Tail of the Dragon

OH BOY! ROAD TRIP! HEADING DOWN TO NC TO VISIT THE DRAGON!

Click on the map to enlarge. The numbers represent where we stopped for the night.

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On this adventure, I am joined by my brother.

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The plan is to get deep into PA before calling it a day.

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Our dad was in town when we split. He took some nice shots of our departure.

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We were off!

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We took Route 78 across NJ and into PA.

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Kep (bro) forgot to bring a sleeping bag so we had to stop on the way to a crazy store for the outdoorsman. Welcome to Cabela’s. It’s truly an amazing store if you like outdoorsman or sportsman activities. He got a nice sleeping bag and I got one of those headlamp headbands. I should have gotten one of these long time ago.

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We rode well into the evening. Unfortunately, night fell and we missed a turn to the coffee shop shaped like a coffee pot.   It will have to wait for another day.

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Our first night on the road we stayed in a hotel. The next day we rode through Pittsburgh.

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This shot is taken from the other side of the river from the city by an old incline rail line.

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We crossed the river into town to see an old prison, then we hit the road.

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As we were leaving Pittsburgh I saw a horrible sight. A beautiful large hawk was taking off from the side of the road and was clipped by the car in front of us. It was like watching a slow-motion movie as the hawk struggled for flight and spiraled down to the highway next to me. Very unsettling. Let’s eat!

Say hello to the “Big J” at Janoski’s. All of this cost less than an Egg McMuffin meal from McDonald’s. Damn good too.

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We rode toward Columbus, Ohio. We wanted to see the Motorcycle Hall of Fame.

Not on Easter Day fellas! So, from my original plan, we ended up not seeing the coffee shop shaped like a coffee pot, George Washington’s headquarters from the Whiskey Rebellion, and the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. Then from there,  we didn’t see the Hopewell Indian site and Serpant Mound. But I am fairly certain the Smokey Mountains will still be there when we arrive.

In the Southern Ohio town of Portsmouth we stopped to see these murals. We were told about them by a local woman working at a rest stop on our way south.

 

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The murals depict the history of Portsmouth and Ohio.

Here’s is a painted cat sniffing Kep’s finger.

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And here is a real dog checking out the painted sunset.

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This particular section represents the oldest motorcycle club in Ohio which still exists right down the street.

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Here is the Club.

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Also in Portsmouth was something I read about on the internet. If I know my route, I like to research the journey to see if there is anything of interest along the way. While investigating this trip online I came across the site of an Old Jail in Portsmouth, OH. Or at least it was a jail according to waymarking.com. I was speaking to one of the locals who lived down the street and he told me that this was no jail at all. It was the Old Mule Stable for the brewery. And the big pile of bricks in the lot next door was the ice house for the brewery (it blew down in February). He said in the winter they would cut giant blocks of ice right out of the Ohio River and the mules would drag them up to the ice house.

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After some lunch in Ohio, we crossed over to Kentucky and found a place to camp at Blue Licks Battleground State Park.

It’s always nice to make new friends on the road. This guy stopped by to play fetch for a while. Really, we played fetch!

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On the way South the next day we stopped by this cool old house in Richmond, KY.

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Inside we talked to the lady who works at a tourism office. It was the first time I actually heard someone use the term “Old Timey” (A term I had only knew from the movie “Oh Brother Where Art Thou”, “These boys is not white! These boys is not white! Hell, they ain’t even old timey!“, Homer Stokes).

They had some old artifacts and furniture including one of only seven uniforms still in existence from the Revolutionary War.

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While in Kentucky I tried to hit the Colonel up for the secret recipe, but he wasn’t talking

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From there we camped at the Cumberland Gap.

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We got some Porterhouse steaks, some beer, and had a good night around the campfire. That night it rained A LOT! Here is Kep’s tent in the morning. I was on high ground. 😀

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We then rode down to the Smokey Mountains where we are now. I am sitting in a coffee shop just outside the park in a town called Townsend, TN.

Tail of the Dragon

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The Tail of the Dragon is part of Route 129 in Tennessee and ends in Deals Gap NC. This part of the road has 318 turns in only 11 miles. It’s a bikers dream come true. It’s a test of fortitude and skill. A place to push it to the limit, and we did! I was whipping around turns at such speeds and leaning the bike so far that my footpegs scraped the ground! That’s a thrill! Freaked me out!

Click Here for an aerial view of The Tail of the Dragon.

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This is a gathering spot along the Dragon.

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Here is me rounding one of 318 curves in 11 miles.

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Kep, whipping the turn in good form.

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The Brothers, having conquered the Dragon.

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What a thrill!

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And there are those who did not fare so well. The remnants of their journey hang from the Tree of Shame.

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While standing next to the sign below, a guy asked if I would take his picture with his iPhone. We started talking and he asked me if I was with this group of guys on speed bikes. I said No, that’s my Triumph over there. He gives me a look and says, “You’re the school teacher!” WHAT? He said, “I just read your blog last week.” CRAZY! He even added, “Sorry you went down at 10,000.” I was blown away! What are the odds?

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And here he is. Meet Terry, about to test his skills on the Dragon. I guess he fared well. I did not see any parts of his bike in the Tree of Shame the following day. Thanks Terry! Enjoy that Triumph!

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This photo was on the wall at Deals Gap.

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Smokies!

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Time to say goodbye to the Smokies and head off to see family in South Carolina.

On the way, we rode the Dragon again. This is Papa Smurf. He is a Dragon regular.

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Here is Kep coming through a tunnel. I’m the Quick Draw McGraw of pocket cameras.

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Bridal Veil Falls, Route 28, North Carolina. I like this whole area. The roads are great for riding.

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We headed down to South Carolina to visit our Aunt and Nana. They moved to SC from New Orleans after Katrina. They have a nice house overlooking the valley and mountains.

And here she is. The matriarch of our family. Nana with the boys!

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And here’s the rest of the gang. It was great to see everyone. Thanks Y’all!

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My bro in a barrel.

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Jack be nimble, Jack be quick. Having fun at the campsite in Sparta, NC.

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Riding home on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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One last contemplative look at the road behind us. Just after this, we encountered a momma Black Bear and her three cubs.

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10 Responses to “Tail of the Dragon”

  1. The bike behind the guy on the left belongs to my father. He was very excited when they asked to paint his bike on the murals.

    • Hey Ash,
      That’s really cool. Thanks for sharing. The murals are incredible. Some serious motorcycle history there. I’d like visit Portsmouth again some day. That’s my brother standing on the left in the photo. Much respect to your dad.

  2. I enjoyed your pictures. My father was the president at Portsmouth MC (oldest club in the country)for several years; he now proudly wears a PMC life-member patch .

  3. I found a photo of your old Bonnie from Deals Gap. https://www.dropbox.com/s/ve6l2zt3tt6xeku/IMG_0871.JPG?n=205610860

  4. I’m a Bonnie rider too, really enjoying your blog. Get rid of the airbox, and slap on some pods, you’ll be glad you did.

  5. Dude
    thinkling of switching from a honda to the triumph speedmaster-I guess you answered any questions on reliabilty
    Todd

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