Spent the last few days in Asheville, hanging with old and new friends who showed me around town. Drinks were drunk, food was eaten. Last night I had what may well be the best main course I’ve ever eaten (I may have used the words “my tongue just had an orgasm”), as part of a truly incredible meal. Thanks to all involved, I had a really good time.
Packed up the bike this morning, rode out to 151, had a blast running that back and forth a couple of times, then made my way north on the BRP. Around 1500h I was getting stupid from the heat, and came across the visitor center at Craggy Gardens, so stopped in to rest a bit. The ranger on duty was very friendly and helpful, and suggested a few good places to stop along the way and for the night.
Rested, rehydrated, and cooled off, I got back on the bike and on my way. A well-timed glance down at the GPS showed a twisty road coming up on my left, and plenty of time to take a bit of a side trip, so I rode up to the top of Mount Mitchell, walked around for a bit then made the “hike” (paved path, maybe 250m long) up to the observation “tower” (a deck with a long ramp) because I was there and it would be stupid not to. Couldn’t see much, on account of the Very Dark cloud bank that moved to surround the mountain while I was walking up.
Back at the bike, I suited up in the cloud and started rolling. As soon as I got below the cloud, it was raining, but not enough to be worth putting on rain gear as warm as it was.
That was a mistake.
Back on the BRP I hadn’t gone more than 10 miles before I came around a corner into a torrential downpour. A few miles more, and visibility was 1-2m. For once, I was glad to be stuck between two slow moving cars. Eventually came across a sign for a camp, figured I’d pull in and see if they had a lodge, but no such luck. Parked next to their (closed) camp store to sit under the overhanging roof to get out of the storm while determining my next move. A pair of Goldwings with trailers pulled up while I was trying to find a likely place to aim for, and we shared the bit of overhanging roof I’d found to get out of the thunderstorm for a bit. 45 minutes later the storm had eased up, and I’d managed to get enough signal to pull up a radar map that suggested this gap in the storm wasn’t going to last long.
The next town on my way was Little Switzerland, about 10 miles up the parkway, and I recalled there was a lodge there that one of the DoD groups uses for their spring ride, so I figured that’d be a good first try. I was the first of the soggy wet motorcyclists to arrive seeking last minute shelter from the storm, but not the last. By the time I’d finished dinner around 1930h, there were 15 other wet riders there, and the staff were setting out tables for two more that had called in.
Casualties: accessory fuse (my bad, fixed), Droid CDMA radio
Tomorrow, north on the BRP. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll stop to see anything along the way, or if I’m just going to ride through to avoid a likely slab day later. We’ll see how the mood strikes, I guess.