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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


Mr. Motorcycle said...

Reading this post, looking at the map of the 120 mile loop, and seeing you pictures assures me there is more to this than just the Dragon's Tail. I must say, I was all excited for the Dragon's Tail post-pics, etc., but now I want to do the WHOLE trip even more. Looks like the Dragon's Tail is only the icing on the cake!
Thanks for bringing us along. I look forward to the rest.

B.B. said...

Beautiful! I could almost hear the water running over the rocks. When I was looking at the pictures, one word kept coming to mind...peaceful!

Becky said...

That is a wonderful ride! My past life was in the Smoky Mountains. The dead trees are a result of acid rain over the years that is caused by Oak Ridge Nuclear Facility. Aren't the people around there the most friendly you'll find anywhere?


Ann said...

Those pictures are absolutely stunning! What beautiful country!

I could actually hear the water babbling as you described it, LadyR...great post.

Dean "D-Day" said...

Gorgeous pics as usual! I'll have to plan a mental health trip south sometime. Thanks for taking us along.

Lady R (Di) said...

mr. m...the dragon WAS the icing on the cake! That road is what attracted us there in the first place, but the rest of the roads we rode on were more relaxing and just as rewarding! I should have day 4 ready by Thursday. It's fun reliving this trip through my blog.

b.b...I could get lost in the sound of the running water. I think it's one of my favorite things about the mountains.

becky...I wondered about the trees. I'll be sure and tell Harley the reason too. He thought they made a cool picture. The people were great! Bikers were treated very welcome everywhere too!

ann...there was a creek almost everywhere we stopped. This is a really cool place.

Kathleen Jennette said...

Ahhhh... thanks for taking me along! This is a beautiful ride and I hope I will be able to get there and ride it! Just beautiful!

Mastercheif said...

Wow. This is an amazing narrative of your trip. The pictures are awesome. I really had no idea the Smokeys were so lush and vibrant. I guess I am a snotty Westerner who thinks that there is nothing as magnificent as my side of the country. Thanks for changing my perspective. I can't wait to check it out for myself one day.

Lady R (Di) said...

dean...the south holds a wealth of beauty. You should come! Great "spirit riding" as I like to call it. If I can come away from something feeling like my soul has been revitalized, I consider it a great "spirit ride"!

KT...the nice thing about riding in the Smokey Mountains this time of year is the respite from the summer heat. It felt soooo good up there riding.

masterchief...the Smokeys are very different from the western mountains. I've spent many summers in the Grand Tetons and up around Big Horn while I was growing up. We lived in Iowa but traveled to my mama's family out in Wyoming and Montana every summer. I once spent my 9th birthday camping in the Tetons, and my aunt baked me a birthday cake on the campfire for me. How cool is that? The western mountains are much higher and more rocky, while the Smokey's are lower in elevation which make them more lush and woodsy.

They are both very different but just as rewarding!

Stay tuned all. Day 4 should be posted Thursday.

Mimi said...

Thanks so much for sharing and taking us along. The south is one of my many trips to come. Beautiful pics!

"Joker" said...

What an awesome motorcycle adventure! I love the line, "...stop and listen to the beauty..." That's probably the one regret I have about all the "group" riding I do - you can't just stop when you want to. I don't know how many times I've ridden through spectacular scenery like that, and was unable to take the time to stop and enjoy it more. Sometimes it's good to be doing your own thing.

Awesome pics - can't wait to see more!

FLHX_Dave said...

I'm crying here...more like whining. I want to escape once more into the wild! grrr!

Thanks for posting the map. I looked at just that for awhile. I don't know. If I take the trip you just took I might not ever come back. Awesome picts. I kid you not when I say that I have a lump in my chest making me want to hit the road once more. I am starting to "jones" for the open road! Smokey Mountains now? How will I ever sleep awaiting that post. CURSE YOU LADY R!!! :)

Big Daddy said...

This post makes me want to come back east for a while.
And thats saying something!
Grand teton's? I've always been a fan of those!!
I have spent many a mile and night in the great smokey's.
great memories thank's for reminding me.

Lady R (Di) said...

mimi...your welcome, happy to share!

Joker...One day you should just get on the bike, (with camera) take off to a destination not yet determined, and just ride for the day. Maybe one or two buddies go with, that way, it's not a big deal to stop now and then and just enjoy your surroundings.

In the next post, I divulge a secret as to how we get so many nice pics.

dave...it is hard to come back to reality after you have a few days like I just had. The loop was a great way to spend the whole day in that area. Like Mr. M said, the tail is only a part of it. I like the challenges, but I also like the laid back relaxing ride too. Here, you get the best of both worlds.

BTW...I don't mean to make you feel bad by sharing all the fun I had, but I don't have your keys, so what's stopping ya! LOL!

Big D...What brought you to the Smokey Mountain area? It's so pretty here, we will definitely come back for more!