Friday, May 13, 2011

Maggie Valley: Hanging around, a short ride and the rehearsal dinner

Today was Friday the 13th so the first thing we did was check out the Port Dover webcam to see the bikes rolling in. For those who don't know, riders have been converging on the sleepy Ontario town of Port Dover, on the Lake Erie coast, for years. Lots of bikes, lots of people. We wouldn't have gone even if we were home because it is just too hectic these days, but it's nice to know that it is still a hot spot.

After riding every day since we arrived, we decided to take it easy and hang out around the Kaw Pasture today. About 9:00 AM. we walked down to Country Vittles with Slammer and Cheap Bastard. This time, instead of ordering a la carte, the four of us decided to have the All You Can Eat Family Style Breakfast which was a dollar off this morning. It took a while to get sorted out because the place was packed, something the boss hadn't expected until tomorrow when Thunder In The Smokies was supposed to hit town. They had extra staff coming in but managed to get our food out to us without too long a wait. For the princely sum of $6.99 each, we got plates of biscuits, gravy, bacon, sausage patties, scrambled eggs, grits and cooked apples along with the drink of our choice. Every time one of the serving plates got low, someone would bring more out. It was more than I should have eaten but it was good and I don't regret it. Cheap B asked if he could order a serving to go for Wanda, who was still back at the motel. They brought him a bag full of breakfast and then, rumour has it, didn't even charge him for it. Once again, our favourite breakfast place in Maggie Valley.

We walked back up the slight grade to the Applecover where we sat out and watched rides leave for various places including Hot Springs, NC. Although tempted, I followed through on my decision to hang around and visit for the day. I worked on the blog for a while and had a long discussion with Phillip about how to cure the ills of the world. Sandy went out with the bride and bridal party to get a pedicure. As the afternoon wore on, they issued a sever thunderstorm warning that was to remain in effect until 7:00 PM. Around 4:00, we had a light shower that lasted about five minutes and figured we got off lightly. At least it seemed that way at the time.

There was a wedding rehearsal dinner scheduled at Hurley's at 6:30 for the wedding party, official photographer and families. After the brief shower, Wrong Turn asked CB and I if we were up for the short ride we had talked about the day before. His daughter Meredith and her boyfriend Paul had arrived with his new Suzuki GSX-R 600 in the back of his truck. The plan was to take him for a short check ride to Cherokee via US 19 and then run back on the Parkway. WT wanted to see how well he handled the bike. Since we had lots of time before supper, we both jumped at the chance although Sandy, KT and Wanda declined.

We left about 4:30 with yours truly leading, Wrong Turn's Nomad second, Paul and Meredith on the Gixxer 3rd and CB bringing up the rear on his Rogue (Vulcan 2000). The ride up to Soco gap was good and I managed to pass a couple of cars in the extra lane but had to hold back while the others caught up. This put us behind a slug on the run down the other side of the ridge, resulting in a mellow pace through the winding curves. I could hear crackles from the CB over my headset, indicating that there was probably lightning in the dark cloud approaching us from about the 11:00 position. Had I been a little wiser, I would have turned as soon as 19 leveled out and gone right back to Maggie. But I didn't, and that made all the difference.

As we crawled through Cherokee, the wind picked up. After turning on US 441, it got downright nasty with leaves falling like snow and branches breaking off the trees and landing on the road. We got behind some woman in a pickup truck who seemed determined to travel 15 MPH all the way through town and almost sat through a green light at an intersection. Isn't that always the way when you are in a big hurry.

We finally cleared town on 441 and made the turn onto the Parkway as the wind really started to howl. I could see the leaves swirling in vortices as I set a brisk pace with WT's spotlights in my rear view mirror. It didn't last long because we soon caught a lady in a large van driving at 25 MPH. Unable to tolerate this for long, we passed her on a solid line and hurried onwards while I counted down the distance to Soco Gap on the GPS. We almost made it. About three miles short, the skies unleashed their fury on us. Strong wind and a driving cold rain. Figuring we were already in it and instantly soaked, I pushed on for a couple of miles at ever decreasing speed until I couldn't see anything at all. Putting the four way flashers on, I stopped right in the middle of the Parkway.

Wrong Turn stopped right behind me but the other two bikes were nowhere to be seen. We were taking wallets, cameras and phones out of pockets (mesh in my case) and putting them in the trunk. By some miracle, my cigarettes were dry in their package and the lighter actually worked, so WT and I lit up and discussed how long before we turned back to find the others. We were just about to when Cheap B, with Meredith on the back, and Paul came down the hill. They didn't stop but CB made a "follow me" gesture. By the time we finished the last mile to Soco Gap, the rain had eased. On the way down19 to Maggie, we passed two ambulances at a wreck site but didn't see what had crashed. The cell phone, in the trunk but still Bluetoothed to the GPS, rang. Sandy was calling on KT's phone because they saw the ambulances go up the hill and were worried. I assured them we were OK and were only a few minutes out.

CB, Meredith and Paul arrived first. When we pulled in, Meredith was angry and told WT that Cheap B was going to be her new Dad. It seems that they pulled off at a pullout after trying to signal us to stop, and CB took her on board after sharing his rain gear with them. I was so wet Sandy made me change in the trailer.

It was sprinkling again when it was time to go to Hurley's for the rehearsal dinner so Yummy gave us a ride in his Kia Soul. He said he'd pick us up after it was all over. We were seated with official photographer Stewey and Ronda and had a fine meal with choices of prime rib, chicken or fish. Against tradition, I ordered the chicken while Sandy ordered the prime rib, medium rare. This became important because, after the meals arrived, we swapped half of our respective entrees. Talk about the best of both worlds. The room was full of good spirits and well wishes as Wrong Turn and KT celebrated their final evening as single people.

After supper, Stewey took Ronda back to the Applecover and then returned to take Sandy to the Shell station to look for coolers. I was going to catch a ride with KT's sister but, when I got outside, Yummy was waiting to give me a lift back to the motel.

Back at the ranch, we hung out with the crowd in front of the office and by the fire pit until midnight, when I called Sherm and put him on speaker phone so everyone could share the sentiments of the day with him. Soon after, we turned in.

I have to apologize because I know there some fine photos to be taken today but neither Sandy nor I broke the cameras out. We'll try harder tomorrow.

Today's Ride (37 motorcycle miles):

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