We arrived in Lexington around 2:00 and headed east on Man-O-War - eight miles of red lights about 200 yds apart. OK, that's a stretch, but tell my right leg it isn't so. Check-in at the hotel was quick. While we were getting the luggage out of the chase vehicle, Lisa and William rode up on a golf cart to welcome us to Kentucky in style. Not everyone gets greeted by the State Rally Coordinator and Rally Secretary. Our hotel is across the street from the rally site where all the vendors are setting up their displays and tents. The early arrival gathering is 6:30 - Chick Fil-A is the host fooderie. Where do I get my Rally shirt?
Thursday, June 7th - Registration day and the day we find out what rides we have booked. Registration is at teh adjacent hotel and boy is the room small. Fortunately not all 1000 registrants came in together. Our first ride is 10:00 to Woodford Reserve Distillery. This is a cool place, dating back to the early 1800s and on the National Historic Register. The ride was an hour, mostly at 55 mph on roads that are almost two lanes wide. It was mostly through horse farms, but focussing on the road prevented sightseeing, but the roads themselves were cool. The tour is about an hour, through the entire process from fermentation to bottling. The barrel storage / aging room smells heavenly - must be because of the "angels' share" that evaporates out of the barrels. After the tour, we had our mandatory sample and bourbon balls. Since it was lunch time, we chose to eat there at the distillery. Sandwiches and drinks took enough time to allow the samples to metabolize. Since the group had already left, ZSUMO picked the route back to the hotel. Downtown Lexy is cool, but the traffic and redlights suck. Back at the hotel we had time to chill before heading to the dealership for the BBQ dinner. All 1000 people showed up for free dinner, or maybe 900 of them. The rally volunteers did a good job keeping the line moving. A bit of shopping at the dealership and back to the hotel for important stuff, like typing this. Tomorrow is Wild Turkey distillery and three Chimneys horse farm. Should be a good day.
Friday, June 8th - Today started early with a ride to the Wild Turkey Distillery. We saw a lot of twisting, scenic, Kentucky back roads, woods, horses and even Horse kittens. Coming out of narrow, tree-lined two-lane onto a wide-open S-shaped bridge across the Kentucky River, with a view across the river valley of the Wild Turkey distillery. Once we parked, we got a short tour of the gift shop while waiting for the bus. We had enough folks on the ride for two bus loads. There is no comparison between the Wild Turkey operation and the Woodford Reserve operation. The former is mass production, the latter is small batch super premium stuff. Both are great bourbons, however. We were offered two samples out of eight products they produce. Small samples, but tasty. We opted to head out ahead of the group since we had a ride scheduled for 1:45 and few choices for lunch. Show-Me's is a sports bar adjacent to the host hotel, so Show-Me's it was. The ride to Three Chimneys Horse Farm covered a lot more back roads, some so narrow the bridge or tunnel was a single lane. Unfortunately, the group was so big, something happened up front and we rode right past the farm. When we got \back where we belonged, a lot of bikes were there - we had a humongous group for this tour. We saw thoroughbred stallions, the mating room, the prep room and the statue of Seattle Slew. We also learned that once a mare arrives on the farm for service, she's back in her trailer headed home in just about ten minutes. With rates of $7500 to $500,000, that seems like highway robbery. The ride back to the hotel was also without the group since they were headed for the interstates. Back at the hotel in time to change shirts and head out for dinner at the near-by Outback. A tour of the bike show, a shot at the drag races and back to the hotel for the night. Tomorrow is picture day at Keeneland Race Track. Yahoo!!
Saturday, June 9th - last day of the rally. The day started with a police escorted parade ride to Keeneland Horse Track. It was a relatively short ride, but the speed was kept to 35 so the six officers could leapfrog the pack easily. When we arrived at the track, all 120+ bikes lined up for a photo shoot, one at at a time in front of a starting gate. Once all the individual shots were cfaptured, group shots were offered. FBACC HOG was the last group, then off to the gift shop and a peek at the track and winner's circle. Totally cool experience. After the track, we took a very scenic, albeit very narrow road north to a restaurant named Wallace Station. Apparently it was named after a race horse - imagine that! This place is a Guy Fieri pick on his Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives TV show. Big sandwiches, interesting ingredients and terrific desserts. They make everything here, even the bread. After way too much lunch, we headed back to the hotel for a break before the closing ceremonies. Closing was at 5:00 p.m. and lasted about 90 minutes. After the last prize drawing, we headed for Carrabba's. Another good meal. Back to the hotel, waiting to meet up with William and Lisa. Once they showed up, we chatted for a while, then decided everyone needed to get some sleep, especially our Rally Coordinator and Secretary. Tomorrow is a ride to Midway for us, while William meets with the HOG folks to select the 2014 rally site. We'll spend the afternoon with them.
Sunday, June 10th - The rally is over, but the State Rally Coordinator has business still, so the Florida contingent went for a ride to Midway. We took about 100 miles of great road through the countryside and a few towns. A missed turn let us take some really twisty road across the Ky River and back to the original route plan. That was a really good miss! In Midway, we found the Grey Goose, a small local restaurant, for lunch. Good food. After lunch, we took the short route back to the hotel and chilled for a while until William and Lisa were free. Dinner was at a local, non-chain Italian restaurant that was small and close-quartered. So close, that when the waitress behind Steve dropped two glasses of ice water off her tray, Steve got well covered. What a way to get a free dessert! The rest of trhe meal was without incident. Back to the hotel for an evening of conversation and more opportunities to embarass Lisa's son. Another good day in the books.
Monday, June 11th - Steve and Cathy headed out in the rain for Virginia. The rest of us stayed dry at the hotel until William and Lisa came by. Lunch was at the Parkette, a local eaterie with history and a Diners, Drivers and Dives recommendation. Guy says the chicken is good, so chicken it is. A message from Cathy said they had 40 miles of rain, then it cleared up. Good thing, they had a 500 mile day planned. Ouch! The rain is passing, but the old folks here decide a car ride to dinner would be the best plan - we'll save our road time for tomorrow. Dinner will be at Windy Corner, a place related to Wallace Station, the DDD place we hit for lunch on Saturday. Dessert for everyone?
Tuesday, June 12th - No rain!! YAHOO!! William and Lisa picked Opal's Diner in McKee for lunch. The route was close to 100 miles and the start and end were only 40 miles apart by the direct route. I had hand cramps from shifting and throttling by the time we got there. GREAT ROADS! We started with some heavy fog, encountered what the locals call rain (spots on the windshield), but arrived in clear skies, dry as a bone. Opal's is one of those places you look for at home and don't tell anyone about - home cooking and low prices. A short walk around the town square, then back on the road. We passed through 1300 ft altitude three or four times on the return route, and down to 800 ft between the peaks. If someone took the time the Dragon folks took to count the curves on Ky 89, it would be just as crowded. But crowded it wasn't - We passed one log truck and two cars between McKee and the next town. We crossed a couple rivers, saw some road work, and couldn't even try to count the horses. Back to the hotel at 4:30 and a short rest before the trip to Mi Mexico for dinner. Hasta manana!
Wednesday, June 13th - glad it's not Friday. We left Lexington knowing it would be a long day - 335 miles, no interstate, to toll roads. As it turns out, there was also no straight sections, either. Well, US 27 out of Lexington isn't a straight line, but it's not the dragon, either. So, I reckon there was some 'straight' roads for a while. Once we left US 27, things got twisty. We hit Tennessee, then a bit if North Carolina and finally Georgia. We climbed hills, we dropped into ravines, we took hairpins right and hairpins left. We hit mile after mile of sweepers chained together. We didn;t get to our hotel until 5:30 - way later than a normal day. The hotel is just outside town, with no restaurants close by. Pizza anyone? A local joint delivered and the day was done. Tomorrow is a one-stete day - we will be in Georgia all day.
Thursday, June 14th - Today was everything yesterday wasn't. A relatively short day (250 miles), roads that probably didn't change elevation more than 40 feet, no sweepers, no hairpins. What we did have was rain. We left Cornelia in the rain, then ran into rain that was so heave that I couldn't see where I was going. Fogged up glasses, fogged up faceshield, rain dripping inside the shield, leaking raingear. Fortunately, that lasted only 50 miles or so. It stayed overcast for quite a while, so it was pleasant riding. Toward the end of the day, it got sunny and hot, but the wet jeans didn't dry before we reached Douglas. Dinner is within walking distance, cookies come out at 6:00. Any day that ends with dinner and cookies ain't all bad.
Friday, June 15th - A cool (by deep South standards) morning gets us heading south on US 441, a largely open, low traffic highway. The downside of such a great road is few opportunities for fuel /breaks / food. I managed to run Larry's reserve indicator down to 10, Bill's down to 16 and mine down to 42. The Acadia also had the low fuel light glowing when we found the Bp station in Fargo, Ga. A slow stop because they had one pump for 93 octane and no pay-at-pump card reader. When we got to Florida, the sky began to clear, the temps began to rise and cities became more frequent. Our drink in Williston at the Mickey Dee's found us at the slowest Golden Arches Steak House ever. Lunch in hernando was another slow service place, but this is the last day, reasonable miles to go, so it's the righ day to find the places with 'restful' paces. After Masaryktown, we got on the Vererans Expressway. It wasn't long thereafter that the rain began; rain that lasted until Oldsmar. Not as bad as Thursday's rain, but enough to get pretty wet. What's a tour without rain, tho? Home a bit after three pee emm. Now it's time to get stuff prepared for tomorrow's memorial ride.