George McConnel's '98 Vacation Ride Page

The dates were June 5th through June 13th, 1998. I took a week off work and rode my 1981 GL1100 Gold Wing to a few select destinations in Tennessee. After leisurely packing a few things on Saturday morning I was off.

It was already warm when I started, with temperatures in the mid '70s. I took Highway 41 down through Murfreesboro, Monteagle, and all the way into Chattanooga. The ride up Monteagle Mountain on Hwy 41 is both scenic and can be challenging if you ride it aggressively at all. But it was only a foretaste of what was to come later that afternoon.

Motorcycle enthusiasts throughout the galaxy agree that one of the best rides you can take on two wheels is the 11 mile stretch of US Highway 129 between Tennessee and North Carolina known as "Deal's Gap". Although I've ridden it many times it just didn't seem right to begin a motorcycle vacation without chasing the "Dragon".

I have a friend (who used to have a motorcycle) who lives torturously close to Deal's Gap, but currently doesn't have a bike to ride it on. I visited him first on my vacation and took some video of his two daughters (Jade and Bethany) as well as him his wife. His name is Andrew Pierce and his wife's name is Angel. Here are a few snapshots captured from the video I took.

Although Andrew used to be a fastidious vegetarian when I used to work with him, he had reverted to his carnivore ways. He grilled some hamburgers and we had lunch together. I spent an hour or two visiting with them and watching Bethany and Jade show off for their company.

After leaving Andrew's house I headed on up to "Deal's Gap". I also took some video of Deal's Gap and even strapped the Camcorder to the side of my motorcycle while riding it. You can see about 40 seconds worth of video from this ride by clicking here. WARNING!!!! BIG DOWNLOAD!!! OVER 5 MEGS!!! Special thanks to Jack Sides (Webmaster of Texas Wings Web Page) for hosting this big file!

Here are some images I captured from the video:

After Deal's Gap, I bedded down for the night at a cheesy motel, then headed up to Kingsport, TN to visit a few days with my old friend and college roomate Joey Gafford. He and his wife Tina were wonderful hosts as I enjoyed a few days of rest and relaxation. They have 3 beautiful kids. Their kids names are Joe, Kayla and Joshua. Here are some pictures of the kids...

Here's what Joey looks like the morning after he's been soundly defeated by me in a game of "Sequence"...

As you can see below, Tina (the same morning after) took defeat much more gracefully...

And finally, some pictures of Joey and his two boys...

On the way back home I took several great motorcycling roads. One of them was Highway 116, which twists and curves many times in a large arc just north of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Another very scenic road is US Hwy 70N, which I took from Crossville to the junction of TN Hwy 96 West. Highway 70 is a wonderfully scenic and curvy road that's almost perfect for motorcycling. Hwy 96 between 70 N and 70 is also a great road. By the time that I got on Hwy 70 in Dowellton I had just about had all the fun I could take for one day. It was time to head back home, so I took the straight shot down Hwy 96 to the Junction of Jefferson Pike, rode into Smyrna and headed back to the house.

It really was a fun and relaxing vacation. That's the best way to take a vacation in my opinion. Too many times we work up a big agenda and try to cram too many activities into our vacations and work so hard trying to have a little fun we need to get back to the office just so we can rest up. I'll long remember this as one of the best vacations I've ever taken.

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