It is always a good sign when you sleep well in a hotel. After reading some in a rocker on the porch I was able to put in enough time before going to sleep so that all of you would have something to read as regards the first day of my adventure. Then off to the land of nod went I, waking up rested and ready to clean up, and then raid the complementary breakfast bar.
It was nice and cool when I brought my bags to the car. I set up the laptop to tell me my route for the day. The MS Streets & Trips with GPS has been terrific. If I decide to deviate from the route it expects to lead me on it informs me that I am “Off Route”. If I know what I’m doing, such as stopping for a meal or fuel, I ignore the warning and when I’m ready to get back on track I push the F3 key and it recalculates my directions and puts me back on course. Wonderful.
So I bid the hotel a fond farewell and headed off toward Alabama and my rendezvous with another museum. I had set up my travel preference to avoid the Interstates and that meant I would have a visual treat as I wound my way through Cherokee National Park and the domain of the Tennessee Valley Authority. There were white water rafting spots all over but this early in the morning there was very little traffic. It was deliciously cool and the road was made for a car like the Mitsubishi Evolution.
It went on for many miles full of spectacular views and tight turns on two-lane mountain road.
Eventually it had to end and I found myself out in the country on route 60. Just before leaving Tennessee I almost passed a spot on the side of the road where someone had been collecting old cars.
There were a couple of interesting cars that weren’t rusted shells. A Hudson and a Desoto.
That was it for that state and I crossed into Alabama heading for Leen next to Birmingham. There wasn’t much of interest. A lot of farm land broken up by small towns and clusters of homes close to the road mixed in with comercial buildings. I never saw so many Dollar General stores in my travels. It seemed like there would be one on one end of town and then you would see one on the other end of town, just before you left its limits. It was like the Starbucks of the south.
I made good time. I was getting close to Leen and started looking around for some place to get lunch. It was about thirty minutes after noon and I knew the after church crowd would be heading for food as well. I spotted a family restaurant on my side of the road and pulled in. It turned out to be a great place to eat. It was like a small cafeteria. You grabbed a tray and went up to the serving area that was about eight feet wide and you picked your items and a lady served your request. The food was great. The price was very reasonable and the service was just fine.
I fired up the Evolution and headed the last twenty miles or so. I was even happier that I had decided to eat where I did because the only choices after that were the typical franchises I would have to pick from back in the Raleigh area.
It took some winding around the roads to find the museum but once I found the entry road the drive in was spectacular. It seemed like it was about two miles of entry road and then you saw the museum itself. I parked, put the laptop in sleep mode, and walked toward the entrance.
As I walked from the car there was an intense sound of motorcycles buzzing around the track that is part of the museum. It is a 2.5 mile course and is laid out with two wheelers in mind. Today was evidently a track day.
I parted with ten dollars and was treated to a spectacular museum with an astounding number of motorcycles on display. But that’s not all – there were cars, too. It was just that there were so many bikes to see. The museum had four floors of exhibited bikes and cars as well as a basement area that is where the actual restorations take place. That area is only open for visitors on special event days.
With nearly a thousand motor vehicles to examine it took about three hours just to feel like I saw most of what there was. In the mean time the motorcycles were doing laps on the track.
It created quite the atmosphere for truly appreciating the vehicles on display.
Here are some of the ones I found really special:
This is the Britten – its design is breath taking. Its design incorporated many new materials and engineering approaches. It also is a work of art.
Notice that it has no frame.
Then there were the classic older bikes. One of my favorites is the Indian. There was a great rivalry between Harley Davidson and Indian and the people who owned them. The Indian was from Springfield, Massachusetts.
Here are some interesting examples of Indian motorcycles:
It is from 1932.
Here is another:
There was so much to see and enjoy. I could fill up all my storage on this site with photographs. This is an amazing collection and I haven’t shown you any of the race cars that are part of it. George Barber, the founder of this museum, raced Porsches in the 1960’s with over 60 first place wins. He also loves Lotus cars and has made sure that there are many in the collection. But his intent was to make sure that motorcycles and their history were appropriately represented and his efforts have resulted in what is likely the largest and most spectacular collection in the world.
This place was opened in 2005 after being moved from south of Birmingham. To have this museum along with a race track is a stroke of genius.
If you can ever make the trip this is one place that should not be missed.
Tomorrow I head for Tupelo, Mississippi, and the Tupelo Automobile Museum. I’ll keep you posted.