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Friday, August 29, 2008


Arrrrggh!! My computer is down! I'm on a borrowed computer so I can post this. Hopefully, I will be up again by the first of next week. If I'm really, really lucky, I may have it back today!

I can't believe I'm going to miss all the action this weekend from our Milwaukee party representatives! Oh well. Such is life sometimes. I will have some catching up to do.

See ya when I see ya!

Lady R

Monday, August 25, 2008


This pretty pair comes to us compliments of Ultra 242, who was happy to share some Sturgis beauty with us. Since he was there and I was not, he sent me some pics to show me what I was missing. Thanks bro!

Monday, August 18, 2008



In lieu of one picture today, I decided to bring you some of my great vacation leftovers. I had so many pictures to share and my posts were already so long! Here is some more of the beauty I just couldn't fit in!(Warning: Sorry, it's almost 5 minutes long, but there's music! )

I hope you enjoyed my little slide show and to all, have a nice Monday!

Lady R

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Day 5: Waking up on this last morning of our vacation, brought with it a feeling of disappointment that our fun in the Smokeys, has reached it's conclusion. I lifted my head up off the pillow and looked around the hotel room and thought, "Good grief!" It looked like we had two weeks worth of laundry scattered around the place. I closed my eyes again, prolonging the dreaded task of re-rolling all our crap so we can get it all packed on the motorcycles. It's funny how each morning prior to this, I was up like a jack in the box, ready for the new days adventure. This morning I was dragging! I guess because today, I know I go back to reality.

After a couple of hours, we all were repacked and ready to head toward home. Our plan was to take Hwy 28 south to Franklin, then connect to Hwy 441 and take that all the way to I-85 just north of Atlanta. We mounted up, pointed our Harleys south, and fell into line with each other as we made our way along the scenic path that would take us away from our bikers playground. We were still in the Nantahala National Forest, so we were able to enjoy the thrill of riding the twisting pavement one last time. It was almost as if the road was bidding us a final farewell. As we got further south, away from the forest, the road slowly straightened back out and was producing fewer curves. We understood that the thrills and chills of riding were behind us now, but we gained some great memories and experiences that will stay with us always.

We pulled into this little diner in Otto, NC so we could enjoy one more meal together. The only reason I even mention this place is because it was probably one of the best restaurants we ate in while on this trip. It was around 11:30 and they were serving breakfast and lunch, and they also had a buffet set up. We all got a little of everything and it was delicious! I ordered a club sandwich and got a Flinstone sized serving! Holy cow! Three people could have dined sufficiently on this masterpiece. They were very friendly folks too! I highly recommend this Country Cafe if you ever find yourself traveling through Otto, NC. You won't be disappointed.

Getting back on the motorcycles from this point really went somewhat uneventful, until we got close to Atlanta. We were on I-85 south, approaching the city of Atlanta and somehow we missed the warning signs that said "Paving...down to three lanes". We should have taken I-285 around Atlanta, but we didn't. We rode head on into the mother of all traffic jams. From what I understand though, this is normal and usual for Atlanta, even though we did not encounter this the other day when we came through here. This was my second dose of reality that vacation was coming to an end.

For about 20 minutes, I didn't get out of first gear once. We would creep forward about 10 or 15 yards at a time, then stop. I noticed my oil light kept coming on. I mentioned this to Harley, and he told me to keep my RPM's up, or cut it off if I get to a place that will let me coast a little. It's a good thing I have a talent for multi-tasking, because I felt like I was trying to do ten things at once. Here I am balancing..., creeping..., clutch in..., reving..., turn it off..., coasting..., turn it on..., creep again..., clutch in..., reving..., still balancing..., turn it off again! Another 1o minutes go by and we are still snailing across the heat intensive asphalt. My left hand is feeling spent right about now. Reving some more..., coasting some more! WTF! My big beautiful girl (dare I say the oldest) was hot, hot, hot! She was starving for the cool air she most desperately needed!

By this time, the heat of the asphalt combined with the intense heat our bikes were producing, were making us feel like pieces of bacon, sizzling and popping, in a hot skillet! Did I mention what a beautiful bright sunny day we were having? While I was totally consumed with coordinating my actions, trying to not fall over, and keeping my girl from getting to her boiling point, I noticed a nice looking woman next to me in her car, watching me. She gave me a wave and a smile, so I smiled back and nodded my head, as my hands were busy clutching and reving. I noticed her windows were rolled up tight and her shoulder length hair was actually blowing around, apparently from her air conditioner vent blowing full blast. I had only one thought at that moment. BITCH! I couldn't help myself. I was dying here and all I could think of was how cool her car must feel! "Snap out of it", I chastised myself. Being a biker, you can't always control the elements, so I've got to take the bad with the good. This may have been my third dose of reality today!

Since, it didn't look like we were making much progress, we pulled off on the left side of the road under a shady overpass. There were two closed lanes between us and the creeping traffic, so we felt we were not in any harms way while we sat and let our bikes cool off. Within five minutes, a big lime green rescue unit came up to us and pulled over. Since it was my bike that forced us to take this break, I went over to explain to the man and his partner why we were stopped. Thinking they would be relieved to know they didn't have to work on someone, I was quite surprised when this nice gentleman proceeded to scold us and tell us we can't be here. His quote was,"We are a distraction to an already congested area." Huh? I almost pulled a B. B. here, and responded with a smart ass remark like, "What do you mean, we're not showing titties or anything?" I didn't understand why he said we were a distraction when all we were doing was standing by our bikes, letting them get cool. We told him we would be gone within 15 minutes. They relaxed a little bit and asked us if we needed anything. After they kindly gave us some cold bottles of water, because we looked like we needed it, they pulled out to go see if there were any other rebellious motorists that needed correction.

We kept our promise and within 15 minutes, we were mounted back on the bikes and merging into the moving parking lot of vehicles. Fortunately, we were only creeping along for about 10 minutes, when things started moving a little more steadily. Apparently, we had pulled off where the five lanes had completely merged into three, so once we started moving, the pace picked up dramatically. Within moments, Atlanta was in our rear view mirrors and we were once again cruising southwest toward the Alabama state line. We were relieved to be in the wind again.

Our buddies, the Lone Ranger and the Beav would be peeling off, a few mile up the road, just past Newnan, GA, to head south toward Panama City. As we approached their exit, Harley and I moved up along side of them to bid them farewell.

Waving goodbye to our friends was a little bittersweet, as it means the end of our wonderful journey together. I know there will be more great adventures in the future, but for now I'll just have be content with the memories we've made while on this trip together. This experience will feed my soul for days to come, as this was absolutely the best vacation I've had in a long time! The Smokey Mountains should be on the "Top 1o" list of beautiful places to take a motorcycle trip. I can assure you, won't be disappointed!
As I bring my vacation post to a close, I also want to thank you all for letting me relive my 5 wonderful days of motorcycle bliss one more time! Sometimes, we do everything we can to prolong the fact that we're... back to reality!

Lady R

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Day 4: I guess you all know by now, I keep waking up to another great day of vacation. Well, today is no different! Yesterday, we ran the Loop, which was one of the highlights of our trip thus far, but today was going to prove to be a very satisfying day also. We are taking Hwy 441 from Cherokee, through the Smokey Mountain National Park into Gatlinburg. We plan to ride up to Cade's Cove while we are on the north end of the park before we come back to this area at the end of the day. As we have already discovered on our previous days of riding, the roads are filled with breathtaking views and more beautiful sights around every corner. Can it be legal for us to be having this much fun?

We had a bit of an overcast sky, making the air cool, but comfortable. I started out with a short sleeve t-shirt this morning, but I could tell already, I would be donning another layer as we made our climb up the mountains to cooler temperatures. We weren't long into our journey before the view we saw made us want to stop and take some pics.

This is what I call "Hogs in Heaven"!
We were ascending these glorious mountains, when we saw the sign pointing us towards Clingman's Dome. The road up to the Dome is off the main road and runs along the Tennessee and North Carolina state line for about 27 miles and climbs higher in elevation as it goes. It will take you to the highest point of the Park which is 6,643 feet. I guess, this is what you could call the nose bleed section! Yes, my ears popped again, but no bloody noses.

Have you ever ridden through a cloud? It's awesome! As we were riding up this road, the clouds were hugging this part of the mountain, which made it darker and cooler. It was like entering into a twilight zone of fog, while we moved through the clouds that were laying in our paths. As we did so, a sudden blanket of cold air would engulf you, and it felt like misting machines spraying us with cool moisture. As soon as we poked back out of the cloud, you'd feel the warmer air hit you again. Totally awesome experience! I actually started shivering and hoped I could make it to the top, where I could put on my long sleeve shirt.

To reach the absolute top, you have to park your vehicles and walk the rest of the way up, which is about another 1/2 mile. The Lone Ranger said, "If I can't take it in 2nd gear, I guess I won't be seeing it." We all just laughed! Looking at the path, I think we all could have taken it if we could have just told all the people to get out of the way! LOL! Maybe we'll save that dare for another trip!

The top of Clingman's Dome overlooking the Smokey Mountains.After granting ourselves a pretty long stretch and some drinks up at the Dome area, we decided we were ready for more that these mountains had to offer. The rest of our way over the mountain into Gatinburg, brought us one beautiful view after another. We were like sissies in boys town, let me tell you!

When we got into the town of Gatlinburg, it was busy and crowded, as usual. We parked our bikes behind a Harley Davidson Store right along the main drag and walked across the street to the Hard Rock Cafe for a great lunch. The food was really good and our server was a hoot! We left the Hard Rock full and satisfied, and since none of us really cared to walk around the tourist filled sidewalks, we made our way back to the bikes so we could mount up and head over to Cade's Cove.

We saw some more pretty water falls along the road and Harley stopped to get this nice shot. We have a system for getting great pics and it works out real well. He would stay in back, and pull off to snap a pic or two when he saw an opportunity, and then catch back up to the rest of us. That way we all didn't have to keep stopping and lose the "zen" of our ride. Besides, he said it was fun playing catch up!

At the north end of the Smokey Mountain National Park, not too far out of Gatlinburg, is a road that takes you up to a wildlife preserve, within an 11 mile loop, called Cade's Cove. This really nice 23 mile stretch of road that takes you there, makes you feel like your in the fairy tale forests you read about in your story books.I kept looking around the next curve for a glimpse of Snow White or Hansel and Gretel. Sadly, we did not see them nor any dwarfs either. But while the Lone Ranger was leading us, a small bear cub ran out onto the road right in front of him! Awesome! It was about the size of a Saint Bernard but, you could tell it was young. As I got to the point where I knew the bear crossed him, I was steady watching the side of the road for Mama Bear! Thankfully, she did not show herself, but we all said later, she probably was not far away. The funny thing about us seeing that bear, was a conversation we had that morning before we left. Harley joked that he wanted to lead in the Cove, because he wanted to be the first one to see a bear. Oh well, he missed out! Due to the fact that he was bringing up the rear, taking beautiful scenery pics, he missed a great pic of the bear. Boo hoo! Truth is, that little cub was gone into the forest so fast, we wouldn't have gotten a good picture anyway. Made for a little excitement though!

There are a couple of places along the way that have cool little waterfalls right next to the road, so close, you could almost reach out and touch the water as you passed. The pavement was wet in several areas, not from rain, but from water falls flowing over the road.

After coming back out of the Cove area, we continued on our way and stopped at this tunnel. We went through it once on the way up, so we decided to stop here on the way back and take in the view and have a stretch. The Lone Ranger took the opportunity to play meet and greet some other park guests. LOL! We laughed at some of the reactions he got, as people would look up at him and start pointing.
Today ended up being another very fulfilling and rewarding ride. Being on a motorcycle in the mountains has to be one of the best experiences there is to enjoy! There is no way to completely relate the peace and contentment that you feel when you can ride like this. Just for the fun of it! When we got back to Cherokee, we hit Hwy 441 again, that took us back to Bryson City for the night. We sauntered into Mickey's Pub to throw back a few for the last time while we were here. As we sat back and conversed over all we've done for these last few days, the decision was unanimous that this was probably the best motorcycle vacation ever. It was all because of the roads.

Tomorrow we will get up and have to head back into the real world of telephones and deadlines, but tonight we'll relish in our happiness! Night, night.

To be continued...

Lady R

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Day 3 continued... We were still pretty pumped up from just having made our first run up the Tail of the Dragon. 318 curves in 11 miles was very exhilarating! But wait, there's more! We are planning to make a loop around, taking in the Scenic 360 Hwy then connect to the Cherohala Skyway which would bring us back to the beginning of the Dragon's Tail. The scenery we were about to experience is absolutely breathtaking!

Before we got too far away from this area, we came across a great little diner called "129 Motorcycle Pit Stop." It was lunch time and we needed to eat something before we continued with our exploration. We were all very delighted with our food. Good old fashioned hamburgers, Philly Cheesesteak, and great french fries. Yum, yum! I don't know about anyone else, but I had worked up an appetite! The folks working this little joint were very nice and friendly! I would definitely recommend stopping here for a meal and a drink if you're in this area.

The next portion of our ride was more relaxed and steady paced. Our route today, we will be taking us out of North Carolina, crossing into Tennessee and back to North Carolina again. The roads would still curve and wind around a bit, but not as severely as on the Dragon. As we made our ascent up the Scenic 360, we could see creeks that ran along the side of the road, and they were providing a great view of the running water. We pulled over at one spot, for a stretch, and just took it all in.

I love the way it sounds in a place like this. It's very peaceful as the water makes a bubbling wooshing noise while it cascades across the rocks and boulders that help produce a gentle rapids. As bikers, we enjoy a lot of sights and smells while riding that you can't experience in a car but, every now and then, you just have to stop, turn off the motor, and listen to the beauty. When we got to the start of the Cherohala Skyway, we all made sure fuel was plentiful, as there would be no more gas stations before we got to the end of the Skyway. It was only about 60 miles or so. Everyone gave a thumbs up so off we went. As we continued our progress, the elevation increased and our views started to become more open.

The higher we climbed, the more breathtaking the views got. They were the perfect backdrop for a pretty day of riding. All of a sudden, pop! Ooh, my ear! Pop! Ow! My other ear! In just that instant, things got thick in my head. It was right about then that I saw the sign that stated, "Elevation 5000 Feet", No wonder my ears popped! After yawing a time or to, I realized I might get a big fat bug right in my mouth, all because I was trying to adjust the pressure in my head. I decided the sudden thickening and dulled hearing didn't matter that much, it just made things a little quieter for the moment. LOL!

We pulled over to take advantage of the great overlooks along the way.For some reason, Harley just loved these dead trees. I thought they looked pretty cool too, so I took a picture of them. It was kind of odd to see this these dead protrusions in the middle of a lush green forest.Continuing on around the loop, we stopped whenever we saw a good picture opportunity. Oh yeah, more water! A lake in the mountains is heaven on earth!We found ourselves back at Deals Gap with about three hours of daylight left. It was unanimous among us all, that we had plenty of time to make our second and third run on the dragon's tail. Having slain the infamous dragon earlier in the day, we proceeded up the narrow twisting road with a stronger confidence. This time around was rewarded with a greater sense of accomplishment as you conquer the curves with a little more speed and agility. And true to it's reputation, going up the second time was every bit as exciting as the first time too! Woo Hoo!

This is the overlook that rewards you at the north end of the dragon's tail. It's spectacular!While we were stretching at the overlook, we met a man and his wife, who were going to hike down a path to fish in the river you see in this picture above. The man said it was about a mile down to the water. I could see me hiking down to the water, but I would have some serious issues hiking back up! We couldn't believe they wanted to fish that bad, but they claimed to have done this many times here before. More power to them! Hike on! LOL!

After we came back down the dragon's tail, for our third and final run, we got to have another go at the Hellbender 28 on our way out of the area. Again, it was as if the road was bidding us a final farewell and reminding us of all the fun we had. We stopped in at the Hellbender 28 Pitstop and had a beer to celebrate the fact that we all became dragon slayers this day, and talked of the next time we can come back. So far, this trip has brought many rewards and beautiful views. The Tail of the Dragon may have been the primary reason for drawing us to this location, but we have not been disappointed with anything yet!

When we got back into Bryson City, we had our usual couple of "nightcaps" at Mickey's Pub before turning in. Tomorrow will be another great day. We're going to make our way across the Smokey Mountains into Gatlinburg and ride up to Cade's Cove. Night, night!

To be continued...

Lady R

Monday, August 11, 2008


The Lone Ranger leading Harley and Lady R up the road into Cades' Cove, compliments of the Beav.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


Day 3: Wake up number three! Cracking my eyes open on this third morning brought a new little flutter in the belly. Could it be butterflies from knowing that our wait is over and we will soon be riding on the Dragon? Or did I have a little too much spirit at Mickey's Pub last night? LOL! No worries here friends. I was ready! I did take in some fruit and apple juice for breakfast and that helped settle my excitement. And excitement it was! For days now, I have been hearing and reading all kinds of things about riding this little stretch of road on US 129 called the Tail of the Dragon. A few months ago, Rick, a fellow blogger over at Keep the Rubber Side Down, visited this area with his sons. Just like anything else in life, it still lacks the full impact of what this kind of riding can have, until you experience it yourself. There was a general feeling of excitement and anticipation among all of us on this morning, as we got our bikes ready to roll for a big day of riding.

The Lone Ranger lead us south on Hwy 74 to Hwy 28. The morning was still cool and we were fortunate to be having great weather! This river was still smoky where the sun has not finished burning it off for the day. When I saw this I started thinking in my mind, "Smoke on the water, the fire in the sky!" Deep Purple rocks! LOL! Note the broken limb hanging over the road the the picture above. The Beav and the Lone Ranger went over and broke it off as far as they could. We talked about it and imagined an RV or Trailer coming through there and... BAM!

What a beautiful view!
Our ride along this route took us to Hellbender 28. This run turned out to be a great prelude to what we were about to encounter on the Dragon. Sort of a warm up road, if you will. The curves and grades were a little more severe than anything we've encountered thus far, but still allowed a bit playfulness on the motorcycles. We were having fun going up this road! There were a couple of areas that had some small loose rock laying right in the damn middle of the curve. Twice, I hit those rocks just right (or maybe I should say wrong) and I would get squirrely in the rear end and, weee! Talk about a surge of adrenaline! All you can do is hold on to the grips and ride it out. I knew I would grab some solid asphalt just as quick!

Leaning to the left and leaning to the right, up and down we rode! After a few miles of fun on the Bender, we came to Deals Gap, the popular gathering place for other Dragon slayers. We pulled in here so we could get a stretch and a drink before we started the next leg of our adventure. After a little while, enough time had past and we all just kind of looked at each other and said, "Ready?" It was answered with the excitement in our eyes and the smiles on our faces..."Ready! Let's go slay the Dragon!"

We started the Harleys and one by one, in single file, we left the gathering area and turned ourselves onto the infamous highway. The Lone Ranger was in the lead, followed by the Beav, then Harley, and last but not least, me! I choose to be last so I would not slow anyone up until I knew how I was going to handle it. I was still not sure how extreme this road was going to be, but I have heard some pretty hairy stories and have seen some really crazy video clips about riding this road. So last it was!

The road seemed to be kind to us in the beginning, as if to say, "Relax... enjoy the ride." It kind of gave you a little boost of confidence that things were going to be everything you wanted it to be. Not too scary and just crazy enough to get lost in your own world of riding the twisties! The first few hairpin curves gave me a feel for just how tight these maneuvers were going to be, and I was handling each one with confidence and ease. Within a few curves you, start increasing your pace. It's as if the road is taunting you,"Is that all you've got?" The first time I came into a tight curve a little hot, I just leaned that much harder, drug the back brake a little and ssccrraaapppe! Ohh! Well, that was an eye opener! No time to dwell on what just happened because here is the next sharp curve again. LEAN! Whew! Again, curve! Ssccrrraaaappe! Wowee!

I was getting into the rhythm by now, it felt like I was riding on a piece of Christmas ribbon candy. Lean right, two, three, four... lean left, two, three, four... lean right, two, three, four... lean left, two, three, four. These curves were so close together, you had to be ready for the next one before you completed the previous one!

Photo of Lady R Another Photo of Lady R (I will be getting these and more on a disc soon.)

I noticed the word painted on the pavement... SLO! When you see this, which was often, your usually about to encounter a blind and sharp hairpin curve. Sometimes, something big coming in the opposite direction will suddenly appear and scare the breakfast out of you! Yikes!

Now, add a steep enough grade going uphill, so when your in the apex of a curve, you have to tilt your head way back to see up the road you are about to cover. It literally looks like you've got to climb a wall of pavement. THROTTLE! Brapt... brapt...brapt! Down shift, don't lug it, Brraaapppttt! Good grief! Woo Hoo! This is fun! Ssccrraaappe! Oops, scraped again! What the hell, who's counting! Ride this road! Ride like there is no tomorrow! Woo Hoo! I was shouting my glee outloud! This was the most invigorated I have ever felt riding my motorcycle! I was having a blast. It was challenging, it was scary, it was fun, it was new and different from anything else I have done! What a ride!

We pulled over at the end of our first run through and reflected on what we just experienced. The Beav said he heard me scrape loud once and it kind of startled him. But then he heard me Woo Hooing and he knew all was well. We all had something to contribute to the conversation and we were all in agreement that another run was definitely in order! Everyone thought the ride was awesome.

The "Tree of Shame"! The broken bike parts and remnants of other brave riders before us, served as a humble reminder, that the Dragon is not to be taken lightly. It will bite you! I had to include this picture to let you see there are no pieces of Lady R's ride on this tree! Woo Hoo! If you'll put your cursor over the picture you can bring it up closer. Notice the pair of boots hanging from a limb. The Lone Ranger laughed and said, "Someone rode right out of their boots!" LOL!

I kept up with the boys and didn't have any problems handling what came around the corners. They said I could be happy and, "I did all the women riders out there proud". That means a lot to me coming from these pals of mine and Harley. This experience was more thrilling than any roller coaster I've ever been on. And I love roller coasters! Now I can say I slew the dragon!

To be continued...

Lady R

This is still just the beginning of day three. After we did the first run of the dragon, we took the Scenic 360 and the Cherohala Skyway loop and wound back up at the Dragon's Tail. Which we did again and then again. After the third run we felt like we got our funs worth so we headed back toward Bryson City and Mickey's Pub. I thought this post was long enough, just telling the tale of the Lady dragon slayer, so I will continue this day with another posting. Stay tuned, some of the best pics yet to come! Lady R