Day 2
October 12th, 2006                                                                                         
Gadsden, Alabama 


By 8am I was up scrounging around my sister's home looking for my glasses.  

"Look, I can't find my glasses, I set them down somewhere."

"Do what??"

We went up and down, back and over, with no luck, and by 8:30am I had to get on the road.
"I'll go to my back up pair, if they turn up let me know."  I was reluctant to leave without them, because I knew my sister.  

I had to go by the local Wal Mart on the way out to find a charger for my phone.  I knew the conglomerate carried wireless supplies and thought I had a good chance of finding one.  I had 2 at home but they were doing me little good now.  What I really wanted was one of those Duracell charges.

After telling my sister good bye, I went back to Rainbow Drive, heading for the Wal Mart located near the I-59 exit.

The Wal Mart store was only semi busy.  The only chargers I found were for Samsung, Nokia, and Erickson.  Sold out of the Motorola stuff.  I left the store and took off for I-59 to start the trip north.  "I'll try again in Athens.  I'm sure there is Cingular store located there."

The weather was sunny and warm, and I was looking forward to having a good ride north to Tennessee and North Carolina, to meet my friends in Cruso for the Fall Gathering.

I-59 was void of traffic and on this perfect riding day that was a good thing.  I cranked the Honda up to 80 and got comfortable.  I don't mind riding I-59 from here to Chattanooga.  Not much traffic, scenic, and fast.

The warm rays of the morning sun reflected off my instruments, and I had the screen in the mid position.  I prefer the wind moving around as opposed to the stillness of a high screen.  It was a great morning to be on a ride, but I was anxious to leave the interstates when I arrive in Athens.

A few miles after crossing into Georgia, a state patrol car was hiding in some thick under cover on the median.  I came by at 80 but he made no move for me.

I pretty much had the highway to myself and before I knew it was in Rising Fawn, taking a break at the Pilot truck stop I always stop at when coming through.  I'm such a creature of habit.  I topped off the tank, and moved the ST out of the way.

Inside I bought a Diet Dew then made a Peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I took a seat at the closed down attached Subway Shop and relaxed.  I made a few calls, and checked messages.

On the way outside I met a GL rider (he was in his car) and his wife.  I guessed them to be from Northern Minnesota or North Dakota judging by the accent.

"Be careful, you gotta watch everything, " the man remarked.  He looked to be in his 60s and wore a cap and plaid shirt.  His face had many lines, and he had thick, bushy eyebrows.

"I will, y'all do the same."

"I have a GL at home, but I don't get to ride as much as I like."

When I finished my break I got back on the road and knocked down the last few miles to Chattanooga.  If you're a regular reader of this web site you know I've been through here many times.  I swung around on I-24 that is squeezed between the Tennessee River and Lookout Mountain, then took I-75 through downtown, and broke out for Knoxville.

Traffic had picked up north of Chattanooga, but it wasn't bad.  I made it through the fog corridor (no fog today) and quickly put away the 40 miles or so to Athens.  

At last exit 49 appeared and I left I-75.  I knew the lay of the land around here, so went off looking for a Cingular store.  I wanted to take care of the charger before lunch.  I didn't find a Cingular outlet, but I did find a Verizon store in a shopping center about 2 miles from the interstate.  "They'll have what I'm lookin for."
I parked and went in.

"Can I help you sir?"

"yeah baby I need a charger for this," as I held up my phone.

She went right to it and within 1 minute was ringing me up.

"That'll be 32.23."

"Man that sucks, cause I got TWO of these jokers at HOME."


With charger in hand I went back to the Waffle House for lunch.  I was taking my gear off, when a small dog in the white car next to me started barking.  Instantly I went back to a similar deal in Elljay, Georgia last fall.  Could this be the same dog here in Athens?  Hmmmmmm I'll let y'all be the judge.  Let me know what you think, cause I don't know
Elljay, Georgia- 2005
​  Athens, Tennessee-2006
I took the window booth and had the grilled chicken.  The blinds were turned in, and because it botherd me so much, I HAD to reverse them.  I can't stand not being able to see out.

Finished eating I called Debbie, and reported the situation.  I had a voice mail from Peter Menard.  He said they would be at the campground by mid afternoon.  I returned his message and advised him I would be on the Parkway riding north around 3pm, and if they had nothing to do, they could ride south and meet me.

I left Athens for Tellico Plains on SR 39.  A route I'd been on several times, and have always enjoyed riding it.  Today was no exception, as it leaned through the curves, slipping pat the horse farms and hayfields.  It was good riding.
​  I found this old shed on SR 39
The tires on the Honda were questionable, but I felt good about them going the distance on this tour.  The lack of tread on the front seemed to bother the Honda, but not enough to make a big difference, I just had to grip the bars a little more to hold my line.  I thought it odd the front tire was going to wear out before the rear.

SR 39 is confining with many blind hills and driveways, I kept the speed down and rode cautiously, but still had a good time.  Leaf color was good, the best I'd seen it in several years
​SR 39 bending hard toward Tellico Plains.  The route took
me past a number of horse farms when I wasn't leaning.

I arrived in Tellico Plains, the gateway to the Cherohala Skyway on the east side of the Unicoi Range.  After a few turns I was on the Skyway climbing up in elevation.
​  The scenery on the Skyway is just as good as the riding- excellent.
I've been on the Skyway many times, and never tire of riding it.  The road, curves, scenery and elevation are excellent.  Speed limit is 45 or so, and 30 mph the first few miles out of Tellico, but I don't ride it fast anyway, and don't let that keep me away from this great road.

On this day I saw more motorcycles then cars, and not a single LEO.  I enjoyed the flowing curves, and views, and generally had a nice time.

The air turned cold around 4000 feet, and I stopped to zip the vents on the Roadcrafter and take some pictures.  The hills were stretched in color, it was quite a site.

The 1300 is a great handling touring bike, and does well on the long sweeping curves on the Skyway.  It is much more at home here then on a road such as the Dragon.

I was having such a good time, that it seemed like just minutes later I was making my way through Robbinsville.  Time flies when you're having fun.

Robbinsville was busy when I passed through.  I came around the courthouse, pushed through the traffic to SR 28 and moved on to Stecoach.  Motorcycles were everywhere, many coming down Deal's Gap.  

SR 28 took me to US 19 where I turned toward Waynesville, but my plan is to pick up the Blue Ridge Parkway for the last 50 miles to the campground.  I took a break at con store in Bryson City.  The gauge was on 2 bars, so I played it safe and topped off.  I would have ignored it, but there isn't much up on the Parkway.

After checking the time I figured I better get moving.  "I better get going, those boys ain't gonna wait for me long before they go to supper tonight."

US 19 is four lane divided from here, and I rode it the Parkway entrance near Balsam. 

The Blue Ridge Parkway is another American treasure.  Great road surface, and nice even curves.  
​  Late afternoon Parkway scene.
It was late afternoon as I rode the last 50 miles to the campground.  The afternoon sun was going down behind the mountains, and the temps began to dive.  Moving up in elevation toward Balsam the numbers on the ST's gauge steadily moved down- 49, 47, 46, 45, before bottoming out at 42.  A howling wind blew across the peaks, buffeting the Honda.  I stopped to switch to lined gloves and to add a sweatshirt under the Roadcrafter.  Wind gusts stood my hair straight out, at the forgotten overlook I paused at. 
​I paused at this overlook to switch to warmer gloves.  The
 ST also enjoyed the view.

But what a nice ride it was.  I love the Blue Ridge Mountains, they are timeless in their beauty.  Colorful leaves drifted down as I swept over the peaks and curves.  It was getting late, the weekend was not yet here, and I had the road to myself.  Oceans of red, yellow, and orange stood out in the valleys between the peaks.  It was really nice, if this wasn't peak season, it was close.

At US 276, a snarling, tricky road, I left the Parkway for the Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground at the foot of Cold Mountain.  The surface is bumpy, and irregular, and after the long velvet ride on the Parkway, felt extra crunchy.  A thick tree cover, and high mountain prevents  light from reaching the surface most of the day, and reading the road was difficult.  I was extra careful, not wanting a mishap this close to the campground.  

The campground came in sight and I pushed the right flasher on, and  rode across the bridge into the campground.  I could see a number of STs through the trees.  "Man, I must be the last joker here."

After checking in I shot over to my spot and started setting up camp.  I was met by Peter Menard, Andy Purmals, Ron Epperly and a host of old timers I've ridden many miles with over the years.

Peter said- "get set up, we're making supper plans, but it looks like the Junction tonight."

"Sounds good to me."

We were lining up when Uncle Phil arrived on his 2002 1100, who threw his stuff off the ground and got in line.
I forgot who lead us to the Junction, but we had a line of about 10 bikes.  I was back in the Blue Ridge, where I'm suppose to be this time of year.  Our quiet bikes sneaked past the homes, and trailers through the valley to the famous ST hangout.  Motorcyclists spend a lot of money in this area, and the operators of the Jukebox Junction seem sensitive that.  We always come in a large group, and are served well.  The place was packed, but we were seated quickly, and received our food in a reasonable amount of time.

At supper we discussed the next days ride, but made no firm plans.

I was kidded about eating a chicken sandwich.

After supper our group headed back down the dark road to the campground.  Most of us stopped to top the tank off for the next ride.  The bridge that had been washed out last year had been replaced, and all was good.  
It was a chilly ride back.  "Man its gonna be cold tonight, I better find a extra blanket to put on my sleeping bag."  It always seems to be nippy this weekend in the Blue Ridge.

At the campground we decided we had too many bikes to take the long ride to Prison Road, and decided on a shorter route instead.  The bus was leaving at 8:30am for the group ride.

After that I spent time at the camp fire.  It was kind of lame they only gave us enough wood for one fire.  I hung around till the fire went out then took a shower.  I went by Ron Epperly's cabin for a blanket.   The rumor was temps were going down into the low 30s.

My sleeping bag was warm and I had no problems finding sleep.  It was a good ride and it was great being reunited with so many of my good friends.

Back at home I was shopping at the local Wal Mart and saw a Razor charger for 14 dollars.