2009 East 50 motorcycle trip
Day 3

September 6

We got up at our normal unplanned time. I was still full from the Golden Corral last night so I layed around while Mike went to the hotel's breakfast. Eventually I packed everything up and got ready to go.

The day was beautiful. Clear skies. Temps in the low 70's. Traffic was light on the quiet Sunday morning. We found our way through the city streets onto I-195 and almost immediately came upon a toll booth. It wasn't much...a dollar or so. I just hate toll booths because the oil buildup makes them like ice. This toll road wasn't in very good shape. It didn't take long to get to I-64 and up to cruising speed.

There's something to be said for the occasional interstate riding. Set the cruise, stretch out, and cover some ground.

We passed a Smart Car. Those things are tiny. Mike is on the lookout for Toyota Prius's.

As we got closer to Waynesboro the terrain got more hilly and the sky started to cloud up.

Waynesboro, VA. 10:25, mileage 36,836 - Gas stop. I had an ice cream bar. I took a picture of it and sent it to our coworker Angela. We like to tease her about ice cream. As we stood there we saw lots of other bikes ride by on their way to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

We stopped at the beginning of the parkway to take the standard picture. Just 469 more miles to go. :^)

Starting our journey on the parkway.

If you're not familiar with the Blue Ridge Parkway, it's part of the National Park System. It runs from Waynesboro, VA, to Cherokee, NC. It includes tranquil roads like above, curvy roads, scenic views with pulloffs, and tunnels. The maximum speed limit is 45 mph, although it does drop in congested areas. The park rangers have a reputation for being strict with speed enforcement, so we watched our speed.

Taking pictures with cellphones to send to our girlfriends.

The temperature at the higher elevations had dropped into the mid-60s. We passed lots of motorcycles and a surprising number of bicycles.

For a long time we were part of convoy of motorcycles which included a Goldwing trike.

An unpleasant surprise we've found are gnats. After you're at a pulloff for a moment or two the gnats start to swarm around your head. Irritating little monsters. They discourage staying long.

The northern section of the parkway was new to me. When we passed the Otter Creek restaurant (a good place to eat) and the James River Visitor Center I was now in familiar territory from our 2008 trip.

Around 13:45 we pulled into the Peaks of Otter visitor center. It was fairly busy with lots of people coming and going. We piddled around for awhile, used the restroom, and enjoyed the nice weather.

Traveling on the parkway is relaxing. There is very little traffic. You can set the cruise control at 45 mph and the GL1800 will just purr along. I use 4th gear going up hill due to the trailer I'm pulling. The roads are well-maintained and the brush is cut away from the road, so you can see deer lurking.

Roanoke, VA. 14:52, mileage 36,952 - We left the parkway and took US460 west for a few miles towards Roanoke to get gas. While we were there we studied the maps and GPS to get an idea of how far we should go for the day and where there was a selection of hotels. Wilkesboro looked doable, but it was 24 miles east of the parkway. We could go a little farther on the parkway and be in Boone. We'd just see how things went.

South of Roanoke some low clouds were floating through the mountains creating a foggy condition. I love riding through the clouds.

At 16:42 we pulled into a parkway favorite, Mabry Mill. They have a restaurant so we decided to have supper there given our location and the time of day. The parking lot was packed and there were a lot of people milling around outside the restaurant so we thought we might have to wait. Luckily, though, we were seated right away.

As I looked over the menu one of their specials caught my eye. I don't recall the name, but it consisted of barbecued pork between two cornbread pancakes with cheese, and smothered with barbecue sauce and coleslaw. It sounds odd, but it was very good! I was so full I thought I would bust. Mike had the same.

An hour later we were back on the parkway continuing our journey. I enjoyed seeing the familiar sites from last year. 24 miles down the road we passed Fancy Gap and once again I was covering new ground. In places the sky looked dark and gray and the radar showed a little precipitation here and there, but so far we didn't have any rain to speak of.

Around 7 pm our luck ran out as is started to sprinkle, then rain. We pulled into the Doughton Park Camp Store. It came at a good time as my dinner from Mabry Mill was pushing on my colon...if you know what I mean (wink). Mike talked to some other riders who were waiting out the rain. We put on our rain gear and headed off into a mild rain which didn't last that long.

By now it was getting dark. We had seen a few deer earlier, and they were becoming more prevalent as the sun went down. The roads were damp so we maintained a comfortable speed. I used the driving lights to illuminate the pesky varmits. The parkway was closed at Phillips Gap Road, so we were detoured to Idlewild Road, to US221, to US421, and finally to Boone.

Boone, NC. 20:25, mileage 37,141 - We fueled the bikes, took off the rain gear, and called local hotels. The Holiday Inn Express was full, so we tried the Super 8. They had one room left so we took it.

We got to the hotel and took advantage of some limited parking around a light pole. The room was pretty decent and about 40% less than the Holiday Inn Expresses, and it had wireless internet. We decided we liked the Super 8, so I went online and reserved a room at the Super 8 in Asheville.

We have now covered 4 days of planned travel in three days, and we didn't kill ourselves doing it. That's a good position to be in. Tomorrow would be a relatively short travel day. From experience I know the best part of the parkway is yet to come.

Day 3 pictures

Blue Ridge Parkway pictures

408 miles.

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