2008 Blue Ridge Parkway motorcycle trip

Day 6

August 20

The plan for today is to head south on the Blue Ridge Parkway then swing over to Mount Airy...Andy Griffith's hometown and the setting for the fictional 'Mayberry'. Normally when we travel the parkway we stop often at pulloffs for photos. Today we will ride straight through and hit any photogenic places on the way back. We pulled out of the cabin at 8:55, did our normal Catabwa fill up, and entered the parkway at 10:12.

While riding through Roanoke Debby got a picture of the Roanoke Star.

Speaking of pictures, I want to take a moment and talk about the girls' camera holders they made. They modified binocular holders to safely hold their cameras within easy reach. It allows them to be hands free, but have their cameras close if a photo opportunity should pop up. Most of the 'on the move' shots were taken by them. From the rear the setup bears a scary resemblence to a shoulder holster rig...which is appropriate since the girls are pretty badass. If you're interested in the camera holder setup send Debby an email for more details.

Almost immediately after entering the parkway we came upon road construction. According to the parkway website the construction was supposed to be north of here. Several miles down the parkway we had to wait for nine minutes to get through. We got off the bikes and stretched our legs. The parkway is a great road to ride. Almost traffic free other than other motorcycles. An enforced 45 mph speed limit keeps the hotrodders down. However, compared to the the parkway north of Roanoke and in North Carolina this section is definitely the most bland. It's like driving through the country back home. You don't get that 'riding through the mountains' feeling.

After an hour or so on the parkway I decided Mabry Mill would be a good place to pull off for a break. This is the one time my GPS screwed up. It directed us off onto a gravel road about 1/4 mile north of the mill. I figured it must be a shortcut but after 1/2 mile of gravel road I realized the GPS error so we turned around and rode to the mill via the parkway. Mabry Mill is 'the most photographed place on the parkway' and a popular place for bike pictures. I took pictures of each of the bikes with the mill in the background.

John's Venture
Mike's VTX
My Goldwing

We used the restrooms, perused the gift shop (pins and stickers!), and explored the mill.

I thought it was cool the mill got water from multiple sources and had an intricate plume system. We spent close to an hour here, and rested, we saddled up and headed south. 23 miles later we exited the parkway and took US52 into Mount Airy. As we descended from the parkway the temperature and humidity increased noticeably.

When we reached the outskirts of Mount Airy we pulled over and decided to head to the center of town. So far the town wasn't as touristy as we'd expected. We eventually found Main Street where most of the Mayberry-themed shops are and found some public parking. Once again, we thought this area would be better marked for tourists.

We walked past the 'old jail' to Main Street where we found the visitor center. The lady inside was very helpful and had interesting information to share about Mount Airy/Mayberry and Andy Griffith. Well informed, we left in search of lunch. We had been looking forward to having pork chop sandwiches at Snappy's Diner, but they only serve breakfast and lunch and was closed by now.

Undaunted, we slipped into Barney's Cafe.

While we were eating Otis Campbell came in for a visit. He'd just gotten out of jail.

He even posed for a picture with Mike.

Full and star struck, we headed north on Main Street exploring the shops (normal and Mayberry'd). We found pins, stickers, and souveneirs. The air conditioning was also welcome. We looped back south past Floyd's Barber Shop. John thought about getting a trim but it was pretty busy.

After exploring Main Street we went to the local war memorial.

From there we went to the Andy Griffith Theater. This statue of Andy and Opie is out front. The basement of the theater contains the 'Andy Griffith Museum'. I found this place very interesting. After three hours of exploring Mount Airy we decided to head back up the parkway.

On the way out of town a kid on a scooter fell into our formation for a while. We stopped for gas and then headed back up US52. It was nice to get to the cooler air of the parkway.

Since there were potential stops on the way back John led. We stopped at the Rocky Knob visitor center for a stretch and to put on jackets as the air was getting cooler. We exited the parkway briefly at New Haven Road to check on a craft store, but it was closed. With no more potential sightseeing stops I took over the lead again.

At one spot I had to honk some cows off the road. We were seeing more and more deer on and near the parkway so at Clover Hill we left the parkway for US221. US221 had lots of nice curves and sweepers as it wound its way over the mountains to the outskirts of Roanoke. In Roanoke we turned onto VA419. After going through a hundred stoplights this road dumped into VA311 which is our road out of town.

As we neared the turnoff to Craig's Creek Road a large buck was walking down the side of the road. I slowed down and pointed it out. I looked in the mirror to make sure the others saw it. Hmmmmmm. There was no one behind me. I stopped at our intersection and waited. Turned off the bike and couldn't hear any bikes coming. I turned around to see where they went. I figured they had turned into the Catawba gas station. When I got to the station there they were. They had stopped to buy some bologna for breakfast. Yes! Bologna and egg sandwiches.

We dodged a few more deer on the road to the cabin. Debby had started pot roast in the crock pot that morning and it was perfect when we got home. We ate pot roast and lounged around the rest of the evening.

260 miles.

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

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