Laura's Bill wanted to go to a Golden Corral and the nearest one was in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. We were warned by a number of folks that US 441 North from Cherokee to Pigeon Forge would be jammed with slow vehicles and that we could expect Pigeon Forge itself to be choked as well. So we went anyway. I led, followed by Bill and Laura from Arkansas on their trike, Paul and Yolanda from Connecticut on each of their own bikes and Butch and Teresa from Kentucky on their Nomad. It was fun when someone asked "Where are y'all from?".
We rode up to Soco Gap and took the Blue Ridge Parkway to US 441. Then we rode north, stopping at the Newfound Gap Overlook at the Tennessee State Line. There was no traffic ahead of us until the last half mile, but we saw lots going the other way. On the road, Paul debugged his CB radio problem and, at the overlook, we used my compressor to add air to Yolanda's front tire.
We continued on north. There was a pickup truck ahead of us but it was doing a respectable pace. Everything else pulled over and let us by. We took the Gatlinburg bypass and pulled into the Golden Corral with no traffic issues. Everyone had lunch and I tried to stay with reduced carbs.
After lunch, we headed north on US 321 South. I know it sounds odd. Traffic was a little busy getting out of town but it eased off once 321 turned to a two-lane road.
We stopped in Wears Valley for fuel and then found the entrance to the brand new section of the Foothills Parkway. It was a very nice piece of road with big curves that were far more sweeping than the older section I was familiar with. The vistas were amazing. We rode the new section and then transitioned to the original while working our way to US 129. On the older section, we pulled over and let four hotshots (two Mustangs, a Camaro and an unidentified vehicle) with straight pipes blast past us.
At US 129, we turned right and headed for the Tail of the Dragon. Since this was Yolanda's first time through, we stopped at the pullout at the Tennessee end to give her some pointers. It didn't help that a few speed racers pulled out and wheelied their way up into the Tail.
The 11 mile ride was fairly uneventful. At the overlook, a Sheriff's Deputy was having words with a semi driver who got up there accidentally. Big rigs are prohibited on the Tennessee side even though it is a US highway. I had to put a little pressure on the get a Harley rider to wave me by and then caught up to a pickup truck that pulled over at the first opportunity.
We stopped at Deals Gap Resort for souvenirs and photos. Yolanda did a fine job for her first time through.
We left just before 4:00 with a little more than 60 miles to get back to Maggie Valley. We rode right down NC 28 (The Hellbender end of Moonshiner 28) to US 74, and stopped at the BP so people could fuel up if necessary. It was there that a large one ton truck backed into Butch's Nomad, scuffing the saddlebag. Information was exchanged.
We continued on US 74 and then took US 441 towards Cherokee. I turned on Olivet Church Road, bypassing the traffic and construction in Cherokee, and then we took US 19 up over the ridge into Maggie Valley. We got back to the motel about 5:30 with over 180 miles on the clock.
Willie Wonka and The Lovely Carlene, along with many more, had arrived. I skipped supper and had nuts and yogurt instead. .
Back at the motel, we visited until after 11:30, when Mikey's Linda pulled in driving their car.
We finally went to bed just before midnight, but the party was still rolling along when we left..
Today's Route (182 motorcycle miles):