Monday, August 10, 2009


cLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE August 2, 2009 This, the first day of a two week vacation, started with heavy morning down pours. I had hoped to leave at 5AM to ride across the Great Smoky Mountain National Park to Cherokee where the Blue Ridge Parkway ends in the South. However, I could not get on the road until 11:30AM. I had to meet a good friend at the Stations Inn Hotel located on the North Carolina/Tennessee border on the parkway. At that late departure hour, the only way to go was interstate to Blowing Rock Tennessee, and Route 321 into North Carolina to Route 221 North which crosses the parkway. After incorrect turns I finally made it to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Tennessee hires fifth grade graduates to design the state maps. Roads running East and West in real life are labeled North and South on state maps. Even a compass will not help in such situations. Stations Inn sits just off the parkway heading North, on the left side of the road. But to my dismay a parkway detour forced me into uncharted territory. Another wrong turn and back onto the parkway North. I still was not certain if I was above Stations Inn or below it. I really didn't care at this point. I chose North and put the power to the bike. I hate to be late for an appointment. The big motorcycle seemed happy to let it all hang out, especially after all the stop and go traffic and dodging tourists the previous eight hours. Cruising the parkway at seventy miles per hour posed no problem for the blue lady. I inched the throttle up a notch and found that eighty miles per hour was not a challenge to either the bike or myself. All of a sudden Benji Gap appeared on my left and I knew exactly where I was. Stations Inn lies forty five minutes North of this point. Ah; that would be about fifteen minutes for me today. I arrived, checked in, ate a greasy burger and waited. The quality of the food has declined since last year. I am waiting for a long time best friend from Pennsylvania who is to meet me here. Together, we will drive on up the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is 7:30 PM and he still has not arrived A very sad situation presented itself while on the parkway. I was trying to get my bearings and drove the four miles South to the point on the parkway where the park service created the detour. As I came to a stop in front of the barricade something caught my eye. It was a very, very small spotted fawn. Such a tiny thing! The little guy could not stand up and walk for some reason. Its left rear leg appeared to be the culprit. It didn't appear to be broken as I could not detect any irregular bulging areas that would indicate a break. I said to myself "oh no, no. Please just be slipping on the steep bank. But I fear it was more than that. He cried like a baby when I approached and became panicky. There was nothing I could do. With heavy heart I rushed down the road to find a park ranger, whom I did find, and reported the location of the little one in need. I had to push the vision of the little helpless fawn from my mind somehow. I can not deal with the innocent ones suffering. I just can not. I heard the Harley engine approaching and looked up to see Craig driving past the parking lot. He then turned and pulled in under the overhanging roof and parked beside the VStrom Suzuki. He made it. It was great to see him! It's been a long time since we rode together. The big Harley Roadking looked great too. A fine machine! A familiar face is always welcome and a close friend's presence is religious. I noticed a competitive restaurant/hotel had come to being just three hundred yards down the road and on the opposite side. The new place will tempt travelers and impact the Stations Inn negatively. I later found out that the Stations was sold and the previous owners now own the competition. That is why the subtle differences I noticed at the Stations Inn. et: slow with the coffee and average food and service. I, for one, will try it next time I pass this way. I went over to the Stations Inn store for coffee this morning and they weren't even open. Thats it! I'm done with this place. Competition comes to the wilderness and I'll try them out next time. The competition: The hotel looks neat 9/3/09 The fog is dense this morning and I'm sure it will be more dense up on the parkway. The photo below is an overpass on the actual Blue Ridge Parkway. The picture was taken from the hotel. Anyone care to get married? I hope this little building is not an indication that prison and marriage are similar. Naaa! No matter about the fog. It's the Blue Ridge Parkway and one must be ready to handle any weather situation. Fog as well as rain is almost a certainty. For now, however, coffee is the concern and down the street to the competition we go. After a hearty breakfast of three eggs, country ham and three pancakes and a gallon of coffee; we once again found ourselves on the finest road in America. The fog had lifted off the road and the sun began to warm the chilly air. A 50 mile per hour pace was set. I stopped frequently at over-looks to take pictures and admire the beautiful mountains. It is a spectacular morning. This is the Blue Ridge Parkway at its best. The sun was casting different shadows on the ridge line and changing nature's colors by the minute. Bright sun and the bluest of skies! The day was going to be brilliant. I have an excellent mount and a good friend for company. I love the varied wooden fence construction that is found in these mountains. The perfect alignment of the wooden slats and posts that comprise the fence have always amazed me. These fences appear to me as art. Craig, below, is leaning on a design that is a particular favorite of mine. The mountains are gorgeous this morning. I pulled into overlook after overlook, as if I had never been here. And I have been. For over forty years I have been traveling this road and it never becomes boring. I have stopped at every overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway at one time or another and still the views are mesmerizing. Little cabins dot the roadway. Each has a story to tell. Each is a testimony to hearty people who scratched on the surface of the earth for a living. The little cabins are their stories. And then there appeared a sign. MOWING OPERATIONS. Great Scott! They even do it out here in the wilderness! The government cuts costs by eliminating meals on wheels programs, reduce soup kitchens for the homeless, slashed fundings for schools and school renovations, closes all the rest stops on interstate highways, and is even working on cutting costs in the health care industry. But the MOWING operations goes on. It is a vital part of life. It must happen. They always find money to fund MOWING. Amazing! We made a brief stop at Mabry Mill. This is a favorite place. I have seen calendars from Austria with Mabry Mill on the front page of the calendar. They use it as their own portrayal of a beautiful country. This is a grand place. And as it is today (below) Hunger strikes! Craig and I sashayed on over to the mill's dining room and decided to order up a ice cream sundae for him and a mixed berry cobbler for me. When the lady brought Craig's sundae I started to laugh. I have never in my life seen a sundae as big. See for yourself below: Thoroughly stuffed and feeling lazy; we ambled along up the Blue Ridge toward Waynsboro, Virginia and the end of the parkway. But a couple more stops were in order. Below are a few pictures that warrant viewing. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a mystical place and nothing should be overlooked. The overlooks are spectacular! A riding partner presents the opportunity to get into the picture. Yep; that's me. I have not seen many flowers on the Blue Ridge this trip. So, when I found one I had to take a photo of it. I don't know what this one is. The twisty road that is the Blue Ridge Parkway I was saddened to reach the end of the road. Once again I finished a grand ride on the finest road, in my estimation, in this country. We pointed the horses onto Route 250 West through Waynsboro and on to Montery, Virginia and our last hotel room of the trip. 9/4/09 Montery is not a very big town and hotels are hard to find. Actually there are only two. Both of them are owned by the same person. The main hotel is on main street, which is what I call that street, and it is a very old three story structure with an unrestored wooden front. They made them well back then. Wooden porches, or balconies, surrounded the upper floors. The wooden trim on the building was gorgeous. I would have liked to stay in that building one night. The girl at the desk said that Gerald Ford and Robert Duval both stayed there in the 1950's. I asked her, "Ill bet the rooms are old timey looking?" She replied, "very old timey looking." I can imagine. No, no; not for us. We needed to have the bikes parked right outside the window and opted for the second piece of marvelous construction you see below. OK; we're at home sweet home. First thing comes to mind is food. Craig is all for going out foraging. Actually there is only one place in town to forage at. You guessed it. The world famous Earnie's Market. Earnie's has quite a reputation in town as being visited by every tourist passing through. Well; it's the only show in town. Craig is ready and jumping up and down to get over to Earnie's Market, where the food is fresh every day. The hotel wasn't bad at all. It had all the ambiance of a Ford Edsel after hitting a school bus head on. The sun was bright next morning and fog is covering the low areas clear to the mountains. Shortly, we will be cruising up and over the mountains on route 250 North which would guide us through Deep Creek, Maryland. At Deep Creek route 42 North to route 40 West would probably be the roads of choice. A little road called Dinner Bell Road connects route 40 with Ohio Pyle State Park. We would stop at the park for a break. As we rode through West Virginia I was reminded of the depressed conditions of the state. Without over generalizing; every rural town we rode through appeared draby and unkept. Houses were in dissrepair and in need of attention. The main streets of these towns were, in appearance, dismal looking with closed businesses dotting both sides of the streets. Every building needed painting and bricks were missing from building walls and windows were broken in vacated buildings. Sidewalks were broken in may places and curbs were missing sections. Logging trucks were parked about the street sides at each end of these towns. Saw mills showed the most work activity with pay loaders lifting cut trees from truck beds to the saws. But in general; the towns were reminiscent of another era. Nothing looked modern or successful accept for the McDonald's business, and even it had a broken sign above it. I never thought of West Virginia in the vein of a depressed state before. I have acquired the habit of comparing every place I go with East Tennessee, and that is not a good thing. There is only one winner in that competition. Along route 250 North: I love swamps. Out of nowhere appeared giant windmills towering above the trees. These were not here five years ago. There were dozens upon dozens of them. I had to get a picture. I can't say much about them accept that they are impressive to watch. Deep Creek, Maryland appeared to me to be the same as I remembered it five years ago accept for the addition of about a million more people. Deep Creek Lake is the big attraction. Homes now occupy all the lake frontage. I looked in amazement at the lake today as we drove past on 219 North. A vast armada of boats of all kinds were blazing in all directions on it's surface. It's amazing they don't strike one and other. Jet ski's, run abouts, cruisers, and even a sail boat and one canoe that was trying to negotiate the huge wakes that were initiated by the fast moving ski boats. Amazing. Send in more people and boats! Deep Creek needs the revenue. Tennessee is so fortunate to have the many waterways it does. Here's a comparison of a Tennessee lake and Deep Creek Lake below. You'll see the difference immediately. First Deep Creek Lake: This is at the end of one lake. The real activity is a half mile back toward town. You gotta click on the photos to see the boats. Now an average lake in Tennessee with high usage: OK, OK; Just trying to get a bit of humor in here somewhere. But Deep Creek Lake is almost unnavigable due to the vast quantity of boats. I don't get the attraction of it. But then; I'm a bit different. Just a bit........ Ohio Pyle State Park Pennsylvania is a beautiful park. The main attraction is a great waterfall that pours over high boulders and creates one of the most sought after white water adventures anywhere. These falls are tremendous! The park boasts one of the finest bicycle trails anywhere. Hiking and white water rafting are plentiful. Craig and I stayed long enough for a couple pictures and then we were off again for home. I was going to visit my cousin who will be 82 years old in a couple months. She is the last of my family and I want to stay close to her. I respect older folks more so now than ever and I respect her for all that she has endured throughout the years and all that she has contributed to our family. A long story short: A big hug, a kiss and I love you and I had arrived home. This farm house is where I grew up. It is located in Scottdale, Pennsylvania. Two families were raised simultaneously in this house. My dad's brother and his wife (my uncle and aunt), and my dad, mother and myself. The farm provided a wonderful childhood and taught me a very strong work ethic which has served me through a war and is still with me today. The farm was split up and sold in the 1980's and the house has had three owners over the years. It breaks my heart to see the clutter caused by all the houses that have seemed to just appeared out of nowhere. And yet the old house still stands; a representation of better times and a great way of life. I stayed with my cousin Stella until the tenth of the month. The weather was due to turn foul and I thought I had better make a fast retreat South. I thought about running the Blue Ridge Parkway back but was in a hurry to see my dogs and MOW. Some more photos follow that I really didn't need to talk about. But you may find them interesting to look at. I hope you enjoyed this lengthy entry. By the way; all my animal friends jumped with glee at my return. See below. Hey guys! I'm home! Come to daddy! OK; Ya! daddy's home. Douglas, Shade, Happy, Sigh, Sea Foam, Homer ----Where you guys at? Hey! Come on now; don't hide. I know; you all want me to come to you. OK.. Ready or not I'm coming in there. Who wants the first hug? Hey; what the? Ok Douglas; I know I can count on you for a greeting. Come on boy! Hey! Below are some photos of simply (stuff) The first one is of my friend Wally who is working on one of his three BMW motorcycles. His garage is spacious as you can see. The next couple shots are of a foot bridge across the Lauralanna Creek in Ligonier, PA. I have spent countless hours fishing both up and downstream of that bridge. This creek once was a grade A trout stream. I can not speak for it now. The next shot is of a plant I wish Tennessee had more of. If she did have more, we'd have better fishing. A lot better. I call the next photo simply, The Frog. I think that sounds original. Another close friend. Tom and I have been in the habit of running the Blue Ridge Parkway for the past several years. Time constraints prevented us getting together this year. Tom's house in the mountains Just down the road from Tom is Ft. Ligonier. And yes; George Washington slept there. Ft. Ligonier played an integral part in capturing Fort Duquesne from the French, later to be called Ft. Pitt during the Revolutionary War. (The 7 year war) And I love horses. Here's a proud mare and foal That's about it for this trip. I hope you enjoyed a few of the pictures. I can't wait to get back to the water and chill out in this heat. Huh? It makes sense to me. Thanks again for reading this blog. all photos taken are: dimensions 1600 x 1200. Camera Canon Elph SD990