2020 Tour of Honor – Finally Riding!

States are finally starting to open up, restrictions are being reduced, and people can start getting out! I decide to take a ride to a few sites that I know will be harder to visit once everyone gets back to work.

As a preface, a quick update. The Harley-Davidson, aka “Scooter,” has found a new home. I have been thinking about it for a while, even more after the surgery. The BMW-GS should be able to carry just as much cargo as the Harley could carry. It won’t be for carrying a passenger, but with the bride having her own to ride, the Spyder, I won’t need to carry her on the back of the BMW anyway.

I have taken a few short rides, even did a recon ride to Priceville. The parking lot there was closed, so I couldn’t get close enough for a good picture even if the Tour of Honor was accepting photos for scoring.

I hop on the GS and take off for a day ride. I already had about a half tank of gas, so I head to my first stop, the Cobra at Florence’s Veterans Park.

I ride into the park and see the workers cutting grass, repairing the baseball fields, and other tasks to get the park ready for people to start visiting. I ride past the Cobra, noticing that the gate to the parking in front of the Cobra is open. I see the sign which states that if the gate is open, parking is allowed. I turn around and ride up to the Cobra for my picture.

My next stop is in Nashville. There are two WWI statues that I visited in 2018 which I want to visit. They are in downtown Nashville, so a weekend visit is the best time to visit. I ride up US43 make the turn onto US31, heading to Nashville. As I pass through Spring Hill Franklin, and Brentwood, I notice that some businesses are open that I thought weren’t supposed to be open yet. I pass a Nail Salon with people clustered inside. A block away, I see a Hair Salon with a line of ladies with their Mercedes Benz’ filling the parking lot. Across the street, I see a bar with a huge “OPEN” sign, the patio seating is full, as is the parking lot. As I travel in downtown Nashville, I see a massage parlor open. Of course, their windows are tinted so outsiders can’t see inside.

I make a quick stop at a motorcycle dealership that was supposed to carry a brand of boots I want to try on. But the don’t carry that brand of clothing and boots anymore. Though they do have some good stuff, they admit they are focused on lower to mid range products. The brand I want is more of a high end product.

The GPS keeps telling me that I can’t get to Nashville from the dealership without travelling the interstate. Not my preference, but no matter where I turn, the GPS keeps pointing me to the interstate. I spend too much time fighting it and finally give in for the quick 10 mile ride to downtown Nashville. I ride past the main entrance to Centennial Park. I remember my trip from 2018 where I had to make a left turn as soon as I made the turn off the main road. What I wasn’t expecting, was the partial barricade at the side entrance. Luckily, this entrance is also used by the funeral home. I pull in and work to get a picture as quickly as possible so I can start moving before someone comes out and tells me to leave.

This particular “Doughboy” is not a fighting doughboy or standing as a sentinel, this one is to honor those who died during the fighting. An angel is comforting a soldier as he dies from his wounds.

The next location is at the Tennessee state Capitol. during my visit in 2018, there was construction that made for a challenge to get a good angle. This year, there is even more construction. I ride around the block so I can approach from the north and just pull over against the curb. I park behind a state trooper. I walk to his window to let him know what I am doing. He offers to move a bit if he is in the way. I explain that it is okay, I just didn’t want to make him uneasy with some guy stopping behind him.

This particular park and status is dedicated to Sgt Alvin York. He was a WWI soldier who earned the Medal of Honor and was from Tennessee. The statue is at the top of the hill, under a tree. I try a few shots at get the best picture to submit. Once at home, I will edit the best one.

I check the map to try to find a way to get to Dickson while avoiding the interstate. Trying to get out of Nashville is the challenge, since all exits want me to get on the interstate. I succumb, and hope on I-40 heading west. Once outside downtown, I see the exit of US70. I know that Dickson is on US70, so I take the exit to continue west.

I have to force myself to stay under the speed limit. I like to ride fast, though not dangerously fast, but the scenery is so beautiful that I don’t want to miss it. Besides, if I go too fast, my ride will be completed sooner. Though I don’t want to rush home, I do want to get home to my bride.

The road follows along the river for a while, winding, twisting, and slightly hilly. Since this is a weekday, there aren’t many people out on the country roads. As I approach Dickson, it is getting close to the end of the workday for some people. Farmers are making their afternoon run into town, some office workers are heading out of town. Restaurants are still open only for take-out, so drive-in lines are backing up.

I have been to Dickson on each of my previous years, so I know that the road is different from the GPS. I make the turn off the main road, then the turn to the side road for the VFW. I ride up the hill to the Huey in front of the VFW. With the GS, I might have been able to ride up next to the helicopter on the grass, but I think better of it. On this visit, I don’t recall the plaque being in front of the Huey in previous years. (I later check past years’ pictures and see that the sign had not been there until this year.) I walk around and read the sign. This particular Huey had seen service for four years in Vietnam, and had been damaged each year of service. This is the type of story I like to learn.

I head back on US70 westward toward Waverly, then head back on on TN13 toward Collinwood. From Collinwood, it is Chisholm Road, the same name on into Alabama and Florence, though it changes to AL17 at the state line. I Ride pass Loretta Lynn’s home. I slow down to enjoy the undulating road. I ride past a canoe and camping outfit that reminds me of where I would go canoeing and camping when I lived in Memphis. Only other vehicles on the road are farmers heading from the fields to home.

As I turn into Collinwood, I stop at the Visitor’s Center. Though it is closed, I use the stop to send a note home that I am about 45 minutes from home. Back on the bike and I am heading home.

Fast forward a few days, the CMA has a ride planned for the Run For the Son. This particular ride is the CMA’s main fundraiser. We plan to leave the Harley shop at 2:30. I talk with a few friends there, even talk with Pat. Not sure he has seen the BMW, he is a big Harley fan. That makes sense since he is the general manager at the dealership. He comes outside and I admit that I feel odd, being the only non-Harley with my “dirt bike” in the lot. I admit that I still plan to take a look when Harley comes out with their adventure bike. I noticed he added “IF” Harley comes out with their version. I don’t comment, but I did make a mental note.

We have 11 bikes that leave the shop heading for The Outpost. 5 of the bikes have two-up. I had originally planned to split from the group and not eat lunch. They had an area set aside for all 16 of us, while still being able to maintain social distancing.

After lunch, people start heading home in smaller groups or on their own. I take the opportunity to make a quick run to Crump and Savannah. I leave The Outpost and head north to Savannah. A short ride on Pickwick Rd, then a left turn once into Savannah. I cross the Tennessee River and into Crump. There is a Cobra in front of the Police Department/City Hall. I make the turn into the parking lot. I look at the sample photo and get almost the exact same picture.

I head back to Savannah. I veer onto Main Street and head past Brown Shoe Factory. It is now a business known as Mustang Fabricating. I have no idea what they fabricate, but I remember Mawmaw and her friends all worked there when I was growing up. I remember that so many people would graduate high school in Savannah and go to work at either Brown Shoe Factory, the paper mill, or with TVA at Pickwick dam. When Brown Show Factory closed, a lot of jobs left Savannah. I ride past and see Ben’s house across the street from the factory. I make the turn onto Harbert Drive, then ride past Mawmaw’s house. I usually stop and walk around, but not today. I continue on to Neill Cemetery.

I park in the gravel on the side of the road. I walk to Mawmaw and Pawpaw’s graves. I spend some time taking a few pictures of my favorite WWI and WWII veterans. Pawpaw has a foot stone with his military information. I did not see anything for Papa Neill. Papa Neill died a year before I was born, so never got had the pleasure of talking with him. I was a freshman in college when Pawpaw died, I had just left the hospital when he died.

My plan had been to make the ride to Collinwood then to Florence. I decided to just head out straight to Florence on Savannah Hwy (TN69/AL20). I stopped by to visit with mom, then headed home. I ate so much for lunch that I was able to forego supper.

Both rides were wonderful and urgently needed. It is always good to be on the bike and having some “wind therapy,” but it was great to be able to socialize with some friends with the CMA.