Bear has the right idea - ride to eat, eat to ride! I've been wanting one of the burgers from Deals Gap for a long time, so I hit the road early this morning to head over to the Dragon. It was pretty cold, a little above freezing in Highlands at a bit over 4,000 feet, and there was still a lot of snow covering the mountains slopes, but the forecast called for sunny skies and temps in the high 50s.
I took Hwy. 64 out of Brevard and climbed west through Cashiers to Highlands. I didn't pass any motorcycles until I reached Main Street in Highlands - there were two 'adventure' bikes parked there. Highlands is a pretty cool little mountain town - today it was literally a 'cool' little town.
Hwy. 64 between Highlands and Franklin is a hoot to ride with great scenery and smooth sweeping curves winding for miles through the spectacular Cullasaja Gorge.
Lake Sequoyah lies just outside of Highlands alongside Hwy. 64. Still iced over, but at least the pulloff wasn't crowded at this time of year.
Not far past the lake is Bridal Veil Falls. The highway once passed behind the falls, but was re-routed years ago.
Here's a look at a typical stretch of the highway as it winds down the Gorge a few miles west of Highlands.
In Franklin, I picked up Hwy. 28, heading north towards Fontana Lake. The pic below shows the Little Tennessee River, far below the highway. Hwy. 28 is a favorite among local riders. It can be part of a great loop that includes the Dragon for visitors to the region.
By the time that I reached Fontana Lake, I was beginning to see a lot of other riders. It was still overcast, but was a lot warmer than it had been earlier in the day. The shot below shows the Great Smokies, with Clingmans Dome being the highest peak on the horizon. The Appalachian Trail winds along the ridgeline on the horizon.
This is my 'old school' shot of the day - I love seeing the old Gold Wings still roaming the country. They never wear out - sort of like the Studebaker of motorcycles. Like the Studebaker, they're also deceptively powerful. This guy had his ride tricked out for long distance riding - the real deal.
And finally, I got my burger and it was just as good as I remembered. Dang, they make 'em right at the Gap. There was a few bikes on hand, maybe 10 cruisers and about 20 sport bikes. I was surprised, since a warm day at this time of the year usually brings out in droves. At any rate, it was a terrific ride of about 270 miles through the icy but slowly warming mountains. Bring on springtime!!!