Sunday, May 08, 2016

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.

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