Though I had jotted Backbone Rock down on my list of things to see when we left home, sometimes the wind takes you elsewhere.
In the days and miles that had already passed it had slipped my mind until we were headed west away from Shady Valley. That was when the lightbulb went off in my head. Doh! I wanted to see Backbone Rock! I resigned myself to doing it “next time.”
While Kenny and I were zig-zagging around, I started poking through my GPS and looking at the pit stop waypoints that I’d saved. As it turned out, Backbone Rock was just a hop skip and a jump ahead.
There it was ~ the Universe unfolding as it should, again.
When I read other blogs, I really appreciate it when folks take the time to tell you what the name of or where a place is. It can be awfully frustrating at times to do the detective work on your own. If you’re one of those folks who shares their cool stuff – thank you!
Okay, I know. I know, I know, I know. Every time that I see an amazing art car I go bananas and get all, “this is the greatest car in the universe!” But,…
Muffler… CAR! ::faints::
We actually saw the muffler car when we pulled into the town of Franklin, NC on Day 3 of our road trip south. I caught it out of the corner of my eye as I rode past it. It was after dinner time and Kenny and I were both tired and hungry. So, I broke one of my own rules and kept going.
When we found a hotel and pulled into the unloading area, I took my helmet off and excitedly said to Kenny, “DID YOU SEE THAT MUFFLER CAR?!1?!?!” To which he responded, “No.”
Clearly he wasn’t excited because the magnitude of its greatness did not have a chance to seer into his retinas yet. But luckily for blondie, I’m not a quitter. I did what any smart person would do and set a reminder on my iPhone to visit the muffler car when we were heading out the following day.
I think the chiming of my reminder might have woken Kenny up the next morning. Oopsie That is the only logical explanation for his body language in the distance:
“Stupid muffler car. I can’t believe I’m sitting out here in the pouring rain looking at this ridiculous thing.”
Can you imagine how fabulous a burnout in the Muffler Car would look? Peelin’ out with 4 on the muffler floor. Badass.
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.
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 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