Cherokee to Blowing Rock on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Yesterday evening I had to go all the way to Cherokee before I found a place to crash...wait, wrong word...to stay for the night. The small town of Cherokee sits in the middle of the Cherokee Indian Reservation here in North Carolina. This band of Cherokees eluded the US Government back in the 1820's by moving into these mountains to hide and they thus escaped the horrors of the infamous "Trail of Tears" along which many if their brothers and sisters were forcibly moved to reservations in Oklahoma, many dying in the process. The Cherokee have a rich history including their own alphabet and language. But due to the Government and it's programs that finally caught up with them, many of the Cherokee people live in poverty and are the victims of drugs and alcohol. The city of Cherokee itself has been a tourist destination for decades...and here is proof.
That's me, way back in about 1963. I looked everywhere for my two friends in this picture, but given my own advanced age, I fear that they both may already be enjoying the happy hunting grounds of the next life. There is some of the proud culture of these people that still remains, but one has to look for it, well beyond the shops and "trading posts" that sell miniature stuffed black bears with little red collars and "genuine" Indian moccasins that are made in the Dominican Republic. The Cherokees are getting even to a degree with the white tourists who come here. They've built a casino and are systematically fleecing guests who are apparently willing to be fleeced. I was not willing. So I went to bed early. The next day, this morning, I awoke to see that it had rained at some point during the night and there was still a fine mist everywhere, not quite a fog, but not rain, either. It kept the road just wet enough to make things interesting. I jumped on the bike and headed north until US 19 intersected the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a sort of linear park with no development on it anywhere, sort of like an Appalachian Trail for bikers. And unlike the evil Tail of the Dragon from yesterday, which has curves that force the rider to "lean it like you mean it," this road is made up of mostly lazy curves that open every so often to turn-outs where one can marvel unhurriedly at the majesty of the Great Smoky Mountains.
The early part of the day I was literally riding in the clouds, as one can see in this picture.
It was cool, almost cold, so I dragged out my faithful, old denim shirt that has made all my rides. It was just enough to keep the chill off until things warmed up a bit and the clouds around me began to burn off.
Steep rock cliffs on one side and drop offs without guard rails on the other. It's a good thing the speed limit on the parkway is 45. It's often a very long way down.
I've ridden in a few really cool places, beautiful places...the Rockies, the Cascades, the Black Hills, but the Blue Ridge Parkway is without a doubt the best motorcycle road I've ever been on. Just spectacular. A must-do...or in my case, do again. And I will!
Stopped for lunch at in the city of Asheville. It's a young town with a laid-back vibe, sort of like a bigger version of Athens. A quick shout to my buddies at Claddagh, who were interested in my ride.
Then it was back on the parkway to the little village of Blowing Rock. I arrived just in time for an early dinner and was drawn as a moth is to a flame to a little pub called the Six Pence.
It's the brother pub to our Six Pence in Savannah, and while the menu is essentially the same and they have a remarkable amount of the same items in the interior, like the mugs with the faces and an English bobby hat in the corner, it's just not the same because they can't duplicate my friends who work at the original. Y'all know who you are.
Blowing Rock is a quaint little place that seems to be a sort of garden boutique village with lots of little shops and a few pubs and restaurants...all of which were crawling today with visitors since the day marked the beginning of the three day holiday weekend... something I'd completely forgotten about...I didn't even realize that today was Friday! I was blessed to find a place just off Main Street in a little older motor court where I got the last room they had. And now, I intend to enjoy it. Good night!