Tale of the Draggin’ (Part Two)
July 31 – After the fiasco with the Honda’s kill switch on the 30th, I *really* wanted to finish the loop I had started. So I got up at 6 AM, got packed, and pulled out of the motel’s parking lot about 8:00. I had given some thought to doing the 5-hour loop, because that would have ended with riding the Tail, but decided against it when I worked things out and realized that I wouldn’t have time to ride the loop and get to my cousin’s house in Sumter, SC, at a reasonable hour. Plus, I’d be exhausted.
So I skipped the loop and simply rode the Tail twice. I actually rode back to where I had parked the bike on the 30th, on route 72, so I could say that I had completed at least *one* loop completely under my own power:
On the way back, I stopped at the Dragon Harley Shop (in Tennessee) and took a photo of the Honda with Stitch:
Then, when I got to the east end of the Tail (in North Carolina) I took a picture of it with the other dragon:
So I have unretouched photographic proof that I actually *rode* the Tail of the Dragon. In all, I traversed that stretch of Highway 129 five times: First as a passenger on a random Samaritan’s Honda Gold Wing; then twice in the truck (east to west to get the Honda; west to east with the Honda on the trailer); and finally twice on the Honda. YAY!
You can see photos of my Honda ride from one of the photo companies here: http://xtremesportsphotography.photoreflect.com/store/ThumbPage.aspx?e=9351426&g=0QAK01RH02. Filter between 8:50 AM (10 photos traveling from right to left – I’m wearing a black and red jacket) and 9:56 AM (8 photos traveling from left to right)
When I got near Robbinsville after the second pass, I was stopped (along with everyone else) while a front-end loader cleaned up some debris from a tree that had come down. As I sat there in line, it started to spit on me, which made me doubly glad I had decided not to do the five-hour loop. (The first glad was when I realized that I was kind of underdressed for the weather. I wasn’t *really* cold, but I was sorta kinda chilly and I knew I would have been unhappy if I had ridden that way for 5 hours.) Fortunately, it never really rained much, and I got back to the motel, loaded up, and on the highway to South Carolina by about 11 AM.
[I had one minor incident on the first run, from east to west. I was cruising around a turn maybe a little faster than I should have been going, and as I leaned into the curve I scraped the left footboard on the pavement. It wasn’t any big deal, but it startled me, which made me straighten up just a hair, which threw me off my line, which made me go into the ditch. Two lucky things about that: First, I was only doing maybe 15 or 20 to begin with, so I was able to recover with no mishaps; and second, the ditch was on the inside of the hill which meant that the other side of the ditch was a straight UP wall of mountain. So I was never in danger of going off the cliff. But that got my attention, and I was a tad more careful for the rest of the ride.]
On the way out of Robbinsville I stopped to get a new light bulb for the trailer’s right taillight, but the socket is a little bent so the bulb won’t stay in. It’s a minor fix but I haven’t done it yet. I also stopped at the tire store to see if they had a tire for the trailer. The manager (?) said they don’t usually carry 13-inch tires, but then one of the employees looked and they had one – count it, one. Apparently someone had ordered it and hadn’t picked it up. So I scarfed it up (thereby insuring that I won’t need a spare for the rest of the trip), they mounted it, and I was on my way.
The rain held off until I got into South Carolina, and then it rained every time I got near a city. The Honda got a good bath! There were a couple of times when I actually had to slow down because I couldn’t see very far ahead through the downpour.
But I got to Doug and TJ’s that evening and they took me to dinner. The meal was great – a “make-your-own” burger – but the dessert was absolutely amazing! It’s called “beer and bacon ice cream” and is a big scoop of vanilla-bean ice cream with beer and applewood-smoked bacon bits on it. It sounded strange, but tasted scrumptious! I almost asked for a second one!
After dinner we spent the evening catching up on friends, family and miscellaneous other topics. I zonked out about 9:30 PM.