Whiskey, Whale Sharks, and Dragons, Oh My!

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Whiskey, Whale Sharks, and Dragons, Oh My!

Postby sckego » Tue May 05, 2009 3:56 pm

Hello, all! Welcome to the story of our latest adventure, an 11-day, 2600-mile tour through the southeast US. This trip had it's beginnings this past winter, when one of Vic's longtime friends moved from California out to Knoxville, TN. Vic mentioned that she wanted to go visit Elaine in her new city at some point, and I agreed that it sounded like a fun idea. Her: "OK, I'll start looking for plane tickets." Me: "Plane tickets? Oh hell no, that's an hour from Deal's Gap! We're riding!" Her: "...." The pieces fell into place nicely; I was able to clear my schedule for a week and take the time off, her employer had just announced a week of forced vacation for everybody, and it was her break between semesters for her grad school. We decided to just book it out to Knoxville on a Thursday-Friday, spend the weekend with Elaine, and then spend the rest of the week seeing the other sights we'd wanted to hit: Deal's Gap, the Georgia Aquarium, Barber Museum, etc. The weeks before departure were spent prepping... planning routes, making reservations, upgrading the suspension on the VFR (yay!), until finally, April 23 rolled around...

Day 1 - Thursday, April 23
Euless, TX to Jackson, TN
557 miles - Map

This was going to be the crappy day. The plan was to jump on I-30 and slab it east until we were pooped, which would give us some leeway the following day to get off the freeway and explore Tennessee. Poor planning led to Vic having to stay up late to finish a paper for school the night before, and I was busy organizing and packing all our gear, so I didn't get to bed until 1, and her until 2. However, were were still up at 5:30 in the morning, finished packing and had a quick snack, geared up, and got on the road!

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The early start got us down to and through Dallas without hitting too much traffic. We made quick progress away from DFW before stopping at a roadside diner in Sulphur Springs to have a real breakfast.

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Both of us were pretty full and sleepy at that point, so rather then jumping back on the freeway, I found the nearest city park on my phone, and we headed there to catch a quick nap. 30 minutes later, we were both feeling refreshed and ready to get going again, so we continued on. We crossed into Arkansas at Texarkana, and as the day warmed up we both became sleepy again, so we pulled off for another 20-minute nap at a park in Prescott, AR. Note to self: It's a good idea to get a good night's sleep before trying knock out 500 freeway miles.


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We pushed on, pausing for lunch in Benton, AR, and finally reaching the Mississippi River at Memphis late in the afternoon.

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We pulled off at the Tennessee welcome center as soon as we crossed the river to take a break and pick up some free maps (visitor centers are such useful places!).

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There were statues of various music legends in the visitor center... Vic was enamored with the King's backside.

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The decision was made to push on for another hour or so, which brought us to Jackson, TN. A lady at the welcome center had told us about this place called Casey Jones', which was supposed to be pretty neat, so we checked into a motel right next door and headed over to check it out. The $7 dinner buffet (courtesy of a coupon from our motel) was delicious, and the place was populated with all these old-timers who gather with their instruments and play. We were dead tired after dinner, but still stayed a while longer to watch and enjoy the music.

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Kegan "Glowstick"
'12 MTS1200ST - '15 CB500F - AFM #895 - AMA #3283468 - IBA #41999

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Postby sckego » Tue May 05, 2009 3:56 pm

Day 2 - Friday, April 24
Jackson, TN to Knoxville, TN
370 miles - Map

We woke early on Friday morning, feeling much better after a full night's sleep. I was really looking forward to today's ride, being able to get off the freeway and explore after more then 500 miles of slab the previous day. Our route took us east along route 412, a nice, relaxed, scenic ride.

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Crossing the Tennessee River (I hadn't realized we'd be doing this twice more before the day was out)

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Everything looks beautiful in the early morning light

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Vic's screenname on IM is mousetails, so she was really amused when we came across a state park called "Mousetail Landing." Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you... Mousetails landing at Mousetail Landing.

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A few miles farther, and we stopped for breakfast at a cafe in Hohenwald, TN.

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We turned south at Columbia, riding down TN-7. Whoever designed the landscape in that area really had a thing for the 'horses on hillsides' motif. It seemed like the view around every corner was out of an idyllic painting. We hung a left on TN-129 at Lynnville, then stopped in the town for some ice cream.

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The day was warming up, so the cold-weather gear came off and got shoved into the sidebags. Vic said it made my ass look big. :-(

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A self-portrait as we continued east on 129.

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After covering a few more miles, we pulled off in a nifty little one-stoplight town at the intersection of 129 and 55.

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Can you guess where it is?

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Lynchburg, TN, home of the Jack Daniel's Distillery. This sign confused me for a bit, since it was still April, but then I realized the place wasn't open yet.

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At the distillery, we decided to take a guided tour.

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See that warehouse up on the hill? It's stacked to the ceiling with barrels of whiskey. There are 70 million gallons of whiskey in various states of age in Lynchburg warehouses like that one. Lynchburg is in a dry county. I'll take "Irony" for $200, Alex...

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Our guide

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Jack

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The Still House. Pretty neat seeing hot, 120-proof whiskey splashing out of the still drain like water from a hose.

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What a full barrel of Jack Daniel's looks like, all bottled up and ready to go. They sell empty souvenir bottles all over the place here, but anything with whiskey in it (and there are alot of those, too) is marked "For display only / not for sale."

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Getting back on the road, we headed north for McMinnville, then east on Tennessee Scenic Route 30. This was a great road, the first real sporty road of the trip. Lots of fun turns and elevation changes, up and down across they valleys.

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A bit of traffic here and there, as there are quite a few towns along the way.

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Everything here is just so... green.

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Stopped for a stretch in front of the courthouse in Dayton, TN, site of the famous Scopes Monkey Trial. I had no idea that took place here, kind of a cool find. There was a museum about the trial in the courthouse, but the day was late and it was already closed.

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We eventually reached I-75 at Athens and turned north for Knoxville. An hour later we pulled into Elaine's apartment complex, our home for the weekend.

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All of us, along with one of E's friends named Ruchir, headed out for dinner at a hole-in-the-wall Mediterranean joint called King Tut's. Pretty good food, and the owner was a really funny guy who insisted on playing one of our party chess for 4 desserts. Ruchir took up the challenge, and put up a good fight, but couldn't quite pull it off. However, because we had stuffed ourselves silly on dinner, the owner let us off without having to buy 4 desserts. Whew! After dinner, it was back to Elaine's to crash after another long day in the saddle.

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Kegan "Glowstick"
'12 MTS1200ST - '15 CB500F - AFM #895 - AMA #3283468 - IBA #41999

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Postby WillK675 » Tue May 05, 2009 4:24 pm

Great pictures. Looks like a fun trip.
-Will
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Postby sckego » Tue May 05, 2009 4:51 pm

Days 3 and 4 - Saturday, April 25 and Sunday, April 26
Exploring Chattanooga and Knoxville - No riding

Saturday morning, we decided to head down to Chattanooga to see the sights down there. Our first stop was at a nearby Waffle House for breakfast, since Elaine had never been there and she wanted to try it. Grease--YUM.

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After getting down to Chattanooga, we headed up the mountain just south of town to see Ruby Falls. This is a 145-foot waterfall located in a cave deep underneath the mountain. You have to take an elevator down to the cave, and walk even farther in to get to the falls. The cave is pretty interesting, done up with alot of colored lights to accent some of the formations.

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Bacon!

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Angel's Wings

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Ruby Falls

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We grabbed some BBQ at a place called Sticky Fingers for lunch, then headed back to the mountain to see a place called Rock City. A couple living up on the edge of the mountain decided to build a garden among the giant rocks of their property, and then opened it to the public. Some nice views and impressive rock formations.

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You can supposedly see seven states on a clear day, but I read somewhere that a few of them are actually below the visible horizon. Not that it mattered, as it was all hazy the day we were there anyways.

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Fat man don't fit through the narrow crevasses.

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Getting tighter

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Squeeze!

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A view along the cliff face, looking towards the 'Lovers Leap' lookout point.

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I thought that one of the coolest bits of the whole deal was a cave called 'Fairyland Cavern', where a local artist carved sculptures inspired by fairy tales and nursery rhymes. It was all lit with blacklight. Pretty neat.

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Hansel and Gretel

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An underground cascade, lit by dim reddish light, surrounded by quartz crystals on the walls and coral on the ceiling.

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We then headed over to a local hang-gliding launch point, to spend the end of the afternoon watching the gliders float down into the valley below.

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The next day we headed out to explore Knoxville.

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It was quite hot, so some ice cream was in order. The ladies loooooove ice cream.

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We ended up spending a few hours at a coffeeshop playing a board game called 'Carcassone', and then headed over to the UT campus to see Neyland Stadium. I'm a big college football fan, so it's always fun for me to see the big-name stadiums, even if they're empty. We were able to squeeze through a loosely-chained gate and get right up next to the field.

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The rest of the day was spent driving around some nice neighborhoods, visiting a giant used bookstore and spending far too much money there (Elaine had to ship the books back to us, as they sure weren't fitting in our luggage!) and then cooking dinner and playing more Carcassone. We hit the sack early in anticipation of riding through the Smoky Mountains the next day. All in all, a very fun weekend with Elaine and Ruchir in east Tennessee.
Kegan "Glowstick"
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Postby Bird » Tue May 05, 2009 8:30 pm

Kegan/Vic, Your trip reports are always so fantastic! I'm glad that you guys get the chance to get out on the road and see sights tha most of us only dream of. Thanks for sharing the pics with those of us that are a bit more tied to 'home base'.

Keep up the good work and trip reports .. now, come home safely and lead a ride or two! :-)
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Postby sckego » Tue May 05, 2009 9:39 pm

Day 5 - Monday, April 27
Knoxville, TN to Deal's Gap, NC
230 miles - Map

Monday morning came cool and sunny, great weather for riding. Elaine decided to help us carry all our gear down to the bike. She grabbed my helmet to lug along, and was not so picky about where to put it down. Aiya.

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Tis OK, no harm done. We said our goodbyes and got on our way, heading for Maryville. We got a bite to eat there, then rode on into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We were on a little scenic byway that twisted and turned its way along a river, just cruising along and enjoying the views.

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We pulled off at a trailhead and decided to do a short hike to Laurel Falls, a pretty cascade about two miles from the road.

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That done, we stopped at the visitor center for a bit, then headed into Gatlinburg for lunch. Had to stop for a park-entry pic on the way back in...

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Then up 441 across the mountain range. It was pretty slow going, lots of cars on the road... but I guess that's to be expected in just about any NP (except for Big Bend...). There was one hell of a turn that we didn't get a picture of, but it was a full 360-degree uphill lefthander. Literally, as you enter the turn, you pass under a bridge, and you just keep going up and turning left until you pass over the bridge. Talk about a good spot for knee-dragging... Though, we were following a park ranger through this bit, so no shenenigans were had.

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I eventually got tired of following the choo-choo train of cars and pulled off at a restored, water-turbine-powered grist mill... a worthwhile stop.

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Lincoln logs!

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We next headed up the Blue Ridge Parkway, and stayed on it for about 26 miles, until we hit US-74. BRP was a good ride, alot of overlooks and stopping points, and alot of nice, long sweepers. If only there was a way to enjoy the scenery and the corners at the same time...

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From US-74, we split off at Bryson City to see the "Road to Nowhere," a highway that was supposed to be built along the north side of Fontana Lake from Bryson City to Deal's Gap. Funding and environmental issues have stalled the completion of the road for decades, and for now, it only goes a few miles out of town and then dead-ends at a tunnel.

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One creepy-ass tunnel.

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Seriously, it gets pretty dark in the middle, and you can just imagine the zombies coming up behind you. It was a challenge to walk and not sprint out of there. Maybe I just have an overactive imagination...

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Heading back to town on the Road to Nowhere

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We continued our ride to Deal's Gap along NC-28, whose awesomeness cannot be described in words. There are some sections of this road (the bit between Fontana and Stecoah, if I recall correctly) that are just perfect. Endless asphalt just snaking back and forth time and time again... riding bliss.

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Finally, our destination for the day! Deal's Gap, home to the "Tail of the Dragon," possibly the most well-known road in the motorcycling universe. I didn't count them, but the 11-mile stretch of US-129 through the Gap supposedly has 318 turns... and after one ride through, that doesn't seem as far-fetched as it once did.

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We only did one pass through that afternoon, as we were both pretty tired from our day of hiking and riding, and Vic said she didn't want to mess with the camera, so no pics from that ride. I was taking it pretty slow, in any case, having heard way to many horror stories of people who got in over their head on this road. About halfway in we got stuck behind a semi, so we pulled off and chatted with another rider for a while. Finally made it to the end, turned around and came back. We were staying at the Deal's Gap Motorcycle Resort, a great little motel/grill/gift shop right at the NC end of the Dragon. Grabbed a few burgers from the grill for dinner, then headed to bed, looking forward to a full day of more windy North Carolina roads the next day.

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Postby Blizzard_1708 » Wed May 06, 2009 11:10 am

Envious

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Postby sckego » Wed May 06, 2009 12:52 pm

Day 6 - Tuesday, April 28
Riding around North Carolina
277 miles - Map

I was up early on Tuesday morning, excited about the day's riding ahead. While Vic slowly woke up and had her coffee, I jumped on the bike for an early-morning ride through the Dragon. It was neat having the road to myself--I only saw a handful of other vehicles along the entire 22-mile ride. Again, I took it at just a cruising pace, seeing as how the road was still cold and damp in places... still a very fun ride though.

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At the dam overlook on the TN side

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After riding back and picking up Vic, we headed down 129 to Robbinsville for some breakfast.

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Then we looped around on 129 and 74 to rejoin NC-28 at Lauada, and headed south for Franklin.

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We had lunch at the Frog and Owl in Franklin, and spent about an hour browsing a gemstone/mineral/fossil museum right down the street. There was some really cool stuff there, like an actual shrunken head in a glass case. Trippy.

NC-28 in the area around Highlands is just an awesome road (thanks to the guys on VFRD for recommending this one so highly!). Great scenery, great twisties, just a perfect ride. Waterfalls everywhere, even right along the edge of the road...

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We actually continued on 28 past the NC/GA state line, through Georgia, and a few miles into South Carolina. We pulled off at Oconee State Park for a stretch and a walk around before heading back.

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On the way back to Highlands, I wanted to grab a picture at the eastern continental divide, which separates the waters that drain into the Mississippi/Gulf of Mexico from those that drain into the Atlantic.

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Iced coffee break in Highlands. Very cool town, lots of shops, galleries, and eats right along the main drag. If you didn't know any better you might guess you're in some western mountain ski resort town.

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Then... all the way back up 28 to Deal's Gap. Re-riding that section of 28 between Stecoah and Fontana reaffirmed my suspicion that this might be the best stretch of road I've ever been on.

Stopped for a break at Fontana Dam

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We got back to Deal's gap with about 40 minutes left till the grill closed, so we zipped by for another pass along 129. This time we picked the pace up a bit... passed a pair of guys on a Honda ST and BMW K1200 early in the run (thanks for letting us by!), and the rest of the way was nice and clear. We just hit that perfect rhythm, bouncing back and forth from right to left through the hairpins, completely in the zone. Pulled off at the dam before turning around, and the two guys we passed pulled up and complimented us on how fast we were 2-up. Vic was very pleased that she's not a hindrance to sport-riding when she's on the back. She told me when we got back that she was actually hanging off the seat through some of the tighter stuff... I had no idea (I was staying planted the whole time).

Waving to Killboy

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Those bikes (and cars, and big-wheels) that didn't make it all the way through the Dragon without being bitten get to hang a part on the Tree of Shame. There's a little bit of everything on here... mirrors, fairings, headlight assemblies... crutches, x-rays... quite a few of the items have the story and date scribbled on them. It's cool that these people were willing to share their misfortune with us, so that we could stand there and read about it.

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Picked up some stickers for the VFR after we got back, as a reward for not leaving any parts behind...

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After dinner, Vic wanted to relax and read in the room for a bit, so I went out for one last ride through. The sun was setting on my way out, and it was getting quite dusky on the way back. It was both very enjoyable and a little scary at the same time.

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Later that evening, we spent some time around the firepit with a bunch of firefighters who had also ridden out from Texas on their annual trip. Good group of guys (and gal) who were very fun to hang out with. The girl with them, Summer, gets the big-balls award for actually riding through the Gap on the back of her husband's bike, facing backwards to take pictures of the other riders. Dizzamn.

After socializing for a while, we retired to our room, looking forward to our ride down to Atlanta tomorrow.

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Kegan "Glowstick"
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Postby sckego » Wed May 06, 2009 12:52 pm

Day 7 - Wedensday, April 29
Deal's Gap, NC to Atlanta, GA
261 miles - Map


We ate breakfast at the grill on Wednesday morning after loading up the VFR. They don't mess around when it comes to breakfasts; holy hell, that was alot of food. Tasty, though. Once we were done eating we again headed south on 129 towards Robbinsville. A few miles down the road I pulled off to get a picture of the Cheoah Dam, which some might recognize as the dam that Harrison Ford jumped off of in The Fugitive. I made the mistake of parking on the north end and walking across the bridge to get the picture. I should have just ridden.

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See that speck off in the distance? Yeah, that's my parked motorcycle.

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At Robbinsville, we peeled off onto the Cherohala Skyway, which took us over a mountain range to Tellico Plains, TN. Cherohala was a fun ride, very similar to BRP... lots of nice sweepers and lookout points. It got a bit chilly as the road topped out at 5400 feet elevation, but it wasn't too bad, and it was quite warm by the time we descended into Tennessee.

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Pulled off at a rest stop along a river as we approached Tellico Plains.

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We turned south on TN-68 and ended up in Ducktown, TN, a small mining community that sprung up when this area was being heavily mined for copper. We stopped off at a small museum about the mines and the community... it was kind of 'ehhh.' The overlook into the collapsed mine was cool... I'd skip the museum itself, though.

Bucket for transporting melted ore

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Overlook on the flooded, collapsed mine... check out the color of that water.

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They had some upgraded transmission parts for a Nissan GTR lying around...

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After leaving the museum, we continued down into Georgia, then east on GA-60, north on 180, then south on 129. Neither Vic or I really enjoyed 180... it was too small and tight, and the pavement wasn't very confidence inspiring. Probably a good road to go motarding on, but definitely not the VFR's element. 129 was a blast, though--lots of fast sweepers, frequent passing lanes, and drivers that don't seem to care about the speed limit.

We stopped off at Turner's Corner, which I heard was the place around here for motorcycles to gather, but it was closed. D'zoh.

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It ended up working out for the best, though, as just down the road was Dahlonega, GA, a fun town with several winery storefronts and restaurants on the town square. We like wine.

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Vic doesn't like blue cheese.

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Vicky, our hostess at one of the tasting rooms we stopped in on

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We had a late lunch/early dinner at a restaurant called the Crimson Moon, then headed south on GA-400 for Atlanta. I had found a pretty good rate at what looked to be a nice hotel on Priceline while I was planning our trip, so I booked two nights there. Turns out it's one of the grand old hotels of Atlanta, the Georgian Terrace. This is where the Gone With The Wind premier party was, to give you an idea of the history. Very nice, very classy place.

So, we pull up on the loud, dirty VFR, in our bug-splattered jackets and helmets, right into the front drive. "Hi, we're here to check in." You might say we got some looks...

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The view looking up in the lobby

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View from our room

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We walked around the hotel a bit after getting settled in (sadly, the rooftop pool was closed for renovation), then headed to bed.
Kegan "Glowstick"
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Postby sckego » Wed May 06, 2009 10:45 pm

Day 8 - Thursday, April 30
Exploring Atlanta
52 miles - Map

With a relaxing day ahead of us, we slept in on Thursday, finally getting out of the hotel at sometime past 8. We walked south towards downtown, stopping at the Broadway Diner for another massive breakfast--french toast for me, monsterous gyro omelet for her.

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We walked right by that tall skyscraper that towered outside our hotel window.

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Less then a mile later, we were at the Georgia Aquarium. Vic had been wanting to visit here for some time... she's a big aquarium nut, and this is one of two in the world that keep whale sharks.

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Neato.

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The four they have are just babies, still in the 20' range. The tank is built to accommodate them when they're full size--40 to 60 feet.

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There were many other interesting animals to see besides the whale sharks, too... here a sawtooth shark passes overhead

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Grouper

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Yes Vic, we see it.

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Nom nom nom.

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Manta Rays

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The tunnel section was really cool...

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Of course, I'd rather update Facebook on my phone then watch the fishies.

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Crocodiles

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Cuttlefish. Nom nom nom.

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Funny little rock fish that was trying to hide from us

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The aquarium was awesome, but pretty small compared to some we've been to. We were done with the whole thing in maybe 2 hours. Afterwards, we walked north, up to the campus of Georgia Tech.

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Lunch at the campus cafe--Junior's Grill. Vic had a gyro wrap... batting two-for-two on gyros for the day. There was a twisted yellow post framed on the wall that I figured was the result of some poor stress analysis... turns out it was one of the goal posts from the Cotton Bowl the year GT won the national championship. Speaking of football...

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After lunch, we followed a beverage deliveryman into an open gate to see the stadium.

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It was a short walk from there back to the hotel, where we geared up and jumped on the bike to ride out to Stone Mountain. Since we were there later in the day, we were able to get discounted passes to some of the attractions, like the gondola up to the top of the mountain (it was kind of hot, didn't feel like hiking up there from the bottom). The gondola runs right past a giant carving of some Confederate Army officers on the side of the mountain.

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We spent about half an hour walking around the summit, but there's not too much to do up there.

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You can see downtown Atlanta on the horizon to the left, and an uptown development to the right.

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Going down!

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Took a train ride around the mountain

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There's a little 'town' set up at the base of the mountain with some touristy shops and eats. The glassblowing shop was pretty cool. Not sure about their naming conventions, though...

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After Stone Mountain, we took the loop up to the north side of town, getting to experience some of that wonderful 7-lane stop-and-go on the way. We exited on Peachtree, which I guess is like the Atlanta version of Sunset, and rode it all the way south back to Downtown.

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Along the way, we started getting hungry for dinner, and found this quirky Mediterranean joint called Gilberts. Check out some of the daily specials... Wii Night?!?!

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As luck would have it, we were there on wine-tasting night. Check out the size of those pours!

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The food was really good, and of course Vic managed to sneak some gyros into our order, bringing her to 3-for-3 on the day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I know, she doesn't look Greek, but...

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A short ride brought us back to our hotel after dinner, where we started packing up for an early departure the next day to check out the museum and superbike races at Barber Motorsports Park.
Kegan "Glowstick"
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Postby sckego » Thu May 07, 2009 9:47 am

Day 9 - Friday, May 1
Atlanta, GA to Birmingham, AL
150 miles - Map

Friday morning was cloudy and humid as we loaded up and hit the freeway out of Atlanta, heading west for Birmingham. Though we still had another stop to look forward to, by this time it was in both of our minds that we were heading back west, towards home, and that our trip was coming to a close.

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A short ride later, we were at Barber Motorsports Park, home to the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, and site of the fourth round of AMA Superbike Racing. Though I really only wanted to see the museum, this was one of the few weekends of the year where you could not get to the museum without buying an event ticket. So, we had to shell out for Friday passes and museum tickets... oh well.

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We parked on a hill overlooking one of the turns and walked down to the museum.

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There are cool sculptures all over the grounds. We both really liked the one of the ants carrying a motorcycle and motorcyclist back to their nest.

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In front of the museum

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Coolest bike EVAR. I want a machine gun mounted on the VFR...

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The museum is simply amazing. It's huge: 5 stories of classic, modern, and racing motorcycles; cars ranging from classic street cars to various generation F1s; a huge collection of outboard engines (?); a cafe, gear check, etc... all fronted by glass windows looking out onto the track as the superbikes whizzed by outside. Just an awesome sight.

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Looking down on Vic relaxing with her coffee in the cafe

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NR 750

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CBX

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The Collection - VFR750, VF1000R, VF500

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One for Mike - CBR1100XX

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R7 and GTS1000

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Bimota Tesi 3D

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A nice collection of Daytona racebikes

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Some military motorcycles

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Having fun with a low-slung Lotus

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A group of F1s

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John Surtees' Ferrari that he used to win the 1964 World Drivers Championship

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Dan Gurney's Lotus F1. Vic and I were reminiscing of the time we actually got to briefly meet Gurney at the Crystal Cove weekly gathering in Newport; he showed up one day in a new-model GT40, that Ford had built special for him, complete with the signature Gurney bubble.

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Mmmmm, carbon fiber.

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Mmmmm, spaghetti exhaust.

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More.

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Having taken in our fill of the museum, and since we had to pay for these damn race passes anyways, we headed outside to watch the qualifying heats. We saw George Barber himself at the museum entrance on our way out.

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Superbike qualifying was red-flagged when a pair of geese and their young decided to waddle across the backstraight. A bunch of marshals had to go out and herd them back off the track. Pretty amusing.

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Looking down on the track, with the Museum in the background

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We headed out from the track towards the end of the day to our lodging in Birmingham. The forecast was calling for storms the next day, and we had a long way to ride...
Kegan "Glowstick"
'12 MTS1200ST - '15 CB500F - AFM #895 - AMA #3283468 - IBA #41999

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Postby sckego » Thu May 07, 2009 9:47 am

Day 10 - Saturday, May 2
Birmingham, AL to Bossier City, LA
514 miles - Map


We were originally planning to head west from Birmingham, off the freeway, but a quick check of the radar showed a nice-sized thunderstorm right in our path. It was due west of us, and just north of Tuscaloosa, so we decided to slab it down to there and cut around the bottom end of the storm. We managed to pull into Tuscaloosa without getting rained on, and stopped in to see yet another stadium. (I completely forgot about it until we were already on the road out of Birmingham, but I really should have gone to see Legion Field, site of the famous USC-Alabama "integration game" of 1970.)

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We found a little cafe in Tuscaloosa for some breakfast.

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You know it's gonna be good when they have their own coffee roaster.

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They had boxes of board games stacked up on a shelf, so we engaged in a few highly competitive games of Chutes and Ladders and Sorry while we ate (I think we might have distracted a few of the other patrons with our bickering).

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From Tuscaloosa, we headed west on backroads through Aliceville, across the Mississippi state line near Cochrane, through Macon and Louisville to Koscuisko, where were turned north on 35 to 430 to reach Greenwood and US-82. The riding here wasn't anything special, but it was pleasant... the weather was nice, if a bit humid, and the roads were nice and open. We stopped for lunch in Greenwood (definitely not the nicest town I've ever been to) and then continued west on 82. From here the ride started to go downhill... it was really hot and humid, then we'd encounter a random downpour, which would chill the air considerably, then get hot again as soon as we were out of the rain. Traffic was heavy, and it seemed like we'd get stuck at every traffic light in every town we came across.

We finally made it back to the Mississippi River at Greenville and crossed into Arkansas, where we pulled off to check the weather radar. We had intended to continue across southern Arkansas and spend the night at Texarkana, but a solid mass of storms moving south directly into our path quickly changed our minds. Instead, we cut south to I-20 to try and beat the storms to Shreveport. The alternating hot air - cold rain continued all the way down into Louisiana; we were both feeling a bit nauseous from the heat and exertion by the time we passed through Mer Rouge. Vic still had schoolwork to catch up on when we got home, and so wanted to be back by noonish on Sunday, so we were really trying to get to Shreveport that night. We pushed on through the discomfort to the freeway and turned west again.

The clouds were visibly darkening to our north as we sped along the interstate; we pulled into Bossier City and nabbed the last room in a hotel just before the storms arrived. Exhausted and spent, we had dinner at the restaurant next door and went to sleep, fingers crossed that the storms would clear by the next day.

Day 11 - Sunday, May 3
Bossier City, LA to Euless, TX
216 miles - Map

No such luck.

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We got alot of comments as we loaded up and readied to hit the road Sunday morning, most of them featuring words like "crazy", "nuts", and "be careful." It actually wasn't too bad; the weather was cool enough to keep us comfortable in our rainsuits, and there was very little wind to go along with the pouring rain. We passed through Shreveport and into Texas without incident, and by the time we reached Kilgore the rain had started to dissipate. I was just looking at my trip-meter since our last fill-up, thinking to myself that it was about time to start looking for a gas station, when the bike started sputtering and died. Uh-oh. Clutch in, try to restart... nope. Apparently riding through a heavy rainstorms decreases your gas mileage significantly. We coasted down the shoulder as far as it would go, and ended up having to push the bike about half a mile to the next exit (at least it was close!). The exit ramp was downhill, so I was able to coast it down to the gas station and pull out the camera in time to catch Vic walking in from the freeway.

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I felt horrible about running out of gas (stupid!) and having to make Vic help push the bike along the freeway, but she was pretty good about the whole thing, even complimenting my convenient choice of locations to run dry. After filling back up, it was back to the freeway for the last push to Dallas. We were both feeling pretty hungry by the time we got back to the city, so we decided to treat ourselves to one of our favorite restaurants--Chosun Kalbi (Korean BBQ) in north Dallas.

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One more short hop after lunch found us back at our apartment, ready to start unpacking and returning to reality. It was a great trip, but we both agreed that it was almost too long... on a 3, 4, 5 day trip, you feel like you're on vacation, and know you have to go back to the real world afterwards. This trip was long enough to make us forget about that; by the end it felt like waking up and riding was what we were supposed to do, like that was life, and getting back into a normal frame of mind was quite difficult.

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11 days
2,618 miles (including 2 days of no riding)
70.2 gallons - 37.3 mpg
No performance awards or mechanical issues other then running out of gas

Thank you all for sharing our trip with us, and we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did the ride. Till next time, ride safe.
Kegan "Glowstick"
'12 MTS1200ST - '15 CB500F - AFM #895 - AMA #3283468 - IBA #41999

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Postby DLSGAP » Thu May 07, 2009 10:12 am

Having been to almost all of those places in my time living at deals gap and in knoxville, I can say I'm jealous of your trip.. Except atlanta.. the traffic there blows.

Good ride report and photos... I used to fish under fugitive bridge when I was a kid... before it was fugitive bridge. where you parked, theres a dirt road that goes along the river bank. I'd ride my YSr down there with sine random tackle stuffed in the trunk, and wedge my fishing rod inbetween the frame and my rear brake and I'd park down that dirt road and walk back up to the bridge.


Wish I was back in the area for some of those great roads.

I'm trying to get a trip together for mid september to meet my dad back up there... he's kinda at fault for the whole deals gap thing being as big as it is today so its always fun to meet up with him there whenever I can
Damien- '07 Candy Plasma Blue Zx-10R
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Postby Bird » Sun May 10, 2009 12:35 pm

Thanks for the commentary and all the pics. Having just returned home from Montreal, I'm VERY jealous of YOUR outing. All I got was rain and underground malls!
Mike
It SUCKS to get old ... it sucks even MORE to realize it! Live for the moment every chance you get.

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Postby digi » Sun May 10, 2009 3:06 pm

Wow!! Nice!

Some of those places are familiar to me... I remember going on vacation as a kid and seeing Ruby Falls... Very cool!
The meaning of life is good sex and a fast motorcycle. I would combine the two, but I would end up wheelie-ing the girl and spooging on my bike.

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Postby DLSGAP » Mon May 11, 2009 9:57 am

Bird wrote: All I got was rain and underground malls!


Atlanta has those too... you could have gone there instead and been close to great roads...
Damien- '07 Candy Plasma Blue Zx-10R

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