We loaded the bikes up, at the unreasonable hour of 10 AM, and hit the road. Our first stop was a little unorthodox. Our vet had left our practice and was opening her own hospital in Gainesville. We wanted to be supportive and see the new facilities. WOW!! She did a great job designing the new hospital. We oogled and toured and chatted for about an hour, then suited back up.
This little side trip wasn't too far out of the way but gave us the opportunity to ride the roads directly north of Lake Lanier. These roads have always been a little out of the way for us while traveling north. We discovered they were some beautiful, sweeping, country lanes fairly devoid of development. Guess it is too far out of the way for other people too. Yet another area we would be more then happy to purchase 40 acres in and create our retreat.
Again, we traveled through Helen and promptly were stuck in summertime traffic. This proved more then we could handle and we stopped for lunch at Wendy's. Not the best option around but it was quick, easy to get to and out of traffic!! This was our make or break time to decide if we would try for Cherohala or just have some fun on the local roads. As stated we had gotten a late start and it was almost 2 PM by this time. To attempt Cherohala was committing another 8+ hours to the road.
We hit all the same roads as last time, but made it to Robbinsville with clear skies and without rain. We pit stopped at a gas station to fuel us and the bikes. We sat on the walkway, ate our candy bars, chatted with some locals about the roads and watched all the bikes pushing towards the Dragon. As always, any stop seems to eat up 30 minutes and this one was true to form. We were back on the road by 4 PM and hit our first Cherohala turnout and photo-op at 4:15.
Finally! Temperatures were nice, sky was a beautiful blue, fluffy clouds skidded across the sky. And stopped everywhere we could and enjoyed the sights.
We started thinking of getting a move on when the gray clouds started rolling overhead. Those and the knats that kept flitting around, even with the helmets on.
We hit the Tennessee line and the southern facing portion of the mountains and the sun shone down.
With the weather clearing up we determined we had the time to take a short side trip to Bald River Falls, off of the skyway.
Interestingly, the road for the falls crosses a bridge allowing those lazy flippin' cagers to drive by the falls, lean out the window, stretch out the arm with the attached camera take a picture and not ever bother to get out, stretch and enjoy some quiet and clean air. It also allows for cycles to park against the siderail and take some pretty backdrop pictures. Which we didn't do... ;-) Again, just means that we get to make arrangements to go back.
It was a short jaunt to Tellico Plains and coming up on 7 PM. We needed dinner but didn't want to take the time of a sit down place with a 3 1/2 hour drive still ahead of us. We decided to continue on with our crappy junk food options and stop at the gas station that had a little kitchen. Darn! The kitchen was closed. We scoured the shelves and settled on the canned and microwaveable Dinty Moore Stew type meals. The ladies were nice enough to heat them for us and we took them outside to enjoy. At least we did supplement it with some healthy bananas. While eating one of the locals engaged us. He had ridden up on a dusty and dented old Harley Dyna. He was great to talk with, was building a house nearby, loved the region and chided me on not riding my bike to its full potential as evidenced by the chicken stripes still evident on my tires. :-) Can't win them all...
We broke away, deigned to take the highways home to hit higher speeds and make better time home. We were doing well until C's helmet mike battery died. About half way home we stopped in a parking lot and allowed him to charge it a little and take our stretch break. After a while it was just time to get home. So we booked it.
Statistics: 358 miles, 12 hours 50 minutes, 1 new waterfall, many interesting bikes to chat with.
WE had a wonderful day. Now go take your own ride.