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Old 05-19-2013, 09:35 AM   #1
DavidInPalmetto OP
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May 2013 Blue Ridge Parkway

The wife and I just returned from an 8 day ride on our 1996 Harley Davidson Softail.
We had ridden a short section last year near Ashville (Mount Mitchell to Mount Piscah) and fell in love with the Parkway. When we returned I began my planning. I wanted to do a loop so we would cover new ground the whole ride.
It was decided to go to Myrtle Beach, SC. The next stop would be Virginia Beach, Va. The third day would get us near the beginning of the Parkway, Staunton, Va. From there it would be Willville Motorcycle Campground, High Country Motorcycle Campground then Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground. We would then ride to the end of the Parkway near Cherokee and the entrance to the Great Smokey National Park and ride south to Helen, Ga. as our last stop before home.
Google Maps says that it's 1673 miles, not including side trips.

With limited storage on the Softail I decided that we would stay in motels and camp cabins so we did not carry a tent or cooking supplies. We did carry a quilt and a fleece blanket each. I'm not always sure about hotel linens and the KOA that we stayed at in Myrtle Beach did not provide them.

Home to Myrtle Beach, because it was all freeway, was very uneventful. The Softail never missed a beat traveling at 70-75 miles per hour the whole way there. The Softail cruises best at 65 mph but I would have been the tortoise in a hare race.


Note: Rain was forecast for every day except one on this trip. We always had the rain gear in the top of the backpack ready for use but we never pulled them out except the last day. Even then the roads were wet but it did not rain, not once.

When we arrived in Myrtle Beach it was early evening and we were ready to take a break and get ready for tomorrows ride.


The KOA is located only a few blocks off the beach and even though it was the start of bike week here we would have never known. There was not an unusual number of other bikers. Turned out the action was just getting started as we were leaving. Nonetheless, our goal is the Parkway.

We did have a few hours in the morning to have a look around and see a few sites before it was time to leave for Virginia Beach.







Next: Virginia Beach
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Old 05-19-2013, 09:52 AM   #2
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Day 2 Myrtle Beach SC To Virginia Beach Va.



The ride on day 2 was much like the day before. Almost all freeway. Very boring for me and I had to keep reminding myself that the goal is the Parkway.
I will say that the country we saw along the freeways in both North Carolina and Virginia was gorgeous. Both states had large wildflower plantings in various locations along the freeway that were in full bloom. Took a little of the monotony away from the ride.

Once at the hotel is was time for a needed rest. Tomorrow should be a shorter ride and one step closer to the Parkway.

The next norning I was able to get a few beach pictures before it was time to head out.







That morning we had pancakes at the Pocahontas Pancake House. Very good pancakes and the best breakfast turkey sausage I've ever had.



Next: Staunton, Va.
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Old 05-19-2013, 10:07 AM   #3
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Day 3 Staunton Va

Staunton, Va. and the Days Inn is where we will spend the night before picking up the Parkway at the beginning.



Again, an uneventful freeway ride. It did turn out be cold. We had carried just enough gear to stay just barely warm enough for the ride. Never expected low 30's.
We also didn't expect to have to take an underwater tunnel while on I-64. Wasn't that bad. Never rode through an underwater tunnel before.

There were a few interesting areas I would like to see at a later time. Williamsburg, Jamestown, etc.

Although you can't tell, this picture was taken in Williamsburg.



There was another group of riders staying at the hotel. The were going north on the Skyline Parkway while we would be going south.



This view from the hotel let me know that we were getting close.



Next: The Start Of The Parkway and Willville Motorcycle Campground
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Old 05-19-2013, 10:19 AM   #4
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Great so far! Cant wait to see more. One of my dreams is to ride the whole parkway!
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Old 05-19-2013, 10:38 AM   #5
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Day 4 The Start Of The Parkway And Willville Motorcycle Campground.



Finally on the Parkway!




First of all, there are so many pullovers with such great views that it is impossible to stop and see them all. We would still be in the first section if we would have even tried. We had to just pick stops at random and you never really knew what views you might see, or miss.

Here is one stop as an example. It appered to be just a basic pullover. Nice but not great. I noticed a path leading up the hill in the grass and decided to have a look.





I'll let the pictures tell the story for awhile.



























Willville was a very nice motorcycle only campground. Will was as nice as can be and greeted us as soon as we pulled into the drive. He even collected a few dollars each from us and delivered sausage or chicken biscuits to us in the morning.

Coffee, cokes and ice are on the site. Will collects the money on the honor system. Just get what you need and put the money in a can.

We will return one day.
Here is the link to his website.
Willville



Next: On Our Way To High Country Motorcycle Campground.
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Old 05-19-2013, 10:43 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doc4216 View Post
Great so far! Cant wait to see more. One of my dreams is to ride the whole parkway!
Working on it now. I'm hoping to be done by the time I have to return to work in the morning.
There were so many things to see.
We met so many fine people on and off the parkway.

It was an adventure for us that we will never forget.
I wish I could post all the pictures that we took. And I have to give my wife Angie credit for at least half of the pics and she took most of them while riding on the back.
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Old 05-19-2013, 11:04 AM   #7
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Really nice.
It's such a blessing when
it's the two of you riding
together.
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They just stand back and let it all be." Springsteen
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Old 05-19-2013, 11:29 AM   #8
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Day 5 On To High Country Motorcycle Campground

The days ride would consist of more plateau country. It's amazing how much relatively flat country is on top of these mountains at 2500 to 4000 feet.



Mabry Mill







On the way to High Country we stopped at Freeborne's. Great food, nice folks working there and great service. I was told about this place by a gentleman named Bob. We met him on the parkway about 10 miles earlier and he led the way after offering me some of his water.

Below is a picture of a Jail / Wedding Chapel that is across the street from Freeborne's.



Stopping along the Parkway is allowed any where that is safe, all wheels off the road and not otherwise posted. Picnics along the Parkway is a time honored tradition.



















Here is the cabin that we stayed at while in High Country. Great for 60 bucks. Just a note, get supplies before you get here. Nearest supplies are about 20 miles away.
Brent and Marie are nice people and we are happy to have had the opportunity to stay at there place. They do have a work in progress campground but with the stream and the peaceful campground we enjoyed our stay.







Bye to High Country. That's Brent waving goodbye to us.




Next: Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground
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Old 05-19-2013, 11:33 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinbowie View Post
Really nice.
It's such a blessing when
it's the two of you riding
together.
Amen

Without Angie, it wouldn't be the same.
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Old 05-19-2013, 11:57 AM   #10
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Day 6 On To Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground







Below is Grandfather Mountain and you may be able to make out the Linville Viaduct to the extreme left that was built to minimize influence to the environment of the mountain.





















The Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground was a fantastic place to stay and I can make it to here on a weekend. Which I think I will, soon.

They serve breakfast here for a modest charge and it was very good.

Great conversation around the community fire at night and great conversation at the breakfast table.













Next: Helen, Ga.
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Old 05-19-2013, 12:16 PM   #11
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Enjoying your BRP ride

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Old 05-19-2013, 12:49 PM   #12
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Day 7 To The End Of The Parkway And On To Helen Ga



























When we reached the end of the Parkway it was a bit of an anti-climax. There was no sign, no special mile marker. It just ended. We wanted an end of the Parkway picture and this is the best we could do. The end of the Parkway is just a few hundred feet up the road.



Angie at first wanted to see a little more of Cherokee but the more we rode through town the less we wanted to. It's a lot like Pigeon Forge or any other touristy trap type of town. Nothing against that, it's just not for us.




Between Cherokee and Helen (a touristy town as well) there we some nice views of the mountains and most of the way we were followed by the Tuckaseegee River.

Below is a view from a McDonald's parking lot where we took a "comfort" break.



In Helen we ran into a surprise. It's SOWO weekend. I hadn't heard of it either but there we 5000 German import tuner cars registered for a rally in Helen along with hundreds or thousands of cars coming in for the shows and vendors booths. Oh, and parties. All the hotels were packed. The kids here for the shows were packed in the rooms with several more cars per room than allowed. Hence little or no parking for my motorcycle and I needed it to be in view. The hotel clerk helped me find a spot a spot by the dumpster and overall the kids were pretty good. A little hot rodding, a few bottle rockets and what was probably a little bit of underage drinking. Ironically, the only police lights and ticket that we saw was a middle aged gentleman in a Corvette with a dealer tag on it.
I was really shocked, that not once, did I even hear the loud "BOOM - - BOOM BOOM" of someone's subwoofer set at 11 on the dial.
Oh, and there were some really sharp looking cars too.







Next: Ride Home And Recap
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Old 05-19-2013, 01:15 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Enjoying your BRP ride

Thanks GB
I'm not much of a story teller but I'm trying.
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Old 05-19-2013, 02:10 PM   #14
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Helen To Home And The Recap



It rained for most of the night and was misting in the morning when I arose. The forecast was for a good chance of rain and/or thundershowers. After breakfast in the very crowded Huddle House, we packed and put on the rain suits for the ride home.

As soon as we hit GA 400 it became a crowded highway and I knew we were close to home.
Despite the forecast we made it all the way home without a drop falling from the sky.

Recap

I really hate to say this. I need a true touring bike. While I truly love my Softail, it's not a touring bike. I do understand that any bike can be a touring bike but there is a difference between a touring bike and a bike that you tour with.

Not in a hurry but I'm going to sell the Softail and buy a Goldwing. I was in so much pain riding that I could have enjoyed it more had I felt better. Do I know for sure that it will help with a smoother ride and different posture? No, but I did have a very kind 2013 Goldwing owner allow me to sit on his bike and try the feel of it. I really liked it.

Anyway, no hurry on that. The Softail is a great day tripper and I'll continue to ride it for now.

We will also consider lighter weight cold weather gear. Our leathers, while adequate, were very heavy on this long ride and while very tolerable, it could have been better.

Note: We were very surprised that the 2 cold days that we had. We just had enough gear to stay just warm enough. Although there were several days that the evening hot showers were very enjoyable and needed.

I don't think that I could have pre-planned any better that I did.

We were packed to the max. Had zero extra room so we couldn't get any souvenirs. Oh, I did get a Blue Ridge Parkway patch.

We carried 3 cameras with us. An IPhone, Kodak Sport Point and Shoot, and my Fuji4200. Angie used the Kodak from the back of the bike and I only pulled out the Fuji for those special pics. The IPhone camera takes some very good pictures too.

If I had to rate a favorite leg of the journey it would be the section from Blue Ridge MC to Helen. We reached maximum Parkway altitude on this section and the views are some of the best.
Second would be one of the Plateau sections.

If I had to rate a best overnight location it would be the Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground. They had the nicest landscaping, very nice clean cabins, good breakfast, open all night lobby with sofas, magazines, drinks and plug ins for charging phones, etc.
They also had the most campers that we could chat with and talk about today's and tomorrows ride around the fire.

Another thing that I would do different is to stay in a campground in Georgia instead of a hotel in Helen.
Now that TWO or whatever it will be called now is open, that's where I'll try to stay.

After reviewing the pics and offering my feeble attempt at a ride report I have to say that this was a 5 STAR vacation for us. At least I'm hoping that Angie feels that way.

If I see something special that I left out or if I'm able to offer any ideas or thoughts to help if you're planning a similar trip let me know. If I don't know the answer I'll fake it.

Just kidding. Maybe...
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Old 05-19-2013, 02:27 PM   #15
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Nice ride. The BRP is one road nobody should miss.
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