Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Dragon and Cherohala Hwy Trip

Jordan, Kevin and Pappy

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Well, I just got back from my planned trip to the Dragon’s Tail in TN and Cherohala Hwy. Jordan, Kevin (brother-in-law) and I took a nice little 670 miles trip and it turned out pretty well, except for some rain on the first day, the Holiday Inn in Cherokee was the worst I have ever stayed at, the service at the hotel was crappy, and Jordan lost $70.00 buck at the casino. Besides that, it was awesome!

Jordan and I started out on Saturday morning around 11:30. The original plan was to leave around 8:00. We decided to hold off on leaving early due to some pretty heavy rain in the local area. So we actually didn’t get to leave until 11:30. We headed west to meet Kevin off of interstate 40. Of course, it was raining, but not too bad. As we reached Kevin, we decide to fill up the bikes. Gas was a big issue on this trip. There were storages of gas all over the state and we knew that was going to be a big issue. The gas station where we met Kevin only allowed a $20.00 fill up. That was not a problem, since we have bikes. I think Jordan and I only put in about $8.00.

After we filled up the bikes, we headed west on Interstate 40 to Maggie Valley and the Wheels Through Time museum. Of course, we did not leave the gas station until 1:30 and we knew we were not going to make it before the museum closed. By the time we got to Maggie Valley and Cherokee the rain began, again. This time rain was pretty heavy and we decided to get more gas near Cherokee. So we stopped at a little store to fill up the bikes. I pulled into the station and as Jordan and Kevin followed me, there came about 12 other bikes. Some of those bikers needed gas; others just wanted out of the rain.
Early Morning in the Smokies

Taking a Quick Break

Country Roads Take Me Home

Kevin's New Harley

Speaking of rain, it was time for Kevin to put on his new fancy-mancy rain gear for the first time. Kevin had to find a dry place to put on his rain gear (it took him 10 minutes). Actually, his rain gear was a nice, biker sexy skin tight rubber suit he bought from somewhere. The funny thing was Kevin had a little problem getting the suit off when he did take it off. Another thing he had trouble getting off was his new gloves. His new gloves just happen to shrink up when they get wet. But Jordan and my favorite part was he was not wearing a full-faced helmet. Those of us that ride understand, half helmets aren’t that cool in the rain, unless you like to feel like sand is hitting you in the face and you can’t see. Of course, Jordan and I got a kick out of that. I think Kevin will be buying a new rain suit, gloves and a full-faced helmet soon. One bright spot is he did have some cool water-proof boots that worked well. It was too bad the rain suit got his pants wet. Oh the joy of riding in the rain.

As we left the gas station we headed to Cherokee to find our hotel and the casino. Slick had given Jordan $20.00 to blow and he brought $50.00 worth of quarters in a plastic bag with him. Of course, casinos don’t like real money. So Jordan had to get a players card. As we walked around the casino looked for that big pay out machine, we got to experience the sights and sounds of people putting all their hard earned money in the slot machines. My favorite part of the casino is the wonderful smell of smoke in the casino. Of course very few people win at casinos and others get nothing. I knew I could make some money up there if the casino was let me sell T-shirts that said “I Visited the Cherokee Casino and All I Got Was Cancer”. Anyway, Jordan was done gambling in about 15 minutes. Actually, it took him about that long to get his new players card.

Our next stop was the hotel. I screwed up and pulled into the wrong Holiday Inn. I was told our hotel was about 2 miles south. So after Kevin finally got his rain suit off over his new boots we headed to the correct hotel. And what a joy that hotel was. As I checked in I asked if they had gotten me a roll away bed for Kevin. Of course they didn’t. The room looked clean but looked like crap. I believe the hotel was not originally a Holiday Inn. After looking at our wonderful room we decided to get some chow in the restaurant in the hotel. The waitress tried to get us to get the buffet, but it didn’t look that great. So we ordered from the menu. Of course, all of the stuff on the menu was a little steep for us so we all ordered their $9.00 burger. The burger wasn’t that bad. The problem was even though we had 4 different people wait on us, they would not give us the check so we could leave. And get this, we were the only people in the dining area. After about 45 minutes, we were finally out of there and headed back to your penthouse and get view of the parking lot.

The second day of our trip was the best part. With the rain behind us we could start enjoying the best part of the trip; Deals Gap and the Cherohala Skyway. As most bikers know Deals Gap is where the Tail of the Dragon starts. The route is 11 miles long and has over 300 curves. It was an awesome ride. You do have to watch for idiots on other bikes. Luckily for us we didn’t run into any stupid bikers on the route. However, there were a lot of bikes all over the place. The curves on the Dragon were awesome. There are a lot of tight turns, but none of them were that difficult if you did the route safely. Kevin did awesome! The guy just got is first bike; a Harley, and did great. He has only been riding for about 3 weeks and tackled the Dragon. He did it like a pro. After the Dragon I told the guys that we can now officially wear our ‘I Survived the Dragon’ t-shirts we bought. Those that know me know how I feel about guys that get t-shirts and really haven’t been there and done that. That is just not right.

Just Arrived at Deals Gap

The Tree of Shame at Deals Gap

Filling Up...Again

Fontana Dame off of 129

Don't You Just Hate Tourist?

After Deals Gap, the 3 of us headed toward Cherohala Hwy. To get there we had a few options. One was to head west and take hwy 441 and then south. Instead we took a scenic route; route 360. It was a great decision. Route 360 is about 40 miles long and takes you directly to the Cherohala Hwy. 360 was the best scenic route I have been on. It was my type of route; county, scenic and very little traffic.

After exiting 360 we hit the Cherohala Hwy. I had heard a lot about it. It was great. We just needed to remember to fill up the bikes before we started on it. The hwy is about 50 miles long and there is no gas on the route. You either get gas before or after. With all the gas stations being out of gas we were not going to take any chances. The highway was a lot like the Blue Ridge Hwy or Skyline Drive. I think I actually like it better than either one of those.

Bikes Were Everywhere

Scenic Views Off Cherohala Skyline

One incident did cause us some concerns. Jordan’s bike was having an issue with the headlight. It would turn off after he cranked up the bike but would later come back on. That was a concern because we realized that Jordan and I were not going to make it back home before dark. That meant we had to start heading back early. By the way, I totally miscalculated the amount of time it would take us to do my original trip. So, we decided we would make plans for another trip.

Time for Some Lunch

Jordan Getting His Headlights Checked

As we exited the Cherohala Hwy, we head back east on hwy 74 toward Ashville NC and eventually on Interstate 40. We had been riding for about 2.5 hours. Once I got on Interstate 40 I was looking for a rest area, but I couldn’t remember where one was. So I kept riding, and riding, and riding. Finalize as we got into NC, I found one. It was about 20 miles from where we were going to stop anyway, so I kept riding. Of course, Kevin and Jordan were not too thrilled with the idea of all that riding without stopping. For some reason they kept complaining about their butts being sore. I don’t get that.

Once we did stop at where we originally met Kevin, we tried to get gas. This time the gas station was out of gas. That presented a problem because Jordan was getting pretty low. Fortunately, we found a station with gas the next exit down the highway. We were pretty lucky on getting more gas and most of all that Jordan’s headlight stayed on all the way back home in the dark.
All-in-all the trip was great. Yes it did rain a little and we didn’t get to see the museum, but hey; that is just another excuse to ride back up there. The weather turned out nice on Sunday and it was a very nice ending to a great trip. Jordan and I put on a total of 670 miles. We are looking forward to our next great trip.

Until next time and remember that life starts at the end of the off ramp.



kia of riverside said...

Your Dragon and Cherohala trips sounds so good and really fun. The bottom line here, your happy because you are with your friends while crossing the road.

Anonymous said...

I watched the whole video from your trip and it made me want to get out there. I was wondering if Kevin got a bike, and it looks like he did...a Harley no less. Too bad about the rain, but what better way to break in a newbie! I'm looking forward to my first time in the rain.

Keep ridin'
mbrame - Durham, NC