Rocketbunny in the Blue Ridge Mountains – Day 0.5

Every spring my mind turns to motorcycle trips. I cast about for ideas, weighing where I’ve been against all the farflung places I’d like to go. When the boyfriend invited me to spend a couple of August days with his family up in northeast Pennsylvania, I immediately saw the possibilities. I haven’t ridden northeast since June 2006. It’s clearly time to revisit the Blue Ridge Mountains and tag a couple more states.

My plan is to leave work early on Friday, August 7. I’ll spend a couple of days interstating north, arriving in Pennsylvania on Monday, August 10. I’ll spend a few days there before starting a more leisurely ride back via Shenandoah National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Deals Gap. The last two days of my ride will be mostly interstate, arriving home on Monday, August 17.

I’ve been avoiding trip reports lately. I rode in the Georgia mountains last year, and more recently in New Mexico. Those rides had an ambitious itinerary so I took few pictures and ended my days too tired to do a trip report. My For this trip, I’m pushing the reset button. I resolve to take more pictures, spend time each night on my trip report, and stop the bike when a truly beautiful vista presents itself.

Day 0.5
Friday, August 7, 2009
Houston, TX to Monroe, LA
341 miles

I left work around 1pm, fully prepared for the blistering heat of Houston August. My camelbak was full of ice water and all vents were open on my touring suit. I navigated my way around to US59, one of my favorite ways to get out of the city.

My mapping program had initially told me that the fastest way to Pennsylvania included a half day’s travel eastbound on I-10. I’m tired of I-10. I’ve done that segment a couple of times recently and on a (undocumented) riding tour to Georgia last year. I decided to instead ride up US59 to I-20 and take that across Louisiana and Mississippi, picking up the mapping program’s route in Meridian, MS.

For the most part, US59 north of Houston is tree-lined and high speed, much like an interstate. There are a few town bypasses to pay attention to (if you don’t want to slow to a crawl passing through a “downtown”).

It was HOT. My POS Formotion thermometer was registering 110 for most of the ride while the cheap Walmart thermometer in my tankbag map window ranged through a (probably) more accurate 97 to 105. Sweat was dripping off my nose and chin, but each ice cold sip from the camelbak noticeably cooled me.

My intended destination for the night was Marshall, TX, an easy ~200 miles away at the intersection of US59 and I-20. Rolling through Carthage, TX at 4:30pm, I started seeing signs for both Marshall (~30 miles straight ahead) and Shreveport, LA (~40 mile cutoff toward the northeast). Just as the exit for US79 toward Shreveport came up, I decided that it was WAAAAY too early to stop for the night and why not get ahead of myself on the I-20 segment. I veered toward Shreveport and figuratively tossed my tentative itinerary “out the window”.

A construction detour on the I-220 bypass around Shreveport slowed me down a little, so I “only” made it 140 miles into tomorrow’s route before deciding to stop around 7pm in Monroe, LA.

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