Family Remembered - Maryland, N.C. & Eastern Tennessee Road Trip 2012

Trip Background - Been putting off a trip to see my older sister, Norma, who lives in Towson, Maryland. She had some serious heart surgery done one year ago and this will be my first visit since. Also going to explore some new roads in North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee on the way back home. This trip will also mark the beginning of my effort to make some serious documentation of my family history


Tuesday - Mar 20’ 2012

If any day of the year is truly deserving of being savored it is the first day of Spring. Who could argue with that? To the rider in me it means warmer and longer days are on the way and the entire riding season lays before me. Not that I haven’t been able to log a few winter time road trips as well but it’s the other three seasons of the year where the heaving lifting is done and longer road trips can be entertained.

Today was that special day, first day of Spring 2012, and I was indeed savoring it. Busting out of Dover, TN around 7:15 a.m. it was a joy to slip into a day that was beginning with sunny blue skies and warm temps. It was all I could do to contain myself. Finally Spring had arrived on time one year … in fact it had arrived 2 weeks earlier as most of the eastern part of the U.S. has been experiencing warmer than normal temps for some time now. I wasn’t complaining it was perfect weather for me to zip up toward Maryland.

Taking the interstate and parkways through Kentucky I sliced the state in half diagonally and made my way over to West Virginia in what seemed like no time and then up to Morgantown where I’m resting tonight. Not much can be said for the interstates but with the light traffic today they were more than tolerable and actually enjoyable allowing for making good time. Many areas through West Virginia on the interstate were actually quite twisty with variations in elevation. Trees were just beginning to bud and a few were blooming.

Now that I’m within striking distance of Towson, Maryland I will take my time tomorrow and hit some of the more rural roads as I head east getting off the Interstate where I can. I should roll into my sister’s house tomorrow late afternoon for a 2 day visit then head south down the coast to North Carolina after that.

Wednesday - Mar 21’ 2012

Glancing out the motel window this morning I was happily blinded by the sun shinning on what looked like another winner of a day. Of course, some things aren’t always what they seem and as I climbed slightly in elevation along interstate 68 east into Maryland I quickly realized there would be some clouds in my future after all. The good news was they really weren’t the raining kind … more the spitting kind. You know the ones that throw a few drops at you as they hang low in the sky and look ominous but really aren’t. Temps were mild and I resisted the temptation to immediately throw my rain gear on which proved to be the right decision as no rain really ever materialized. Approaching Cumberland, Maryland I weened myself off the interstate on to highway 51 scenic byway southeast. It was a welcomed release from the madness of the slab and it made for a leasurely change of pace. Stopping for my first break it was eerily quiet and gray as if it was early early morning. Instead it was approaching noon.
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The fog rides over the valley and the Potomac river in the picture below just outside of Berkeley Springs, Highway 51, Maryland.
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The fog eventually subsided and the day turned out partly cloudy with the sun finally winning out late in the day. Funny ... seeing how the day unfolds weather wise on the road is almost as exciting as seeing what’s around the next turn. Everything contributes a little to making each moment unique and exciting.

I rolled into my sister’s house around 3:00 p.m. and am resting tonight at her house in Towson, Maryland. Will put road trip on pause here until probably Friday then it’s off down the coast to North Carolina in search of new roads to explore there.

Thursday - Mar 22’ 2012

Thursday evening …. and I’m sitting here contemplating a thousand different routes away from the rain heading eastward. It’s on the way and I was looking for a way out of this metropolis called Baltimore that didn’t eventually involve rain and there aren’t any. I’m always the pessimist so it probably won’t be as bad as I’m imagining but my plans to roam around N.C. and Eastern Tennessee carefree over the coming weekend appears to be a wash out. Not to worry … although I always seem to fret over the weather … it’s not the end of the world. Will have to make the best of it. At least tomorrow is on track to be a stellar day just prior to the unsettled weather moving in towards the afternoon and evening so why not enjoy what I got? Come to think of it … you do a lot of that while on any road trip. You make the best of what you got.

After a good visit with my sister Norma and the official starting of the Lewis Family Genealogy documentation/research with a program called Family Tree Maker I was ready to hit the road for the next leg of the journey. I have all the viable options analyzed and in my head so will let simmer overnight and make final decision as I roll out of the drive way in the morning.

Friday - Mar 23’ 2012

Well … I rolled right into gridlock. Before I was going anywhere it was all I could do to free myself from the mass quantities of cages I found myself surrounded by this morning. They were everywhere … as far as the eye could see and not very many of them were moving. I had to escape north first then west and finally head south to Front Royal, Virginia and the north entrance to Skyline Drive.

I eventually got there arriving around noon with most of the fog gone. I decided on the one two punch of the Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway as I headed southwest today. Figure you can’t go wrong with those two. The day was shaping up nicely with lots of sun and some developing clouds as the winding road elevated me up along the ridge the views were picture perfect …
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I love those puffy white clouds … like these …
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Until they turn into these and they get you wet.
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Pretty good downpour in the valley below. Thankfully none was falling where I was at.

I love roads like the Blue Ridge parkway on a day like today. I find myself wondering and hoping the road winds and turns in the right direction at exactly the right times to keep me out of the rain. It worked today and I only encounter a few drops towards the end of the day. At elevations up to 3,500+ it was a perfect 75 degrees. Hard to imagine a better road, day, place or time to be right now but here taking it all in.

So hard to resist the urge to really crank on the juice on these roads and I often catch myself speeding. On the Skyline Drive the speed limit is only 35 mph for crying out loud which is to slow in my opinion. The Blue Ridge is a little better at 45 mph. Very little traffic and the ride was exceptional. Rides like today don’t come along to often. The morning was madness but the afternoon was bliss.

About 400 miles today and I’m resting tonight in Roanoke, Virginia. Rain on doorsteps of my location but if I timed it right this first wave will move through over night tonight. As far as direction tomorrow … who knows … another game time decision.

Some more pics from this precious day … What a beautiful country we have!
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Beauty beyond words ...

Saturday - Mar 24’ 2012

Waking up to the pitter patter of rain outside is never good when you’re on the road. A quick check of the weather and radar tells me a close eye will have to be kept on the weather today. With the rain letting up some around 10:00 a.m. I packed up and rolled out continuing south on the parkway.

What a contrast between two days. Yesterday it was so beautifully warm and mostly sunny along the BR parkway and today it was wet and dreary with just a spot of blue sky appearing occasionally
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Proceeding south it wasn’t long before I encountered rain and that would be the pattern the rest of this day as I’d enter one downpour after another. Fortunately most were short lived.

I even had the pleasure of experiencing a little hail with one of my downpours at 4,200 feet in elevation this afternoon … thank you very much. Nothing makes you question yourself more as to why you’re out here … when you’re high up in elevation miles from everything, alone, riding a motorcycle in a downpour with the clap of thunder and lighting close by as you try and stay on the road and see where you’re going.

Either I’m living life to it’s fullest by pushing the limits and taking chances or I have a death wish. Why else would I put myself in these situations? Then gradually over the next few minutes and few more curves of the road the rain slowly withdraws, the sun slowly shines through and the sky becomes blue in spots again and I breath a sigh of relief still no closer to answering that question.

Low hanging thunderstorms were the order of the day
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Here’s a familiar sight to anyone that has been down the Blue Ridge Parkway …. The Mabry Mill
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Pressing on southward I finally had my fill of excitement for today and decided to depart the BR Parkway about 60 miles from Asheville, North Carolina in hopes of circumventing yet another boomer and dark skies that laid directly in my path.

Turned out to be a good decision and I rolled up close to Asheville and turned in for the night at a little place called Black Mountain just about 25 miles east of Asheville, North Carolina. It is here I’m resting tonight. Only about 250 miles today … slow and treacherous goings at times today.

Here’s a Super Cell Wannabe from earlier in the day.
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Sunday - Mar 25’ 2012

I was hoping for a better weather day this morning as I arose and began what has become my daily ritual of scanning the radars for rain. Turns out that pesky front was just spinning around and around right on top of me and not making very fast progress at all on its trek to the East and out of here. Figuring I needed a more southernly route over to the West I immediately plunged south on Highway 9 out of Black Mountain, North Carolina.
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Much different look and feel to this day as I entered the cold part of the front as I continued to push west. Even with the cooler temps it was easily in the upper 50’s and low 60’s. Very nice!
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Many of the roads travelled today shadowed rivers like this one.

South of Black Mountain, North Carolina is a one building town called Bat Cave on highway 9. It was there I hooked up with highway 64 that took me all the way over to Franklin, North Carolina and on to the doorstep of the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap. Figured I’d grab lunch there and then ride the Dragon up and down then head over to Cherohala Parkway and make my way West over to Tellico Plains slowing inching towards home.

As I was enjoying riding the Dragon I’m always observant of what’s going on behind me so I’m constantly scanning the rear view mirrors. For any one that has been to and ridden the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap knows that it’s a mecca for motorcycles riders who like to rip up this section of road. It’s not unusual for someone on a crotch rocket to zip pass you very quickly and scare the living day lights out of you. That wasn’t the case today but I did get a chance to meet a couple of board members of the GL1800riders.com site.

It was during my second run of the Dragon that I noticed a yellow wing in my rear view mirror. I motion for him to pass and he does and I can see from the emblem on the rear of his trunk as he passes me the words “Yellow Wolf”. I could see it only briefly as he quickly sped away. I tell you … that man can ride a wing … no doubt about it. I later met up with him at the Deals Gap Resort Motel there along with another board member and we chatted a while about riding. Both seemed like great guys. Pretty Cool.
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Yellow Wolf

As the sun set was starting to wane I was off to the south to hook up with highway 143 and the Cherohala Parkway. It’s an excellent road with little to no traffic and long sweeping turns.
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After arriving in Tellico Plains it was up to Crossville, Tennessee where I’m resting tonight.

Covered some premium roads today and I never did catch any rain although it stayed cloudy for most of the day.

This is what Today’s Route looked like.
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Tomorrow I’m going to head North into Kentucky and then West before eventually dropping back down into Tennessee arriving home tomorrow evening.
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My home away from home.

Monday - Mar 26’ 2012

Speaking of home … it was time to head that way … back to my real home in Dover, Tennessee. I nixed the idea of jumping up north to Kentucky for the final leg home to the west and instead decided to take all the rural backroads I could find that went west from where I was at in Crossville, Tennessee right back to Dover.

Today’s weather was the kind I had been hoping for the whole road trip. Unfortunately, as is often the case the really good weather moves in to the area I just left at the conclusion of this road trip. I’m not complaining though overall I had some pretty darn good weather taking everything into consideration.

This day was spectacular with blue skies as far as the eye could see as I zipped west on highway 70 taking in a shot here at a rest area overlooking mid Tennessee.
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The road home is always satisfying as well as sad for me. I love the sense of accomplishment I feel as I reflect back on the last week on the road and the challenges it presented. It truly refreshes my soul as I soar effortlessly around each turn and hear the soft mummer of the goldwing engine just churring away underneath me taking me home.

The open road is truly a magical place where any thing can and usually does happen to you at some point in time. Being out there experiencing it and the people you meet first hand on two wheels maximizes that experience 10 fold in my opinion. For me the open road speaks to me as no one else can. It understands me in such a way that allows me the space I need to breath and feel fully appreciative of life and the time spent in this world.
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How can you not want to see what’s around that turn up ahead? Now if I can just get my hands around the throat of the person that threw that piece of litter on the highway in the pic above I’d give him a piece of my mind. Idiots!

Nothing says you’re approaching home better than when you see the unfamiliar surroundings slowly turn into familiar ones and you slowly realize you are in your own neck of the woods again.

As I rolled up and into the driveway of my home around 3:00 p.m. the odometer on my old girl (2004 Wing) clicked over to 243,003 miles. I had just added 2,066 miles from this road trip. Man this bike just keeps going and going. It ran flawlessly the entire week and never complained. It never ceases to amaze me and I plan to continue to give it ever opportunity to continue to do just that.

Guess I’ll be taking a break from any road trips in April as the wife and I plan to fly to England to visit my son, wife and new Grandson, Austin, during that month. Too bad there’s not a bridge to get over there or I’d be ridding the bike there but guess it won’t hurt for me to take a little break from riding a while.

Next Road Trips will be up to South Dakota in May and I’ll be taking my little 650 V-Strom (Wee) on that road trip. Then in June/July I’ll be making another run out to the west coast Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington State on the Wing.

For those that tagged along with me on this trip … hope you enjoyed it but trust me you didn’t enjoy it as much as I did. Get out there yourself and ride and create your own adventure. There’s one with your name on it just waiting to be written.

Ride Safe and Ride Often

Take Care

Donnie

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