Friday, May 17, 2013

Maggie Valley - Blue Ridge Parkway

We were up at 6:00 AM and had planned breakfast for 8:00, so I got a few more blog chores done before the people started to gather at the room. As the appointed time came and went, we watch Blondy's Escape and Kudzu's Scion pull out heading for Country Vittles. There were only five of us standing around, so we piled in the truck and headed on down. Not long after, Tbone, Southern Draw & Southern Charm wandered in wondering why we hadn't knocked on their door. Our bad.

I ordered an open face biscuit with a couple of sausage patties drowned in sausage gravy plus some scrambled eggs. My diet is going well. Everyone else settled for  pancakes and bacon. Sorry, Sherm, no one went for the livermush.

Phillip, Willie Wonka and The Lovely Carlene

Waiting to order

The "other" table

Pancakes and bacon

Biscuits, sausage, gravy and eggs (mine)

Willie doesn't like syrup on his corned beef hash

Wonka, Carlene, Sandy, Phillip, Carolyn, Southern Draw and Tbone

All the same plus Mikey and Linda

Back at the motel, people were starting to plan their day.

Maggie of Maggie Valley

Carolyn and the ever present tablet

Christie reading another book

Soon after, the rides started to organize. Some headed for the Tail of the Dragon while Wrong Turn & KT, Cheap B and Tbone set out for Cullowhee Mountain Road. Some asked me what I planned to do so I suggested a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Southern Draw & Southern Charm, Phillip and Badger decided that sounded good. Before we could leave, a Vulcan 2000 pulled in. Jimmy, and Donna had heard there were Vulcans gathered and, although they aren't VROC members, decided to check us out.

Jimmy was looking for breakfast so we suggested Granny's Kitchen in Cherokee. They joined us for the ride over. Unfortunately, it seems Granny doesn't do breakfast on weekdays. I think I should have remembered this from last year. We proceeded through town and turned north on 441 where we stopped for gas at the BP station. Jimmy Donna stopped next door at Peter's Restaurant while we continued on the the start/end of the Parkway.

Ready to leave the Applecover

US 19

Granny's not here, man

The big show in Cherokee

Cherokee bear

I'm not sure what it is

Another bear

And another

And yet another

I led the other three bikes up the Parkway from its start on US 441. This stretch has quite a few tunnels, giving me a chance to work on my aversion to those that involve curves on two-lane roads. The problem is probably that I am very visually oriented when I ride and the walls disrupt that. Oh well, practice makes better. 

Part way to Soco Gap, we caught up to a Honda Element following a GL1500. The Wing was moving at what can probably best be described as a stately pace. OK, it was slow. When he finally pulled the bike over at an overlook, the Element took off like a shot. Then we all caught a Sprinter van but he exited at Soco Gap and we were off again.

Park entrance on US 441

One of many tunnels on the BRP

Typical Smoky Mountains vista

Slow moving GoldWing

And the slow moving Sprinter

We chased the Element along the next stretch of the Parkway as Sandy got some photos of the amazing scenes we encountered around every curve.

The morning coffee was starting to work its way through our systems so, after we crossed Balsam Gap, we stopped to use the facilities at Waterrock Knob. I talked to a Florida rider, a refugee from Chicago, who had a very nice set of Smoky Mountain maps detailing good rides. It even had Cullowhee Mountain Road marked on it.

Pit stop at  Waterrock Knob

Phillip photographing the scenery

After pulling back onto the BRP, the GPS screwed up again so I made another stop at the pullout at Milepost 431, the highest point on the Parkway. I seated the card again and all was well. There was a group of bicyclists there as well as two new Wings, one from Texas and the other from Mississippi. After talking to them a bit, a pickup truck from Ontario pulled in.

The truck had a big dent in the tailgate from getting rear ended by a Harley after they had to brake suddenly. The bike was totaled but the rider walked away with a ticket for following too close. The truck driver was from Sault Ste, Marie and had gone to the same high school I did a few years behind me. I asked his name and he told me Miles Trowbridge. I asked if he was related to Patsy, a girl from my class. Small worlds being what they are, Patsy was his sister.

Bicycles at the highest point on the BRP

Texas GoldWing

Miles and his dented truck

A fine looking group

Getting ready to roll on

We continued along the Parkway at a steady pace with nothing ahead of us. We almost caught up to a couple of vehicles but they pulled off before we got to them. This is the way it should always be. Sandy got some good photos of the mountains as well as the road.

We started down the tight turns on US 276 towards Waynesville. The curves were banked and the ride was fun, except for the one corner where the bike slipped sideways on some sand. But I recovered easily and we eventually got to the flats where it opened up and the curves became more gentle.

In Waynesville, we debated stopping for lunch. Some raindrops falling on our heads made the decision and, since Bogart's was only a block from where 276 entered downtown, we headed there. It was 2:00 PM on a Friday and the place was still packed. They set us a table for six and we settled in. The special was a 6 oz. rib eye sandwich and one side. I had the great homemade potato chips again. Sandy said her steak was hard to chew but mine was excellent.

Badger, Sandy, Southern Draw, Southern Charm and Phillip at Bogart's

I had heard that bears like fishing

Waiting for lunch

Coming out after lunch, there was no sign of any more raindrops. We rode back to the Applecover where we found still more people had arrived, including Slammer who drove over despite having hurt his back. It was sure good to see him. I took some more photos, organized some blog notes and posted 67 pictures.

Slammer was a Navy Crusader pilot

Slammer and Rainman (temporary new Canuck

The infamous Wompus

Flip and Toby

What's going on in the background? Kudzu and friend

Jax and Bassman selling raffle tickets

Willie Wonka and The Lovely Carlene were in the patch sewing business back in the group dining area. I gathered all the patches I had brought and the new vest I had bought and took them over. The objective was to turn my one combination vest into separate VROC and Freedom Riders vests. Willie laid out the patches while Carlene sewed. He also removed the Freedom Riders patches from my VROC vest. They did an excellent job and now I will no longer feel schizophrenic.

The planned supper was at a local Mexican restaurant but Sandy really doesn't like Mexican. The Wonkas were looking for something lighter and Willie had a place he wanted us to try, so we climbed into the truck and drove to the east end of town near Russ Avenue where we found Ammons Drive-In And Dairy Bar. They had the usual drive-in fare. The base burger is a 2 oz., but if you have a super double, it ends up being a half pound. I had mine with hush puppies while Sandy had chicken strips. Willie also had a super double while Carlene (horrors) visited the salad bar.

Ammons Drive In

Supper done, we drove on to WalMart, where Carlene got some thread and we took care of various needs. Two large boxes of 5 Hour Energy drinks (much cheaper than home), bags of underwear and socks, a case of water and some grocery items. I wanted to check out a new Timex Expedition watch, or at least a new matching Velcro (hook and loop  for Dawn) band, but I didn't see any and the jewelry department was not staffed. This is getting to be more and more common these days. Anyway, they lost a sale.

Back at the motel, Southern Draw's son Cola (pronounced Coley) and his fiancee Ashley provided the entertainment for the evening. I took some more photos to share with those on the blogosphere who couldn't be here this week and sipped a little moonshine. There was a bottle of real original Popcorn Sutton and some very tasty apple pie (shine, not baking) that Jax brought. This camera (a Canon Powershot SX 120) is, as you can see, limited in its ability to take outdoor night time photos at any distance. But I did what I could.

Wrong Turn and Cheap B returned late from Cullowhee Mountain Road and said it wasn't anything too scary, but I stand by my original assessment. One of the reviewers was raised in the WV mountains and the other is a wild man from Alabama, so their opinions are suspect:-) They continued to Sassafrass Mountain and covered three states in their journey.

Cola and Ashleigh entertaining

A rapt audience being entertained

Carlene, Daley and Stockbridge Richard

Later in the evening, EZ rolled in from Ringgold, Georgia on his new green Vaquero. He had encountered fog out on the winding stretch of I-40 and was glad to be here. It is good to see him on two wheels again.

EZ's green Vaquero

Shaft and EZ, veterans from way back

Big Dawg takes a licking and keeps on ticking

Toby and his lovely bride

Sandy was already in bed when, after another session of solving the world's problems with the usual crew, I joined her.

Today's Route (116 motorcycle miles):

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