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.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Big Weekend Trip Coming Soon!

Well, Jordan, Kevin (brother-in-law) and I are getting ready for our big trip to the Wheels Through Time motorcycle museum in Waynesville NC and the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap in TN. Below is map of part of our trip. Of course pictures of the trip will be coming.

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


Quite Sunday Morning Ride

Yesterday Slick and I took another route on my NC Scenic Byways list. This one was back near Seagrove NC (Pottery Highway). Below is the route:

Slick and I headed out around 9:30 am. It was a little nippy but not too bad. The temp was around 60. We headed down highway 220 south until we got to the Seagrove exit. As we headed into Seagrove we noticed that the road right through the center of town was closed off due to a blue grass festival that was being held that weekend. Actually, I was told by my old buddy Craig that I might want to take a different route because of the festival. So as we entered Seagrove we took a detour back toward highway 220 to regroup and figure out where we wanted to ride next. Of course, both of us did not plan on riding down to Seagrove and just turn around and go home. So what we did was head back to highway 220 and continue south until we got to where we would have ended our route and complete the route in reverse. So we continued on highway 220 until we got off on the exit taking us to route 211.

When we finally got on the route we found route 705 north and headed toward Seagrove. The first part of the route was kind of depressing. We saw a lot of old houses, old trailer parks and we could tell we were on a poor part of route; as we got about 5 miles into the route the scenery because less depressing. There were a lot of old buildings, farm land and places to buy pottery everywhere. By the way, if you are interested in pottery, Seagrove is holding their annual pottery festival in November. Of course, Slick and I will probably go. That is what old people do, right?

Once we got to Seagrove we took a detour around the area of town where the blue grass festival was being held. We hit highway 220 and headed back home. By that time, the weather was near 70. All-in-all the trip took right at 3 hrs and it was a pretty nice little ride for a quite Sunday morning.

Next weekend is the big trip. Jordan, Kevin (my brother-in-law) and I head to the Wheels Through Time museum in Maggie Valley. We are also tackling the Tail of the Dragon and riding the Cherohala Highway in TN. We are all looking to that.

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


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Devil's Stomping Ground Route

Well, Slick and I just got back from a really nice route from the NC Scenic Byways book. This route was called the "Devil's Stomping Ground" which runs from Seagrove to Pittsboro NC. It is about a 43 mile ride through some great country roads. Slick and I love to get up early on Sunday morning to ride the back roads of NC. Today was one of those great rides. Below is the a map of the route:

The weather when we started out was in the mid 70's with overcast skies. We left home from Jamestown and headed down highway 311 to interstate 220 toward Seagrove. Going down highway 311 is a nice ride to get to 220 especially on Sunday mornings. It was nice with basically no traffic going through Archdale. The only bad part of the trip was when we hit the section of road that has the 311 flee market. Not that the road or traffic was bad, it was just that Slick found another place for me to take her. She loves flee markets (hey she's a girl and love to shop, period). But that is not the real excitement of the day. She found out we were going through Seagrove.

Why is Seagrove a big deal? Well, Seagrove is a small town famous for pottery. Of course it was Sunday and nothing was open. However, we did see a sign off of interstate 220 that said the 27th Pottery Festival was starting Thanksgiving weekend. I guess you can imagine where we will be that weekend.

After Slick calmed down we continued on through Seagrove. If you ever go there, don't blink or you will miss it. It is a nice small town and fun to slowly cruise through on your bike. Slick saw several stores she plans to visit in the near future.

After traveling through Seagrove we continued on 705 to connect to highway 902 to Pittsboro NC. The roads were in pretty good condition and the route had many miles of farm land. Slick and I really like those types of rides. We get so caught up in the quite rides in the country, we sometimes don't even speak to one another. We just enjoy the quietness of the moment and forget the pressures of everyday life.

Now as for the Devil's Stomping Ground, we missed that. Apparently it is off the beaten path near Bear Cove. I didn't even see the sigh for Bear Cove. So we plan to take another trip soon to actually try to find it. Until then I have posted a photo of the place that is from the NC Scenic Byways book.

As we continued north on 902 we ran into highway 64. We headed west on highway 64 and back home. If you do decide to take highway 64 you will sorta be back in civilization. It is a nice road too.

All-in-all, the trip took us 3 hours and is was really nice. If you have every considered riding the route before, I say "go for it". If you like traveling through the back roads of NC, you will like this trip.

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


Monday, September 01, 2008

Big Kevin is Almost a Biker

Sunday Slick, Jordan and I took a little trip back near to my hometown. The purpose of the trip was to get a little bit of riding in, but mainly to visit my brother-in-law Kevin and to let him ride on Jordan's Honda VTX. Kevin just recently got his motorcycle permit. However, he has one minor problem; he has no bike. As you can imagine that kind of gets in the way of the whole motorcycle practice thingy.

Anyway, Jordan took his bike so Kevin could practice a little. Actually, I felt sorry for the guy. He has a nice little pretty permit and no bike. Heck, I felt so bad for him I thought of getting him a Big Wheel or something to ride before we left him that afternoon.

Okay, back the bike practice. Once we got to Kevin's house I had Kevin mount up on Jordan's mean machine and I had him follow me on Big Red. I took him on 3 types of roads. One was through some nice curvy roads near his home, through a small town and then interstate 40 so he could pick up some speed.

Kevin did very well. I told him he just needed to get some practice. Oh yeah, having a bike would help too. Below are some photos of Kevin on his way to his first solo practice on the open road. It is just too bad he plans to buy a Harley (Hey, I can only do just so much).

Below are some action shots of Big Kevin on a real bike:

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


NC 49 Scenic Byway Trip

Today I got up about 9 am and decided to take one of the routes in my NC Scenic Byway's book that Craig told me about. I had been planning a trip from of the book for about 2 weeks. I just needed to decide which one I want to take first. I settled on a trip down NC 49 near Asheboro NC. Below is a map of the route:

I had planned to take the ride with Slick but this time of the year is a little too toasty for her. So I decided to take this one solo. The weather was nice except for a few clouds, and they burned off as the morning went by. The temps was around 75 when I left and the humidity wasn't too bad. Slick almost went with me, but luckily she backed out. It got a little toasty around noon. She would not have been a happy camper. But hey, I'm the crazy one the will ride anywhere.

As I headed down highway 311 from home I decided the best route to take would be to hit highway 220 and head toward Asheboro where I could connect to NC 49. I decided to gas up Big Red and call Slick to make sure she could track me using a cool software program for my phone called Loopt. It allows you to track someone using your phone or the Internet. Slick was able to confirm she could track me and with that using the Internet. With her using Loopt, she was not too worried about me riding the route solo.

After gassing up, I headed down NC 49. Once I was away from the highway 220 and the outshirts of town the ride became really nice. I was finally at the point of the route I was looking forward too; the country. I love riding in the country. The more remote the better for me. The route consisted of farm lands, rolling hills and some nice old farm houses and building. The traffic was light and the roads were in great shape. The route on NC 49 goes for about 50 miles until your reach Concord. Once I reached Concord I had a choice of taking Interstate 85 north back home or another route. I chose to turn around and ride back the same direction.

I know that sounds kind of dumb to ride the same route, but I had wanted to stop on the way back and take a few photos of my trip. Below are the photos:

NC Aviation Museum

A.C. Lentz Saddlery (founded in 1901)

NC 49 Scenic Byway

Farm land Views for Miles

Scenic Country View

One part of the trip that was not part of my original route turned out to be one of my favorite parts; the Pisgah Covered Bridge. I saw a sign for it off of NC 49 and I thought I would check it out. Below is a picture of the bridge. Now the picture is not that great and I don't know the history behind the bridge, but the ride out to see it was awesome! It took me off of NC 49 for about 10 miles. It was a really nice ride and makes your stop to remember that the best parts of any trip is the great unmentioned side roads.

Old Pisgah Covered Bridge

All-in-all the trip was great and great way to start the day. I rode about 150 miles and was gone about 4 hours. I really enjoyed the route and look forward to taking some other trips from the NC Scenic Byways book.

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