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For the last 2 weeks I’ve been growing restless, needing a vacation. A real vacation - not a family trip, not a group event - a get the fuck out of here trip to clear my head and get out of the area. Since I am trying to save vacation for next year, I worked 10 hours over the next 8 days so I could take Thursday and Friday off before the holiday weekend. Luckily, the boss is one of the rare ones that allows that kind of flexibility and our company policy encourages it for moral and health.

THURSDAY
So, before understanding just how much of a terror Harvey was going to be down south, I headed out bright and early Thursday morning. On the road by 6, my plan was to drive along Route 58 to Meadows of Dan, where I would hop on the BRP and just drive south until I got tired. Here’s the thing about me, though: once I have a goal in sight, I tend to be a marathon driver. I reached Meadows of Dan a little before noon, stopped for lunch, then took a look at the map to see where Maggie Valley was from there... Only a little under 4 hours away? No Problem. So back in the car I went, and I drove and drove and drove and drove and realized at the 10th hour mark I was ready to be done with driving and where the heck was Maggie Valley why weren’t we there yet?????
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Finally in North Caronlina

When I actually reached Maggie Valley, I ended up stopping at a Scottish Inn. Nice little place. Great room! Huge. Open floor plan with vinyl floors that look like wood but are probably a ton easier to clean and better than nasty hotel carpet in my book! Anyway, the room was fantastic. The parking, not so much. At least with a trailer it was difficult. They need to pave an extension into their little patch of grass to allow cars to pull-through with trailers. Other than that, the spaces in front of each room is as wide as the room, so 3 big baggers or 4 cruisers could fit in front of each room easily. So that’s my plug for a nice little hotel.

FRIDAY
ANYWAY… Friday I rode all day. I went from Maggie Valley to Gatlinburg. Rode a ‘mountain coaster’, which was expensive, but a blast. Ate some lunch. Rode over to the Tail of the Dragon and went up to buy my obligatory sticker for the bike (each of my 3 bikes I’ve ridden the Dragon on have stickers to mark the occasion). Got lost a bit. Again. Finally turned my phone back on and navigated back over to Cherokee, then back to the hotel room in Maggie Valley. Even though it was wet and miserable on the mountains, I wish I’d stayed one more day in the area.
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Excellent route even for a crappy, rainy day.

SATURDAY
My body is on a perpetual work week time schedule, so I woke at 5:00 a.m. as usual. While I tried to roll over and go back to sleep the result was just getting achy, so instead I rolled out of bed and started packing. Left the bike for last so I could go up the road to the Buttered Biscuit (YUM). After loading the bike, I headed back north to Rocky Mount, VA along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Or tried to do so. The fog and weather up there was still awful, making the drive very slow and nerve wracking. I didn’t want to take interstate, but it was still raining and miserable and I just wanted to get somewhere to sleep. So after a bit more of trying to be a purist and drive the BRP even if it was just in a car, I allowed better judgement to take over and got off the mountain where weather was still crap, but visibility 100% better. After arriving in Rocky Mount and finding an overpriced hotel, I got something to eat, then fell asleep fairly early.

SUNDAY
I didn’t want to waste Sunday - it was finally PRETTY OUT. I wanted to ride. But I knew I couldn’t keep the car and trailer in the hotel parking lot or they would have it towed. So I found the local Walmart and parked there. Pulling the bike off the trailer, I geared up, fought back paranoia about leaving anything in a Walmart parking lot longer than 30 minutes, and went down 221 to the Blue Ridge Parkway entrance. Rode back and forth a while, still not happy with leaving the car and trailer, then remembered I wanted to ride a dirt track I found at the Peaks of Otter camp store. There was a campground there too! I had my camping gear! Might as well go ahead and get a spot for the night. So around I turned and headed back to Walmart. Packed the bike and rode the parkway up to the Peaks of Otter and set up camp. At the camp store, there is a little dirt road I’ve always wanted to go down. If you ever have a chance to do this, TAKE IT! It’s amazing. Route 614 > 680 > 681 goes all the way down into Thraxton. WOW. Now that’s a twisty road! I found a nice place to eat up the road called “Foot of the Mountain” - good food and nice people with a fantastic view. After eating I took 43 back to the camp site, bought some fire wood, and settled in for the evening. It is a pretty little campground, though a bit cramped. And full of kids that didn’t want to sleep. I laid down when the sun went down, but even with ear plugs, I couldn’t sleep at all. I’d forgotten to bring a pillow so couldn’t get comfortable. Between that and some kind of invisible bugs that must have come with the blanket I bought from Walmart, it was a miserable night.

MONDAY
Finally, after a very fitful sleep, I got up at 5:00 a.m., did a quick take down of the camp, threw everything in the car and headed home. Traffic was great (non existent) until the other side of Richmond when it became stupid. I finally made it home around noon, was swamped by my lovely puppy dog and cats, and promptly took a nap in my own bed, dog on my left, cat on my right, and pillow comfortably under my head.

I'll fill in a few more details tomorrow, but for now... It’s good to be home.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
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Great ride, even on a crappy day.

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The TW handled the Dragon like a champ! He might not like the fast parts or the uphill climbs, but he loved him some twisty roads!

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Excellent burger and home made mac-n-cheese
 

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Random Goodness

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and this is it for tonight...

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Breathtaking views. Lucky you. And, I like the cafe fairing on your TW. I didn't at first, but it's grown on me.
 

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Gee dang I love your storytelling. You had me in tears a couple of times. "invisible bugs"...I know right! You were worried about parking at a Walmart parking lot, hell, we've camped as some. Talk about eerie. Actually, some are very nice to stay at overnight but I think they have "invisible bugs" at Walmart too!:p

At campgrounds, which me & Mrs. Admiral generally hate, if they's gonna be kids we wish...

parents can keep their kids on a leash

parents can keep their kids quiet...especially at night during the sleepy time (though all day is nice too)

parents get a babysitter and leave their kids at home


We have kids and we kept them well behaved at campgrounds when they (and us) were young...except when son #2 threw a dead snake on my chest when I was taking a nap! If only I could have caught him while I was still mad. Thankfully for him, I found the incident funny...just this one time.


Again, great ride with a great story.
 

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54 likes! Wow, that's a lot of love you guys :D Glad you enjoyed the post. After re-reading it, the thing is a little confusing and full of holes. Luckily, now that I'm more awake and rested, I can fill in some gaps.

First, this trip has been coming for a while. I've been saving my vacation time by flexing (working over 8 hours a day) as much as possible within each pay period so I didn't have to take any of my vacation hours any time I needed a day off. I've saved up a little over 100 hour at this point and should be able to get up to 120 by the end of the year. That's 3 full weeks. We tend to earn about 40 hours a quarter, so by March 2018 I'll hopefully have almost 160 hours (the max for my pay grade). That will give me the 3 weeks off I need for the west coast tour, plus a little extra as a cushion for unforeseen events.

Second, this trip had several purposes.

As stated previously, I really needed to get out of town and just relax - or relax as much as my personality allows (LOL) :p This area and work environment has become a bit toxic on several levels. It's good to get out and see there's life outside this small little tip of Virginia and there are other ways to live that don't revolve around politics and religion. Unfortunately, those last two are difficult to avoid no matter where I go... but sometimes just a change of pace makes them more palatable.
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Another reason to get out of the area is to scope out land, with an eye towards creating a campground. The whole north western Carolina and eastern Tennessee area is rife with outdoor activities - biking, hiking, kayaking, motorcycling, etc., there seems to be no shortage of interest in finding a good place to stay to do those things. Some of the biggest lessons learned during the trip was: A.) the importance of good road access, B.) good site planning and layout, and C.) hills are okay, but mountainside is right out. I also learned to be flexible in how I think about the site. Long, narrow pieces of land work for certain types of layouts, but cater to specific customers; similarly, open hilly land works well for more traditional tent camping, but the tent pads must be level for overall comfort. Access to convenience stores, gas stations, and restaurants is highly desirable, but not necessarily a requirement. The fewer places there are for campers to go to, the more you'll have to stock in-store. This can be a double-edge sword - people will buy what you have, but perishables are difficult to maintain because there's no guarantee they will be bought before they spoil. Just things to consider for the future.
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My final reason for this trip was to really test the limits of the TW. My original plan was to pack everything on the bike and just go. Luckily, my mother talked sense into me, so I ended up pulling the bike on a trailer instead. Again, that both worked in my favor and against my original plan. Had I ridden the TW out there, I never would have made it in a day. Quite possibly, I would have been so fatigued by the time I got to Meadows of Dan, I would have just turned north instead of continuing south and missed the best part of the trip. But I really hate traveling in circles and backtracking. If at all possible, I prefer to just go... move forward... find new places and just... go go go go go go go........ :rolleyes: Thus my penchant for marathon driving (LOL). But if this trip taught me anything, it's that the TW is much better suited to being carried to a location and then used to explore the local area. That's not to say it can't be used as a long-distance traveler: if there are no constraints on time and there are suitable roads with speed limits of 45 or slower, the TW is perfect. It's the perfect vehicle to take the proverbial, "roads less traveled". And if I lived out west, where back country roads are everywhere, it would definitely be right at home. But here on the east coast where everyone seems to be in a hurry to get somewhere right this very minute, the TW is a liability, the little engine willing, but just not able to go high speeds for long distances without being rung out.
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So this trip, while wet, tiring, and worrisome, actually accomplished quite a bit. It helped me get out of the spiral of despair my head was trapped in recently, allowed me to examine potential business ideas, and showed me that although I love the TW, I really need to go ahead and get the CB500X for my preferred riding style.

Incidentally, it also showed me that I need to re-evaluate my gear. The pants work great, but only for summer - the venting is perfect to keep cool and help to dry out after a soaking rain. The boots work well enough for riding, but only for short distance walking (but I knew that already). And the coat is okay, but gaps oddly at the throat, is cinched too high on my ribs (lady's cut), and is just too bulky overall. My helmet worked well, but I would have been better served just using the Bilt blue tooth adventure helmet instead of worrying about the Sena that's only street helmet every time I went anywhere. The Bilt is heavy, but it is self-contained, reducing equipment to carry.
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OH, and Never Buy Camp Gear from Walmart (without washing it thoroughly first). There have to be quality Walmart out there, but we don't have them here. When I got home, the sleeping bag had some kind of tiny bugs all in it :mad-new:. Smaller than fleas or ants, they crawled instead of jumped (thank heavens!!!) I know it wasn't the tent because that was completely empty and clean. The sleeping bag and insert were the only new items. <shudder> :( Now I know...
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While I often wish I lived out west, I don't think I'll ever get enough of how GREEN everything is here. It's a vibrant, fresh, refreshing hue that really makes me feel alive. Any time I need to recharge, I head into the green woods. It resets my soul and helps me move forward.

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There's never a lack of interesting or novel things to see in this area. Here are two of my favorite finds. The train still functions, offering leaf-peeper tours in the fall. The rhinoceros was in the yard of a tiny church.
 

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I don't know about you guys, but this view was downright MAGICAL. The first time I came around a corner and it was just light enough to see, I thought I was looking out at a huge mountain lake. It was still predawn, the sky a deep blue just tinged with violet, and the mountains were just hints in the background. When I could find another scenic pull off that offered a better view, I was stunned to realize I wasn't seeing a lake, but rather, a valley full of clouds. It was such a calming view. I felt like I stared out over the view for hours, feeling as much as seeing the colors slowly change from deep, star speckled blue, to purple with streaks of red along the horizon. Details in the landscape started to appear as the ambient light slowly rose with hues of orange to brilliant yellow slowly brightening the eastern sky. The mystique remained well past the sun's rise, but I couldn't stay. Home was calling. It was time to go. And now that I'm here, I can't wait to get back out there again. ;)
 

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That's so gross about bugs in the sleeping bag. I would've freaked ....
I too had dreams of owning a campground . After talking to campground owners they told me that they were pretty much a slave to the job during the spring , summer & fall months & took their vacation during the winter / off season.
That kinda put a damper on my dream : (
Be mindful of your playtime LuvNot. Life is short...
Thank you for posting.
 
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