Sunday, May 08, 2016

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.  
  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
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).
  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 (, 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 ( 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.    

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