They say one should always have a plan B when traveling. That is what they say. I agree. On Labor Day weekend, my Plan B was put into action before the ST’s wheels even began to rotate.
For weeks before, I was looking forward to taking a road trip to southwest Virginia and camping out for three blissful days at Willville Motorcycle Campground in Meadows of Dan, VA. Weather is always a concern for the traveling motorcyclist, and no less so as the week of planned departure arrived, and the weather pattern turned progressively worse.
The day before departure (and the morning of), Weather Underground informed me that there were massive storm cells in the direction I was wanting to go. Didn’t look like a good time to me. I immediately scoured different travel scenarios and found that directly due north, the weather pattern was much more inviting, at least for the next two days.
This was to be a head clearing trip, and I needed to go. Somewhere. The ST was already loaded and chomping at the bit. Due north became Plan B, so off we went to North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground.
BRMC is a beautiful and picturesque moto only campground
After setting up camp, I decided to ride into Maggie Valley, North Carolina and visit the famous Wheels Through Time Museum. But first, a much needed lunch stop was in order. Jukebox Junction is my favorite greasy spoon lunch spot when in the area.
After the feed, I motored on to Wheels Through Time. Curator Dale Walksler has put together an astounding collection of vintage American motorbikes through the years. Harley Davidson, Excelsior Henderson, Pierce-Arrow, Indian, Ace, Sears (yes, Sears!) and more are all represented here. Vintage autos are also peppered throughout the museum, and even an airplane powered by a Harley Davidson engine! Walksler has/had (?) a TV show about his discovery of these gems and the restoration process involved. “What’s in the barn?” is the name of the show, and he has it running on screen in the museum during operating hours.
So, just what is in the barn? Let’s take a look at a small sampling……….
These girls look like they’re having a blast!
The history of American motorcycling comes to life here. Literally. Throughout the day, Walksler fires up the ancient engines in his collection and rides these works of art and history around the property and in the museum building itself. The sound and smell of these internal combustion engines, some over 100 years old, is astounding and an assault on the senses. Fantastic! If you have never visited here, you must. And, of course, the motorcycling roads in the surrounding mountains are nothing short of exhilerating!
On the way back to camp, my weather luck ran out. As I came out of the museum, looking to the east, I saw scary looking clouds and rolls of thunder vibrated my eardrums. No, it wasn’t a group of Harleys. Naturally, east was the direction I was heading. It wasn’t raining yet, but I knew I was going to get wet at some point, so I slipped into my rain gear and rolled out of the parking lot. Fifteen miles to go back to BRMC. I might beat this out. Don’t all motorcyclists say that? With 4 miles to go, there it was: a wall of water right in my path. It was dark, thunder pierced my earplugs, and now lightening seemed too close for comfort. But there was nowhere to pull over, and if there was, I couldn’t see through the sheets of water anyway. Thank god there was a truck in front of me with working tail lights that acted like beacons in the deluge. Four miles to go………. Within half a mile, I popped out of that storm cell onto dry roads like nothing had happened. Looking in my mirrors, I could see that wall of water dropping further back behind me. Whew! Mountain weather. Gotta love it!
The next morning I awoke to a eerily beautiful, fog in the valley. It will be about 10 AM before the sun rises over the mountains and burns off this fog.
My journey today takes me up a highly technical road that I have not been on in a few years; NC209 a.k.a. The Rattler:
NC209 is a super scenic, technical, challenging motorcycle road that will have you grinning from ear to ear, or, if unprepared, scared out of your wits as you try to negotiate it’s curves. The 209 terminates in Hot Springs, North Carolina, a hotbed for hikers hiking the Appalachian Trail. The AT passes right though “downtown” Hot Springs, the sidewalk actually being part of the trail.
The AT sign post on the sidewalk in Hot Springs, NC
On the way up the 209, you pass through the tiny communities of Trust & Luck. On this road, you need both. Trust in your machine and your own mountain riding skills, and a bit of Luck as you lean way over in the curves looking to erase those chicken strips.
The twisty bits of The Rattler begin right past the Trust General Store. With any Luck, you’ll make it to Hot Springs unscathed.
Beautiful mountain scenery like this is yours for the viewing on the 209, but don’t look at it on the fly!
Rolling through Hot Springs after an exhilarating ride up The Rattler, I began my descent into the tiny town of Marshall, North Carolina. One of my favorite eateries is here, Good Stuff Cafe, that used to be housed in a de-sanctified church. They have since relocated to another building. Could the taking on of craft beer and wine sales upset the heavenly powers that be and forced the move? God only knows.
Good food, good beer, good wine…….. Good Stuff
Lunch was awesome. I picked up a bottle of Spanish white wine for the campfire this evening, then strolled out the back door to the patio for this view…..
The beautiful French Broad River makes it’s way south towards Asheville, NC
Today’s journey is almost over. I mount the beaST and head south, following the French Broad to the city of Asheville. There I catch the Blue Ridge Parkway and meander back to BRMC. Tomorrow I’m homeward bound to Roo and the beagles. But there is still an evening of fun and mingling with other moto campers around the campfire, and a bottle of really good stuff with a Spanish label.