Tuesday, 27 December 2011

November 29th - December 1st, 2009

Another brisk sunny morning; perfect for riding if you’re prepared for it.  We were headed straight for Asheville, North Carolina to find Wi-Fi and figure out where to camp for the night.  The day was relatively early as we arrived at Ashville.  There was hardly anybody around other than the few stragglers making their way home after a hard night of partying the night before.  Got a weird vibe coming back to city life after spending so much time in the bush; maybe it was just Ashville.  Word on the street Asheville was a hippie town; a haven for deadheads and wannabe musicians alike.  Should be interesting.  We walked into a bookstore and asked around where we could find a place that had Wi-Fi.  We were directed to a place called Izzy’s Coffee Den, but before we made our way over there, we soaked up some of the culture and history of Asheville by looking at a bulletin board filled with pictures of the town throughout the years. 
Izzy's Coffee Den.  Wi-Fi for the price of a bottle of orange juice.
Amanda mingling with the locals while I gathered intel on where to camp
We found our way back on the Blue Ridge Parkway only to find out that it was closed due to rock slides
We picked Horse Cove to camp because it was close to The Dragon; we figure we get there by nightfall, camp for the night, and then ride The Dragon first thing in the morning…

…it rained the next day, so we stayed an extra day for it to pass.

Amanda kept herself busy when she heard something in the rest room nearby.  It was closed for the season so she figured it was an animal trapped inside.  When a park ranger came by, Amanda flagged him over to investigate.  I was busy cooking lunch so I didn’t get a chance to partake in all the excitement.  It ended up being a couple of mice trying to find refuge before winter hit.  Unfortunately there was a bunch of them drowned in a toilet. 

The next day the weather cleared, which means we got some dragon slaying to do.  The footprint we left behind.

We thought this was the dam where the movie "The Fugitive" was filmed...
...it wasn't.  It was more like this...The Cheoah Dam
When we arrived at Deals Gap, we were expecting the place to be jam packed; it was empty.  We met a worker who was closing shop for the season and he told us about the road known as The Tail of the Dragon.  We discovered that 5 people had died on this road this year.  3 per year is the average.  Not sure if we needed to know that.

The Tree of Shame
The Tail of the Dragon, also known as US route 129.  318 curves within 11 miles so they say; I lost count after 12.  The experience fell short only because we were riding at an average speed of about 35 mph; didn’t want to add 2 more to the annual statistic.  I can see how tempting it is for someone with the right machine to push the limits, but on a KLR?  “A man’s gotta know his limitations.”  Not to say we didn’t enjoy the dragon; I can only speak for myself, but I had this stupid ear-to-ear grin on my face the whole time.  Amanda on the other hand didn’t care much for the technicality of the road.  She was  just glad to make it out alive.  One thing’s for sure though, we both felt a notch up in riding experience.
Just before the end at the lookout, starting from Deals Gap

Got here just in time.  There were hardly any vehicles on the road.
After slaying the dragon, we stopped to grab a bite at a pizza buffet restaurant.  Then rode out on the Cherohala Skyway.

We were having so much fun we forgot the time of day.  We needed to get to Newnan, Georgia where BlueLightning & GypsyAngel graciously offered us a place to lay our heads.  We stopped over at Crystal Burgers on the outskirts of Atlanta to snag Wi-Fi and get in touch with BlueLightning.  It was dark already and making a lane change from one end to another on an 8-lane highway was a pain in the buttocks.

The Dragon is slain.
No offerings to Tree of Shame.
Riding skills are gained. 

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