2008 Honda Hoot
This year was the 15th Honda Hoot, and I've attended most of them. While the attendance seemed down and the vendors were fewer, the fun was meeting up with other friends that I have met over the years and taking rides around the area.
A few weeks before departure, Wheels called me up and asked if I wanted a riding partner. This was a last minute decision, as his anniversary fell on the Saturday of the Hoot, but he had cleared it with Nancy - several times. Knowing that Jim did not have the wife to man dictionary (she said this - it really means that), I used my expertise in this area to make sure that he had prearranged for flowers to arrive along with a phone call. (I've been down these roads before). Anyway, the folks at the motel were nice enough to switch accommodations to a room with two double beds, and we were set.
Not having a CB (I like the mp3 player), I missed out on the 'All truckers are liars' while in route to Knoxville. It seems that Jim picked up on the truckers, jawing about the lies all truckers tell. Being the person he is, this was an opportunity not to be missed. So, he keyed up and said something like this: 'You're right. All truckers are liars. Wouldn't surprise me if someone said he saw a person without legs riding a motorcycle.' The hook was baited. Catching up to the first truck, Jim made sure that eye contact was made. He watched as the trucker wildly grabbed for the mike, keyed up and said: 'I just saw him! A guy with no legs riding a motorcycle!' 'You're a liar!' came the response. Undaunted, Jim caught up to the next trucker, repeating the same stunt and watched as that trucker keyed up: 'I saw him too! The guy with no legs riding a motorcycle!' No wonder Jim was euphoric during the trip.
OK, Tuesday PM and I went to the preregistration, fearing the long lines which were....non-existent! Registration done, we headed to Calhouns on the river for a steak dinner, as we never got the memo about Hooters.
So, Wednesday was the first Bartman ride around Tennessee. For the past whatever years, the starting place was always the Shoneys at I-40 exit 392 in Knoxville. Jim, having programmed his GPS, led us to the starting point. Bikes came and left, with more Wings arriving to go on the ride, but alas: no leader! Unable to reach Bartman by cell phone, Jim & I set out for the Cherohala - Deals Gap loop. Finding the way out of town was fun with I-40 being torn up, but we finally made our way to US 129 south, breaking off to 411 towards Vonore. Here, we took TN 360, a neat backroad to Tellico Plains.
The we were off across the Cherohala Skyway, stopping at the highest point for a photo, after which we continued to Robbinsville to pick up 129 to Deals Gap.
We stopped at the campground for lunch, after which Jim used my camera to shoot video of me going through the gap. We rode the Foothills Parkway to complete the loop before heading back to the vendor area. Here, we had a little over an hour to go through the vendors, but there was a problem with the volunteers letting Jim in just to exchange his J&M cords, so I took the cords, made the exchange and quickly picked up a helmet. Coming out, I found that Jim had made his way to the check in (up a hill!), talked with the rally people about not having a plan for handicapped access and had received instructions for the following day. Never tell Jim he can't do something!
As for the first Bartman ride: Turns out for Wednesday, he had the Oak Ridge Shoneys as the starting point. However, eight of us showed up in Knoxville, while just one person - Slow Joe Jackson - showed up in Oak Ridge! I'll let you do the math!
For Thursday, we knew the ride started at Knoxville, so we enjoyed riding over twisty roads and a scenic mountain before breaking off for the vendor area. I must say that doing events with Wheels is like going around with a celebrity! We toured the vendors, caught up with LaMont and his Spyder trike, visited the indoor area where I was fitted for ear plugs and then called it a day.
Later that night was the block party/bike show at the site of the 1984 Worlds Fair. I entered my Wing in the show, not placing but instead, I was interviewed by the local newspaper people.
Friday, I rode to the Bush Beans tour while Jim took the time to visit the local hospital to lend support to one recovering from surgery. I've documented the tour and the results. We took some time off to kick back, enjoy the pool and relax.
Saturday was the breakfast - thanks to Lewis of Electrical Connection and HDL for organizing this and offering prizes to boot! Dr. Stan Bise, aka the Flying Doc, was in attendance. I introduced him to Jim, then convinced him about the ride we wanted to take over twisty roads past Norris Dam, followed by the Devil's Triangle. Doc was nice enough to lead up, then continue on to show us some more of his famous 'straight' <haha> roads in the area. I think we wore out Jim's arms! That day we hit the only rain of the whole trip, taking refuge until we were able to continue to Knoxville. One last night to relax, kick back, enjoy the pool and pack, as Sunday we headed home. The plan for the Blue Ridge will have to wait. Remember the anniversary?
Perhaps next year, we can do that hamburger tour by Bartman that we missed!