Sunday, July 29, 2012

Day 2 - "Where Can I Park My Car?"

Day 2 kicked off after a less than great night's sleep at The Lodge. Most of the fault is mine. I have never slept well before a trip - I guess it is the anticipation. However, another day, another efficient takeoff. Get up at 7:45, pack stuff for overnight trip, grab a cup of coffee, talk to registration gal for a pancake place recommendation and get there. There being the Banner Elk Cafe in quaint downtown Banner Elk, NC. Great (Ramble Staff 5 Star) place. All three meals, great food, outdoor seating with heaters (if needed) and live music.  Check it out if you are in the area.  After pounding a mega-breakfast  (more later) we headed out  in The Truck at 9:20 for our trip to Maggie Valley. It was a great day for a drive in the mountains.  It took us about 2 hours to reach our destination.

Maggie Valley is a town right off US 74. We arrived here to visit Wheels Through Time an amazing motorcycle and car museum.  It has amazing models of motorcycles from Harley Davidson, Excelsior etc. dating from 1910 up to the 1980s.  AND ALMOST EVERYTHING RUNS!.  They have the rarest motorcycle in the world the 1917 Traub which was found bricked into a wall in a Chicago house in 1967. No evidence of the company exists anywhere!  The American machinery on display is fascinating and recalls and era when we could make the best of just about anything. Well worth the visit even if you aren't a motorcycle aficionado.

Before departing we got some directions (the long way it turned out) from a helper at the museum on how to get to our next stop The Tail of the Dragon.  Deals Gap is a section of mountain road in North Carolina and Tennessee beloved by motorcyclists for its 312 curves in 11 miles.   Before we got there though we took a long route (scenic though) on the Blue Ridge Parkway and managed a stop (longer than expected) at Waterrock Knob Overlook.

We hiked from the parking area where the sign is up another several hundred feet on a very steep climb to get the following shot.  As evidenced by photos in this blog endless supplies of Hokie shirts exists in my closet.

After climbing down we set out again for Deals Gap getting there around 4:00 pm which was much, much later than planned. We made one stop for gas and grabbed iced tea and Cliff Bars (blueberry - yum).  Sorry paleo friends I had to do it. It was a cheat day and I was starving with limited choices. The  number of motorcycles at the base of Deals Gap was impressive though Rambler Darryl says lower than normal. We posed for the typical tourist pictures under the Tree of Shame which consists of motorcycle parts from wrecked motorcycles (wrecks are pretty frequent - Google Deals Gap and watch some youtube).

We then took off to attempt The Tail of the Dragon in The Truck with Rambler Darryl at the helm. While we did not scrape our kickstand we did about as much as I want to do in a very tall, 4x4 with off road style tires.  In fact I have to say I am pretty proud of how well it handled.  I took us back down after we completed the eleven mile outward bound trip. (Editors Note - it is easier to be a driver in this type of situation than to be the passenger. Now I now how Rambler Jane feels most of the time I drive. As we headed home we took the more direct route and went through the Cherokee Indian Reservation which is non-descript except for the massive new hotel next to their casino. WOW!

We got checked into our Ramada abode and dealt with the sarcastic front desk lady.  When I asked where I could park The Truck her answer was "in the parking lot".  After no lunch, 300 miles of driving including a bunch on twisty mountain roads I was not in the mood for 70 year old sarcasm. Is it morally wrong to smack an elderly lady????

Enough for today. Tomorrow is busy with mountain biking in the Nantahalla National Forest, a visit to a virgin timber stand in the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest and a run across the Cherohalla Skyway before returning to Banner Elk.

Till then.....keep rambling.

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