Day 8
October 8th, 2009
Prattville, Ala.

I pulled myself out of bed when Debbie woke up (5:30am) because I wanted a early start, and was ok riding in the dark because the first 100 miles I was intimately familiar with.  Not much to do, because the RT was just as I parked it the night before.  I think the motor was still warm.

I put the battery back in the Sony, "I'll need this in the Blue Ridge," and staged my things on the kitchen table; camera, Iphone, wallet, keys, and Oakleys.  I milled around the kitchen with Debbie, chatting about some stuff that needed to get done upon my return.  The weather guessers said no rain the next 2 days, but a front lurked out west, and it would surely move east.

Around 6 I said, "well baby I better get on the road, I don't wanna miss the supper ride this evening, and those boys will probably leave out for it about 5.  I'll call ya later.  This is a routine ride, I can ride to Cruso blindfolded, so don't worry."

"I know, but I still do."

"see you in a few days"

The morning was still dark when I pulled the garage door up, and punched the 1200 to life.  The blown out low beam still annoyed me.  "I gotta get that fixed."

I filled the RT at the corner store a few blocks from my house, the station does NOT use ethanol, from there I went by my bank and keyed out 100 dollars cash.  "Don't need to carry more than that."

Now I was ready to ride and went out East Prattville to I-65 South.  The morning commute was still a hour away so I was unencumbered to Montgomery, where I switched over to I-85 North.

The thick warm air of Central Alabama, felt nothing like the cool, thin of Arizona or New Mexico.  "yep, feels like home."  The Mitylene exit marks the end of the Montgomery congestion, so when I passed it I set the cruise and put my aim on LaGrange, Georgia, the first route change of a number changes this day.

I-85 was easy pickings on this morning, not much traffic and the road was good.  When I passed 18 wheelers most of them flashed their lights for me to come back over, something they only do for other 18 wheelers.  Perhaps they could see I was a Long Rider, and not the normal every day fare, and could relate.

The sun was rising and the surrounding landscape started to emerge from the darkness.  Nothing like daybreak on a long ride.

While crossing the Chattahoochee into Georgia, the night view on the Zumo switched over to day mode.

At the U.S. 27 exit, I was called to leave 85 and ride due north through West Georgia.  I created this route in 2001 on my first ride home from Cruso.  I wanted a route that by passed Atlanta, and kept me on backroads as much as possible.  This route did that, but the last couple of years I've somewhat have abandoned it, and go home via Chattanooga.  Cities in West Georgia are no longer the quiet little communities of 8 years ago, now there is too much urban sprawl connected to them to be fun.  The route is complicated, and it took several years to get it down to memory, but this was my first time riding it south to north, and everyone knows that creates a whole new outlook.

It was a sparkling Georgia morning.  Mild temps and lots of sun.  It took a while to get through LaGrange and after which I had a clear run to Carrollton.  The countryside looked friendly as I motored on north, a Carroll County deputy waved at me as I came by him leaving a side road.  "What a nice morning, good weather, great bike, and lots of miles to do."
​In a time before interstates,  the Rock City painted barn could be
found everywhere in the South.  This one on U.S. 27 has been well preserved

The Zumo had me riding off the road in a field for a few miles, (virtually) the purple line way off to the side.  I was riding on the "new" 27.  Over the years I saw construction going on, and now that it's completed, I guess I need to update my software.

I turned off to a BP con store in Carrollton for a break, having put down about 150 miles.  I bought a drink and plopped in the sun out front, near the ice bin.  A newish, black Ford pick up pulled in, a man with a face he'd gotten a lot of mileage out of got out.  On his way in he came over to chat.

"Alabama huh?"

"yeah that'd be me"

"pretty good football team over there"

"yeah they do alright"

" glad we don't play y'all this year"

"well we could meet in the SEC championship game"

"like that's gonna happen, y'all might make it, but don't look for us."  My guess "us" is the University of Georgia.
I left Carrollton on SR 61, and the route did indeed look different riding in this direction.  I was dangerously close to Atlanta and the assorted chaos that goes with it.

The GPS said I was passing through a place called "Funkerhouser".  I was curious as to how you give a community such a name.  I was going to ask, but saw no one or no place to stop.

SR 61 makes a dash around Cartersville, and under I-75.  I got caught up in a funeral procession in the area for several miles.  I passed it on the right, but felt odd doing it.  The deputy leading the procession seemed not to mind.

A few miles later I turned on SR 53.  I knew the road had a few twists, so bumped the ESA to sport.  I concluded this road was a hot place for local riders, because I almost always see bikes coming and going in the area.  Today was no exception, I saw bikes of all genres on 53.

SR 53 is pleasant as it curves down in elevation, and along the way quaint farmhouses call out.

A few miles later I went left on SR 5, a mostly 4 lane highway to the mountains.  Eight years ago not much could be found along this route, that has now grown exponentially with the folks getting out of Atlanta.  You'll find Wal Marts and fast food galore along this crest before entering North Carolina.

The reserve light came on, but I continued on to Elljay, I knew I'd find lots of options there.  When I arrived I went to the McDonad's I sometimes stop at when I come through.  "Seems I've been eating a lot of fast food lately," but what can I say?  I was in the mood for chicken nuggets.  And it would be quick, I was going to cut it close to my 5pm goal.

I ate quickly, checked messages, and called Debbie.  I skipped putting any notes in.  Then I went across to a Shell con station and filled the RT.

It was early afternoon and I still had miles to go.  I was excited to be entering the mountains, and looked forward to their beauty and great roads.  I set up this route a little differently then previous issues.  This time I left SR 5 not for Spur 60 to Murphy, but remained on U.S. 76 to SR 69 > U.S, 64 to North Carolina.  I was tired of negotiating the Nantahala Gorge, which is 20 miles of 2 lane slog through a canyon choked down by raft busses each way, and other tourist traffic.  This time of day I was sure it would take 45 minutes to get through.  But on this day I did a end run on a few roads I'd never been on.

Scenic overlook on U.S. 64
U.S. 64 was a nice ride through the mountains, and for the first time I was running into fall colors.  The highway was 4 lane with a few long sweepers and the riding was good.  It took me around Franklin, sparing me the trouble of a ride through.
For the first time I was starting to see Fall color.  Somewhere on U.S. 64.
The RT easily passed sedate RVs on the long uphills
​  A colorful row of trees on the way to the Blue Ridge.
Out of Franklin I took U.S. 441 to U.S. 74, for the final few miles to Waynesville.  I was thirsty so stopped in a store with a long front porch called O'Henry's.  One end of the building was selling flea market stuff on the guise they were "antiques."

To my delight I found a bottle Coke, and went outside to a wood rocking chair.  I called Peter Menard and left a message I was near Waynesville, and should be at the campground in 30 minutes or so.

A young girl was sitting on the steps of the store talking on her cell phone.  She was still on it when I left.
I watched the traffic going by on U.S. 74, including many bikes.  A Gold Wing trike came in for gas while I was figuring out my next move.  It was piloted by a friendly couple from Florida.  We exchanged greetings but no conversation.

"Well better get to the campground, probably lot going on there."

I was moving up a line of traffic, when I saw the rear of a silver ST 1300 ahead.  "I've seen enough of that ugly taillight to know that's a 1300 up there, he's probably on his way to the gathering."  I caught up to him, but he was local and not on his way to the campground.

When I came by the Parkway entrance I thought about getting on it, and come in by U.S. 276, but figured correctly I better make haste to the campground.

Just south of Waynesville, the Zumo took me off 74 and into the city.  I'd been through section of the city before but couldn't really remember when.  The route took me past fine southern homes with colorful trees in the front yard.  Waynesville is a charming place this time of year.  It has changed alot since 2001 when I first starting coming here.

At 276 I went right, and started across the valley to Cruso and the Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground.  It was a fine way to end a ride, under a blue sky and warm sun.  The trees in the valley were changing, but looked a few days behind last year.  

I waved at a few guys when I came by the golf course, and the Jukebox Junction looked quiet.  There are several nice curves from the junction to the campground, and I skewered them well.

The checkered flag ran came up at the campground, I was on the scene, and could see through the trees gobs of STs already here!

I was crossing the bridge that leads to the camp area, when I met Uncle Phil leading a line of bikes, "turnaround we're going for supper."  So I did and fell in place.  I assumed we were going to the junction, but we went left out of the campground toward Brevard.  "Looks like we're goin someplace different."

U.S. 276 is a great ride and before I knew it the curves were coming at me.  The quick leaning RT, even though loaded, easily fell in line with the Hondas and kept pace on the snaky road.  We went over the Parkway and back down the mountain to Brevard.  This side of had more color, probably because the mountains blocked more of the sun.

Finally we arrived at the BBQ place, from what I could gather we had about 15 bikes.  All my old friends were on the scene.  It was great to be reunited with them, it had been a long year.  I had a great ride today, and what better way to end it.

I met many new faces at supper and tried to get to know as many as I could.  We kidded each other about many things.  

After a great BBQ sandwich it was time to head back to Cruso.  On the way back I fell out of the line to take a few pics.  "The scenery here gets better every year."  I love the Blue Ridge, it holds a special place for 
I found this side road off U.S. 276
 After the photo op I got back in line and leaned the many turns on 276.  It is a twisty, uneven road up the mountains and back down.  The surface is a little rough on the Cruso side but not all that bad.
U.S. 276 on the way to the Blue Ridge Parkway, near Brevard, NC.
The ride back to the campground was a pleasant 20 miles and I finished the day with 436 miles.
I had to set my tent up in the dark but I had Peter Menard holding the light for me.  The soft, rich, North Carolina soil was much easier to push a peg down in, then New Mexico's concrete.  When I finished we ambled on over to the camp fire, that was just getting started.  My guess over 50 riders were on the scene.  It was fun.
I fielded questions about my recent trip West, and we talked about the ride coming up tomorrow.  Uncle Phil said he had it all lined up, so I wasn't worried.  The fire lasted long into the night, till I finally broke off and went for a shower, and then on to bed.

"look, been fun but I better get a shower and get to bed, see y'all in the morning."

It was the warmest night I could ever remember in a Blue Ridge Fall.

Back at the tent I put my headphones on and listened to the Iphone.  I was in my spot by the creek and could hear the water.  It took about 20 minutes for me to wind down but when I did, sleep came quick.