Mini-Vacation: Atlanta and Maggie Valley

After the almost single minded focus on the November election with it’s exciting conclusion, it was time for a getaway.

First stop: Atlanta and a quick visit with Andrew and Jon.

And Tela and Wilson, too.

We attended the Virginia Tech / Georgia Tech football game (my team lost …) but we also enjoyed site seeing, a little shopping (a very little), and lots of good food and drink.  Surprisingly, I didn’t take many photos, but I was pretty happy with the few shots that I did take.

After leaving Georgia, I hit the road for Maggie Valley.  Set in the mountains of North Carolina, the town is situated near the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Cherokee Indian Reservation.

We enjoyed visiting the Wheels Through Time motorcycle museum

and the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.

It was wonderful to have unplanned time to explore without a specific agenda,

and to enjoy the beauty of nature’s gifts.

Happiness!

The Perfect Recipe

The photos and stories from my trip to Atlanta are not quite ready for prime time posting, but the photos from an incredible day on the motorcycle are.  It was the perfect recipe for a day ride: great weather, good roads, and wonderful friends.

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This past Sunday I rode a little over 200 miles through the back roads of Virginia and North Carolina with three of my favs.

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We also spent some time on the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) which offers wide sweeping curves and great views.  The BRP which is America’s longest linear park, runs for 469 miles (755 km) through 29 Virginia and North Carolina counties, mostly along the Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains.

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The BRP celebrated it’s 75th Anniversary in 2010 and while I do not know for sure, I believe these stone walls have been around since the parkway was constructed.

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 You may remember that I celebrated my 50th birthday that same year with a solo ride on the BRP, the first of several solo rides.

 5 Days / 3 States / 925 Miles.

You can see photos from that incredible trip here and here.

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Despite the various stops along the way, which offer the chance to bring out the camera, it is the riding that makes the day so great.  The bike and I rolled smoothly over the miles, and we flowed through the curves with ease.  I was completely content.

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Seriously, wouldn’t you be?

It Really IS About the Bike!

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Life on the Bike and Other FabThings has been about much more than motorcycles, especially through this very cold, icy winter.  Thankfully, photography and travel are a big part of this blog, too.  Now that warmer temperatures are finally here, I can once again combine all three.

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Photo Credit: Cherie Yost

Seven bikes with ten friends riding, set out yesterday morning for Burnt Chimney, Virginia, a small community in Franklin, VA, near Smith Mountain Lake.  Led by Dave, we rode 150 miles on back roads and the Blue Ridge Parkway, where this view was our reward for the ride.  You’ve heard me praise the beauty of this part of the world many times, and this photo is just a bit more evidence to support the claim.

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The next stop was Sunken City Brewing Company, a small, fairly new craft brewery near Smith Mountain Lake.

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We were all so happy to be out of the house, out of the routine, and enjoying time with friends and on the bike.

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Next stop: Mangos Bar and Grill at Smith Mountain Lake.

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We toasted a return to warm weather riding, live music, good pub food, and friendship.

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I wished I’d gotten this guy’s name.  He sure entertained the crowd, and gave me the opportunity to play with my camera.

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(this is an advanced peek at my Monochromia post for Saturday … shhhhh)

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What a great day on the bike!

We’ve built a Sunday ride into the weekend campaign schedule.  Saturdays are for knocking doors, and I’ll be on the phone making calls for four hours on Sunday evenings.

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Photo Credit: Cherie Yost

But Sunday daytime?  It’s all about the ride!

Thunder Ridge

The Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) is a 469 mile drive that connects the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, and I’ve ridden every one of those miles on the bike.  In fact, I took my first solo ride on the BRP, celebrating my 50th Birthday, 4 years, and 2 cameras, ago. You can read about that ride here and here if you’d like.

Even though I’ve ridden on the BRP many times, I still see something new with each visit.

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 Yesterday’s 230 mile ride, part of which was on the BRP, included a stop at Thunder Ridge, at Milepost 75.

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A very short hike reveals a view of the Allegheny Mountains and Arnold’s Valley, elevation 3485 ft.

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The view made me think of a blanket made of mountains.

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We stood there admiring this incredible view, feeling the sun on our faces while the wind blew with gusto, and then took the trail back to the bikes.

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What an incredible gift it is to live right near the Blue Ridge Parkway.

“Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2010, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a product of the New Deal’s efforts to provide jobs to the unemployed of the Great Depression. Construction began in September 1935 at Cumberland Knob near the North Carolina and Virginia state line.

The idea was to create a link between the Shenandoah National Park to the edge of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Completed in 1983, the Parkway’s history has been highlighted by documentarian Ken Burns in the six-part “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” series originally aired on PBS”.

Above and Below

A week or so ago, I was able to ride along the Blue Ridge Parkway with a couple friends.  It was a bright, summer day and clouds filled the sky.  What a joy it is to ride along that curvy parkway, feeling the wind and the sun, and to view this incredible scenery.

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We stopped at the Peaks of Otter Lodge for a short break and this time saw the clouds reflected in the water of the lake.

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Clouds above.  Clouds below.

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Thanks so much for stopping by today.  I’m very much looking forward to my vacation, which is coming up in just 6 days!

The Chesapeake Bay.  The Delaware Coast.   Kentucky.

Very different destinations and different modes of transportation.  There will be stories to tell and photos to share and I cannot wait. These past 9 months have not found me traveling much.  It is time to get back out there!

Be sure to visit Monochromia and check out some incredible B&W Photography!

Blowing in the Wind

After riding 125 miles, much of it along the Blue Ridge Parkway, you might expect me to post photos of the changing fall leaves.

While I did see many beautiful sites as I followed along behind my friend Dave, we didn’t stop for photos because we had a destination in mind.

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Raps is a full service 1950’s / 60’s Renaissance Store and Ice Cream Shop adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Raps also has a restaurant / bar and grill and features live music on the weekends.

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The beer was cold, the music was classic rock, and several in the crowd were dancing.  What really attracted my eye though, were the bright flags flapping in the wind against the brilliant blue sky.

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You must be thinking: “really, LB, a post about flags?  The kind that can easily be found flying at any car dealership”.  What can I say?  They made me happy!

Eleven days ’til the Fall Bike Trip!!  Now THAT really makes me happy!

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Hangin’ With the Big Dogs: A 500 Mile Weekend

I just LOVE the first long rides of the summer!

Those who truly love riding motorcycles, will ride all year long.  Even on cold winter days, as long as the sun is shining.  Winter rides are incredibly satisfying but they’re often shorter in duration, with far fewer miles covered.   So when the warm weather arrives, the long riding begins, and there is nothing like it!

This past Saturday, during the middle of an early morning hair appointment, I got the call to ride.  My two favorite bikers, Dave and Michael (My Guys) are great friends, awesome mentors, and have taught me so much about riding these past 5 years.  They told me I had 10 minutes to be ready (I made it in 15) and off we went!

We rode 350 miles,  through 8 counties, and on too many country roads to count.

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This bridge was built in 1896 and was just closed to traffic this past year.

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I’m told that this tower was used to measure river water levels.

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It was a glorious day for riding!

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Lunch at Devils Backbone Brewery offered much needed fuel for our bodies, and then we turned and headed for home.

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We hit the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) and pulled back into Radford around 8pm that evening.

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Sunday morning found us back on the bikes, this time joined by our good (and fun!) friends Cherie, Tim, Diana, and Jeff. Dave always leads the way and while I may not always know where we are headed, I am always confident that the ride will be a blast!

Total mileage today was  145 miles.

After a brief stop at Tuggles Gap, a restaurant and motel serving BRP customers for over 70 years, we took off in earnest.

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Wide sweeping curves on the BRP and much tighter curves on Rt 8 in Floyd and Patrick Counties, eventually took us to Squirrel Spur.

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Our final stop was the Kanawha Valley Arena.  The arena “was formed in the interest of Equestrian Enthusiasts” and in addition to the professional arena, barn, and corrals, Kanawha has a Carriage House Museum and a Carriage House Saloon.

And a covered bridge!

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This scene just made me chuckle and I had to take a picture!

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What a weekend on the bike!  I simply can’t wait for the next one!