Hey everybody, this is Allen Butler again from the Helmet Center, and today we’re talking with Chad Carpenter, who’s got a wonderful adventure about the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Blue Ridge Adventure. What do we call this thing, Chad? Tell me.
Chad: I think the actual term is called the Blue Ridge Parkway, but I’m sure they won’t hold it against you.
Allen: Gotcha, gotcha. So this is awesome to get to chat with you, buddy. I appreciate it, man. So tell me a little bit. How would you put in a nutshell what this journey is about?
Chad: This is a journey that my sister and I went on. She’s retired, so she has more time to ride her motorcycle. She has a Ninja 1000 sports bike. I’m on a 2016 Indian Roadmaster. Beautiful. And she has more time to go see parts of the United States. Yeah, I’m still a working stiff, so this adventure was something to put check marks in a bucket list, to see the Blue Ridge Parkway, to see Nashville, Tennessee, and Natchez Trace. I had never heard of it, but my sister was adamant, for a good reason, to go that road. Is this a summer adventure?
Allen: Yes, yeah, we did it, I think, in June.
Chad: Right around June or so. And approximately what year is this, what time frame?
Allen: That’s a great question. 2022.
Chad: So that’s fairly recent. Nice, nice. What did you think of Tennessee? Had you been there before?
Allen: No, I had never been there before. I enjoyed it. I didn’t stay very long. For logistics reasons, I had to ship my motorcycle in advance to Tennessee, and then I took a flight with my helmet underneath as carry-on and a backpack, hoping the bike would be in storage and hoping I could get a cab there, and hoping the place would let me in.
Chad: So you were flying by the seat of your pants?
Allen: 100%. That’s part of doing this; it’s the adventure that makes it an adventure. Yep, that’s what makes memorable stories. Awesome. So you get to Nashville, and your bike was okay? Everything worked out alright?
Allen: It started up and was awesome. As an Arizona native, I was not used to a thing they pronounce as “humidity.” A lot of fluid started coming out of me that I was not used to, me being an Arizona native and used to dry climates.
Chad: And something called “green,” right? Yeah, green. They have trees and bushes. Oh, that’s awesome. So, today, what was the adventure like? Were you flying to Nashville, and your bike is there, ready to go, and your sister’s there with her bike?
Allen: Actually, for us, I got to Nashville, and my sister met me, I think, in Richmond, Virginia, one of the earlier parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The intent was for me to fly out, I was going to ride on my bike for just a few days to kind of get back in the groove, take work mode and uninstall it from my mind, and get into life, if you will, and ride your bike. So we met there at the Blue Ridge, and from there, we connected, gossiped, shared stories, rested for a day, and then we rode together as a team, starting on the Blue Ridge Parkway, heading west with the rule being no freeways, only local roads and highways.
Chad: Nice, to head out west. You had 14 days to do however many miles that is. What states did you travel through?
Allen: We started off in Tennessee, probably went through South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. I’m trying to think; I don’t know if we hit Arkansas or through Louisiana.
Chad: So you went full on the southern route. Did you take the… not I-10 because you don’t want to be on a major highway like that, but it sounds like you went through quite a few states. Which state would you say was the most interesting, most beautiful, most accommodating?
Allen: You know, to be honest, it’s only fair because I got a sample, so I can’t put a nail on each one. Each one had a little bit of difference to it that I enjoyed. Texas is a large state, so it was beautiful, hills at one part and then dry and desolate at another part, and it’s, I’ll be honest, I’m gonna give you, I can’t give you a definitive answer. Each one was just a little bit different and enjoyable nonetheless.
Chad: No kidding, man. No kidding. What was a particular challenge that you and your sister faced on this Southern journey?
Allen: There was one instance, I want to say we were close in Texas, and we’re at a stop early on our Texas journey. We’re about ready to leave the thing called “green” and we’re starting it into an area that typically is brown and flat. The tire on my motorcycle was just starting to show the wear bars, and I said, “You know, hot asphalt, we’re going to be hitting it at higher speeds for a long period. I consider tires a safety equipment. I’ll spend any amount of money to get it squared away.” So I’m calling motorcycle dealerships that night before, and it’s interesting, some of the dealerships would say, “Yeah, I’ve got a tire. I can see you in four days,” and I said, “No, I’m on a trip. I have a deadline. Can you help a brother out?” And they said, “Maybe two hours early than three days, two and a half days.” So yeah, I was able to find a location that said, “No problem. You’re on a trip; you take top priority.” Wonderful. The catch is I had to drive two hours on the interstate back east to get to the store, be there for half a day, and my sister went out on a trip going westbound, and then I would head interstate at very legal, not speeding speeds, to try and catch up with her.
Chad: I believe you. I believe you 100%. I was a law-abiding citizen. What was fascinating to me was I was at this store, this motorcycle Indian dealership, and Indian other Japanese sport bikes, and they also had chainsaws and ATVs and deer feeders, and they also sold firearms. Did not expect walking into this one.
Allen: So for somebody who might be thinking, our viewers who might be thinking about that, it’d be pretty awesome to do, I always like to ask this question. What do you wish you’d done differently? Did anything come up that you’re like, “I could have planned better for that”? Maybe a little nugget of wisdom for somebody who wants to try this.
Chad: Maybe check your tires a little bit more carefully. There was plenty of wear on there, to be honest. My philosophy is, you know, I’m home, I’m safe, I’m not hurt, and I hold no regrets. So choices made or not made, I don’t hold any regrets. I will say that I take with me a piece of advice that I share with others, and I learned this from my father, who was in the Air Force service for 30 years: “When in Rome, do as the Romans.” So I’m traveling through the South, there are a lot of varieties of cultures and people, different ideas and different ideologies, and that’s what makes America great. But I know enough to walk there, and I’m in their backyard, enjoying their lovely hospitality, and my job is to smile, be polite, and just enjoy the view and enjoy the friendly people.
Chad: That’s a great piece of wisdom. I like that a lot. Wherever you go, fit in, don’t be a foreigner; just pretend like you belong there, and you’ll get along just fine.
Allen: 100%. And I had a few people who would come up to me and they would see my Arizona license plates, and they would look at the motorcycle and start a conversation. And not to sound arrogant or boastful, but there was a part of me that said, “Hey, I want to come across as kind and as polite as possible to put on a little bit of a good show or make a good presentation to say, ‘Hey, we’re just as nice as you are over on the west coast, where we have brown and you have green.’
Chad: Absolutely. It’s very nice. I got a quick question for you before we go. Is that BoJack Horseman over your shoulder there?
Allen: That is, according to copyright infringement, it’s close enough, not Bojangles. I love those images behind you. Those are delightful. Fantastic advice. Hey, Chad, it’s been a delight, as always, chatting with you. I appreciate you very much coming on and talking with us about your stories. Hopefully, people can be inspired and want to dust off that ride and get out there and do something. Any parting wisdom for our audience? You’re a bucket full of wisdom, Chad, and you’ve been delightful.
Chad: I hope you have a great rest of your day, and we’ll talk again soon. Take care, all right. Bye-bye.