Sunday, July 12, 2009

Maggie Valley North Carolina to Hendersonville North Carolina

Today, after getting packed, we were on the road at 8:20. We needed to pick up the last few miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway, so we rode out US 19 and caught it just south of town. It was a pleasant ride and we could now say we ran the entire Skyline and Parkway in one trip.

Riding through Cherokee on US 441, we saw more painted bears. These types of painted critters are becoming quite common around the country.

Cherokee bears

We headed south on 441 and then along 74 to Dillboro. At Dillboro, a slow driver we had followed the last mile out on his right turn signal as I was beside him in the exit lane. the Wing horn made him have second thoughts. From Dillboro, 441 (The Appalachian Highway) took us towards Franklin. We stopped at the Ridgecrest Exxon for a bathroom break and coffee and snacks. Some locals and a short, wide State Trooper were gathered around a table drinking coffee and smoking indoors. It's amazing how a sight like that seems out of place these days.

The Ridgecrest Exxon

In Franklin where I forgot to cancel the via point and got a tour of downtown. Then I missed two turns so we also got the scenic route out of the area. We left Franklin on US 64 as it clouded over. Or maybe under since it seemed we were right in them. We turned south on SR 175 and the rest of our group got their first exposure to Georgia as we approached Hiawassee.

We caught US 76 to Blairsville and went south on US 19 (this highway seems to be everywhere) to 180. This road, west to Suches, runs through Wolf Pen Gap, a run that I find nastier than The Dragon. For anyone who hasn't been here in a while, that disconcerting double row of cat's eyes has been removed. The summit involves a 10 MPH left turn with nothing but a sheer drop if you don't make it. Ron and Brad were towing the trailers and made the run just fine. I'm ready to pronounce them veteran southern riders.

At Suches, Two Wheel Only was packed with bikes so we didn't stop. We rode down SR 60, a winding stretch overpopulated with tar snakes. Then we turned on US 19 north (how we do get around) and passed the Georgia Patrol keeping the roads safe. They had one pulled over and a second cruiser trapping. We followed several back roads and entered Helen Georgia from the northwest, with a few drops of rain falling about five miles before town.

Traffic entering Helen was stop and go so as soon as I saw a restaurant with a parking lot, I pulled in. Hofer's of Georgia has a back lot that would make the Magnetic Hill proud. With the angled surface, a car parked badly and my little finger mashed under the clutch lever, the bike fell over. A kind man came over and pulled the kickstand down as I picked it up using the approved technique.

Picking it up the right way
(Photo by Judy)

Hofer's food was pricey but good, My melted ham and Swiss with honey mustard was fantastic. leaving the lot (carefully), a truck towing a trailer stopped and let us out as a group. The traffic jam seems to be due to people turning left and horse drawn buggies

A buggy in Helen

We left town heading southeast and rode into South Carolina with a rain storm descending from the west behind us. Although I had this checked on my state map, I can't remember when I was here before so I have confirmed my claim. We rode northeast with Hendersonville, North Carolina as a goal. After a water stop in Westminster, SC, the trip back to North Carolina and Hendersonville was uneventful except for (this is becoming a pattern) some rain drops about ten miles before we got to town. It was 90F as we worked our way through town and the Wing heated up again. I had to stop on Wolf Pen Gap because it was almost in the red.

We got rooms at the Days Inn and I looked at the airflow through the radiators. When hot, the fan blows air forwards. It appears to me that the foam tunnel blocks, wrapped around the forks to keep air and rain from coming up on the rider, were blocking the air flow and trapping hot air in the scoop area, eliminating flow through the rads. These block aren't Honda's idea and so I have pulled them out to see if it makes a difference.

For supper, we walked down the road to Outback Steak House. We passed Schroader's Honda where they had a showroom with 21 GL1800's and 8 used GL1500's on the showroom floor. I've been there before for a new tire. These guys push volume. We will stop and see them tomorrow morning. On the way to The Outback, Ron collected a tick that he brushed off. The rest of us checked our legs closely.

At the steakhouse, Ron was given a vibrating thing-me and we sat outside. When it buzzed and we went in, the girl asked "Where have you been, Ron?" Then she wondered if anyone had asked him "Where have you been all my life?" The girls in H'ville are friendly, if nothing else:-)

Supper was good. I skipped the alcohol because I needed to get blogging again. Back at the hotel, that's just what I did until about 12:30. As of my writing this, I am all caught up.

By the way, to show how GPS's work, Ron told his to avoid Interstates and major highways and take him home. It routed him trough Des Moines Iowa, Duluth Minnesota and Ottawa Ontario. I will state again that they are an art, not a science:-)

Today's Route

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