Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Lessons learned from crutches

I know I’m not the only one who has been on crutches. And I keep hearing Tony talk about the years at a time he’s been on crutches (in Germany, on ski slopes, up hills at concerts – you get the picture). I’ve learned some things during my time:

1    1. Adjust your crutches and the readjust as needed. This is not the time to lie about your height.
2.      Doors are evil (except the automatic ones). They are inconsistent and have no logic (e.g. some push, some pull; some are heavy, some are light). It helps to have a butt to get in and out of doors. Don’t even think about going near a revolving door.
3.      After a couple of days of being on crutches, your armpit areas will be really sore. And you would prefer to walk on your bad leg than use the crutches. You would prefer to crawl than use the crutches. 
4.      Underwire bras and crutches are not friends. While dealing with the digging into your arm pits, add the digging into your armpits AND into your underwire bra.
5.      Floors are slippery. Especially gas station floors.
6.      Those elevator doors that you think open and close too slowly? They are perfect.
7.      The handicap bathroom you could use because it’s vacant. Don’t. It’s great with crutches and I never thought I’d show disdain for someone who doesn’t need to use the handicap stall use the handicap stall.
8.      Running floorboards on a truck/SUV are a necessity. If not, a bucket of some sort may be needed to get in (out is easier).
9.      Carrying anything, especially a liquid, probably won’t go well.
10.   You may not know it, but you put your clothes on the same way everyday. Who thought that changing the first leg, second leg to get into clothes would be an issue. It is.
11.   Your nightstand is definitely not big enough.
12.   Bathing is a challenge and should not be done unattended. While you may make it in, you may not make it out.
13.   Grocery stores are BIG. HUGE.
14.   Amazon Prime is more amazing than ever.
15.   Stairs. Try not to use them. But, if they are carpeted, using your butt and arms to scooch up and down is perfectly acceptable. Even in public.
16.   If you’re used to wearing heels to work, and pants, your pants will be way too long to wear. You don’t want to wear heels with crutches. They probably would in Sex in the City – that’s a TV show, not reality.
17.   You will learn how to moderate your beverage intake. The more you drink, the more you’ll have to pee, and the more you’ll have to use your crutches.
18.   If you’re wearing Harley gear, someone will ask if you did it on the bike.
19.   All of the stuff you usually carry around without an issue (e.g. phone). It’s an issue.
       20 .Feel free to ask for help even if it’s not something you’d normally do.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Thursday: Asheville to Knoxville (heading west)

Thursday morning I got up early (as usual) and started a fire in the fireplace. Tony got up and cooked ALL of the breakfast stuff we had left. Enough for 10 people. And then he had most (all) of the work to do to get us ready to leave and head back to Knoxville while I sat around. That meant cleaning up the cabin and throwing trash, etc. out. Packing up our stuff. Loading up the bike, including strapping down the crutches (we realize that we don't have any pictures of the crutches on the bike). It's cold, and it's going to be a cold day. They say snow in the mountains. And rain. Our original route -- Blue Ridge Parkway to 441 to go through the Smokies, then Gaitlinburg and Pidgeon Hole before heading to Al & Eileen's -- needed to be changed and we elected to go I-40. Lots of semis, but only about 130 miles to Knoxville. Wearing rain gear, off we go. Well, little incident getting me on the bike. 35 miles down the road it starts pouring and we pull off and go into a BP station to warm up and dry off and hope for it to stop. My helmet has a shield so it's not as bad as Tony's half helmet. And his goggles keep fogging up, making it really hard to ride in the rain. And, with all of the semis, and the curvy road that is I-40, riding in the rain isn't pleasant. It's downright miserable. And, there really aren't any bail off routes on this trip unless we want to head back West along the Smokies (where there is snow). So, we hang out at the BP for a while, until it looks like it's stopped and the radar kinda looks clear for a while. There was this nice woman who said if she had her truck, she would have loaded us on it and taken us with her. And said it a few times. There are some nice people in this world.
Rain stop at gas station
We just want to keep progressing towards Knoxville, even if it's only 35 miles at a time. We're about 10 miles down the road (for reference, the BP station is Exit 20 -- you'll need to know this later) and it starts pouring again. There's a 45 mph sign for a road shift coming up. Tony decides that his goggles are too fogged up and exits Exit 7. Nothing on Exit 7... But the entrance back on to I-40 West is closed. We're going to have to head BACK east in order to exit to head back west. In the pouring rain. We go through a tunnel and make it to the rest area. I go inside (it's a really nice visitor center and they were helping two ladies find pamphlets to the Billy Graham museum). Back on the bike, in the rain. There is an exit 15 (I think to Fine's Creek or Fine's Landing, or something) that we pull off again at and sit under the overpass. Tony's talking about us dying. It's freezing. It's raining. We decide to try and find a town. There is no town, but we pull up to a heifer farm with a nice house. The barn door is cracked open and I want to go inside, uninvited. Tony doesn't. He's ranting and raving and I lose it. I didn't care, and I was about to have a Rainman moment ("One minute to Wapner" https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Bp9AClR8qCY) and throw a fit outside the farmhouse across the street to get inside. A man came out of another house and obviously didn't have a care about us in the pouring rain, on a Harley, with crutches bungee corded to the back. Told us Maggie's whatever would be the best place to head since there is no town in this Fine's place. This exit is five miles down the to road, east. Note that we are at exit 15.  Yes, we made it to exit 20, back to the BP, again. It's Groundhog Day. All over again. We are cold. We are miserable. We are thinking about heading to this Maggie's place and getting a room and quitting for the day. Tony calls Al and says he doesn't think we're going to make it. A gentleman in the BP tells us that it's only about 30 miles to Newport, the next town west and they have a hotel. Nothing much until then. And then only about 80 miles to Knoxville. I call the Peabody Hotel (www.peabodymemphis.com) to cancel since that's about 24 hours away and we don't know when we're going to get to Knoxville, so it's hard to predict when we're going to get to Memphis. You would think that a classy hotel like the Peabody would be all about customer service. Not so much. Unfortunately I was too cold and stressed to do my normal routine when I call -- ask for the person's name I am speaking with. Yes, you see a story coming here. The woman I was speaking with told me that if I cancelled that they would still be charging for the room. I told her again the reason we were cancelling was because we were stuck in Asheville, on a Harley, and unable to ride and not knowing when it would stop. "Is there a tornado?," she asked. I guess it takes a really big storm like a tornado to get your reservation cancelled without a charge. I repeat my story again. And she brings up the tornado, again. And then asks if we want to change our reservation to another day. Finally, I ask if there is someone I can speak to about this. Yes, my manager, who is in a meeting for two hours. I give her Tony's mobile number and ask for a call back. Before I hang up (without asking for her name), I ask if the manager will definitely call me back. Her response "I don't know why not." So, we still have a room at the Peabody until I speak to the manager. Since I'm on a movie citation, it seems like Beverly Hills Cop (https://video.search.yahoo.com/video/play;_ylt=A2KLqIBajSxXAzYAtke5mWRH;_ylu=X3oDMTByZWc0dGJtBHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDdmlkBHZ0aWQDBGdwb3MDMQ--?p=Beverly+Hills+Cop+and+Beverly+Wilshire+Hotel&vid=66e4643bc822de2f805a6b6de55a61b8&turl=http%3A%2F%2Ftse3.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOVP.V882c5ffac81b2d78004eeaea4eaac40a%26pid%3D15.1%26h%3D168%26w%3D300%26c%3D7%26rs%3D1&rurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DlMQtvbLIyo0&tit=Beverly+Hills+Cop+-+%26quot%3BAxel+Arrives+at+the+Beverly+Hills+Hotel%26quot%3B+-+%28HD%29+-+Eddie+Murphy+%281984%29&c=0&h=168&w=300&l=104&sigr=11b0cfcin&sigt=134bv5915&sigi=1310638tf&age=1440045765&fr2=p%3As%2Cv%3Av&fr=yfp-hrtab-901&tt=b) The rain stops and the sun comes up. We decide to try this one more time and see if we can get to Newport. We do. With only a little bit of rain. The sun tries to come out a bit (it was a good thing that we had to have this head back to exit 20 moment because it would potentially have been a disaster if we had continued since that part of I-40 is really curvy) and we don't even stop in Newport. At this point, I am pretty much counting the exits and miles because it is windy, it is cold. And I had to put my gloves away because they were too wet (wringing water out wet). Finally we pull off at. Love's truck stop to warm up, dry off (not really) and drink more coffee and some Chester's chicken. On the bike and headed to Al & Eileen's. I don't think we ever have been happier to see exit 376 to 140 and then exit 5 to their house as we did. A drink, or two, or three is needed. My while right leg is swollen because of the ride. It is so nice to be here and inside and warming up. After our adventure, can't see why Al &a Eileen would think getting a trike is a good idea. It just took 8 hours for Tony and I to go 130 miles. Tony makes me call the Peabody to confirm our reservation that wasn't supposed to be canceled. And the manager never called us back. After being on hold for five minutes (yes, this is supposedly a multiple star hotel) before I get Maggie on the phone (yes, I remembered this time to get a name). No,  I don't have my confirmation number. We find out that our room HAS been cancelled. No call from the manager. Maggie is able to rebook our room that should not have been cancelled without a call. Good thing we called. Maggie is helpful, but still doesn't feel like I'm speaking to someone at a multiple star hotel. I ask her to have the manager call me when he gets off the phone with another customer. We finally go to bed -- without a returned call from Dwayne (yes, I got his name as well). Sorry there are no photos for this adventure, but pouring rain on a Harley doesn't equate with photo ops.

The Duck Walk

If you're going to stay at The Peabody Hotel and spend that kind of money, you need to have front seats to see the duck walk. They don't give patrons a special section. Tony and I got up, got packed, had the hotel's breakfast buffet (I only really cared about the coffee, since there is no in room coffee maker -- this is horror for someone like me. But, their coffee is brought to the table in a French Press and is pretty awesome) and then set up camp at the Lobby Bar (it opens at 10 am) in front of the fountain. Bloody Mary for me (OK, nothing special) and Bailey's Hot Chocolate for Tony. If you want a good view, you really need to come early and set up shop. The Peabody Hotel earned another plus (I still need to add up the pluses and minuses to see what they average out to be prior to posting on TripAdvisor) with an app called Press Reader. It lets you read hundreds of newspapers and choose from them instead of leaving a newspaper at your door (they say it's for the environment, but they need to advertise it giving you the ability to read lots of papers instead of one -- including The Dallas Morning News). For a news junkie, I need to look into this service. Didn't see The Wall Street Journal, but it is a Sunday.  The Duck Master shows up early to get set up. He ropes off areas, get the potted plants just right. And deals with the media/camera crew who are shooting for something. He is very gracious and proud of his job (he's the fifth duck master). About ten minutes until 11, he does his "talk" to get you excited about the walk. Talks about them being on the Johnny Carson Show, and Sesame Street (for Rubber Ducky Day). And then goes up the elevator to get the ducks (BTW, they close one of the elevators for this procession).
Duck Master
Bloody Mary (with pickled okra) at The Peabody Lobby Bar
Breakfast time
 
Peabody ducks in the fountain
  At exactly 11, they come down. The ceremony is much more entertaining in the morning. At night, they pretty much get out of the pond and walk down the red carpet to the elevator and go home. In the morning, they get off the elevator and roam around outside the fountain a bit before getting in ("Use the stairs," says the Duck Master a few times). And then it's over and people crowd around the fountain to get pictures. But, if you wait another 10-15 minutes, the Duck Master comes back with a silver platter to feed the ducks. Another ceremony. Time to head out and Tony sets me up at the curb and goes to get the truck. Outside they have the duck walk of fame that includes Elvis. We have a moment. Missing key to the truck. Tony unhooked it from the door opener and it's missing. We go through the backpack, and open up the suitcase. Tony is about to head back to the truck to search it again and moves the suitcase for me to rest my leg on. They are clipped to the suitcase. Sigh. Tony bought a coffee mug for me, and a fuzzy duck pen, and some Rendezvous BBQ sauce and rub (the Rendezvous is down the alley from the hotel). 
Elvis Presley (and my shadow) on the Duck Walk of Fame
Peabody Hotel
Rendezvous BBQ
  Off to get the truck. Pulls around and we have a mechanical issue. All of the road bumps have blown out a bulb on the trailer, and the  fender is loose. Tony works on it on the trailer and finally off we go. We will stop at a gas station to buy a bulb and gas up to head home.  Before crossing to the bridge, there's a weird pyramid. Then across the Mississippi River and off to a Love's before heading towards Little Rock. Tony's worried about the trailer and his bike -- says that it's bouncing through the plate metal and is going to fall through.     Does some more work before we head off. 6+ hours and we'll be home. That's a lot of driving for Tony. And a lot of bent knee time for me (my knee to my foot are pretty swollen from not elevating -- that's what I'll be doing on Sunday. Tony says that I'm not leaving the bed.).
Trailer work outside the Peabody
The Bass Pro Shop Pyramid???
  Home. Wayz again amused us and we have lots of points and likes from our posts. Home. Kat is happy to see us and doesn't leave us out of her sight. Adventure over. Sunday is a rest and clean up day (and rig the bathroom for me to take a shower). Liking this new app to blog, but still new to it. Have to learn how to make the links live. Tony is also reading all of my posts and looks like I need to go and fix some incomplete sentences and typos (a horror for me, but part of blogging on a trip). Pretty happy since this is my first time blogging on an iPad. And, the gizmo I got from Amazon worked -- I uploaded the photos from the camera. Unfortunately user error and all of the video I took on the trip... Well, nothing over three seconds. Good trip. Now time for surgery.

Knoxville to Memphis

Friday morning we get up and packed up to head to Memphis for our last leg of the trip back to Dallas: The Peabody Hotel and Beale Street. Towing the bikes back and of course it's a nice day -- sunny and perfect riding weather. Figures. We stop at the Harley dealership in Nashville (Bosswells) on the way (it's in an industrial area on Fessler and took a moment to get there). Tony helped some guys unload a Harley from a minivan (yes, a minivan). This dealership has one of the only two cafes in it -- and we had lunch. Pretty good burgers and fries. Picked up a shirt for Tony (purple) and a ride bell for Al & Eileen.
Minivan Harley Hauler
Part II. Tony helps.
Nashville HD Tshirt (purple)
Ride Bell for Al & Eileen!
Memphis ballpark
  And then off we sped to the Peabody. We realize that we are cutting it really close for the duck walk and Tony may be throwing me out of the truck to see (not that I'M extremely speedy). I call the Peabody on our way because no one has called me back as I have requested. I get Angie on the phone and she's sympathetic to the situation and apologizes. She also moves us to a king room and was going to see about a room with a bigger bathroom since I'm on crutches. While I'm on the phone, I ask her about parking. When we spoke to the hotel on Saturday, they said it shouldn't be a problem to park, and if it is, they have an overflow lot. What they didn't tell me on Saturday is that if we have to park in the overflow, offsite lot, there is a $75 extra parking charge. Angie says she'll speak to them and they would call me back if there is a problem, but they aren't full so it shouldn't be a problem. I amuse myself with Wayz, this cool map app that is like a game. You see hazards and cops and other stuff. And can get points. Great for a road trip. I don' think it's that great if you're doing it while driving, but while navigating, I had fun. We get to the Peabody just in time and I take Tony's phone and head that way while he parks. The lobby is crowded on two levels, with people waiting to see the walk. No one is terribly sympathetic of me and my crutches -- I even dropped one and they all just looked at me. Trying to video this while trying to balance on crutches led to a rather poor (well, complete and utter c**p) video.  We decide we're going to stay later and watch them walk again at 11:00 am. The Peabody has upgraded us to an Executive King Suite. Quite nice and roomy. Cool thing: they have automatic sensor lights around the bed, so when you get out of bed, you have a nightlight. Bad thing: they do not have in room coffee maker (this isn't just bad, it's awful). Good thing: they give you duck shaped soap. Bad thing: Tony said that the bathtub would have been a disaster for me. 
Peabody Elevator Floor
 
Resting after drive with high-class snacks (Cheez It's and Pringles)
We decide we're going to do Beale street, but after chatting with some of the horse carriage drivers, it's a bit of a haul for me. All of the horse carriage drivers have dogs with them. They just sit and ride along. The carriage drivers all charge different amounts (from $25 to $55, plus tips). Ultimately, Tony and I decide I'm going to see about getting to Beale Street on my own. And then figure out how to come back. Just as we rounded the corner, a horse carriage driver offers to take us there for $10. Sold! Off to Beale Street (which is closed to traffic, with a security check point to get in). They also ID you for everything. We sit on the street and Tony goes to take pictures and do a check for where we might go and how far I could go. End up at the King's Palace Cafe, where we split a rack of ribs (half wet, half dry) and a bread pudding (total chocolate goodness, and I don't really like chocolate). Sorry that there aren't more exciting Beale Street stories, but that's how it goes on crutches. We catch a carriage back, with a woman who has a cat, not a dog (cat named Gelding...). Back to the Peabody and give the horse a kiss and call it a night. Damn crutches. Tomorrow morning we're going to see the duck walk and then head back to Dallas.
BB King's on Beale Street
Beale Street
King's Palace Cafe (if you don't know if you like ribs wet or dry, ask for half and half)
 

Wednesday ride to Little Switzerland

Confession: I like printed maps, paper maps, maps that fold and you take with you on trips. I like to know directions before going somewhere. I don't mind technology, but I really like my maps. Just ask Tony. For this trip, I did bring our 10+ year old Harley-Davidson map book, but I left it at Al & Eileen's. I did bring the motorcycle ride maps I purchased for the area and yesterday, "The Best Roads North and South of Asheville, NC, came out to plot our route.  
Map
  On Wednesday, Mike and Susan headed out on a chillier morning than normal. They were thinking of stopping and getting something warmer to wear to head back to Knoxville to load up their bike and then head to the airport in Nashville. Tony wanted to do "The Diamondback," a road near Little Switzerland. I kept reading about Little Switzerland being a good place to launch rides off of. Our route: figure out how to get on the Blue Ridge Parkway (in our case, two miles off of I-40, Exit 53). Stop and put on our rain gear (it is COLD). I am happy to be wearing my leather jacket and happy to have brought my gloves. Tony only brought a fleece. It wasn't supposed to be that cold, and we're heading up the parkway -- UP, meaning: colder. 
Tony donning rain gear before Blue Ridge Parkway
Blue Ridge Parkway
The other kinds of bikes
Tunnel!
Stop for break (it's cold)
Another tunnel!
  The Blue Ridge Parkway is well maintained and today, not heavily traveled (quite a few bikers -- as in pedal -- don't know how they can do it). It's a nice ride, but nothing terribly exciting except for the views. It's also well maintained. If you get on the Parkway, remember that you don't have the chance to get off very often. Really. In our case, we exited onto 80 and stopped at a "gas station" and then north. 80 took us through and past a golf course, and some residential areas, but was a lot curvier than the Parkway and more fun. 
First stop on 80
 
Golf course
7 Mile Ridge Road
Two Headed Ale (from Bell's Brewery)
 
Little Switzerland
  Now, 7 Mile Ridge Road -- those are some switchbacks (note: if you take 80 to 7 Mile Ridge Road, the turn is a bit sudden on the right -- we had to turn around. But, it's worth taking this route to Little Switzerland). This road was awesome and unexpected. And, not very well marked. I'm not sure we were always on 7 Mile Ridge Road. And any time we came to a stop, I just told Tony to take a right (because, having looked at the paper map, I had a general idea of where we were heading. Enough to be dangerous). If we didn't have this map, I don't think there is any way we would have taken it or even known about it. Take 7 Mile Ridge Road! I thought Little Switzerland would be a little bigger. It's just a cafe and a couple of shops. I think there must be more up the road, including a resort, but this is what we saw and where we stopped for lunch. I had a beer (coincidentally from Bell's Brewery in Michigan), adult grilled cheese (Gouda, blue cheese, red onions, bacon on rye) and tomato soup (it was a soup kind of day). Tony had their BBQ platter (pulled port, Appalachian corn bread, baked beans and Cole slaw). All pretty good. I'll have to ask Tony when the trip is over which BBQ was his favorite. I think he's had it 4-5 times.     There was this quirky group of "locals" who sat next to us. I call them locals because when we left, the woman chatted with us and then they seemed to be walking home. The woman wanted to know all about my injury (because she's been there) and to caution me on being careful. The reason I say "local" is that they seemed more like people "who summer" in Saugatuck or Maine, and definitely had no Southern accents. When we were loading ourselves back, she cautioned us again with me being injured and then told us the Diamondback is a nice road and to enjoy it -- but to watch out for vehicles who don't honor the yellow line. (Oh, I also bought socks because I didn't really think that not wearing boots would make a difference temperature wise. My feet were cold on the ride. Lesson learned).
Diamondback
Diamondback
  The Diamondback is a good road and good ride. Tony says the canter is better than the Tail of the Dragon. I think I would agree. But, unlike the Tail, there are houses on this ride. It'd be pretty cool to live on this road -- but the driveways... Better have a generator and stock up in the winter. The ride also has some mountain, rocks views and curves, but also some streams/babbling brooks/baby waterfalls, and "farmland." I like it when the terrain changes. Probably why the Blue Ridge Parkway became a bit monotonous. You definitely don't have a chance of seeing a cow on the Parkway. I'm still trying to see a bear and haven't had any success. Only "I get them on my patio." 226 dumps you on to 221, a four-lane highway. It's a nice little change from two-lane roads. Our intent was to take 221 to 74A and the 74A through Lake Lure and Chimney Rock and then back to Asheville. At I-40, we stop and regroup because I want to look at my paper map and ask Siri how long this route would be. We've done a lot of riding and that looks like a lot more. And it's after 3:00 pm.  Change of plans: I-40 back to the cabin. About 30 miles. Stop at our "local" Ingles on the way to pick up dinner (I call it local because we're going to the same one near the Harley-Davidson Asheville dealership that we went to the day before).  This was a good call because we don't get back to the cabin until about 5:00 pm. At the Ingles, we get chatted up by a guy. I guess me being on crutches and geared up in Harley stuff makes us approachable. We also tried to pick up some of that Kambucha (a living probiotic tea....)that Austin and Rosie were looking for. We didn't get the brand that they wanted, but we found some. Not really sure what this stuff is. It's sustainable and organic and comes in different flavors (and supposedly is great with vodka). But, we're bringing it back. According to one website (http://www.drinkbuchi.com), they won't ship because they don't think it's sustainable to ship. OK, I just did a search and this stuff may not be coming back with us, because you can buy our brand (www.celestialseasonings.com) in Dallas. Our bike is already pretty well loaded. My advice to Tony is going to be to take a picture to show we care, and then leave it in the fridge. Steak and corn and tomatoes for dinner (the steak at Ingles was really good and we had to go back and get it again. Wish we could find steak this good at our Tom Thumb). First, Tony has to make fire in the fireplace. This took awhile because the wood was probably damp. And he was using cardboard from the Amazon Prime Pantry box (nice box). Not until too late that we see on the mantle a fire starter. Nice fire. FaceTime with Dalton and Kat (she's missing us). Hot tub. Get a lot of texts from people about the potential snow tomorrow at elevations over 4000 ft. Our route is supposed to be over the Smokie Mountains back to Knoxville. Alternate route: I-40 to Knoxville.
Bees like these
  As I type, I have a fire going in the fireplace this morning while drinking coffee and waiting for my eEdition of The Dallas Morning News. I also ordered that gizmo to be able to upload photos and video from my camera from Amazon Prime. Packing up is going to be "fun" today, but time to head back to Knoxville. And then to Memphis. And then to Dallas.    

Tail of the Dragon to Asheville

NOTE: THIS POST IS LACKING PHOTOS. I JUST FOUND ON AMAZON A DEVICE THAT WILL LET ME TRANSFER MY CAMERA PHOTOS TO MY IPAD. BUT DIDN'T KNOW IT EXISTED UNTIL THIS MORNING. VIDEO AND MORE PHOTOGRAPHY WILL BE ADDED. Yesterday morning came and we loaded up the bikes to head to Asheville. For a week that was supposed to be all rain, we really have survived and look like we will on our ride to Asheville (but, we do have rain gear). As I'm typing, I think I'm hearing rain outside the cabin. But, being on crutches, my curiosity isn't nearly as peaked. I also drink my coffee a lot slower.
Heading out to Tail of the Dragon
  Crutches on, and off we go. Surprisingly, Tail of the Dragon is not far from Al & Eileen's. Maryville is really close and then we got on 129 (note: we thought it'd be a straight shot on 129, but they throw in this sneaky left turn onto 129 that you don't pay attention to until it's too late). The road to the Harley Davidson dealership (http://www.harleydragon.com) right before the Tail is very nicely paved. We get to the dealership about 45 minutes early. Tony takes out my folding chair to sit in the parking lot (very comfortable). 
The Dragon Harley Davidson Store (TN)
 
Look closely at the mileage
Dragon Log Carving
  People laugh at me when we go on trips and I talk about lack of cell service and lack of Internet. At the dealership and throughout most of the day, all four of us could look at our phones and they would say: No service. I don't mind it at all. Except if I need it. They open and I get what may now be my second favorite Harley Davidson shirt (it has a big dragon on the front, and on the back). Harley Davidson must finally be figuring out that women want their shirts not only Harley branded, but destination branded. This one also has rhinestones. Fancy. Again, we head out, with Tony leading the way to the Tail. 318 curves in 11 miles. This sounds pretty dangerous. And potentially scary from all of the "be carefuls" and the videos on YouTube. But, it ends up being pretty great and not terribly scary (of course I'm not driving). The road is very well maintained (Tony says something about the canters - the way the road leans -- being excellent and why crotch rockets must love it). 
Scenic Overlook on Tail of the Dragon
 
Heading to the Tail of the Dragon
Tony
Tail of the Dragon
Dog on bike at Deal's Gap
Tail of the Dragon
  There are about four places where you see camera guys taking pictures of you as you round the bend. You can then go and find your photos and purchase them. What a deal. For $7-$10 per photo, and about the only way to get your picture taken with both on the bike, while riding (exception: above from Al). They make some money. I was just looking on www.killerboy.com and found our photos. Pretty funny to see my pink shoes, with the crutches strapped to the back. I know I'm guilty of having "bitch face" and probably am triple the amount with being on crutches. But, my knee felt pretty decent the entire ride. I really was happy. Just look like a bitch. I think we'll be purchasing a couple of these. Memories. I did not try and count the curves (probably make me I'll), but there were a lot of them. Took about 30 minutes to get to the end, Deal's Gap. I could do this road again (unlike Mount Evans -- never, ever do that road again and I think Tony agrees). A couple pulls up on the Can Ams (sp --- brand -- those three wheel trikes with the two wheels in the front) -- and their dog! Susan and Mike while coming out of the store get asked by a couple of cops to take their picture (they were off duty doing the ride on their bikes). 
Sitting next to a creek at Deal's Gap
Deal's Gap Tree
 
Deal's Gap
  So, Tail of the Dragon checked off the list (again, would do this again). Off to Asheville by way of Route 19 through Bryson City and Cherokee. First go through Hell Bender, another curvy road -- not as much curvy as the Tail, but still a great ride. Time to get lunch. Tony and I still have a thing for not going to "chain" restaurants if all possible. Try the local fare. Still kicking ourselves for not stopping at this drive in on the river in Bryson City, but we were holding out for Cherokee.
Stop we should have made for lunch
BIG mistake. Cherokee has a casino and caters to tourists. Lots of "Indian tourist crap" and a casino. At the Harley dealership, we ask about recommendations and they send us to Paul's (wow, they don't have a website that we can find for me to post -- 1111 Tsalagi Road, Cherokee NC 828-497-9012) on 441. It's Indian owned and even has the Indian page on their menu (e.g. Elk and buffalo burgers, Indian tacos). Sit outside and have an OK, bit overpriced lunch. While hard to tell the difference, I still think the elk "may" have tasted better than the buffalo.  
Paul's Restaurant in Cherokee, NC
  Looks like rain may be in our future. We're all trying to avoid putting on our rain gear. Riding through Canton is not a great experience, since the roads aren't good. And notice that along the way a lot of stuff is closed. Boarded up closed, not reopening. Towns look pretty bad and don't look like they are coming back soon (almost like our ride from Austin on the east side through Mexia one year). 
Train in mountain
   When we get to Asheville, it looks like we just missed some pretty good rain, since the roads are pretty wet. Exit 51 to 25A to the Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds to check in. Our cabin, Mike's Place, is directly across from the office, with a hot tub in the back overlooking a pond. Nice cabin. Not as rustic as the ones in Arkansas we stayed, but nice. They even gave us robes and a gift basket (the shortbreads are good). 
Mike's Place at the Ashville Cabins of Willow Winds
Hot tub overlooking pond at Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds
 
Trout Pond
Tony's concerned with his bike. Along the route, the front starts shaking and he's using a "death grip" -- normally he can ride with his hands off the "wheel" (OK, I'm still not a true Harley person since I don't know the lingo). But, we get to the cabin (another note: I think all cabins used paved in a "loose" fashion. The driveway and road are a little, well, not how I like to be on a Harley -- in fact, I crutches my way across to the cabin). We call the Harley dealership in Asheville (http://www.hdofasheville.com )and they open at 9:00 am and we need to be there when they open to get things checked out.  Susan and Mike head to the grocery store for dinner, breakfast and a few stables. Amazon Pantry box has already been delivered to the cabin with the rest of our staples. Amazon is such a great invention when you have a Harley (and when you're on crutches).  And then the rain comes. Tony and Mike don't want their babies to get wet and look at the front porch and figure out how to get them on it to stay dry. Tony gets a flashlight (they have lots of flashlights in the cabin, so we're thinking there may be a lot of power outages here) to try and find the bullfrog (we think it's a bullfrog, but don't know much about frogs). He stops croaking when he hears Tony. And then starts up again when Tony steps back on the patio.  Thinking happy thoughts about the visit to the Harley dealership and Tony's bike.