Saturday, February 11, 2017

Great Smoky Mountains - April 1978

The only reason I know the dates from this old trip are because they're written on the Kodachrome slides; it was Friday the 21st that I left the Twin Cities, the Smokies and Washington D.C my destinations.  It was going to be another trip on the good ol' 1975 Honda CB750.

My riding started out near where we currently happen to live....first the hayfields, pastures, fencelines etc. on the Uncles' farm but it didn't take long before roads that really went somewhere were being 'sampled'.  Those rides were summer rides when my brother and I were spending our summers on the farm.  After my high school afternoons but before evening part time jobs, rides were being enjoyed within a 30 mile radius.  The summer after I graduated (brother's Junior summer) he and I headed to Texas.  We never made it that far but we did spend a couple of nights in Arkansas.  He rode his '70 500cc Suzuki Titan and I was on my '1970 Sportster.

A year or so later I no longer owned the Sportster (dad and I had traded) and the trips were gaining distance and frequency.

Here's a shot of Lake Pepin from the Wisconsin side, a common ride/destination even way back then.  I'm typing this post from a location tucked in the valley just behind that bluff on the right, the Minnesota side of the Mississippi River.

I spent that first night in Wyalusing State Park, high on the bluff at the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi River.

Still some April ice in the hidden areas below the bluffs......

"My" Rest Stop just outside of Galena, and I stopped here on OUR way south.

Near Hannibal, MO a destination of more than one of my weekend rides.

I happily and respectfully blame dad's dad and Mr. Sam Clemens for a good portion of my wanderlust and love affair with the Big River.  Life On The Mississippi was essentially a guide book of mine during those years.  The tugs, barges and what seemed like an almost ideal life eventually found me a year or so sitting in the Maritime Union office in St. Louis waiting for a shot at working one of the barge crews.

It never happened but I've always wondered.....

My next night out at the Land Between The Lakes.....Kentucky Lake on the Tennessee River.  It's funny...what I remember the most about this campsite was the brandy at sunset....

In the bowels of the Kentucky dam....

Something much older.....

Field Trip day at the Visitor Center......

I've never really been a student of the Civil War but there was no lack of exposure to things 1860's on my trip.

It struck me as I was processing these old slide that the time spent photographing sheep and bison was a coincidence....once we were on the farm, our neighbor had a herd of these prairie beasts and as the kids were moving through 4H, we had quite a flock of sheep, sheep I had to attend Shearing School to harvest fleeces for Peg's spinning wheel.

I don't remember the ISO of my film in the OM-1 (200??) camera but these photos remind me of the number of flash photos that I took, something I almost never do these days with my digital units.

A Ford just like the one I worked the soil with, here this one is working river currents.

This little fella was truly a pest......

Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, the KY and VA border.....

The Tri-State Marker, KY, TN and VA

Insect control......

The Honda in the fog.......

I hiked up to Mt. Pisgah and the weather was crazy.....but exciting.

My shadow.....

That evening I sent a Postcard back to my grandparents in Wisconsin......

I don't remember where this campsite was but it was here that I met Christopher, hitch-hiking from St. Johns, N.F.  Along the Parkways with their higher elevation, Spring was way behind.  Down in the valleys, spring was very much in progress.  Christopher and I rode down to the Winchester Apple Blossom Festival and after spending a couple of days with my new Newfoundland friend, the seeds had been planted for my trip to the Maritime's the following year.

The Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester.....It was a couple of years later that friends introduced me to Blossom Dearie at a small jazz club in Wisconsin.  One of the L.P. albums she offered for sale that evening was Winchester In Apple Blossom Time and I brought that double album home, it continues to be one of my treasured records.

I planned to visit the D.C. area and decided to camp at the Manassas Battlefield Park and commute from there into the District.

We sat in the gallery while the Senate was in session.....I distinctly remember Inouye, Moynihan, Kennedy, Proxmire.......  An very memorable experience!

While I was up in the Washington Monument, there were tornadoes around the Manassas area; no damage to my tent or the campground.

It was an incredible trip....did a lot of hiking along the wilder areas to the West and I'm sure put a bunch of miles exploring as many of the buildings on The Mall that I could.  What I think I remember was 2 long days of riding to get home.  I know I did the PA Turnpike and wasn't very impressed. :)


  1. An incredible trip as a young adult. There is history with the floppy hats-now I know!
    Been waiting for this post and really enjoyed it.
    April 1978 I bought a new KZ 750 with adventure in mind. Your adventures whether old or new inspire me. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Eric, that hat saw some very remote and wild places....our nation's capitol seldom sees anything like that :)

      Most of my trips up until that time had been West; this one was a new beginning.

  2. Looks like yet another great Cooper adventure, as always, envious of those who do vs those of us who think it's more important to stay, only to look back and realize it wasn't

    1. rmo, it was a trip with many new things, most of which I was eager and hungry for....a gratifying mix.

  3. What a lovely trip indeed, Doug, and a great set of pictures to boot. The quality is those slides is still pretty good, and I like the fact that you not only documented your journey visually but also threw in some selfies for good measure. Thank you for taking me along traveling through time and your memories.

    1. Sonja, thank you! I should take more time cropping the edges of the film out but I get too lazy, don't take the time and try to get my Posts accomplished in reasonable time. It's fun to go back through the old images; they certainly come to life in my head.

  4. Epic trip! Interesting, isn't it, what catches our eye and camera back then and now...

    1. Dom, those thoughts have been considered here as well. Habits, trends, things I saw and see....