I was up at 6:00 AM again to work on the blog. The WiFi decided to be snarky this morning, so I was forced to turn on the data and hotlink to my phone to get things done. I was still days behind.
Our plan today was to drive down to Gainesville, Georgia to visit Cheap B and Wanda, who were in a rehab facility there recovering from their horrendous motorcycle wreck a month ago. The forecast was threatening so we were taking the cars. Big Dawg was wagonmaster and posted an 8:30 AM departure time, so Sandy and I headed down to Pop's about 7:15 for breakfast.
Once again, I had Pop's three meat omelette, with sourdough toast and tomato. I traded half my toast for half of Sandy's biscuit. In actual fact, I should have neither. I think this omelette is the best thing Pop makes for breakfast.
As advertised, Big Dawg pulled out in his Mini-Cooper at 8:30 AM sharp. He was followed by Linda and Billy Bob, Oak and Dee in their Kia Soul and Sandy and I with Laura and Bill in the back seat. The convoy connected with US 74 in Waynesville and then took US 441 South at Sylva. The rest of the route was easy because 441 took us directly to Gainesville. It rained off an on all the way, with a final frog-strangler giving way to sunshine at the Gainesville city limits. Upon reaching the town, we celebrated by making a bathroom stop at a McDonald's restaurant.
The rehab facility was right around the corner from the Mickey D's. We parked in the back and went in to find Cheap B (Mark) and Wanda, who were in separate rooms right across the hall from each other. They were both in good spirits. Given the severity of the wreck and their injuries, we were so very glad to see them on the mend. They have a long way to go, but they are on the way.
Mark had been known for his thick white beard. It sometimes caused him to be mistaken for Santa Claus, but I maintain his facial hair was much better than that displayed by the jolly old elf. He had, due to the circumstances, asked the staff to shave the beard off. If he had not had his name on the door, I would not have recognized him. Oh well, it will grow back.
We had a pleasant visit. SEVROC has not been the same without their smiling faces.
The four vehicles started back on their own. Again, we went back and forth between blue skies and rain, some of which was a lot more intense than on the way down.
We stopped for fuel at the Shell station next to the Maggie Valley Inn. We were in Chev SSR territory as I topped off the tank. It was only a couple of miles from there to A Holiday Motel but that was all it took for the skies to open up. The rain was so heavy that we didn't rush to get out of the car when we reached the parking lot.
Back at the motel, I hooked up the trailer, brought it out in the lot, and loaded the bike. We also loaded our packed suitcases and pretty much everything other than our overnight bags in preparation for an early morning departure. Others were doing the same. I parked back on the grass with a clear exit path.
We then spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out and visiting. It doesn't sound like much but this group is part of our family. Twenty years and a lot of shared experiences make VROC like home no matter where it gathers.
Cheap B had been arranging banquet. After the wreck last month (safety and law enforcement professionals have schooled me to avoid the word "accident"), Southern Draw rose to the challenge and took over. The caterers were from Bryson City and arrived early. They had pulled pork, BBQ chicken, beans, slaw, potato salad, buns, cobbler or banana pudding and tea or lemonade. It was a fine feast.
After the meal was done and the caterer thanked, it was time for the raffle. Mikey had been selling tickets with his usual style and persistence, bringing Caleb into the process as an understudy. The raffle prizes were donated by Riders of Kawasaki, VROCers and other sponsors. Once all the prizes were gone, the cash was drawn for. Half went to the draw winner and half went to a local cause. This year, once again, the Waynesville Police Department K-9 Unit was the recipient.
The drawing went well except for the folks who would not check their tickets when the number was first called. If no one spoke up right away, then they would look. I didn't win anything. Sandy won twice while Willie Wonka, TBone and a few others appeared to be on the fast track.
Finally, we got to the moment of truth. The 50/50 portion of the draw. I believe the winner's portion was $469.00 US. Real money. The K-9 unit was present to receive their share, which would be used to buy sophisticated heat warning systems for the police cars. In the event a dog was in a car when their handler was unable to get back to them, it would activate a series of measures to prevent the animal from coming to harm. It had been a tradition for VROC regulars to then donate their winnings to the cause. Blondy did this when she won here last year and I did it in Eureka Springs last fall. Newcomers are not usually aware of this and are under no obligation to give their winnings away.
This year, rookie attendee Heather (Playthang and Scooter's daughter) won. Even though it was her first time here, she cemented her place in VROC lore by immediately donating the fistful of cash to the K-9 unit. No first-timer had ever done this before. When all was said and done, the dogs came out almost $1,200 ahead.
After the donation phase, we were treated to a demonstration of K-9 obedience and skills.
After the demonstration and the group photo, the skies opened up. There was a lot of leftover food from the dinner, so Souther Draw convinced the two police officers to take it and share it with anyone who might be hungry.
After the rain stopped and the sun went down, people mingled. It was hard to believe the week was over already. Southern Draw entertained us with the VROC song, and the music continued. We said our goodbyes early and retired to our room about 9:30. perhaps retired wasn't the right word since the entertainment was right outside our door. However, by the time I got to bed around 11:20, all was quiet.
We would be seeing some of the folks next month out west in Williams, Arizona or Topaz, Nevada. We would see others in September in Eureka Springs. And, as for the rest, we planned to be back here again in a year's time. We were in a rut, but it was a good rut.
Today's Route (242 Equinox miles):