the official ride - 3rd saturday in september
+ the rides before and after
One could argue that the Trail of Tears ride begins on the Monday before the day of the official ride, the third saturday in September. This year, once again, a group of riders left texas, on that monday before the official ride, to join the official trail of tears commemorative motorcycle ride in Bridgeport. This ride, from Texas to cherokee, nc, is called the louis hutton memorial ride, in honor of a long time supporter of the ride. This group traveled from San Antonio and rode the natchez trace parkway from its origin in natchez louisiana for 380 miles all the way to Tennessee. Then they rode the Cherohala skyway from Tellico Plains, the tail of the dragon at Deal's Gap and then made their way into cherokee. More info on the LHMR can be found here.
more pictures from that ride can be seen here.
A few days later a group of riders left out of Bridgeport Led by Ike moore, org Prez, on thursday morning for the annual ride to cherokee. Just before arriving in cherokee the rain started to fall. the rain was a bit heavy at first but then tapered off and finally stopped after a few hours. Some of the gathering group stayed at the coolwaters motel, run by ned, a native american and long time supporter of the ride. And some stayed at the Rolling Hills lodge. the two groups met up at the Cherokee fairgrounds and departed for historic Ross's landing on friday morning.
several newspaper interviews of riders were conducted on the route. One of those was by larry griffin of the smoky mountain times. That article can be viewed here.
article by kevin taylor for the decatur daily can be read here.
waff 48 news video
whnt news 19 article and video
City of huntsville traffic advisory for the trail of tears ride
Alabama mountain lakes tourist association piece
jackson county sentinel article
the madison record article
after a brief stop at ross's landing the riders continued on to bridgeport for the kick-off party. the kickoff party was, as usual, a festive scene with the usual good food, vendors and riders and visitors had the opportunity to walk around and greet old friends. As usual, our good friend and ride supporter, andy 'barney fine' woods was there. barney is a good friend of the ride and a great brother.
more photos from the friday ride can be seen here.
The official ride still had a very large number of riders that were willing to brave the rain, or as organizer Ike Moore calls it, 'the tears of our forefathers'. At times our forefathers were weeping hard. but this rides is a matter of devotion because of its great importance. and those that ride it are always bound together by their committment. so we braved the weather in the morning and found ourselves at redstone Harley Davidson under cloudy but clearer skies. a delicious lunch was enjoyed listening to the live entertainment before we continued on to Waterloo. By the time we got to redstone hd the sun was out and the rest of the ride to waterloo was good. we arrived in waterloo at the park where the pow wow is held and enjoyed the Indian dancing, food and drink vendors, and the many vendors of Native american crafts and biker goods.
Before heading to the Coldwater inn for the night the organizers and some riders had dinner in muscle shoals at the Juicy Seafood restaurant. The texas riders decided to visit the famous rattlesnake Saloon.
In the morning we headed for Spring Park to gather and begin the ride to searcy arkansas where we stayed at the la quinta for our first night on the way to tahlequah oklahoma. The ride took us out of alabama and on to memphis Tennessee where we stopped for lunch at the east end bar and grill. The grill is a favorite stop in memphis where they always treat us well. after lunch we departed for searcy being escorted out of town by no less than 18 of Memphis's finest motor patrol officers who did an incredible job of getting us on our way (despite some minor snafus).
in the morning we left searcy for the ride to fayetteville where we stayed at the hampton inn.
Tuesday morning we left fayetteville en route to Tahlequah where we were greeted by chief of staff Corey Bunch who gave us a warm welcome and a bit of an overview of current affairs. We also received a blessing from Cherokee Nation's spiritual leader Crosslin Smith.
The ceremony included a beautiful and delicious snack which some even took home with them because they were too pretty to eat. Afterwards we all said our goodbyes to friends we've made on the journey, looking forward to being reunited again next year for the 31st annual trail of tears commemorative ride.
our deepest and most sincere thanks to all those that particpated in the ride, especially to those that joined for the entire ride from cherokee, nc. to Tahlequah, ok. if you haven't made the entire ride with us, please consider making plans to join us next year for this most unique, inspiring, and important ride to bring remembrance to the trail of tears.
whether it rains or shines the annual trail of tears commemorative ride goes on. and those that ride it are fulfilling a 'duty' to insure that this event in history is remembered and that its remembrance will serve to provide perspective, reconciliation, and direction for our future.