Asheville 2005 motorcycle trip

After the great time we had on our Colorado bike trip we began planning an excursion for 2005. We decided to try something more easterly this year. We also decided to go somewhere we could reach in a day's ride. The girls were a little worn out after riding for days to Colorado.

It was decided we would vacation in Asheville, North Carolina. It is a scenic place with lots of things to do and places to see. John's wife Debby found a southern style house for us to stay at. It would be a lot nicer than staying in a hotel. Here is our route.

Another added benefit this year was more riders. John's brother Mike and their cousin Kyle also decided to go. The more the merrier! We set the departure date for June 10th and made arrangements. The worst part was waiting for the next summer to finally arrive.

On the motorcycle front, I bought new tires for the trip. I also put on a new exhaust system, rejetted the carbs, and put on a lightbar. The trip would be a good break-in for the parts and I could see how well they worked.

Another new addition for the trip was a motorcycle trailer we built. John bought a travel container from Walmart and a small trailer from Menards. We cut the trailer down and mounted the container on it. We had a nice trailer for about 1/3 the cost of buying a pre-built one. John had traded his Goldwing for a 1300cc Yamaha Royal Star Tour Classic and he would tow the trailer.

June 10

Bedford, IN. 7:30, initial mileage is 9383 - For months the battle cry has been "Is it June 10th yet?" and the blessed day has finally arrived. The crew is assembled at John's house and we head east on US50 for our well deserved vacation. John's wife Debby is riding with him. Mike's wife Shannon is with him and Kyle is taking his girlfriend Wendy. Once again I am driving Miss Ashton. The sky is partially cloudy and the temperature is in the 70's.

Scottsburg, IN. 8:29, mileage 9438 - Our first stop for fuel. It was a nice ride down two-lane US50 to Seymour to I-65. Our normal traveling configuration is me leading with the GPS, John next with the trailer, Mike, and Kyle as tail guard. Kyle was the newest rider and only Harley rider so he got a lot of teasing. Both he and his bike did fine.

Frankfort, KY. 10:17, mileage 9523 - We're into Kentucky and through Louisville. I planned the stops so we bypassed the congested areas. After we fuel we move the bikes to the side and stretch and the smokers smoke.

Berea, KY. 11:36, mileage 9582 - We stop for fuel and decided to have lunch at the KFC.

Corbin, KY. 13:25, mileage 9634 - We stopped for our normal fuel stop. Soon we will be leaving the interstate and taking Highway 25 through the Cumberland Gap area. It goes through a long tunnel, is scenic, and is about 30 miles shorter than taking the interstate.

Highway 25 is a mixture of 4-lane and 2-lane. It's 4-lane to the Cumberland Tunnel and mostly 2-lane after it. From the amount of construction we saw it appears it will eventually all be 4-lane. The Cumberland Tunnel is 4600 feet long and neat to drive through on bikes. The scenery was beautiful and Middlesboro, KY, proudly displayed it was the birthplace of Lee Majors. Young Ashton had never heard of him. What a pup!

In contrast to our rainless Colorado trip, we got sprinkled on a few times during this leg. No downpours, but just enough to be annoying. It was during one of these sprinkles we (I) missed a turn and we got off track for about a mile. Thank goodness for my GPS. I would alert me a few times during our trip that we were off course.

Bean Station, TN. 15:42, mileage 9719 - Gas stop. The area here is very hilly and there are lots of lakes. The map shows the highway will soon go over a lake. We were expecting a long ride on a bridge, but in reality the lake is around the highway for the most part with a short bridge crossing. When we passed through Morristown we drove past Rusty Wallace Ford. It's those little surprises that make traveling fun.

Cove Creek, NC. 17:25, mileage 9775 - Our last stop before Asheville. We got a little more rain while we gassed and rested. We're in the Smokey Mountains now and the scenery is awesome.

Asheville, NC. 18:56, mileage 9842 - Our destination...finally. We spent about 30 minutes driving around aimlessly as I looked for a road that didn't exist. I had printed out Yahoo maps of the area, and what appeared to be a road name was actually a locality name. On the way into Asheville on I-40 we encountered very wet roads and our pants were drenched.

The house we rented is cool. It is on a small winding drive off the main road. It is surrounded by large trees which isolates it from the neighbors. It has 5 bedrooms and 4 baths so we all got our own rooms. It will make a great base of operations for our vacation.

There is also a garage for our bikes.

It was getting late by the time we got things unpacked and settled in, so we ordered Pizza Hut and lounged around the house for the evening. Every bedroom has a TV as well as one in the living room. There is a formal dining room and living room, and a couple outside porches to hang out at.

It was nice to get to our destination in one day. I made the "I got here safely" phone calls, set up my laptop in the kitchen, got the internet working, and headed to bed. I was excited to be starting our vacation in such a nice place. I fell asleep almost immediately on my big, four-poster bed.

June 11

I awoke the next morning in my new bedroom and was excited about what the day held in store. I looked out the window and saw water dripping off the porch roof. Hmmmmmm. Rain. The rain didn't last long so John, Debby, Ashton, and I saddled up and went to a grocery store to get supplies.

That afternoon we headed into Asheville and visited the Smith-McDowell House. It is one of the oldest homes in Asheville and has been restored into a museum. It was only $5 and the girl who showed us around was cute.

After visiting the museum we took a motorcycle ride around Asheville. While driving down the main street we saw an odd sight...a couple guys and girls riding bicycles in various stages of nudity. We saw them later sitting in a parking lot. I thought maybe we'd stumbled onto a filming of "Jackass", but I saw on the news later it was part of a 16-city protest against "high oil prices and the current administration".

We rode around for awhile then parked the bikes downtown and walked around the shops. Asheville is a pretty city. It's also a pretty politically liberal place with a lot of hippie types and stuff. A nice place to visit, but I don't think I'd like to live there.

After running around downtown we stopped at Bojangles for lunch. We hit Walgreens and Kmart for some more supplies. We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening lounging around the house. Mike grilled some excellent steaks that evening. Life is good.

June 12

Sunday morning brought more rain. It rained most of the morning. During a break in the rain Ashton, Debby, and Shannon did a little 'yard surfing' on the wet grass. We made a trip for more supplies that afternoon, then the rain started again. The rain was a good opportunity to lay in bed and watch the NASCAR race.

Rain was forecast for the rest of the week due to Hurricane Arlene so we decided to rent a minivan. Debby cooked some wonderful pork chops that evening. We looked online for rental vehicles and watched "The Shield" on DVD.

June 13

John was up early calling rental agencies. There were no minivans available anywhere. We decided to get a couple cars instead. Chip from Enterprise Rental came out and picked John and I up. On the way to the rental agency he gave us good information on Asheville and places to go. Two thumbs up for Chip! We ended up renting a Chevy Malibu and PT Cruiser. John called the rental cars 'rain insurance' and that's exactly what happened...15 minutes before we got the cars the sun came out and it didn't rain again the entire time.

When we got back with the rental cars we loaded up and headed for the Great Smokey Mountain Railroad. We took the Tuckasegee River Excursion from Dillsboro to Bryson City. The ride lasts about 1 hour 20 minutes each way with a 1 hour 25 minute layover in Bryson City. We ate a big lunch (huge servings) in Bryson City. The train ride is highly recommended. This was the route used in the movie "The Fugitive" and some of the train wreckage is still there.

Later that evening Mike, Shannon, Kyle, Wendy, Ashton, and I rode motorcycles to the Fun Depot in Asheville. We rode go-karts, played arcades, and did some putt putt golf. It was my first go-kart experience and it was fun. I wrecked Ashton. Yes!

June 14

Tuesday morning brought a beautiful day. Today we are going to see the Biltmore Mansion. The Biltmore is one of those 'must see' the Grand Canyon or Empire State building. It's an amazing estate with the huge house, stables, winery, and farming operations located on thousands of acres. The Biltmore was built in the 1890's with limestone from our home city of Bedford, Indiana.

Ashton had been wanting some BBQ the whole trip so after the Biltmore visit she got her wish. We went back to the house for awhile, then hopped on the bikes for a trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway. The ride through the mountains was great. We went through many tunnels and stopped at lots of scenic overlooks for photo opportunites. The road went through elevations of over 5000 feet.

We turned off of the Blue Ridge Parkway onto Highway 276 which leads back to Asheville. The trip down 276 was downhill for several winding miles. We stopped at a pulloff to look at some rapids.

We saw a timber rattlesnake that had just gotten hit by a car and was almost dead. Even so, it was still eerie...and a little bit sad.

June 15

Ashton is a Duke nerd. Today she will realize her dream of a pilgrimage to Duke University. Duke is in Durham which is about 240 miles east of Asheville. We decided to take the cars for this long of a drive. It will be nice to be comfortable and have air conditioning.

Our first stop was the Duke University Medical Center. Ashton will be taking college nursing courses this fall, and Debby is a nurse, so we checked the place out. We stopped by the Duke Life Flight office and got a tour of their Life Flight helicopter.

Following the helicopter tour we walked over to the campus. I've never been that familiar with Duke University but I was very impressed with their campus. I loved the buildings and the architecture. Their chapel is a sight to see.

We visited the gymnasium and the campus bookstore.

Mike and Shannon had originally planned to go white water rafting today. The recent rains had made the rivers swifter so they went to Chimney Rock instead.

That evening we fueled up the bikes, cleaned the house, and did some packing. Tomorrow we will leave Asheville for a couple days at Pigeon Forge.

June 16

John and I got up early and returned the rental cars. We packed the trailer and made the sure the house was ready to leave.

Asheville, NC. 8:55, mileage 9980 - We rode out of Asheville leaving behind our rental mansion. The weather is beautiful.

Newport, TN. 10:14, mileage 10,054 - We leave I-40 and take 2-lane Highway 411 to Sevierville enroute to Pigeon Forge. Highway 411 is a nice ride.

Pigeon Forge, TN. 11:43, mileage 10,088 - We rolled into Pigeon Forge and decided to stay at the EconoLodge. They had nice rooms and a pool, and were within walking distance of the things we wanted to do. We unpacked and went to the American Pancake House to have lunch. We went back to the hotel to lounge for awhile.

There is a stream behind the hotel. I sat there and fed the ducks and pigeons for awhile. John and I rode up to Walmart to pick up some supplies.

Later that evening we rode up the road to Country Tonite and watched the show. It is country music and the show was great.

After the show we drove down the strip and hit a couple stores and ate at TGI Fridays. We drove some 40 mph go-karts and called it a night.

June 17

Today we're gonna spend the day shopping and seeing the sights. We decided to ride the trolley instead of driving. The Southern National car show is in town and the streets are extra crowded. We went to several shops and looked around. John, Debby, and Ashton had old-time photos made. Mike, Shannon, Kyle, and Wendy went to the helicopter place only to find out the actual helicopter rides are several miles up the road.

Later that afternoon everyone met back at the hotel and most hit the pool. We had planned on going to the Dixie Stampede but it was sold out. John and Debby stayed at the hotel and the rest of us walked down the road to the entertainment park. We rode go-karts. Mike, Shannon, and Kyle did the Skycart ride where they lift you in the air and let you go to swing back and forth.

We met up with John and Debby at a steak house north of the hotel (a long walk). After supper we all walked back to the entertainment park where John, Debby, and Ashton did the Skycart. We did more go-karts and putt putt golf. Then we walked farther down the road to a bigger go-kart track and rode it a couple times. My Rayban sunglasses I bought in 2000 after my Lasik surgery jettisoned themselves never to be seen again. By then it was getting late so we walked back to the hotel. I did a lot of walking that night and my tired feet were glad to hit the bed. Tomorrow we head back home to Indiana.

June 18

Pigeon Forge, TN. 8:07, mileage 10,100 - We pulled out of the EconoLodge and headed north.

Strawberry Station, TN. 8:45, mileage 10,124 - We're back on I-40 now. We get fuel and prepare to go through Knoxville and catch I-75 North.

Jellico, TN. 10:08, mileage 10,191 - We're just a few miles south of the Kentucky border. The hilly roads, slow-moving trucks, and abundance of traffic have made for unpleasant driving. We ate at Wendys.

Renfro Valley, KY. 12:03, mileage 10,251 - Gas, stretch. Renfro Valley is a popular country western entertainment spot.

Frankfort, KY. 13:36, mileage 10,331 - By luck we pulled into the same gas station we used on the way down.

Sellersburg, IN. 15:07, mileage 10,395 - Our last gas stop before home.

Seymour, IN. 15:53, mileage 10,337 - We pulled in here for a quick rest stop. We'll be on 2-lane US50 for the rest of the ride.

Bedford, IN. 17:03, mileage 10,473 - Home. It's nice to be home, but sad to be finished with our vacation.

We're already talking about going back to Asheville next year. There are plenty of things we haven't seen yet. We'd like to ride a different route on the train and go to Chimney Rock and ride more of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Stay tuned!

See You on the Highway

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