We bought our 2008 Goldwing so that we can do adventures together. Soon after we got it Dana suggested we take a trip to Biltmore Estate in Asheville NC. The Biltmore was a destination she had anticipated for quite a while, and I wanted to go on The Tail Of The Dragon. Hey, we can combine both in one trip!
So, for the next several weeks we were taking short trips going further and further away from home each weekend. We had booked our hotel and some of our tours at the Biltmore, but for the trip over we had no plans. We will stop when we feel its right and find a place to stay.
We had packed the Goldwing the night before, and left Friday morning at 5:30. As we crossed Percy Priest Lake on Hobson Pike we got to see the sunrise over the lake. We turned right onto Stewarts Ferry Road winding our way through Gladeville and then took Central Pike over to US 70. U.S. Route 70 is an east–west United States highway that runs for 2,385 miles from eastern North Carolina to east-central Arizona. (Another trip I would love to do.)
We passed through Watertown, Smithville, Sparta and then Crossville. We had been to each of these towns on separate trips when we were building up our stamina for riding. We stopped in Crossville at Grinder House Coffee for breakfast. Great food, great coffee, and great conversation with Angela our hostess, who is also a rider.
After breakfast we continued on US 70, but now this was now all new territory for us. Shortly after leaving Crossville we picked up state road 68. We passed through Spring City where the terrain is more wooded and curvy. We passed by Watts Bar Nuclear Power Plant then cross the Watts Bar Dam, which houses a hydroelectric plant. We continued till we got to US 411, headed north passing through Vonore and crossed the Little Tennessee River. Turning south on state road 72 we we rode through the Great Smokey Mountains and we along the Little Tennessee River.
We reached US 129 and stopped and rested at a small gift and souvenir shop called Dragon 318 At Punkin Center. The owners were extremely helpful in helping us decide where we might want to spend the night, and about the motorcycle museum, Wheels Through Time. That is a place that I had wanted to go, and did not know it was on our route!
Back on the road and headed down US 129 we were just minutes from “The Tail Of The Dragon.” Then I saw the sign- “WARNING- High Crash Area Next 11 Miles”.
I told Dana “Well, Here we go!” And I positioned my body a little more upright and forward, negotiating each curve with precision. And then it started raining!! There was quite a bit of tree cover, so the road was not too wet, except when we came to each clearing. But I was focused on the road and every curve I approached.
Eleven miles and 45 minutes later we crossed into North Carolina and reach the end of The Dragon at Deals Gap Motorcycle Retreat. We pulled into the parking lot full of bikes of all types. The rain had stopped about ¾ of the way down, but now we were slightly wet. This was a good spot to rest. We saw other Goldwingers who had just attended Wing Ding and got to share road stories with them. We had planned on eating there at the grill, but decided to keep moving to stay ahead of the rain.
We hopped on NC 28 riding along side Cheoah Lake for several miles. Some of these curves are just as tight or tighter than the Dragon. After we went through the town of Almond, still in the mountains, we jumped on US 74 for a short distance and then onto US 19. This took us through Bryson City, the Eastern Cherokee Reservation, the town of Cherokee, and more rain… this time a very heavy rain. We had to pull off the road for a few minutes till it slowed down. When we continued the rain stopped within 5 minutes.
Shortly after we exited the reservation we arrived at Maggie Valley and proceeded to start looking for a place to spend the night. Every eatery and every hotel in this small town had motorcycles in their parking lots. We pulled into a Quality Inn and parked near some other bikes. After we got a room, we walked down the street to Legends Sports Grill to get a bite to eat. Then we headed back to the hotel where they had a covered pavilion with rocking chairs. We were joined by another biker couple and just got to relax and talk. We also got to see a double rainbow against the mountains.
The next morning, Saturday, we walked down the street to the famous Joey’s Pancake house. Again, bikers everywhere. After breakfast we walked back to our room and packed the motorcycle and rode down the street to the Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum. There were only four other bikes when we got there. This is a great museum of American made motorcycles from every era. There is so much to see you can not get through it in one day. (I see another trip here in the future.) When we left, the gravel parking lot was full of other motorcycles.
We got back on US 19 untill it met up with 23, and an hour later we were at the Biltmore Estates. We stayed at the Village Hotel On Biltmore Estate. Over the next two days we visit the gardens, a Chihuly glass exhibit, took a tour around the property, and a special roof top tour of the Mansion.
We decided to leave 5:00 AM ET, Monday to avoid any Labor Day traffic. It was dark, VERY dark! We immediately got onto Interstate 40 and went thru the Great Smoky Mountains. Looking down at my navigation display I noticed the time was a little after 4AM CT. (The navigation doesn’t change for the time zones.) It was going to be a while before we get to see the sunrise!
We got off at a Sevierville TN exit and got some fuel and the sun was rising. So we decided to take back roads home. I wasn’t sure of the back road route, so I punched our address into the navigation system and started following its directions. Going through downtown Knoxville we wound our way through so many streets… good thing it was still very early in the morning, and there was no traffic.
On the other side of Knoxville we were headed south on US 11. I was still a little unfamiliar with the area, but we kept following the navigation, even though I thought we were going too far south. At one point we were sitting at an intersection with US 70. I turned of the navigation and turned right onto US 70. I knew I would eventually see things that looked familiar. After a few more twist and turns I saw a sign for Crossville, and that made me feel better.
By the time we were in Sparta we were riding behind a group of about five motorcyclist and a truck with them. This convoy continued all the way into Watertown where I pulled off to get gas and rest. They went past as I pulled in and pulled into the same station further down. We had the chance to talk to some of them. One was a Goldwinger and belonged to the Clarksville Chapter TN-Q. We found out they were part of a biker church out of Clarksville. After we fueled up we retraced our steps back home.
Total miles ridden, 651.