Oh, we were so excited for our Easter weekend trip to North Carolina to meet up with our friend Tina Baker for a ride! Yippee. However, the weather Gods had a different agenda. Massive storms were in the forecast including tornadoes and tons of rain. We watched the weather forecasts and decided to go ahead and leave. We left on Thursday morning and were so thankful that the sky was clear and the temperatures moderate. Yippee! We spent the morning taking small back roads heading east and north. Great riding. No pics, sorry.... Anyway, our ride was fantastic!
We stopped for a quick lunch in Centre, Alabama.
At lunch we decided to hit bigger roads and make some time which was a good decision. We rode into Pigeon Forge, TN just about dinner time and no bad weather. Hooray! We checked into our Howard Johnson hotel with no problem and were surprised at how big and nice our room was. Score! All seemed to be on a positive path.
After we settled into the room and changed into street clothes we took off on foot to the Hard Rock Cafe which was only a block or so away. Oh boy, we had fun looking at all the tourist traps and weird buildings. Must go back some day and really explore this town some more. Lots of fun things to do. Of course, I imagine in peak tourist season it is packed! Anyway, we had a lovely walk to the cafe and a wonderful dinner. I'm a big collector of Hard Rock pins so was able to score two more pins for my collection! We splurged and had a couple of over priced cocktails but mitigated that with sharing a burger :-).
The Civil War Theater was across the street from our hotel.
The Titanic! I believe it is a museum complete with ice berg, lol.
Life was good. We had a nice stroll back to the hotel and bed not too long after. During the night, actually wee early hours, I heard thunder and then pounding rain, booo!
We woke up to pouring, pounding rain :-(. Piss. We went to brekkie and then asked for a late checkout as the weather report said it would slow down around 11:00 am. Not really... We left in the rain as we headed toward Asheville, NC. Our goal was to ride through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and then pick up the Blue Ridge Parkway into Asheville and our reserved Best Western Motel.
That didn't happen. We rode through Pigeon Forge (which is a sight to see!!) and then took the Gatlinburg bypass to the Great Smoky NP entrance. That all went well although it was raining and the rain continued to increase and pelt us. We got the the visitor center only to find the only road through the Park, (Hwy 441), was CLOSED!
Apparently, 80 mph winds had knocked down trees in the park and that, combined high wind threats were the cause of the road closure, but they had no real idea when they might re-open the road. They had been telling folks that the road could re-open by noon, but it WAS noon and no sign of any progress. The rangers gave you that blank look and repeated, (no doubt for the 1000th time), how to go back to Gatlinburg and work out to I-40 to go around the entire Smoky Mountain National Park. Gee, not what we had hoped to be doing. If you have to go out to I-40, well heck, you might as well just stay on the big roads to Asheville.
And then the nightmare began. I-40 is narrow two lanes with tons and tons of traffic, both tourists and truckers. Not pleasant in the pouring rain but even worse when we slowed to stop and go traffic for 10 miles. Off camber road and stop and go in the pouring rain, fun? No. No exits either. We were stuck. Another piss!! Geez, so much slow riding practice. Stop, go, go slow, stop. Try to decide which foot to put down because of the cant of the road. Fuck, I hated this. HATED THIS!!!
We had such a beautiful ride yesterday and then this crap. PISS! Oh well, it was what it was. The traffic was horrible and the weather was worse. We were getting wet and cold and honestly, my left arm was cramping from all the clutching. Fortunately, we had awesome truckers in front and behind and left us lots of room to ride. Thank you!
Our 120 mile ride that should have been a pleasant ride through the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway turned into a brutal, wet, unpleasant 3 1/2 hour, 120 mile ride on mostly clogged interstate in the pouring rain with lots and lots of stop and go and brake and just plain old ICK!
Hahahaha, no pics. Would you stop and take a pic of that? No, I didn't think so. I was so frickin happy to get to our motel. It was only about 3:30 pm but the parking lot was full and there was a line of cars at the entrance waiting to get a room. Yeah, even the car peeps didn't like the weather :-) 5 deep for the line to the front desk and the smart peeps had been making reservations on their phones while waiting in line. It took most of 30 minutes to get to the one desk clerk and get checked in. He did the best he could, and not bad, but one person can only help one person at a time!
It was awesome to get our bikes parked, unloaded, covered up and in our room. A very pleasant room with a king bed and a sofa. Plenty of space and we needed it. We were both pretty wet. So we stripped off the wet gear and went about trying to get it dry. No guest laundry at this hotel, boo! We did the best we could utilizing the heater for our gloves, helmets and eventually Eric's boots that had filled up with water because his pants failed. Actually, Eric was much wetter than I. Water was literally pouring out of his sleeves as he held his arm down and he poured water out of his boots. Our room looked like this.
So we decided, with the weather prediction as it was, that we would spend another night here in Asheville. Looking for things to do here... well heck yeah, the Biltmore Estate. However....it was $80 per person!!!! What the F? $80 bucks per person? That's a lot of cash. We would have been okay with maybe $40 or even $50 but $80? Nope. Not going to happen. Geez, really? Isn't that a bit crazy? Am I crazy for not paying that amount? Nope, don't think so.
Okay, bitching session is over.
We had pizza delivery for dinner, watched some boob tube and called it a night. The morning dawned dry but shiver, shiver, very cold with scattered showers predicted. I'm glad we decided to just hang another day. Sunday is supposed to be basically dry and much warmer. We'll spend some time today deciding what route to take home.
Stay tuned for the rest of our Easter Adventure!
PS - New gear for both of us soon. Guess after 6 years it's time. We had washed our gear since the last ride when we also got wet but apparently it just isn't waterproof any longer. Time to shop ;-)