Why Blog?

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I have never kept a diary, or a journal. But, when we were planning on moving from Baltimore, MD to Nashville, TN I started posting on Facebook. Everything from prepping, to the move, to our very first home. You can check that out here;  #Johnsons2Nashville

That was a very bold move for someone who was settled in, comfortable, and did not do well with change. But when God says go, you go. We are on an Adventure! I have learned a lot. Life is a journey, and there is so much to see and do!

And now, we are adventuring on a motorcycle!

I started keeping notes to remember our trips. Then I thought maybe others would like to read about our journey, and maybe we can inspire someone else to go after their “God given dreams”! If I can get rid of most of our “stuff” and pack up a few things to move to a new state with no job, no house anyone can do it!

I do not consider myself a writer, nor have I ever wanted to write. But, here are my notes, turned into a blog. Remember, “it’s not about the destination…”

Enjoy Life!

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Loop Around Percy Priest Lake

My goal is to write a blog once a month, and here I am, a new month and nothing. Its not that I have not been riding. I have been on a couple of group rides, and I will re-visit some of those rides and write about them later. It is hard to stop and take pictures whenever you want when you’re on a group ride.

So while I was thinking about what to write, I remembered a ride I did on January 6 of this year (1/6).  Which was my 61st birthday, and the temperature was 61 degrees! On that ride, I passed a total of  16 bikers going in the opposite direction, and 6 going in my direction before they turned on another road. I rode a total of 61 miles, including from my house to the starting point of the ride.

I decided to ride that route again, track it, and take photos this time!

I started at J. Percy Priest Dam. J. Percy Priest Lake is formed from the damming up of the Stones River. The lake is 42 miles long and encompasses 14,200 acres of water, and covers portions of 3 counties.

2008 Goldwing

I headed east on Bell Road riding past Nashville Shores Marina, and Nashville Shores Resort and water park. I won’t give a turn by turn here, but at the end I will include a route map.

Most of the eastern part of this ride is very rural, follows the contour of the lake and goes by few of the recreation areas, such as Cooks, Seven Points and Vivrett Creek. Along the way I got a few peeks of the lake.IMG_4073

And some  small family cemeteries. A lot of graves had to be moved in order to flood the area for the lake. There are a few, and some are a little to find, but this one was right along the road. As I started to leave I noticed a small sign of another cemetery a little further in the woods.IMG_4074

At one point the road veered away from the lake and I took Central Pike to S. Mount Juliet Rd (171).  I followed S. Mount Juliet till it ended at Couchville Pike, and Couchville Cedar Glade Natural Area, and Longhunter State Park. I turned left and followed the contour of the lake again. This time it gets a little more twisty, and at one point the water is really close to the road and at the same level! I am sure this area floods a lot.IMG_4075.JPG

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At this point I needed to cross the two rivers that feed the lake, but there were no back roads that I have access to do that.  So I had to get on a major road, Highway 840.

Once on the other side of the lake there are no connecting roads that follow the shore of the lake. Just roads that lead to different communities that do not connect to each other.

I passed by Smyrna Airport and hopped on Murfreesboro Road. After a few miles I made a right on LaVergne Couchville Pike where I could finally follow along side the lake, this time passing through communities.

I eventually wound my way to Smith Springs Rd and took that to Bell Rd. I turned right, and continued until I crossed the dam where I started!

Link to map of this ride  opens in a new window.

Total Miles 55.

Old Hickory Blvd Nashville, TN

Anyone that has lived in the Nashville area for any amount of time knows about Old Hickory Boulevard. Trying to get to someplace only to find that you are at the wrong Old Hickory Blvd, on the wrong side of town. This happened to us, we were supposed to meet at the Shell Station on Old Hickory Blvd and US 24. Old Hickory Blvd crosses US 24 twice, each with a Shell station.
I tried to find an old map of Old Hickory Blvd, and other info online but like others, who have also searched, there is little info. So through my research, this is what I came up with on that confusing road.

Old Hickory Blvd is named for President Andrew Jackson, who was nicknamed “Old Hickory.” It is a historic road that encircles Nashville, Tennessee. Originally the road, aided by ferries, formed an unbroken loop around the city. Crossing the Cumberland River on the west side via Cleeces Ferry, (ferry service ended in the ’80s) and the Stones River via Stewarts Ferry on the east. The Stones River was dammed up, in the 1960’s creating Percy Priest Lake, which also swallowed up a large section of the road. Other sections were rerouted through the process of evolving road infrastructure.

OHB

I decided to connect all the broken sections and ride the complete loop. I invited others from our Goldwing group and we met at Four Corners Marina on Lavergne Couchville Pike. There were two trikes, our motorcycle, and a car. It was in the upper 70’s and the sun shining as we pulled out of Four Corners, turning left. Heading down Lavergne Couchville Pike. (I believe this was part of Old Hickory Blvd before the creation of Percy Priest Lake)In about .8 miles we stayed to the right and entered the first leg of Old Hickory Blvd. Crossing over Murfreesboro Rd, the road got very narrow as we went through a small patch of trees, then after a sharp turn, the road ended at SR171, as OHB turned to the left. After about a mile we made a right turn onto OHB. This section had a lot of turns and hills. Eventually, we dead-ended at Bell Rd, where it turns into OHB!
A little more traffic, but once we got past 65 it lightened up a bit.
Riding through Brentwood countryside we passed by many grand entrances to magnificent houses. We also rode past Percy Warner Park and the grounds for the Iroquois Steeplechase. The race dates back to 1941 and has been held annually, except in 1945, due to World War II. The race is named for Iroquois, the first American-bred Thoroughbred to win the prestigious British Epsom Derby.

steeplechase
OHB came to a T-intersection at HWY 100, where we made a left then in a half mile turned right back onto OHB. After about 4 miles OHB ended for good on this side of the Cumberland River. In the old days, the road would continue to Cleeses ferry to cross the river. We took what roads we could to get to where the ferry used to be. The continuation of OHB was just on the other side of the river. In order for us to cross the river we took roads through some residential, and industrial areas, and got onto Briley Parkway to cross the Cumberland then took the Ashland City exit and turned west.

Four miles later we hit the other side of OHB and a country store where we took a pit stop at Lewis Country Store which is an eclectic convenience store selling the usual gas and necessities, but much more, decorated with antiques and plenty of rocking chairs on their front porch for patrons to rest. We also picked up a fellow Goldwing Rider who was waiting for us on the rocking chairs.

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After our break, we turned right on OHB. (to the left is OHB that takes you to the river and Cleeces Ferry). This was the longest stretch of OHB consisting of 27+ miles and was immediately greeted with a lot of twist and turns, and hills. We passed through Whites Creek, with plenty of farmland and creeks. The next town, Madison we saw an increase in traffic. Soon we crossed over the Cumberland river again this time via the Old Hickory Bridge. Actually, it is a pair of bridges, the original North (west) bound built in 1928 complete with sentry towers, and the newer bridge built 1967 South (west) bound. We crossed the newer one, that took us into the Old Hickory area.

OHB bridge1

Soon we passed the grounds of The Hermitage a historic plantation and was the home of Andrew Jackson.
Riding through the area of Hermitage, there was more traffic and increase traffic lights, but it was not long before we were in a more rural area and at a stop sign at Bell Road, the ending of OHB as it is today. Actually, OHB did continue straight into The Army Corps of Engineers property, then into Percy Priest Lake, it reappears again in certain recreation areas such as Cook Recreation Area. The area where it comes out of the lake to continue its loop is around the Four Corners Marina area.
So we needed to make a trip around the lake to get to the other side, so we turned left on Bell Rd, and then a right on S. New Hope Rd, we were riding parallel to inaccessible areas of OHB!

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We then turned left on Stewarts Ferry Pike, which was named for a Ferry crossing over the Stones River, which makes up Priest Lake. The ferry would have connected the OHB sections at The stones River.
In about 1 mile we turned left onto Alvin Sperry rd, which follows the contour of the lake and offers beautiful peeks of the lake throughout all of its turns.
Eventually, the road ends at John Hager Rd, where we turned right onto central, then a right onto S. Mt. Juliet Rd, SR171. We were on 171 for a total of 9 miles.
We crossed over Priest Lake, and soon made a left turn on Hamilton Church road. After a mile or so there was a very sharp right turn, where I believe OHB would have been. We then made a left turn back into Four Corners Marina Bar & Grill for lunch.

Total miles 94

Below is how we connected all the sections:

OHB-added

Fall Color Ride October 27-28, 2018

I continually checked the weather every day a week before our ride and noticed it continued to improve, although it was forecasted to be nice on Sunday, Saturday may be a little chilly in the morning.
Woke up early Saturday morning, checked the weather. Patchy fog, 50*, Sunday was going to be 70*. We dressed in layers and figured we could take off layers if we get too hot.
Our first stop was to meet two other riders, and then the three of us met the rest of the group at the planned starting spot in Whites Creek, TN. The half-hour trip to the start was chilly, we utilized our heated seats, and my heated hand grips. No fog.
When we got to the meeting area, we had a meeting and prayer and went to our bikes. Very light fog and mist had descended.
We mounted our steel steeds, there were 4 trikes, and 2 two wheel Gold Wings. We also had a car in front leading and communicating with us via CB, and a car at the back.
We hit the road and immediately we are met with twisties, taking Whites Creek Pike and going through Devils Elbow, a very sharp turn near Joelton. Apparently, ghosts have been sighted here, according to Nashville Haunted Handbook. The road becomes wetter as the fog gets thicker.
We stopped for lunch at Ace’s Pizza in Paris TN, and the sun was starting to come out. After lunch, the sun was shining, but we kept our coats and gloves on there was still a chill in the air!
We headed north on TN-69, Crossing into Kentucky and we picked up KY-94 west. Passing through the small town of Cayce KY, and then into Hickman KY.

As we reached the Dorena, MO- Hickman, KY Riverboat Ferry, it was beginning to leave, but they come back to dock so can board. We get all of our bikes and cars on, then other people show up and the boat captain tried to squeeze as many as he can on the ferry. It was a 20 min ride to the other shore.

The entire landscape changed when we got into Missouri, the roads were straight, and the land was flat. It reminded me of the Eastern Shore in Maryland. Flat farmlands, crops of soy, corn, and chicken farms, but there was cotton also.

We reached our Hotel, Best Western Sikeston. And after we checked in and rested a bit, we headed to our final destination for the day, Lamberts Cafe, Home Of Throwed Rolls. This is a family-style restaurant with Generous Portions. Servers walking around with big pots of mashed potatoes, Okra, and other vegetables, ready to place a big helping on your plate. And if you need a roll, just raise your hand and they will throw you a hot fresh baked roll.

After dinner, we headed back to our hotel for a good nights sleep. The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel. Kickstands up at 9 AM to head home.
As we traveled home, we took a different route.

We left Sikeston traveling on US 62. The wind was crazy strong. There were times when I felt I was severely leaning just to stay straight! This was later confirmed by one of the trike riders who noticed my leaning in his mirror.
We continued onto US 62 and crossed the Cairo Mississippi River Bridge into Illinois, then very shortly made a right turn onto US 51 and crossed the Ohio River into Kentucky.

We worked our way south into Paris, TN, Had lunch, then made a quick stop at the Effiel Tower. This structure is a model of the Effiel Tower in Paris, France. Built in the early 1990s, by engineering students at Christian Brothers University and based on the original drawings of Gustave Eiffel. At 60 feet tall, the tower is a nearly perfect 1:20 scale replica of the original.

Afterward, we passed through the town of Big Sandy. Continuing our journey to where we stopped in Dickson at a Dairy Queen.

After our ice cream break we continued eastward, our group became smaller as various people left the pack towards their respected homes!
Total miles 482

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Motorcycle Adventure to Biltmore Estate

 

We bought our 2008 Goldwing so that we can do adventures together. Soon after we got it Dana suggested we take a trip to Biltmore Estate in Asheville NC. The Biltmore was a destination she had anticipated for quite a while, and I wanted to go on The Tail Of The Dragon. Hey, we can combine both in one trip!

 

So, for the next several weeks we were taking short trips going further and further away from home each weekend. We had booked our hotel and some of our tours at the Biltmore, but for the trip over we had no plans. We will stop when we feel its right and find a place to stay.

 

We had packed the Goldwing the night before, and left Friday morning at 5:30. As we crossed Percy Priest Lake on Hobson Pike we got to see the sunrise over the lake. We turned right onto Stewarts Ferry Road winding our way through Gladeville and then took Central Pike over to US 70. U.S. Route 70 is an east–west United States highway that runs for 2,385 miles from eastern North Carolina to east-central Arizona. (Another trip I would love to do.)

jpplake

We passed through Watertown, Smithville, Sparta and then Crossville. We had been to each of these towns on separate trips when we were building up our stamina for riding. We stopped in Crossville at Grinder House Coffee for breakfast. Great food, great coffee, and great conversation with Angela our hostess, who is also a rider.

 

After breakfast we continued on US 70, but now this was now all new territory for us. Shortly after leaving Crossville we picked up state road 68. We passed through Spring City where the terrain is more wooded and curvy. We passed by Watts Bar Nuclear Power Plant then cross the Watts Bar Dam, which houses a hydroelectric plant. We continued till we got to US 411, headed north passing through Vonore and crossed the Little Tennessee River. Turning south on state road 72 we we rode through the Great Smokey Mountains and we along the Little Tennessee River.

 

We reached US 129 and stopped and rested at a small gift and souvenir shop called Dragon 318 At Punkin Center. The owners were extremely helpful in helping us decide where we might want to spend the night, and about the motorcycle museum, Wheels Through Time. That is a place that I had wanted to go, and did not know it was on our route!

 

Back on the road and headed down US 129 we were just minutes from “The Tail Of The Dragon.” Then I saw the sign- “WARNING- High Crash Area Next 11 Miles”.

 

I told Dana “Well, Here we go!” And I positioned my body a little more upright and forward, negotiating each curve with precision. And then it started raining!! There was quite a bit of tree cover, so the road was not too wet, except when we came to each clearing. But I was focused on the road and every curve I approached.

moonshine

Eleven miles and 45 minutes later we crossed into North Carolina and reach the end of The Dragon at Deals Gap Motorcycle Retreat. We pulled into the parking lot full of bikes of all types. The rain had stopped about ¾ of the way down, but now we were slightly wet. This was a good spot to rest. We saw other Goldwingers who had just attended Wing Ding and got to share road stories with them. We had planned on eating there at the grill, but decided to keep moving to stay ahead of the rain.

Deals Gap

We hopped on NC 28 riding along side Cheoah Lake for several miles. Some of these curves are just as tight or tighter than the Dragon. After we went through the town of Almond, still in the mountains, we jumped on US 74 for a short distance and then onto US 19. This took us through Bryson City, the Eastern Cherokee Reservation, the town of Cherokee, and more rain… this time a very heavy rain. We had to pull off the road for a few minutes till it slowed down. When we continued the rain stopped within 5 minutes.

 

Shortly after we exited the reservation we arrived at Maggie Valley and proceeded to start looking for a place to spend the night. Every eatery and every hotel in this small town had motorcycles in their parking lots. We pulled into a Quality Inn and parked near some other bikes. After we got a room, we walked down the street to Legends Sports Grill to get a bite to eat. Then we headed back to the hotel where they had a covered pavilion with rocking chairs. We were joined by another biker couple and just got to relax and talk. We also got to see a double rainbow against the mountains.

 

The next morning, Saturday, we walked down the street to the famous Joey’s Pancake house. Again, bikers everywhere. After breakfast we walked back to our room and packed the motorcycle and rode down the street to the Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum. There were only four other bikes when we got there. This is a great museum of American made motorcycles from every era. There is so much to see you can not get through it in one day. (I see another trip here in the future.) When we left, the gravel parking lot was full of other motorcycles.

 

We got back on US 19 untill it met up with 23, and an hour later we were at the Biltmore Estates. We stayed at the Village Hotel On Biltmore Estate. Over the next two days we visit the gardens, a Chihuly glass exhibit, took a tour around the property, and a special roof top tour of the Mansion.

Biltmore

We decided to leave 5:00 AM ET, Monday to avoid any Labor Day traffic. It was dark, VERY dark! We immediately got onto Interstate 40 and went thru the Great Smoky Mountains. Looking down at my navigation display I noticed the time was a little after 4AM CT. (The navigation doesn’t change for the time zones.) It was going to be a while before we get to see the sunrise!

 

We got off at a Sevierville TN exit and got some fuel and the sun was rising. So we decided to take back roads home. I wasn’t sure of the back road route, so I punched our address into the navigation system and started following its directions. Going through downtown Knoxville we wound our way through so many streets… good thing it was still very early in the morning, and there was no traffic.

 

On the other side of Knoxville we were headed south on US 11. I was still a little unfamiliar with the area, but we kept following the navigation, even though I thought we were going too far south. At one point we were sitting at an intersection with US 70. I turned of the navigation and turned right onto US 70. I knew I would eventually see things that looked familiar. After a few more twist and turns I saw a sign for Crossville, and that made me feel better.

 

By the time we were in Sparta we were riding behind a group of about five motorcyclist and a truck with them. This convoy continued all the way into Watertown where I pulled off to get gas and rest. They went past as I pulled in and pulled into the same station further down. We had the chance to talk to some of them. One was a Goldwinger and belonged to the Clarksville Chapter TN-Q. We found out they were part of a biker church out of Clarksville. After we fueled up we retraced our steps back home.

Total miles ridden, 651.

First Rides On The Gold Wing

 

When I got the Gold Wing, knowing it was more than twice the weight and power of my 750 Vulcan, I took about a month and a half riding solo before I even began to think of having a co-rider. Then, I would meet Dana at a local school parking lot and we would practice stops, starts, and turns. This continued for a couple weeks.

The next step was a few rides around Percy Priest Lake, (or at least half the lake) and a few trips to Fate Sanders Marina for breakfast.

 

Then it was time to plan a real trip, Bell Buckle, TN. June 2, 2018. We started out heading down Murfreesboro Rd to have breakfast at First Watch in Murfreesboro. After breakfast, we headed down 231 then turning left on county road 269 through Christiana, TN, and down to the town of Bell Buckle, which is a very small quaint downtown area with several antique shops. This little town is known for it’s RC Cola & Moon Pie Festival. After visiting the antique shops and stopping in the old style soda shop, we took a more scenic route back home along Old Nashville Highway. Total miles 86.5

bell buckle

 

 

On June 23, we decided to take a trip to Cookeville, TN. I looked at a map and tried to plan a nice back road route that would offer nice views. We headed north on 171, Hobson Pike, crossing over Percy Priest Lake then turned right on Stewarts Ferry Road making our way toward US 70. Our first stop was Breakfast at The Depot Junction Café in Watertown, TN. After breakfast, we jumped back onto US 70 to Smithville. I made a wrong turn on State Road 56 and ended up near McMinnville. Turned around and continued north, crossing over Center Hill Lake and eventually reaching downtown Cookeville. We Parked near the 1913 Baldwin 4-6-0 #509 steam locomotive at the Cookeville Depot Museum. The museum was closed, so we strolled around town, and had lunch at Crawdaddy’s West Side Grille, and then ice cream at Cream City Ice Cream and Coffee House. Afterward, we retraced our route home, except for the wrong turn. Total miles 220

cookville

 

 

Getting up early on July 8, we headed out on TN-254, Old Hickory Blvd, to TN- 100 and had breakfast at Loveless Café. After a delicious breakfast, we hopped onto the Natchez Trace for a few miles, crossing over the Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge which is a concrete double arch bridge that opened in 1994 and has won many awards for its design, including a Presidential Award for Design Excellence in 1995. We then got off at SR-96 ramp which passes by the bridge. We took some photos then proceeded on SR-96 toward Franklin riding through downtown historic Franklin TN on our way home. Total miles 65

loveless

natchez trace

 

 

Our first ride with the Goldwing Road Riders Association, Nashville Chapter A, took Place on July 14. There was a misunderstanding about the meeting place. So we wound up riding by ourselves, taking the highways and meeting everyone at Riverbluff Park in Ashland City where we took a Pontoon cruise on the Cumberland River with Blue Heron Cruise. The hour and a half cruise took us past rock bluffs, wooded areas, and under an old train trestle. We saw plenty of herons and water turtles. After the cruise, we rode across the bridge to the Riverview Restaurant for lunch. There were four bikes total in our caravan. As we headed back home, each bike broke off as we got close to their respective homes. Total miles 95

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We still needed a longer trip to help us build our stamina for riding, so on July 21, we took a trip to Crossville TN to have breakfast at Family Ties Restaurant, Taking US 70 and going through Watertown, Smithville, then crossing Center Hill Lake the road got more twisty as we climbed a mountain. We passed through Sparta and before long we were in Crossville. We had a nice breakfast, then retraced our same route to home. Total miles 206

centerhill lake

Center Hill Lake

HOW IT ALL STARTED

I have always had a fascination with motorcycles ever since I was a kid and saw a group of motorcycle police riding in synced formation down our street.

Growing up we did not have a car. That did not stop me from getting my drivers license, I borrowed a friend’s car and passed the exam. When I was eighteen we finally acquired a car, and the following year I had saved enough to buy my first car for $500. A 1967 Plymouth Sport Fury. When you are young, you don’t always realize what you have when you have it. I really wish I had taken better care of that car. I would love to have it now.

I eventually purchased my first motorcycle when I was 22 years old. It was a 1968 Yamaha 350 YR2. I rode that motorcycle everywhere. An hour to work and back everyday the weather was good. I took it on a few 3 hour trips, one of which was to Ocean City, MD with my cousin. A very memorable trip. After about 4 years it died beyond repair, Or at least that was what I thought. I just could not afford to repair it anymore.

I eventually met Dana and we were married. I did not have a motorcycle at that time. And life happened, kids, bills etc…

I still dreamed of having a motorcycle again. Whenever we did ministry, I always gravitated to the motorcycle people. Dana knew it was in my heart to ride again. One day when I was 55, she told me that God wants me to have a motorcycle again. So we continued to pray for one. We really did not have the money to get one, or justify the cost of getting one. I just continued to pray for one.

At 58 years old, 29 years of marriage, kids out on their own, we needed a change in our life. We felt the Lord leading us to start a new life, adventurous life in Nashville TN. (That whole process and moving can be followed by searching #Johnsons2Nashville on Facebook.)

In the process of preparing to move, I got a table at a large yard sale to sell what ever we could. We were really pairing down big time. While at the yard sale I was sharing my table with a young women who did arts and crafts. Her mother was there and out of the blue she says, “I should have brought my motorcycle here to sell”. I asked her what she had. It was a 1998 Vulcan 750. She had not ridden in 7 years, it was in a garage most of that 7 years, and did not have a battery. I texted Dana the info, she did some research and texted back “That is your bike!”

When you live on a farm for 25 years you acquire stuff! I sold some large items from my garage/workshop that I was just going to leave behind and then I had enough to buy the motorcycle.

I got the bike home, I did not try to start it. I immediately called my friend, a BMW motorcycle mechanic. He came by and we just started draining all fluids, cleaning the bike and put in all new fluids, and a new battery. After a couple days of this he was ready to try and start it. It took a few tries but it started and ran great. I rode it around for a few days, but decided not to tag it in Maryland and waited till we got to Nashville.

We got the car and motorcycle registered and tagged in Nashville the same day.

I added an OEM extended backrest to help Dana feel more secure, and comfortable and we did a few very short rides, but she never felt secure, and whenever we were driving in the car she would see motorcycles and say that looks comfortable, it was always a touring bike, and most were Goldwings.

For the next two years we talked about how we can take adventures on a motorcycle, maybe get a trike, and keep my Vulcan. I started doing a lot of research, went to a lot of dealers, looked at a lot of different bikes. We came to the conclusion that we wanted a Goldwing, and then maybe trike it out later on. But we had a few “must haves” on our list, which narrowed what we would get and upped the price a little.

Early 2018, while at a dealership we were looking at several Goldwings, I was sitting on them trying to get a feel for the weight, and if I could touch the ground with my feet…! Dana kept looking at this one that had just came in, and they have not gone over it yet, I thought it was ok. We went home talked about it, went back 2 days later, and someone else was trying to get financing on it, I told them that If it did not go through I wanted it. The next day they had not heard from the other buyer, so I started talking price with them, and asked what they would give me for the Vulcan. Along with what I saved for two years, and the Vulcan trade in, I got the payments exactly where I wanted it!

We joined a national Gold Wing organization called Gold Wing Road Riders Association. They have a chapter here in Nashville. We have also connected with other motorcyclist in our area. Now, it is time for adventures!