Western Traveler

East Coast Motorcycle Trip, 1977

Apparently 1977 was a big year for me “stretching my legs” to start traveling.  For most of my life, I had stayed close to home, only taking a few family vacations in the early years.  But in August of 1977 I was facing my final semester in college and decided it was time to see the world a bit more, and that is what lead to my first-ever trip to the Atlantic Ocean.

I left my job at Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park two weeks before the end of the season and returned to Bowling Green, Kentucky to get set up for my final round of classes.  I had an almost brand new Kawasaki F7 motorcycle (college graduation present from my Dad) and thought it would be fun to see the ocean.  It was a toss-up between driving sound to the Gulf, or east to the Atlantic, which is what I decided to do as I thought it’d be cooler to see the “real” ocean vs. “just” the Gulf Coast.  With age and experience in the rear view mirror, I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re BOTH fantastic destinations, equal in all respects. I loaded up my bike with a suitcase and backpack wrapped in a trash bag, attached to the rear luggage rack with bungee cords and headed out early to get as many miles under my belt on the first day as I could.  The day was August 16th, which was on a Tuesday.

You’re probably wondering why I’d remember that exact date, and I’ll explain shortly.  By the end of the day I ended up in Greensboro, North Carolina.  After eating supper at a local McDonald’s I grabbed a hotel room (my first time ever) and while watching the news found out that Elvis Presley had just died that same afternoon while I was on the road.   That is how I know the exact first day of my trip.  Like everybody else who loves music I mourned the death of this great performer.

The next day I rolled out, determined to see the ocean by day’s end.  I ended up in Atlantic Beach and once there spent a couple of hours lounging on benches, walking through the sand, just listening to, and smelling the ocean, a first for me.

It was a hot August day, people were everywhere and I thoroughly enjoyed this place, which was a whole new world to me.  There was a massive bathhouse, a boardwalk, huge beach, and sand dunes, well worth the time and effort I’d made to get there.

As much as I hated to leave, I got back on the road early enough to get me all the way back to Ashville, North Carolina which is where I spent the night.

The next morning after resting up, I decided to take a bit of a detour and roll through some of the Blue Ridge Parkway so I could take in some mountain scenery on my way back to Bowling Green.  I already knew that I’d have at least a few extra hours to get home before dark, so this allowed me to sightsee a bit more than originally planned.

Who knew when I’d have time or money for another vacation?  The weather was perfect for a ride and I took full advantage of it.  I loved cruising the highways of the Blue Ridge and I-40, pulling off at several overlooks just to make the most of the day.

I rolled back into Bowling Green as dusk set in, unloaded my Kawasaki and settled in for my final days at WKU.  One funny side note to all this, the next morning I noticed that my bike was making some very strange noises so I went to the local dealership and found that my sprockets has worn down to tiny nubs.  I was lucky to have gotten home without being stranded on the road.  Clearly, everything went my way on this one.

Last modified on: March 12th 2021.
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