Sunday, July 19, 2015

Wild Hogs VII Day 4

After a long humid night with some pretty good thunderstorms we woke up to a pretty good forecast. We decided that we would make the trip to Erie this morning with our main goal to cruise Presque Isle.

We got our usual early start (about 1030) with really damp soupy conditions. Having carefully checked both the forecast and the radar I opted to leave my rain suit behind (bet you can't see this coming). The ride to Erie went rather well. We did take a bit of the long way around because of traffic predictions, but not too far, and it seems that in this case, Google maps was right on the money. We were able to circumvent a lot of the traffic, this being Roar on the Shore. About half way there the clouds broke up, the mist burned off and it was an absolutely beautiful day for a ride. On the way I hit a new milestone on my bike 55,555.5 miles @ 55 mph.

Needless to say there were bikes everywhere. I'm sure the regular residents of Erie are about sick of motorcycle traffic, but everyone seemed courteous enough and people were behaving civilly. We made it to Presque Isle (a peninsula that separates the harbor in Erie from the main part of Lake Erie) about 1 pm and took our time cruising the entire perimeter. The Peninsula is several miles long and features two light houses (one of which is reported to be haunted), a wildlife  refuge, a houseboat community and ten public beaches. We made several stops just to take in the views and of course a bathroom stop is always a must with the 50+ crowd. We even walked onto the beach to check it out. Mark was amazed that such a large body of water was not salt water.

Arby's for lunch
By 2:30 everyone was starving so we decided the next order of business would be lunch. We stopped at Arby's just off the Peninsula and had a nice leisurely lunch before deciding to call it a day and head back for camp. We were looking at a two hour ride, so we figured to make it back just about suppertime.

We got out of the city without any major issues and were cruising along very nicely when ahead in the distance we saw some very ominous clouds. Now according to the forecast, that was not supposed to happen. We went a little further and the roads were wet, as though a storm had just come through. A little further and we started to get rained on. I started looking for somewhere to pull off so those who had rain gear (I opted to leave mine at camp) could don it. In the mean time Jay, Scott and Kevin pulled over on their own in the worst of the rain to break it out. By the time I found a place to pull off, the rain had stopped and the sun was peeking out. We pulled into the parking lot of a business that was closed for renovations and waited for the others to catch up. They then went right by us waving and in some sort of game of biker leap frog went on down the road before pulling over to wait for us.

We finally all got back together and were pretty happy that for the most part the storm had passed through already. Had we been a half hour earlier we would have been in the teeth of it, and what a storm it apparently was. There were lots of signs of tree damage and huge amounts of water pooling or running off.. As we're cruising along counting ourselves lucky, I realized that we were actually catching up to the storm. We could see the rain in the distance. So, we decided to pull into a closed car dealership to give it a chance to move on. We consulted our radar and figured if we gave it about 15 minutes and didn't ride too fast, we should be able to stay behind it.

We did just that and for once we guessed right. The storm moved on leaving lots of wet roads and plenty of debris from trees in the road, but the sun came back out and all was good. Once the weather cleared it was a very pleasant ride and my mind was already anticipating some time around the fire on our last night here.

We got to within 6 miles or so of the camp and traffic came to a complete stop. it seems part of a very large tree had been damaged in the storms last night (the one this afternoon did not pass through our cabin area) and had decided to give way just moments before we arrived there and was completely blocking the road. We, along with a couple of other bikers, a truck driver, and a guy in a pickup went up to see if we could move enough of it to get part of one lane open. We started bending and breaking limbs and actually got enough that bikes could have passed, but just then the cavalry arrived in the form of a couple of guys from the fun park down the road on a gator with two chain saws. They started cutting and we started dragging the limbs to the bank on the side of the road. We were able to get one lane cleared and the guys with the saws decided that that would have to be good enough because the way the main part of the tree was laying, it would be too dangerous to try and cut it up. They decided to leave that to the professionals.

While all this was going on, traffic continued to back up. Most waited patiently or turned around seeking an alternate route. Of course there's always one butt munch who has be the exception. Sadly it was a biker from the Legion Riders (a generally good class of people) who practically ran us down to get through before we even finished clearing a lot of debris from the lane. I don't know his name, and didn't catch his post #, but let me just say, THANKS FOR THE HELP BROTHER! I hope you made it to where ever you were going on time and your beer didn't get warm! Just as the guys from the park were leaving the local Fire Dept. arrived with their chainsaws and started really making light work of the remaining tree.

We finally got back to the cabin about an hour later than anticipated, happy to be able to get into some cooler clothes and get some supper. We all just had leftovers so we won't have too much to take back home with us tomorrow. We enjoyed some time around the camp fire, watched a little TV and even sprung for a night of air conditioning (it's $10 extra a day) since it's so humid.

Tomorrow we put another Wild Hogs Adventure in the books and head home. While we always have a good time on these trips, it also always good to get home.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Wild Hogs VII Day 3

Another change of plans today. The planned trip to Erie was put on hold because radar showed pretty persistent rain.

Wow that was a little disconcerting! I just had a large black ant crawl across my screen and onto my hand as I'm laying in bed typing this on my tablet. I can't seem to get the laptop to connect to the router tonight.

Anyway, we went with plan B today. It turned out to be a great day of riding. We decided to go check out Rt 949 that we missed yesterday.

We left the cabin about 1030 and made the short trip to get gas and find the route. It turns out that it was in fact a great road to ride with lots of twisties and scenery that was amazing. It follows Clear Creek part of the way and winds it's way through the Clear Creek State Forest. The weather was cool and overcast most of the time, but the sun did peek out every now and then. After about 30 miles we found ourselves in Ridgeway again and decided to take Rt. 948 back north to Sheffield where we caught Rt. 6 and followed it to Warren. Lots more nice riding, much of it through parts of the Allegheny National Forest.

We made a lunch stop in Warren before deciding to head back south toward the cabin. We did encounter a few raindrops now and then, but were very fortunate not to hit any real rain. We returned via Rt. 62 which winds it's way along the bank of the Allegheny river. I am truly amazed at the great riding we have right here in our own state of PA.

We really didn't stop to see any sights today. We just enjoyed the ride. So, I don't really have any pictures to share. We did detour through Clarion on the way home to pick up some food for supper. The menu was widely varied with Mark and Kevin enjoying frozen pizza, Scott and Scottie enjoying some wings, Jay having steak on the fire and me cooking up some great chicken on the fire. About 9:30 a storm moved in putting and end to any further campfire for tonight.

Tomorrow we will make another attempt at getting to Erie. The weather is still a big question, but we will check it in the morning and see what happens.
We are currently experiencing a pretty good thunderstorm. The electricity has flickered a couple of times so I think going to bed is advisable. I hope you are all safe and dry where you are.

Wild Hogs VII Day 2 The Odyssey

An Odyssey is defined as "an epic journey". I think the ride today may qualify.

Jay not quite
dressed for the weather
We were up relatively early, about 7 am. We planned an early start, but the temps were in the upper 40s and most did not bring cool/cold weather gear. I of course was prepared after a difficult run to Indianapolis and back a few years ago, but many of the Wild Hogs had not "learned" the lesson that I had. The remedy? A leisurely breakfast and wait around the cabin until the temps rose to a more acceptable level.

We finally rolled out about 1030 with temps now about 60. It was nice clear riding weather and I was very comfortable in my leather jacket (since I was prepared and brought it along). The first order of business was to stop for gas. During our leisurely wait for the temps to recover, we had looked up gas stations close to us. The nearest was a station about 1.4 miles up the road in the opposite direction we planned to go. No big deal! We started out for gas with Kevin (Bacon bits, his Wild Hog name) in the lead since he was in charge of the day's agenda. I think this is where the day took it's first turn toward Odyssey. We rolled right on by the station going another 10 miles up the road to another station very much out of our way. We did get the gas we needed, then we re-routed for our destination, saving the very twisty road that looked like lots of fun and our originally planned route for the return trip.

File picture before the tornado of 2003
Our destination was the Kinzua Bridge, at one time the highest railroad bridge in the world. Originally built in 1883 of iron (not a wooden trestle as I mistakenly said yesterday), it was rebuilt again in 1900 using steel to accommodate heavier trains. It remained in service until 1959, then in 1963 it was sold to the state of PA as the centerpiece of a state park. Restoration of the bridge was started in 2002, but before the work could be finished a large portion of it was destroyed by a tornado in 2003. A still standing portion of one end has been made into a skywalk over the valley, with a glass floor section at the far end.

After our visit to the bridge we realized that it was close to 2 pm and everyone was hungry for lunch. We stopped at the Tasty Freeze in Mt. Jewett (that's the town where the bridge is) and had a good lunch of burgers and fries, and I think someone had chicken fingers. Then it was time to ride again.

I mentioned earlier that we had changed our route to get to the bridge leaving the "scenic route" for the trip home. Well, as usual, it didn't go exactly as planned. The original plan called for taking Rt 219 to Ridgeway, then 949 back to Rt 36 and our cabin. We made it to Ridgeway nicely enough, and 219 is a very nice riding road with good road surface and lots of sweeping curves. The issue came when we go into town and missed the turn for 949. We ended up way on down 219. We pulled over and "Bacon Bits" again recalculated. Now we would go to the town of Brockway, then onto Rt. 28, eventually connecting at some point with 949.

Well, we went through Brockway exiting on 28, and a few miles out turned onto some back road that was unmarked. I thought he was following GPS, but I found out later he was just guessing. Now those of you have may have traveled rural PA may be familiar with what is called tar and chip road surfacing. Essentially they put down a thin coating of liquid tar, then come along and lay stone chips on top creating a hard surface without the cost and time of real blacktop. While not bad for a car or truck, it flat out sucks on a motorcycle. Much of the stone is loose so it's like driving on marbles, and every time a vehicle goes by the other way it throws a bunch of stone at you. Not to mention, the bike in front of you is kicking up stones. Our tight little formation ended up stretched out for 1/2 a mile just because we were trying to create distance to avoid being pelted with the stone.

This is when the ride became epic for me. We're riding through the countryside (very scenic, but way out there) on what amounts to a gravel road. At one point we were passing abandoned houses and barns  and there weren't many signs of life. I saw a sign for "Warsaw" and frankly was beginning to wonder if we might of accidentally ventured out of the country, but was relieved when we passed a property that was flying an american flag and the marine flag. Whew! at least we're still in the country. Eventually we came back to a regular blacktop road and ended up in the town of Brookville which is south of Interstate 80. How we crossed over the major highway without knowing it I'll never figure out, but at least we knew where we were and could now make definite tracks for the cabin. We went about 20 miles and an extra hour out of our way, but hey, it's supposed to be an adventure.

promised pic of cabin
Once back at the cabin, we settled in to build a fire and do a little cooking on it for dinner. We had bacon/cheddar dogs (thank you Sam's Club) and marshmallows. We sat around the fire until about 10 then into the cabin for a little TV before bed (yes we have satellite TV and internet though the internet can be a little spotty, hence my late night entries when everyone else isn't hogging the bandwidth).

I think tomorrow is a trip to Erie. There's some really nice riding along the lake, and Roar on the Shore is going on. Hopefully the bike traffic isn't too insane. I'm hoping we are able to meet up with my nephew for a little riding. My brother-in-law who lives up here has to work, so we won't be able to get him on the road with us.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wild Hogs VII (2015) Day 1

It's hard to believe that we are on year 7 of our Wild Hogs Adventures. This year we decided to stay closer to home. Previous years have always been out of state, heading either north or south. This year we decided to stay in the state of PA. I wasn't sure how I felt about that until we actually were riding today. I must say that PA has as good a riding as anything we have seen in the previous 6 years.

For those who may not be familiar with the history of our annual Wild Hogs Adventure, the short version is that for several years my brothers and I (there are 5 of us) had always talked about taking a motorcycle trip together. It was during one of these many conversations, that one of our wives said "why don't you guys stop talking about it and just do it?". We agreed, and the annual Cagno Brothers Wild Hogs Adventure was born (yes named for the movie).

Living Room
This years trip is to northwestern PA. In past years (except for last year) we have camped on our trip. Last year we decided to do hotels, but all agreed that something was definitely lost without the campfires and late night conversations. This year we decided to rent a cabin in the woods. As I write this it's dark outside and I didn't get a chance to take any pictures of the cabin from the outside. Maybe tomorrow.

We were supposed to start at 0830 this morning, but as with all great plans it was subject to change. Ugly storms in the Lancaster area delayed the Lancaster faction and we were about 2 hours late getting started. The cabin we are renting is in Cook Forest. It is actually only 2.5 or 3 hours from home, but our route to get here took us more like 9 hours. We took a very "scenic" route. The weather was very cloudy with a few sprinkles to start. The further we went the cooler it got, but we started seeing peeks of sunshine here and there. For most of the day we had temps in the mid 60's. By late afternoon we had sunshine and great riding. Many of the mountain roads we were riding reminded me of some of the roads we rode last year in North Carolina.

 We traveled up Rt. 15 from Harrisburg to Rt. 44 south of Williamsport. We then took 44 all the way to Rt. 6 at Coudersport. I don't know how many of you have had the pleasure of riding Rt. 44 through the mountains, but it is right up there with many of the best roads we've ridden on past adventures. Once on Rt. 6 we headed west reaching the little town of Smethport in McKean County. This was something that we were looking forward to. We lived in Smethport for 2 years when I was about 7 years old. (WOW 47 years ago) I did come through this town maybe 20 years ago or so, but I was still amazed that I still was able to find my way around with little difficulty.

Lot on the left was ours
Firehouse across the street
The first stop was actually the second place we lived there. It was a mobile home community (trailer park) across from the fire station. Both are still there. It's funny how things were bigger when we were young. The fire siren tower seemed huge back then. When the siren would go off, we would run to the tower and try to climb it before the siren stopped. That of course would never be allowed now, and truthfully, I don't think our mother knew that's what we did, but it was a much simpler time, where we played outside all day.

Our second stop was the first house we lived in. It was a big Victorian house on King St. It had a neat red bank barn behind it and a huge front yard.

From there we headed to where the old school was (2 blocks away). The school was long ago torn down and a medical clinic has replaced it. I did not take any pictures of it.

We then went another couple of blocks to the old jail. The little blockhouse jail was still in use when we lived there, but has since been closed and is now part of a museum. A couple of my brothers and I could remember walking by there after school to choir practice at the church and talking to an old trustee inmate who would be outside cutting grass. It was a real Mayberry kind of jail. Now they have a new facility just outside town. Still very small, but modern.

On our way out of town we passed by the dam and lake where we used to go fishing as kids. It's hard to believe that we used to walk on the top of that dam when water wasn't flowing over the spillway and nobody said a word. The lake and the creek below were regular hangouts for us in those days. That was a very different time. We were all over town all the time and no one had to worry about anything bad happening. Looking back, it's a wonder we survived our childhood, walking on the top of the spillway to to the dam, paddling a wooden row boat in the creek and swimming at the swimming hole. All on our own at the ages of 7 and less.

Some of you will be disappointed to hear that the day came off without any real incidents. We did get detoured when trying to find our cabin site. We were following Rt 6 to Rt. 66 (not that one) at a town called Kane. Of course, no sooner did we turn onto 66 then we were confronted with large detour signs turning us around and sending us back the way we came. We pulled off at a choice store to figure our next move. The lady who worked there had come out for a smoke break and overheard our conversation and said "good luck with that detour". She asked where we were headed and we told her. She then proceeded to give us directions for a much shorter detour that would get us back on track. Now at the risk of offending some of you, I have to say that these directions, while very detailed were what I like to call women's directions. She told us every road where not to turn and made the directions way more complex than they needed to be. But, with that said, we did make it back to where we needed to be, and ultimately we got to our cabin.

Tomorrow promises to be a good day for riding if maybe a little cool, especially to start. We are planning to ride to the Kinzua Bridge, an old wooden railroad trestle  bridge that was a real marvel of engineering. It was severely damaged in storms a few years ago, but parts still remain. I recall seeing this as a kid. It will be interesting to see it again.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Wild Hogs VI, Day 4

The day started out much like yesterday. It was raining and cool. Since the forecast was for more of the same for the foreseeable future, we decided that the best course of action would be to start heading north to ease the length of our ride home on Sunday. Someone (Tony) suggested that it might be a good idea to jump on the Blue Ridge Parkway and just roll along at the 45 mph speed limit. The rain is much less stinging at 45 than 65. It seemed to make sense, right? But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

We had a nice breakfast at the hotel. A lot of hotels now offer a complimentary hot breakfast. All the ones we stayed at did. Once we finished, it was time to pack up and get on the road. That's when the first fiasco of the day started. Apparently Scott's switch for his LED lights on his bike got wet from the heavy rains we had had overnight and the moisture had shorted it causing the lights to be on all night. That was enough to weaken the battery to the point that it wouldn't start. I should have gotten some video of the guys pushing him around the hotel parking lot, as it was quite the comedy show, but, I was too busy laughing at them to think to break out the phone. Of course, it was raining quite nicely at the time also, just adding to the amusement of many of the guests who were pretty sure we were nuts to start with. I did get a couple of pics of the guys jumping the bike after Scott walked across the street to another hotel to borrow some jumper cables (ours didn't have any but thought the one across the street did.).

 We got the bike running and we were ready to head out.

The night before a couple of the guys had decided to walk up the road to a biker wear store (Maggie Valley Biker Wear) we had passed on the way into town. They were in search of better rain gear, as theirs was not doing the job. They met the owner, a good ole' boy who looked for all the world like Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty. That was another missed opportunity where we should have taken a picture. We decided to make a stop there before heading out of town as I was in need of a new rain suit and a couple of the others who couldn't decide the night before had decided to take the plunge (pun intended). I was looking mine over at the hotel, trying to figure out how so much water was getting in. When I held it up to the light, there were a lot of places where you could see right through it. It's one of those nylon that's had pvc applied to the inside of it, to waterproof it. In many spots the pvc coating was completely gone. Mostly at the normal wear point like the shoulders, knees and shins where the suit rubs or is buffeted by wind while riding, but those are also the points that take the most rain. No wonder I was getting so wet!

We walked into the place, and the first thing the guy says is, "Boy, you brought you a big one with you today" (obviously referring to me). One of my brothers said, "Yea that's the one we told you about. Do you have a rain suite that will fit him?". (Now I know from the start I am opening myself up to all sorts of "Omar the tent maker" jokes from my ever so sensitive friends, family and co-workers). Frankly I was skeptical, because very rarely does a shop of this type have anything that comes even remotely close to fitting me. Today I was pleasantly surprised. He walked right over to a rack and pulled off this jacket and handed to me to try on. It fit! Needless to say, I am the proud owner of a new NexGen rain suit at a very reasonable price. By the way, a neat trick to getting the pants on without catching your boots in the lining, is to put a plastic bag over your boot before inserting it into the pant leg, and it slides right through! Thanks Uncle Si! (we didn't get his real name). A couple of the other guys made their purchases as well, and we were ready to hit the road.

Did I mention the logical suggestion to run the BRP instead of the highway to avoid the stinging rain at highway speeds, and how we all agreed it was a good idea? Well, having only visited the BRP in good weather, it never occurred to us that there might be other issues besides the stinging of raindrops.

We left Maggie Valley heading east along Rt. 19, knowing that we would meet up with the Parkway. We gassed up before getting on the Parkway since there is no gas actually on it. We entered at Asheville heading north. It wasn't very long until the first of the issues became pretty evident. It was getting colder the further we climbed. Most of the Parkway runs at between 3000 and 5000 feet, and that is a whole other weather climate. Ok, so it was getting chilly, but I was wearing enough layers, that I was going to be fine. It wasn't my first rodeo with the temperature difference at higher altitudes.

The next issue was fog (cloud cover actually). Visibility dropped to 10 or 15 feet at times. This makes for some interesting riding. Especially when you are in the lead with nobody to follow and there are any number of unplanned ways to descend the mountain which would not be the preferred method for anyone wanting to make it home.

The final issue became the wind, which we had not considered at all. This is the first time I was in a situation where there was heavy fog and gusting winds. Usually the two are mutually exclusive, not on the BRP. So here we are at nearly 5000 feet in almost zero visibility at temps in the 50's with wind driven rain.

We made it to the "Craggy Gardens Visitor Center" about 20 miles from where we entered the Parkway and sought refuge inside. They had a wood stove burning and the lady park ranger was very nice. We asked where the first exit to civilization was going north. She suggested either Rt. 80 about 20 miles north, or Little Switzerland about 30 miles. She strongly suggested going the extra 10 miles to Little Switzerland as Rt. 80, while on my map of recommended rides, was treacherous with a lot of switchbacks which could be an issue with the visibility.

We set out again feeling our way through the fog, wind and rain. The only good thing about the fog was the fact that you couldn't see how bad it might go if you strayed off the road. It was so thick and wind driven, that most of the tunnels in that area of the Parkway were full of fog as well. We came to the first of our possible exits from the parkway, but when we were right on it and we could barely make out the sign, we decided to move on. We arrived at Little Switzerland about a half hour later (remember it was only ten miles) and at least at that point we could make out the sign.

We exited onto Rt. 226A which if it hadn't been for the weather conditions, would have been a great ride. Sweeping curves going down the mountains, and the visibility opened up to 40 or 50 feet almost immediately and was completely clear about halfway down. We reached the town of Marion (if that sounds familiar it's because we stopped there on day 2) and stopped to have some lunch at a Wendy's. By this time it was after 4 pm. We had been on the road about 5 hours and covered a distance of about 70 miles. We were obviously DONE with the Parkway.

Now the debate became, how to proceed and what was our goal destination for the night. It was still raining, but it looked like the rain was soon to be east of us. Of course we needed to head northeast, so there were many discussions of the best route to take advantage of the speed and direction of the weather (isn't it amazing that we can now call up current radar on our phone?). In the end we decided that we were going to get rained on no matter what so we decided to take the "quickest" route to get us to Roanoke, VA for the night.

We struck out and had pretty good luck. We hit light rain off and on with some heavier pockets here and there, but nothing like the sustained rains we had earlier and on Friday. We made pretty good time and by 9:30 or 10 we were in the Roanoke area to search for a hotel. We had all agreed that we would like to be on the north side of Roanoke, unfortunately, we went just a little too far north and there was nothing to be found. We pulled off to stretch at a gas station at "Natural Bridge, VA" and decided that we would press on to Lexington about 10 miles up the road.

It was then that Jay dropped the bomb that he had decided to press on home because he had many pressing family things with a family vacation at the shore starting tomorrow and he preferred to ride through the night now, rather than push through in the morning and be rushed to get everyone one off for New Jersey in time to get their camper out of storage and set up. I completely understand his reasoning, but at the same time, I was not willing to let him make the run by himself in the middle of the night in the rain, so I volunteered to ride through with him.

We said our goodbyes to the others and they headed up the road to a nice warm dry hotel room. I topped off my gas tank and Jay and I set out north. Now, we had run out of the rain around the VA state line, but radar told us that there was more to come. We hit heavy rains around the Charlottesville area and had it for about 50 miles. Once we got to the Winchester area we ran out of the rain for good. The trip went smoothly except for an attempted gas stop in Hagerstown MD. The only station indicated on the signage was closed and there was nothing else around, so we ran up another exit and found gas. We made it home by 3 am, safe and sound. So, I am home a day early from an adventure after a marathon ride that started in Maggie Valley NC, at about 11 am and ended here in Harrisburg, PA at about 3 am. It didn't turn out quite like we had planned, but it was a good week and one that I'm sure we will talk about for years to come. Safe travels to the rest of the crew today. There weather here in Harrisburg is gorgeous!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Wild Hogs VI, Day 3

Well, all great plans must be subject to change when circumstances change. As I indicated yesterday, our plan was to make another run at the "Tail of the Dragon" today. Unfortunately we woke up to rain this morning and it was unanimous that we didn't want to try that run in the rain. It was decided that we would instead take the scenic route through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

It started out very well. We had very little rain early on, though the radar promised big things to come. The road through the park and over the mountains was very good. It's a narrow two lane road that winds for several miles along a mountain stream before climbing up into the mountains. This is some of the most beautiful scenery in the country and had the roads been dry, it couldn't have been beat. We made a stop at a small waterfall to look at the stream and watch some kids jumping off the rocks and swimming.

As we moved higher into the mountains it became more interesting, as the weather deteriorated and the temperature dropped as well. This would have been a spectacular ride if the weather had not been a factor. I highly recommend a trip along Rt. 73, 74 and 441 through the Smoky Mountain National Park, but do it on a nice day. We climbed over the 5000 ft mark through rain, wind and sometimes very dense fog. The temps were very chilly as well. When the fog would clear the views were amazing! Unfortunately we did not get pics, as we were inclined to keep moving to get to the other side. The fog we experienced was how this group of mountains got their name. Apparently the plan life on the mountain puts out a lot of CO2 often causing fog or clouds to hang in and around the ridges of the mountains. These clouds look like smoke.

We finally descended from the mountains into the town of Cherokee which is in the Cherokee Indian Reservation. We stopped at a Hardee's for lunch, then moved on to Maggie Valley, NC, home of the Wheels Through Time Museum, made popular on the Velocity channel TV show "What's in the Barn". They have the most amazing collection of vintage motorcycles as well as some cars and other unique thing. One of the really amazing things is that these bikes all run. As you can imagine I took a LOT of pics. I of course cannot share them all here, but, here are a few.


 Tomorrow promises more rain as does Sunday so we shall see. We decided to stay here in Maggie Valley as we were pretty waterlogged. We will just decide our next move in the morning. Wish us luck!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Wild Hogs VI, Day 2

We woke up this morning in the comfort of our Holiday Inn Express hotel room. There were only a few short steps to the bathroom vs. the normal trek to some bath house in whatever campground we usually have chosen for the week, and, we had to fight off the urge to advise the EMTs at the fire station next door on how to do their jobs. Of course we really don't know anything about their jobs, but after all, we did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night! Once we were squared away with our morning duties, it was downstairs for the a pretty decent breakfast, as complimentary breakfasts go. Then it was time to load up and hit the road.

We put in a very hard day of riding. We started off on the Blue Ridge Parkway again putting 150 or so miles in before moving off in search of lunch and more gas for the bikes. We saw some amazing sights along the way including Grandfather Mountain and the Linn Cove Viaduct.

Linn Cove Viaduct
Grandfather Mountain

One of the best views of the day
Interesting fact

One of many vistas
More Vistas

More Views

At that point we decided to take the shortest route to the "Tail of the Dragon" as that was our major objective of the day and we had about another 150 miles to go to get there. Now it's at this point that things got a little out of hand for some in the group. In our haste to assure reaching the "Tail" we may have pushed some of the others a little too hard on the ride. We ran non-stop for over two hours and 130 miles or so sometimes in rather frantic traffic on the highway around Asheville, NC. When we did pull over for the first time, we got an earful (and rightfully so) about pushing so hard and a possible minor case of "road rage" along the way with a white pickup truck who did not meet some of our standards of road "etiquette".

The Crew at Deals Gap
We did reach Deals Gap late in the day (between 6 and 6:30 pm). We had a short time to peruse the store at the resort there before closing time, then it was time to "tame the Dragon". As each of us has different riding abilities and experience we all agreed that each would run the tail on his own terms. I was first out followed by my brother Jay and my nephew Scottie. The other 4 came out behind them, but promised to see us at the other end by morning (they are not quite the reckless souls that we in the first three are). It was a great run.

The "Tree of Shame"
Getting there late in the day made it good in the fact that there were very few on the road at that time. In fact, I didn't run into anyone going our directions at all. We did pass several bikes and other vehicles going in the opposite direction, but nothing going our way. I also did not run into any of my "law enforcement brothers" which was nice since I believe there may have been a statute or two bruised in my run. I did the 11 mile run in roughly 18.5 minutes which is not too bad when you consider the 318 curves in those 11 miles. The main thing is that a good time was had by all, and everyone did it safely. We have decided to take another run at it in the morning. I anticipate more traffic, but hope to improve on today's run a little.

After our battle with the "Dragon" we headed north towards Knoxville to find some dinner and accommodations for the night. Dinner ended up being at a Hardees in Maryville TN. Dinner as you could guess was pretty unremarkable with the exception of the young lady who waited on us. She was young (I would guess not more than 16 or 17, but was extremely good at her job. Most of you I'm sure have eaten at a fast food joint at some time in the not too distant past and you likely were as disappointed in the attitude and caliber of service exhibited by the youth of today as I have been. I must tell you, our friend Michaela was an exception. She was single handedly running the counter/register, dropping and serving up fries and delivering the orders to the customers at their tables in the dining room. Kudos Michaela! You are a credit to your parents and the people who were smart enough to hire you, and whatever they pay you, it should be more (in fact we mentioned that to the manager on our way out).

Tonight we are staying in a Comfort Inn Suites across from the Knoxville Airport. The rooms are very nice and everything is very clean. Of course there is the sound of aircraft taking off now and then, but all in all a very nice place.

Tomorrow we will take another run at the "Dragon", then we shall see from there. I have made a promise to myself and the others that we will not push so hard the next few days. I am attempting to upload the video of my run on the tail, if it ever completes. The wireless here is a bit weak. Hopefully I will be able to include it here by morning. I also have photos to download from my phone, but that will have to wait til morning as it is already 0130 as I write this and I am ready for some sleep.