Thursday, June 02, 2005

Fayetteville West Virginia to Stecoah North Carolina

Today dawned with a light and steady rain drizzling down, but it was fairly warm. The camper didn’t leak. This would be a good test to see how tear down of the new trailer would work in less than ideal conditions. And it worked great. All the bedding and gear was arranged inside and then we put on our rain suits, climbed out and folded it down. The big trailer cover was left inside for simplicity. No fuss, no muss. We hooked the trailer up and got back up on Highway 19 southbound.

After a quick breakfast in Beckley and a forecast of steady rain and high winds, we pushed on down I-77. We had a couple of respites from the rain, but only as we were going through the East River Mountain and Big Walker Mountain Tunnels. At Wytheville, Virginia, we swung southwest on I-81 towards Tennessee and the winds were now at our back. Seems like we had been here before. Oh yes, about a month ago.

We stopped for a snack in Abingdon Virginia as the rain stopped but, by the time we had finished, it caught us. We departed the Interstate southbound on back roads I know that wander the countryside and take us past Bristol Motor Speedway to Johnson City Tennessee. The weather improved and the roads dried as we connected with the new Interstate 26 towards North Carolina. This highway winds its way up over a mountain range that marks the border between the states and on the downgrade we stopped again at the new visitor center.

Shortly after we pulled out, what will hopefully be the incident of the summer occurred. I don’t know if I have described how the trailer works but it flips out lengthwise from the front to the back. The roof becomes the floor and all the poles are sewn into the top so it sets up by itself. This is all held in place by a clasp that I had put a clip in to hold it closed. Well, being spatially challenged, I guess the clip was a little to small and rotated itself around to where it could slip through a slot in the latch. I was rolling down the 6% grade thinking all was well in my little world when the clasp released and I had a quick vision in my rearview mirror of a large burgundy camper trailer all set up at about 65 MPH. Holy drag chute, Batman! Setup time on this unit is advertised as 30 seconds but I think it went up this time in about 0.2. I pulled over on the paved shoulder with visions of destruction dancing in my head. Sandy headed back up the road to get the rain fly, which was lying about 100 yards back while I put the bike in neutral and climbed of to check out the damage. Dumb move #2 because one should never leave a bike in neutral on a 6% downgrade. I wasn’t quick enough to stop the 900-pound Wing from rolling forward off its stand and falling over on its side.

OK, I’ve had better days. I went back up to get the pole that props the trailer open for access, which was lying, in the fast lane. Three lanes over. Luckily there wasn’t a lot of traffic. Then I had a chance to use the new motorcycle pick up technique to get the bike vertical while Sandy put the side stand down and I clicked it solidly into first gear. Now for the trailer. Surprisingly, nothing appeared broken so we flipped it back closed and realized that the bulk of the shock and abrasion had been absorbed by our new $8.00 camp chairs that had been bungeed to the roof rack. The chairs were a mess and the bungee cords were shredded but, other than small bends in the rack rails, we seemed to be just fine. Thank the road gods for small miracles. I used to solid hook from one of the ruined cords to secure the latch better than before and we continued down the mountain to Asheville.

The rest of the trip to Kickstand Lodge in Stecoah was uneventful. As I approached the village I wondered how hard it would be to find. Not hard at all, since there was a large sign right after the road narrowed to two lanes.

We pulled in, recounted our tale and demonstrated how the trailer sets up. Actually, I set it up three times looking for a level spot. Fred and Mo have done wonders with KSL. Office, house, camping cabins, a bunkhouse, pristine shower facilities and a covered area with picnic tables greeted us. The property is green and grassy and trees shade much of it with a brook babbling down one side and a frog pond in the middle. There is even an artificial alligator patrolling the pond.

As people showed up we did the greeting thing and then we had an excellent dinner prepared by Mo under the awning. The evening was quiet and we adjourned at dusk to the fire pit where we kicked back until we each, in our own time, decided to go to bed. Just before I folded, I saw the clouds had cleared and the stars were twinkling, giving me visions of a good riding day tomorrow.

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