Here are some long lost photos I came across today, 6/3/03, after a two day school retreat to Johnsonburg, NJ with my daughter Sydney, her school family, and our immediate family. A photo disk that I thought I had left in a hotel in WV last July, fell out of a hidden zipper pouch in a fanny pack I used last year and on this retreat. There on the floor of the cabin lay the 32MB disk. It contains pictures I took along the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP), Deal's Gap, and some early shots taken in WV.
The day I left for the tour, I had a hot ride of 350+ miles down to Staunton, VA. When I arrived at the hotel at about 10:15pm, I put the kick stand down and dismounted my bike and proceeded to catch a falling motorcycle that weighed 600 lbs plus an added 75 lbs of gear. The kick stand had retracted after I put it down (or thought I had put it down). I broke the left turn signal and scratched the side panel. Good thing Wal-Mart was across the street from the hotel and open all night. I bought several different kinds of glue from the automotive department and duct tape. Back at the motel, I pieced the turn signal together with the glue and then taped it in place so the glue would dry properly. The next morning I removed the tape. I was surprised that the turn signaled looked OK and worked. It was not perfect, but it would have to do. At 12:30am, I feel asleep while my head was falling to hit the pillow.
In my naivety, I made plans to ride the entire length of the BRP in one day. That would have been fine, but that also limited the number of stops I could make and the weather would need to cooperate. Oh well, the start of the day started out nice. It was early (6:15am), the road was empty and the light was good.
There are two significant points in this photo. First is obvious; its the highest point on the BRP. I was surprised by this fact because I always thought the the highest point would have been around Mt. Mitchell. But that is not the case. It is here on the northern part of the parkway. The second point is that at the next stop, Otter Creek, I dropped the camera. It stopped working. What a shame. I had a nice breakfast in the Otter Creek Lodge and looked over the FAC (flat ass calm, a water skiiing expression) lake though the window. It was a great scene. It would have made a beautiful photo.
At Dougherty Park I stopped to have lunch. While there, I tried to fix the camera. I used a mini-screwdriver to remove all of the screws in the case to see if I could get the lens cover to articulate again. To no avail. It was busted.
It wasn't until Dilly's Gap that I was able to buy another one. After a talk to my credit card company (they disabled my card because some guy was traveling through Virginia and NC using it. Heaven forbid it should be me. $326 dollars later, I was ready to start taking pictures again. The weather was turning cold and it was sprinkling. Not great for pictures, but I was ready.
The last 25% of the BRP was spent in cold wet fog. At one point while going around Mt. Mitchell, I could hardly see. I used the center line in the road to feel my way through the soup. It was nerve wracking.
When I got to Maggie Valley at 7:45pm, I was looking for a hot meal and sleep. I did that OK, but I first had to drop the bike on the other side. This time I was not there to catch it. In addition to shattering the blinker and scratching the side panel, I shattered the right-hand mirror case really scratch the right saddle bag. Thank God I had glue left over from the night before. However, it was raining here and I had to do the repair in the motel room.
The bike shop was like most others I've been to; it had a few bikes parked out front. I mounted a video camera to the bike, road the gap, scratched my head and said, "What's the big deal?" Personally, it had nothing on WV or western parts of Virginia. But it was fun and now I can say, been there, done that.
I arrived at Braveheart (Buckhannon, WV) at about 6:40 PM. The ride up from Deal's Gap was mostly fast and hot. I hit a little rain just before getting off Rt. 81 north and then again while crossing the mountains, but who cares; I was at my destination after 1455 miles of great roads and adventures.