Thursday, May 25, 2017

Bryson City North Carolina - Today We Slew The Dragon

I woke up about 1:00 AM with a swelling in the back of my right leg. There was no sign of a bite or any other cause and it was no worse by morning so I chose to ignore it.
This was our last day here and we wanted to make the most of it. The weather forecast called for 20% chance of precipitation this morning and 70% probability of a trace of rain this afternoon. We talked about where to ride, but I could see the look in Melika's eyes yesterday as we drove through The Tail Of The Dragon in the truck. Many who ride here a lot say that there are a lot of better roads in the area, and I agree. But to come this far and not check this right of passage off your bucket list would be a shame. Paul said they would follow wherever I led and I decided to lead back up to Deal's Gap.

We rode back out to Highway 28 and started north. After another quick stop at Fontana Dam, we climbed up to the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort.

This is the best morning weather so far this week

But the view starting up NC 28 looks the same as yesterday

Looking nasty one way at Fontana Dam

While a 180 shows blue skies

A bald eagle

There were more motorcycles at The Gap today. A special treat was a collection of classic two-stroke bikes who imbued the atmosphere with their ringy-dingy exhaust sounds and clouds of blue smoke. Parked right there in the forefront was a 1970 Yamaha R5 350cc, resplendent in its fuchsia and white colours. It was identical to my first motorcycle, the one I was riding when I earned my nickname. We talked with a couple from London, Ontario who had two bikes here, including an old RD 350 Yamaha.

It started raining, so we went inside and had some lunch. In our eagerness to get a ride in, we had skipped breakfast and Melika was craving a hamburger. I finally bought a Dragon sticker to put on Pogo.

More bikes at Deals Gap today

Including ours (if the propane truck doesn't hit them)

1970 Yamaha R5 350 cc - identical to my first bike

 I had a fuchsia helmet, shirt and socks

Looks like a few miles of smiles

This is all that is left of mine

Miss you, Fred

After eating and hanging around for a while, the rain let up. The road was still a little wet when we started up the hill, but traction was pretty good. It was a fun ride. Only one fast mover overtook us on the way to the Overlook, and we didn't catch up to anyone. The further we went, the dryer it got. The northbound pullout at the Overlook was blocked by some kind of work crew so we went to the other side, where I met an Okie on a Concourse and we talked about favourite local roads. Melika seemed to have a good time.

Slaying The Dragon

Congratulations to our newest Dragon rookie

On the ride back through The Gap, we did not encounter anyone going our direction. We didn't stop at the Crossroads and continued down 129, aka the Mini-Tail, stopping at the bottom for a view of the Cheoah (or Fugitive) Dam. This spooky old structure is almost 100 years old.

Cheoah Dam aka The Fugitive Dam

Happy riders

A thorn between two roses

I led through the sweepers on 129 along the river back towards Robbinsville. We stopped at the Skyway Convenience Store and Gas Bar at the intersection of NC 143. I loaded my Butler mug with black coffee and the others had ice cream while ee watched bikes come and go. Many with rain gear on but our luck held.

Skyway Convenience - Robbinsville NC

We had already ridden through the Nantahala Gorge two days earlier, but Melika had been riding pillion that day. I opted to lead us back around that way one more time. It is a winding but pleasant ride, one that I always enjoy. We were behind traffic for most of the way, but some guy in a Ford didn't hold us up for a lot of it. He could drive. Then we got behind some flatlander for the the last bit and got to watch his tail lights as he braked for everything including straight stretches. We arrived back at the lodge at 3:30.

Several couples from Alabama had arrived. This was going to be a busy Memorial Day Weekend at Two Rivers Lodge. Starting tomorrow, all the rooms were booked. The most impressive thing so far was a Boss Hoss trike.

Boss Hoss trike

Paul still hadn't had his BBQ and we had to fuel the Equinox and truck, so we drove to the Bar-B-Que Wagon on the way into Bryson City. After having been closed for several days, business was brisk. The food was OK, but not as good as I remember. Or maybe I am just getting older and more critical.

The Last Supper

A Bryson City landmark

Waiting for our numbers to be called

Somebody won't go to bed hungry

After we finished eating, Sandy and I fueled the Equinox and returned to the lodge while the others stopped by the Ingles grocery store to stock up on provisions for the trip. I hooked the trailer up, loaded the bike and stowed the suitcases and riding gear. All we had left were our overnight bags. We were all set for a 7:00 AM departure.

Before retiring, I played my favourite motorcycle video for Melika. Now that she had been here and ridden the road, The Ballad of the Gap meant more to her. Sad that our latest stay in the Smoky Mountains was coming to an end, we all hit the hay about 10:00 PM.

Today's Route (127 motorcycle miles):

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