The 2012 journey begins!
As is almost always the case, I got a late start. July 7, 2012, I headed out. Because of the late start, I changed my itinerary. Instead of stopping at my friend Marc’s BBQ in Jersey I was headed straight for MD to visit my brother. As I rode down the Jersey Turnpike the vision ahead changed my plans again. Due south there was a huge ugly storm. So I headed to the BBQ after all. I was only a couple miles away from Marc’s when I hit that mean mother of a storm. The sky turned green and purple. The street lights on Route 9 were swaying to and fro like a freshly wacked piñata. And then the rain! Hard rain beating me down. I pulled over under a big tree to cover my tank bag. A guy in the house across the street waved me over. I ran over to the house and this friendly stranger named Mike offered me a towel and some water. I had enough water from the evil skies but I happily accepted the towel. His wife called out that the local Chinese restaurant had their power knocked out. From Mike’s I made it to Marc’s where a bunch of my friends were hanging. While the wives and kids were in the house, the rest of us escaped to the garage a la man cave. Say hello to the Knuckleheads.
A towel draped on the stair’s rail in front of some blue flowers struck me as patriotic.
Once everyone left, Marc and I sat outside for a few more beers. While talking and having my lower extremities chewed up by Jersey mosquitos, I decided to change my plans again. I was still headed to my brother’s place, but I scrapped my idea to go to Key West before heading to the Pacific. The east coast traffic is too much. I needed some mountain air! But first a visit to my brother’s. where he showed me some of his new toys.
After a night at my brother’s house it was time for some camping and a chance to try out my new tent. Below is my tent with a tarp draped over it to create a sizable vestibule. Beneath that camo tarp is the Eureka Backcountry 2 tent, and to the right of the bike a grazing deer.
As I chilled in my hammock, I took some notes:
It’s my first night camping on this, my 5th cross country trip since my motorcycle adventures began. I returned to Loft Mountain in Virginia. This is the place where a bear was prowling around outside my tent last year. My old tent left me with no way to see outside once I had put the top layer on, so I could only hear that beast moving about and snorting. My new tent has windows on both sides with the option to zip ’em up if needed. I am very pleased with my new tent. I’ve got my fire started and a 6 pack of Sierra Nevada on ice. Make that a 5 pack since one of them rests with me as I sway back and forth in my hammock. When I first arrived at Loft Mountain there were bunnies all around. Everywhere you looked bunnies of various sizes bounced about in the corners of my eyes. Now they have completely disappeared and I am left with the sounds of at least 7 species of bird in every direction except for the sound of a lone crow off in the distance to my right. Then the sun drops and the bird stops. It’s time for the nocturnal beast. Damn it’s good to be on the road again.
In the morning I casually continued down the Blue Ridge Parkway. I stopped at Mabry Mill as I have done before.
Want to talk politics? Does this guy lean to the right or the left.? In this case, my right is your left. A ha!
My next stop was another return visit. I stayed the night at Willville Bike Camp. It’s a great secluded spot just off the Blue Ridge on Route 58. A good place with good people. I highly recommend staying there!
When I woke up the next morning it was drizzling. I stalled about talking to Mike and Margie (with a hard G). They are a brother and sister (#10 and 11) who tour about. We have seen a lot of the same places. As a biker from NYC my story may be unique, but when I stay at a motorcycle campground I find out there are many of us wandering nomads about.
As I rose into the mountains the skies began to darken and the rain began to fall. I got soaked. I always put my rain gear on a little too late. After a few hours of downpour I headed for gas. I sat and rehumanized myself under that umbrella as the rain let up a little. While sitting there I saw what I thought was a woman hosing her car down. Then I realized that was no water hose. She was dousing her SUV with gasoline. She must have sprayed out a gallon and a half before getting it into her tank.
Then it was back to the rain. The rain let up after another 80 miles. By then I was high into the mountains. You get above 5000 feet as you pass Mt. Mitchell and the clouds are above and below.
At times the visibility was only between 50 and 100 feet. It’s both intimidating and exhilarating as you zip around those tight turns.
At one point I saw a remarkable rainbow above the clouds. Unfortunately there was nowhere to pull over in those conditions. Had someone turned the corner that may have been the last photo I ever took. It killed me to pass it by, but due to weather conditions my cameras stayed locked up tight today. As I declined through the fog down the mountain I saw movement ahead. It was a bear. When he heard me coming he ran from one side of the road to the other and disappeared into the thick brush. I saw a bear! Yay!
I made it to Asheville and shacked up at a Days Inn to let everything dry out. Goodnight folks!