#55 Hell's Half Acre at Stones River

Hell's Half Acre in Stones River National Battlefield

October 23, 2006
206 miles

Since I wasn't looking forward to a long, cold day like yesterday, though the weather channel was predicting it. I spent the early morning writing out some postcards and wishing the weather to warm up before I ventured forth. When it became apparent that the best I was going to get was 42 degrees, I started packing up and got on the road just before 10am.

I have my long johns on and an extra silk bandana around my neck (which makes three). I'm wearing my mesh pants under my Ballistic pants and two pair of socks. I looked and looked for my glove liners, but couldn't find them. I have pulled out my heavier gortex gloves from deep in a saddlebag. It's as ready as I'm going to get.

And what do you know... less than 10 miles from the motel, I pass Bumpas Harley Davidson. I pull in...even Harley riders are smart enough to wear glove liners. Maybe I can pick up some. Success! The salesperson finally found a pair that hadn't been put out on the racks yet. Sold!

A couple more miles down the road, I find my first stop. I like these glove liners...I can't even feel the cold now. Of course, it's only been a couple miles going under 40mph. I guess that isn't the most challenging conditions...even if it's overcast and 42 degrees.

Arriving at Stones River National Battlefield, location of battles fought in December 1862 and January 1863.

I go inside the visitor center to get stamps, get a map of the park, and to see the exhibits. When I come out, I'm thinking it's colder. But may be the warmth from inside that's throwing me off.
Since the park loop is a short 2+ miles, I decide to leave the helmet off. A third of a mile into the park, I'm regretting it. It's a cold biting wind without a cushion-filled hard shell surrounding your head!

A mile into my tour, I can't believe it... It's raining. And a cold, stinging rain it is! Sorry there's not more pictures of the park loop, but you understand. Cold rain kinda ruins to mood for picture-taking.
Stamps available at Stones River NB.

This field beyond Fleeter is an area where heavy fighting ensued and continued all day.
At the end of the battle it was named "Hell's Half Acre" by those that fought there.

Another view of the battlefield area.

This was another location of severe fighting and the loss of many lives --the fight to control Round Forest.

The name paints the picture of what the fighting was like in the "Slaughter Pen."
The rain stopped as I rode out of the park. Let's see if my luck holds...
Leaving the park, ready to get some miles on...
You can see the rain on my windshield. I thinking I might need a bigger one if I intend to ride in weather cooler than 50 degrees.

Oh, and yes, that is the direction I'm headed...the direction of the dark and looming clouds to the left.
The clouds thinned just enough to shed some light on this beautifully colored tree as I was passing by. Looks especially impressive with the dark blue sky as a backdrop.

But as you can see, I'm not heading into very promising territory.

I ended up traveling over 200 miles today, but for most of it I thought the fingers on my throttle hand wear about to freeze off. Every few miles, I can put my left hand down on the handy heater that Fleeter provides, but the right hand it too busy doing its job. At every light or any other time I'm not accelerating, I jab that throttle hand down on the engine to soak in some warmth and make sure I still have feeling there.

About 50 miles down the road I'm thinking this is a great road...maybe I can come back and ride it again when it's a bit warmer. At about 100 miles down the road, I saw a bank sign that said it was 38 degrees outside. I took this into consideration as I continued down a nice back road- a very nice road... wish I'd been able to enjoy it more. I'm thinking real hard about altering my route and just heading back to the Interstate (I40) and looking for a motel. As if I may need a bit more help in making that decision, it started to snow. Just a few flurries, but, no doubt, it was snowing on me as I rode Fleeter down a back road in Tennessee in October.

I came to a small intersection of a town...you know the kind... One 4-way stop, two convenient stores and maybe an automotive repair shop. I pulled in for fuel and to weigh my options...and to warm up a bit. Maybe I'll think better when I've had a cup of coffee and thawed some brain cells.
You see, I think the little frozen cells in my fingers were traveling up to my brain trying to give some sort of message...I just couldn't quite figure it out.

As I pumped gas, I glanced into the store... Standing near the little booth and looking my way were 3-4 old farmer-looking fellows in their overalls and gimme caps looking out at me...I'm sure they were trying to figure out just what kind of fool guy is out riding a motorcycle in this weather. I bet they wouldn't even have been out in their cabin tractors if there were crops to be harvested. I could see the look on their faces that said all this...through the little snow flurries.

After pumping the gas, I pulled off my helmet and walked in. I didn't shy away from the question in the air...
I pronounced, as I walked in the door, "Must take a fool to be out riding on a motorcycle in this kind of weather!"
Well, that took them a bit off-guard. The comment or the fact that that "fool guy" was a girl! Either way, they agreed with me and all but one, said bye as they headed on out to their trucks. All but the elder of the bunch...farmer Bobby. He sat down at the booth with me while I drank my coffee and we talked about the weather (he said it was 37 degrees), the snap bean crop, and the price of field corn. About 20 minutes later when I'd finished my coffee and didn't have anymore to add to the conversation about corn, I decided to head towards the freeway. Bobby thought that was a good idea. His opinion was that I needed to get off those twisty back roads in this kind of weather. He wished me well and told me to be careful as I walked out the door pulling my gloves back on.

About 70 miles later, I found the place I thought I needed to me for the night. Got unpacked and took a hot shower.

I wonder what tomorrow's weather will be like... Time to turn on the weather channel.

Next: Smoky Mountains are calling me...

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