Updated: Oct 9, 2018
This is a post by the "wheel-man" sometimes thought of as the one who drives the getaway car.....this will be more like the one who drives the rescue truck. My trusty German Shepherd "JaXX" and I are following along two guys that plan to ride the TAT, a dirt road, jeep trail route from east coast to west coast. We plan to actually start the ride in Arkansas, due to previous rides that have already covered the Tennessee and Mississippi routes. I will drive the follow truck with supplies, i will assist in having accommodations set up and likely a little laundry along the way. Departure date is August 27, 2018
Aug 6,2018 Planning
I begin by looking over the route maps, I am a planner so I review what hotels or camping areas are going to be on our route. I join most of the economical hotel chain programs, I find this often helps you get a room at the best rate and a little recognition if rooms are limited. These programs cost nothing, along with AAA they give you the best options. I will be pulling a trailer so i am practicing backing up with the trailer and trying to remember that it is behind me. This has been a challenge in the past. I start thinking about what to pack. My plan is at each overnight stop to have 1 backpack for my clothes and personal items, 1 backpack for JaXX, each guy will have 1 backpack. I will pack a few snack items and coffee. My experience is to not pack to much, although they will be on back roads and off the beaten path I will have access to most anything.
Aug. 23, 2018
It's getting close to departure. Practicing backing that trailer has been a struggle, thinking about just adding a big sign that says "wide load - stay away". A few more days of intense practice ahead, I know this is doable. As a planner, I like details and traveling with men It’s not always like that.
Aug. 26, 2018
Plans have changed alread, now they are starting in North Carolina. Headed to our starting point in north Georgia. Today is the meet up with two riders and final packing of bikes and gear. Spent the evening planning routes and repacking bags.
Aug 27, 2018. Monday
Bikes left out at 8am riding 90 miles to Andrews NC to start the TAT route. The route will take them through western N Carolina then down through GA again before they hit Tennessee. I am headed to Dalton GA where we hope to meet up. I am driving a Dodge Ram 1500 that belongs to EddIe. First time driving this truck and I’m pulling a trailer loaded with Tiger800 and BMW1200. Should be interesting. Traveling hwy76 across the state, windy road but very little traffic. I make it to Dalton, they don’t. So much dirt road and mountain crossing they only got to Ducktown by 6pm. So my first night alone.... well except for Jaxx , we stayed in Holiday Inn express in Ringgold GA. They report seeing a hawk grab a squirrel off the trail and running up a small black bear.
Aug 28, 2018. Tuesday
headed to Lafayette GA, only 2 hours however I have to hit I-75 and I-24 two of my least favorite interstates. Each morning I start my day with a Prayer, asking for the bikers safety and for Jesus to be my copilot. I am always amazed at how He puts a circle of protection around me. I know if I have proper faith, I shouldn’t be so amazed... I get on I-75 which always has lots of traffic and everyone going 15 over the limit, and there is bumper to bumper traffic with a large majority of it large trucks. However, with my trusted copilot I look behind me and there is not a car in site. It continues this way onto I-24 for most of the day. God is good. Lafayette is a small town, we stay in key west inn. Not much to speak of and dinner is at little Italian fast food place. Riders report running up a few deer and another hawk.
Aug 29, 2018 Wednesday
Headed into Tennessee, the TAT route takes us close to Lynchburg TN and the Jack Daniels distillery. I meet up with them about noon we get lunch together, then they go take the tour. I’ve done it twice and Jaxx wants to shop around this cute little town. while crossing a bridge over the creek I hear a snap and a large limb falls Inches from me and Jaxx. A guy nearby starts pointing in the tree, a large hawk had landed on a dead limb. It seems a hawk has been a part of every day so far. Tonight’s stop is Waynesboro, TN. Really small town with only one hotel, however it has new owners that have redone the rooms and its very clean. As the guys ride into these towns people seem to gather to ask question, some are familiar with the route and want to do it someday themselves, some just want to admire the bikes and ask questions. Bikes need some minor work done but Mike is missing the one tool that would help. While in The hotel parking lot, a guy admiring the bike says he has just the tool Mike needs and loans it to us to get the job done. Gotta love small town life. So far my days have been trying to get a pattern down with timing and location. It is truly amazing what technology can do. I can track them from their GPS and from Mike‘s iPhone. Most of the time I can see how far out they are and what direction they are headed. Jaxx and I stop along the way he gets antsy in the truck for more than two hours. We stop and play ball, stretch our legs. Haven’t had a chance to hike yet, timing and location hasn’t meshed.
Aug 30, 2018. Thursday
Today starts like any other up by 6:30, at Jaxx’s request. Coffee and continental breakfast from the hotel. Guys dress, load bikes and on road by 7:30. It Is my time to shower and load truck and decide my day. This day I can’t find the keys to the truck. Mike had them last. I look for 15 minutes in room, in truck, no keys. I have to call Mike on the trail, where did you lay the keys?? He doesn’t remember , he checks his pockets. Eddie checks his pocket. They search the bikes. Meanwhile I’m tearing the room apart and going through every bag in the truck. Crawling under the truck around the trailer. No keys! The guys have to ride back to hotel, they were 30 minutes away. In this time I get down on my knees and ask the Lord to please help me find these key, we don’t have an extra set. I walk out to truck to search AGAIN, I have to wait for a trash truck to pass before I can get to our truck. I notice the guy on the back, I smile and nod and go on to crawl under the truck one more time. Suddenly the truck horn starts beeping and lights flashing, I can’t figure out what‘s going on. I look up and across the parking lot is the guy from the garbage truck holding up my keys. Earlier before they pulled out, Eddie had road around the lot to warm up his bike and Mike had left the keys on back of that bike. They must have slipped off as Eddie went by the dumpster. i would have never looked near that dumpster. It was 100% divine influence that the garbage truck came into the area to find those keys. The Lord answered my Prayer and in a most amazing way. From that moment on I relaxed about what was to come on this trip, because I am certain God has his hand on this. Now my mission is to be certain that I share my faith along my travels. God is good. And on to Mississippi...we stay in Corinth, MS a small town just across the TN border. Quality inn with an outdoor pool to cool off. Dinner at the Waffle House.
Aug 31, 2018 Friday
Todaystarts as a laundry day and with a Walmart run. We are working our way across Mississippi. Plan to stay tonight on the Mississippi River at the Isle of Capri casino in Lula MS. We ate a casino buffet and played a little blackjack. Mike and I went to bed winners. Tomorrow we head into Arkansas.
Sept 1,2018 Saturday
I cross the great Mississippi River on a two lane bridge and stop at Arkansas welcome center. Talk with a very knowledgeable lady there that gave me great ideas of how to spend my time in her state. We are planning to stay in Clinton Arkansas tonight and I have plans to get to town, check in and head to a great hiking area about 30 miles east of town. I roll into the best western and ask for a room.....sold out. The entire area is sold out. It's the annual national chuck wagon races. This small town of 2600 increases to about 20,000 this weekend. No rooms in the area. So I have to scramble to find us rooms at the next town the guys would be passing through on the trail. Well my hiking is out, but I do get us rooms in Russellville Arkansas and the guys roll in about 7, makes for a long day for them. Dinner at Chinese restaurant next door and call it a night.
Sept 2, 2018 Sunday
We all get an early start, headed to Locus Grove, Oklahoma. For me it’s an uneventful day. The guys talk about stopping at the TAT Stop, a place where all riders are ask to sign the book and get their pictures taken. Later in the day they stop at an old store that is not open anymore, but two gentlemen in their 80’s. come out everyday to greet and talk with the riders as they pass through. Mike and Eddie spent about 45 minutes there telling them their story and listen to these two guys tell their tells. Tonight we stay at the best western
Sept 3, 2018 Monday
On to Bartlesville Oklahoma. Jaxx and I take our time, I try not to take the interstate any more than I have to. Most of the time I'm able to travel a nice divided highway and make decent time without too much traffic. Today I will have to go around the edge of Tulsa Oklahoma, pretty good size city and will need to travel some interstate. Traffic wasn't bad, again I feel God's hand on every part of this trip. Sometimes I miss a turn, I think I should have taken, only to find out that my mistake was the better option. Just following His lead. This is an early day, short ride for the guys they get in town early enough to wash bikes, and change a chain on Mike's bike. I take Jaxx to play at a dog park, then to Petco for a bath. He came back smelling pretty, but was not very happy with me. We stay at Fairfield inn and get dinner at chili's walking distance away
Sept 4, 2018 Tuesday
Eddie has had a part mailed to this location, so I will need to wait on it to be delivered. Perfect time to get some laundry done while I sleep in a little after seeing the guys off. We are headed to Buffalo, Oklahoma. This very small town has nothing much for accommodations, I contact a lady that has a couple of cottages she rents out. Only problem is she has a strict no pet policy. However, the cottage has a small back yard fenced in and works out just fine for Jaxx. This place is actually really nice we have two rooms with beds and a small kitchen and living area, so we can spread out for a change. I pasted a guy that was out on the highway, thinking he was a TAT rider, he was on a Honda Dual Sport bike and really packed out. Dinner is at a tiny locals joint, food was decent and the people were friendly. After dinner it rained a little, a beautiful rainbow came out. Rain was actually just enough for Jaxx to have to sleep in the truck.
Sept 5, 2018 Wednesday
Headed to the middle of nowhere, Oklahoma. Plan to stay at a bunkhouse about 30 miles west of Boise City, Oklahoma. Because this is just a stop on the trail I pull into Boise City about 1/2 hour before the guys so that we can call the owners and head there about the same time. As I am sitting in a parking lot waiting for the guys a bike rides up to my truck and says "didn't u pass me yesterday?" I remembered seeing this guy and thinking he must be riding the TAT because I noticed he was packed out and probably riding the same trail as Mike and Eddie. He was and he had started in Michigan was 29 years old and riding it alone. We invited him to come out to the bunkhouse with us. I get to this bunkhouse location first as I had to take the roads, when I pulled up there's a man in a wheelchair waiting on me. I ask him if this was the end of the world and he said "no, but u can see it from here". Within about 15 minutes the guys ride up from the trail and another 30 and Lance the guy we met in town shows up as well. Soon the man's wife show up and we all sit and talk until dark. I knew there was nowhere to get food, so I had picked up some hotdogs and fixings and they had a grill we could use. So we sat down to dinner, invited Lance to join us. This location is used by locals for barn dances and as a wedding venue. But this couple enjoy hosting these bikes as much as anything. They had tools there, so Mike and Eddie did an oil change on both bikes before getting back on trail the next morning.
Sept 6, 2018 Thursday
I had some blueberry muffins and they had a coffee pot and coffee for us. Lance joined us for breakfast. Then we all went our own way. We are headed through the northeast corner of New Mexico and into Colorado. My route takes me on a very small back road. About 10 minutes on the road and I come up on a large piece of equipment and a truck blocking the entire path. Also there is what I would assume is everyone that lives in this county (all 6 of them). My GPS wants me to turn right where they are so I pull over and walk up to see if I can get through, I see the road is a dirt path out through some farm land. So I ask one of the guys if that’s the way I should go and he says “ no , you need to go straight”, then he helps me negotiate off the road and around this piece of equipment and I am on my way. The guys get into Trinidad, Colorado early enough to stop at a bike shop that caters to TAT riders, they get their tires changed and we stay the night in the Super 8 in Trinidad. Dinner at a local bar and grill was nice
Sept 7, 2018 Friday
I get the guys on the road and go back to the bike shop to pick up one set of their old tires. We decided it might be best to have another set, even if they are worn down just in case. It's one reason I'm towing trailer, so they can have extra supplies. This time we head in different directions. They guys are going across some of the higher elevation passes, I'm going across a more southern route. I still have to cross wolf creek pass which has serious incline and switch backs and I will need to put it in low gear on the downside, but at this point I'm fairly comfortable with the truck and again the traffic isn't an issue. I pass through Fort Garland, Colorado a small town that Mike and I had visited 15 years ago on a motor home trip. There was a guy there named RV that took us on a tour of the site and let us camp on his land just south of there. It was neat to see that a place we had visited was still there and I stopped in to see if RV was working. Actually he was, just not in today. After crossing the pass Jaxx and I stopped in Pagosa Springs. This is a cool town with lots of natural hot springs and a beautiful river running through the middle. Jaxx and I stroll the river and Jaxx plays in the water. Hit a little rain in the mountains and I push on to Durango, Colorado. Staying at a Doubletree Inn, everyone is so dog friendly they make it so easy to travel with Jaxx. We are here for two nights, hope to do some hiking in the area.
Sept 8, 2018 Saturday
Spend the day in Durango just walking around the town. Jaxx has me up by 7 so we head out while the temperature is cool. It’s in the high 40’s when we start out. After about 2.5 hours and a Starbucks coffee we get back to the hotel. Jaxx is down for a rest. The hotel sits right on a walking trail along the river, we will go out again around 2 in the afternoon, and visit the city park to play ball, hang out and people watch.
Sept 9, 2018 Sunday
Our next stop is a remote location just across the Utah border. 3 step hideaway is an old ranch that a couple bought several years ago and they added a couple rustic old buildings and a couple teepees and they host people who want to ride dirt bikes or side by sides in the Utah mountains. They have a cantina, where they serve a breakfast and dinner. There is a bathhouse and a garage for the guys to work on their bikes. It's mostly off the grid, so I get in around 3 and hang out with host and another couple that were in for the week They are also hosting a group of guys taking a training class on dirt bikes My guys get in around 5 and they serve us a steak dinner at 6:30. We hang out till it's late enough to see the night sky. I have never seen so many stars and we could see the Milky Way, which looks like a cloud in the night sky, it was visible across the entire sky. Absolutely beautiful. We slept the night in a teepee it had just enough room for three cots and Jaxx on the floor. We used our sleeping bags and had a quiet nights sleep.
Sept 10, 2018 Monday
Headed to Moab Utah only a quick 80 miles away, so the guys do some bike maintenance and we head out mid morning. I stop along the way to take pictures and let Jaxx play as the scene changes from scrub brush to red rock mountains. Just as I roll into Moab I get a call, mike's bike has broke down about 30 miles back and they need me to bring the trailer and tools to them. I find them in a tiny little town at the local post office, only building around. We load up mike's dirt bike and he gets on this street bike and we head into Moab. They go straight to a bike shop to see if they have the part they need or worse case scenario a bike they can buy to replace it. I look for accommodations, I check us in at the Quality Inn and they find the part and spend rest of a very hot day working on both bikes. Dinner at the Moab brewery and a good night's sleep
Sept 11, 2018 Tuesday
Head to more remote place over next week, Jaxx and I stop at the end of town at a really nice walkway over the Colorado river. Jaxx has a chance to get wet and play in river and then we hang out another few hours to let the guys get ahead of me. Trying to determine how far they can travel takes a few calculations and a touch of luck. Finally thinking they must be ahead of me. Jaxx and I start across Utah on I-70. It takes me up and across some incredible mountain views and in and out of cell range frequently. Just after a mountain pass I get a call from Mike. I take the exit so that I can answer the call. He says they are not going as far as they hoped and are headed for the next town a few hours away, Castle Dale, Utah. As I agree to meet them there and I research the GPS, it seems this was exactly the exit i had to take to get to them. If i had not pulled off or if they had called a few seconds later I would have had to do a 65 mile turn around to get the next exit and come back. Again and as always, He's Got This....
It's Castle Dale, Utah for the night a one hotel town, the Village Inn and nothing much else. As we are sitting outside the hotel on a picnic table, two more guys ride up. They are packed out and got on the trail in Colorado headed to Oregon. After introductions, we have Dave and David riding with us. We order pizza from across the street and sit out at the picnic table over pizza for dinner. These new guys are from Ohio and Michigan. The guy from Michigan knows mike's nephews, it is truly is a small world. So the new guys are not as skilled riders as my guys, but my guys give them some good advise and ask them to join them on the trail the next day. The young guy lance is still a day behind, we keep in touch to see that he is surviving.
Sept 12, 2018 Wednesday
Morning starts with walk to the maverick convenience store for coffee and breakfast. Small town life. As the guys load up on bikes, Eddie's won't start and they have to push it off to get it going. Let me just say having those extra two guys there to help was another divine intervention. He brought these 4 guys together just as extra hands were needed. As the day went on they were needed again due to a flat tire. God is Good! My day is spent getting new tires on the trailer, Mike suggested that I buy a new set before heading into several days of very remote areas. I had to go to a town about 30 miles north of our location. Rolled into a Big-O Tires, at 9am I ask the guy if he could get me tires and when, he said he could get me at 9:45, i said i would wait. He takes my
keys and Jaxx and I hang out at a picnic table and grassy area near by. Next thing I know he comes outside and says he has me done, I'm on my way by 9:35. We are headed to the border of Utah and Nevada. The guys route will have them riding north along this border for several days. We stop in Wendover, Utah a town that crosses the state line so you have casinos up to the state line then you are in Utah and no casinos. We stay at a Best Western and probably the best beds we've had the whole trip. The Bonneville Salt Flats are just outside of town and we find out that there are some races going on there tomorrow. The area is full of all kinds of vehicles, many will be running at the races.
Sept 13, 2018 Thursday
Figuring we will only be here once, the guys (all 4) decide to ride out to the Salt Flats to see what is going on. This is an incredible area where the land is totally flat for miles and covered in a hard salt. Was once a lake that dried up many millions of years ago and left this residue. We drop the truck off at the gate. I get on bike with mike and we go see the races. There are no stands, you just walk among all the vehicles and the builders as they wait to be called. They are categorized and racing against time. We meet and talk with a team, they have posted a speed of 480 and are back trying to break 500. Their driver is in his 70's. After a few hours we go back to the truck, I had fixings for a picnic lunch and the guys get loaded up to hit the trail. We are both going to be in remote areas both on the trail and the road. There is nothing in eastern Utah. We are headed to Delta Utah. Another small town and a night at the Days Inn. Dinner at the Mexican restaurant across the street and a nights sleep.
Sept 14, 2018 Friday
Lots of nothing, I think I can see for 50 miles in all directions and I don't see anyone. In 3 hours I might have passed 8 people. Roll into Tremonton, Utah and get rooms at the Western Inn. They even have food and water bowl in the room ready for Jaxx. We hear from the locals that the best food is at the bowling ally. And it was, best prime rib of the trip. go figure....
Sept 15, 2018 Saturday
More of the same.....we will cross into Idaho today, but southern Idaho looks alot like eastern and northern Utah. We will stay in Arco, ID. I check at the KOA thinking their camping cabins might be the best thing in the area, sold-out. Find a small place and it ends up having 2 bed little suites. Very old, cement wall, very basic, but a little room to spread out. I get the last 2 suites for us and the 2 Davids. The weather is acting like it wants to rain and the wind picks up. The guys get split up on trail and by the time all arrive, they are all mad at each other and fussing. Mike is upset and he and I go to dinner alone at a little grill a block away. Tempers cool by morning and after breakfast at same grill with all 4 guys, it seems everyone is ready to roll on.
Sept 16, 2018 Sunday
Going into the mountains of Idaho, weather is cooler and scenery is changing. Jaxx and I pass a river, I see a campground next to it and feel certain it will be a place I can get the truck and trailer into and most importantly out of. we hike by river for 45 minutes and Jaxx has time to swim. On the very curvy road to Featherville Resort, we have to wind our way around this beautiful reservoir. I find a boat ramp area that again i feel like i can get this truck in and out. Jaxx and I play at the reservoir most of the afternoon. Just as i get back on the road I see a "DETOUR" sign..... I take the detour. because the bridge ahead is out. Next I see a "Single Lane Only" sign, not good..... They have a signal light for traffic from only one direction and then a very narrow part of a road for the next 2 miles, I sure hope this is going where I need to go..... Finally, detour is over and I am about 10 miles from my destination. Not a town, only a 10 room inn, 1 gas pump on side of building that offers ice cream, a 4 table restaurant and a saloon. We are here! Weather is nice, guys roll in about 6 and have had a great day riding. Although Mike and Eddie had to take a detour because several of the bridges they needed to cross were out also. The 2 Davids cut off trail early and hit the roads to get there.
Sept 17, 2018 Monday
Taking a 1/2 day off.... I found a place only 5 miles up the road that offer hot springs and massage. I schedule 3 of the guys and myself a massage and all 5 of us enjoy the hot springs till about noon, i drag out enough munchies to make a lunch by the pool. After their massages we all hit the road. When we started out this morning it was about 40 degrees and the truck did not want to start. I thought everyone had rode off to the springs and was in a panic. Luckily, Eddie was still close by, we got the truck jumped off and he said to get a battery as i went through the next larger town. I found an O'Reilly's Auto Parts and mapped my way there. Missed one thing, when i pulled into the parking lot I found myself stuck with limited turn around space. So I went inside found a nice man to check my battery and turn my truck around. Sure enough needed a new battery, while standing there as guy installed battery my cell phone rings. It's an Idaho #, i almost didn't answer. It's Mike saying that Eddie had left his billfold on the back bumper of the truck. Do What? I have had to return through that same detour i took yesterday and i have gone down to the reservoir to let jaxx play and I have been on the highway for 60 miles. I step to back of truck and there is his billfold stuck between tailgate and bumper. He's Got This..... Our stop for the night is Idaho City, Idaho at the Inn in the Pines. A gorgeous 7 room inn build out of logs with very high end finishes, a gas firepit with seating outside. The guys beat me there and are already roasting their toes when i roll up.
Sept 18, 2018 Tuesday
Sept 19, 2018 Wednesday
Sept 20, 2018 Thursday
Sept 21, 2018 Friday
Sept 22, 2018 Saturday
Sept 23, 2018 Sunday
Sept 24, 2018 Monday
Sept 25, 2018 Tuesday
Sept 26, 2018 Wednesday