Friday, August 12, 2011

(Day 61) On skyways, byways, parkways and friendships...

The day began early for me, as seems to be the norm when I am moving.  I was awake at 4:30 and managed to stay in bed until 5AM when my internal clock kept telling me it was time to get up.  I listened and found my way to the breakfast area near the lobby where I got some hot water and made myself some instant Starbucks.  Al was still snoring away!

I used the time to write a blog entry for yesterday and straighen out some issues with my bank card yet again - seems they had frozen it again yesterday.  The folk at RBC were most helpful after I worked my way through all of the security questions.  I also managed to have a little chat with my mother... who in true motherly fashion was worried about my well-being and reminded me to wear sunscreen!  I did Mom. Al will testify to it!!

About 7:30, Al came and found me and we had the buffet breakfast.  Couldn't beat it for $7!  Sausage, bacon, eggs, pancakes, home fries, pastries, fruit, cereal... and this list goes on.  Let's just say we didn't leave the table hungry!

We left the hotel at about 9AM - a late start for us!  We had a plan, but, as you know, plans change!  We headed southwest toward Tellico Plains, TN.  Inititally we were going to take 19/64 right around to 68 and then up to Tellico Plains... but, lets just say that we got a little tired of the four lane stuff... so, instead we turned off on 28 and headed directly to Robbinsville.  This meant that we would get to ride the Cherohola Skyway from east to west - something neither of us had done before.

It was a blast.  I think you can see the excitement in Al's face!  Two men sharing their passion for the open road, beautiful scenery and enjoying a companionship that comes in following each others signals and leads around the turns, into passing lanes and braking for the ever present troopers.

Eventually we reached Tellico Plains and our first stop was the Down Town Creamery, owned and run by Mike's wife (sorry I didn't get your name).  Mike owns and runs  Tellico Motorcycle Outfitter shop.  We ate our ice cream and browsed around Mike's shop and then as we asked Mike for suggestions of a route back toward Asheville - he remembered me from my visit three years ago... probably helps that I was wearing a piece of gear that I had bought from him - but what a guy!  He took time to draw us out a map... and then another customer, a local who lived on the route that Mike had suggested offered to lead us part way.  It was a great ride... nice safe speed enjoying the scenery...   when all of a sudden I just about jumped out the saddle when a JERK on a LOUD harley blew past us all on a double line leading into a blind right hand corner.  Asshole!  Guys like him give the rest of us bad names!

Along the way we stopped at the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum.  Mike recommeded it as it was a nice air-conditioned break from the road... and it was free (he said).  It wasn't.  With Al getting the senior rate it cost us a total $5.50 and we spent about 40 minutes wondering around and looking at some of the displays.  We were both moved by the story of the Trail of Tears - the movement and relocation of Native American peoples from the land of the appalachians to the mid-west... and get this... the native peoples were paid 6 million dollars for the land... and... $600.000.00 was held back to cover the cost of the relocation - during which thousands died on the Trail of Tears... so sad...  I can't imagine what it felt like for a first nations person who grew up in the mountains of this area to be forced to relocate to the flat lands of the mid-west...

From the museum we followed Mike's directions, going along the Foothills Parkway and then through part of the Great Smokey Mountain National Park.  This was a slow journey.  The speed limit was 25 and 30 MPH and the only saving grace was the beauty!  The road follows Little River much of the way and the views are just incredible - little water falls, still pools, quiet pathways through the woods and twist and turns that went on and on!

We eventually exited the park and got on 321 and hooked up with the Foothills Parkway again which dropped us onto I-40.  This meant that Al got to experience those hair raising curves on the way into Asheville that gave me such a wonderful ending to my day yesterday!

We jumped off I-40 at Canton and picked up some supplies.  Back in the room after a drink and debrief on the day I had a swim in the pool and got to educate a couple of kids about hearing aids and how they come out and why they can't get wet... and then we went to Shorney's for supper.  $11 for the buffet.  Al mentioned on the way down he wanted to shrimp... it was all you could eat seafood night.  We had a good meal and then ambled back to the room like to old farts who had lost their horses!

There is a synchronicity that is required for two or more people to ride together.  Somehow I think Al and I have it.  We each ride our own ride and yet trust the other when the other takes the lead.  It's kind of like dancing with somewhere between 65 and 150 horsepower between your legs!

At the end of the day, Al said, this was a "best buddy day".  I most heartily agree!

...on the Sabbath Road...

PS: Sorry there are not more pictures.  I had my camera but had left the memory card in the computer... and well... the riding was just too good to stop and take pictures!!


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