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Old 06-03-2014, 04:00 AM   #1546
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Some random pictures from our walk.



Another one of those painted bear statues in Cherokee, NC.
I think I saw around 8 or 10 along US-441.



I did find a website that shows all of them.
It is called Cherokee Painted Bears !



Unique rocking chairs.
Not sure if I would want to actually own one or not !



Painted on the window of a breakfast restaurant.



And my last picture is a Welcome to Cherokee sign !

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Old 06-03-2014, 04:07 AM   #1547
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Across the street from our hotel was this old neon sign I wanted to get pictures of.





I was kind of waiting to get a night shot of it.



A lot of the neon was burned out unfortunately.

Ain't Tinkerbell cute?



Why they call it the Pink Motel and not the Tinkerbell Motel is beyond me !



I am not fond of staying under either name myself !

Here is another nice picture from that flickr site that shows all of the neon on on this sign.

How do these places survive without a website these days ?

----------

Cherokee, NC, Pink Motel neon Tinkerbell Sign @14
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Old 06-03-2014, 07:52 AM   #1548
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rolarosa View Post
As always great pics- you have a good eye for what's cool. I subscribe and always look forward to viewing your pics. Sorry about the bike- glad everyone is fine. Don't feel so bad about dropping the bike- I've dropped mine in my garage on level concrete- forgot to put kickstand down.
Thank you rolarosa.
I appreciate your kind comments and also about my bike incident.
It's never easy being on a bike and going down, even if you are not moving.
As you will see on the next days postings I was a little scared about riding the Tail of the Dragon, especially after that incident at Chimney Rock.

You also have to remember I am from flat-land Southern New Jersey.
Hills and curves are different then congested roads and irritable drivers !

Now that I think of it, I am sitting here wondering which is worse !
Or should I say easier to navigate!

I know, I know !
At this point I do not sound like a true motorcycle rider.
Most people crave curves.
I liked the nice sweeping curves in the valleys personally.
I can enjoy the scenery better that way !

There was no enjoying scenery on the Dragon !

Quote:
Originally Posted by judomaniak View Post
all those hillbillies at that hotel scare me, reminds me of the movie Deliverence
Yes judomaniak, those hillbillies scared me a little too !
I would not want to stay there either, but they have some cool signs and great architecture on the building.
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Old 06-03-2014, 11:22 AM   #1549
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Steve you are 100% correct that the Tail of the dragon is not a scenic route...with all the curves and such there really is no time to look even if there was a view...Thats why a road like the Cherohala Skyway is sooooo nice...it offers plenty of views and vista points to stop and take it in yet its curves are fast sweepers and you can putt along at a pretty good pace. The road is very similar to the blue Ridge parkway
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Old 06-03-2014, 12:45 PM   #1550
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Sell the PC ? GOD FORBID!

Quote : " So, anyone in the market for a Well Used, World Famous () 1990 Honda Pacific Coast?"

Don't sell her, you have too many unforgettable memories together. Plus you would have to change your ADV rider name...

Seriously, though, the PC riders club has 4785 members, surely somebody has a mirror for you?

Having said all of the above, I personally used to HATE the PC. To me, it did not look like a "real" motorcycle, more like an oversized scooter, a weird contraption - an answer to a question nobody had asked. Yet Honda had the balls to bring it to market. Not my cuppa tea, though. Or so I thought.....ofcourse, I had formed my opinion based upon nothing but the looks of the darn thing, I had never ridden one nor did I want to be caught dead riding it. Then I met somebody who loved the PC. Let's call him 'Howdy'. 'Howdy' used to be a salesman at a Honda dealership in Ventura, CA, back in the day when the PC's where brand new and on the showroom floor. 'Howdy' hated the PC with a passion. He refused to even talk to folks who wanted to buy a PC. He never sold a PC to anyone. Guess what he rides today ? Yup, you guessed it. What the heck, I said one day, swung a leg over 'Howdys' ancient and abused bike and took it for a ride. MAN! what a revelation!!

It does everything a Gold wing will do, except at about half the weight, and get's great mileage, probably close to 50 mpg. It's comfortable, reasonably powerful, will cruise all day long at 100 mph and will carve canyons very nicely. In other words a great sport-touring bike. And a truck too: 'Howdy' had a 3/4 HP electric AC motor burn out. Y'all know how big and heavy those are, right ? Guess what? It fit in the trunk of the PC! with left over room for a bag of ice, 12 pack of beer and 3 illegal aliens !!!

YOU WILL REGRET SELLING HER !
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Old 06-03-2014, 12:48 PM   #1551
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Thanks!

Love the pics and the history lessons!
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Old 06-05-2014, 06:02 AM   #1552
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Ahhhh, the much anticipated day !

Riding the Dragon.

As I mentioned earlier I did not sleep as well as I had wanted to.
Between the anticipation and apprehension of riding such a curvy road was getting to me.

I had a loop planed that took us on a nice ride through The Smoky Mountains before we got to US-129.

We road up US-441 N.
From there we took a left onto Old State Highway TN-73 Scenic W.
That hooked up with the new TN-73 W which is also US-321 S.
That lead to the Foothills Parkway, which was a nice road.
That hooked us up with the northern end of the Tail of the Dragon, US-129 S.
It was about 3 1/2 miles to the first curve and 317 more after that !

After we looked around at Deals Gap we continued South on US-129 to the end and made a left onto US-19 N, which took us back to Cherokee, NC.

So, back to the beginning, and not far up from Cherokee starts The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.





It was very nice riding through here.
There are elk in this area, but we did not see any.



This is the entrance to Smokemont Campground where we were going to stay.



I had picked a site on the left.



But like I mentioned before, with the treat of Flash Flooding and no Bear Boxes to put our food we opted for the motel.



The creeks are just below campground level.

The creek above flows into the upper section of the Oconaluftee River that flows through Cherokee, NC.



This is the river that passed under the bridge to Smokemont Campground.

And as usual, , I took a lot of pictures this day so I will break it up as best I can.
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Old 06-05-2014, 07:08 AM   #1553
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Our first scheduled stop was Newfound Gap Overlook.

Right on the boarder of North Carolina and Tennessee.





For us the Smoky Mountains were more smoke than mountains!



Which seems to be the pattern here in these mountains.
Early morning mist, or more specifically, clouds.

The Cherokee called these mountains shaconage, which means "blue, like smoke".

There is a stone overlook built here.



Built with the help of John D. Rockefeller.



I believe that was built so you could see the nice views off to the west over the road, but that was not possible today.

Looks like there might have been a spring flowing out of here at one time.





Once again we encounter the Appalachian Trail, which is to the right of the overlook.



A real hiker.



And lots of clouds.



Great Smoky Mountains National Park Service

The park was established in 1934 and is the largest national park east of the Mississippi River at 520,000 acres.
That I did not know!

Some other interesting facts about the Smoky Mountains.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park on National Geographic.


Newfound Gap on National Park Service.
The road use to go through at another location until this gap was found to be the lowest in the Smoky Mountains, hence the name 'new' found gap.

Some more information on Newfound Gap on Great Smoky Mountains auto tour.

The Rockefeller's donated money to bring about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the plaque at the overlook commemorates that contribution.

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Newfound Gap Overlook, North Carolina/Tennessee Boarder @14
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Old 06-05-2014, 07:47 AM   #1554
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Almost across the street from Newfound Gap is the road to Clingmans Dome.

Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Smoky Mountains and the highest point in Tennessee.
For that matter, it is the third highest mountain east of the Mississsippi.

The road getting here was very thick with clouds.

We finally reached the parking lot which leads to a STEEP half mile hike to the top to an interesting viewing platform.



These youngin's is pushing a baby up this path and carrying a camera and tripod !

We were doing good just to get up the hill !





Once in a while there would be a hole in the clouds and you could see a little further.



Insects had infested this area and killed a lot of trees, but it looks like it is growing back nicely.



You can see how steep the path is here.



Some flowers up here at 6,643 feet.



And here is the observation tower.



Pretty cool looking.

It has a spiral ramp to the top.





The clouds were thick up here and blowing pretty good too.
It was quite unique being here.





The wind was blowing pretty hard up on the observation platform.
You could stand behind the support for a little break in the wind.

And now I was waiting for the school field trip to move on its way back down the mountain.



This is the view West looking across the Smoky Mountains.



This is what I saw.





Looked like that in all four directions !

There was a lot of lichen on the trees up here.



Harsh conditions only support hearty plant life.



So off back down the mountain leaving the tower in the mist.



The sun was trying to poke its way through the clouds.





The visitor center down by the parking lot.





And getting ready to ride back through the clouds.



Clingmans Dome

The two taller mountains east of the Mississippi are:
Clingmans Dome: ......6,643
Mount Craig, NC: .......6,647
Mount Mitchell, NC: ...6,684

Perhaps on a future trip I can visit them !
Mount Craig and Mount Mitchell are right next to each other just North East of Asheville, NC and there is a road to the top of Mount Mitchell.

The Clingmans Dome Observation Tower is located in North Carolina, but the Tennessee boarder is just north of the tower.
Actually you are standing in Tennessee just before you go up the ramp !

Clingmans Dome was named in honor of North Carolina Senator Thomas Lanier Clingman, who helped measure it in 1858.

Clingmans Dome National Park Service

ClingmansDome.com
They have a lot better pictures than I do !

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Clingmans Dome Observation Tower, Swain County, NC
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Old 06-05-2014, 08:14 AM   #1555
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I was at Clingman's Dome last Sept... The road up was shrouded in clouds and it was raining too... Got to the parking lot and it was pea soup fog...didn't bother to hike up to the tower....:-(

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Old 06-05-2014, 09:37 AM   #1556
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Here are some pictures on our ride to the Tail of the Dragon.

Some of the clouds had cleared while we were hiking, and panting, up the hill.
This is on the road in and out of Clingmans Dome.





We hit a Traffic Jam on US-441 because of construction.
At least they are taking care of the roads around here, and they were all in very good condition.

By the way, this red car in front of me was from New Jersey too !



I had seen pictures of this sign on ADV before, but no one mentioned where it was.



Well, it is on US-441 in Tennessee.

This is the top of the bridge.
You would not even know it was there if you were not looking for it.



There was no place to stop below to get a picture of the underside of the nice stone bridge, and we were running a little late.

One of the views on Old TN-73 Scenic.



This is pretty much cutting across the middle of the Smoky Mountains.

We found a nice spring along that road too.



This is where we turned off of Old TN-73 onto New TN-73 / US-321.



A nice valley pretty much on the western side of the Smoky Mountains.



From there we turned left onto Foothills Parkway.
This is one of the overlooks on that road.
The road reminded me of Skyline Drive.



I was getting a little tired by now.
Dozing off on any road in any vehicle is a NO-NO.
But perseverance pays off.



At the end was our junction with US-129.
The Tail end of the Tail of the Dragon !
Or is this the Head end of the Tail ?



And we is headed that'a way !



----------

Road Loop, US-441, Gatlinburg, TN
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Old 06-05-2014, 11:33 AM   #1557
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Three and a half more miles and we would start the first of 318 curves.

They do warn trucks and give them a place to turn around before they get to that section.



I think they should be more emphatic about who goes past this sign from some of the pictures I have seen.





There was no more picture taking for me for another 11 miles !



I would like to thank my wife for taking some GREAT actions shots on the Tail of the Dragon.



I pulled off onto one overlook to make sure my wife was OK !



One of the many dams in the area.



I always have liked riding these roads in West Virginia in a car.
On the bike this day I was handling it a lot better than I thought I would !

I also noticed on the road someone had spray painted PULL OFF with an arrow to show where a pull off was.
I thought I would need that to get out of more adept bikers way

There was also spray painted in yellow SLO just before a sharp curve.
But the signs and looking ahead seemed to be enough.
But better to be safe then sorry.

So now it was time to get back to work !



Needless to say, I was not tired anymore !



As you can see, you no sooner get out of one corner and you are into the next.



There were no real Hairpin Turns on this road.
There are a lot of sharp curves with steep climbs.
That is fun.



I was in 3rd gear most of the time, and 2nd gear to make those sharp turns and pulling the hills.



Here is one of the spots where killboy takes pictures of every bike as they go by.





I could have sworn I was leaned over further than that !



The second killboy spot.





A picture of my wife taking a picture of killboy !



Hmmm ! Looks familiar !







I think you all know I am not a very aggressive rider, but I actually had two people pull over and let ME by !

This was one of them.
And this was right near the end of the 318 curves.





Mission Accomplished !
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Old 06-05-2014, 12:21 PM   #1558
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First order of business was lunch.



I had taken more time than I thought I would need at Clingmans Dome.
It was only a half mile paved path !
How hard could that be ?



We were here in the middle of the week and there were not many bikers here.
That made the ride pretty nice.
No one trying to show off !



Some nice Neon at the Dragon's Den Pub & Grill



I had the Grilled Chicken.
It was very good.
Nothing fancy, but very good none the less.



These were by the cash register.





The entire ceiling of the restaurant was covered with t-shirts.





Looked like they were from different groups who made special t-shirts for their trip to The Dragon.



These two caught my eye.







There was also a display case full of patches.
That was full so they started pinning them up above the windows.



When I was planning my trip I was having a hard time figuring out exactly what is here and where everything was.
So I will note each particular object on my map just in case any of you who have not been here get a chance to make it to this Motorcycle Mecca!

There is the Dragon's Den Pub & Grill, which we ate at right at the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort.
And across the street was a BBQ pit where they were cooking up some great smelling BBQ !

That seems to be the only food in the immediate area.
And the only two places to stop here at Deals Gap.

Deals Gap seems to be the name of two towns.
One in Tennessee and the other in North Carolina.
Which pretty much are one and the same as far as us outsiders are concerned.
There is no real town of Deals Gap, TN.
It looks like the actual name of Deals Gap falls into North Carolina.
The Tail of the Dragon road portion, aka US-129 is almost entirely in Tennessee.
The Tail of the Dragon and Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort are 1/2 mile south of the Tennessee boarder.


Tail of the Dragon, US-129
Check out the slide show they show at the top of their page.
Quite interesting.

Tail of the Dragon is also the name of a Souvenir Stand across the street from the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort. (Pictures to follow)
Killboy is stationed here.

Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort
Located here is a Gas Station, the Restaurant we ate at, the Tree of Shame, and a Motel. (Pictures to follow)
Their history tab shows some great old pictures from before this place was a motorcycle hot spot.

And just in case here is an outsiders view on Wikipedia !
They say the speed limit on this road was 55 MPH before 1992 !
I can not see anyone doing that speed no matter how good you are!
The current Speed Limit is 30 MPH and is said to be highly enforced, mainly due to over zealous motorcyclists !

I think I saw one at the northern end before I got to the curves.

The local names for this stretch of US-129 are Tapoco Road, in NC and Calderwood Highway, in TN.
That of course is not as impressive as Tail of the Dragon !

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Deals Gap, NC, Dragon's Den Pub & Grill @14
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Old 06-05-2014, 01:06 PM   #1559
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The Dragon still eyeing up my bike !





I did not want to add any parts to the collection here at Deals Gap.
Like this nice Ash Tray !



This is a nice wood carving in front of the restaurant.



A nice place for photo-ops.



I don't know what happened.
Perhaps that is my serious look, or my wife took the picture before I was ready !



He looks happier than I do !
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Old 06-05-2014, 01:12 PM   #1560
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Spectacular!

Steve, Debbie, fantastic travelog and photographs. No wonder we haven't seen you tagging much around Southern NJ lately. Compared to those areas in Tennessee and North Carolina, South Joisey is pretty tame!



p.s., pretty good lean angles on the new bike through the "Gap"!
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