North By Northwest: A Solo Motorcycle Adventure from Georgia to Alaska (Day 3)

July 27, 2019

Day 3 – 6/30/19

Today would feature four states and (much to my surprise) another time zone. The first stop was the former Tennessee State Prison about 120 miles due north on I-65 and just outside of downtown Nashville. The Prison had been in operation from 1898 to 1992 and featured prominently in such classic films as Ernest Goes to Jail and lesser-known features like The Green Mile. Research suggested it was in a state of disrepair, and I hoped to get some drone photos and video. Everything went well, and I was pleased with the results.

I got back on I-65 for the one-hour ride to Bowling Green, Kentucky, and the National Corvette Museum. Corvettes have long been aspirational cars for me, but I haven’t taken the leap yet. The Museum is an amazing facility, with a world-class collection, as you would expect.

In February 2014, a 30-foot sinkhole opened up and swallowed eight Corvettes. The Museum staff has cleverly turned this disaster into a large exhibit, with some of the cars left in their damaged state.

Chevrolet has a neat option to take delivery of your new Corvette right at the Museum. I’ve seen videos of this on YouTube, and they really make the customer feel special.

As I was taking some exterior photos of the Museum, I found what appeared to be a wheel center cap from a BMW. Feeling a bit subversive, I placed it in the middle of the Corvette brick “coat of arms” roundabout. I wonder how long it took for someone to notice.

By now, it was getting into the early afternoon, but I still planned to swing by the former Indiana Army Ammunition Plant just across the Ohio River from Louisville. My GPS and iPhone were both showing an arrival time that seemed way off based on the distance to cover. Well, I forgot that half of Kentucky and most of Indiana is in the Eastern time zone, accounting for the perceived discrepancy. I’d get the hour back tomorrow crossing into Illinois.

The Indiana Army Ammunition Plant was actually three facilities built between 1941 and 1944 and manufactured smokeless powder and rocket propellant for the armed forces, with peak production during World War II and the Korean War. The last facility closed in 1972, and efforts were undertaken to repurpose or remediate the land and buildings. From Google Maps satellite imagery, it looked like there might still be some relics of the Plant, and my intent was to get as close as possible and take some drone photos and video. Unfortunately, traffic and roadwork on I-65, combined with sweltering heat, sapped my motivation to explore the area. I did make the detour to the site and rode around for a little while, but I couldn’t see anything resembling the Plant still standing. It’s possible that there are some remnants tucked away from the publicly accessible roads, but I couldn’t find a way back there.

I worked my way over to I-65 (again) for the estimated 30-minute ride to my hotel. I tried to make it quicker because of some very threatening clouds in that direction. As I exited the highway, the clouds looked even more menacing, like something you’d see in a storm chaser video just before the tornado began to form.

My routine is to gas up at the end of the riding day, but as the wind and lightning arrived, I decided to go straight to the hotel. There was a gas station right next door, so it would be an easy stop in the morning. About one minute after I parked under the hotel awning, the storm hit, and I was glad the Weather Gods had given me a pass this time.

The GoPro Hero 7 was still behaving un-heroically throughout the day. The only thing that seemed to work (most of the time) was to manually turn on the camera before riding, turn on the remote, and then just keep it on. That’s fine for about two hours until the battery runs down. I had a spare and could swap in the fresh one, but it’s not a great way to operate. The mounting position of the camera relatively close to the front fairing and bodywork prevented me from running a USB cable from my outlet to the camera for constant power. My last resort would be getting a new GoPro Smart Remote to replace my old two-button model. I’d give it one more day before gifting GoPro with any more of my hard-earned money.

One final photo for today, along with its backstory. I’d met renowned photographer and all-around amazing guy Jim Krantz on Day 12 of my Finding Trinity adventure in 2017. Jim has been a source of encouragement and inspiration with my drone photography, and he challenged me to step out of my comfort zone by taking photos of strangers on this trip. Challenge accepted.

Portrait caption: I ran into John in Bowling Green, and he said that he longs to return to Adak, Alaska.

Tomorrow, a museum and a ghost town (of sorts).

Total mileage: 340.9

Lodging: Hampton Inn, Scottsburg, Indiana