Event planning as a volunteer, not a professional, is motivated by passion for a cause.  It requires alot of work, but the drive to succeed is great.  Event planning for a friend is motivated by love and the desire to create fun and happiness.

We celebrated a friend’s 50th Birthday this past weekend, and not only was it a lot of fun, it gave me an opportunity to play with photography.

You’ve heard me lament (whine?) about the lack of time spent with my camera in hand.

This event allowed me to find some time, AND enjoy a cocktail.

A lovely  way to spend an evening.

50th Birthday Solo Ride Part 2 – The Tail of the Dragon

This is the second of a two part post about my 50th Birthday Solo Motorcycle Ride (2010).  All pictures were taken with my old point and shoot camera.  Part 1 can be found here:


Day 3 – The End of the BRP and the Folks Along the Way

Hello from Bryson City, NC, located at the southern end of the BRP.

I rode the last 78 miles of parkway today and it took me a long time because I kept stopping to stare at the beautiful mountains!  The section between milepost 400 and 425 is stunning with the elevation between 4500 and 5500 ft and the highest point of the BRP at 6053 ft. I have taken so many pictures, always thinking “THIS is the best one”.



I had hoped to be able to say I was writing from the Gearhead Motel outside Bryson City as recommended by a couple bikers I met, BUT when I went to check it out, it just didn’t feel right – no one was there and it seemed deserted. So, I headed on down the road and checked into the Sleep Inn instead.  Later that evening, I rode back by The Gearhead and it was full of bikes and people and it looked like fun!  I’d made a mistake by passing on it earlier.

The lively folks outside the motel reminded me that I haven’t said anything about the great people I have been meeting along the way. I met two bikers from Indiana (the ones who recommended the Gearhead) who used brute strength to adjust my highway pegs (which got out of position when I dropped the bike yesterday – yeah, I didn’t tell you that, did I?).

I also loved the folks, about my parents age, who said “if you were my daughter I’d kill you for riding alone”, to which I replied “why do you think I haven’t told my parents?”

I met a guy who hauled his bike from Missouri so that he could ride the BRP while his wife went shopping in Asheville.  Smart man!

There have been lots of other fun people along the way … and I’m grateful that some have been willing to take a few pictures of me along the ride.


After checking into the hotel, I rode back down to town and had a great taco salad and a couple micro brews at a local dive bar (located in a 70 year old WWII quonset hut with no A/C).  I followed that with a quick dip in the hotel pool and am now so ready for sleep.

Across the Tracks Bar and Restaurant Bryson City, NC

Across The Tracks Bar and Restaurant, Bryson City, NC

I’ve ridden about 500 miles so far … not much compared to my friends who ride cross country but I’m proud and happy.

Tomorrow … The Dragon.

Day 4 – Curves

If you’ve been following along so far, you know that I’ve written about some of the fun curves and elevation changes that I’ve experienced during this trip.  Those curves were nothing like the ones I have ridden all day today!!

The Tail of the Dragon is known world wide for its 318 curves in 11 miles.  You get to put a sticker on your helmet and your bike if you finish (you have to ride it both ways), but your broken bike parts go on the Tree of Shame if you don’t.

120The Tree of Shame

Well, I am proud to say I have a sticker on both the bike and the helmet!!  Woo hoo!!  So proud! And just like when you raft a river, there are professional photographers posted along the way taking your picture.


The road is a blast to ride – even though I went at granny pace- 30 miles/hr – but the route to get to The Dragon was fun, too.  Rt 28 is just as curvy and I loved riding through the lush, green Nantahala National Forest.

I rode by signs like this all day long.

 One of many signs like this along Rt 58 in VA


After 8 hours on the bike, I checked into the Iron Horse Station in Hot Springs, NC.  The road to get to Hot Springs (Rt 209) was just as curvy as the Dragon and runs for 30 miles, a lot of it through the Pisgah National Forest.  Beautiful!  I was often entirely alone on that road, and I am grateful I had no problems.


The Iron Horse Station Inn and Restaurant, Hot Springs, NC


Hot Springs is a cool little (very little) historic train town.  I am staying in a restored train depot and my room is perfect!  The “tourists” are an interesting mix of bikers, river runners, AT hikers and those seeking a getaway from as far away as Atlanta, Knoxville and Asheville.  As always I had a cold beer and a shower, and after that, I enjoyed a wonderful glass of red wine with some delicious white bean & chicken chili.  Yum!!  I am soooo content.  How perfect that the train came through as a fitting end to a wonderful evening.

Almost 700 miles so far!  I’m supposed to hit the road for home tomorrow … I am really not ready for that!

Day 5 – What a Ride!!

A huge storm woke me during the night and I wondered how wet my bike would be.  The sun was shining brightly this morning though and I thought all was well.  I am not sure why I didn’t think about all the water that the seat had absorbed during the storm – I rode with a wet ass all day!   Lessons learned!  🙂

I truly enjoyed my stay in Hot Springs.  I loved the fact that every single person wished me a good morning as I walked to the Smokey Mountain Diner for breakfast.  I passed several buses loaded down with rafts and tubes and I kind of wish I had stayed and spent some time floating the French BroadRiver.

But … it was time to ride on.

I rode 275 miles today (a record for me) and I spent almost all of it on back roads.  I rode through parts of the Cherokee National Forest, the Jefferson National Forest and the Mt Rogers Recreation Area.  I rode on a long stretch of road that passed through multiple “no stop light” towns  in Tennessee.  I loved the names – Minneapolis, Cranberry, Plumtree (which had flower boxes on the bridge through town), and one place called Lick Log.  Really?  Who names a town Lick Log?

Plumtree, NC along Rt 19


I’ve been really lucky in terms of weather on this trip, but today was the best day yet!  An “Idaho sky” for sure!  I have loved these past 5 days – no plan and the freedom to spontaneously pick my route.  Today I literally went from one town to the next, choosing the roads as I went along. The folks I met, who helped to guide me, were wonderful.

I often hear bikers talk about the wind in the face and the freedom of the road … I feel like I finally get it!

It has been such an amazing trip and I really was not ready to come home.   Even still, I was glad to cross over the New River for the first time in 5 days.  Thanks to Fred and Cindy for welcoming me back home with a glass of wine, and to Amy for sharing my traditional end of the day beer with me.


What a ride!! 925 miles over 5 days and 3 states. What a great way to celebrate my 50th Birthday!!

50th Birthday Solo Ride – The Blue Ridge Parkway, Part 1

“To some, turning 50 is anticipated with dread.  Me?  I started planning my 50th birthday celebration a year or two before I even reached that age.  I considered 50 a milestone to celebrate; a time to revel in the joy of feeling young and alive with endless possibilities!”

Day 1 - 50th Birthday Solo Bike Trip!

This blog entry is based on my 50th Birthday Solo Ride journals and emails.  Each summer when I take my solo ride, I send an email to the folks back home – to let them know I’m okay (they worry) and to share the joy of the ride.  I was not blogging back then and have been wanting to post about the ride ever since I started this blog in June of 2012.  Since 2010, I have taken two other solo rides.  I rode to, from, and along the Outer Banks of North Carolina in 2011 and in 2012, I rode through Tennessee.  The Tennessee story can be found in the August 2012 archives. 


I have used journal entries and publications to write this post.  My ride was featured in The Roanoke Times http://www.roanoke.com/news/nrv/community/wb/258574,  WomensRidersNow (http://www.womenridersnow.com), and my local HOG chapter.  

All pictures were taken with my old Canon power shot.  This is the first of two posts about the 2010 trip.

I decided to simultaneously celebrate my big 5-0 and the 75th Anniversary of the Blue Ridge Parkway by riding the North Carolina portion of “America’s Favorite Drive”.  This route offered me the spontaneity I longed for while never being more than 400 miles from home … the perfect way for an intermediate rider to venture into solo riding.  Yes, other women have gone farther and stayed out longer, but my 925 mile / 5 day / 3 state ride were perfect for me and one that I think any woman would feel comfortable attempting.

T-Minus one day “til the 50th Birthday Solo Ride

Tomorrow morning I leave on my very first solo motorcycle trip (and actually only my second long distance trip altogether).  I am so excited … mostly because of the trip, but also because I have two weeks off of work.  I know that some are nervous about me traveling on the bike on my own, but I am taking every precaution and I am well prepared.  I’ll only be gone for 5 days and will never be more than 400 miles away.

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My plan is to tour many of the places along the North Carolina portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I have no specific schedule nor do I have any hotel reservations … I’m looking for a bit of spontaneity!  I do know that I want to ride a lot, eat some good local food, enjoy a cold beer in the evenings, hike and swim along the way, and end it all by riding the Tail of the Dragon on the NC/Tenn border … 319 curves over 11 miles!

Day 1 – The Adventure Begins

I can’t believe that the first day of riding is done!

I was wide awake at 6am – so ready for vacation and this long planned ride.  Michael and I pulled out of Radford at 9am (after taking pictures and making sure that my bags were tied down well).  He also rode behind me for quite awhile to make sure things stayed tied down.  I’m so glad I had such a great friend to ride part of the first day with!


We rode to Stations Inn in Laurel Springs, NC where I ate a “Harley Dog” (hot dog, bacon and cheese – no calories there, huh?).  That is where we parted and I have to confess to a few tears as I headed off on my own.  But within 5 minutes I was fine and ready for my adventure.


I got caught in my first rain storm and spent 20 minutes hanging out under an overpass.  Guess I’m a real biker now – ha!  The rest of the ride went smoothly and the NC portion of the BRP is beautiful!


I rode on to Blowing Rock, NC (200 miles the first day).  What a cool place!  There are lots of shops and restaurants in this little mountain town.  I found a cute little motel where the owner offered to bring out towels to wipe down the bike in the morning.  My clean comfortable little room , with a porch out front, only cost me $69!  How cool is that?

I just finished a couple of cold beers and some Fish and Chips at a local pub.  I plan to read a bit on my little porch and then I promise you, this woman will sleep well tonight!


Day 2 – Exploring the BRP on Bike and on Foot 

I slept better than I have in weeks!! And started the day by enjoying scrambled eggs on the porch of a cute little coffee shop … And for only $2!  I really enjoyed my short time in Blowing Rock.


I was on the BRP by 9am and rode back and forth several times across the Linn Cove Viaduct, a part of the parkway that swings out adjacent to the mountain.  It was designed to preserve the scenery and the fragile environment and I just laughed and hooted out loud as I rode, it was so cool!!


From there I headed to GrandfatherMountain and walked over the mile high swinging bridge.



I followed that by hiking to LinvilleFalls. It was overcast all day so the pictures won’t be great but my memories are wonderful.


I knew that today would find me stopping a lot but when 1p came and I’d only gone 40 miles I decided I’d better head on down the road.  The NC part of the BRP is beautiful – so much different than VA.  The route is full of constant elevation changes, curves, tunnels and gorgeous views.  Makes for very fun riding!!



Next stop was 40 miles later at Mount Mitchell, where the elevation is over 6500 ft.  Even though I couldn’t see far, it was neat to have the fog swirl around me as I walked around up there.  From that point it was a curvy ride back down out of the mountains.

Highest Elevation in North Carolina - Mt Michell

Mt Mitchell

I checked into a hotel in Asheville (where I was able to talk down the price by telling the desk clerk about my 50th birthday solo ride – my friend Dave told me never to accept first price and it worked!!).  I enjoyed beer, fried pickles and bluegrass in a place called the Fiddlin Pig. They even played the Hokie Pokey!  And I just happened to have a VT shirt on! Life is good!