Monday, June 13, 2011

Day 3 – Sunday, June 12, 2011 - Ashland City, TN to The Tail of The Dragon

Day 3 – Sunday, June 12, 2011
Ashland City, TN to The Tail of The Dragon

I woke up a little later in the day today, but 6:30 AM still feels early since it was a Sunday. Ronnie had already been to the golden arches to get some coffee for all of us, and of course, a diet coke for Theresa. That was pretty nice of him, but all told, Ronnie is a nice guy. We gathered all our belongings, checked once again for bed bugs, and packed the bikes up and headed eastbound, yet again, towards Nashville Tennessee.

Uncle Pete's (taken by Uncle Pete)
We passed through the city known for it’s country music and ended up in Lebanon at a truck stop named Uncle Pete’s Restaurant. It was time to document again, so I popped out the camera and set up to take a picture of Kathy, Ronnie, and Theresa. Guess what happened next... yup, Uncle Pete came out, welcomed us, and took the picture of all of us in front of his place.

Kathy using technology at Uncle Petes
Uncle Pete was pretty funny, saying "tell the waitress you know me and she'll charge ya double" in his heavy Tennessee accent. He also quipped, "we have a special today. It's an all you can eat plate of food, and if you eat it all, and still hungry, we'll bring ya more and charge ya triple!" We laughed. We sat at a table, and ordered a very nice, but simple breakfast. Theresa had another diet coke. I think she needs help...

Smithville Tennessee
Our route, taking us off the interstate, had us going through Smithville Tennessee. We saw a water tower that said, "Welcome to Smithville" so we had to stop. We set up and took the picture like the tourists that we are and headed to Burgess Falls State Park. The story about that location is that I had been browsing through a magazine named “Country” at the inlaws a few months back. Since waterfalls are peaceful, and it was in the vicinity of our route, and we thought positioning rest stops throughout the road trip was a good thing, we planned on stopping. Well, it was cool, but a 3/4-mile hike in motorcycle gear (jeans, boots, etc) made it a heck of a trek. This is a pretty good location for hiking with moderate trails, but not in gear... We walked back via the fire road, a road that vehicles can travel on, back to the parking lot. Holy smokes it was warm!

Burgess Falls (final)
Burgess Falls (second)
Burgess Falls (first)
We then noticed a guy staring at the black and orange Harley (not the bluish purple Goldwing) again, so I approached him and discussed all things Harley. I think his name was Fred, and he had an Ultra Classic as well. Anyway, a little conversation happened and his buddy, Ted showed up on his Harley. We talked some more about our road trip, and Fred and Ted gave us some good road advice to get to our final destination at The Tail of the Dragon. We took the advice and it turned out to be fair, but we ended up missing the road they both mentioned to take. Oh well.

Kathy and Theresa posing at Burgess Falls
After the waterfall and some various photographs, we went back south to Sparta and got some ice-cold water and some air conditioning. Then, off we went to Crossville Tennessee for some gas and lunch. We found a place called The 19th Hole. It had basic bar food on the menu and some cold beverages. NASCAR was at Pocono and on the TV when we stopped. At this stop, we ate, we drank, and we enjoyed.

The Devil’s Triangle was next on the list. We heard going clockwise from Petros Tennessee was the best route, so we headed there from Crossville. The triangle was a nice ride, but nothing extra special. This road is primarily used for coal trucks to move their ore out of the area to nearby railways to ship to parts around the country. There was a pre courser road prior to Petros that did remind me that I wasn't in Kansas anymore. We also saw things that reminded us of the Ozarks and Arkansas areas, if you know what I mean... (queue Deliverance music here).

Once we were done with The Devil’s Triangle, we headed a little east and some south towards Maryville Tennessee. We planned stop at Wally World for provisions (i.e. jeans, hydrogen peroxide, frozen pizza for dinner, and some beer). A sudden pop-up rainstorm stalled the plans. We sought protection under an overpass for a few minutes, and then motored on to Wal-Mart. Once we strapped the stuff down, and hid the beer due to bootlegging concerns, we headed towards The Tail of The Dragon for our destination.

Plenty of signs warn trucks to not attempt The Tail of The Dragon due to severe road curves called cross backs. However, that is why we came here – on bikes, for the cross backs. Once headed to the dragon, we were met by Tennessee's finest, a trooper from the state highway patrol. I counted around 5 of them while on 129 hwy. This route had us going through Tallassee and bordering the Chilhowee Lake for around 9 miles prior to the dragon.

Once we got to the road that made us come here, it was on like Donkey Kong. Since Ronnie led the triangle, I thought I should lead the dragon. He didn't laugh at my hazards blinking the whole 11 miles and 318 turns. He understands, since he is old enough to be my dad (shhhh!). We got to our hacienda, fairly uneventfully. Well, at least for Ronnie and Theresa. Upon approaching the gate, that I initially went past, I headed towards the drive and got to the keypad that opens the gate and nearly fell over, while on the bike. Hey, it was a steep hill and sharp dropped edges. Anyway, successfully through the gate, we headed up our path. Since it started getting dark, I though it would be a good idea to take off my sunglasses so I could see better. I mean, I was only going 5 mph. After a few choice words from Kathy after I nearly went into the ditch, I straightened out and got safely to the house. We stuck the beer in the freezer to chill and warmed the oven for our recently acquired DiGiorno pizzas. The house needed to be chilled down a little and there was not any ice made in the freezer, but hey, that was ok, cause we were on vacation!

The Cabin View
The view from the deck overlooking the Cheoah Lake was most excellent. We sat outside for a while, drinking beers and summarizing the day’s riding. The clouds were still prevalent throughout the mountain range, so the sun setting to our backs made for a nice orange and pink sky as our view. There were even some whippoorwills doing their thing in the background. We also think we heard a mileormore bird too. You know, the birds that fly backwards, the wind gets in it's yahoo, and you can hear it from around a mile or more? (drum kick and cymbals)

Anyway, we all started to discuss the next days plans, as to which direction or specific ride we wanted to enjoy. There was no decision, but the plan was to sleep on it and devise a plan in the morning. Down in the Smokies, there were way to many choices to stick in 2-3 days of riding. However, one of the ideas generated was to go visit our good friends, Rhonda and Larry Brown, who were in Destin Florida at their vacation spot for the week. The idea was not off the table, yet, but we thought that it was a ways to go and still get back to work on Monday...

Winged Rodent - Bat
We came inside once it was totally dark, enjoyed our pizza, and watched the TV for some news, specifically for the weather forecast. They were calling for isolated showers for Monday for the area. We ensured we had our raingear ready, just in case! While doing that, Ronnie went out to the carport to secure his bike and noticed a bat (winged rodent) laying on the step from the kitchen. Naturally, I had to document the bat, so I grabbed the camera and snapped a couple of pictures of it. Those things are freaky looking.

Some revelations for this third leg of the road trip:
  • Long day riding + steep incline + heavy bike = worrisome navigating.
  • Ronnie’s bike = quiet. Mine = not so much.
  • Beer in freezer for 30 minutes works great. 2 hours, not so much.
  • DiGiorno pizza is pretty good, with beer.
  • No Internet connection at rental house = Internet Rehab. We lived.
  • 330 miles this day - give or take – click here our general route.

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