10.22.2007,9:15 PM
Sweet Road


Riding south again on Hwy 68 we crossed the Hiwassee River and under a railroad trestle. Hardly any other vehicles were on the highway and it was as if it was our own paved road. Because I'm a water nymph at heart I stopped to photograph the river; the colored foliage complemented the green water and gray-blue sky. Lighting was perfect that day for photographs, unlike the previous days with blaring sunlight. Bright blue skies always feel good but slightly overcast days allow colors to do their magical dance.



From my earlier days of photography and under the tutelage of my father and ex-husband, both accomplished photographers, I learned to shoot with black and white film. Colors are wonderful, but another world exists between black and white. Ansel Adams was the great progenitor of that world in nature. Going digital with black and white is still mostly experimental for me. Although I can see an image in my mind translated to black and white, the final product has many degrees of variation. What it does do is allow one to focus on contrast, texture and form. And my favorite; shadows.


Resuming our route south, we found our next reference point: Turtletown. Was the town swamped or invaded with turtles in the past? I'm stricken with a curiosity of how towns (and landmarks) with odd names acquired them. I didn't see any turtles, but we did find our next turnoff. Stopping again to refer to the map, we also realized, again, that we were running out of time. I hate it when that happens. Perhaps because it occurs too many times.

Again we would have to modify our original route we had based on Python's recommendations. There wasn't enough daylight left. Placated with the knowledge that I would ride Python's route next time I was there, we chose a different forest road based on how squiggly it was on the map and where it ended. The chosen road was to be one of the best.

Riding north on Old Farmer Road (CR 2317) we turned left on McFarland Rd (FR 23). After a while we turned south Ditney Mountain Rd (FR 66) and left again on FR 68. Not to be confused with state highway 68, which itself is a sweet road to ride. But this forest road bearing the same number was absolutely marvelous.

This was the last leg of the day, of the entire trip. And riding FR 68 topped it off so nicely that I knew with beyond any doubt that I had to return. I had to ride this road again. And I will.

Ed sped along the gravel like a sprinting pony; I was an ambling old quarter horse. Everything was so reminiscent of Maine: the drop-off on one edge of the road, dark brown and black ledge on the other. Tall skinny trees competing for sunlight in the crowded canopies, rhododendrons and mountain laurel cascading over the ledges or nestled in clumps between tree trunks. The clicking of my Sherpa engine chorused with that of crickets, and birds chattered here and there.




And the scents.....oh, the smells of damp musty earth, tree resin, mushrooms, rotting leaves, and subtle rabbit or deer scent. It was all magical; as if I was caught in some time warp between decades ago when I spent years wandering and working in the Maine woods and now, here in Tennessee.

Like most of the roads here they had multiple names. This section of the road was also called Horseshoe Bend, and rightly so. The sweepers were fantastic but this bend was magnificent.



I had to stop. I had to just let myself take this all in. Gone were the offensive noises of cars and equipment, cackling voices of people that never really say anything, cell phones glued to ears ringing incessantly, and the buzz of human civilization. The habitat of drones. Here there was only the comforting clicking hum of my bike and the soothing sounds of the forests. This was my home. One of many homes that I have.

And I didn't want to leave.

Here again was that voice, the same one I heard as I was riding the Whee-strom out of the mountains and forests of New Mexico, the canyons of southern Utah, the desert of Big Bend.
Don't leave us."

But I will be back.


We rode back to Hunt's Lodge on Hwy 68, this time like spirited racing mustangs on the wind. I scooted back on the Sherpa's seat and leaned forward over the tank, squeezed the engine between my legs and let my body become one with the bike: lean, swoop, run. Nothing else mattered then, no time existed; just the joy of the ride on this meandering black road. I rode it like the back of a winding snake as we cut through the wind.

Plain and simple: it rocked.

Back at camp, I was tired and wanted a shower. It all felt good, inside and out.

Wiley had fun, too.


Labels: ,

posted by Macrobe
Permalink ¤