Seriously. I haven’t posted for an entire month. I knew it had been a little while, but a month!?! So much for trying to stay on track!
For the first three weeks of June, work was crazy-busy. This past week has allowed me to do a bit of catch-up at the office. I have thoroughly enjoyed logging off at a decent hour. Last night was the “latest” night of the week, I didn’t log off until 6:00 p.m. Now, I can do a little personal catch-up.
I haven’t been riding much. We had a bit of a heat wave for most of June, too. But that’s okay. I’ve been doing other stuff. And I have some exciting times on the horizon. Having fun stuff in the near future to look forward to is great medicine for me. Especially when that fun stuff enjoys fun with friends, a beautiful beach, a boat, and back-to-back long weekends. A bit further off is a very happy life event for one of our kids, more travel, multiple beaches, great food, and more new stuff to see. And, at the tail-end of the current plan, is a trip to Europe for which I FINALLY bought tickets (airfare had been insanely high for months).
I’m headed to North Carolina this afternoon. Hubby is staying home with the bitches. The next week or so is sort of a blank slate. Or, more accurately, a multiple choice list of options, most of which involve fun and relaxation. MAYBE I’ll even have time to craft a blog post or two.
People who don’t ride motorcycles or drive sportscars don’t always “get” the notion that a road can be a destination. Or that a vacation doesn’t have to include a specific place as a goal.
When I left home, I knew the general areas I might be visiting, but had few specific locations or place objectives. I did have one destination road in mind, however, the Cherohala Skyway. (A “destination road” is a road people travel to specifically to experience. There are actually quite a few destination roads in the Great Smoky Mountains region. All destination roads have a name, not just a government-assigned route number.)
As I planned each day’s route, I kinda-sorta had to think about where I might end up when finished riding for the day. When traveling by bike, it’s sort of important to me to stay in a place within walking distance of eateries. Because I’m usually either too tired or too hot to want to get back on the bike to ride someplace for dinner. Plus, alcohol — even a little bit — is a big no-no for me when riding the bike.
When I left Pigeon Forge, I had no idea where I’d be that evening, but I did know it wouldn’t be in Tennessee at the end of the Cherohala Skyway. Of course, that meant I’d have to ride the Skyway twice — out and back — which was not an unpleasant prospect. But first, I had to get to the North Carolina end of the road.
The NC end of the Skyway is in Robbinsville, sort of on the complete opposite side of the mountains from Pigeon Forge. I could have cut straight across the park, but decided to head around the western edge of the park instead. That meant skirting just inside the northern edge of the park — an altogether lovely road — then taking the Foothills Parkway to US-129 at Chilhowee.
The weather was perfect. Low 60s and not a cloud in the sky.
I stopped at the Cades Cove store (inside the park) for a potty break and some snacks. That’s where I met the bear you see in the first photo. And where I saw the sign featured in the following image. It was hanging in a bathroom stall.
Cades Cove wasn’t as busy as the last time I’d visited, but there were still way too many cars for my liking, so I continued on my way.
I exited the park at the Townsend entrance and hopped on the Foothills Parkway. It took me to US-129, not far north of where the Tail of the Dragon (THE most-famous destination road in the area) starts/ends.
Look what I spotted along the way…
…somewhere between exiting the park and entering the Foothills Parkway.
I’ve ridden The Dragon on a few different occasions now. It is a nice road, but there are many nicer ones in the area with higher speed limits — it’s only 30 mph on The Dragon — that don’t attract tons of people.
I actually managed to zip into a pull-off to grab a couple of pictures.
Because The Dragon is such a popular road, there are several spots along the route where photographers station themselves and take pictures to sell. Killboy.com was the pioneer of that practice at The Dragon. I decided to buy a couple of the images, which are shared below.
It’s a great business idea, really. How often does one get to capture good images of oneself actually riding? Killboy has done so well he has his own store at the intersection of US-28 and US-129 selling all kinds of cool stickers, t-shirts, and other stuff. It’s right across from the original store/restaurant/motel complex at The Dragon.
I wasn’t going to stop at the other store, but that’s where the real potty is, so…
I HAD to get a selfie there, too.
Then it was on to the Cherohala Skyway via the northernmost leg of the Moonshiner 28. I did say there are lots of destination roads in the area, right? In my opinion, it’s actually WAY more fun than The Dragon. So much so, that I had to double back and enjoy it a second time for Hubby.
I gassed-up in Robbinsville at a station that also had a Subway restaurant AND sold fried chicken. Great photo op, eh?
Then it was on to the real fun. Finally.
The weather really was perfect. I rode for quite a while before finally giving in to the complaints from my rumbling belly.
I took my trip before prime season. The whole time I sat there and enjoyed my leisurely picnic lunch, NO vehicles rode past. Not one. It was only when I was ready to start off again that another bike or two rode by.
Yes, I know what the sign really means. I just find it funny.
I reversed direction at the Tennessee end of the Skyway and returned to Robbinsville. I think it was around 4:00 or maybe 5:00 by then. Too early to call it a day.
Actually, I could have called it a day, but there isn’t didn’t seem to be enough going on in Robbinsville, when compared to other locations, to make me want to stay for the night. So I stopped at the Giant Chicken again — free wifi — secured a hotel via phone, and rode to Bryson City. That’s where my day officially ended.
Question for y’all… do you care to see videos? I captured some in the hollers of West Virginia AND on the Cherohala Skyway. They take a bit of time to edit. Raw footage is REALLY boring. If no one really wants to watch them, I won’t bother. If some of you would like to see them, I will make time. So please let me know.
Despite the tone of my recent posts, it’s not all doom and gloom around here. In fact, it’s not really gloomy at all. I’m just feeling a bit “off.” But things are definitely looking up.
There’s nothing like a change of scenery and fun times with friends to lift the spirit. Besides, I am not typically a wallower, as in one who enjoys reveling in one’s own misery. I just figured I should share a little reality every now and then.
Hubby, Mike, and I did something a little different over Easter weekend. A road trip with the girls. A long road trip to the beach of all places, to visit our friends Heather and Timo (pronounced like tee-mo), who live in Carolina Beach, North Carolina.
I met Heather back in 2008. We both worked for the same company at the time. She is also a remote employee (works from her home), so we didn’t spend much time together in person. But we did communicate a lot by phone and e-mail.
We have actually managed to stay in touch over the years. Co-workers come and go, but I have forged bonds with some that will last a lifetime. Heather is one of those.
I have been saying I was going to visit Heather for a very long time. She, Timo, and their furbaby, Roxie, came to visit us in Warrenton back in October. So I figured it was about time we make the trek down to visit them. And I am so glad we did. We had a fabulous time.
Heather and Timo don’t live right on the beach, but they are surrounded by water. If you click on the map, you’ll see what I mean. And their house is absolutely gorgeous. It looks like something out of a magazine, which is why I decided to call it the Ruuska Resort. It’s lovely, really. Heather definitely has a knack for decorating, and “the Swede” who is in charge of upkeep does a bang-up job.
Roxie, the resident furbaby, is a cross between a German Shepherd, Foxhound, and maybe some other stuff. She’s super-smart, very sweet, and was quite pleased to have some canine company. We didn’t see much of their cat, Rosie, while we were there, but I did at least get to meet her.
Spring arrives much earlier in that part of North Carolina. It was nice to see all of the azaleas and lots of other pretty plants in full bloom. Their azaleas have huge flowers, which are more like rhododendrons than azaleas, if you ask me.
Isn’t that flower gorgeous? It looks like a Stargazer Lily. It was almost as big as my hand!
We all felt very welcome. Dogs included!
Timo was born in Sweden, but grew up in Finland, which is why they have a Swedish welcome sign.
Heather made that sign. She’s crafty, too, when she puts her mind to it (and has time for it!).
Don’t you just LOVE this little porch nook on their back deck? It’s quite cozy, which is a good thing, since I locked myself out there at 5:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. Lucky for me, it was warm. AND I had a full cup of coffee. I just curled up on the little settee and listened to the birds cavorting through the trees.
The girls were happy, too, as they got to watch the birds and squirrels. The house is elevated due to its proximity to the water.
Heather and I had been sitting on that little settee. As soon as Heather got up — like seconds later — Roxie joined me. As soon as I got up, Belle joined Roxie, and immediately pretended to be sound asleep.
Belle didn’t mind too much when I took my seat back.
Heather prepared a lovely breakfast for us on Saturday. The furkids were all happy to share the leftover piece of bacon.
After breakfast, we went for a driving tour of the area. It was overcast and rainy, so I didn’t take any pictures. We eventually ended up in Old Town Wilmington, which is where we stopped for a delicious lunch at a place called The Basics.
There was a piece of artwork on the wall above our table, which made Timo ask if we’d been assigned to sit in that spot because he was with us.
The weekend went WAY too fast, of course. Sunday morning came far too quickly.
My early-bird girls and I relaxed while everyone else slept in, then we went for a long walk. It was really lovely.
I told Heather we needed to make sure to get a group photo before we left. After the car was packed, we all headed outside. We knew our girls wouldn’t leave the car while we chatted and I set up the shot.
Nice group photo, right?
We all had a good chuckle afterward when we saw this…
The girls were all perfectly happy to wait in the car as we said our goodbyes.
Heather thinks K and Roxie look like cousins in that photo (above). I think they look like drunk girlfriends.
It really was a lovely visit, even if it did go by way too fast.
One thing is for sure, I have been blessed in this life with a lot of really awesome friends.
More adventures are on the horizon. Could it involve family, friends, a road trip, airplane rides, surprise visitor(s) , a voyage to another country, a boat ride? Or maybe all of the above? One never knows. I do know, however, that exciting times are definitely ahead.
Y’all know I don’t usually subject my Hubby to really weird stuff that I know he won’t appreciate or enjoy, right? But sometimes, I can’t help myself. Especially when there’s something that is just SO up my amusement alley, in a location we’re not likely to re-visit anytime soon. Which is why, after leaving Mount Airy, North Carolina on our recent trip, I included a stop at Slick’s Pottery in the neighboring town of Slate Mountain. I may or may not have planned the route specifically because it passed through that particular locale. 🙂
Along a rural road, an unexpected army of concrete warriors, animals, and Jesi crowd a hillside below a concrete statue factory. The selection no doubt varies continually, but on the day that we stopped by we saw what Americans apparently crave for their lawns and gardens: a dragon, lion, eagle, Indian chiefs, enraptured worshippers, armless Venuses, a pink elephant, an Amish buggy, and a cow up on a pole painted as a tribute to New York City. And there were many more statues arrayed in ordered battalions back from the road, up to the factory. It’s all about the latest ironic juxtaposition waiting to be photographed.
How could I pass THAT up? I would’ve been kicking myself indefinitely if we hadn’t stopped, always wondering what amazing wonders we could have seen.
And, in the end, we only spent five minutes there.
Yes, I can work fast when required.
The business was closed while we were there (a Sunday morning). 🙁
Of course, when I saw the above picture of me was missing an important third component, I requested a re-do.
I read somewhere that the four-foot-tall Sasquatch is one of their biggest sellers.
Wasn’t that a fun stop? If only Slick’s place wasn’t so far from home.
I’m woefully behind on blog posts. Hubby’s birthday ride feels like it was ages ago. Jeez.
I’ll spare you the lame excuses. And, because there’s a backlog, I won’t bog this post down with commentary. Basically, we woke up on Saturday, packed up, ate, and rode. It was a glorious day.
I didn’t take nearly as many pictures as I could have. It was a beautiful area. Truly.
I don’t make Hubby stop much, but I knew we HAD to stop in West Jefferson to see the giant cows at the only cheese factory in NC. I’m glad, too. The town is adorable. It’s on my list of places I absolutely must re-visit.
I actually chose our lodging for the night because it was within easy walking distance of this BBQ place, which had great Yelp! reviews. We weren’t disappointed. The food was delicious.
We were going to visit the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, but we were hungry, I was a bit chilled, and daylight was waning. It’s another place we must re-visit.
I did pop into the visitor’s center to see if their bathrooms worked and was quite tickled to see this mini-LOVEwork with a cool pig in the foreground.
Next up… the other place we HAD to stop. Hubby wasn’t thrilled, but it was early in the day and we’d just eaten breakfast, so he humored me.
This past weekend Hubby and I enjoyed a fabulous three-day ride south and west of our home in Virginia. We covered 850 miles on wonderful motorcycle roads in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and even parts of West Virginia.
I’d been wanting to really put those maps to the test. And guess what? They passed with flying colors. Really. We spent three days riding a series of really awesome motorcycle roads. It was tons of fun. We were having so much fun, in fact, that I didn’t even think about taking a picture until late in the day on Friday, after we’d already been on the road for many hours. You know I’m having fun when I don’t think about pictures, right?
We ended up staying in Hillsville, Virginia Friday night.
Lucky for us, there was a Bojangle’s about 15 minutes from our hotel, so we both enjoyed a nice breakfast on Saturday.
It wasn’t even hard to convince Hubby to pose for a goofy selfie with me.
From there, we rode into downtown Galax, looking for LOVE. (Since it was along the way, I figured we ought to stop.)
Fortunately, the LOVEwork was right where it was supposed to be.
For the record, I saw the LOVEwork in Christiansburg, but it was hot, there was rush hour traffic, and it was on the opposite side of a busy street, so I opted not to stop for a photo. But I saw it. That counts in my book.
After a brief break, we continued south into North Carolina and then west and north to Mountain City, Tennessee.
Why Mountain City? That’s where The Snake begins. 🙂
I missed The Snake on my solo trip earlier this year, so I figured it would be a good destination road that both of us could enjoy.
And enjoy it we did. Seriously, it’s a FUN road. That road alone was worth the trip.
From there, we headed north into Virginia, to Abingdon then East on 58 through the Jefferson National Forest. A repeat road for me that I really, REALLY enjoyed during my solo trip. We then followed 16 into Marion where we stopped for lunch before continuing north on the Back of the Dragon.
We chose Macados for lunch after discovering that the BBQ place we’d really headed for was closed.
After we were seated, I said to Mike, “Did you see the giant dinosaur head on the wall?”
His response? “What dinosaur?” Sigh…
We continued making our way north and east toward Paint Bank, Virginia, where I’d reserved a room at the quaint Depot Lodge. En route, we stopped at the Wolf Creek Indian Village near Bastian for some more LOVE.
Hubby enjoyed the ride just as much as I did. The weather verged on hot at times, but was very pleasant for the most part.
Sunday, we had to hurry home to get the dogs from the kennel and so I could get ready to head off to Rockville, MD for work.
I’d read about the bridge in a pamphlet at the hotel. A pamphlet which did NOT clue me in on a special bonus we’d also find at that location.
That waterfall was easily visible from the overlook along 220 north of Covington, yet another AMAZING stretch of road.
We continued north on 220, all the way to Franklin, West Virginia. It was a beautiful, scenic ride alternating between mountains and valleys. Spectacular, really.
From there, we headed east on US-33 — one of Hubby’s favorite roads — north and east through the Shenandoah Valley, and then, at New Market, east on US-211 to Warrenton.
It may sound repetitive, but that particular series of roads we covered overed three days was probably the best series of roads we’d ever ridden together. Except for maybe in the Italian/Swiss/Austrian Alps. Really. It’s a route we WILL be revisiting.