Day 2: It would be fair to say that I had two great wake ups in a row. The first time was when I woke up yesterday and started my vacation. The second was when I woke up today and realized a rider's playground was right outside my door just waiting for new adventurers. Once again, no alarm clock needed!
We packed up and pulled out of Clemson around 9:00 and headed north on Hwy 178. We will eventually turn left on Hwy 64 and connect to Hwy 28 into our next destination, Bryson City, NC. This will be our home away from home for the next three nights because it pretty much sits right in the middle of everything we want to see. We can explore the roads in three different directions each day and come back to home base at night. As we rode out of town I was excited and energized knowing the looming hills that lay before me would soon turn into the Smokey Mountains and a plethora of beautiful views would be ours to enjoy.
As we rode toward the north, I began noticing the changes in the scenery. The lush green pastures with proud plantation style homes and large farms scattered in the rolling hills of South Carolina, started to evolve into the cool, shadowy comfort of the Nantahala National Forest. The large pines and tall hardwoods, along with rocky hillsides started crowding in close to the road as the temperature in the air got dramatically cooler. The bright sunshine broke through the trees leaving scattered dapples of light here and there . Straightaways in the road became shorter and fewer between, as the frequency of left curves and right curves together increased as we rode deeper into the forest. Curves like these are what makes a rider smile to herself (or himself) and say, "This is why I ride!"
Right in the middle of a tight u-shaped left curve, we crossed into North Carolina very stealthily. I was enjoying the smooth rhythm of my leans, to the left and to the right, taking in the scenery as much as I could and still watch the winding road, when all of a sudden, I noticed out of the corner of my eye, a small sign to the right of me. "Welcome to North Carolina". Well, okay then! No huge billboard sign to mark the border or a large Welcome Center full of brochures and tourist info. Just a little old sign no bigger than a "Yard Sale On Saturday" sign! I giggled and thought, shhh! It's a secret...we're in North Carolina!
We got to Bryson City with a lot of daylight left, so we quickly unpacked our bags, and dropped them in the rooms and took off again. The roads we've been riding were absolutely beautiful and we were hungry for more! Turning the Harley's north, we headed up Hwy 441 to Hwy 23 toward Waynesville, NC to the Ghost Town Harley Davidson Dealership. Everyone took a little time to look around and buy a shirt or two and pick up a few mementos for friends back home. After our visit with the H-D folks, we just moseyed around the area coming back toward Bryson City, through Maggie Valley, around Lake Junaluska and into Cherokee. This area is full of creeks and rivers along the roads which allows peek-a-boo views of the running water while you ride along. This is very tranquil. I love riding next to water.
When we got back into town later that evening, we found Mickey's Pub, a local watering hole that became our favorite nightly hang out after a good days ride. The white building in this picture shows the side of Mickey's Pub and the parking lot was right on the river. Our hotel was only a couple blocks from here. Needless to say, we left a little change with Mickey during our three night stay. LOL! This second day came to an end with all of us feeling happy with our trip so far. We all agreed that the scenery and the roads we were experiencing were well worth our trip here. Talk of the next days plans were shared around the table with promises of getting up early to start the new day. Getting to sleep may be a bit of a challenge due to the anticipation of tomorrow's ride. We're going to go up Hellbender 28 and then test our skills on the Dragon! Night, night and sweet dreams!
To be continued...