A few of us decided to make the traditional trek over to the Everett Street Diner in Bryson City for breakfast. There is nothing better than riding the winding US 19 to Cherokee and then following the more sweeping stretch to Bryson. Sandy & I, Willie Wonka & The Lovely Carlene and Wild Rose, followed by Zeke and Hang in their car, rolled out at about 9:00 AM.
A strange thing happened as we arrived in Bryson City. Traffic was packed turning onto Everett Street. It seems we got to town at the same time as all the people taking the scenic train ride on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad. With a seething mass of vehicles all trying to get parked by the station, Everett Street was jam packed with cars going nowhere. Not knowing what the situation was further down the street, we took the first spots we found and walked.
The owner greeted us and had a table for seven set right away. Our server was a very attractive and competent young Cherokee lady whose personality was just bubbling over. Coffee brought and orders taken, the owner introduced a newlywed couple to the assembled multitude. Later, he asked us all to congratulate another young lady on her birthday. As usual, the food did not disappoint.
After breakfast, we decided to go for a ride. Sandy's back was still hurting, so she caught a ride back to Maggie Valley in the van with Zeke and Hang. Willie & Carlene and Cheryl said they would follow me, as usual. There were no pictures of this ride because my photographer bailed on me.
Leaving Bryson, we followed US 19 to US 74 to NC 28 North. After going through Stecoah, we took NC 143 to Robbinsville. At that point, in a total fit of disorientation, I turned north towards Deals Gap. My followers stayed with me, although Wild Rose did tell me when we turned around that she wondered just where I was going. Back on track, we followed US 129 south to US 19/74. From there, we headed back through the scenic Nantahala Gorge. There was a great photo op of the scenic train and rafts in the gorge, but no camera. Traffic was busy but moving at an acceptable pace. I was going to stop at the Outdoor Center, but there was nothing in the way of parking, so we motored on. After fueling, we pulled into A Holiday Motel about 1:30 PM.
We spent our last afternoon visiting. When things were quiet in the parking lot, I put the big suitcases in the Equinox, hooked up the trailer and loaded the bike.
The caterer arrived at 5:30. Although this was earlier than expected, Sandy managed to be right at the start of the food line like always. And, as usual, I was off talking to someone so I ended up further back. It was a fine meal with lots left over for seconds. Many thanks to Southern Draw and Cheap B for organizing this.
Fork you, Caleb
After supper, Mikey sold a few more tickets and then it was time for the raffle.
Before the formal drawing began, Southern Draw dedicated his rendition of Vince Gill's Go Rest High On That Mountain to members we have lost, especially Lucky Al and Gambler a couple of months ago.
In memory of absent companions
Following this touching tribute (there were more than a few damp eyes), Susan ZMean1 presented Jax with a gift basket and plaque recognizing his efforts from 2006 to now in organizing SEVROC. It has been a mainstay in the VROC calendar and his work was greatly appreciated. There was a collection taken up among the regulars and the leftover cash was added to the 50/50 proceeds to be donated to the Waynesville PD K-9 Unit.
Now that Jax will be in Texas, we are pressing him to put something together in Hill Country next April.
Finally, it was time for the raffle. Tickets were drawn by Angie and prizes from Kawasaki, as well as various members, were distributed.
Heather and Jan in the background
As the draws were complete, officers from the Waynesville PD K-9 unit stepped up. First, they drew the winning 50/50 draw ticket. Carl (Dirtdigger) of North Carolina, brother to Lonnie and brother-in-law of Six Pack Jack, won. The officers then accepted the 50/50 donation, augmented by the surplus from Jax' gift collection. The sergeant thanked us for our ongoing support, which allowed them to obtain necessary equipment for the dogs' welfare, and then they gave us a demonstration of dog obedience and skills.
We spent the rest of the evening saying our goodbyes. With Sandy's back problems and my continuing cough, we decided to skip the Virginia riding on Monday and go straight home. Bearing the HBO SNAFU in mind on the way down, I contacted the Hampton Inn in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania and confirmed they had the channel. I would be able to catch the final Game Of Thrones episode live tomorrow night. Since this would be less than an eight hour drive, we could hang around for the Country Vittles breakfast in the morning.
There was time to get the photos of the day sorted before turning in about 11:30 PM.
N.B. - VROC gatherings have traditionally been known for less than ideal WiFi connections. While A Holiday Motel had some issues in the early years, making it hard to connect from our end of the building, I have to say that they have done great work in this area. The signal was strong and the bandwidth was more than adequate for photo uploads. Thanks to Gabi and Rob for their continuing attention to improvements.
Today's Route (122 motorcycle miles):