Day 22: Louisville to Knoxville, Tennessee – 250 miles; Bike’s Leaking; Blue Highways Again; Other Bikers; Please No More Advice; Tips for Healthy Eating on the Road; Old Friends.

Every morning I take a walk around the bike to make sure everything’s okay and nothing’s leaking. Then I take a walk around myself to ensure the same thing. I was fine but there was a wet spot under the bike, directly underneath the screw for the primary cover. Dang. I felt certain (from experience) that it wasn’t dangerous at this point. Harley’s are known to mark their territories. But I still wanted to get it looked at.
But let me back up. A few days before this I just happened to be visiting a Harley Dealer along my route and got to talking to a nice biker called Phil. While talking he said: You know where me and the wife like to go? (I was thinking: Please don’t tell me. Please don’t tell me!)
“Maggie Valley.” He said and told me all about it.
“And Asheville’s just next door.”
So later I was thinking: Okay, Maggie Valley, and Asheville. Well, Knoxville’s on the way and it’s got to have a Harley dealer. I could go visit my friend Marge there and get the bike checked out. If it was okay I could continue on my trip. If not, it wasn’t too far to go to get back home to Rome, Georgia. So I called my friend Marge and asked if I could come visit and she said she was happy to have me come. Marge taught with me at Dalton State but retired a few years ago and settled in Knoxville. She’d invited me over a few times before and I’d been wanting to visit, so we worked it out. Now, the next challenge was to figure out how to get to Knoxville from Louisville. There’s the interstate, of course, but I was tired of it and it was tired of me. So yesterday when I was getting ready to leave I stopped at, you guessed it, McDonald’s for breakfast. Another biker came up to talk with me. He was riding a Honda Goldwing and was headed to Florida. “You know what road you ought to take if you want to head to Knoxville?”
“What?” I asked worriedly.
“Highway 127. Take 127.”
I checked it on the map and it looked alright. I’d take some back roads to get to it. And then, after a while, I’d switch to highway 27. And so that’s what I did. Late in the afternoon I started to get a hankering for something to eat. I didn’t want the usual fare, but something different. I saw a sign for a Cracker Barrel restaurant and immediately thought: I want chicken and dumplings! (I haven’t had them in years.) And so that’s what I did. Was Divine Providence, by way of my gut, leading me to Cracker Barrel for some mystery to be revealed – like whatever happened to Brad’s wife who got fired from the restaurant? I still don’t know the answer to that but the chicken and dumplings were good. To make the meal more rounded nutritionally I had cheese grits, mashed potatoes and cornbread. You have to eat well on the road. Now, I was ready for the last leg of the road to Knoxville.
One last gas fill-up before I left. At the station a guy on a Moto Guzzi (An Italian bike) Stelvio 1200 NTX came up to me. I complemented him on his ride. You don’t see many Guzzis on the road. He proceeded to tell me about buying it from Florida, flying up to get it in Ohio and now riding it home. Then he talked about other bikes he had owned, some racing he had done and how he had lived in Holland for many years. I could hardly get a word in edgewise, which was okay because I like to just listen to other people’s stories. I was just hoping he wasn’t going to suggest a place I ought to visit. He told me that I should be happy that I hadn’t taken the interstate because there was an accident and it was backed up. He had to put his emergency blinkers on and ride down the shoulder for a long distance to get out of it. (People don’t understand that most bikes are air cooled and can overheat in traffic). I told him I had to do that in Nevada once when the temperature was over 110.
We wished each other well and I hit the road.
I finally found my friend Marge’s new home and we hugged, had a beer, chatted for a few hours and then I crashed. For some reason I wasn’t hungry. Tomorrow, on to the Harley Dealer!

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