Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Day 4 – Monday, June 13, 2011 - Staying at The Tail of The Dragon

Day 4 – Monday, June 13, 2011
Staying at The Tail of The Dragon

Fried Bologna and Egg Breakfast
Sandwich at Carolina Kitchen (cell phone pic)
Well, I woke up at 5:00 AM for no real reason, again. As I laid in bed, I thought about our day ahead. Around 5:45 AM, a rooster started to crow. I did not recall seeing any farm animals in the area, but was quick to realize that it was Kathy's phone, doing the rooster alarm. The phone was downstairs. She got up, went to retrieve the offending phone, and giggled all the way. Ronnie and Theresa heard it and thought there were roosters outside as well. Ha! Sunrise was to be at 6:14 AM this morning, but due to fog, we did not see the sun until around 7:30 AM. We found breakfast at Carolina Kitchen in Robbinsville, North Carolina. The menu was full of choices. Ronnie and Kathy opted for the country breakfast with everything on the plate. Theresa chose oatmeal and a side of fruit. I chose a NC favorite, the fried bologna and egg sandwich. Our server was exceptionally nice and the food was pretty good. One thing our server did was cut up a fresh peach for Theresa and placed it in a stemmed goblet. You know, the kind of goblet that your grandmother used to use for slices of fresh fruit like peaches or strawberries, which were then doused in half and half and sprinkled with sugar... Well, at least that is what it reminded me of. Since my gramdma Anderson used to have the same exact goblet and tender loving care in preparing me a sweet, yet not exactly a healthy (sugar and half and half) snack.

Kathy and Rob
at Nantahala
Theresa and Ronnie
at Nantahala
Kids playing
at Nantahala
Blue Ridge Parkway

After breakfast, we headed towards the Nantahala River Gorge, where the white water rafters and kayakers are prevalent. We stopped in a small village like setting to take it all in. It included shops, places to eat, and a nice bridge over the river. There was even an Olympic training course for competition kayakers. The Great Smoky Mountain Expressway was calling our name. Ultimately, we were hoping to find the Blue Ridge Parkway. We found the parkway, however I thought it was headed back towards the Robbinsville area. That is the wrong way that we wanted to go. The GPS even convinced me of it being the wrong way. Now, hindsight being 20/20, I shouldn't have listed to the GPS. I should have listened to instinct and/or Kathy... Both were right. We toured the metropolis of Balsam North Carolina, which shot us backwards around 5 miles. We stopped frequently to ensure we were not lost, which ended up costing us around 30 minutes.
Blue Ridge Parkway

Upon arriving at the already witnessed entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway, we hopped on and headed to Asheville North Carolina. The rode does not allow commercial traffic, which is nice to motorcyclists. There were a lot of pull offs to view the mountains and valleys that make up the Great Smoky Mountains. We chose a couple stops during our ~30 mile ride on the parkway to take it all in and snap some photos.

Theresa and Ronnie outside
'Jus One More' in Asheville NC (cell phone pic)
Our goal was to hit The Biltmore Estate on our fourth day. After turning off the parkway on to Hwy 151, which was a heavy downhill road, which warmed my back brakes up to non-operational conditions, we headed towards Asheville. Once we entered town, we came across a bar and grill named Jus One More, which seemed right up our alley. We asked the bartender about finding a liquor store in order to solve Ronnie’s urge for "ice tea" - the 101 proof version. She advised us of a store “up the road” and provided seemingly adequate directions. However, they were either bad directions or we just could not see our desired stop. The thing is… NC apparently has stringent liquor laws, at least to us Missourians. The deal is, the state controls liquor sales. The stores are called ABC Liquor, and they only sell bottles of liquor. No beer. No pop. Nothing else. Beer is sold in convenience stores, which the state mandates be separate from liquor. See? Weird! We looked everywhere for ABC in Asheville, but no such luck. We then took to the second stop in Asheville, the Biltmore Estate. Supposedly, the Biltmore is the largest private house in America. It's gated and they will not even let you do a drive by unless a $69 toll is paid, each. No thanks – maybe next time. Theresa got a (free) brochure out of the ticket house, brought it out to us and showed us the house. After minimal ooh's and ahh's, we headed back towards home, but in search of food.

A Little Bit of Everything
Kathy Trying All the BBQ Sauces

Ronnie and Theresa
Hiding From The Camera
The food agenda consisted of finding a BBQ joint, which we found in Waynesville, NC. The establishment, called Big Mountain BBQ, was just off 74/23 at exit 100. I was surprised to see that it was a former house, pretty much in a residential district. Past experience tells me that it should be some good food. It was! My plate consisted of home cut fries, slaw, baked beans, and a huge BBQ brisket sandwich on Texas toast. They home cook everything there, from the smoked meats to a Vidalia onion side dish that is out of this world (that means good). There were 5 different sauces provided on the table from hot to sweet and even a NC favorite vinegar based concoction. All were great! I highly recommend a stop at this place if ever in the area!
The Regular Brisket Sandwich,
with Beans, Slaw, and Fries.

Since we failed at the ABC store in Asheville, we thought we would give it one more go in Waynesville. Again, we asked the server, and she gave us directions. Again, like the other server, she advised us of a store “up the road” and provided seemingly adequate directions. However, they were either bad directions or we just could not see our desired stop. However, on the good side, we did get to see the downtown district of the small town, which was very quaint. We hopped back on the road after a failed attempt at GPS'ing 'ABC' since the one Kathy pulled up the ABC Control Board (does that make it the ABCCB?) office. Ha! I thought were even on the direction score, but she didn’t.

We hopped back on the road and attempted yet another town, called Sylva. After looking downtown, which was quaint as well, we found nothing. A quick stop at a convenience store (which sells beer mind you), I was given directions, yet again. Bingo, The elusive ABC was not hiding any longer. Turns out, the signs are hidden and impossible to see from the street. Nonetheless, we meandered in (cause that is what you do in these parts) and scored a bottle of 101-proof tea (wink). Once Ronnie’s purchase was made, and Kathy and I scored a bottle of 80-proof water (i.e. Sky Vodka) and some bloody mary mix, which contained +/- 1% alcohol by volume (so they could sell it at ABC) we got back on our route for home.

Some revelations for this fourth leg of the road trip:
  • GPS – don’t trust it, all the time. Unless of course you want to check out the metropolis of Balsam, NC.
  • Buy Biltmore Estate tickets at least 7 days prior and it’s only $49 (really?!?!)
  • Bootlegging tea in to NC would have been easier than finding an ABC store, and probably worth the risk.
  • Don’t turn away at the thought of the vinegar-based sauce while in NC. It is good!
  • Kathy scored us a nice place to stay – this view is freakin awesome!
  • 270 miles this day - give or take – click here our general route.

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