On Friday, June 13, 2014 I left my home near Chicago on my 2008 Triumph Bonneville to embark on what turned into a 2,600+ mile motorcycle road trip adventure, the longest to date in my 7 years of riding experience. Thankfully, I arrived home on Monday, June 23, 2014 without any major incidents, and a whole lot of great stories and experiences to remember and share.

Day One – Chicago, IL to Nashville, IN

Friday, June 13, 2014

Upon leaving home, I met up with 5 buddies at the Hinsdale Oasis on the Tri-State Tollway near Chicago:

  • Chris – a technical writer currently contracting at Nokia – Triumph Thunderbird Storm – read Chris’ blog here: http://www.roadtosomewhere.com/tail-dragon-day-1/
  • Dave – A human resources manager looking for new employment, who does high school sports refereeing on the side – Harley
  • Pete – a retired parks and recreation manager who also does high school sports refereeing – Harley
  • Dan – a manager with Siemens, the global technology company – Harley
  • Rob – a product manager at a software firm – Harley

While waiting for my buddies to arrive at the Hinsdale Oasis, I spoke to another group of motorcyclists who were preparing to escort a soldier returning from active duty to his home.

Our main goal for the first day was to get out of Chicago and down toward the southern part of Indiana, preferably in the Brown County area. We were able to accomplish that goal while visiting some of the covered bridges of Brown County in the process.


One of the covered bridges of Brown County.

We stopped for food (good Brisket and BBQ!) and beverages at the Thirty Six Saloon in Rockville, Indiana.


Our bikes and others lined up at the 36 Saloon

Chris found us some cabins at The Last Resort RV Park & Campground near Nashville, Indiana. We arrived at dusk in time to unpack our gear, start a fire and enjoy some cigars (I brought my pipe along) and beers around a campfire.


First night cabins


Dave and Chris preparing their cigars around the campfire.

Campfire Guys

“Campfire Guys” – Digital painting © 2015 Randal Birkey Illustration

Read Chris’ journal on this trip at his Road to Somewhere Blog

Day 2 – Nashville, IN to Bardstown, KY

June 14, 2014

I was the first to rise (I awake automaticly at around 5 AM every morning) and caught the first rays of sun coming through the trees. I sat down with my sketchbook and sketched one of the covered bridges we had crossed the day before.


A sketch of Crooks Bridge, one of the covered bridges of Brown County we crossed.

We headed into town for some breakfast at a local diner.


That first cup tasted awfully good!

Then we hit the road through Brown County State Park, into Kentucky, skirting Louisville, on down to Bardstown.


Typical Indiana and Kentucky roads, experiencing rolling hills, farms, creeks and wooded areas.

On the we stopped and visited the Jim Beam Distillery, a little southeast of Shepherdsville, KY. We were too late to get in on the distillery tour, but we were able to browse the gift shops and pick up some ice cream and quench our thirst.


The guys (Pete, Dave, Chris, Rob and Dan) lounging with some drinks and ice cream on the grounds of the Jim Beam Distillery.


A GPS tracking map of our path on Day 2

Read Chris’ version of Day 2 at the Road to Somewhere blog

Day 3 – Bardstown, KY to Lake City, TN.

June 15, 2014


View of Bonnie from the Parkview Motel balcony.

View of Cumberland Lake at Wolf Creek Dam, KY.

View of Cumberland Lake at Wolf Creek Dam, KY.

Read Chris’ version of Day 3 at the Road to Somewhere blog

Day 4 – Lake City, TN to Robbinsville, NC

June 16, 2014

Read my buddy Chris’ blog post here: http://www.roadtosomewhere.com/tail-dragon-day-4/

Day 5 – The Tail of the Dragon

June 17, 2014

I can’t top this written record of day 5… go read my riding buddy Chris’s “Road the Somewhere” blog post: http://www.roadtosomewhere.com/tail-dragon-day-5/


That’s me coming down the Tail of the Dragon with my riding buddies behind.


That’s me again… same sequence.

Day 6 – Other Smokey Mountain Roads

June 18, 2014

I can’t describe it any better than my friend Chris Vezeau – Road to Somewhere, Dragon Trip Day 6


View along the Blue Ridge Parkway


I shared this photo in Instagram along the way


Looking Glass Falls – Pisgah National Forest


Heinzelmannchen Brewery – Sylva, NC

Back at our base camp in Robbinsville.

Back at our base camp in Robbinsville.

Day 7 – Robbinsville, NC to Lynchburg, TN by way of the Cherohala Skyway

June 19, 2014

Here are some photos from Day 7 as we travelled west on the Cherahola Skyway on our way to Lynchburg, TN.


This photo was taken by one of the photo service businesses that appear along these well travelled highways.


I passed 10,486 miles on this day (on my 2nd odometer). This means I was actually at 50,907 miles on my Bonneville. See my post about this here.

Day 8 – Lynchburg TN – Jack Daniel Distillery Tour – to Birmingham, AL

June 20, 2014

Little did I know this would be the day I became a Tennessee Squire!


Jack Daniel’s Old No.7 Brand logo


We stayed at Kevin Sanders place. He’s the official Jack Daniel Barrel Man.


That’s me in Kevin’s Big Blue Chair


Good to know…

Kevin's Barrel Operation

Kevin’s Barrel Operation


We took the Jack Daniel Distillery No. 1 Tour


Kevin does nice work…

Day 9 – Barber Motorsports Park – Triumph Superbike Classic

June 21, 2014

I said my goodbye’s to my riding companions and headed south toward Alabama to Barber Motorsports Park.


Race day schedule – The race I was most interested in was the one at 2 PM.


The pen is pointing to the wooded spot where I watched the racing from.

This sweet Mustang was parked next to the Triumph tent.

This sweet 60’s Mustang Fastback was parked next to the Triumph tent.


At the Triumph tent in the Fan Zone – Danny Eslick on board a Bonneville Performance Street Tracker


AMA Pro road racing tech inspection in the Paddock area

More to come…

Day 10 – Birmingham, AL to Franklin, TN to Indianapolis, IN

June 22, 2014

More to come…

Day 11 – Indianapolis, IN to Chicago, IL

June 23, 2014

More to come…