Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Eight Days on a Gold Wing

We left Sat. June 28 went through IN, OH; it was raining when we got up but stopped by the time we left around 8 a.m.; the roads were wet and we were pretty much following rain all day. Just south of Dayton we passed a few miles where many small and large trees were broken by a storm that had gone through just before we did, caught up to the rain and stopped at a gas station for 1/2 hr. or so to let it get more ahead of us. The storm damage was really scary - people were out clearing trees w/ chain saws, etc. In one place traffic was backed up at an intersection where a boat and trailer were crashed into a guard rail in the opposite lane. I am so glad we didn't get caught in that storm. But we stayed dry all day. Stayed in Chillicothe, OH overnight.

Sun. June 29 went through rest of OH, WV, arrived in Waynesboro, VA, north end of Blue Ridge Parkway. Stayed at Quality Inn where we'd stayed before. Went swimming - warm and sunny out.

Mon. June 30 started driving on Blue Ridge Parkway. Weather was perfect - sunny and 70 deg. Stopped in Lexington, VA, saw sights, campuses of Washington and Lee Univ. and adjoining Virginia Military Institute, downtown - lots of pre-civil war buildings, Civil War history stuff, ate lunch in that town. The town was interesting, old, built on a hilly, lumpy area. Stayed there about 3.5 hrs. but could've easily spent a day or more there. Made a few little stops on the parkway to enjoy the views. At one, the motorcycle got scraped up on the bottom by the curb. Ugh. When we got to Peaks of Otter, we walked on a trail about 1.5 miles to this little farm from the 1800's-1940's, and looked around, enjoyed the trail until I TRIPPED on a tree stump and fell flat on the ground face down. THANK GOODNESS it was a part of the trail that was soft, flat dirt with no rocks, or incline to fall down. It shocked drh and he had moments of panic thinking how would he get my broken body out of there and home again. I bruised my knee and my left elbow is a little sore, but otherwise no damage, thankfully! Ate supper at Peaks of Otter restaurant, mediocre food. Saw deer right outside on the lawn by the room and bluebirds, baby barn swallows in a nest. It was a quiet, pretty place. Went about 80 miles that day; stayed in Peaks of Otter Lodge (Nat. Park concession http://www.peaksofotter.com/home.html) that night.

Tues. July 1 woke up to cool, partly sunny. 60 deg. Lovely. Due to not finding a place to eat breakfast where we anticipated, we ended up not eating til lunch time in a little town called Floyd. Saw quite a few deer on the parkway drive incl. two little spotted fawns. Stopped and took pictures and enjoyed the historic displays at Mabry Mill and tool shed, etc. Had to take a detour off the parkway on a winding (more than the rest) road - fun for motorcycle drivers. Drove about 180 mi. that day, the longest miles on the parkway for one day. Stayed at Boone at Hampton Inn and walked to a bbq restaurant and also did laundry around the corner.

Wed. July 2 The weather was perfect - 65 deg. not a cloud in the sky. Our first stop was the Moses Cone mansion/crafts center where they had a gallery of local artists things for sale - beautiful woodworking and pottery as well as painting and textiles items. We enjoyed the art very much. Stopped at the Lin Cove viaduct and walked a short distance on a trail enough to observe the stunning and wild environment. Stopped in a little town for camera batteries. Went to Linnville waterfalls and hiked about a 2 mile total trail but part was very difficult, rocky and steep. A nice challenge and my foot didn't hurt or blister and my shoes felt great. Drh got a blister, though. The falls were prettiest from the bottom and we walked out over stones in the river to get close. We were hot and hungry and it was late - 2 p.m. and went to another little town and LO and BEHOLD stumbled across a restaurant we'd been to last time - Famous Louise's which is on the county line where 3 counties meet. Then we rode more and took another detour until we got to Asheville. Stayed at Comfort Suites. Went swimming a little and then downtown to walk around and eat dinner at Cafe on the Square, where I got the cutest little dish with my appetizer (I had pimento cheese w/ pita triangles, and a salad for dinner), which you can see here
http://www.yumyumdish.com/story.php. A piano jazz player was on the sidewalk playing the piano for 3 restaurants. We also had ice cream.

Thurs. July 3 Got a late start. Just a few miles after we got on the parkway, we got off at the North Carolina Arboretum (adjacent to the parkway) and only spent an hr. 1/4 there, but it was a place you could spend the whole day. The gardens we saw were nice, but the best part was the bonsai collection. AMAZING. http://www.ncarboretum.org/ The plants were gorgeous and we talked to a volunteer lady who was doing some pruning - very interesting. She said it is one of the top 5 collections in the US. Back on the parkway, we stopped at a little store and got some snacks and drinks, then took them on to Devil's Courthouse, which was a rocky mountain top which we climbed by way of a very steep asphalt path. The view was very nice, and good exercise. Went back down and ate our snacks. Stopped at the highest point on the parkway, and at Waterrock Knob, to take pictures, which was a goal since the last time we went, those places were so foggy, you couldn't even tell there were mountains! Then we went down to a town, Maggie Valley, to a motorcycle museum called Wheels through Time (http://www.wheelsthroughtime.com/ - sound included so you may want to turn down speakers) and spent a couple hours there. Then went the remaining few miles of the parkway to Cherokee to stay overnight. The weather was great 80 deg. and sunny, cooler when higher in the mountains. Stayed at Comfort Inn in Cherokee. The town is quite the tourist trap, though I would like to see the museum there about the Cherokee people. Ordered Domino's pizza since the motel was out a ways from the restaurant area - it was quiet and overlooked the river with a balcony, so that was nice. We ate our pizza out there.

Fri. July 4. Left about 8:15 and drove through Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As we got further on towards Gatlinburg, TN, the traffic picked up a lot. Sky was cloudy, nice temperature, no rain. Drove through TN, Cumberland Gap Tunnel, into KY. Ate lunch at McDonald's because nothing "local" was open due to the holiday. Put on rainsuits and drove through a winding, twisty, slow road in light rain for 1.5 hours, but that was the only rain we had the whole trip! It was a nice road through Daniel Boone National Forest land. Stayed at Capital Plaza Hotel in Frankfort, KY. The historic downtown was pretty, but again, nothing was open, so we ordered Papa John's pizza. It poured down rain awhile, then stopped for fireworks! We could see several displays from our hotel window! That was cool.

Sat. July 5. Had good breakfast buffet at hotel. Weather was cool, cloudy and damp but it never rained. Lots of winding roads through KY. We crossed the Ohio River at Madison, IN, and rode through Columbus and Nashville, Brown County, so that was fun. Stopped for snacks and drinks. At Danville, IL, backtracked a couple miles into IN again to eat an early dinner at The Beef House, a good steak restaurant with a wide reputation. It had gradually become sunny and by the time we were home, there was not a cloud in the sky and it was 84 deg., the warmest it had been all week, but still pleasant for riding. Each day except the one day we ended up with lunch in Floyd, we ate breakfast at the motel, usually free, and then sometimes we just had a snack instead of a full lunch. But we were hungry a lot due to the fresh air, I think. It was a good trip. I am glad we went there again. Some interesting stuff that we still would like to see so we may go back again someday.

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