Wednesday, July 16, 2008

NOSTALGA

Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground I rushed around yesterday completing the final arrangements for a special birthday present for a best friend. Finally, at 5:30PM, I saddled up the motorcycle and headed up to the Blue Ridge Campground to share some time with my friend Ed. Ed had arrived that morning and spent the whole day catching up on his book reading. A very likable guy; he was talking to two total strangers in front of his tent when I arrived at just before dark. The Blue Ridge Parkway has been a favorite road for me through the years. It winds through pristine mountains and forests and serves as a connection to the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. It is a fascinating ride on a motorcycle. I consider it an adventure to ride it from one end to the other. The extreme North end butts up against the Southern entrance of Skyline Drive. Skyline Drive meanders through the Shenandoah National Park and ends at it's Northern entrance located in Front Royal, Virginia. A marvelous ride on two wheels indeed! To drive through the Smokey Mountain National Park, however, has proven to be less than enjoyable over the past ten to fifteen years. The tourist traffic is next to bumper to bumper. It would appear that no one stops to see anything. Route 441 through the park provides spectacular scenery but is constantly clogged with cars. No one stops as they are afraid of losing their position on the road. It's humerus at times. The steep ascending two lane road also connects the town of Townsend with the Indian reservation, Cherokee, in North Carolina. Gatlinburg is another tourist trap along the way. An endless funeral procession of tourists pour over 441 heading to the aforementioned places in search of--well, I'm not sure. Famous stop offs like Cades Cove and the Chimneys are passed by. Years ago; in the 70's, traffic was sparse and the park was more enjoyable. These days I find myself looking for ways to avoid driving through the park to get somewhere. That is pretty sad. I guess Tennessee advertises for tourists and the tourists delivered. And the agencies want more tourists. Oh well! Ed and I got up early and drove the necessary 20 miles for breakfast and decided to visit the Wheels of Time museum. I have been stopping here for years to see the motorcycles from the past. It is a wonderful collection of every conceivable American motorcycle. I have included a very few photo's in this blog. We discovered that the curator of the Museum is moving the collection to the Four Corners area of Arizona. This is a tragic loss. We, I, take things for granted many times and the thought of losing this magnificent collection of motorcycles is impossible to comprehend. I just thought it would always be there. But it will happen in November this year. So todays visit was special. I looked at each piece in the museum and drank it in; no, absorbed the detail. I may never lay eyes on these creations again. I have many photos at home, but these few below are from today's visit. Dale, the owner/curator, even did a burnout on a antique bike for the crowd; inside the museum. Amazing! I started the motorcycle in the parking lot and put it into gear. I raised my head toward the museum one last time and allowed my eyes to drink in every detail. Then let the clutch out and pull away, not looking back. Once on the road I drove 30 miles per hour, as if reluctant to leave. The Wheels of Time will be missed. But then, nothing is forever..... I arrived just before sundown and Ed had been there since before noon. He's hard to get ahead of. Home Sweet Home at the Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground This museum contains the finest collection of old motorcycles on the planet. This is Shilo; the museum owner's dog. This is not a painting. It is a real, ancient motorcycle on a bench as it might appear during pre-WWI This is a depiction of what the motorcycle shops were like in my day and before. Practical and totally mechanically oriented Crocker tank and instruments The Crocker. A motorcycle that will out power the newest twin cam 88 Harley Davidson and its over 78 years old The owner of the museum doing a burn out inside his museum on a ancient Crocker motorcycle A 1916 Traub. This is the bike the poster speaks of from previous picture Marlin Brando poster. From the movie The Wild One. It really started this whole motorcycle mystique Shilo and Tater. Hound and Wimeranger Ah; back on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Cool and beautiful