Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Author Topic: Anniversary BRP camping trip from 09  (Read 1757 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Online Vulcanbill

  • Contributor
  • Member
  • Location: it's a secret, WV
  • Posts: 3045
  • no thank you ... still
  • Motorcycles: XT250, Ninja 500R
Anniversary BRP camping trip from 09
« on: November 29, 2013, 02:27:04 PM »
Kim and I have been married for 13 years.   :inlove:

So we decided that another trip to NC was in order.   :inlove:  However, since vacation and funding are both on the endangered species list, we decided to just do a long weekend (3.5 day trip) and camp for 2 of the 3 nights.  If any of you were watching the weather like we were last week, things were looking more than a little ominous.  And, it's been 13 years...  cue theme music from twilight zone

Prelude:  I spent a goodly chunk of last week getting the bikes ready.  Both the FJ and the Bandit needed tires, the Bandit and I were wrestling with who was smarter...me or plastic and metal.  I eventually prevailed and the headlights WERE upgraded.   :rolleyes:  In the process of putting everything back together, I made sure that the chains were at the perfect tension...while on the centerstand...and unloaded.  You see where this is going?  Ugh.  The underlying theme behind this trip is this odd mechanical sounding noise coming from both the bikes.  It wasn't horrible and we both use earplugs / tunes so it didn't even present until the middle of day 2.  Mental note:  when tightening the chain, leave some room for the weight of the bike and the load to compress the suspension and tighten the chain.  This has been a public service announcement. 

Day 1:  Friday, August 28th was not a nice weather day here in MD.  Radar showed the better part of the Shenandoah Valley covered in green and our destination of Roanoke covered in dark green.  We expected to get pummeled by rain.  There were hurricanes and tropical storms all around after all.  How could we avoid it?  There were flash flood warnings for our immediate area with predictions of extremely high rates of rainfall.  Sweet.  But, fear not for our heros are hard core.   :cool:  We had reserved the right to make this a truck camping trip if we saw fit but we had invested so much time and money into getting the bikes ready and packed, that we decided that we were riding even if it meant 3 days in the rain.  Wouldn't be the first time. 

We were scheduled to leave after Kim got home from work.  She was supposed to leave early but got caught up and we ended up getting on the road around 5:30 or so.  While we were putting the final touches on our preparations, the sky unleashed a torrent upon the earth.  We just smiled at each other knowing what was to come...

We kiss the dogs goodbye and head out to the garage.  We roll out of the garage and it's not really raining at the moment but it's ugly and obviously very wet.  There are what appear to be storm clouds all around so we await the inevitable.  Stop one is in Winchester for gas and dinner at the Sheetz then we simply endure 81 down to the next gas stop then on to Roanoke.  In the approximately 236 miles to Roanoke, we hit rain exactly ZERO times.   :headscratch:   :chili: :hail:  We got a room at a Hampton, which I suspect was purchased by Hampton as opposed to having started life as a Hampton if you know what I mean.  However, we were pleasantly surprised by the price and the room. 

visitors can't see pics , please register or login


Yes.  This is a shower and a tub w/ a shower.  Cool. 

visitors can't see pics , please register or login


We slept pretty hard.

Day 2:

We tolerated a continental breakfast and got on the road ... at some point.  Here's the thing about this trip that's different from others...  We had no plans.  For many of you, this might be a normal thing.  Kim is not one of those people.  Her middle name could easily be "itinerary".  Ask anyone who has been on a trip with us and they will joke about the itinerary and the time lines that need to be adhered to in order to make pre-determined destinations.  While joking, they are secretly very grateful that she makes all those plans, makes reservations, handles check-in etc.  So this little foray into the great unknown was a pretty substantial departure from character.  So we headed out whenever and made our way over the the Parkway.


The view from the hotel room:

visitors can't see pics , please register or login


The weather was about perfect.  This would become a theme for the trip.  I can't tell you how perfect but it was sunny and I was neither hot nor cold.  That makes it perfect.  We jumped on the Parkway at Roanoke and began our trip south.  Once again, we had no real destination but knew that there were several good camping options in 300s mile markers.  In addition to winging it, we decided that this trip would be about the road and not the ride.  Bear with me...  We're usually all about "riding" the Parkway and usually our pace indicates that.  There usually isn't time to look at anything other than the next turn or the shadows where a park ranger might be sitting.  On this trip, however, we wanted to change things up a little and see the sights and slow down.  There is a LOT of really nice scenery along this road.   :lol:

After a whopping 30 miles, we stopped at Smartview which is a very nice picnic area.  We'd only ever stopped at the parking area right on the road and had never gone back into the actual picnic area.  Very nice.  I recommend it. 

visitors can't see pics , please register or login


Our next stop was at Fancy Gap, or more specifically Hillsville to check out the Log Home models that are right off the exit.  Humpf.  Apparently, those guys went out of business as two of the three models were only framed inside.  The one that was finished was pretty nice though and currently being used by some board of tourism or something.  That was a bust but we got a good idea for our kitchen in our virtual log home.  Then we headed over to some mom n pop Mountainside Restaurant for lunch.  There was a buffet...it was $8.79 or something.  Awesome fried chicken, something in gravy, sausage and veggies in some red sauce, mashed taters, fried fish chunks etc...  and of course, sweet tea.  Yum-O.  Oh, and we were off the median age by several to many decades.  And they were singing bluegrass gospel in the back room.  Banjos and all. 

We got back on the Parkway, put the needle on 55 (which is prolly like 48 or so) and just watched stuff go by, sniffed the sniffs, waved at the cows, noticed all the property for sale  :inlove: and just rode happy...like really happy.  It was probably low 70s and sunny for the better part of the day.  Awesome!  I could go on for a LONG TIME about how perfect this day was with almost no traffic, new tires, comfy bikes, cool temps, freshly paved and dry road, etc. but it's tough to convey that if you've not done it.  I sympathize with those who "do" the parkway in a day or just to click it off the list. 

I think we got gas in Boone  :headscratch: since the detour put us there anyway then continued on to start looking for a place to camp.  We had never stopped at Linville Falls campground (mm 316 ish) so we decided to give it a try.  Meh.  It is similar to other campgrounds in that there is good parking, nicely laid out sites etc. but this one was kinda lacking for us.  Not enough privacy, too much open grass (inviting children to frolic) and sites that were too exposed to each other.  I don't recommend it unless you can't make it farther down the road.  We headed down to Crabtree Meadows (mm 340) and were very happy with it so we grabbed a nice private site and set up shop. 

Many people camp on motorcycles and I've seen countless threads about good tents that will fit in a topcase or whatever.  Let it be known that we have nice backpacking gear.  When hiking into the Grand Canyon, I want gear that is light and compact and I will sacrifice some comfort for that.  However, since we were on two big motorcycles both w/ E41 side cases and one w/ a V46 and the other an E52 topcase, we decided that there was room to carry the "other" camping gear...

Yeah, this is how we roll.

visitors can't see pics , please register or login


visitors can't see pics , please register or login


We opted to go w/ sleeping bags instead of a comforter and sheets.   :lol:  Oh, but notice the pillows.   :sleepy:  The philosophy is that I would much rather take the time to pack and carry the good stuff than to risk not getting a good night's sleep when on the motorcycles.  Too risky to be tired while riding.  There is a downside...  We have a little blower thing we use to blow up the queen size air mattress.  It plugs into a standard 12v power plug.  Kim has a bmw plug and I have a coax both for our Gerbings.  I knew this and brought my handy little Aerostitch micro air compressor but hoped to not have to use it.  So I asked the guy at a nearby sight if I could use his power for 2 minutes and he said sure.  Of course because someone was watching, we both forgot the "process" we have developed over the years for blowing up the air mattress with this thing and looked like total idiots and ended up having to do it over.  We are SO cool.   :cool:   :rolleyes:

I guess when you do all the camera duty, you get to decide what bike will be in the pictures. 

visitors can't see pics , please register or login


Got Givi?

visitors can't see pics , please register or login


What we didn't bring, however, was food.  This was intentional as we opted to carry more bedroom and less kitchen.  So after we set up, we headed into Little Switzerland for dinner.  We usually stop for lunch at the sandwich side.  This time we went into the dining room and had a monster dinner.  Kim got the prime rib and I got a rack o ribs.  Portions were bordering on ridiculous and since we were NOT about to have leftovers with us in bear territory, we were selective about the portions we ate.  As we were donning the stitches to leave, the couple beside us struck up a conversation.  I mentioned we were down for our 13th anniversary.  He said "tomorrow is our 47th anniversary".  OK.  You win.   :bigok:  The lady, who must have been 75+ asked about the stitch.  She had yet to see the helmet...

Her:  "What's with the outfit?"
Me:  "It's for protection"
Her:  "What are you protecting yourself from, bears?"
Me:  "The road"
Her:  *boggle*
Husband: "They're on cycles."
Her: "Ooooooh"

So cute.  We went outside and it was raining...sort of.  It was spitting very lightly and gray and dark...cuz it was mostly dark out.  By the time we got geared up and on the road, the rain stopped.  Awesome.  Back at the tent, we had plans for reading our books by LED headlamp.  Didn't happen.  We slept hard.

...

If a person's primary concern is increasing freedom, they should prepare for a reduction in average lifespan.  ---  Misanthropist

If you say "Gullible" real slow, it sounds like "Orange"

Online Vulcanbill

  • Contributor
  • Member
  • Location: it's a secret, WV
  • Posts: 3045
  • no thank you ... still
  • Motorcycles: XT250, Ninja 500R
Re: Anniversary BRP camping trip from 09
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2013, 02:27:33 PM »
Day 3:

We woke at a leisurely ...time.  Don't know what time and it didn't really matter because we had NO PLANS.   :D  We packed up and got ready to go.  We ended up chatting with our neighbors who hadn't been on the Parkway for a long time and were taking a week to get reacquainted.  The chat lasted for about an hour as they were asking about campsites and things to do and we, of course, had all the answers.  They've been to some very cool places and we shared stories about our adventures out west at various cool places.  That takes an hour.  :)  They were very nice.  Chris and Dana I believe. 

We decided that since we were not looking to make big miles, we would start heading back north even though south was beckoning with it's twistier bits and higher elevations.  The plan was to NOT have to kill ourselves by having to do 600+ miles on the last day like we usually do.  So we suited up and hit the road...for about 5 miles.  Kim, lovingly referred to as the mileage nazi because she HATES stopping unless someone absolutely MUST upload or download fluids, pulled into the Museum of North Carolina Minerals Visitor Center.   :headscratch:  I gotta say, there are a ton of things on the parkway that I didn't even know were there much less have never stopped at.  Put this on the list.  It was neat.  It's true value is that now we know it has very clean and big bathrooms for future trips.  They also have one of those little displays like every place on the Parkway now that sells the signs and various swag w/ the motorcycle guy being tossed from his bike as he rounds a turn.  You know the one... 

visitors can't see pics , please register or login


Back on the bikes and up the road...  Another beautiful day with perfect temps and perfect everything.  Well, almost everything.  At one point, we got behind a parade of bikes.  Now, we weren't looking to make time but these folks were about 10 under.  C'mon.  So we wait politely and start a pass when it's safe.  Just as we're booting up to overtake with purpose, the car leading the bikes begins to slow...to almost a stop.  In very short order, our pass turned into a dive into the middle of their formation because there were two people, completely oblivious on recumbent, three wheeled bicycles taking up 1/2 the lane.  So the car has to almost stop because there is oncoming traffic up ahead (which wasn't there at the start of our pass) and the kroozers have to slow accordingly which left us to basically do a heavy braking total douchbag move trying to scrub speed without cutting anyone off.  No close calls or anything but we felt like total tools for having to do it.  Live and learn.  Back to the sunshine and lollipops...

We pulled over to see what there was to see and here's what we see... 

visitors can't see pics , please register or login


visitors can't see pics , please register or login


visitors can't see pics , please register or login


visitors can't see pics , please register or login


Self Portrait.  Proof that she really was on the trip.  Love those eyes.  :naughty:

visitors can't see pics , please register or login


I was blessed with having two cars pull up to us while we were at the Grandfather Mountain overlook asking where Grandfather Mountain was.  In both cases, I just pointed to it.   :p

We headed into Boone again, because you have to, and found a fun place to clog one's arteries.  It's called Parthenon Cafe and it's across from ASU's auditorium.  I had a steak and mushroom sub which was very nice and Kim got this...

Say it with me

visitors can't see pics , please register or login


Yee Ro   not Jyro.  They had the pronunciation on the door.  Funny.

We got gas in Boone again and headed back up to the Parkway.  We did about 30 miles before stopping this time at the Northwest Trading Post.  Again, I've ridden by it countless times and it has not once made it into my memory banks.  I can confirm that it is a place to buy stuff.  Seems like the stuff is made by local artisans.  Some of it is edible like the grasshopper fudge Kim bought for me and surprised me with later.  Also, there is a bathroom.  We chatted with a couple on a weestrom for a long time about riding and property and such.  Richard Hollins was his name and he loves his strom. 

A glorious 70 miles brought us to yet another place we've ridden by dozens of times, Groundhog Mountain...

visitors can't see pics , please register or login


There are different kinds of fences there and a little building of some sort. 

visitors can't see pics , please register or login


There may or may not have been a bathroom, we didn't need to know.

visitors can't see pics , please register or login


People like to write on the walls in the little building...

visitors can't see pics , please register or login


Some are better at it than others...   :D  Sorry for your loss.

visitors can't see pics , please register or login


The day was waning rapidly so we hunted another campsite.  The options at this point were few but being a Sunday night, we weren't too worried about getting a spot at Rocky Knob at mm 170.  We found a nice quiet and secluded spot and set up again.  We're actually pretty quick about getting all that done.  The tent is bigger than the pads they build at these sites.   :lol:

visitors can't see pics , please register or login


We asked the campground host about nearby fuel and food options as it was nearly 8pm.  He pointed us to a place called Tuggles (maybe) which was just about to close when we got there.  We asked about dinner and were handed 2 paper menus instead of being taken to a table.  Kim politely asked about other options within 15 minutes, ya know, so we didn't have to inconvenience the cook.  We were directed to nearby Floyd.  We found a fun little place called Oddfellas.  Huh, I just found their website...  http://www.oddfellascantina.com/cont/node/1

After the protein feast the night before, we both got a house salad and Kim got a tomato mozzarella thing and I got a artichoke wrap.  Very nice.  Since eating light, we opted to split a piece of buttermilk chocolate cake that weighed about 5lbs.  We couldn't, or wouldn't finish it.  Yum again.  We eventually found the gas station in Floyd, fueled the bikes and headed back to camp...slowly on route 8 which is windy and dark.   :crazy:

That night it rained and rained and rained...



The tent was perfectly dry throughout the rain.  It wasn't a storm but there was lots of rain.  We were in the woods.  So there were the little raindrops which make that fun go to sleep noise then there were the giant drops from the very tall trees that sound like someone hitting the tent with a wiffle bat.  Not much sleep was had by me.  And it got colder overnight.  Like zip up my 15 degree sleeping bag kind of cold.  We lounged a bit in the morning hoping the rain would fade.  It did.  Tear down was wet but by the time we were ready to roll out, it had just about stopped raining and the sky was clearing.  Awesome!  Several minutes before we started to get ready to go, our neighbor 4 doors down in their 77 Winnie pulled out and headed up the road...dripping some fossil fuel at a rate of about one drop per second.  How do I know this?  Because as we pulled out behind them, there were these pretty rainbow patterns in the middle of the road every couple feet.  Once on the parkway, the frequency changed to every 20 or 30 feet.  By the time we got to them, they had grown to about 6 or 8" in diameter.  Do you know how unsettling it is to have those in the middle of the road for miles and miles?  How slippery can one drop of oil on a wet road be anyway?  Dunno and don't wanna know.  Grrr.  We came upon him and then passed him.  Ah, sweet freedom.  Then we stopped.  :)  We opted to go someplace with a nice pavilion to do our devotions instead of at the campsite w/ giant raindrops falling from the trees.  Oh look, there's Smartview again.  How handy.

visitors can't see pics , please register or login


There was a cool tree there too.

visitors can't see pics , please register or login


We get back on the road and do another 20 or 30 miles and stop again at around mm 130 or so at Cahas Mountain overlook for some pictures.  Oh, and it's officially cold now so I finally break down and don the Gerbings which Kim had been rocking all morning.  I'm a little slow like that. 

visitors can't see pics , please register or login


ow my back

visitors can't see pics , please register or login


Again with the happy...life was good.  We rode some more till we got hungry and decided to stop at Peaks of Otter for lunch.  Fried Green Tomatoes for an appetizer and I had a meatloaf sammich and Kim had a salad.  Good stuff.  I was also able to plug in the ipod which was about to die which meant I'd have tunes for the ugly ride up 81.  Whoo hoo!!!  After lunch we talked to a French Canadian couple on the road for 2 weeks heading south on a big ole HD super tourer.  He was very excited about their trip.  I bet.  Nice guy.  He works for Bridgestone / Firestone and apparently there was some merger and he was forced to learn English very quickly in order to keep his job.

Once again we get back on the road and head north.  We have a plan to be home by 6 so we need to boogie.  Gas is usually an issue on this last stretch.  It was this time too.  In previous reports I have mentioned "checking out mentally" somewhere north of Peaks of Otter.  Kim mentioned it to me and I said I was fine.  So we have a nice little run and for the first time on this trip, we start actually riding the bikes with some sport.  Not much since we're both pretty heavily loaded and anything silly just makes the bike wallow like a fish out of water.  I'm watching my gas and when Kim asks me how I'm doing (in our twisted sign language), I reply with fine if I stay out of the throttle.  Since she apparently likes this section of the parkway and that last little run reminded her why, she didn't like my answer.  So we head off to find gas on some podunk road with a gas sign.  Well, 5 miles in and there is no indication of gas or of podunk.  We turn around and I state w/ confidence that I'll be fine.  Kim goes on a mini tangent about how my bike is the weak link and we always have to take it easy on this part of the Parkway cuz I'm about to run out of gas etc...  We get back on the Parkway and not five miles later, she waves me up and tells me her gas light just came on.  :)   :lol:    :lmao: :rofl:

So now, we're both limping the last 20 or so miles back to the Steel's Tavern exit.  Not knowing what her reserve is like and being in a very unpleasant place to find out, she was drifting coasting down all the hills and being very gentle with the go juice.  She coasted all the way down 56 and we both made it to the gas station without running dry.  Very nervous but still running.

The rest was the unpleasant task of getting home when you know there is no more to look forward to from a motorcycling perspective.  110 miles on Interstate 81 to Winchester.  340 to 15 where we had to get gas again then home inside of 30 minutes.  We rolled in...when we got here.  I don't know what time it was.  I love that. 

Maybe Kim can fill in some of the details of the things I missed.  Overall, it was a very good trip.  No rush, no incidents, incredibly good weather given what we expected and not a lot of money spent compared to previous all hotel trips.  Primarily, it gave us a chance to reconnect and reflect on 13 years of marriage, where we are now and how we got here.  We're stronger for what we've been through in that time and grow stronger as a couple every day.  I thank God every day for this woman who nobody can deny is way out of my league.  I like writing these reports because it keeps me from taking for granted how incredibly cool it is that my riding partner, best friend and lover are all the same person.  I am blessed in so many wonderful ways.  Thanks for a wonderful trip, baby.  Happy Anniversary.

visitors can't see pics , please register or login


If a person's primary concern is increasing freedom, they should prepare for a reduction in average lifespan.  ---  Misanthropist

If you say "Gullible" real slow, it sounds like "Orange"

Online Vulcanbill

  • Contributor
  • Member
  • Location: it's a secret, WV
  • Posts: 3045
  • no thank you ... still
  • Motorcycles: XT250, Ninja 500R
Re: Anniversary BRP camping trip from 09
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2013, 02:28:31 PM »
note:  There is a 20,000 character limit in ride reports.  :) 
If a person's primary concern is increasing freedom, they should prepare for a reduction in average lifespan.  ---  Misanthropist

If you say "Gullible" real slow, it sounds like "Orange"

Offline DNA

  • Member
  • Location: Bay Area CA
  • Posts: 546
  • Motorcycles: BMG 1200GSAdv
Re: Anniversary BRP camping trip from 09
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2013, 06:38:59 PM »
Nice - I kept waiting for the bearings to go oval cause you over tensioned the chain - but nothing happened?

Tease...
You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack  -You may find yourself in another part of the world
You may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile- You may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife-
You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?