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Day 3: Wheels Through Time Museum – Photo Gallery

Wheels Through Time
The Museum that Runs

Just a hop, skip and a jump off of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Maggie Valley, NC is an American treasure – the Wheels Through Time museum. It is home to hundreds of American-made motorcycles, tons of ephemera and historical photographs.

Built by the passion of Dale Walksler, a man with encyclopedic knowledge of motorcycles – the museum also bills itself as “the museum that runs.” Though the machines are true museum pieces, they are started and ridden. It is not at all unusual to find Dale riding some beautiful vintage iron through the museum, starting up an antique or laying down a smokey burnout on the museum floor.

While we were there, he started up 2 early 1900′s Indians on the floor. When the second one was shut down and the crowd that had gathered started to dispersed he looked directly at me and said, “you look very familiar. You’ve been here before…” and we struck up a conversation about our last visit there back some time in 2006.

Now, I don’t know if he says that to all the girls, but… I was tickled pink by the notion that he might remember me.

Dale, who struck me as a very kind soul spent some time sitting and talking with us. We talked about motorcycles of course, but also about people and life. He even suggested some great local riding since we were visitors to the area. Truly a nice man.

Please support this passion, this time capsule of motorcycle history. Visit Wheels Through Time. You’ll be glad you did.

Bits and Pieces of Wheels Through Time

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Day 3: Blue Ridge Parkway Pit Stop – Breakfast at Mount Mitchell

When I approached the Mount Mitchell State Park sign, it was like the wheels of my bike turned in to the entrance on their own.

The past few times we’ve been on the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Mount Mitchell had been closed or it was too foggy to see 10 feet in front of you. Now that we were visiting with good clear weather, I had to head up!

After our experience with Grandfather Mountain, part of me wondered if I would be pummeled with a howling wind as we climbed higher and higher. Thankfully, the trees did a good job of keeping the winds in check.

Just to be on the safe side, I pulled in to the parking lot as soon as I saw the lodge-restaurant. I suppose it was kind of an irrational action to think that the outcome would be any different if I stopped first and then continued heading up to the peak. But… sometimes that’s the part of your brain that is at the wheel.

As it turned out, that cuckoo part of my brain was on to something.

Kenny and I parked our bikes and walked towards the lodge which wasn’t visible from the road. Boy, was I glad we did. We put our behinds right in front of the window and had a delicious hot breakfast and enjoyed the rolling, green mountains below.

After breakfast we wandered outside onto the open air deck and took in the view.

Once rational thought returned, Kenny and I rode to the peak of Mount Mitchell. From there, we followed the short walking path that lead to an observation deck which offered a full 360 view of the area.

Part of the view was obscured by clouds sleeping on the trees. It felt like we were at the roof of the world, like I could just reach up my hands and tickle the angels in the clouds.

In a moment of serendipity, while at the top of the park we saw two other riders we’d chit-chatted with in a parking lot in Virginia 2 days before. When you consider how your lives have to line up just so to put 4 strangers in the same place at the same time, hundreds of miles away by sheer coincidence, it boggles the mind. One decision, one different turn, an extra 5 minutes spent drinking a cup of coffee and things would’ve been entirely different. Heady.

When we pulled away from the parking lot, we fell in behind a guy on a Valkyrie and followed him all the way down to the Pisgah Inn. It was fun riding behind him. Every time he dipped his big gal into a deep lean I got to watch the sparks fly when the floor boards touched down.

The day was off to an awesome start…

Breakfast at Mount Mitchell

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Day 3: Riding Through Blue Ridge Parkway Tunnels

The Blue Ridge Parkway from around Little Switzerland to about Asheville is one of my favorite sections of the whole stretch. Aside from being a great ride, it offers some really beautiful views of the valleys below. The 50 or so miles seemed to go by in a blink as we rode along.

You can also catches glimpses of the road ahead as it cuts along the edge of mountain ridge. There is something that I love about being able to see a wiggly roadway peeking out from the trees. It’s like a teaser that says, ‘Come on, hurry up. Look how much fun you’re gonna be having in a minute!’

There also a few of those spiral curve signs along the way to get your get-up-and-go a-workin’.

The Little Switzerland area at milepost 333 is also where the majority of the 26 tunnels on the parkway begin. Only a single tunnel exists before that way back  at milepost 53.

Though I’ve ridden the length of the Blue Ridge Parkway a few times before, each time I do I find something exciting about the tunnels.

Because they are unlit and some have turns inside, when you enter you have no idea where you’ll end up. There could be more tarmac on the other side or… you could be riding into the mouth of that giant worm thingy from the Empire Strikes Back. Who can say?

The tunnels aren’t very long. When you enter the darkness your eyes barely have enough time to adjust before you are plunged out into the light again.

Those exits make for great jump to lightspeed pics on the GoPro :)

Riding Through Blue Ridge Tunnels

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Day 2: Smooth Sailing on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Don’t you love that feeling of waking up in a place where you don’t live? That feeling of freedom, of being loose, of being able to wander?

When I got up and looked out the window at our bikes in the hotel parking lot, I got a tickley feeling in my stomach. It was exciting to think that we’d soon be heading down the Blue Ridge Parkway. The sun was shining and the cool morning road was calling. With the mastery of a traveling circus, we packed our bags in jig-time and hit the road.

There were several times during the trip I found myself amazed when looking around our hotel room. It often seemed like a motorcycle gear and clothing bomb had gone off. And yet, every morning the ritual of putting everything back into a single bag took place – making everything once again as neat as a pin.

We entered the BRP at Milepost 0 – Waynesboro, Virginia.

The Blue Ridge Parkway rambles along through the mountains, is a generally smooth road surface and with few intersecting roads – it’s just the most relaxing cruise. I find it to be a great ‘thinking’ road. As a matter of fact, I thought/wrote the most amazing blog posts while riding that morning. Tales of excitement, intrigue… adventure. Unfortunately as soon as I turned the key off on my bike, they evaporated into the ether.

Different sections of the Parkway seem to have different personalities. The upper-most portion of the road is pretty laid back and easy going with gentle turns, valleys and long stretches through deep green trees.

We were blessed with almost no other traffic on the road all day long. Considering it was Sunday, I thought for sure we’d run into a lot of other drivers and riders. While we did see a handful of other motorcycles, if we saw 30 cars all day, I would say that would be a lot. Not too shabby for 300 miles of traveling.

The skies were beautiful and the weather was quite cool at elevation. I actually had to use my heated grips for a little while as the wind whistled through the perforations of my summer gloves.

Between Mileposts 36 and 37 is one of my favorite road signs – Sudden Curve Ahead with a motorcycle rider flying off the bike.

While at a stop at one of the roadside exhibit buildings, we found stickers that had the “aaahhhhhhh!” motorcycle man. It was too good to resist. I promptly stuck one on my Givi box. Yay! 

We rode the BRP into the late afternoon. Our final stop on the parkway itself was at Milepost 304, the Linn Cove Viaduct. It is probably one of the most photographed stretches of the entire roadway.

I finally made a note to stop before the viaduct so that we could take a picture. I usually end up riding right over it and kicking myself because I missed it again. This time I set a point on my GPS to remind me.

I suppose that devil machine is good for something afterall :)

While we walked along a path towards the bridge, Kenny bent down and picked up a small piece of black rubber, a piece of a shoe sole and handed it to me. You just can’t make this stuff up…

Love – it’s everywhere!

Our time on the parkway for the day ended at Milepost 305, where we exited and headed for Grandfather Mountain and on to the next adventure.

Day 2: Staunton, Virginia to Banner Elk, North Carolina

June 3, 2012

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Heading North Through Lassen Volcanic Park

When we got up from our cozy slumber in Lake Tahoe it felt so good to look out the sliding door to find that the storm that had dogged us the day before had moved on. Kenny, Ed and I had breakfast and took a walk around back of our hotel to get a look at the lake.

Lake Tahoe was very beautiful and the world was silent.

It was a bittersweet morning. Kenny and I would be continuing on without Ed from this point. Because he lives near LA, Tahoe was the northern-most point from which he’d be able to comfortably make it back home in one day’s ride.

When you really enjoy someone’s company their absence is a palpable thing. Even though they may occupy a space separate from you on a motorcycle of their own, you miss them when they aren’t there. Ed is a great riding companion. He’s game for anything, doesn’t whine or complain and he’s always good for a laugh. One went left and two went right. I missed him before his Aprilia was even out of sight.

With the sun sun shining down on us once again, Kenny and I set off towards Lassen Volcanic Park. Though I knew the name of the park, I really didn’t know very much about it.

When we entered from the south, rounded a corner and… WOW! It was beautiful.

The scale of the peaks and valleys was huge. There were snow capped mountains, sparse rock faces jutting out of the hills, rock gardens and for the first time throughout the trip, pockets of wild flowers growing. I couldn’t believe I’ve never heard much about such a beautiful park.

Have you been there?

Our pace for the day was slow and steady. The two of us were pretty mellow all day, really. We didn’t stop for many pictures along the way as we gradually worked our way to Mount Shasta. Our goal was to get into a good position to pick up Route 96 just north of Yreka, the following morning.

We finished our day narrowly escaping another crazy thunderstorm that blackened the sky and chased away the rainbow that led us to our hotel.

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