TALLADEGA SCENIC HIGHWAY ON MT. CHEAHA ~ ALABAMA ~ photo taken by Dianna Stover
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

TRUCKERS, TURKEYS, AND THE NATCHEZ TRACE

The moment I realized our little plan of riding the Natchez Trace Parkway was actually going to pan out, I started reading everything I could to find out about this historical road. While I was in school, I was too interested in boys and parties to pay attention, but now that I'm older and wiser (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!) I've turned into a sponge that loves soaking up as much history and knowledge that I can. We decided to ride up to Nashville and begin our journey from the north end and make our way south to Natchez. We'd figure out how we want to go home later, since a lot would depend on how tired we felt and how much time we spent on the Trace.

DAY ONE
We took off by mid afternoon Wednesday and headed up I-65 North. We prefer country roads to the interstate, but we wanted to make time and get to Nashville before dark so we decided to forgo any dallying and just get there. Still getting settled in for a nice 4 1/2 hour ride, I was going through things in my head like socks, undies, t-shirts... check. Soap, shampoo, toothpaste... check. Money, maps... check, check. Right about then... things got a little dicey.

Let me set the stage for you so you can understand the events as they unfolded. Harley and I were clipping along in our usual comfortable formation, keeping up a pretty good pace with several cages and 18 wheelers. While we were in the left passing lane going around one of these trucks, Harley was behind one semi, I'm behind Harley, and another semi was behind me. We are all passing semi number three. I was probably about a car length behind the truck we are passing when I noticed the lead truck tap his brakes. Harley moved over quickly to the left while pointing behind him with his right hand, as if to say, "get behind me". I noticed some pieces of tire rubber bouncing around on the pavement and realized instantly, the truck we were passing must be losing a tire. I ducked behind the fairing and windshield and moved over, easing off the throttle just a little, and glancing in my mirror at that big boy on my ass. At this moment, I was even with the back end of the trailer when I heard a loud boom and saw white smoke come billowing up from all his tires. Now I'm dodging giant size pieces of black rubber and squeezing my ass cheeks so hard, you couldn't have pulled me off that seat. That's when I saw the trailer slide over rather quickly and made rough contact with the right guard rail. Holy shit! Smoke, rubber and road grit were flying all around me, but in that instant I heard Harley throttle up loud and clear, and I just followed suit. As I gave it the gas, I looked in my mirror and saw that the trucker who was following me was doing his best to give me room, and the poor dude driving the disabled truck was doing all he could to get his rig stopped.

All this happened in a matter of seconds, but it felt like a slow motion nightmare. As we left this fiasco behind, we noticed that no other vehicles where coming up behind us and we wondered what else may have happened when things got jammed up. We pulled off at a rest area 5 miles up the road so we could gather our nerves and settle down from the adrenaline rush we were both experiencing. As we talked about it, Harley told me he saw something big laying in that right lane and that's what the 18 wheeler ran over. Whatever it was must have cut his brake lines, locking up his wheels and causing all hell to break loose. Harley thought the truck was starting to jack knife when he hit the guard rail and he was afraid it was going go flip over the side. That trucker did an excellent job controlling a terrible situation and if I ever find out who he is, I would give him a big hug! We were very fortunate. Things may have turned out very differently, and all this happened just 39 miles into our trip. Good grief! I had hoped this wasn't an omen for things to come.

We stopped in Franklin, TN around 8:00 p.m. without any further incidents and found us a nice room for the night. I was happy to be there. After a good nights rest, and a sweet dream or two, I knew we'd be ready to start our Natchez Trace adventure.

DAY TWO
The morning brought cool temps in the high 60's, but the sun was shining bright. It was going to be a gorgeous day to ride! We departed Franklin around 8:00 a.m. and made our way to the entrance of the Trace. Our first indication of the beauty we were about to encounter came into view when we saw the Double Arch bridge on TN-96 in Birdsong Hollow. We passed right under it (see Monday's Pic Of The Week) and within 15 minutes, we had entered the Parkway and found ourselves riding across this impressive structure. The view up there was awesome!

Once we crossed the bridge, the wilderness lay before us as we ventured on. We took note very quickly that there were wild turkey everywhere. You could see them standing in the tall grass 30 feet or so off the road, sometimes on both sides. It was the coolest sight to glance over to take in some scenery and notice a dozen or so turkey at a time watching you go by. There's no good place to stop and take pictures except at the designated pull offs or historic sites, so I wondered if we would get an opportunity to capture any Kodak moments of our new found feathered friends.

Well, there's an old saying... "Be careful what you wish for..." and I realized very early that day, that riding on the Trace could get about as dicey as the interstate system. It seems one of these turkeys didn't like me riding on her road. There I was, leading and enjoying the scenery, taking in the blue sky and fresh air, when one of these wild turkeys on the left side of the road about 10 yards in front of me, started approaching precariously close. I watched to see what she was going to do and it appeared as though she wanted to hitch a ride. She was walking rather quickly toward my approaching Glide, with her head bobbing back and forth like it was going to help her move faster. I revved the throttle a couple times to make some noise . This usually scares the buzzards and crows away from the Road Kill Diner so I thought it would work the same way here. Wrong! She was only about 4 feet away on my left now and still in front of me when I realized the sound of my motor was not scaring her. What was I going to do! Should I swat at her and try to knock her down or put my leg out to kick her away? I moved over, but it seems she was targeting me and wanted a piece of me and my bike! In that instant I gave the throttle a hard twist to offset her judgment (and to escape my plight) when she suddenly flew up in a flurry of feathers right next to me. All I could think of was... she was going to shit all over me from fear in flight. You laugh about this, I'm sure, but I've seen it happen. Once last summer, we were revving up the throttles trying to scare a couple of Heron standing in a creek next to us. When they flew away, one of them shit a stream so long I thought he was on a leash. When I realized the turkey had left my side and returned to the safety of her tall grass, I looked down to check myself... no shit. This is a good thing. Harley pulled up along side of me and laughed, "You tryin' to catch our Thanksgiving dinner?"

At our next little pull off, he said my little close encounter of the fowl kind was pretty funny from his view. I'm sure it was, and we had a good laugh about it. I can imagine what my Kodak moment would have looked like with me crouching behind the windshield, hanging off the right side of my seat trying to avoid being pecked over or carried off by a wild turkey. Good grief. Again... was this an omen?

Well, I can answer that question. NO! The rest of the trip was wonderful and we had no more near mishaps. I still have all of my Trace adventure to unfold for you, but since these two crazy situations happened so early in the trip, I wanted to share these with you first, so I can focus on what a wonderful ride down the Trace we had.

Stay tuned... you won't be disappointed!

Lady R

Author's note: Actually, my main reason for sharing these two incidents is to remind all my fellow riders out there to always stay on alert for problems. We used to think nothing of riding close to 18 wheelers, finding that sweet spot in their wind wake. Or playing chicken with the wildlife as a way to entertain ourselves while riding along the highways. You just never know when unforeseen problems are going to unfold, and it's in our best interest to be ready for them. I'm fortunate to have been reminded of this without having to pay a terrible price. With that said... ride on my brothers and sisters and keep the shiny side up!

19 comments:

chessie said...

Ahhh, the sweet smell of...wait...what is that smell? Yes..it is..it's success!

I'm ready to read more...I'll be watching for the rest of the story...

Glad all worked out well for you with the trucks and turkeys...and I glad I am reading about it here instead of in the paper!

Be well

Arizona Harley Dude said...

Alls well that ends well, as they say. I'm glad you escaped the semi mess. I don't even like passing semis after having one blow a tire and sending rubber all over me a few years ago. A tire is one thing, but an out of control truck that just ran over something......I don't even want to think about it.

Bucky said...

Glad you are OK. Sure bet it was scarry, but like the others said, all's well that ends well. I would hate to lose my "little sis" to something like that. I had a scarry situation myself last weekend riding in Orlando that nearly put me over a car and into a fire truck blowing through a red light. Ass end locked up, started sliding sideways, Pumping the rear brake to keep the rear tire from skidding. Pressing hard on the front brakes, changing lanes to avoid the car that skidded in front of my bike, and dodging the firetruck that blew through the red without even slowing down. Finally got it stopped at the edge of the intersection. The car which had to stop abrubtly in front of me giving me a big smile and a thumbs up, with that nod like "You did good my friend". I had not felt my heart beat like that since I saw my children being born.
We need to always be on the lookout. Even though there are some pretty poor bikers out there, many times we are at the peril of other drivers who feel they have the right of way. I know this was an emergency vehicle, but it was a bit of a blind intersection on a 55mph road. Not alot of time to adjust to a fire truck passing in front of you when you are headed into the intersection at 50+ mph .

Canajun said...

That truck story was frightening. But it seems everyone (including the truckers) had their heads up that day.

And like AHD says, I don't much like passing semis at the best of times, especially when my passing speed is being controlled by another vehicle in front of me. But we can't always ride on deserted highways, so it's a fact of life I suppose.

Anyway, glad it all worked out in the end.

"Joker" said...

Wow...some déjà vu here for me! Although I didn't have the issues you did with the big rigs I did run across a few A-HOLE gear jammers on the way to and from Sturgis. I really hate sharing the highway with semis - if I was in charge they'd have their own separate ones to drive on.

I try to stay away from them as much as possible, but on major interstates there are so many of them they're like friggin locusts. I do make a point of never staying close to one whenever possible just in case something like you described ever happens. That must've scared the crap out of you but I'm impressed how you both handled it and really glad nobody went down.

As far as your turkey encounter goes, well that's a whole other story I think I'll have to blog about!

B.B. said...

Glad you were able to escape the truck and the turkey! What were you thinking....driving on HER road! :)
I can't wait for the rest of the trip.

Baron's Life said...

Wow...what a story..glad you're OK LadyR..an eye opener..personally, by instinct, I never liked being close to semis...now I know why...as for the Turkey, well I agree with B.B.

Anonymous said...

I love the convenience of those government run and maintained highways and rest areas. Don't forget the Trace is National Park run for your enjoyment by the same government that runs socialized medicine for Veterans and older Americans.
A nice post showing how well Government operates for We The People.

FLHX_Dave said...

whoa! You know, the more I talk to other riders the more I realize we have all had almost the same experiences...well, at least riders who really ride.

The truck tire fly-apart is one of the main things I look out for on the interstates. Big chunks of rubber can really buzzkill a good run. Glad you got out of it ok and hats off for dropping down behind the fairing. Most people don't even think about that.

Turkeys...lol, yep, I have seen several riders get attacked by Turkeys. They are fearless and agressive birds. Alot of people don't know this. I'm waiting for my turn still.

Nice write up and always a pleasure

mq01 said...

christ, crap, christ. lol... ladyR, i am sooooo glad that you and harley are ok. its awesome that you two are so dialed in that you knew "where" and "when" to do what...

big rigs. you know, many of them ride, and they will tell us to get as far away as possible. yes, granted, most will watch for us, enjoy our company, and give us space. but they know when shit goes bad its ugly, and they'd prefer us not be close by and get hurt. sounds like everyone had good fortune on their side that day. phew...

and that turkey, geez, how dare we ride her road...and ive seen those shit stringers, i can just picture you sitting up and doing a once over. LMAO!!!

cant wait to hear more :) !!!

Big Daddy said...

Having drove a truck for 25+ years I can tell most drivers hate having bikes drift us...for just that reason...It's not always apparent that a tire will blow.
As for Turkeys I had one run full bore from the field into the front of my truck....Thump! and it looked like I had just lost a pillow fight...Damn near white out from all the feathers...

Lady Ridesalot said...

Chessie... I can't wait to show you how great this ride was. I have tons of pics, to go through. In fact... we had to go to a Walmart in Vicksburg to buy another camera card!

AZD... Amen to that! I think we've changed our mind about how we ride while we're next to these big guys.

Bucky... Dang boy! You too? Sounds like you did a heads up move, way to go! I wonder if Mama Bear is going to read this? I don't think she wants to know this shit happens to us while we're out there. BTW... thanks for calling me your "little sis". Just don't forget I'm still older and wiser! LOL! LoVe Ya! ;)

Canajun... when I first started riding my own, they scared the crap out of me. Unfortunately, as I gained confidence as a rider, I grew complacent with my ability to move around them. I'm thanking my Guardian Angel for being smarter than me, and giving me another chance.

Joker... Your right... they're everywhere. That's why I've gotten used to the fact, that if I'm going to ride, I'm going to be sharing the road with these guys. They don't intimidate me any more, (unless it's raining) but maybe that's dangerous thinking. Harley was very proud that I handled the situation like I did. Frankly, I am too... I just don't like being tested like that. =:o YIKES!

B.B... She was a real bitch! She just doesn't realize how good she'd look with a little cornbread dressing stuck up her ass! LOL!

Baron... your instincts are right on!

Dave... I'm one of those riders who DO like to ride, and I appreciate the extra protection that my windshield and fairing gives me. Don't know if I would ride without it.

mq01... I appreciate the fact that Harley and I can be so tuned in to each other when we ride. I think we've logged enough miles together, that it just comes naturally after a while. It's a good thing too... I don't think we can eliminate the truckers and turkeys!

Big D... I really appreciate your comment! I think we have learned a valuable lesson and plan to give our big rig friends plenty of room from now on. No need in ruining a good day! Too funny about the turkey pillow fight. Makes you wonder what goes on in their little turkey minds!

Lady Ridesalot said...

Dear Anonymous... Welcome to my blog! I'm sorry I can't respond to you by name, but I understand your desire to remain anonymous.

Since you think my post was helping to promote Big Government, I'm sorry to inform you... you missed the point. I invite you to reread it, so you may have a better understanding that... this is a motorcycle blog.

In regards to your comment, I can agree with the fact that our present Government is VERY capable of keeping the grass cut and the liter picked up. Our State Parks are a beautiful part of our Country, and I enjoy visiting as many of them as I can.

However... It is MY opinion that big Government helps only one class of people in our present society... and that's the Government itself!

You may not realize this, but I'm a Veteran myself. I love my country and will remain loyal to her Flag as long as I live. But the Socialism tendencies that I see spewing from our Government today.... SCARE THE SHIT OUT OF ME!!!

IowaHarleyGirl (Stephanie) said...

Wow...what an exciting first day. 18 Wheelers and Animals...sounds like a few trips Dan and I have been on. You are so darn good at writing that I felt like I was sitting in the pillion seat with ya. Can't wait for the rest. :)

Darlin' said...

Well, I must say that did get a good chuckle out of me, glad I was sitting down or I may have been LMAOROTF, damn, that's funny, and I can picture it plain as day, glad the semi incident turned out OK hate them, rode to Myrtle Beach on my 1200 Sportster, interstate driving is no fun and hate the semis most, and not all are considerate, had a few run ins on occasions with road construction and them blocking both lanes to prevent merging and us on bikes in the blazing heat, had a bit of sign language for them once we got by, but sounds like a great trip and looking forward to the rest of the story and the pics. See ya soon!!

Lady Ridesalot said...

Steph... I knew these two stories would take up too much of the post. The Trace pics are great and can't wait to bring 'em to ya.

Darlin... I still laugh about my Turkey trot too!
Saw the new apes! Looking good! I know I should of left you a comment while looking at the pictures, but didn't have time to talk. (or type!)
I have a copy of Thunder Roads for ya! Saw a pic of you and Details standing in front of Ms. Newby's. I looked and said, "I know them!" LOL!
Let us know if ya'll can come up any of the next few weekends. We'll go play! :)

Webster World said...

All in all sounds as if you and Harley are having a great ride. Those semi's...had a tire come off a semi when I was in my work truck years back. That tought me that when I can I wick it up as fast as I dare and get by then on the bike or a car. Had a turkey just miss my head a few years back. Glad it missed those basturds weigh a LOT. Well you are fine and that is great. Have been on part of the Trace and it was beautiful. Be ah waiting for the rest. Oh ya congat's to you and Mr. M on the photo's for HD :) Thats a nice picture of a pretty little biker chick. Speaking of big birds...my veri word is emoil

MeanDonnaJean said...

Same thing happened to me while ridin' in upstate NY a few years back. I'd swear that them g-damn turkey buzzards are gettin' even at us humans for those bazillion or so Thanksgiving Day dinners we've all eaten damn near our entire lives.

Lady Ridesalot said...

Webster... I think we've done some rethinking also on getting around those big rigs. We were very fortunate! For the rest of the ride, we stayed as far away as we could, but on interstate... it's nearly impossible! This just reiterates why we love our country roads so much! I'd rather take my chances with Farmer Fred! LOL!

MDJ... I think your right! (See my note to B.B.) I wonder if she had some turkey chicks (or whatever they call they're babies) around in the grass making her so damn moody. Either way, she's just lucky we were on the bikes and didn't have our big Coleman! Muwahahahahaha!