Tuesday, July 6, 2010

July 06, 2010 – Day 31 I visit the Cherokee Museum & ride the Blue Ridge Parkway

Dang! Strange busy day today, very convoluted from the get-go. Breakfast was OK albeit a bit odd, mixed fruit with chunks of cheddar cheese, mystery roll, & Grape Nuts Flakes; coffee. Not the usual fare, a bit more like camping food I remember from my days in the scouts.
Once ready to roll out, I got as far as the east end of town and stopped to look over the river running through the park and check out the wild life. Lots of ducks were prowling around ogling one another. Isn’t it a bit late in the season for that sort of thing?

After that I decided to take in the Cherokee Indian Museum a block away.
 It was a good choice; the museum is well thought out and tells the history of the Cherokee people quite well. It’s a very sad tale as we all know; the Trail of Tears is especially heartbreaking.

 I liked the exhibits though and spent quite awhile reading and listening to as much as I could; then realizing I needed to get going I moved on. The entry fee for old geezers is ten bucks and well worth it so put it on your list of things to see if you’re in the area.

After doing the museum I rolled out onto the freeway intending to head northwest towards my next destination, Campbellsville, KY. Almost as soon as I got up to speed I spotted an exit marked Blue Ridge Parkway and it was a no-brainer, off I went.
The ride was great, very low traffic and lots of turn-outs with views.

For a bike like Green Girl it was a more enjoyable ride than doing the Tail of the Dragon; none of the super-sharp corners to deal with. Fat bikes like her can be hustled if necessary but for normal riding they seem to like smooth surfaces and gradual curves best. Did I mention that thanks to the Dragon both of Green Girl’s floorboards have now been christened? Just call me sparky…

The Blue Ridge ride includes several tunnels with crappy pavement that tended to throw Green Girl’s front end around which I didn’t like a lot. They may have been easier to deal with if I’d removed my sunglasses; then I might have avoided some of the craters. Overall it didn’t seem to take long to complete the ride which surprised me a bit so maybe I missed something? Anyway I’m glad I got to ride it, it was most pleasurable.

Once I was out of the park I let Garmin & Company figure out where I was and where I needed to go. That seemed to work OK and since the lunch hour was approaching I stopped at Joey’s Pancake House for a couple of cakes and some bacon. The pancakes were hard on the outside and not quite done on the inside and the bacon was stiff as a board. Dang, what’s with that, pancakes are their stock in trade. Ah well, I’ve been over-eating on this trip anyway so maybe it’s just as well.

After the pancake feed I stopped to gas up and a guy & gal on a Harley approached me to ask questions about how to get to the Dragon. Mr. Information Center here. He said he’d been there a couple of years ago but couldn’t quite remember how to get there. We got out my map and found Robbinsville for them and they thundered off ala Harley Davidson, loud as could be. Loud pipes save lives? I don’t think so.

Back on the road it soon became evident the heat was going to become impossible so I gave in and shrugged into the swamp cooler vest. It’d been stored inside its huge zip-lock bag for the past few days and not only was it baking hot; it’s developed a unique odor. Swamp-like I’d say; and a very old swamp at that. I figured it was better to be cool and have a bit of tangy swamp odor than croak in the heat so I endured. In fact I endured the whole afternoon and once I’d refreshed the water a couple of times it gradually lost some of the swampiness.

My route back towards Campbellsville followed just above Knoxville, then on highway 62 up to Pilot Mountain where I stopped to photo the Time-Temp sign on a church. It was hot as hell and I thought it might be a chuckle for them to post that on their reader board but I doubt they’d see the humor. People tend to watch strange biker types and after I’d taken a few pics a couple of beady-eyed locals started moving in. That seems to happen often so I vacated their parking lot.

By then it was getting a bit late in the afternoon and out of curiosity I queried the Garmin lady about places to stay. I was disappointed to find none were near; in fact I would have a fairly long ride if I continued in the direction I was going so I decided to double back to Cookeville, a fairly large burg with lots of motels & eateries.

Once I reached town I stumbled upon a Days Inn, one of the places I frequent so I stopped in and registered. I was really parched from the last few miles of hot riding and I asked the clerk if there was a water fountain. “Nope,” he said, “but there’s a vending machine and you can buy some.” “Are you saying the water in the rooms isn’t drinkable?” I asked. “Dunno, I never tried it” he said, grinning. Hey, this was getting to be fun for him. “Maybe I’d better have a look at the room before I unpack, OK?” I asked. “Sure, go ahead” he replied and handed me the plastic card. As I walked to the room I noticed there seemed to be an unusual number of kids running amuck, screaming and doing kid stuff. I love kids but that might mean getting any rest could be challenging I thought.

Then I noticed a cop car parked right in front of the door to the room I’d be in. An open door next to it let me see the cop grilling a worried looking kid who was shaking his head in denial about something. That did it, I headed back to the office and told the clerk to cancel me out; I don’t stay in places where you can’t drink the water and the cops are there arresting other guests. He understood he said. As I was leaving I noticed a semi-truck parked in a special long parking spot for trucker guests. No driver in sight but the damn truck was idling away like thunder which would add to the mêlée had I chosen to stay.

Garmin & Company next directed me to the Comfort Inn Suites where I am now and I’m happy to say things couldn’t be better. It’s like night and day in all respects and for only $15 more, a real bargain.

Dinner was an easy choice at a Cracker Barrel Store or whatever the heck they’re called. I had a repeat of the same meal I had at one of their other locations; fried catfish, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, and sweet iced tea. I thought about going for the strawberry icebox cake but at the last moment decided I’m fat enough and don’t need to add fuel to the fire.

When I returned to the motel I was pouring a cup of coffee to take to my room when the gal running registrations slid a dish of hot just-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies under my nose. Yum! And hey, you can even drink the water here!


  1. Its never too late in the season to look at a good duck.

  2. I saw several Multistrada's on the Tail of the Dragon (Deal's Gap)and they were all going super fast. Riding Green Girl on the Dragon was about like driving a bus...