Jaw-Ja Trip #2 (2013) - Cousin's Wedding
I had a cousin's wedding to attend in the North Georgia Mountains (insert Squidbillies joke) and decided to ride the GS...naturally.
I left work on Friday afternoon and took my usual route of hwy and back roads down toward Augusta County.
Buffalo Gap as the sun went down over the mountain.
I don't like riding 42 in the dark on account of deer and critters so I finally decided to grab a beer, make dinner and camp outside Craigsville, VA on Archer Run Rd. Nice and quiet with no vehciles passing all night.
I woke around 5:30, packed up and was riding by 5:45. I made my way south past Goshen then along Brattons Run Rd where I crossed 64 and went exploring up Scenic Dr F447 to Top Rd. I spotted a nice overlook pull off and decided to make my morning cup of coffee in the Aeropress. What a great sunrise cup-o-joe to perk me up. This is shaping up to be a great day.
Berries just starting to turn.
Scenic Rd indeed :thumb
From here I wound my way down the mountain heading in a southerly direction and found myself in Clifton Forge. Home of skippii's temporary garage setup and possibly ThunderCu*t :augie
This would be me if I ate another me.
From Clifton Forge I continued in a SW direction just following the roads, my heart and keeping the sun mostly at my back and side. This was the first of many new "GPS ROUTING NOT ADVISED" signs I saw. What a hilarious turn on technology. It took all my strength not to steal it for my garage sign collection :norton
I thought that looked like a mini volcano so I took a picture. Mt St. Hell-If-I-Know
Did you go and bust up that chifforobe?
Made lunch at the Farmer's Market in Lebanon, VA. Had to pause for a pic in front of this sign.
Meandering through West Virginia perhaps? Who knows.
I found myself cruising near Tazewell so I called up LadyDraco and stopped in for some coffee and a nice hour long chit-chat. What wonderful hosts with great personality and perspective. I always value the time spent talking with them, albeit unfortunately hurried in these modern times and my modern ways.
This wasn't far from their spot. I actually blew right past their driveway cus I was distracted by this silly sign.
Then I decided to go get distracted and blow past a bunch of people's driveways through some cattle fields and crossing a few gates. All seemed public so who cares. It was wonderful and the smells of agriculture in VA are a permanent marker of freedom in my mind.
One of my destinations on this trip was the Natural Tunnel near Clinchport, VA. (That's Ralph Stanley Country for any Bluegrass fans out there)
View from the overlook.
The original Lover's Leap.
I put on some sandalls, took off my shirt and jogged down the few hundred vertical feet to the railroad below.
The natural water table above leaves a constant mist of falling droplets cascading from the rock edge as you feel swallowed by the enormity of this geologic formation.
There was the easy way...and then there was the running in Birkenstocks way. I took the later. It was only 90 degrees.
One of the park employees running the chair lift for the lazy and incapable had this bat stuck to his Lancer.
Saw a convoy of these...
Storm clouds were-a-brewing but I didn't really give a hoot. Onward to the Cumberland Gap!
Aw shucks...why hello thar
This is the railroad tunnel through the Cumberland Gap as viewed from the VA/TN side.
And the view from "downtown". I stopped at the only curiosity/antique store where the owner, an elderly man with a long white beard and penchant for 19th century reinacting exlpained he did not have stickers and I should be safe and stay cool in that suit.
There is a historical sign and a well preserved Volvo Coupe :nod
God must be kicking it in Kentucky or something.
Tunnel of Love
I stopped here at LMU on the rise by that large dorm for a snack in the shade of a BBQ Pavillion. It was warm and I needed to take 5 to eat some granola and hydrate.
Cruising around TN where the old meets the new.
I've never really driven throgh downtown Knoxville so I made a visit. I seriously enjoyed Cormac McCarthy's novel Suttree, set in Knoxville, and could understand some of the topgoraphy and shape of the city after having made a visit. Much has changed from those days recalled in his stories.
Heading toward NC for the night, I had to double back for a picture with this bolt and nut made out of license plates. How cool is that!?
Interesting, I've never heard of the Foothills Parkway before. I'll take a gander.
I rode through this storm before getting on the parkway then it seemed to follow me up this valley. Every time I stopped, the same rainbow continued with me. It was magnificent.
With the same rain storm fast approaching, I beat feet for US129 - the Tail of the Dragon. Where a squid can be a squid!
Much of this. Hang on to your hats and keep your eyes two turns ahead :deal
Wound up riding off this stand into the grass as I left since some harleys I roared past pulled in. Didn't want tto deal with them or their sneers. Harleys.
DANG! This looks like a sweet spot to camp for the night!
View from my hammock site just below the dam.
I drank some whisky, watched the fishing boats cruise back to camp along the narrow lake and promptly fell fast asleep to the sound of crickets and frogs. It had been a VERY good day :nod
The following morning I packed up before the sun rose, as usual, and set out for some twisties I love to frequent when I'm visiting NC. I was kick ass and taking names on Joyce Kilmer Rd around Lake Santeelah when I came across these two SCCA drifters in an old MR2, RX8 and lowered old Supra. They were having a blast tearing it up but seriously got in my way for the morning. I held back for a bit then blasted past the stinky oil burning MR2 with ease. The two faster cars quickly caught on and wanted to race. I'm chipper but haven't had any coffee so I just hung with them and we hauled ass along the twisty lake rd. I've run this road HARD before and nearly ate it that time so I was aware of some seriously sketchy spots and likely gravel areas. They were all right where I left them. :lol3
At the end of the road/stop sign I passed them and waved then continued straight ahead into the lush Joyce Kilmer Forest - a stand of old and majestic trees/vines/rhododendron embodying the sheer beauty and density of the Nantahala (Land of the Noon Day Sun) Region.
I often go from balls to the wall riding to a relaxing sit on a gentle creek with a cup of tea or coffee and my camera. This is one of the many reasons I don't like riding with others. There are a lots of ups and downs in my daily rides as well as U-Turns.
From here I meandered on dirt roads up toward the Cherahola Skyway.
Temps were in the 60's and the sun was bright above the clouds.
Then I proceeded to plug in my GA destination and hit shortest route/no hwy. Come on Garmin don't fail me now.
I wound up at a few dead end turns but kept climbing this mountain hoping the road would take me out. No luck. It ended at a turn around where a family was camping. I stopped and chatted with them briefly then turned around to head back down. Shortly after turning I gassed it on some wet rocks and grass and lost the back end big time.
After extracting my throbbing foot and ankle from beneath my behemoth and wondering how I was now facing 180 from the initial direction of travel, I jumped up gave them a thumbs up and snapped this pic. A few minutes later I was back down the road.
Ankle was sore and got a nice purple/blue bruise on my hip but otherwise no worse for wear.
I paused for a break beside a stream when I saw some trash. I picked it up. Every little bit counts right?
Exploring down along River Rd to Joe Brown Hwy where it i ssupposed to continue through to TN.
No such luck.
Massive road improvements taking place and I didn't feel like getting hurt more this morning trying to summit this shit.
So I made way for a better picture and better views.
Somewhere off the Cherahola in TN around Tellico? I liked that remote cabin in the stand of hemlocks
Neat rustic old cabin.
Inviting if I do say so myself.
I cruised to Elijay on some familiar roads from a trip Dad and I took in 2009? then went with family to the wedding of my cousin. It was outdoors, unique, modern and inside an old mill. The band was kicking, the southern food was spectacular and everyone had a blast! and I HATE weddings :deal
The last day of the trip is always sweet but involves returning to normality...put that outta mind till I'm back in the land of SUV's and Soccer Moms.
Just outside Elijay at some of the TVA lakes.
Cruising N to the NC border on whatever road will take me there.
Always loved these unique signposts in small outta the way crossroads.
My GPS says to go over that mountain. Sweet.
After the road turns to gravel, then narrows, I come across one of my first obstacles. This is somewhere near Loving Rd and the GA/NC border but I have no clue where.
I made it underneath the tree and the road became progressively worse. I pushed on because....I'm young dumb and have a camera. I didn't buy this bike to be a pussy.
MY FRIEND! I love turtles.
I passed only one cabin/shack/compound on this road with an old man sitting by a burning trash can fire. He stareed at my sorta wide-eyed and I waved as I rolled past. About five miles later I came across this gate where three roads came together and ALL of them were closed. How he got in and out with closed gates and a tree across the trail is beyond me but he looks like he'd been there a LONG time.
I decided to chance it and went around this gate and down the hill 4 miles to where it met up with a paved road. Phew...just before the next gate I came across a couple out for a morning stroll. They were just as shocked to see me as I them. I stopped, turned off the engine and explained I was way lost and trying to get back to civilization. Compared to the road I had just been on, this was worth risking the ticket to make it out. They congratulated me, asked me about my lobster and off I went.
Nantahala River area...
SUCKERS! Goretex FTW
A southern staple...really it is a food group. Bawwwld Peanuts
Into Cherokee where everything is business as usual.
Annnnd quickly out of Cherokee for clear reasons.
It was about 15 degrees cooler up top on the Parkway.
These views of the black spruce and balsalm never get old
Nature walk to smell the roses...errrr weeds
I could ride here FOREVER
This flower was SO fragrant. LD, know what kind it is?
Grandfather Mountain in all its glory. I have a shot from the same spot a few years back in a snow storm in March :lol2
Lynn Cove Viaduct
The sun sank lower to the horizon but I rode on.
Children played baseball along the parkway in this beautiful meadow. They waved back as I passed.
Oh to live down this driveway...
I camped in an abandoned driveway in Tuggles Gap. They were closed so no pie for me.
The following morning I woke around 5 and was on the road avoiding wildlife like the plague.
I was rewarded with this spectacular sunrise.
WTF! It was not in my lane but I made a U-Turn to go back and move it out of the roadway.
The rest of the ride home along 29 and backroads was relatively uneventful and I made it home in one piece ready to hit the twisties the next weekend.
Once again, thanks for joining me...many more reports to come :wink: