Everybody has a dream, that is a fact. Not everybody has the same dream. For instance my personal goal in life is to someday be free enough to travel the country camping, hiking, and riding motorcycles. It just so happens that my boyfriend Travis shared this dream and already had a van bought for just this purpose when I met him! It’s not exactly everyone’s cup of tea and many people think it’s a very odd idea but I happen to think a lot of things other people do are rather odd. So, let’s let our freak flags fly and enjoy whatever our idea of a happy life happens to be! To each their own!
I’ve been trying to get back to a place called Turkey Bay KY for the last 20 years and as luck would have it Travis had been planning to get there himself. It is a huge off road riding park in the Land Between The Lakes Recreation area not far from Murray KY.
So there we were discussing where to take a road trip after chatting for about 30 minutes the 1st night we met, I asked if he had ever been to Turkey Bay …one thing led to another and a month later I had a brand new bike, our Husqvarna’s were loaded in the back of the van, a stocked cooler between the seats, iphones full of music, and down the road we went!
My new 450 came from Keytime Motorsports in Warrens Wisconsin. Steve is a hell of a guy and an even better mechanic. He lowered the bike a few inches for me, modified the hand guards, rerouted the fuel filter for easier access, and hand checked every single bolt on the machine, paint marking them as he went along. After he was done fine-tuning the bike I had not a single concern as to whether not everything was spot on perfect, his attention to detail is rather magnificent.
This was the vans, as well as our, maiden voyage. No better way to get to know a vehicle or a person than to pile yourselves in it and hit the highway for a dozen or so hours! Turns out the van runs, rides, and drives spectacularly and gets great gas mileage! The 2 of us were damn near literally 2 peas in a pod and aside from the flat nothingness of Illinois passing by out the windows not a thing in life could have been better. As anyone who has ever driven through Illinois knows there is nothing at all note worthy about that stretch of the trip other than a very dedicated Harley fan who managed to match his truck to his bike and was proudly hauling it to warmer climates. We cruised along watching the passers by peek into the windows and smile at our pair of toys buckled into the back like kids in car seats. After 666.6 miles and several potty stops we arrived in Paducah for the night to rest up and be ready to ride in the morning.
We were up with the sun and more than ready to go! We pulled into Land Between the Lakes about 9 A.M. as soon as the bikes were out of the van I was changing into my new gear and FINALLY behind the bars of my new FE450! We took a slow trip down the main road and turned into the woods down a rocky path that opened up to countless trails! I was cruising in 2nd and 3rd Gear still figuring out where my controls were and suddenly I looked ahead and realized the path was coming to and end and there was no place to go but up! I downshifted turned the throttle back and up, up, and away we went! That was it, I was officially in love with my new machine it climbed the rocky washed out rutted hill like a champ! Later in the day that same hill would kick my ass but let’s leave that minor detail for a different paragraph. Travis was hot on my wheels with his 2-stroke ready to tear up some dirt so I told him to go ahead and I’d fumble around following behind as I got better acquainted with my Husky.
The trails were nothing shy of specfuckingtacular in every direction we turned. They are color coated for “Easy” “Hard” and “Careful you might die”…we took bits and pieces of each and I got well acquainted with the ground and a few small trees through out the morning. No major damage or problems just adjusting to my new bike and the area while figuring out which gear to climb hills in trying not to break my new engine while breaking it in and struggling for traction on the rocks. Or we could just say Jessie’s off-road skills could use some fine tuning! No excuses here just saying maaaaybe it wasn’t all my fault I crashed 6 times! The skies were greying up and starting to spit on us a bit…. not in a fun way, so we found our way back to the van which was way less difficult than Travis had thought it would be. The guy flys jets around the world but gets lost in the woods, not that I’m judging but it may or may not have taken him 7 or 8 trips to my house before he figured out how to get there without getting lost first. Ha Ha ok enough making fun of Travis…for now.
We sat at the van and had lunch and talked about how awesome this place and this day was. Then decided that the rain was going to hold off and we should take another ride! We headed down and around some new muddy territory went in circles a time or 3…Travis was leading so that may have been accidental. Then back up on top of the rocky hills and ridges we went! On the way up the 1st hill I was happy as hell in 2nd gear loving the power this bike was putting out and as I high sided a bit of a curve on the wash out path I came down into a pile of loose rocks and suddenly my bike was in the air off the trail and I was on the ground. OOOPS! This one hurt a bit and I was in no hurry to stand up or do much other than sit and catch my breath while analyzing exactly what in the hell had just taken place. It wasn’t too long and Travis was walking down the hill toward me asking if I was ok and taking pictures and video of my situation. The spot the bike was in definitely said, “You can’t get back up there from here.” So it would need to go down the little valley and back over to the trail and try the hill again. After a good 5 minutes of shaking off my sudden impact Travis hopped on the bike and slid it down the leaf and rock filled hill and climbed her to the top while I gathered my things and took a walk up to meet them. Some night and shining armors ride white horses mine just happens to ride a white motorcycle, who would have thought?!
We sat for a bit admiring the lakes and hills downing some water and Travis took my bike for a quick scoot down the trail just to see how he liked it. Then we were off and riding again this time in a few new directions on various colored trails. The day was threatening to storm on us once again and as the rain drops got bigger and harder to dodge we decided to find the van. It was coming down pretty good we were thinking the day was done but it was only about 1:30 and we were really hoping it wasn’t. Our wish came true the sky started to clear a bit just over one of the hills and within about 10 minutes it was barely sprinkling! Travis said, “1 more ride?” To which I replied, “Don’t threaten me with a good time!”
He had studied the trail map and discovered that there was a perimeter trail that was numbered and all yellow, (Easy) so we should be good to go incase the sky did let loose again. I wasn’t much for keeping my wheels under me after my crash earlier so easy was good to wind down my day on the new toy! Down the road, through the cricks, down the river bed, splashing through puddles, up the hills, and down the ridges we went! Round and round we’d go where we’d stop we didn’t really know! Travis must have popped 500 wheelies throughout the day, I learned that the 2-stroke throws rocks nicely when he cracks the throttle a bit. Yes I was not wearing a chest protector because I am smart. We only saw 4 other people out in the park all day which was fanfuckingtastic, the place was ours all 4800 acres of it!
We were back up by what was left of the old silo where you can see down to the highway and the bridge over the lakes when Travis wandered off into the woods and decided he wanted to give hillclimbing a try. There was a rather steep rock filled washout that led from the silo down to the main gravel road through the park and he wanted to give it a try. I stood at the top admiring the balls it takes to attempt a ride that technical and ready to film his victory or demise. The 1st run he made it about 3/4 of the way rocks tumbling down behind him as the bike dug in and he killed it in a not so fun spot to get turned around or continue heading uphill. The second run was a touch slower but he made it all the way to the top! I was a Sally and played spectator not willing to give it a try after my many wipeouts already that day.
We found our way back down to the bottom and rode back to the van deciding that the day could be done and we had had our fun! It waited until we were parked to begin raining and Travis did his best to stay dry loading bikes as I arranged the van to make room for them again. It was about 4 in the afternoon and we were dirty, wet, stinky, and starving but could not have been happier! We should have been exhausted but I think adrenalin was running way too high to realize anything of the sort.
Back at the hotel in Murray Kentucky we looked like quite the hot mess checking in and the desk clerk was more than helpful with cab and food information. We found our way to the room and began to defunk ourselves to be publicly acceptable. This is when I noticed the large amount of bruises up my knees to my inner thighs that were a wonderful array of colors… if we back up a minute to the part where we unloaded bikes. Travis asked if I wanted knee pads, (I giggled and thought there may be a hidden agenda in his question) since I couldn’t locate half of my gear before we left and I had of course, in classic Jessie style, declined his offer. I was now rethinking that decision as I stared at my battered limbs. I had certainly suffered worse and was in no way letting this effect my day but had a feeling I may be feeling a bit older than my 36ish years in the morning.
We cleaned up and phoned the desk to call us a cab to the local Sushi restaurant not realizing it was damn near across the street. We sat in the lobby discussing our day grinning ear to ear and soon the “cab” arrived. Now here was an experience. A mini van with a woman driver and a younger man in the passenger seat. One would assume mother and son but that did not seem to be the case. The kid had the seat reclined about as far back as it goes and all 6’4″ of Travis seemed to be a bit cramped folded up behind it. This didn’t stay the focus of our short ride for long though! Little did we know we had managed to catch a ride in a “Disco Taxi”! We were a block from the Hampton Inn sitting at a stop light when the driver asked if we would like the strobe light effects for the remainder of our journey. Well being new to this area we figured we should probably get the full experience so we said yes and she reached down between the front seats and clicked on a very colorful, well-lit, ball that put on quite a light show there in the mini van! This was shortly followed by all of us trying to figure out who was singing the song on the radio, we never did come to the actual answer because as soon as Travis threw out “Steel Foreskins” as a guess none of us could do anything but laugh. The cab ride was only about 5 minutes but it was extremely eventful!
We walked into Shogun Sushi and found a spot up at the bar. The Chef here was beyond entertaining and had quite a crush on Travis. I believe the conversation started with him saying, “You are Mucho Handsome!” Which was odd for a few reasons, 1-we were obviously there together and he was technically hitting in my boyfriend, 2-he was a Sushi chef appearing to be Asian and speaking Spanish, and 3-isn’t it customary to at least buy a drink for someone before using a pick up line?! Or maybe I’m just old-fashioned. Turns out the man was North Korean and one hell of a sushi maker! Travis ordered whatever he felt like making us and it was the best sushi either of us had ever tasted! I think it was somewhere around the 2nd dish Travis made our feisty, flirty, host blush just a bit. He asked us if we were from Murray and Travis replied, “No but we like it here, got in about an hour ago and already broke the hotel bed.” I believe the man was speechless.
If you ever find yourself killing time in Murray Kentucky I highly recommend Shogun! After dinner we decided to walk back to the hotel since it was less than 2 blocks away! But the cab ride to get there was well worth the $7, anywhere in Murray you need to go they will take you for 7 bucks in a disco van!
Needless to say 3/23 was an excellent day and we still had the whole weekend ahead! The adventures in the van will continue!