16 June 2011

Trip Report: FZ1OA Rally, Day 3

11 Jun 2010:  Little River Road...Again!
Approximately 263 miles

Last night at the gathering, eflyguy made a plan for us to ride from the end of the BRP over to 107 and then 281 before meeting the others for lunch in Franklin.  In order to do that, we needed to leave a couple of hours before everyone else and no one seemed inclined to join us that early.  Must have been the copious amounts of beer and fun we were having around that fire.  So efly said I should be at his cabin no later than 7:30 (adjusted for CP time).

Again I woke up to a quiet campground but this time I wasn't so hesitant do disturb the serenity.  I was showered and ready to go with the bike warming when efly came rolling down the road.  I had 8 minutes before we were supposed to meet, I was making great time!  He'd been up early and figured why not just head this way?

Why not?  So I followed him out of the campground and he was stopped at the main road, "Since it's so early, why don't we ride the Little River Road?"

I knew it!  He had made another plan after we finalized our plan.  Either that or he was going to pull that all along.  I seriously suspect the latter and since his birthday was the next day and I was in a compromising spirit, I dutifully followed.

As we were riding along 28 towards Crossroads, a couple of squirrels tried unsuccessfully to get eflyguy to turn around.  The first one barely survived the attempt and must have sent word to the other one farther down the road.  Either way, it would be a theme that played over in my mind throughout the day as various little critters darted across our path.

We didn't even pause at the Deals Gap Store and cruised through the Dragon so early, I think I only saw one photographer shooting.

As usual, eflyguy wanted to be sure to remind me that he wanted to stop at the lookouts.  By now I would have been disappointed if we hadn't!
On the Foothills Parkway
On of the lower pullouts

From the highest lookout
We didn't see many people either
We had a little disagreement at the intersection of Cades Cove Rd and E Lamar Alexander PKWY.  Go right and you go through the scenic loop, go left and the road turns into Little River Road.  Last year we went right when we should have gone left.  I had no intention of making the same mistake especially since I was only half committed to being there in the first place.  I was prepared to let him go right while I went left!  In the end, he acquiesced and followed me.
Go left here!
All weekend long we've been riding on these narrow twisty roads and whenever I do, I'm always worried about cars being over the double yellow.  A few miles in, I was greeted by a white truck a quarter in my lane as I lined up a right hand curve.  I wasn't all the way to the double yellow like I would have liked because I was worried about just that happening.  I've read Proficient Motorcycling and it's one of the dangers Mr. Hough mentions about riding on the street.  Fortunately, it was a minor thing that happened but I think I dreamed about it the night before!

We stopped a few times for pics and for efly to turn his Go Pro on or off.  Little River Road is very scenic and fun to ride (when there isn't a lot of traffic).

The Little River

is this thing on?

Since we weren't getting breakfast in Bryson City as planned, we settled for McDonalds...once we found parking.  I've only been to Gatlinburg twice and both times finding a parking lot that liked my motorcycle was an issue.

McMuffins, OJ, and Coffee (that I forgot I didn't like until after efly was gone!)
If you can't find parking, make you own (but don't stray too far from the bikes).

Heading out of town

Once we were back on the road, we were stuck behind a seriously long line of cars.  Directly ahead of us was a diesel truck pulling a camper that was belching puffs of black smoke far too frequently for me.  eflyguy stayed behind him much too long for me and I finally passed them just to be able to see down the road better.  But of course, one pass led to another and soon they were all behind us!

It didn't take us as long to wind along this bit of road as it took Cruzman and I a few weeks ago.

The one car that actually used a pullout.  Thank You!

All that progress was stopped when we got stuck behind a parade of classic cars riding up the BRP.  Uh-oh, is that 12 mph I see?

Somehow we got past all of them and had open road ahead of us.

Our next stop was the highest point on the BRP.
From there, we continued on the BRP to HWY 215.  The skies were looking a bit sketchy and we were riding through showers.  Before I continued on, I pulled over to cover my tank bag.  It had just dried out from Thursday bath and i didn't want it to get wet again.  We were going to turn right to go over to 107, but we missed the turn and ended up on 64 going towards Highlands instead where we got doused by a good shower but it was nothing like the frog strangler from a couple of days before.

The rain sure put a damper on picture taking!  I was relieved when we rode out of the shower and kept a hopeful eye towards the sky to be sure we were keeping it behind us and that it wouldn't be waiting on us once we got back on 28.  We turned onto 28 and took it all the way into Franklin.  To my surprise we didn't stop and any of the many waterfalls or pullouts along the way.

Maybe the narrow road and overhanging rock had something to do with it.  You need to really concentrate on this road because of the on coming traffic, especially in the direction we were travelling.  There was one local that I thought must have been a Bill Elliot wannabe because he was driving the model of Thunderbird that Mr. Elliot was so sucessful in NASCAR.  The BE wannabe nearly came to a stop at one of the pullout places and I thought he would follow the car in front of him but he didn't.

He stepped on it!  Crossing double yellows to make corners and generally being an asshat!  We only got in front of him when a trucker was blocking the road in a curve where the rock was protruding so far into the road it would likely scrape his trailer.  We squeezed by and didn't look back!

Next stop?  A late lunch at the Caffe Rel.  It was where we should have been three hours earlier.

There wasn't much shade but we did find some.
The caffe is a french place attached to a gas station.  It's the last place you'd expect good food, but as soon as you walk through the door you suspect you might be in for a treat.
I studied and studied the menu but too many things looked really good.  In the end, I decided on the sauteed calimari over the day's special of poached oysters with cream spinach something or other.  I'm glad I did.  eflyguy got curry scallops that looked really good too.

After lunch, it was the basic sprint back to Fontana's so we could rest before the night's activities.  I didn't get much rest though.  The water was out at the campground and then there was a rain shower that had me waiting in the sauna that was my tent.  I didn't get wet though!

After the rain shower, I remembered that I hadn't paid for my campsite and since there was no water, the registration lodge would be the perfect place to use the bathroom and change clothes.  Only problem was I only made it to the gas station and then barely to the bathroom!  But I was relieved to be in the a/c and get my sweaty clothes off and into something clean.

Now that I ride in all the gear, whenever I don't it feels really strange.  I felt odd in sneakers the day before but really naked when I chose to ride the mile up to the registration lodge with just helmet and gloves.  I also had no idea how hot the engine heat was on bare legs!

82Packer was kind enough to let me catch a ride with them to the gathering.  This time, I remembered to take pics before it got dark.

TKO getting his nails painted
really, he did!
Putzy dawg made me miss having a big dawg.  I guess it's time for another Akita.
82Packer said they'd be leaving early to pack for departure and asked if I wanted them to come back and get me.  I decided to leave with them because I had packing of my own to do.  It didn't take me as long as I thought it would so I joined them at their fire.  I also decided to cook with my one burner stove for the first time.

 Then one of his kids found a frog near their tent and brought it over to make the ladies squeal.  He was a little disappointed that we didn't squeal and the frog peed on him.

We were up quite late before I finally hit the sack.  I wasn't sure what time I would be leaving and I was thinking about riding the dragon again before I had to load Baby down.  The one thing I knew for sure was that I wouldn't be leaving as early as eflyguy said he would!

Thanks for reading,
patrice, theWolfTamer

Clouds look to be coming in

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