#HOGWild18: Day 5 – Asheville, North Carolina – Little Switzerland – Blue Ridge Parkway

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I’ve got to confess that tonight’s post is going to be short. Mostly because Scott ordered me a Lemon Drop martini at dinner, and that makes me super tired. Yes, I’m a cheap date.

We slept in a bit this morning because the alarm didn’t go off. Or maybe it got turned off. It’s kind of a blur. But we dragged ourselves out of bed, showered, and I put on my Spanx motorcycle pants. Seriously, they’re awesome and comfortable, and Scott seems to enjoy them tremendously. You should go get some even if you don’t ride a motorcycle.

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We decided to stay two nights in Asheville and use it as our home base for a couple of day trips. Today wasn’t a long riding day, but the roads and the weather made it especially exhausting for Scott, since he was actually driving the motorcycle. I just enjoyed the ride and the scenery.

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Our first destination was a place called Little Switzerland. It’s a stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, and it’s an amazing road to travel no matter how you drive it. The roads are steep and curvy.

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We ate at the Switzerland Cafe, and the food was fantastic. Plus, there was the added bonus of finding the Books and Beans Bookstore, which was really cool and deceptively large. This was a fun hidden treasure in the middle of nowhere. And as an author, I can never pass up a bookstore.

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This cute little cabin was our view at lunch, along with sweeping green mountains. And the weather was just right. Someone should tell Texas that it should have North Carolina weather.

After lunch, we headed out on the Blue Ridge Parkway. FullSizeRender-12

This is where things get tricky. I believe Scott mentioned in yesterday’s post that he forgot to pack his rain gear (though I think he tried to blame it on me). We found a Wal-Mart along the way and he grabbed a cheap rain suit, which was good timing because it started raining pretty soon after that. I remembered to pack my rain suit, so I was very comfortable on the back of the bike.

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This is us in the rain. One of us is grumpy about the rain. Hint: His name rhymes with Spot Milberry.

Fortunately, the worst of the storm passed after about twenty minutes, and then there was sun. Glorious sun.

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And we headed all the way back into Asheville with nothing but gorgeous scenery and the smell of fresh rain and pine trees.

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Asheville is one of our favorite places, and I’m sure we’ll get a vacation home here at some point or another. But while we’re here, our favorite place to stay is the Omni Park Grove Inn. You can’t beat the rooms or the view. And I’m obsessed with their shampoo and conditioner (you can buy it in the spa). It’s what I use at home.

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Plus, there’s this:

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That’s a plate of Praline and Brown Sugar Bacon that we had as an appetizer at the hotel restaurant. Don’t tell anyone, but I ordered another plate of it for dessert because it was THAT GOOD.

Scott came back to the room and immediately fell asleep in my lap, and I waited him out by watching The Weather Channel really loud until he woke up and I was able to start writing this post. Married life is pretty awesome. It’s the little things in life.

It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, so we’ll play out the day by ear. All I know is we have to be in Charlotte by tomorrow night so we can see Harry Connick Jr. If the weather isn’t too bad we’ll detour by Lake Lure, which is where they filmed Dirty Dancing. I’m almost positive I can talk Scott into doing a reenactment, even though he thinks the movie is creepy.

I might take some of that bacon for the road.

See y’all tomorrow!

Leah and Scott

 

#HOGWild18: Day 4 – Knoxville to Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Tennessee & Asheville, North Carolina

Leave Me Alone

Day 4 was scheduled to be a low-key day of travel through the Smokey Mountains with only about 120 miles of biking. Leah hadn’t slept well since we’d left, so she said sleeping late was her goal. By late, I assumed she meant about 9:00am. I was incorrect.

I was up at 8:00am and gave her my usual morning rally cry, “Let’s roll.”

Unfazed, and with covers, pillows and an arm covering her face, she replied as usual, “Leave me alone.”

So around 11:00am, I tried again. It worked. Kinda. But we did beat the 1:00pm checkout. But not by much. To be fair, she said a Charlie horse had slowed her down. Honestly, I don’t recall hearing any screams associated with a cramp.

Sweet Surprise

The moment we pulled into Pigeon Forge, we felt the positive energy. Neither of us had ever been to this area, but have heard from so many friends how wonderful it is. They weren’t kidding. The streets were full of motorcycles, Jeeps and families loaded down with camping and recreation equipment.

I’m not sure where my mind was, but it never dawned on me that Dollywood was located here. We saw the sign for Dollywood Boulevard, and like a lightening bolt, I realized we were close. And just like that, there it was in all of its glory; Dollywood.

Now I’m not a big Dolly Parton fan, but you have to appreciate all that she has accomplished and the Americana of it all. I guess Dollywood has found its place in our cultural lore, so it was a nice surprise to see it.

We drove through Pigeon Forge looking for the Rocky Top Harley Davidson shop. The main street was lined with multi-level go-kart race tracks, putt putt golf and tons of family fun activities. We can’t wait to bring the kids here for a vacation.

Of course, Leah and I are crazy competitive. Last summer we spent about $500 bucks racing each other around a 3-story wooden go-kart race track. It wasn’t pretty, and the kids were starving by the time we stopped. But it was a great opportunity for them to learn patience. And sometimes that we talk smack to each other. I won every race that day.

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Leah had asked on Facebook about places to eat lunch. Several very wise sages recommended the Old Mill restaurant. We found a great parking spot and hustled over to be seated immediately. I’d like to think Dolly was in the kitchen making us some fixin’s.

It drives my bride crazy that no matter where we eat, about 95% of the time, I order grilled chicken. Well, she wanted to show me, so she ordered the chicken too. The special southern fried chicken. I don’t know if it was good, but from the look on her face, I really do think Dolly had magically prepared that meal with her own sweet fingers.

Down The Road

After a stop at the Harley shop, we headed down the road to Gatlinburg. Like Pigeon Forge, it had a very unique vibe, but very different from where we just were. The traffic along the quaint downtown street was jam-packed with bikers and pedestrians.

Balancing a big bike with a full load, and two adults in super slow, two-way traffic with people darting back and forth is a challenge. I mean a real challenge. My poor clutch and patience were worn out by the time I squeaked through a red light to get a little space from the rest.

Of course we had to stop at the Hill Billy Harley Davidson before heading out-of-town. Last year we bought t-shirts from every town’s Harley shop as is a tradition. This year, we smartly only bought the plastic poker chips with the shop’s name.

The Big Climb

Heading into the Great Smokey Mountains, there was a gentle sweeping of roads that allowed brilliant glimpses of massive vistas. We climbed the Rockies last summer, and there is a definite difference between the two majestic ranges. Today seemed more graceful and lush. It was so beautiful, that I completely lost track of how high or how far we’d travelled.

When Both Are Mediums

Once we coasted off the mountain, we came into a very cool town called, Cherokee, North Carolina. As we prepared to re-enter another stretch of curved mountain roadway, Leah “claimed” to have felt a rain drop. A trick I’ve learned to check for driving into rain, is to watch the vehicles coming toward you from that direction. If their vehicles are wet, it’s raining up the road. If their windshield wipers are on, it’s raining very close and we’re about to get wet.

Leah’s miracle rain drop was the only atmospheric moisture in the tri-state area. Of course, that meant we had to skid to a stop so she could slip on her impermeable rain suit. I handed her the pants, but they didn’t meet her standard, so I  I handed her another pair of medium rain pants. How could they both be a size medium?

I shoved my hand back in the designated rain-suit bag, and there were no more options. Oddly enough, both of her rain suits were packed, and zero of mine. As if I wasn’t about to lose it, she assured me it was okay because she only needed the one pair. I think bears fainted at my mountainous roar.

Beloved Asheville

Leah and I stumbled across this city a few years back by complete accident. We fell in love and stayed a few more days. We’ve agreed that we’ll buy a home here one day as a vacation / retirement property. Every time we mention Asheville to others, they respond with as much enthusiasm about it as we share.

I think I scare people in this gentle city, but Leah helps balance the effect. Of course the staff at the Village Wayside were very cool and helped us enjoy a super supper after a wonderful day. My biker beard has slipped over to the other side and is in a zone I like to think of as in desperate need of a shave. But, I committed to the effort because actually, I have no idea.

It’s nice to have gotten a few hours to do nothing tonight, but lay in bed. Tomorrow is another day in the mountains. We’re starting on the Blue Ridge Parkway and possibly heading to Boone, North Carolina. I did a bicycle race there called Blood, Sweat & Gears – a 100 mile race through the mountains, and Samaritan’s Purse is headquartered there. It’s the home of Franklin & Billy Graham ministries.

We appreciate you keeping us in your prayers,

Scott & Leah