Posted by: Jessie | May 17, 2011

Blue Ridge Parkway Trip, Day Four: Peaks of Otter to Asheville

We had a serious discussion in the morning, just before the fog started rolling in.  We were quite a bit behind schedule.  We had stopped early several times due to the cold and the rain, each time hoping that the next day have nicer weather.  Now we either had to catch up with our schedule or cut a day from either Asheville or Deal’s Gap.  We agreed that even if there was bad weather, we would still push through to Asheville.  Eric called the hotel and made a reservation.  Then the fog rolled in.  I was grumbling about what a bad sign that was, when all the sudden the fog was gone.  It was pretty cool that morning, so I put on my heated liner.  With a last look at the giant rhododendrons out front, we got on the road by about 10:30 am.

We rode for an hour or so, then saw a beautiful overlook and decided to stop and stretch our legs.  Wow, it had really warmed up.  We took off our extra layers and went for a walk.  The site where we stopped turned out to be an old dam and power plant that was over 100 years old.  We walked in the woods and on the rocks in the river before getting back on the bikes.  That was the last time we would be warm for the rest of the day. 

 As we rode back up the mountain it got much colder.  And it started to rain.  And the fog returned.  But we kept moving.  We wanted to make it to Asheville that night.  So we pushed on.  I told myself  “That’s ok.  I can do this.  It builds character.” 

For the rest of the day we rode in and out of the fog, rain, and cold.  Eric says “Every time I felt myself getting a little whiney, we would come around a corner and there would be a guy on a bicycle.”  It turns out that there is some kind of annual bicycle event going on this week.  People packed all their camping gear on the bike and rode the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway over the course of several days.  We stopped at a picnic area for lunch and a bathroom stop, and there was a cyclist on his cell phone making hotel and rental car arrangements.  He decided he was not having fun and was ready to go home.

At one point I saw that the road had become a viaduct that went along the edge of the mountain, and I realized that we must be at Grandfather Mountain.  This was the last piece of the Blue Ridge Parkway to be built, it was not completed until 1987.  It took so long to build because they did not want to cut into the mountain to build it.  Instead they built bridges and viaducts along side of the mountain.  This is one of the most beautiful parts of the Parkway, and I could not see a thing!  Over the edge of the viaduct all I could see was clouds, mist, and fog.  It seemed that if we went off the road we would fall into an endless mist.   As we rode even higher up the mountain it got colder and windier.  At one point I realized that the road was going along the top of the mountain ridge.  I was sure that there were overlooks on either side of the road, and that there would be a spectacular view if it weren’t for the fog and the rain.  “This is an adventure.”  I told myself.  “It’s not an adventure if it’s easy.”  That reminded me of a quote I saw on the internet once… “The only difference between an ordeal and an adventure is your attitude.”

 The wind was pretty strong on the top of the mountain.  It pushed against my bike making it hard to ride in a straight line.  I flattened myself against the tank and started planning what I was going to do when we got to Asheville.  If there was a hot tub, I was going to get in it.  If there was not a hot tub I was going to take a long hot bath.  And when we got to the winery at the Biltmore I was going to buy a bottle of Champagne.  Maybe I would drink it in the hot tub.   By this time my hands were very cold and soaked.  I was wearing my mesh gloves, it had not even occurred to me to bring winter gloves on this trip.  I decided when we got to Asheville we would look for a motorcycle dealership and get some waterproof gloves.

Eric’s GPS took us off the parkway and down, down, down off the mountain and into Asheville.  It was a lovely road, and I was happy to get off the mountain.  When we got to the hotel Eric asked me what I thought the temperature was.  I guessed 50.  The guy at the front desk said that it was 40 in Asheville.  It was probably in the 30’s on the top of the mountain.  I could not believe that I had ridden in weather that cold without my heated liner.  I did not have it on when it started raining, and there was no way for me to put it on without getting myself and the electric liner wet.  So I just rode without it.   It was after 9:00 at night by the time we got to the hotel.  We had been riding for 11 hours.  Wow.

Eric wanted to go out to eat.  I was too tired to go out.  I made us camp dinner and then took a nice, long, hot bath.  As I sat in the tub I finished the little bit of bourbon I had left in my flask.  Champagne tomorrow.

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