Honeymoon trip, part 3

Today is a biking day, we’re going through the Smoky Mountain National Park from east to west, down through Deal’s Gap, and back to Cashiers.   I had a suggestion of an interesting route north on NC-107, east on NC-281, left on Canada Road, north on NC-215 to Waynesville.   It was a good suggestion, Dan, thanks.   281 was nice, but Canada road was really nice.   Almost no cage traffic, nice curves, and perfect weather combined for a really nice ride.   We had a snack in Waynesville, which looks like a nice town.

We headed west on NC-19 towards Cherokee and 19 was a nice road too.   In Cherokee we took US-441 north into the park and stopped at the visitor center.   It was starting to look like rain when we headed out, and it was raining when we got to the turnoff to Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in the park and also in Tennessee.   We decided to continue and in retrospect should have taken the side trip.   Oh, well.   Another reason to return on the bike isn’t a bad thing.   We stopped at several turn-outs, photo opportunities were abundant.

I wish the park exit didn’t dump you into Gatlinburg.   What a circus and a mess.   It was almost embarrassing to have that scenery so close to the scenery in the park.   Over the top isn’t always necessary.   When we finally left the last of the circus rings behind us, we ran into Pigeon Forge, which wasn’t really any better.   I’m sure the locals know a better way top get to US-321, but we didn’t and sadly it left a bad impression.

US-321 was a pleasant change from the previous few miles, and we enjoyed the trip down to Chilhowee.   It was past lunchtime and we were both hungry.   Knowing that there wasn’t any place to eat until we were south of Deal’s Gap, we turned north on 129 and went to Tallassee where we had a big burger and fries for lunch.   Now we were ready for the Gap.   It was fun, and Killboy did take some photos of us, but when it’s all said and done, we liked NC-28 from US-129 to Stecoah better.

We stayed on NC-28 to Franklin and then took NC-64 back to Cashiers.   A nice day, some phenomenal scenery, twisties, my new bride riding pillion – pretty tough to beat.   And this is only Wednesday…

Honeymoon Trip, part 2

After the long day on Monday, we weren’t in a big hurry to be up and going so we called the whitewater rafting place and postponed until the afternoon.   It is about an hour away, and we needed to stop at a store and pick up a few things so we left pretty early.   My friend John told us about a restaurant at the Nantahala Outdoor Center that has great burgers, so we planned to have lunch there before rafting.   We took a nice (translated – not direct) ride up to Bryson City and got there in plenty of time.   Lunch was good, and everyone that had finished the rafting trip was smiling – a good sign.

We signed away any responsibility for our deaths, and watched a video about NOT standing up in white water.   We got our flotation vests and paddles and boarded a bus to take us upriver.   I haven’t been on a school bus in a long time – until today.   The water is pumped from a lake by the power company and used to generate electricity and the water is COLD.   Not Deadliest Catch COLD, but still COLD.   After losing all feeling in the foot that is wedged under the thwart in the raft, you soon forget about it.   Your foot, that is.   Some people decided to jump into the river; why someone would do that from a boat that is not burning, sinking, or being destroyed by icebergs I have no idea.   My bride was one of them, some things just defy explanation.

Our guide Raymond was great.   Had some stories about the river and some of the well-named rocks in it: Jaws, Pyramid, and a few others that escape me now.   When we got to several of the rapids, the right side of the boat (my side) paddled forward, the other side paddled backwards so we could spin through the rapids.   Apparently the goal of this maneuver was to ensure that all occupants were equally soaked by the end of the trip.   The Nantahala Falls are class 3 rapids and pretty exciting, but you’re through it very quickly.

They have photos for sale of each boat going over the falls, and of course we had to have not one shot but two.   A lot of fun and something we will definitely do again.

The ride back was fun too (translated – lots of curves) and dinner was a pizza at our cabin.

Our Honeymoon Trip, part 1

The trip from home to Cashiers, NC made for a very long day.   We made it on Monday. Barely (by the clock). We left home at about 7am Monday and got to the cabin in Cashiers at 11:30pm. We rode 861 miles on Monday, a long day’s ride by most any yardstick.   We lucked out – the weather was fine.   Not too warm and just a little chilly in the morning.

Almost had a phone crisis – actually, an iphone crisis.   I set my iphone on the trailer while I put my gear on, and left it there.   About 2 miles down the road I checked my jacket pocket for the phone and it wasn’t there.   Turned around and headed back, figuring that it was in the ditch somewhere.   Luck was with us, it was on the cooler rack, right where I left it.   OK, NOW we can leave.

The trailer is awesome.   Plenty of room, a place to put your helmet and jacket when you stop for gas, and (mostly) not noticeable from the pilot’s perspective. Allowing for longer stopping distance, not quite so close to the gas pumps, and a bit slower acceleration is pretty much it.   We had the “Just Married” sign on it, and a lot of folks honked and waved as we headed east.

The trip was a long one and I had not loaded a route into the gps – one task that just didn’t get done before we left.   We could have saved a couple of hours by going east from Louisville, KY on I-64, but I headed on to Nashville on I-65 and then east on I-40.   That decision added a couple of hours and caused some real concerns on my part.   The original plan was to be in Cashiers at dinnertime, but the gps now shows us arriving after 11pm.   We wound up riding over the mountains at night, in the rain and fog, 2-up, and pulling a trailer. A little nerve-wracking, especially coming down the mountains on a wet, unfamiliar, 2-lane road at night.   But we made it just fine. Tired, but fine.   Riding 1000 miles in 24 hours is doable without a lot more effort than that trip.

Whew, glad to be there.

Maiden voyage for the trailer

Well, the hitch and chains are in place and secured.   The wiring is OK, held in place by some electrical tape while I figure out the best way to route the wires and locate the plugs.   I decided that a trip to the grocery store was as good a reason as any to take the plunge.   So, after checking the running lights, turn signals, and brake lights, off I went.

Interestingly, it was unremarkable which I suppose is the best possible outcome.   I had placed the spare tire up in front to give the trailer some tongue weight, having read some horror stories about improperly loaded trailers causing accidents.   The trailer tracked perfectly, and I made some sharp turns through town to see how it would handle them and to see how much additional space I needed to keep the trailer wheels off the curbs.   Not a lot, but being aware that the trailer is there undoubtedly caused me to allow a little more space during turns, just to be sure.

I was easily able to get all the groceries in the trailer, and probably used a third of the available space.   The chains were rubbing on the pavement, so when I got home I removed a link from each one.   They might still be a little long, so I will check clearances during sharp turns and might remove another link from each side.   I don’t want to go too far and have to buy new lengths of chain.

I still need to route the wires and tie them in place to locate the plugs in a good location.   Once this is done, the trailer is ready for a trip.

What a surprise, there’s a trip beginning next Monday.

Wrapping up the trailer bits

The kind that you pull behind the Goldwing, not the kind you live in.   C’mon, keep up. 🙂   The previous owner put in a swivel for the tongue, which is a good thing, but the additional length made the safety chains too short.   I measured the existing chains and added 8 inches to arrive at the length I thought would work.   Off to the hardware store to get some chain and connecting links to simplify the hookup.   Removed the swivel and the old chains, put the new ones in place and made sure the length was correct and reassembled everything.

The remaining task is to route the wiring and socket for the trailer lights.   You don’t want an excessive length of wire, but there needs to be enough so that the wiring allows the full range of without stretching.

Once this is done, ready for the maiden voyage.