Spring Smokey Mountains Ride - May 2013
(GoldWing - Road Trip)

Road Trip Background - First Road Trip with the wife together in a while and the last road trip before I hit the operating table on May 28th for Prostate Cancer Surgery. Going to head over to Robbinsville, North Carolina and headquarters out of that area while Yong and I explore the fine riding in the Smoky Mountains on the Wing for 3 full days of riding bliss. Based on recommendations from other Wingers we will be staying at the Two Wheel Inn http://www.twowheelinn.com/ We will be returning home on May 16th.

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Sunday, May 12’ 2013

Guess there’s just no way to be able to predict those days you wish at the end of it that you had just stayed in bed and rolled over and gone back to sleep. It was destined to be one of those days. It was supposed to be the most exciting day as the first day of a road trip had finally gotten here but we got off to a shaky start and it didn’t improve much from there. As everyone who carries their loved one on the rear passenger seat on a motorcycle road trip knows you now have two different peoples schedules for stopping. Yong was begging for a stop right after we had one it seemed and I pulled into a gas station and park in front on the edge of the building while she took her break. It was a legit parking space and even had one of those long cement blocks anchored to the front of the space to prevent cars from rolling forward. However there was nothing if front of it as that space jutted out away from the building. Once she got back and we mounted up it look like clear sailing to me to move forward. Wrong … I had forgotten that concrete block was there and while the front tire missed it the front cowl and belly pan got a mouth full of it … we abruptly stopped and down we went. It was a graceful fall, if there is such a thing, and no one was hurt and we quickly got the bike upright. Belly pan probably saved my butt again and collected a few more indentations but the plastic front chrome cowl was left with a small crack. Relieved no serious damage done we shrugged it off and went on our way although it should have been an omen of things to come. Funny 9+ years and 267K on this bike I don’t get too excited any more when it gets a new ding. When it was new I’d be beside myself if an incident like this happened.

The next issue arose as the temps stayed in the upper 50’s for most of the day. Sunny but cool. Yong knows I can’t control the weather but this was unseasonably cool weather for almost the middle of May in Tennessee and she has definitely become a warm weather only rider. We had plenty of clothes and heat but she just doesn’t like the cold air. We planned to stop at Falls Creek Falls State Park to have lunch so we swung into a Subway in the town before the park that was supposed to be open to pick up some sandwiches but wasn’t. Lady came to the door and said they had a water pipe that had broken last night and couldn’t open today. Great. As we climbed back on the bike resigned to eat the food we had packed from home for lunch instead I noticed in the reflection from the Subway window as I turn on the Wing one of the front low beams had just gone out. Wonderful.

We did eventually stop at the park and had our lunch and then proceeded on to Tellico Plains, Cherohala Parkway and on in to Robbinsville, NC. Here are some pics along the way
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Beautiful Purple blooms

We rolled into Robbinsville, NC around 5:30 and checked into the Two Wheel Inn. Our first visit/stay here and Barry and Linda that run the place were very nice. However, being out in the country and using satellite for Internet WIFI the Inn’s Internet speed wasn’t up to stuff for Yong to stream her favorite videos. Back in the dog house I go again. Note to self … Booking a room with and extremely fast internet connection is more important than booking a room at a motel that comes with your own personal mini garage to park your bike in right along side your room. That was cool. Linda says they have a patent on this design but hard to imagine that but a great idea.
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After being married this many years I should have known Yong just wouldn’t appreciate the garage for the bike as much as me :-) Tomorrow is make up day. Think our first days riding will take us south into the Georgia hills. Although I see a detour into Atlanta to visit a few choice stores to see if I can make up for today’s miss steps. Rough Mother’s Day …. which means Father’s day is going to be pay back time :-)

Monday, May 13’ 2013

Our general plan was to ride out of Robbinsville NC (home base for now) south on Monday east on Tuesday and north on Wednesday. Yong’s desire was to use our going South day to drop down to Atlanta, GA and take in the Georgia Aquarium. Here I was dreaming of riding some nice twisty roads all day and Yong wanted to see fish swimming around. Oh wait those fish are swimming around in the world’s largest Aquarium! We finished a late breakfast at the Huddle House and then meandered south into the North Georgia Mountains on along highway 129 and 19 popping out by around 12:30 p.m. here
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Georgia Aquarium, is the world's largest aquarium

I suddenly feel like a tour guide.

Stiff fine to get in ($ 27 person), pleasure of parking ($ 10), over priced hamburger ($ 6) ……. having my little swiss army knife confiscated upon entry … priceless. Given all that I will admit I really enjoyed it. Guess who else enjoyed it?
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Yong was having a blast running around taking pictures/videos of everything with her iPad
This was an amazing place and by the way I did get my little swiss army knife back. They tag items they won’t let you take in and you claim them when you exit. Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area … but here’s what it will cost you.
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This was the beginning of rush hour. Of course big city’s today rush hour is every hour. Makes me wonder how I commuted all those years I worked. What a crazy way to waste something you have only a finite amount of …. TIME.

We finally did weave through the traffic and escaped Atlanta gridlock grip on us. We then diverted off course on the way back to get a look at Lake Lanier and Lake Lanier Islands Park seem to be a choice spot. That turned out to be true in more ways than one. Money honey. Of course they tag you with a $10 dollars fee just for the pleasure of driving out on these islands located in the lake. It was funny my GPS on the Wing is so old it shows our location in the middle of the lake while we were riding from island to island. Very Pretty …
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Your yacht awaits you.
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Breathing fresh air again. I am standing on solid ground … I haven’t master the art of walking on water just yet ;-)
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Who wouldn’t want to walk down a path like this one on a day like today. Blessings too many to count.

As we finished up the rest of our $10 tour of the islands we were keenly aware that we had left ourselves long on hours to get back to home base before cold and darkest set in. We were still 3 hours away and it was now 5:30 p.m. We continued on around the lake and back up north pretty much the same route we came down. We got back in around 8:30 p.m. Later than we would have liked. Today’s ride was about 350 miles total but no time to deviate off the main drags where the really good roads can be found. Not that Highway 129 and 19 weren’t great roads through the mountains because they were. Going to the Aquarium with Yong today was definitely a change of pace but we managed to mix in both a little riding and a little culture. Let’s not let that happen again :-) Tomorrow want to hit the Moonshiner28 and venture into South Carolina. Sunny and blue skies with temps improving higher each day but morning and evening chills persist.

Tuesday, May 14’ 2013

Indescribably great day of riding today! Words couldn’t possibly explain how perfect today was. To start with there were much warmer temps earlier in the day and we were anxious this morning to quickly get over the gap out of Robbinsville on highway 143 and then hit Highway 28 south all the way into Georgia and eventually Walhalla, SC (The Moonshiner28). Here’s our first stop to smell the roses and appreciate the quietness of the morning.
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We proceeded on and were amazed at the beauty and quality of the road as highway 28 wound it’s way next to the river often and offered up many waterfalls along this Scenic By-Way. There were many places to pull over at various locations along the route if you wanted to stop. Trick was to find the best spot. Sometimes it seems you have to ride by something, see it, and then turn around and come back. This was the case today and we found ourselves at Dry Falls. It was a very nice spot and great accessibility to the Falls which you can walk under and out the other side. Very cool. Here are some pics
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Dry Falls north of Highlands, NC on route 28 (not dry this day)
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A very nice lady we met there was kind enough to snap a photo of the two of us.
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Check out God’s handiwork and promise

There was even a small waterfalls you could drive under called Bridal Veil Falls just down from Dry Falls. After all that beauty it was lean left, lean right repeat all the way into Walhalla, South Carolina. Simply awesome! We scoped out a Subway and grabbed some sandwiches and drinks and headed back up route 28 the way we came. Since we had just ridden this way it was easy to pick out just the best spot we wanted for our lunch break.

After lunch we veered off of 28 and headed back north on a parallel route on highway 107 which was also s scenic by-way. Another great road and scenery.
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Lovely … I’ll take that house.
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As far as the eye can see and then some … overlook along Highway 107

We arrived back early at home base around 5:00 p.m. Yong was tired and didn’t want to over do the riding this day. However, I was not done yet and was still yearning for some more riding. Perfect time to take in the Tail of The Dragon. Temp mid 70’s, skies sunny blue, winds light and me and my machine ready to roll solo up highway 129 straight to the Dragon

Wasn’t that crowded being a weekday and all although there were the usual speed demons terrorizing the roads as usual. I rode my ride and didn’t pay much attention to anybody else although you can’t help but wonder when a guy coming screaming at your from the other way is going to lose control and take you out with him. In the end everyone stayed on the road and I turned around and rode it back the other way and then back to Robbinsville putting the finishing touches on an exceptionally fine day of riding. Sadly … only one more day here to ride. Tomorrow we go North and check out parts of the Smokey Mountain Park.

Wednesday, May 15’ 2013

I’ve been keeping a close eye on my rear tire since we got over here. They are Dunlop E3’s and I had only 5,000 miles on them when we left home a few days ago. Seems these tires wear out faster and faster each time and now they look spent and have me concern we may only have enough tread left to get home. Unbelievable … this is one reason I’m switching tires on my next set. Got to get something that last longer. With this in mind we decided to limit our riding today to ensure we can get home safely tomorrow. Another beautiful day for our last ride in the area. We headed north and took highway 431 into the Smokey Mountain Park and rode out to Clingman’s Dome, 3rd highest point east of the Mississippi.
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Skies look crystal clear in this shot but in the one’s below you can see the haze that’s more typical.
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We took the short hike from the parking lot up to the tower which was only 1/2 mile. Only problem was it was practically straight up so it seemed like a lot longer. Very pretty in all directions and very little wind to clear out any of the smog and haze. Once we had our fill it was back down the trail and over to Gatlinburg, NC for lunch and browsing some shops … and of course some ice cream. So many people in Gatlinburg almost detracts from the experience but we enjoyed walking around and checking things out.

By mid-afternoon we were on our way back towards home base. We wanted to get back early today since we had planned on meeting up with a few other Wingers that were arriving tonight for another ride over in Franklin, NC. Turns out they got in a little later that expected so we didn’t get a chance to hook up for dinner as planned. We settled in and packed up to get ready for the ride home tomorrow. It’s going to be tough to leave good roads like this one and head home.
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So many roads and so little time.

Thursday, May 16’ 2013

Two things I hate worrying about more than anything else when I’m riding the Wing on a road trip is 1) Low Gas 2) Worn Tires. I do my best to make sure these are well taken care of way ahead of time so as not to interfere or become an issue while I’m focused on riding. I was sure when I left home with only 5,000 on a new set of Dunlop Elite 3’s I was well within the range of working in a road trip that comprised of only about 1,000 miles or so. I would be wrong. Here is what my rear tire looked like when we pulled in the driveway at home yesterday.
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This tire has only 6,300 miles on it!

As much as I’d like to blame the Dunlop E3s in all honesty it’s probably my riding habits combined with poor suspension on my aging wing that is the main culprit in the premature wearing of this tire. It makes me question now that I must do something to shore up the suspension before moving to the Darkside with the new Michelin Alpine. I don’t want to pour a lot of money into this old Wing with a newer one on the horizon some time soon but I truly want to see how many more miles I can actually put on this bike. Decisions Decisions.

At any rate Yong and I departed the Two Wheel Inn in Robbinsville, NC this morning for our ride home to Dover, TN. Yes, I was worried sick all the way home and babied the tires as much as I could. We made it without incident getting home early afternoon. It was a great trip and not a drop of rain the entire 5 days. The Two Wheel Inn was a great place to stay and having a garage sure was a novel idea. The Wifi wasn’t perfect but out in the boonies you can’t do much better than satellite for a connection to the Web. Will definitely consider coming back here for a return visit. With as many great roads to explore in this area as there are it will take many many visits to ensure you ride them all.

Now it’s time to resign myself to my up coming surgery for Prostate Cancer which is coming up in just a little over a week. Guess I’ll be sidelined for a while but sure hope I heal quickly and can get back out on the road come summer for another Road Trip.

Take Care

Donnie


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