The ladies were set to visit The Purple Store at 11:00 and we could virtually guarantee that we would not be back from Bryson by then. Sandy and Carlene opted to stay and go with the ladies while Willie and I trekked over the ridge with the guys. This turned out to be a very important ride for me.
Southern Draw rolled out with most of the riders at 9:00. Willie and I weren't quite ready and neither was Phillip. We were not far behind and I pushed it to close the gap. As we climbed to Soco Gap behind a red Kia, we saw the end of the lead group. I planned to pass the Kia when we reached the passing lane and drop in behind them, but the leader must have realized we weren't with them, because he pulled over just before the extra lane. The Kia went on by and so did we. I checked up, the leaders pulled out and I ended up in the third spot behind Southern Draw and Thumper, both locals.
The important part started at this point. I talk often about vertigo and how careful I have to be on the twisty roads. In my hurry to get going, I left my polarized clip-on sunglasses in the room. Absent these glasses, I found myself winding down the mountainside without a hint of vision or balance problems. I was getting into the corners like I haven't done in years and enjoying every moment. This was to continue all day. It looks like the Polaroids have been my worst enemy. I will be ordering some regular sunglasses right away.
As we approached Cherokee, Southern Draw turned left onto something called Old Mission Road. We followed it a short way and then turned right on Olivet Church Road, which twisted and would its way to US 441. A short way down 441, we turned right onto Shoal Creek Road, which was as crooked as a New York banker and brought us to 19A near Whittier. We rejoined US 19 right by Two Rivers Lodge. This route was both a hoot to ride (remember my newfound confidence) and bypassed the traffic lights and tourists of Cherokee.
Everett Street, the main street of Bryson City, was busy but we found parking spaces for everyone. The Diner was full as well but they had us all seated in no time. Our server was excellent. I had biscuits and gravy with hash browns, scrambled eggs and country ham. I still can't figure out why I can't lose any weight....
After we were done eating, the group headed for the Draw residence. The road to get here is not as long as the Dragon, but it is every bit as technical. It was a lovely house except for the gravel driveway.
The reason SD wanted me to come up here was because he knew I liked trains, especially railroad models. His neighbor, known as Uncle Chuck, had an outbuilding dedicated to O Scale tinplate, particularly Lionel. This was chock full of collectibles and vignettes that he had modeled. It was fascinating.
There was also a flock of wild turkeys wandering around the back yard. Apparently, turkey season had just ended.
While the rest of the crew went straight back to Maggie Valley, Willie and I stopped at Two Rivers Lodge. Sandy and I will be moving over there on Sunday. Blain was there, as was his brother Pappy. Pappy was a VROCer we have known for many years and, after he introduced us to Blain and Kathy, we have used Two Rivers as our Smoky Mountain base any time we are here outside SEVROC. In fact, this was the home of the VROC Wolfman's Wandering Rally in 2014.
Coming back over US 19, we caught up to two slower vehicles. When we reached the second passing lane, the second car moved to the right but the lead car stayed in the left lane. He did this despite the sign directing slow traffic to keep right, flashing GoldWing high beams in his mirrors and extended blasts of my horn. I guess he didn't consider himself slow. I did, and not just physically. We passed him on the right.
Back at the motel (I seem to say that a lot) the ladies told us about their visit to the Purple Store. We told them about our adventures. Today was the best riding day I have had in years and I was in a very pleasant mood.
Blondy came by and said Butts on the Creek at 5:30. This was a BBQ place we had never visited due to its very nasty parking lot, all slopes and dirt. But we were looking for new experiences so we decided the Equinox probably wouldn't flip over. We offered Willie and Carlene a ride because Willie confided in me that the gravel at SD's had bothered him almost as much as it bothered me.
We saw Blondy and company pull out just after 5:00. They shouted they were really hungry as they went past. It turned out that the 5:30 crowd consisted of the four of us plus Toby Tyler. The food was interesting. I'm not sure I would go with beef brisket burnt ends again, but the rest of it was great.
This was the last evening and everyone was pretty mellow, waiting for the draws and the final fire.
Mikey was making a final round selling raffle tickets. Riders of Kawasaki, an arm of Kawasaki Motor Company, sent a number of prizes to be drawn for. Then one ticket would be pulled and the lucky winner would receive 50% of the proceeds. The balance would go to the Waynesville PD K9 unit, who were already on site.
The drawing began. We won nothing. Sometimes it goes like that. Happy winners were getting their booty left and right. Finally, it came time to draw for the money. A ticket was pulled by one of the K9 officers and Blondy won $348. Mikey handed the other half to the policeman. Then Blondy handed him her winnings in traditional VROC style. This year was different, though, as individuals started coming forward and adding money to the pile. When all was said and done, we had given $1,200 to the cause.
After the presentation of the proceeds, Mikey called chief organizer Jax up. In recognition of his years of keeping SEVROC going, Mikey's wife Linda had prepared a quilt made of SEVROC shirts from all different years donated by various members. It was an awesome gift.
After all the presentations, the K9 handlers showed their dogs. Valor was a Malinois who specialized in drugs and explosives. Luke was a German shepherd who worked patrols and was skilled in attack. Luke showed why it was not a good idea to fail to cooperate with a K9 officer.
The officers were told that they were welcome at our gatherings any time , although one voice from the back shouted "Leave the dogs at home!". I can't imagine why anyone would mind having a drug sniffing dog hanging around.....
The rest of the evening was quiet. It as always a bit sad when we all have to go our separate ways. Many goodbyes were said because some people were hitting the road early in the morning.
The weather forecast looks horrible for tomorrow. We are only moving about thirty miles down the road in a trailer, but almost everyone else has some distance to go. The rain started about 10:00 PM but I had already been in the room for a while. We went to bed not long after.
Today's Route (59 motorcycle miles):