MHT Day 3 (?): On the Road. Again.
I finally now seem to be securely on the road, though the early days of the Magical History Tour have been fraught with motorcycle-related delays. Yesterday, I picked up the bike in Morristown after a new stator and new voltage regulator installed by the technicians at Colboch Harley-Davidson remedied the electrical issues that delayed my progress for three days. My destination, as I rode the hills of eastern Kentucky and admired some of the state’s smaller horse farms, was Clarksville/Louisville, where Clark joined Lewis and his growing band of adventurers in 1803 for the final leg down the Ohio River and up the Mississippi River to St. Louis.
About 30 miles from my destination yesterday, I experienced a problem I associated with a slipping clutch. Although I continued to ride the bike through the 95 degree temperatures to the day’s target, I wasn’t sure what the problem was nor whether the bike could go another 8,500 miles without leaving me stranded. So I tracked down the local Harley dealer, detoured to the store and pled my case for quick attention to the service writer. By the time I arrived at the store, it was nearly 3 p.m. and the service department was backed up with Harleys in need of repair. But, convinced of my importunate desire to continue my westward quest to the Pacific, the service writer said she would schedule my bike first thing this morning to determine what mischievous gremlins were messing with my clutch.
I didn’t post a blog last night because I didn’t know what to write. I had seen nice country but hadn’t made the L&C historical stop that I planned for Louisville. And I didn’t know what to say about how long the trip might be delayed again. So I waited until today to resume writing.
When I rode the bike to the dealership this morning, I tried to reproduce the issue I experienced yesterday, but–and this is good news–I couldn’t make the clutch slip even when I duplicated yesterday’s conditions as nearly as I could. What was different? Yesterday the temperature was in the mid 90s and this morning it was 20 degrees cooler. Perhaps, I thought, the problem was, at least in part, heat related. But even though the problem wasn’t recurring I decided to have the bike checked out by Donnie, the Master Technician at Bluegrass Harley-Davidson. After multiple mechanical surprises over the past two weeks, I should be pardoned if I’m a little gun shy.
When they opened the service door I drove in and the technician went through his paces. An hour and a half later, he reported that he couldn’t find an obvious problem, though he did tighten the clutch cable and made a couple other adjustments. He said the bike should be good for my proposed cross-country jaunt. I paid my bill, saddled up and hit the road at noon for Paducah, Kentucky, along the banks of the Ohio. One final note about today’s visit at Bluegrass Harley-Davidson. While I was waiting in the service area, John Dunn, former service writer at Adamecs in Orange Park, FL, where I bought the very bike that was then in for repair called my name and reintroduced his still-bearded self. He is the service manager at Bluegrass and just as he took care of me in Florida, he did the same in Kentucky. Small world.
Today was another day in the mid-90s, but unlike the previous two riding days there were no mechanical issues, no furtive sounds, no surprise jerks or jolts, no warning lights. Just smooth sailing. At last.
Because of the four-hour repair delay, I didn’t have time today to visit any historic sites, but I did cross the Ohio river that carried the expedition in 1803 three times today. It’s breadth and depth must have been a welcome relief to Lewis after his painfully long voyage over shoals and rapids from Pittsburg to Clarksville. I did have time after checking in to my motel and cooling off for a few minutes to ride to the river and take a long, contemplative look at this vital and historic waterway.
Lewis and Clark stopped for several days across the river from present-day Paducah at Fort Massac in mid-November 1803. Their most important acquisition at the fort was a hunter/interpreter name George Drouillard, the son of a French-Canadian father and Shawnee mother. Neither Lewis nor Clark ever learned to spell his name correctly, usually using “Drewyer” when referring to him in their journals. Drouillard was one of only five civilians among the 33-member party who made the journey to the Pacific and back and proved to be the most reliable hunter on the expedition as well as a skilled user of sign language among plains Indians.
While I was enjoying the view of the Ohio from the banks of downtown Paducah I noticed something completed unrelated to this trip but of great interest to Marilyn back in Maggie Valley. So I took a picture of the National Quilt Museum just so she can add it to her future travel adventures.
Tomorrow, I’ll begin with a stop across the river at historic Fort Massac, then continue down the Ohio to the confluence with the Mississippi, then turn north and follow the great river to St. Louis. The day is expected to be hot again as a vicious heat wave swallows middle America but, hopefully, there will be no mechanical mishaps to report. It’s good to be on the road again.