Day 3 – Fayetteville TN to Savannah TN

July 11 2017. Day three began on time mostly because the motel we were staying at was having the roof replaced and the trove of workers started tearing the old roof off at 5:30 am. I can sleep through a lot but stomping boots and shouts in Spanish had me dreaming the US had been invaded.

We departed Fayetteville enroute to AL and back into TN to end in Savannah. The day was full of gravel roads with multiple water crossings.

mt zion water

water crossing tn

chris by water

water crossing 2

water crossing tn

We were now clear of any mountains and into the rolling hills.


Tennessee is littered with old barns and majestic homesteads. This old place was being kept up and I wasn’t sure of the reason for the three flagpoles.

We took a quick break in front of this place -one of many abandoned places along the trail.
waterloo Al

We have been cris-crossing the Trail of Tears for a couple of days now. This time we were running along the Tennessee river through Waterloo Alabama and a dad with is son fishing took this photo for us.
laying dn

Running along the river had major twists and turns on loose gravel with some very steep ups and downs. The heat had taken its toll on me and I needed a break. We opted to rest at an old burned down house where all that was left was the concrete porch.

We ran across this little guy basking in the sun. Problem was he was in the middle of the road.

Chris opted to place him back on the grass.


We made it to Savannah TN around 5pm and were lucky to get a room at the Days Inn. Since it is now day three we had to do laundry. I opted for the Days Inn’s wonderful pool. Yes those are my socks and underwear in the water. I figure the chlorine is better than the hotel soap.


Chris however, decided he would wash his socks in the sink where we are going to brush our teeth. So those of you that cringed at me washing my clothes in the pool -what say you about which method is better?

bikes in rmhotel

After the clothes washing we headed over for some Taco Bell and back to the room. Bikes full loaded and settling down to write this blog and download the videos.

Tomorrow we are off to Batesville MS!

Day 4 -Tennessee to Mississippi

Car washing

July 12 2017. Day four began on time with a quick stop at the car wash to rinse the wheels and add some chain lube. Today we went from Savannah TN to Batesville MS.

Big Screw MS 2
Big Screw at MS

After departing Savannah we ran through what seemed like endless corn fields then we had to cross the TN river at the Pickwick dam. We came across this screw monument. We didn’t take the time to read where it came from.

Chris flat tire

We rode for a couple of hours then Chris caught a flat front tire. Luckily it was only on the low pressure side of our Tubeliss tire systems. So a quick jolt of air from the Tusk C02 canister and we were back on the road.

Chris Kudzo forest
Kudzu Forest
MS Dirt

We entered Mississippi and I noticed that the Kudzu was everywhere. It seemed like it was literally overtaking all of the trees.

Aggie Mart

I snapped this pic at one of our gas stops (Kossuth MS). I thought the truck matched the era of the gas station.

MS Bridge out 2
MS Bridge out

Mississippi brought the most washed out roads/bridges we had to navigate. Crossing areas that are washed out is really fun. Having to figure out how to do it and then taking the risk of actually doing it is a blast. Luckily along our route no one ever tried to stop us -I think they were just fascinated with these two guys even attempting it.

Americs best value inn

We arrived in Batesville MS around 7pm really tired and dusty. A quick dip in the lovely America’s Best Value Inn’s pool and then dinner at Waffle House next door. It had WiFi but super slow and I couldn’t get the videos to upload.Chris Sock drying

Chris had to improvise drying his socks tonight. Tomorrow we are definitely seeking out a laundromat…

Day 5- Batesville MS to Clinton AR

July 13th 2019. Batesville MS to Clinton AR.

290 Miles. Hot and extremely dusty

arkansas state line

We departed Batesville around 8am and within about 70 miles crossed the Mississippi river into Arkansas
tat stop2
tat stop antiques
Mr Heidelberger

Another 30 miles into Arkansas we came upon the famous TAT stop. The stop is now a landmark on the trail where hundreds of riders stop to meet Mr. Heidelberger. He is the proprietor and once avid adventure rider. He now sits in his outbuilding across from his house that was built in the 1930’s and is filled with items he has collected over the years. He takes photos of all of the riders in front of his place and each year has a photo book made.

Notice on the left of the building is the original jail cell from the local courthouse.

The TAT stop also handed out these great stickers:
Chris wreck
chris wreck2

The next 200 miles consisted of gravel roads that are extremely hard to ride. Arkansas loves gravel. Its deep and slippery for a dirtbike. The riding wears you out. We were both tired with about 30 miles to go when out of the blue Chris coming down hill into a left turn across a small bridge with a gap in the road. His front tire caught the gap causing him to slide off the road down into a 5 foot ditch.

bent shifter
chris wreck3

We uprighted the bike and noted the bent shift lever. We did our best to straighten out the shift lever and limped into Clinton AR for the night.
soap station

We had one important thing to do before hitting the sack and that was laundry!

Tomorrow we head into Oklahoma.

Day 6 -Ozark mountains, rain and spills

July 14 2017. Clinton Ar to Alma AR.

We were supposed to go from Clinton AR to Moody OK but the day went on a bit long. As were were prepping the bikes to roll we ran into a couple of other TAT riders that were staying at our hotel. Joel and Jeff both from the Atlanta area and are going from GA to CO and Back.



We ran into them again along the trail in the mountains and at this great little diner/gas station/general store (it is a common stop for TAT riders). The burger and onion rings were fantastic with many of the customers happy to see us and ask questions.

oark cafe


At the end of the day we went to dinner with them and had a couple of beers and shared stories. Great dudes, hope to run into them again along the way.

The Ozark Mountains didn’t disappoint. Lots of twists and turns with steep inclines and declines.

ozarks view

jb rock
We took advantage of the rock I am standing on and leveled Chris’ bike on it for an impromptu chain tightening. While we were doing that Joel and Jeff cruised by putting them in front of us. We played leap frog with them throughout the day.

mem chris

Buffalo statue out in a random Field.
buff in field

Now you may be wondering why the day went long…well two reasons. One, we got caught in a heavy rainstorm. the rain made the dirt very slick and the gravel very slick. Two, I ate it hard twice. Now in my defense, the dirt was slick and the gravel was slick. But in reality I was going to fast for the turns (Both downhill and to the right)

This is a pic of where I would have gone if I didn’t bail off the bike. Hard to tell in the photo but it is a good 80ft down. And there is a tree with windshield glass embedded in it. Therefore I didn’t feel as bad for dumping it there as others have done the same before me. The embarrassing part is Chris caught the whole debacle on video.
Tomorrow we recalculate…We are about 50 miles behind schedule. Time to improvise.

Day 7 – Oklahoma clutch disaster

July 15th 2017. Today began great. We were motoring through Oklahoma enjoying the scenery and the dirt roads.




ok riv

Then the wheels came off. We had to cross what looked like a simple washed out road. What we didn’t do was actually walk down into the ravine and verify the consistency of the mud. It was soft and deep -really deep. I went first and immediately buried my front wheel. After much manual labor tugging out the bike we were physically smoked.



Then it was Chris’ turn. He took a better line but the mud sucked his rear tire in. We pulled and cajoled it out of the ravine but sure enough he had smoked his clutch.


We were stuck. The maps showed us about five miles from Nowata OK (pop 3726, and I was sure that Nowata was Indian for no water…it was well over 105 degrees in Oklahoma). I towed Chris for about a mile until we arrived at a hardball road.


The temp was over 105 degrees and we had to resort to calling for help.


We were towed to the town of Bartlesville OK and had the driver drop us off at an Econo lodge. Chris Pulled out his clutch plates and it was done.

We had to come up with a plan as there was no way to get a new clutch anytime soon. We decided to rent a Uhaul and have Chris skip ahead to the maintenance stop in Gunnison CO.

Update: After Chris received the new clutch friction plates and compared them to the old ones it was apparent that the friction plates really weren’t worn but more “slick”. We determined that he had used an inferior oil and it simply got too hot and coated the friction plates rendering them useless. Hindsight being 20/20 we could of used some emory cloth and cleaned them and we guess that would have worked just fine. A $1000 mistake.

Tomorrow we truck it to Boise City OK.

Day 8 -All Uhaul All Day

July 16 2017. If you were following along from day 7 you know that Chirs’ bike was done. We managed to get a uhaul late last night (40 miles from Bartlesville OK).  We loaded both bikes and headed for Boise City OK which was about 7 hours away. Boise City would put us back on track to arrive in Gunnison on the 18th. Chris will be heading out to Gunnison direct tomorrow with the Uhaul and I will get back on the trail and head to La Veta CO.

We didn’t see much on the highway to Boise City but we were making good time. One thing I would recommend if traveling hwy 412 is get gas early as there are very few stops along the way.



Day 9 – OK, NM, CO

July 17 2017. Today was a solo day as Chris fast forwarded to Montrose CO to pick up his clutch.

On Day 8 my GPS fell off the bike and exploded so I had to get one from Wal Mart. Not ideal as the the ones they sell there are designed for autos. I uploaded the routes but the device performs completely differently than my previous one. Also I had no sun shade for it making it very difficult to see  the screen.

I traveled from Boise OK to La Veta CO and that should have been about 250 miles. I ended up traveling about 330 due to missed turns.

Sante Fe trail (2)


Cow (2)

This cow was king of the road. He stood his ground for awhile. None shall pass!

The route was full of wildlife. I saw fox, coyote, hawks, antelope, and elk. Unfortunately they move fast. The GoPro is great for video but it somehow makes things seem much farther away than they really are.

This series of photos is from the GoPro and it is of an antelope that was on the road running about 40 mph then took a hard right ducking under the barbed wire fence. In reality he was right in front of me and I could see him very clearly but again the GoPro makes it seem distant.


NM was relatively flat until right at the border. This hill climb led right into Branson CO.

climb in NM

climb 2

Entering Co the temp changed to the cooler side and I could see a looming storm. My goal was to beat it. This is about 50 miles outside of La Veta.

Storm in the distance

The terrain changed to rolling hills in Southern CO.

entering southern co mountains

southern co

These old relics are dotted throughout Southern Co and NM.

old houswe2

I arrived in La Veta around 4pm local time.

la veta

I checked the local hotel but it was a two story historic place and I wanted a bit more rustic. They guided me to a place that rented cabins but they were out but offered their other place called the Ranch House. They literally told me to go to room 14 “it was open, just swing by in the morning for breakfast and settle up then”. You gotta love Colorado hospitality. I arrived at the Ranch House motel just as the skies opened up with a brief but fierce hail storm.
ranchhouse la veta

Tomorrow I head over to Gunnison CO for new tires and oil.

Day 10 – La Veta CO. to Gunnison CO.

July 18 2017. Another solo day.

La Veta to Gunnison, 260 miles.

Departed La Veta at 8am and immediately headed for the hills.

I came across this old church. When you get up close to these structures it amazes how long the have been standing. All hand built, no power tools and the wonderment of who has been here before.

xo mtn

co mtn4

After about 100 miles I stopped for gas and ran into Scott. A young guy riding the TAT solo from OK to OR. We had lunch at the gas stop and compared notes and maps. He is traveling about 180 miles a day and camping the whole way.

Scott had done the first portion of the trail years earlier and just wanted to finish it. He was riding the WR250 and his father dropped him in OK the day before. I knew I was following someone based on the fresh tracks in front of me but never saw them until catching him at a gas stop.

co mtn2

I kept climbing headed West.


The looming clouds were a sure sign of very cold rain.


I made it into the Town of Salida. They were hosting a Art walk so the town was full of local artists displaying their work along the main street.

I only stopped to remove my rain gear -that stuff gets really hot if it isn’t raining.

mars pass

After Salida I went straight up through Marshal Pass. The climb was narrow and incredibly rocky. I think I ended up taking a trail that was only passable by dirtbike or quad. 10.000 feet up.


After Marshal Pass, the rain started again and Gunnison was about 30 miles away. I got into town and found Chris waiting on the tools to put his clutch back in. It was joyus to see him still excited to be on the trail.

Steve is close by at a KOA campground with some other Florida Trail Riders out in CO for the week. One of the guys caught 15 salmon today. He sent these pics over.


steve fish

Steve will join us tomorrow and we will take a maintenance and rest day. We head back on the trail Thursday.

Day 11- And Then There Were Three

July 19 2017. Steve met up with us this morning.


We had breakfast at the W Cafe and it was fantastic. The biscuits and gravy were recommended by the locals and it didn’t disappoint.

We spent the day having new tires put on and changing oil and filters. While we were waiting for the tires we decided to get some laundry done. While waiting in the local laundromat I picked up a magazine and flipped it open to this ad:

I stared at it for a second and then flipped to another:

Of course I had to look again at the magazine and the publish date:

1988! The year I was married!. The magazine had no wear and tear especially since it was in the local laundromat. I was fascinated to see the ads from 1988. Anyone remember the Tandy 1000 or the Olds Touring?

After laundry we walked the town and ended at a local microbrew – High Alpine Brewing Company. Yes I am sure there is a double meaning to the name since there are legal cannabis dispensary’s all over the place here.


from bar


We ended the night early as we have to get started early tomorrow heading for Utah.

Tomorrow we plan to end at the Three Step Hideaway. It is off the grid and we will be staying in a teepee so no internet. I’ll post in a couple of days.

Day 12 CO Mountains and the 3 Step hideaway

July 20 2017. Today was our first day riding with Steve and we were headed for the Colorado Mountains. Once we cleared them we were headed into Utah.

outside of lake city co

small lake in co

pano in CO

steve at cinnimon pass

cinnimon pass in co

chris and snow

chris snow2

This happened coming down from Cinnamon Pass…Chris and I both boiled our brakes and therefor had no rear brakes coming down.

dumped bike co

Taking a break after making our way all the way down.

resting in co no brakes

Checking the Spot tracker


These bubbas stopped to chat while we were waiting for our brakes to cool off. We learned later that night that the guy on the right is the inventor of Monkey Butt anti friction powder. (similar to Gold Bond but better).

monkey butt

After the mountains we headed southwest into Utah. The weather was turning on us quickly as we headed west. You could see the lightning and storms rolling across the plains.

dark skies inutah

looming rain in Utah

Our goal was to get to the 3 Step Hideaway. An off the grid 80 acre ranch that caters to weary motorcycle riders. The proprietors are Julie and Scott. Scott was off riding through WY thus Julie was there to greet us.

meeting Julie at 3 step

all of us at 3step

The hideaway offers tee-pees and cabins for rent. They have a bathhouse with running water. Everything is powered via solar and batteries.


jb outsidef of teepee

Chris and I shacked up in a tee-pee and Steve chose a cabin.

Steve at 3step hideaway


We spent the majority of the night kicked back on the porch drinking beers and enjoying the sundown. Tomorrow we head to Moab.

Jb has asked me (Steve the 3rd wheel) to chime in on the blog now that I have joined in on the ride.  I can’t express enough how grateful I am to be allowed to join in on this adventure.  I feel very lucky to have met JB in January at an advanced riding class in Florida. At the end of each day of the class JB and I would talk about bikes, riding, goals etc and we found we had a lot in common.  When he mentioned he was outfitting his KTM 350 for the TAT in the coming Summer I immediately started sharing stories and started reliving my own TAT adventure…….By the second day I realized that this may be the perfect time and group to finish the TAT with.   I realized after talking to Jb a few times that these guys are as prepared as you can be and are serious about finishing this journey end to end no matter what.  Its definitely important to do long adv travel with riders with near the same skills and goals.

In 2009 I did the TAT from Memphis to Moab with two friends from Key West.  We were on big bikes (800 /1200cc) and since finishing that trip I have longed to finish the Tat from Moab to Port Orford…. And for sure on a smaller lighter bike.

Well here we are on day 1 (for me).  A long day of adventure for sure and we were all very glad to finally make it to the 3 Steps Ranch.  I can’t imagine a cooler place for Tat riders to hang at the end of a day.    The only reason we made it from Gunnison to 3 Steps (260 miles) is we had to cut out a portion of the TAT and opt for road.  The change in plans was made when we by chance met Andy and John on the trail post Animas Forks when they pulled over to see if we were ok.   Andy and John are locals ( mentioned above) and know the terrain between where we were and the 3 Steps Ranch.  Like many other things in life,  LOCAL knowledge trumps any other form of information.  Gps, maps, blogs …are all information … Local knowledge is Wisdom and finding it is like finding gold.  In fact on an adventure trip like this… it should be sought out and used as often as possible.  When we told Andy and John our plans ..they looked at each other and sorta said … ” You are going to 3 Steps TODAY ?  Via OFFROAD ???  A little while later while gassing up in Ouray their message was clear… we knew we had something to seriously consider.  We decided it was important to make it to 3 Steps at the end of the day and there was little chance of us making it before dark using the TAT.  So for safety reasons we decided to SLAB it to Monticello then do the last 30 miles offroad. We were right because In the end screaming along at 60+ we barely made it b4 dark.  Anyone who does the Tat should realize that riding at dusk offroad with normal dirtbike lighting is extremely dangerous.  Animals frequently dart out, you are tired and sighting ruts, washouts, ditches and rocks gets sketchy.  

Here we were …..almost at the end of the very long day, stopped to let the active lightning storm between us and the ranch move along at its own pace.