Just Ride

Just Ride

Monday, September 3, 2012

Day Four - Going Home Time (Down on Fascination Street)

Final day - nothing but super-slab (about 300+ miles of it).  Total mileage for the trip clocked in at 1475 miles - not bad for four days.

No pictures due to said super-slab - nothing exciting except getting home and jumping in the pool.

A little about the route...I used Map Source to set the route and loaded it to my Garmin 350LM.  Spot on the entire route.  I had four segments of the trip - of course they were segmented by day.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Day Three - Harley in the sky

Harley in the sky with diamonds?
Reflecting on yesterday...

I put together a list of topics that I wanted to blog about.  Then I realized that my blog is heavy in words and light in pictures.  After this realization, I went back and updated Day 2 with more pictures.  Kept the retrospective of course.  However, going forward, light retrospective heavy pictures.  Except for this post - Day 3 had lots of riding and little pictures.

Last night we stayed at the venerable (at least in my mind) Lodge at Buckberry Creek in the mountains above Gatlinburg, TN.  Wife and I like this place for the following reasons:
1. ambiance/accommodations
2. in smokey mountains near gatlinburg, but away from the tourists.
3. lodge vs (m)||(h)+otel
4. breakfast/dinner outside overlooking the smokey mountains
5. usually very little children
6. late night down by the creek (see pictures)

Here are a few shots from the Buckberry Creek Lodge

Where's the Harley Parking Sign?

Home for the night

The view during dinner

I see Jack and Coke and White Russian

Libations Continue...

The Lodge

Lobby - come here lil puppy...

 I will admit that by around 10-11pm, NandI were pretty much smashed.  Then it hit her - "i want to go down by the creek."  But...but...that is like a 2 mile hike directly down a very steep hill and all I have are these flip flops and i'm drunk and there are bears and no one else will be down there and and and...ahh, screw it, let's go.  (if i haven't said this before - NandI is my nickname for N and I)

So we went back to the room and I grabbed my .40 Glock 27 and a flashlight and we proceeded to walk back down to the trail.  We were stopped by a couple (women) and the night-time maintenance guy.  Each of them expressed the "dangers" that were possible down by the creek/pavilion.  I know I was pretty lit, but the wife was too as her immediate response was related to the fact that I was carrying.  Doh!  Drunk and armed...yes I am.  Prepared to screw with bears...yes I am.

Hiking down the mountain was a good time, we laughed about all the eyes we were seeing with my mega-lumen-flashlight (surefire i believe).  Eventually, we get down there and it was dark as hell.  There were remnants of a fire earlier in the day, but no lights were on.  I proceeded to find as many light switches as possible and then tended to the smoldering fireplace until I had something nice and cozy.  While all this was happening, N found some rocking chairs and placed them in front of the fireplace.  N was pretty excited about being back down here at the pavilion (we visited the lodge one time previously back in 2007). 

None of these pictures are high quality - I ended up turning off lights and just hanging out by the fire.  We had a great time :)

The fireplace in the outdoor pavilion

I think i was trying to show off that this rock chimney was tall - in the end, it is a drunk picture.
Also have a drunk video of said fire...you'll hear music in the background, I found a CD player with only one CD - so we played it.  Not saying it was good or bad, it was just music.  In the end, it would have been better to not have music as I could have heard if any bears were sneaking up on me.  But again, we had been drinking since our arrival at the lodge.

Did you hear the crickets?? :)

Ok, next we slept in a very well appointed suite on a very large comfy bed.  

A few observations from yesterday's ride:
1. Mileage was pretty low overall (~150), but we were very happy with the roads!
2. Many Many cops on these popular roads - in both TN and NC
3. While in TN, I was happy to see at least three different people exercising their right to open carry.

Ok, so that was all yesterday (day 2) - on to day 3.

Very little pictures on day 3, we were on a mission to ride out of the smokey mountains via the parkway and some super-slab.  With a goal of about "halfway home", we stayed in Perry, GA at a place called Henderson Village.  I believe we stayed in the old "slave cabins"...

Our Cabin at the Henderson Village

Outdoor plumbing?

Fields at Henderson - Old Plantation?

Love this shower...my Grandma had one just like it.

 One thing about Henderson Village, while the accommodations were nice and we enjoyed the surroundings, there was no dinner to be had on a Sunday night.  The restaurant was closed down and there isn't anything near here for at least 10 miles.  For dinner, I pulled out the phone and traveled over to a local steak house.  On the way, with no gear on the bike, a sudden rain storm.  Of course...

Anyways, we completed about 350 miles today.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Day Two - motorcycle heaven

Running the Dragon
 Leaving Blairsville, GA.  I enjoyed the atmosphere of The Lodge at Copperhead, A motorcyclist' get-away in the Georgia mountains.  I need to go back there again and spend a few days!  We stayed in a cabin on the backside of the property, had a small garage to park the bike, and a hot tub on our back porch.

After unpacking the bike, we rode over to the lodge for some grub and libations.  The lodge itself is quite large, well decorated, caters to motorcyclists (specific parking spots right up front), and they have live music on certain nights of the week.  We decided to skip out on the music that night due to the long day behind and ahead of us (I believe it was the hot tub calling us).  While dinner was cooking, I drank their last two yuengling in the bottle...lady tried to sell me on yuengling in the can, but I wasn't having it.  Looking forward, I asked the bartendress if I could purchase a bottle of red wine and take it back to the cabin.  She had to ask the owner.

Overall, a great evening spent at the lodge.  With the next day's events on my mind, it was a relatively early evening.  Though the bartendress attempted to light my fuse with a free shot of grandpa mimm's "legalized moonshine.". 100 proof...and it tasted like it too.  I think she does that to get people to stay and drink...normally, a shot like that would trigger the drinking side of me.  The bottle of red would suffice tonight.
Fill'r Up
0700 wake up. Day two.

This entire trip revolves around Day Two.  While the journey was certainly the overall goal - it wasn't until day two that the riding really begins.  Some of the best roads in the US exist in these mountains and Day Two was our opportunity to traverse sweeping curves, switchbacks, and enough elevation change to re-moniker the Harley, "the sherpa."

The wife, determined to bring a cooler with us on the bike, made certain accommodations (restrictions on her own packing list) to ensure it would fit.  The first thing on the agenda after packing up the bike and breakfast at the lodge was the local gas/convenience store.  Ice and Gatorade.  And some more four dollar petrol...(on a side note, getting about 42-45 mpg on the Harley).  Wife brings out a large bag of ice with the drinks and I think to myself, hopefully she has a plan.  Six bottles of water and a couple gatorades, of which, half fit in the cooler.  All good, we make more accommodations, despite the humor I was finding in all this, I know we need the liquids.  The extra ice was given to some boys in a jeep with a boat on the back.  Figured they could use it.
The entry road to the lodge was fraught with stop lights, with which I was determined to avoid on my way out.  A slight redirection of the plan put us on some great warm up roads.  Great mountain scenery and no stop lights.  Kind of forgot to mention...cops were everywhere.  Compensating for poor budgetary planning through additional taxation of holiday travelers.  Back on topic.  Taking the back way to tellico, lining us up for Cherohala, the Tail of the Dragon, and the parkway into Gatlinburg was the perfect alteration of the overall plan.  

Cherohala Skyway
This being my first real motorcycle experience out of Florida on roads that don't go completely straight, I was pretty excited to get moving.  Have I mentioned that I purchased the Harley on May 1, 2012?  I passed the Harley Rider's Edge course in January 2010 so the government could endorse me to ride motorcycles.  I have rented at least 10 different motorycles since my endorsement in January 2010.  However, all but one of my trips were here in Florida.

Today's ride was only about 200 miles, but covered some of the best roads in Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina!  The Cherohala Skyway was a great ride with breathtaking views.  It is quickly becoming a road enthusiast's dream come true with the sweeping corners, scenic views, and cool summer temperatures!  The Skyway covers 15 miles in NC and 21 in TN - it crosses through the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests - thus the name "Chero - hala".  Apparently the road was under construction for around 34 years and cost NC around $100,000,000.  Not cheap, but to me (a non-NC tax payer), well worth it!! 

In my regular perusal of the Internet, I found a woman motorcyclist that has an interesting blog about her travels.  It is a little difficult to admit, but true: "I frequent a blog named Fuzzy Galore", and no...not porn related - which the author accurately depicts as a "Girlie Motorcycle Blog".  (I should mention that at least her blog name has some originality...mine is boring).  Her perspective however, is kinda comical and the riding / adventures are inspiring.  Anyway, my reason for bringing this up - she mentions in her blog how she prefers to take timed pictures while riding with her GoPro versus the video option.  I took her lead and setup my camera for a picture every two seconds while I rode the Cherohala Skyway.  To each their own, but in this case, my own opinion is that the effort to review is much too high and the amount of "good" content is very little for the effort.  Also...the images use MUCH more space than a video due to the quality of the images and the sheer amount.  Either way, I took time out of my life to find pictures of a couple cemeteries and a few cops.

Final cut of the video and some random pictures from Day 2

Leaving Blairsville, GA - I see dead people
I see more dead people.

Fields of the wood.  Hrmm.

Nice View

Another cop

Another cop

Another cop
Stuck behind mr. 25 mph and more cops!
No more cops.  Bye bye old dood.

Cherohala Skyway - In Full Speed
More Cherohala

Wife and I
Great views on the Cherohala
Rain is trying to get me down - got me worried about the tail of the dragon.

Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort
Deal's Gap

Not a bad lean for full luggage and 2up.

Tail of the Dragon

Motorcycle hangout with no amenities

Finally...after all the Youtube videos, we've completed the Tail of the Dragon, What's Next?

Down the Road We Go!

NandI - Getting our drink on before dinner

Friday, August 31, 2012

"No Labor" Day Weekend - Day One

Today, NPR to blairsville.  

As is the case for me, anytime I am about to embark on a trip (even when I as flying on a weekly basis for work), I would barely sleep the night before and most assuredly would wake up far too early.  

 Bike was packed and ready to go by 6:09 AM.  

The goal of the day was about 560 miles, however, due to traffic in Atlanta we clocked in 592 miles (thank goodness for Garmin Zumo 350LM).  I'm not exactly sure what time arrival time was - but I do have some pictures with time stamps around 5:30 PM at the cabin (post-check-in).  We stayed at the Lodge at Copperhead - an excellent biker's "base camp" for riding in the north georgia / tennessee / north carolina mountains.  

Today's ride consisted of mostly highway miles...but I was extremely happy to be riding.  Along the way, I found this excellent display of what people can do when they put their minds to it.  It certainly looks like I was taking a picture of my wife...I wasn't.  Look at the Mercedes in the background with at least 600 lbs of luggage strapped to the top.  The axle was bent in the rear.  Of all things, it was two white guys riding together.  Not trying to be stereotyping...but I kind of didn't expect two middle-aged white guys riding together in an early model Mercedes with their entire life packed on top of the car.  They did wave at me when they were leaving...guess they knew my snapshot wasn't of my wife's rear-end.

Amazing Packing Abilities

Not much else to say regarding the overall highway miles - but a quick rant on Atlanta.  Atlanta sucks (why anyone would want to live there is beyond me.)   The good news, no rain and the rest of the day's miles was very comfortable.  However, I should mention one caveat to the level of comfort experienced while riding...the other day for softball I played catcher.  55 minute squats and both my legs were complete jello!  Made it kinda tough to stop at red lights!!

Upon arrival, check-in and head out to Cabin 56.  Nice spot in the woods with very few other cabins sitting next to us...wouldn't mind coming back and spending a long weekend here!  Of course, we're on a mission with this trip to the mountains, three nights out and three different sleeping accommodations!  No rest for the wicked.

Had dinner at the bar within the lodge...asked the bartender if I could buy a bottle of wine from her and take it back to the cabin; she had to ask the owner.  Came back and sort of forgot that I asked about the wine - after a while I asked her again, she said "oh yeah, sure honey.  I just need to open it for you." All good...bring on the hot tub and the wine.

Party for Two

Parked the bike in the small garage...just deep enough to fit the bike.  Guess it is more like a storage shed.  Parking the bike was a bit of a challenge...first, it is up hill to back the bike into the garage and it has a 2 inch cement lip.  So I rode the bike up the yard and then faced it up hill.  Backed it down with a sharp turn into the garage...might be ok if I was riding a golf cart, definitely bad design for a motorcycle.  

Inside of Cabin 56 was pretty sweet - apparently the people that purchased/built this particular cabin (and subsequently rents it through the lodge) are big Harley fans.  

(the referenced link is not completely up to date - Cabin 56 did have a nice covered back porch)

No Honey, that sound was coming from the Harley.  Not Me.
 Resting the remainder of the night, after breakfast tomorrow, we are on our way to Gatlinburg via Cherohala Skyway and the Tail of the dragon.  Please don't f'n rain.

I will have the GoPro on tomorrow...looking stupid as hell.  But doing it anyways. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Gear - You Slime Ball!

Needed a "tire repair kit" for the bike - went to Wally World to see what I could find.  Found this awesome little kit that has it's own carry case with tire sealant, a compressor, and a tire gauge.  Still need to get some sort of tire plug gear...but I'm extremely pleased with the slime system.  Compressor hooks directly to the bike via the Harley "charging wire" - perfect setup / cheap solution to on the road issues. 

Of course, I also have AAA / AAA Motorcycle - but, in a pinch I've got a cheap onboard solution to a problem you don't want when you are on the road!

(Oh, and doesn't that bike look OH SOOOO GOOD!!!)


** TS Isaac **

As I've been preparing for the journey north of Florida, I have continuously watched Isaac for his next move.  Not a very well organized storm as of yet, it will be interesting to see how he takes shape once over our warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  Due to Isaac's size, I'm expecting rain here in the Tampa area very soon...already a little breezy.

The wife has been dropping hints over the course of the last two weeks regarding her concerns.  I have played them down to some extent, all the while knowing that Isaac could very well ruin my plans.  I have done everything I can to be prepared for the trip - ensuring the wife is comfortable.  We've got new rain gear and we will be wearing our full faced helmets with bluetooth communications.  Our accommodations along the way are extremely comfortable (probably too comfortable for this kind of trip).  However, I must say, I am trying to make sure my wife's first long motorcycle trip that is purely about riding makes her come back for more.


Happy riding...

** Image courtesy of our tax dollars **
This visible image of Tropical Storm Isaac was captured by NOAA's GOES-13 satellite on Sunday, Aug. 26 at 9:45 a.m. EDT and shows clouds from Tropical Storm Isaac from Cuba to northern Florida. Credit: NASA GOES Project