05-31-13 I left the Graening home in Loudon, TN and was headed to see my best friend Meg for a long weekend in Asheville, NC. Her visit had been a long awaited treat. I was packed and loaded when I sent her a text to give the exact address of the cabin she had booked. I knew she was busy so I took off and figured I’d get her message later down the road. Well to my ding bat surprise, she replied, “You do know that I don’t arrive until tomorrow, right?” OOOPS!! Considering I was packed and a couple hours into my trip, I wasn’t about to turn back. I stopped for a bite to eat and to contemplate my options.
I had heard great things about Maggie Valley, NC and I was only about an hour away. I used several resources on my smart phone including my Motorcycle-Maps-US app by my buddy David Huff and his partner. I eventually came up with a motel that was only about $8 more than a tent camp site. I figured as long as it wasn’t full of creepy bugs, it would be worth not having to unpack, setup, and repack all for just one night.
I arrived at Applecover Inn, Maggie Valley, NC at 4:00pm. Billy had spoken to me on the phone and his son was there when I arrived. It was cute little place and I mean little. Both men were very hospitable and kind. The room was exactly that, a room with only a separate tiny space for toilet and shower behind a separate door. It was not stinky and it did not have any creepy crawly creatures, so I was happy. I am not a fancy pants kind of girl so as long as the basics seem safe and healthy in a clean manner, then I am easy to please. I was unloaded and in the room by 4:15. At that point I knew I was running out of daylight and I wanted to maximize the time I had there. I was not in a huge hurry the next day, but knew that touring with a full load in the twisties was not my idea of fun.
I didn’t bother to unpack anything, but rather wrote down the route I had pieced together earlier while I made my plans at lunch. I wrote them because GPS and cell service for me has not been great in this area, no thanks to AT&T. And with that, I was off to fill the tank and take a tour. I figured I had about a 3 hour tour… hahahaha!! Just call me Gilligan!
The most amazing Ride!! 19W > BlueRidgePkwy-S > GreatSmokeyMntExp 23/74 W > 23S > 107S > 64S > Highlands > 64N > 23N > 441N > GreatSmokeyMntExp 74N > 441N > 19E
All of you that know me, know that I’m a picture fanatic and that has only increased on this journey as a means to show the story. So needless to say, my photo ops do cost me time. However, on this trip I was a little concerned about being in unfamiliar mountains after dark, but certainly was not scared. Just figured I’d be tired as hell when I got back and probably starving.
For this first day in Maggie Valley, there is not a great deal of information to share other than the fact that this was the iconic ride of what The BROAD was meant to do on this journey. Simply put: find a place to be safe, find amazing roads to ride, and meet cool people. Check, Check and Check. I was purely by myself on this first day and I was happy in my own little world. The weather was perfectly comfortable for my Fox Creek Leathers and my girl runs great in the cooler air. One simple human highlight during this ride was a phone call from my son. Thankfully I had service at that moment and although he was working and only had a few minutes, his voice was the icing on the cake that this day needed.
I will let these pictures tell you the story of my almost 6 hour ride…
When I finally got back to Maggie Valley, I was indeed starving. Unable to cook in my room, I opted for – you guessed it – Mexican food. I can’t recall the name but it’s a pretty sizable place right on 19 in the heart of the Maggie Valley biker hub. In fact, just a few blocks from my motel. The food was great and the service was friendly. I was trying to take a few extra toothpicks for my holder in my purse, when I spilled the whole dern thing all over the check out. The gentleman cashing me out laughed and picked on me, saying, “that’s what I get for trying to steal toothpicks.” I apologized for the mess and laughed my head off with the guy.
When I returned to my room, I was simply overjoyed at the awesome day of riding. I cracked open a beer I had carted along from TN. I walked a bit outside and tagged bikes in my lot and across the street with Rider’s Claw post cards. As I reviewed my pictures and smiled to myself my phone rang. My son called me back and we spent a good long while sharing our most recent stories of life. I slept well in that little room and I slept in peace.
When I woke in the morning and began taking stuff to my bike, a couple of bikers were sitting on the neighboring porch. One of the men saw my Rider’s Claw t-shirt and said, “Are you the one littering my bike?” I walked over, smiled, and confessed that indeed I was the litter bug. He said he read the back and then he and his friends had questions about The BROAD journey. We chatted off and on as we all packed our bikes. I asked them once almost done packing if they had eaten breakfast. They had not and I suggested we grab a bite before pulling out. The 3 of them agreed and we were off to eat. We shared many more stories and I tell you it is amazing what you can learn about folks in just a few short hours. The solo gentleman had lost his wife some time ago. He said I would have really loved her because she was a no-nonsense kind of tell-it-like-it-is girl, that road her own bike. They shared photos of her bike with me and it felt good to sit with these folks and hear their stories. I was pleased that they asked about my story as well.
Now I had heard about Wheels Through Time museum from other folks and that’s where I was headed after breakfast. My new friends had done it the day before and said the owner Dale was just a fabulous guy. They did mention he was a shorter gentleman that was always putzing around with the bikes and such. After bidding farewell and taking a few photos, we went off our separate ways. (I haven’t heard from those folks yet, but I sure hope I do soon.)
I arrived at Wheels Through Time rather early and I sat on my bike a moment to have a smoke and evaluate my cash. I was going to do this regardless, but I always try to be aware of my budget. I saw in front of the museum a guy shorter than me that was putzing around with the bikes and such on the front porch. By his actions and purpose, I thought that this had to be Dale. As I approached, I asked the man and he confirmed that indeed he was Dale the owner. I introduced myself as The BROAD a homeless tourist biker. He was fascinated a bit with my story and commented on watching me roll up on a Sportster. All I could think about was, ‘Wow, he could tell that was a Sportster from that far away with all that crap on it.’ Impressive and for those that don’t notice in my pictures, my Sporty has very little HD markings and has a FatBob tank, she’s lowered and is most often mistaken for a Dyna Low Rider. I suppose a man of Dale’s expertise could pick out dern near anything, unlike myself.
We talked a bit and he pointed out another Sporty in the lot which is ridden by a guy that is 84 years old. Dale told me that he wanted to have a picture of that guy and me with our Sportsters on the porch of the museum. I pulled my bike up as instructed and Dale escorted me inside. There he told Haley to stamp my hand and let me in. He gave her the short version of my story and told her that once we find the older guy we were going to take some pictures. In the meantime, I went about visiting the museum and several visitors had overheard my story. As I walked through folks asked me questions and chatted. I also took some time to eavesdrop on a few men touring the museum. I was truly impressed with the knowledge these men had of all these old bikes and the history of them. I suppose if my passion had grown from a much younger age I might have some of this knowledge. I kind of walked behind 3 of these men for a little bit, keeping my distance and passing when they lingered, but still in ear shot. It was almost like a guided tour as I listened to them.
Quite some time had passed and Dale came to fetch me for the photo. Haley took pictures of Pops (the 84 y.o. guy on the Sportster) and I. Dale also agreed to take a picture with me and my girl. Our photo was posted on the Wheels Through Time FB page. I went back inside and finished my tour. Now you could easily spend 2-3 days touring this place if you read all the material and truly looked at every piece of history, but for me, I was on a schedule so to speak, even if it wasn’t super strict. Since Dale had saved me the entry fee, I was tickled that I was able to buy a patch for my ‘patch pants’ and I even sent my son a postcard from there. Haley gave me the stamp and shipped it off for me.
On my way out, Dale was sitting on the bench outside and so I sat along with him and chatted for a bit more. A few other visitors joined in and it was as if he were our neighbor, not some famous guy that has a museum better than HD themselves. But of course, in Dale fashion he soon had to start an old bike and show it off to a visitor, so he was off. (And note: if you visit Wheels Through Time and want to see and hear any of those bikes run, all you do is ask.)
I left there with a huge smile and made my way peacefully to Asheville to await my friend Meg.
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