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Blue Ridge Parkway Tour: June 25 – July 2, 2005
Saturday, June 25th: Indianapolis to Charleston, WV.
The ride started on June 25 at 7am with everyone meeting at the IndyWest H-D dealership. It was hot early, with the temperature at 73 degrees at the start of the ride. The riders were: Whiskey (leader), Jeff Clifton, Maureen & Phil Kerr, Dianna & Mike Spivey, Tamera & Paul Kopczynski.
We got off to a suspicious start by taking I70 east but missing the turn off to I465 south due to recent construction so we wound up looping around to the Airport Express way and then onto I465 south.
We take I74 to Cincinnati. Along the way, Whiskey gave the ‘does anyone need to stop?’ signal and Tamera was the first to raise her fist needing to stop before the planned stop but this just allowed everyone a bit earlier relief. During the stop, Paul insisted that Tamera turn Kermit around to face the traffic, which resulted in losing Kermit somewhere along the way.
Whiskey said we would take I74 into Cincy, not I475 around Cincy, and catch US50 through town but instead we again took a wrong turn onto I475 and then down I75 into town where we lost the Kerrs. Somehow, I can’t imagine how or why (I had given up on ever seeing them again), the Kerrs showed up on I75 in Kentucky under the interchange overpass, at which we had stopped. What luck!
We then got back on I475 south of Cincy and took it to US52 where we began our ride along the Ohio River. We stopped at a gas station in New Richmond for gas and some time off of the bikes. It was here that everyone decided to exchange cell phone numbers should we get separated again.
Our next stop couldn’t have happened soon enough. It was hot and I believe everyone was feeling the effects of the heat and getting exhausted. We stopped at a KFC in Portsmoth, Ohio where the ladies had fun trying to stay seated on the toilet. The toilet in the ladies room was so close to the wall that they had to lean into their seat.
We stayed on US52 along the Ohio River until crossing into West Virginia at Huntington where we took I64 into Charleston, WV. Entering Charleston, still on I64, Paul got his tires caught in a narrow roadway rut and managed to ride it out, staying on his bike without incident and Tamera caught some of the rut as well. We again got separated in Charleston just a few miles from our destination. Whiskey committed himself to an off ramp while trying to point to the rest of the group to continue on the freeway. Only Jeff understood what Whiskey was trying to say and took the freeway to our hotel destination much earlier than the rest of us. I was riding third and did not understand Whiskey’s signal so I followed him as did everyone else. We were now in town and Whiskey found a side street where we could turn around and get back on the interstate. As luck would have it on this day, as Whiskey pulled away from the intersection with Paul and Tamera following close behind, a nearby light turned green for crossing traffic forcing the Spiveys and Kerrs to stay behind. We were on a narrow interstate entryway so there was no place to pull over to wait on the others. To make matters worse, the entry ramp took us the wrong way, back to where we came from so Whiskey then had to find a place to loop back around to get us back on track and to our destination. We arrived to find Jeff waiting on us and no Kerrs or Spiveys present. We checked ourselves in and reserved rooms for the others. We waited, and waited, and waited. Finally we made phone contact and knew all were safe but getting to the motel still took quite a while to navigate the unfamiliar roads.
I was certain we lost the others and was certain that someone was angry and would be calling it quits for the trip. Heck, I was thinking about it. But, as a testament to the individuals and the group, we hung together without any bickering. Maybe we were all too tired, having ridden all day in 95 to 97 degree heat, to be angry, or maybe we were relieved to have made it, so that no one took issue with the events of the day.
The evening dinner at the Anchor solidified our group as a unit for the duration of our trip. We had a great time socializing while the beer and drinks went down easily after a long, hot day. The food was good and the drinks going down easy. At the table, Whiskey was heard to say over dinner "I wasn’t lost, I didn’t know where I was going." Paul told a couple jokes and the guys were banging their heads and pulling their ears the rest of the night. Mike stated that Harley Davidson had come out with a new security system, which was a bike cover with the Honda logo embossed on it.
In the end, when the bill came, we were surprised by the amount of drink we had had but the evening didn’t stop there because we took our camaraderie onto deck behind the tavern and motel which overlooked the Kanawha River. We continued into the night sharing many storied personal insights. The moment of the night was Jeff calling directory assistance to then connect with the waitress we had had in the tavern and asking her to deliver more drinks to the deck. I don’t believe this was anything she was permitted to do but she did and we all appreciated it and thanked her for her trouble.
Sunday, June 26th: Charleston, WV. to Harrisonburg, VA.
We started out east on US60 where just a few miles down the road we stopped at a Shoneys for breakfast. We fueled up at a nearby gas station after breakfast and were on the road east. The scenery was great as we rode along the river in the morning. We stopped at a picturesque town called Glen Ferris and took several pictures of the falls and rapids at the town. We get to a Harley Davidson dealership on the road but find it closed on Sundays.
Just a few miles away, on highway 19, is the New River Gorge Bridge, which is the world's 2nd longest single arch steel span. The Royal Gorge Bridge over the Arkansas River in Colorado is the only one higher in the USA. We stop and walk down the walkway to a scenic vista overlooking the gorge and a view of the bridge. The gorge was very deep, making items like the bridge across the river and the railroad very small and distant. It was very impressive scenery and after taking a few pictures, we headed back up the walkway. Along the way we ran into a guy who was a rider who had a definite southern accent and had a very definite opinion about the BRP and the Skyline Drive. He didn’t care for the Skyline Drive, complaining about the scenery in comparison to the BRP and complaining about the deer which seemed to be undeterred by vehicular traffic. He warned us that they would jump out in front of us and in fact one did.
We continued the ride along US60 through some nice and hilly country. The road had many curves with tight switch backs where seeing around the corner was difficult. We rode into White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia where we stopped for fuel and relief from the heat. Along the way, Whiskey realized that his rear brakes were failing so our next stop was to be the closest H-D dealership for help if needed. We got on I64 which we took to Staunton, Virgina and the Shenandoah H-D there. Whiskey only had to bleed his brakes to get them back in working order. We spent some time in the dealership shopping and I just happened to pick up a copy of the latest ‘Enthusiast’ magazine. From the dealership we headed for a lunch at an ice cream parlor while some went to the Arby’s next door.
Then up highway 11 to Harrisonburg, Virginia for the evening. Well, Whiskey had another brain fart and again took a couple turns that wound us through a large shopping area and Wal-Mart center on our way to a Motel 6 where we stayed the night. It was quite the scene; the seven bikes trying to navigate through the pedestrian and motorized traffic while trying to stay together. We were momentarily separated at some of those shopping center traffic lights but all arrived at the Motel 6 without problems.
After another long, hot day, and with a pool just outside our rooms, we decided to take a dip to cool off but first, some beer and snacks were needed. So Phil, Mike, and I went back to the Wal-Mart shopping center we had just driven through and Mike and I went to buy some beer, wine coolers, snacks, and shorts for use as bathing suits. Mike was really pleased by the fact that we could buy cold beer at a Wal-Mart on Sunday here. This all went well until Mike and I got stuck behind some gal that had about a hundred items in the twenty items or less lane; then she had to pay with a check and ask for cash back. Oh well, we got out just in time as Phil was about to sell Mike’s bike to someone looking for a deal. With some ingenuity, and bungi straps, and cargo nets, we got everything loaded and back to the motel. We found the others already at the pool so we dressed and got there as well. Over the course of the evening, we managed to break every pool rule listed on the wall notice. We broke the: no diving, no horseplay, no alcohol, no glass, no cans, no lifeguard, no trespassing, out by 9:30pm. There were some young people there, maybe over twenty, who got us to play their drinking game called ‘pool pong’. Well, it was another good evening. The Kerrs, Spiveys, and Kopczynskis all got hungry and walked to the Texas Steakhouse for dinner.
Monday, June 27th: Harrisonburg, VA. to Buena Vista, VA.
We were up and on the road by 8am and took highway 340 up to Front Royal. Along the way, we stopped in Shenandoah at JJ’s Restaurant for breakfast. Also, along the way to Front Royal, we got behind a road painting crew which backed up traffic for some time with no chance to pass on the winding roads. Add to that a panel truck and some bashful drivers and we were stuck for a while. At our first opportunity we made the most of things, opening up the bikes and passing as much as we could in a single bound.
We arrived at the entrance to the Shenandoah National Park and the Skyline Drive and we stopped for pictures at the entry sign just outside the gate. Thanks to Whiskey’s insistence, we were assessed only the $5 per person entry fee rather than the $10 per vehicle fee indicated, so after paying we started our journey through the mountains.
As expected, the park was very pretty with many scenic overlooks and rustic forested pathways. We stopped often at the overlooks; all were scenic but after several, they started becoming familiar. On those instances where the roadway turned left with an overlook on the right, the appearance of the edge of the world worried Jeff causing him to focus and ride only on the center lines while making the curve. This was often repeated as we rode the length of the parkway. We completed the Skyline Drive and refueled and began the Blue Ridge Parkway ride. Again, the roadway was well cared for and in good shape. There was a noticeable difference though between the Skyline and the BRP. The Skyline Drive was unkempt, rustic, natural, as a park would be, while the BRP was more of a highway with cut grass along the shoulders, and seemingly pruned rhododendrons and azaleas and other shrubs that seemed to add to the landscaping of the roadway. There also seemed to be fewer barriers and road rails which meant more open scenery; not necessarily to Jeff’s liking.
We made it to Buena Vista, VA where we stopped at the first motel, which was also named the Buena Vista Motel. The ride down from the BRP to Buena Vista was a really cool, twisting and turning fun ride to close out the day. Jeff had gone into town to scout out a place to eat but found none and returned with some beer and the bad news. For whatever economic reason, the town seemed to be somewhat a ghost town. The many restaurant choices that Whiskey thought we would have (the reason we stayed here) to chose from were gone. Many businesses were closed and boarded up and only one restaurant remained open so that is where we ate. The Original Italian Restaurant turned out to have good food and good service so all turned out well after all.
Back at the motel, we broke open the beer, reorganized the front porch, Dianna and Tamera played euchre against Whiskey and Jeff with the girls winning the first two games but losing the next three, Jeff killing as many bugs (I guess they were palmetto bugs, big and ugly) as he could, then eating left over pizza, and when the weird guy that dropped off the guy staying next to us came by and asked if there was anything we needed Jeff said pizza and about a half an hour later he shows up with two fresh Domino’s Pizzas for us to have. There were two guys from Michigan that were riding the BRP on their Kawasakis and they stopped to talk for a few moments. Some other people with a very yellow Honda Goldwing Trike were next to Phil and Maureen. The showers were terrible running high and low on pressure and running hot and cold in mere mili seconds.
Tuesday, June 28th: Buena Vista, VA. to Mt. Airy, NC.
There was a threat of rain all day and with the cool damp air, everyone was wearing some additional protection. We started out a bit later today because of the fog in the mountains. We met at Burger King for breakfast and gassed up at separate stations because of our different motorcycle's preference of brands of fuel. Today's rind on the BRP provided different scenery from the day before and began with . we again had a nice scenic ride but it wasn’t as mountainous but was mostly farm like prairie lands with hill in the distance and a few overlooks. We had a couple stops along the BRP but I don’t remember where.
We got to Mt Airy and while there were many motels right off the parkway there didn’t appear to be any taverns or restaurants of interest so we headed down another nice winding and weaving roadway into Mt Airy. Along the way, we stopped for a ABC Touring picture of us entering No Carolina. We did a couple laps of Mt Airy looking for a suitable motel and ended up at the Comfort Inn there.
Jeff and I decided to do laundry while the others waited. They went to Ruby Tuesday for dinner and Jeff and I met them when we got done with the laundry about an hour, maybe longer later. We had a nice dinner and fun at the restaurant with blouse busting Brittany the waitress. I think she was tipped well.
After dinner we all found the pool for more relaxation and more talk. A few teen aged kids showed up at the pool with two of them insisting on jumping and splashing water up at us with their actions. They were unsupervised and kids. We moved away from the pool but they continued on. Some woman showed up in time to see them throw a big splash on Whiskey’s map which caused him to yell at them. She moved them to the other side of the pool for a while but when they were leaving the woman came over to criticize us. She said that the kids had escaped a house fire earlier in the day and that we should be more respectful by not drinking and carrying on at the pool while in front of the boys. This while she puffed like a smoke stack on here cigarettes in the corner of the pool with some guy she called over for aid This after one of the kids had earlier obviously stolen and smoked one of her smokes. In closing her lecture to us she wished that all of us could experience our houses burning down.
June 29th, Wednesday: Mt Airy to Maggie Valley NC
We planned another later start because of fog in the mountains and decided on having the hotel’s continental breakfast rather than stopping elsewhere. It seemed overcast and non-threatening but everyone wore their rain gear. It gradually got warmer and less threatening so the rain gear gradually came off at successive stops.
The BRP was closed due to a landslide so we had to detour off the parkway and use commercial highways to get into Asheville, NC. There appeared to be a rainstorm forming to the west of us as we rode the detour route and sure enough we wound up getting caught up in it along I40 just outside of Asheville at Black Mountain? We got soaked for a while, stopped along the interstate to put some rain gear on and looked for a lunch stop to wait out the rain. We stopped at a nice family restaurant in Black Mountain (?) for lunch where we watched it continue to rain but ended up having enough time to almost dry out before heading back onto the road.
We were in and out of threatening weather and were getting hot at the lower elevations. We refueled along the way and were soon back on the parkway. We eventually caught up with a unmarked school bus that slowly climbed hills at barely 15 mph and a drive without any courtesy at all as it would not pull over to let others pass and would exceed the speed limit on the down side of the hills. At an opportune time, Whiskey, Jeff, Tamera, and I passed up the bus and some trailing cars. Unfortunately, the Kerrs and Spiveys didn’t have the opportunity to pass at the same time so the four of us that did ended up very slowly riding the parkway waiting on the others to catch up. I think we actually stopped on the parkway a couple times waiting on the others but would often see in the distance the school bus racing down the hill not allowing anyone to pass. Eventually, after a great amount of time, the others got by as did some other vehicles but what an enormously discourteous driver, especially when there were many overlooks where he could have momentarily pulled over to allow the others to pass. But NO, he and at least one other car behind him purposely positioned themselves to prevent others from passing and when we did pass at least the driver of the car gave us the finger as a gesture of his respect. Again we were used by "Tar Heel" adults as a means of training their kids in proper personal behavior.
We hadn’t been together in riding formation very long when it again began to rain, and rain hard it did, forcing us off the road onto an overlook for safety. As luck would have it, the school bus passed us by and I guess got the last laugh. Being cold and wet, we put on whatever raingear was left in order to stay warm and to keep from getting any wetter. We again caught up with the bus but it was stopped at an overlook of some waterfalls that we noticed along the way.
At the highest elevation along the BRP, we stopped and took a few pictures to commemorate the event. We continued on to Maggie Valley where we stopped for the night at the Applecover Inn. Whiskey knew of a nice tavern with good food where he expected to eat and celebrate but as luck would have it, the place was closed on Wednesdays. So, again, the only place nearby was an Italian restaurant where we had a reasonable meal but not so good service. Earlier at the motel, we checked our belongings and found that in spite of what T-Bags advertise everything in it was wet from the soaking rain we experienced through the day. I had just washed everything the day before and now everything was wet and required drying. The rooms we had were quite small so getting everything spread out and sorted through was quite a chore. The inn had a small laundry facility so each of in turn tried getting things dry while the seasonal residents also tried washing and drying their things. It seemed to take forever but the clothes got dry but the boots and shoes and other things needed special attention. I ended up putting the boots on the electric heater and cooking them to get dry. We all retired early but over night, Tamera had a lot of trouble breathing in the dampness of the room so it was a tough night sleeping that night.
Thursday, June 30th: Maggie Valley to the end of the BRP
We were up late again this morning and there was plenty of fog to be seen in the mountains so there wasn’t any rush. Besides, the ride would end soon enough. We pulled out down the road to the highly recommended breakfast place only to find that it was closed on Thursdays. How can this happen two days in a row? In any event we wound up at a nice restaurant where we again had a good time with the waitress and a fun meal. Jeff wrote something outrageous in the "If I had a million dollars, I would…." book. The waitress presented us all with one million-dollar bills for use as coupons around town but which we later used for fun with others after the trip. We had a few pictures of us taken by the waitress and then headed out back onto the parkway. It wasn’t a long ride but it did involve riding through numerous tunnels, which was a bit nerve-wracking since we see that roadway was wet in the tunnel but we could see little else through our sunglasses. We all made it to the end where we took pictures of the entrance sign and parted company.
Tamera and I headed south to collect more ABC Touring points in Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee. We were rained on again just outside of Dalton GA and got overheated along the way. With Tamera’s rough night overnight, she got overtired and frightened while driving through Chattanooga, TN. We eventually made it to Kimble TN where we spent the night before heading north.
The rest of the group headed home through the Smokey Mountain National Park and up through Kentucky stopping in Frankfort KY for the night. They called us from the pool where they were again enjoying conversation and drink. They then headed home on July 1st.
Friday, July 1st: Kimble TN to Madison IN
Tamera and I headed north on US 127 through Tennessee and Kentucky. It was very foggy at first with an early start but we were trying to beat a rainstorm that was predicted along the way. The roadway was pretty throughout the ride north. There was some traffic congestion around Lake Cumberland, which was normal for a long weekend. We stopped for ABC Touring pictures along the way and in time ended up in Frankfort KY at a Dairy Queen near the motel our group had stayed the night before. I asked for directions to US421 to Madison but no one there knew the route. The owners called their father who got on the internet to get directions. After all that, the guy still gave me the wrong directions. Tamera and I felt fine and thought we could make it to Madison and spend the night there, a bit closer to home. We got to Madison and I realized along the way that this could be the weekend of the Madison Regatta and sure enough it was. So there were no rooms and the ones available were very over priced and unfortunately we were now exhausted. We reluctantly decided to head further north to Versailles IN where we found a room for the night at the Moon Light motel. We walked into town where we had dinner at the Yellow Dog Tavern.
Saturday, July 2nd, along the Ohio River and back home
We had breakfast at the place with many onions in the potatoes– and headed east for some ABATE touring pictures. We headed to Aurora IN, then along the Ohio River to Rising Sun and Vevay and back through Versailles and to Greensburg and home.