2009 East 50 motorcycle trip
Day 4

September 7

Like yesterday, I wasn't very hungry so I skipped breakfast. It was nice to lay in bed and think about our trip. Our high mileage days were behind us. We'd gained a day already. We'd ridden US50 to the coast, ridden across the Chesapeake Bay bridge, and we've already ridden the majority of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The rest of our days will be easier and even more relaxing.

Super 8 motel in Boone, NC.

While we were packing our gear another titanium Goldwing rode from around the back of the motel, picked up his wife at the entrance, and headed out. There were four other bikes parked under the canopy. Wonder where they're going?

When we passed through town last night Mike noticed a couple cars he wanted to check out. We stopped at a Subaru dealership and Mike looked over a WRX STI. Then we rode to Toyota of Boone where Mike got to look at a silver Prius.

After checking out the Prius we headed down US321 back to the parkway. We thought we might have some company but the bikes in the picture above turned north, whereas we headed south. We hadn't been on the parkway very long when we came upon several deer standing in the roadway. A white SUV was coming from the other direction. We both slowed and allowed the deer to move away. As we passed the SUV a German Sheperd stuck his head out of the window and licked his chops. He must have had deer in mind for lunch...or us.

We stopped at a pulloff to take a picture of a scenic view to send back to the womanfolk.

Shortly we passed the final part of the parkway to be constructed...the Linn Cove Viaduct. The temperature was a little nippy this morning.

In 2007 we rode the parkway northward and got as far as the Spruce Pine turn off. We headed back to Asheville via NC226, and experienced a great motorcycle road. It goes down and around...it drops a quarter mile in 2 miles...so John dubbed it The Toilet Flush. Today we will leave the parkway and ride the Toilet Flush. To get back to the parkway we'll take NC226A...17 miles of curvy road back to the top (I found out later this part is called 'The Diamondback'). When we got back to the parkway Mike had a big smile and said the same thing John and Mike K. did two years ago..."that is a lot more fun than the Dragon".

After some great curvy roads we hit a pulloff with views of Mount Mitchell. We'll be there in a while.

We talked to an older guy in a van who knew a lot about the area and had some good information to share. Another Goldwinger pulled in as well.

Later a Corvette pulled in to take some pictures.

Back on the road we passed through a few tunnels and around mile marker 355 came to...

...the turnoff for Mount Mitchell. In 2007 we had ridden part of the way to the summit area. Today we will go all the way to the end of the road. Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. Not as tall as Harney Peak near Rapid City, SD...the highest peak east of the Rocky Mountains. Geographical semantics.

We parked near the concession building. We bought something to drink and walked around the parking area for a bit...taking in the scenery and the sights. We saw yellow, white, and black Goldwings and a nice looking Jeep. After we finished our drinks we took the ~250 yard jaunt up to the viewing area. In this picture you can see the road leading up to the summit.

We spent 15-20 minutes there reading the informational displays and taking in the scenery. We went back down to the parking level. Mike used the facilities and I went to the gift shop and bought my only pin for this trip. For the last couple years the parkway between here and Asheville has been closed for a slide. I asked one of the rangers if it was still closed, and happily I was told it was now open. Good deal...no detours. We headed back down the road to Mount Mitchell and turned south.

In a couple spots we rode through the clouds again.

As we rode through the Asheville water shed area I noticed all the drainage ditches on the side of the road had stone laid in them...as can be seen above. I presume this is to keep the runoff into the reservoir cleaner. I haven't seen this before. It had to be pretty labor intensive.

As the parkway winds down into Asheville there are even a few extra curvy curves.

As we headed south we passed the Craggy Gardens visitor center then the Folk Art visitor center. Soon we were on the outskirts of Asheville. At US25 we exited and headed north a mile or so to Mr. Motorcycle. I've been on a mission of sorts to look at motorcycle jackets...in particular a Fieldsheer Air Tour Mesh in high-visibility green. I found one in South Dakota but didn't get it. Now I think I will if I find one. We'd been pondering if the dealership would be open. Both because it was a Monday and Labor Day. When we got there we weren't surprised to find it closed. No biggie. I searched for our Super 8 motel using the GPS. It showed three of them. I remembered our's was on Tunnel Road, so I chose the motel on Tunnel Road. It led us to I-40, then east for a few miles, then onto Tunnel Road.

Asheville, NC. 14:04, mileage 37,282 - We stopped for gas, then headed for the motel. When we arrived in the area there was no Super 8 to be found. We rode a little farther into town, then turned around and rode eastward for a mile or so. We stopped at a gas station where I googled the addresses. While waiting for Google I also called the number for the motel. Disconnected. Hmmmmmmm.

A guy came out of the gas station and complimented me on my bike. He liked the orange. He has a Valkyrie. In our conversation I mentioned not being able to find the Super 8. He said the only one he knew of was quite a bit farther into town (west). He said some of them had been bought out. I thanked him, and Mike and I decided to venture farther west and see if we could find it.

Super 8 motel in Asheville, NC...Room 108.

We eventually did, about a mile farther west than it should have been. This is one of those instances where the mapping data hasn't been updated for awhile. Two of the three Super 8s aren't there anymore, and the one we stayed at wasn't listed in the mapping software. Even the addresses returned by Google were old and incorrect.

I don't know if this works for all the cellular companies, but for AT&T if you text to '46645' you are texting to Google. It's nice for finding addresses and phone numbers and such which can then be put into the GPS. I've used this several times and it can be handy...when the info is correct...which it normally is.

We checked into the motel and went to our room. This is the style where the doors face the parking lot instead of an inner hall (motel vs hotel?). I like this style better when traveling. You only have to carry your stuff a few feet to the room and you can peek out the window to see your bike. After we got settled we went next door to a Mexican restaurant where I had a steak chimichanga dinner. Yummy! After dinner we walked back to the room and layed around and watched TV for awhile. I also checked my email on the wireless internet.

Since we had gained a day in our travels we had a decision to make. Where to spend the extra day? I called the cabin rental agency to see if the cabin would be available the day before we arrived. If it was we'd stay there. If not, we could stay here another day. The cabin was available so the reservations were modified. We'd be in our cabin tomorrow.

About 5 pm we decided to ride down to Lake Lure. I walked out the door and...hmmmmmm...it was sprinkling. We went back inside to wait awhile. I checked the weather radar and the rain was very spotty. About forty minutes later the rain had moved on and it looked safe to venture south. We took I-240 south which turns into US74A.

Once out of Asheville proper the area quickly becomes rural (above) with an occasional populated area. This lasts for about nine miles until you reach the base of the mountain that we need to cross. Then US74A becomes EXCELLENT. Switchbacks. Curvy roads. Switchbacks. Curvy roads. You get the picture. Plus, it has rained more here and the road is still damp under the tree cover...along with some leaves thrown in for fun.

About halfway up the mountain we got behind an older gentlemen in a silver car going slower than the speed limit. What is it with silver cars going slow? The road was still fun but you had the added duty of not running over the car in front of you. The theme for this trip seems to be the slow cars are either silver or from Florida. Eventually the guy pulled over into a hotel and we cruised down the remainder of the mountain into Chimney Rock.

Chimney Rock looking north from Lake Lure.

Most of the restaurants were open but very few of the other businesses were due to Labor Day. It looks like Chimney Rock itself is now a state park. It was privately owned in 2007. We cruised on through to the town of Lake Lure next door. It was pretty dead, too. I'd thought about doing the boat tour around the lake but it too was closed. We took in some of the views.

We saw another titanium Goldwing pulling out of the parking lot. I thought it might have been the one we saw this morning, but upon closer inspection they have different helmets.

We continued south on US74A and I was hoping we might be able to see some of the large homes on the lake, but it was not meant to be. I guess the boat tour has the monopoly on that. A couple miles down the road we turned around and headed back north. It was starting to get late.

Some things had changed since I was here in 2007. They're replacing the bridge over the creek that feeds the lake. The little convenience store we stopped at in 2007 is gone and replaced by this restaurant and a hotel.

The trip back over the mountain was mostly unimpeded and Mike was always right behind me. As we neared Asheville a nice sunset greeted us. After arriving back at the motel we walked across the street to convenience store for some snacks. I got an ice cream drumstick. Mike even bought some beer for the first time on the trip. We went back to the room and did our normal nightly stuff. Tomorrow we'll be at our cabin in the mountains.

Day 4 pictures

197 miles.

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