Tuesday, October 8, 2013

ANOTHER BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY RIDE

Sorry I disappeared for awhile but the cooling fan bit the dust in my computer and I had to take it to the shop for repairs.  I only got it back this afternoon.  I thought it would be a good time to take a ride to the Blue Ridge Parkway on the bike and I did so.  A friend was coming South on the parkway and had a day or two to visit with me before leaving to meet his wife over at Monticello.  The parkway ride, I thought, would be interesting as all services are closed on the 470 mile long road due to the all important government shut-down.  I can run about 300 miles on a tank of gas so I'm not too concerned about services being open.  The photographs are stacking up in the cameras as I can't download them from camera cards due to the computer failure.  It will take a bit of labor to separate all the photos of lake, mountain and home and put them in order.   

I don't usually carry the Canon 50D on the motorcycle as I have been concerned with vibration but, I rigged up a closed cell foam cushion for the tank bag and everything worked out just fine.  The lens I used is a 90 to 135 telephoto and should allow me to get some higher quality shots of some of the fantastic scenes along that mountain road.
I opened the gate that leads to the enormous yard surrounded by a continuous chain link fence and said, "come on girls", in a happy voice to the dogs in the truck.  They excitedly jumped off the truck seat and ran through the open gate.  This is where they would stay for the next few days while I was on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  They all lived here with me as young puppies and I survived here for seven years.  The building is a warehouse attached to the back of a business in Greenback.  I lived here without the benefit of heat or air conditioning.  I did, however, have a gas torpedo heater that kept us all from being frozen to death.  Showers were an interesting venture in those days. I did install a washer and dryer, shower and toilet before moving in so it wasn't like living in a ghetto.  Well, it sorta was.  The girls would be safe here as the lady who owns the business is a dog person and is dedicated to the rescue of unfortunate pooches.  She knows each of my girls from the old days and I trust her with my babies.
The dogs were placed and I pulled away from the fenced yard and looked in the rear view mirror as I always do when I leave for a trip.  I saw them sitting in a row on the other side of the fence watching me drive off alone.  I hate that moment because I know they don't understand what's happening.  The scene causes regret in my mind.

The little 650 cc motorcycle was running exceptionally well in the cooler temperatures of Fall.  The bike amazes me with it's ability to please me with comfort, power and throttle response.  I have given up nothing with the selection of this, the smallest touring motorcycle I've ever owned.
The trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway, or anywhere else for that matter, from my house is a long, nerve testing ride that utilizes two interstate and several high speed four lane highways.  I like to use the bike to unwind and relax but, it has evolved into just another form of stress when I try to drive it to the Blue Ridge.  I believe I should head in the wrong direction and enter the parkway at Cherokee, North Carolina after riding through the Great Smoky Mt. National Park and then ride the extra 150 miles that would be added to the trip to Freeborne's Motorcycle Hotel at Laurel Springs, NC.  It would be much longer and the stress factor would be eliminated.
The first thing I always notice each and every time I ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway is the sweet, clean smell of it all.
There is no smoke or smells of fast food businesses as one often smells - down there.
The air is clean and I pick up the fragrances of the various flowers that are in bloom this time of year.  The smells don't linger but, they are inhaled in a split second and are gone as the motorcycle rolls past them.

Everything is fresh, green and gorgeous with the endless mountains stretched out forever on each side of this road that winds along the spine of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The distant mountain ridges often appear as waves that might be rolling toward me, the farthest waves so distant that they appear as blue clouds out there where the naked eye lacks the ability to determine definition.

Fall colors are just starting to appear on the trees.  Things are getting a late start up here it seems.  I doubt seasonal colors will be uniform and vibrant this year due to all the rain that has fallen on these mountains.  The locals, when asked about it, seem to hold the same thoughts.

Magnificent is the only way to describe this road.
Below:  a little dog belonging to a tourist reminds me of my Chestnut hound.

The motor road follows all the ridges, traversing the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Wherever the spine of the mountain lies - so goes the road.
The winding road goes up, down and all around and even doubles back toward whence one came only to turn sharply and continue in the desired direction once again.  It is a beautiful path to follow but, the spectacular part of the road lies 150 miles South and leads around granite peaks and through magnificent valleys all the way to the exit at Cherokee, NC where the Great Smoky Mountain National Park entrance lies.

 Oh - those endless blue waves that seem to flow forever!
I am compelled to stop often to just look and drink it all in.  I've been riding on this road for over 40 years and it has never lost it's appeal to me.  If I ever think ill of it then I shall be dead.
There are many charming sights that bear investigation.  Someday this will all be gone and there will be nothing left but pictures in a book.  How shallow it would be to rush by without savoring the sight of it all, touching it and absorbing what the important things in life are "really" about.



I realized that I haven't pushed the bike past 35 miles per hour for two hours and that I am calmed by my surroundings.  I have been troubled lately and the drive up here didn't help matters but, once on this miraculous pathway to the clouds, I regained a kind of calmness and acquired a peaceful composure.


And, what was his story?  A tiny speck in a vast wilderness.  Where was he from and where was he going?  He is the ultimate definition of the word "alone."  What a lucky fellow indeed.
There is noting shabby about this place that I wonder through.  No plastic bottles or garbage exists to detract from the spectacular sights, no trucks to hog up the roadway and a total absence of broken down and abandoned cars to litter the scenery.  There is simply beauty in all directions - beauty and the distinct flavor of a better time to have lived in.

I would soon be pulling in to Laural springs and Freebornes Motorcycle Hotel where Tom hopefully would be.  It would be good to see him again and catch up on things.

I'm not much for loud places and crowds and within two or three hours I was getting antsy - that uneasy feeling one gets when he's had enough of something and desirous to put distance between himself and the cause of the nervousness.  We ate, talked and turned in.  The rain poured down all night - hard.  Morning found that same heavy rain beating down with force onto the parking lot.  We sat it out under the motel room's overhang.  I was growing uneasy for some reason.  Somewhere over the past three or four months I've found it more and more difficult to maintain my carefree attitude and I was getting that gotta move on feeling while sitting in those chairs.  Can't put my finger on it.  I was slated to stay at this hotel for two days and I knew in my heart that when I left with Tom this morning for a day ride, I wouldn't be returning. The rain finally stopped mid morning and we took off South on the parkway to share in the enjoyment of this beautiful place.
Above is Tom and his 800 cc BMW bike.  This is one of the few pictures you'll find on this blog of a human being.

We rode South almost to the point where I entered onto the Blue Ridge Parkway.  


I noticed something below an overlook pull-off and decided to check it out.  I don't understand it.
This was quite a creation that required a lot of thought and ingenuity.   Someone planted this memorial beyond the overlook boundaries at the edge of the mountain.  I looked at it superficially until I read the writing on a ribbon.  What was this all about?  I'll never know, I guess.


I felt the pull to be on my way down off this mountain and head home.  I missed the dogs badly and all I could think of was the struggle that lay ahead navigating over those fast highways that I couldn't avoid.


I knew I wouldn't be going back to the hotel even though I fought the feeling of leaving.  The hotel was just up the road and would be a comfortable ending to the day.  Instead, I elected to hit the pavement toward home.  Don't figure!  
We said our goodbyes and I took one more look around before letting the clutch out and easing on down the road.  

I really didn't want to leave Tom and that beautiful mountain but, for some reason I was being forced to go - to keep the wheels moving even if it was in a direction I didn't particularly want to go in.  I'll have to think on this new sensation that's afflicting me.

I hope you enjoyed the Blue Ridge Parkway.