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.

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