Today, we were pulling up stakes in West (By God) Virginia and heading for Hendersonville, North Carolina. As I hauled all the bags to the truck, I felt some nostalgia of the days when we traveled light and everything we carried would fit on a motorcycle. Then I realized that I really do like having all the extra stuff.
While I was waiting for the others, I took out my portable compressor and bumped the truck tires up to 35 PSI. A funny thing about the Avalanche is that the door plate calls for 30 PSI while the Silverado, with similar weight and identical tires, calls for 35. So let's see if this helps the fuel mileage.
The coffee and juice machines in the lobby weren't working because of the plumbing problems, so I had biscuits and gravy and Sandy made coffee in the room. I also took a picture of the trike outfit a gentleman from Phoenix rode in last night. Very pretty. He has been on the road two months, is not sure where he is from day to day, but wants to get home via the coolest (as in temperature) route possible. Humidity was new to him.
I wanted to get down to Virginia so I could fuel up with cheaper gas. The truck said I could make it but it would be close and I generally don't trust those vehicle computers when it gets near the edge. I took on five gallons at the station near the motel (at $3.68) on the way out. We were rolling at just after 9:00 AM.
Early on, we saw several police cars with one vehicle pulled over. Multiple officers were searching a vehicle while the couple who were driving it stood off to the side. We had to stop at a rest area near Camp Creek to check the bikes and give Gary and Dianne back our other GMRS radio. Gary has a set and we can hear them transmit quite clearly but they can't hear us. Soon, we were through the East River Mountain Tunnel to Virginia and the Big Walker Mountain Tunnel to Wytheville, where we stopped at the Travel Centers of America for fuel.
We left I-81 in Abingdon, Virginia and traveled south to the Tennessee border and US-421. This is a little back road I like to take. I call it a shortcut but it really doesn't save many miles, it is just more interesting. It also goes by Bristol Motor Speedway on its way to Johnson City. In Johnson City, we caught I-26 East (really south at this end) and followed it to Erwin where we got off at Exit 37. The rain had started in JC and stopped as we arrived in Erwin. We had lunch at the McDonald's where we are supposed to meet the gang at 11:00 AM Monday morning.
It started raining again as we left Erwin and started the climb to the ridge that forms the state line. It rained pretty hard in some spots so I decided to skip the usual stop at the lookout on the ridge. Maybe Monday. We drove on down the other side past three truck runoff ramps and, by the time we got to the mostly level Mars Hill area, the pavement was dry. But it was still sprinkling.
We followed I-26 through Asheville and got into Hendersonville about 3:00 PM. The Ramada was easy to find and had lots of room in the parking lot. Our rooms were right near the lobby with king beds.
The sky was clear when we arrived. After we hauled all the gear to the rooms, it started to rain. I asked if anyone wanted to go to Schroader's Honda to check out the bikes. The ladies declined, so Gary and I unhooked the Avalanche and went for a drive. The rain intensity picked up and I'm sure we saw some frogs choking on the way over.
Schroader's was the same as always. Very many Gold Wings. Also a row of F6B's. And the new Valkyrie. OK Terry, I see what you were saying. But for you, he also had a whole row of the of original Valkyries and one Rune. I picked up some new turn down exhaust tips since mine were rusting out. They also had a replacement micro-switch for the front brake cruise control interlock.
From Shroader's, I took Gary to Justice Cycle. CJ and his wife remembered our visit back in 2007 when they opened the shop late on a Saturday afternoon to help one of my riding partners who had taken a spike through his tire. They still have their hopped up garden tractor and have won some championships with it. Next year, it will be 50 years that they have been open in this location.
We got back to the hotel and found a Valk Interstate parked next to my trailer. That would be the trailer with the keys hanging in the door. I really need someone to follow me around and double check what I do.
I consulted Tripadvisor for supper recommendations. It seems the top two eateries in this town are bakeries. The third rated place was Binion's Roadhouse, a mere mile away. We went over and were seated immediately. The food was all they said it was. I had brisket, coleslaw and baked beans. Sandy had a half rack of ribs, slaw and fries. Gary downed a whole rack of ribs and baked potato while Dianne had a small (5 ounce) sirloin and another baked spud. Sandy and I shared blackberry cobbler and ice cream for dessert. I would do it again.
One interesting thing about Binion's is that they have what they claim is Popcorn Sutton's last still. For those who know about Marvin 'Popcorn' Sutton, this is significant. Popcorn was the quintessential moonshiner and, before his death, used to bring shine to the VROC SEVROC gathering in Maggie Valley.
After supper, we returned to the hotel where the ladies turned in right away. I stayed up and finished another blog day before quitting for the night. I was pleased to see comments on my last blog posts from Mark Faulkner. He did the Ballad of the Gap video that I enjoyed so much and played for Gary and Dianne. He was pleased that we liked it and also commented on our Back Of The Dragon ride.
Today's Route (253 Avalanche miles):