2007 Asheville motorcycle trip
Day 5

June 19

This morning I woke up in my loft for the last time. Pack up the laptop. Make the bed. Get everything into the suitcase and put it in the trailer. Today we head out for Pigeon Forge.

Our planned departure time was 0900, but we rolled out closer to 0830. We are looking forward to riding the Blue Ridge Parkway, and I think it overrides the sadness of leaving our peaceful Saluda cabin. We have plenty of time before our 2:00 pm train ride in Dillsboro so we can enjoy the scenery and pulloffs.

The majority of the tunnels on the Blue Ridge Parkway are west of Asheville and we enjoy each one. The weather is beautiful. The traffic is light.

We stopped at the pulloffs for Cold Mountain and Devils' Courthouse as well as several others. Too soon we reached our turn off for US23. We were so impressed with the Parkway were are considering riding the whole thing in 2008.

Sylva, NC. 11:44, mileage 6744 - We aren't too far from Dillsboro so we pull over for gas, a snack, and to refill the cooler with ice.

Rested, we head into Dillsboro.

We must be living right because when we pulled up to the train station there were open parking spaces next to the train. We meandered to the train station to purchase our tickets early. Luck was with us again. The train ride started at 1:00, not 2:00 as shown on their website. We were able to get our tickets and walk right onto the train.

The train ride was much as I remembered it from 2005...relaxing and peaceful. There was a little drama when a farm tractor decided to cross the tracks in front of the train and the engineer hit the brakes.

This year the river was at its normal level and there were rafters and tubers on the river.

When we disembarked at Bryson City we headed to The Station Restaurant across from the railroad station. We had eaten there in 2005 and had been looking forward to returning there. We even sat at the same table. As we sat enjoying our meal it started to rain. After lunch we darted across the street to a couple gift shops. It kept us dry and we found more pins and stickers.

Passengers on the Dillsboro train aren't allowed to reboard until the Nantahala Train has cleared the tracks. An elderly lady had fallen near the tracks and possibly twisted or fractured her ankle so there was a delay in moving the train. While we waited we hung out in a building near the tracks out of the rain.

The rain on the train car and our full stomachs are conducive to sleep. All of us were snoozing at one time or another. When we arrived in Dillsboro the rain had stopped and it didn't look like it had rained there at all. All the shops had closed for the day so we hopped on the bikes and headed north.

The lazy, 2-lane road out of Dillsboro led us through the Cherokee reservation and the town of Cherokee.

Most things in the area are Indian related.

There were some elk grazing outside of town. People were driving 5 mph and stopping all over the roadway to see the elk which I thought was a little dangerous for us on motorcycles. Cherokee would be a nice place to revisit. There are probably some pins and stickers hiding there somewhere.

We were in the area of Smokemont on US441, just inside the Great Smoky Mountain National Forest, when it started to sprinkle. Soon it turned to rain. We pulled over and donned our rain gear. Riding in the rain itself isn't that bad. The part that sucks is that it kills your vision. It either gets in your eyes or messes up your glasses. I kept hoping it would let up but no such luck. We stopped every few miles to wipe out our eyes and clean our glasses. The 35 miles to Pigeon Forge was going to take forever.

US441 through the forest is normally a great road to ride...when it's dry. It's curvy and offers nice views. In the rain it sucks. The tall trees block the light from the sky and the darkness combined with the rain water in your eyes makes it even harder to see. As we approached the summit the low clouds added fog. At one of our pulloffs a group of Goldwings cruised by seemingly unphased by the rain. We thought Goldwings would be a good idea. The girls were thinking Goldwings with enclosed sidecars.

I found if I held one hand over my eyes I could go without glasses and see fairly well. The bad part was steering curvy roads in the rain. Sometimes I would have to use both hands to steer the bad stuff and my eyes would be stung by the rain. I needed a 12" bill I could attach to my helmet. I'm sure I was a funny sight riding in the rain looking like I was saluting. Eventually we came off the mountain, around the Gatlinburg bypass, and rolled into Pigeon Forge at 19:22. It had taken us two hours to go 35 miles. We stopped at a gas station for fuel and well-deserved rest. Debby called and received the security code for our house. I noticed my rain suit pant leg had melted on my exhaust pipe. That'll be fun getting off.

The rain let up a little so we took off for our house. Despite the rain the Pigeon Forge traffic was packed. The directions to the house were vague but we found it with a minimum of 'exploring'. The house we rented was very nice. It is on a cul-de-sac in a quiet addition. Everyone had a bedroom with its own full bath. That was nice.

The question of supper was brought up and Mike made a great decision...pizza delivery. We spent the rest of the night unpacking, drying our wet stuff, and lounging around. We also decided riding in the rain sucks, and we don't want to hear other motorcyclists who whine about a few raindrops or are afraid of the rain.

110 beautiful miles followed by 40 soggy ones.

Click here for our next day's adventure.

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Day 8 Day 9 Epilogue

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