Celebrating 100 Years of America’s National Parks by Motorcycle-Trip Preview

 

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1916-2016

I rarely, if at all, repeat a previous motorbike road trip. It’s just not done. Too many places to see without wasting one’s short motorcycling time on this earth re-riding a major road trip. Until now. The stars aligned, and things popped into my mental field of vision, that caused me to re-think and break my hard and fast rule.

Ten years ago in 2006, Roo and I took our first major motorbike trip on our Honda ST1300. The route we chose was an end to end ride on the breathtaking Blue Ridge Parkway, including Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, and riding to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina/Tennessee.

This October will mark the ten year anniversary of that trip as well as 2016 marking the 100 year anniversary of America’s National Park Service. It also, in all likelihood, will be the ST’s final big road trip under my tutelage, as I will be purchasing a new Honda to replace the ST (and the Cafe TU) in the near future. I thought it would be a fitting fare-thee-well to finish the ST’s tenure on the trip that started our ten year touring odyssey together.

The big Honda on the Blue Ridge Parkway

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I will be flying solo this time around. I will take the quickest route to the start of my journey in Waynesboro, Virginia, and the northern terminus of the Blue Ridge Parkway. To commemorate the 1oo year anniversary of our National Park Service, I will dip my wheels in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, ride three fantastic days on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and end in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina/Tennessee.

However, my celebration of the National Park Service got an unintentional early start last month. On a trip to Massachusetts to visit family, I made an impromptu visit to Minuteman National Historic Park to visit the North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, the site of the infamous skirmish between the Colonial Militia and British forces on April 19, 1775.

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The North Bridge, Concord, MA.

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For sure, there had been musket firing and chest pounding and big boy talk for quite some time between the King’s army and the Americans. But, here at North Bridge, four hundred Colonial Militia stood facing ninety-five British Regulars guarding the bridge, as one hundred or so Brits were supposedly laying the town of Concord to the torch. The significance of the skirmish that ensued was immense:

  • First shots ever fired by Americans on the British Army under orders
  • First organized volley by Americans
  • First British fatalities
  • First British retreat, with more fatalities due to American sniper fire.
  • A very pissed-off King George.

The “shot heard ’round the world”, a line from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem, “The Concord Hymn”, came to signify the volley that sparked the American Revolution and “turned the world upside down”, changing the course of history forever.

It was fitting to begin my National Park celebration with a visit to the site that sparked a revolution, gave birth to a new nation, and ultimately, 141 years later, to the National Park Service.

My journey to three of America’s National Parks will commence on Sunday, October 2. Lodging will be a combination of camping and motels. The plan is to not venture off the Blue Ridge Parkway until reaching my lodging destinations at each days end. I may make one detour to the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia if time permits, as that will be one of the longer travel days.

The National Park Service celebration comes to an end as I roll into Great Smoky Mountain National Park the following Friday. Then, a short ride to Ironhorse Motorcycle Resort in North Carolina has me camping three days with the world travelers of Horizon’s Unlimited, listening to trip seminars and soaking up information about motorcycle traveling around the globe!

Sunday morning I will pack up for the final time and make a bee line home to South Carolina, Roo, and the beagles.

 It’s going to be a fantastic moto trip celebrating America’s best idea. Stay tuned!

Next post: Northward bound to The Commonwealth of Virginia, Skyline Drive and Shenandoah National Park!

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