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  1. #1
    Senior Member spklbuk's Avatar
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    A 4-Day Weekend Camping and Riding from Roan Mtn State Park, TN

    Day 1 – let’s move along and get to base camp

    Spkldoe and me rustled up an impromptu journey to Roan Mtn, TN. She trailed in the cage and I straddled our ‘06 Yamaha FJR 1300 as we rolled out Friday morning. We headed south on WV 20 by Bluestone Lake into Princeton, WV. We then took a more or less direct route to Abingdon, VA, only getting sidetracked by one mountain road and by stopping for a few necessities along the way.

    South on VA 75 from Abingdon led us to US 421 across South Holston Lake into Shady Valley, TN and home of “The Snake.” I intended to take a break at Shady Valley Country Store, but the local traffic had cleared before the intersection and besides, a tractor trailer driving knucklehead (road clearly marked as not suitable) we dispensed with on Holston Mtn was behind us so I just kept on ticking right on thru the twisties to Mountain City then turned south to Roan Mtn.

    Of 107 non-reservable campsites, only 5 remained when we arrived in the late Fri afternoon…good thing we didn’t take any wrong turns. We chose a comparatively private walk-in site and set up camp. A quick supper of foil pack chicken, Zataran’s red beans and rice, a little shot of McCormick’s taco seasoning, mozzarella rounds and salsa in a flat bread wrap ensued. A loosening the muscles with a short snifter of Wild Turkey (easy does it, dip your wick too deep and you’ll gobble!) followed by a cool shower found us ready to secure camp and turn in. A bear was seen in the campground the night before but our sleeping quarters were up a trail about 30 yards from the picnic table and fire pit and our food was double bagged in the car trunk.

    Highlight of Day 1 (technically very early Day 2, I guess): Ma Nature treated the campground to a soothing rain during the night, in stark contrast to the previous two days goose drownings. The gentle shower apparently loosened the soil past the tipping point around a saw log sized tree on the hillside just above our campsite. Around 3:00 a.m., that behemoth crashed down through the surrounding timber and underlying laurel wreaking general havoc on its way to its final resting place. I nearly did in my sleep sweats that thing wild bears doo in the woods!







    montani semper liberi


    I wish I had a cabin on the top of some big hill
    I'd build a fire every evening and listen to the whipporwill
    Eat my food out of a garden and drink my whiskey from a still

    Darrell Scott I Wish

  2. #2
    Old Gorge Rat Hawk-eye's Avatar
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    Sounds like a great get away ... thanks for sharing!

    WARNING: Will discuss Rhurbarb Strawberry Pie and Livermush at random.


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  3. #3
    Senior Member spklbuk's Avatar
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    Day 2 – high country tourists touring

    Last night’s rain left the mountain encased in a heavy fog, so we rearranged the planned breakfast menu as we had a little time to kill. I fired up my Clikstand/Trangia combo and once it bloomed, set the simmer ring for medium heat and rustled up some uber fine Krusteaz Buttermilk Complete pancakes topped with syrup and shelf stable Canadian bacon.









    Kickstand was up at 9:00 a.m. and we were running TN 143 two up through Carver’s Gap and across the North Carolina state line onto NC 261 into Bakersville then south on VA 80 to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The FJR marked off a few miles south along the Parkway, thru Twin Tunnels and we were soon scooting up NC 128 to the summit of Mt. Mitchell. The temperature dropped to 63 *F on the way up…ahhh natural air conditioning and stupendous views…jes don’t get no better-n-at!

















    Backtracking to the Parkway, we set our sights on Grandfather Mountain. As we tripped north on the parkway, we rounded a turn to see a 100 lb. yearling black bear cross the road about 25 yards in front of and between us and an oncoming SUV. He was a road smart bear because there was no hesitation on his part to make his move and hit the brush on the opposite side. A mile later we passed a sign pointing the way to Bear Den Mountain Road…aptly named I surmised.

    After 40-50 miles of soaking up the exquisite scenery along the Parkway, the entrance to Grandfather Mountain along U.S. 221 had cars lined up in both directions, waiting to gain entrance. One glance at that mess found us doing a ‘uey’ and leaving Grandfather Mtn behind (1st reason for a return visit). Plotting a take it easy route back to camp, we headed 25 miles south on 221 just to loop back the same distance north via some very tasty twisties on NC 226A into Little Switzerland and traversing 19E back to camp (begrudgingly on my part, but in deference to my pillion [if mamma ain’t happy, nobodys happy], foregoing the south leg of NC 80 from Marion up to the Parkway…2nd reason to go back).

    226A was the only stretch of road that spoke to me this day, but it sure did speak loudly…very light traffic and several hoops and hollers escaped my grasp and my face ached from grinning as we railed like on a string around the sides of those ridges…no doubt a buffalo trail originally…ok it wasn’t an entirely take it easy route.

    After running the 226A twisties, it was time for a break. We were sitting in the shade on the porch of a branch bank abutting NC 226/19E in Spruce Pine to have a quick picnic of BumbleBee ham salad on crackers chased with mandarin oranges and a granola bar when another 2006 FJR passed by. We exchanged waves and I commented to Spkldoe that it was probably someone we know from the FjrRiders forum. The rider went to the next left and came back to make sure we were ok. Welp, turns out we did know him, it was good ol’ Cliff Cook of Kingsport, TN that we had met at the two Lewisburg, WV FJR rallys. We had a big time catching up with Cliff. It was great to see you again and many thanks to you good sir for coming back to make sure we were ok and for the tips on good places to camp and ride. Spkldoe and me will definitely give a shout out next time we visit your neck of the woods.

    Cliff headed east and we backtracked a mile or so to Wally World (the real reason we had chosen to take our break in front of the bank) for some evening essentials. We filled our now empty and fully lined in supplemental reflectix, collapsible cooler with dead cow, salad greens and ice and stashed a bag of charcoal in a side case then headed northwest to camp.

    Back in camp, we sipped a skosh of Wild Turkey appetizer. Towards late evening, I grilled New York strip and toasted flatbread while Spkldoe tossed greens in olive oil and black pepper then we ate like we owned the place.



    Nearing dusk, I built a campfire and wandered over to a neighboring campsite to take a looksee at a Harley Road King trike and pull behind trailer rig piloted by an older rider. I introduced myself to a gentleman, now of FL and formerly of nearby Pogy, TN who was back for a family reunion. We talked motorcycles and gear for a while and I invited him over to have a sit down around the fire for a spell.

    [soapbox]What you are about to read is another example of the good things can come your way just by being openly forward enough to simply walk up and begin a conversation with a stranger. I’m tellin’ ya, the world would soon be a better place.[/soapbox]

    Leroy, a very spry widower who has to be pushin’ 80 but still handled that big Trike with assured ease, obviously enjoyed just having someone listen as he was in full reunion mode. John Prine’s Hello in There played in my head as we sipped Wild Turkey on the rocks and over the next two hours he related many many tales of his and of his family’s past.

    Leroy was a navy veteran and later earned an engineering degree whereupon he found himself supervising crews of a hundred men as they built water tanks in the Texas Hill Country. Before the navy, he spent much of his youth in the southern coal fields where his grandfather operated a general store in Squire, WV. His grandfather understood the coal miners to be honest hard working folk and treated them accordingly. Most miners kept a family milk cow that was one of the first things they wanted to sell during a mine strike and his grandpa would buy them and move the cows to a mountain farm, to raise calves from those cows to sell. He granted the miners long-term credit during those lean times of the UMW strikes led by John L. Lewis. As a given strike was settled and the miners returned to work, they would invariably resolve their debt and buy back a fresh milk cow from his grandpa. Quite the symbiosis they had going.

    Among the more memorable tales was of his great grandfather 4 times removed that was one of the region’s first settlers and as such had a contract to haul gear to Sycamore Shoals, now Elizabethon, TN for Daniel Boone as he relocated his family to the Watauga region, prior to heading through the Cumberland Gap to establish Boonesborough now Lexington, KY. And say, do you know just how tall American Chestnuts grew on Beech Mountain? Well, it seems that Leroy’s great uncle and now oldest living relative at 96 taught him how to pull apart shot shells and add rock salt behind the shot then reseal the shell casing. What the Sam Hades was the rock salt for you ask? Upon being pelted, the salt served to preserve the squirrels as they took the long fall to the ground!...tall trees brothers and sisters…very tall. To express what knowledge like that is worth is plainly beyond words.

    Meeting and talking to Leroy was definitely the highlight of Day 2. As the Wild Turkey dried up and the fire turned to embers, we said good night and made our way off our respective abodes to seek slumber.



    montani semper liberi


    I wish I had a cabin on the top of some big hill
    I'd build a fire every evening and listen to the whipporwill
    Eat my food out of a garden and drink my whiskey from a still

    Darrell Scott I Wish

  4. #4
    Senior Member spklbuk's Avatar
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    Day 3 – NC twist and shout

    Before the first morning song bird sounded, I roused Spkldoe from her tent. We boiled up a pot of water on the large Trangia using 4-12 penny nails as a pot stand, an idea shamelessly stolen from someone on Hammock Forums, I’ve forgotten who, but thank you sir. We had stout Irish Breakfast Tea and quick oats mixed with almond slivers, raisins, instant milk and coffee creamer.





    A bright clear morning allowed the kickstand up at 7:00 and we once again headed over Carver’s Gap to NC, but this time made our way on south to Burnsville. After a brief stop for fuel and additional caffeine, we traversed 19E west to 19W whereupon I pointed out to Spkldoe the trucker’s beware signage, our nonverbal signal that it’s time to brace yerself and pay attention. I wicked up the FJR and over the course of the next 30 miles, we ran along the creeks, thru the hollers and across the ridges like turpentined hounds. I was plumb tuckered by the time we reached TN 23 on the north end.

    We ran US 23/I-26 south to Exit 50 and hit TN 352 south into NC where it becomes NC 212. We clipped along the superb twisties though at a more subdued pace and made out way further south along NC 25/70 to Marshall. We stopped for a quick roadside snack at a borrowed picnic table under the front awning of a propane supply (I could hear Hank Hill and the boys in the alley out back…in my head). BumbleBee Chicken Salad, mandarin oranges and granola bars was our lunchtime fare. We made our way to US 23 again then over to Barnardsville located about 20 miles north of Asheville.

    We began to close our loop back north. We rode along a long stretch of bottomland on NC 197 and as soon as we began to gain elevation, the route turned to gravel. I would have blamed JWilly, Dom or Jeff for picking this route had I not just done it to myself. But I sure it was all my own doings as the road had all concreted culverts instead of water crossings. After 4.5 miles of steady climb around washboards and hoop-te-dos in numerous switchbacks we made our way to the top whereupon I fully expected to traverse the same kind of terrain off the backside before reaching pavement again.







    Surprise! Pavement and good pavement at that all the way up the backside right the top where it just squarely ended. We stopped for a quick pic to document the dual-sported segment of the trip and headed over the mountain towards Burnsville. We hadn’t gone but about a mile when we came upon another surprise…6, count ‘em 6 switchbacks in less than 500 vertical feet adorned this road. Needless to say, we had to run this ready built playground a coupla times before going on. When we did leave, we rode at least another half dozen switchbacks along the side of the mountain as we descended…just like running the Alps, but with hardwoods and deer and about every other road hazard know to motorcycledom…FUN!









    We continued NC 197 N through Burnsville and on into Bakersville; up Roan Mountain, back through Carver’s Gap and into camp. Suppertime was near so I mixed up a batch of chocolate pudding and left it in the cooler to set; then fired up the trangia and gathered the materials for a Thanksgiving chicken wrap…stovetop stuffing, dried cranberries and leftover foil pack chicken with brown mustard on flatbread. Um Um good. Chocolate pudding for dessert left us satiated.







    montani semper liberi


    I wish I had a cabin on the top of some big hill
    I'd build a fire every evening and listen to the whipporwill
    Eat my food out of a garden and drink my whiskey from a still

    Darrell Scott I Wish

  5. #5
    Senior Member spklbuk's Avatar
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    Day 4 – long journey home

    The weatherman said the heat was to return today and for once he did not stretch the truth.





    We ate our quick oat and Irish Tea breakfast, broke camp and headed into Elizabethon; spkldoe running sweep in the cage and me leading on the bike. North on TN 191 led us over the mountain to Shady Valley. We stopped at the country store, bought the obligatory “I survived the Snake” t-shirt and imbibed more caffeine. Spkldoe got permission to temporarily abandon the cage in the store parking lot and then suited up.

    We set sail along US 421 “The Snake” towards Mountain City for what we hoped would be a clean run. There are two switchbacks on the Shady Valley side and in the second one, a fifteen mph curve; I was forced to abruptly correct my line to avoid some kind of fresh spill on the road surface…glistened and smelled like vomit. From the sheer volume of regurgitant, I thought ‘that poor soul has no innards left.’ A couple of curves later, same thing, except this time there was an Aquafina bottle laying with the assumed vomit. I begin to ask myself just exactly what was this all about. The presumed puke seemed to have an affinity for the natural line of the curve, making for some very disconcerting riding. After a couple of more turns, I figured out that it was trash day and the truck had leaked leachate in about every other turn all the way across to Mountain City. Hope the Snake gets a good rain soon.

    The run back to Shady Valley was much more pleasant with a mostly clean surface and only light traffic with which to contend. Anyway, Spkldoe earned her t-shirt; though she still owes for her “Dragon”shirt from earlier this summer.

    Back in Shady Valley, I was struggling to get the camera set for a timer shot of Spkldoe and me. Another rider witnessed my dilemma, walked over and offered to run the camera. Later, I struck up a conversation with him as we sat on the store’s porch. He mentioned he was from Kingsport and I told he was the second rider from Kingsport with whom I’d had a chance meeting within as many days. He said “Yeah, I’ve got a friend I ride with a lot over in Kingsport that rides an FJR just like yours, a fella by the name of Cliff Cook.” I know I had a dumbfounded look on my face and it turns out that I was conversing with J. Randall, Cliff’s long-time pal and avid collector of vintage motorcycles; he was out on a shakedown ride of an older bike he was restoring, the brand name of which has escaped me. He also happens to be the guy who sold Cliff his first ever motorcycle, a BSA 500 way back in 1965…ruined poor ol’ Cliff he did. Now I ask you, what are the odds we’d run into him?











    I went inside and told the store folks of the leachate so they could warn other riders and wished them good luck with a cleansing rain. Leaving J. Randall to his shakedown run, we headed north on TN 133 through Natural Tunnel and into Damascus, VA and the backpacking store to peruse their wares. I latched onto a volume-reducing Jetboil spatula with retractable handle and a Squishy bowl and cup set to add to my cook kit…gotta get out of here before I’m broke, let’s go!

    I got a little taste of VA 58 twisties before turning to Konnarock, Troutdale and I-81 at Chilhowie. Again deferring to my sweep who has to work tomorrow, I passed up VA 16N from Marion to Tazewell in exchange for a slabfest north to Rocky Gap. No longer able to tolerate another droning mile, I sought refuge along VA 61 N to Narrows and took a much needed break under the farmers market pavilion. After 20 minutes of sitting in the sun, the FJR thermometer read 108 *F when I again mounted up…hot I tell ya dang HOT. A short hop on 460 W, then WV Byway Rt 12 to Alta, WV followed by a 5 mile stint on I-64 west led us to home sweet home where hard working farm dog Shadow had faithfully watched the farm for the past 3 days (my folks kept check on her). I’m not real sure who was gladder to see whom?





    We had a spectacular journey, cooked and ate a lot higher on the hog than when at home and left more than a few things undone, so I guess our future holds upcoming long weekend runs to the VA/NC/TN high country…highly recommended psychotherapy.
    Spkldoe and Spklbuk long time gone…
    Last edited by spklbuk; 08-11-2010 at 07:10. Reason: added 2 pics
    montani semper liberi


    I wish I had a cabin on the top of some big hill
    I'd build a fire every evening and listen to the whipporwill
    Eat my food out of a garden and drink my whiskey from a still

    Darrell Scott I Wish

  6. #6
    Old Gorge Rat Hawk-eye's Avatar
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    So ... where were the hammocks?

    WARNING: Will discuss Rhurbarb Strawberry Pie and Livermush at random.


    "A democracy is two wolves and a small lamb voting on what to have for dinner.
    Freedom under a constitutional republic is a well armed lamb contesting the vote." ... B.Franklin


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  7. #7
    Senior Member spklbuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hawk-eye View Post
    So ... where were the hammocks?
    Check edit in day 4....still so excited...I forgot!
    montani semper liberi


    I wish I had a cabin on the top of some big hill
    I'd build a fire every evening and listen to the whipporwill
    Eat my food out of a garden and drink my whiskey from a still

    Darrell Scott I Wish

  8. #8
    Senior Member Poppabear's Avatar
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    It sounds and looks as if you had a great time. Thanks for sharing your trip with us.
    Terry

  9. #9
    Senior Member Land's Avatar
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    Nice report. Nice ride. There are some magical (road) numbers in there.

    Your FJR is beautiful. That blue is just about my favorite color for a vehicle.

    Chris

  10. #10
    Old Gorge Rat Hawk-eye's Avatar
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    Talking

    Quote Originally Posted by spklbuk View Post
    Check edit in day 4....still so excited...I forgot!
    Whew ... good ... hate to see you get probation!

    WARNING: Will discuss Rhurbarb Strawberry Pie and Livermush at random.


    "A democracy is two wolves and a small lamb voting on what to have for dinner.
    Freedom under a constitutional republic is a well armed lamb contesting the vote." ... B.Franklin


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