Al and Karen taking a break from a cold ride in Waynesville, NC. Somehow, we ended up taking the Blue Ridge Parkway on a day when the high ridges were coated in ice - damn, it was cold!
The statues are made from old machinery that was taken from local mills. Waynesville is one of the nicest towns in western NC and we have a bunch of nice little towns.
How cold was it?
Cold enough for Karen to hop off and put her hands on the engine in an attempt to warm back up once we dropped below the ice. Windy enough that a strong gust blew the bike over on her while she crouched beside it - luckily, she caught it before it hit the ground.
Ok, this one isn't actually bike related (even though you can pick out the reflection of my bike in the window if you look closely) but this poster was in the window of a shop in Chimney Rock and caught my eye on a recent ride. Go Barney!
Lake Keowee in South Carolina, a few miles south of my home. If it's cold up here in the mountains, I can drop down a couple of thousand feet and enjoy a lot warmer weather. Keowee is named for an old Cherokee town that was flooded by the lake - it's sort of a mixed honor, I suppose.
Here, the gang re-groups near Highlands, NC after descending the spectacular Buck Creek road that bypasses the town. That one was a great ride, starting out on Hwy. 11 down in South Carolina, looping up into the mountains through Franklin to the Wayah Road into the Nantahala Gorge. From there, we looped around to twisty Hwy. 28 into Franklin again, and then up Dicks Creek to the Blue Ridge Parkway and home. It was close to 200 miles of prime mountain riding on a beautiful spring day. It was also a very mixed crew - a Yamaha FJR, a big Beemer, a Harley fatbob (that thing could fly!), a VStrom 1000, a Yamaha 1000, a Yamaha 600 and my little Vee.
On Saturday, Jonathon met me for a long wet ride to the Great Smoky Mountains. Jon is a fellow Versys owner from Asheville and it was his first trip into that part of the Smokies. We got lucky and were able to see about 50 elk in the meadows down in Cataloochee Valley, before heading on across the mountains to Harmon Den and then Max Patch. We probably did about 50 miles of wet, muddy mountain roads, with the weather constantly deteriorating. Despite the mud, rain, and fog, we had a ball paddling up through the miles of slick red clay on the Max Patch road. The photo shows the point where we finally said to hell with it and decided to hit some pavement back down to the low country near Hot Springs to get some hot food. Under better circumstances, such as clear skies and merely damp, not muddy, roads, this could be one of my favorite loops in western NC. Oh, did I mention the snow drifts that we ran into as we crossed over to the north side of the Max Patch mountain? Didn't expect that, though it did snow a lot up there a few days ago. The weatherman lied - it was supposed to be "partly cloudy and warm."
So, to make up for the cold and wet ride on Saturday, I headed south again yesterday, looping down through Chimney Rock and into South Carolina, exploring the back roads along the way to Tryon and Elmos Pub for lunch. After lunch, I headed east again on Hwy. 108 to Rutherfordton, and then back over Hwy. 64 to Chimney Rock and the back roads to home.
I don't often give specific details about the routes that I take, though I'll be happy to do so if somebody needs it. I think that it's more fun just to take off and explore the little blue line roads off the main routes. Some of the most spectacular scenery that I've witnessed have been on seldom-traveled
back roads where I never see another motorcycle. The land in this photo is slated for some major development, so I'm glad that I got to see it before it disappears beneath the onslaught of mini-ranches and parking lots. It looked like several thousand acres of rolling open farmland was being marked off for a subdivision. For now, though, it's a great slice of rural country to ride through.