6.16.2009,10:35 PM
Tennessee on My Mind

If there's one place east of the Mississippi I would live, it would be Tennessee. Allergies and coldphobia prevent me from pursuing that, so it will remain my most favorite place to visit and ride.

The following series are posts written during and after a week in southeast Tennessee and southwest North Carolina. A good friend and I trailered three bikes: my KLR250, Ed's XR250 and his KLR650. We rode mostly dirt and gravel with two days on pavement. The area is rich in riding opportunities, riding any surface. We were fortunate to share those roads with good friends in TN, my sister and her SO from NY, and a friend from home here in Texas. Except for one entire morning when I had nearly all of the Cherohala Skyway to myself. And the fog.

So read on and stay tuned for more. I just got home this evening and still trying to catch up on sleep.

My third trip here to this lovely state: the first on the Whee-strom (and an absolute nightmare trip it was), the second and third on the little naughty 250, both latter times staying at the humble encampment of friends Lori and Jack Hunt: Hunt's Motorcycle Lodge. Jack, a native of TN, knows these roads -paved and unpaved- around Tellico Plains like the backs of his weathered hands. Their campground is a labor of love; painted with hospitality and generosity. They've done a fine job of turning a hillside into a welcome comfortable place for motorcyclists to stay.

After 24 hours on the road (with a 4-hour nap in a truck stop in Alabama and stocking up at a grocery store), we set up camp and chatted a bit with Jack and Lori. The son of a visiting friend had high sided on the Cherohala Skyway on his SV650. Jack loaned his car and trailer for the Dad to retrieve the bike and son while Jack donned his gear and rode his ST1100 to his night-shift at work.

The son is fine but sports large raspberries on one arm. The bike weathered the crash well with a flat tire and broken shifter. Dad, on his Wee-strom, miscalculated a spot passing a parked car and discovered that his new Wee-strom, like all the others, suffer narcolepsy. I told him that his Wee-strom is now initiated and christened; carry electrical tape on the bike; he'll need it.

Our camp and looking down toward the cabins, the office/showers and pavilion:

After relaxing a bit, Ed and I drove the truck to the Tellico Biker Rally to meet up with a fellow adventure rider from Sweetwater. Python has shared with us routes in the neighboring national forests and we hoped to catch up with him there. We wound our way nearly three miles down a narrow and barely paved country road in a likewise narrow and lushly green valley. Surrounding the road on both sides were lush green pastures with horses, mules, donkeys and cattle happily grazing, ponds with fish jumping, log cabins, old barns aged with silver boards, all towered over by tree-blanketed mountains.

It's just plain beautiful. Living poetry. I can't wait to ride in amongst it.

We never did find Python, so we headed back to Hunt's, unloaded the bikes, and now are relaxing. Ed's visiting with several riders checked into the cabins on a variety of cruisers, a KLR, a GS and this awesome old Moto Guzzi. I'm sitting at a table under the pavilion enjoying the setting sun and the birds. Glad to be here and looking forward to a week of riding, exploring and just 'being'.

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posted by Macrobe
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