New Orleans to Canada: Day 2-Chattanooga, TN to Hickory, NC

Steve Kinchen, Sr/ May 18, 2013/ BMW R1200RT, General Rants & Raves About Riding, New Orleans to Canada 2013, Touring/ 0 comments

Date: May 18th, 2013

Departure Time: 9:30am

Arrival Time: 8:27pm

States: Tennessee, North Carolina

Miles Covered: 295

Today was not a motorcycling day for the faint of heart! Our day started with the fine misting rain that plaged us during the day yesterday. We enjoyed breakfast at Cracker Barrel (pecan pancakes for me, thank you!), topped off our fuel tanks, and made a quick stop at the local Harley Davidson dealership for a new pair of goggles for Randall. After a few miles, the mist turned to a steady drizzle to rain so we suited up… (only after Matt stopped and asked us if we wanted to suit up… Trent felt that the clouds were simply clouds… so we pressed on, until the deluge began.)

We managed to ride the Cherahola Skyway with relatively no incident save a few slick turns and one section that had been damaged by a landslide. That area was restricted to one lane traffic and was loose gravel. No thank you! Exiting the Skyway in Robbinsville, NC, we decided to press on to the Blue Ridge Parkway and work our way North East.

Lunch in Cherokee was very good, at what was apparently the only restaurant in the entire town, Paul Family Restaurant.  Matt and I enjoyed grilled fresh trout and hush puppies, Trent  had a club sandwich, and Randall had a burger.

Upon entering the Blue Ridge Parkway, the pace of the rain increased, and the higher elevations also led for the perfect conditions for heavy fog. The entire road above 3800 feet had very poor visibility up to 4500 feet. When we crossed over 4500 feet in to the 5000+ altitude, the visibility was reduced to about 50 feet, if that. Hazard lights on, first gear, white knuckles, and about an hour and a half later, we were to a place where we could exit and return to a more sensible route, Hwy 74, on in to Asheville, NC.

We exited near the Biltmore Estate with the intention of bunking down for the night, however, there were no room available at any of the acceptable choices for lodging. We pressed on towards the visitor center, however, they were already closed. So we hit the highway again and ended up in Marion, NC at a Hampton Inn, however, we pulled out as fast as we pulled in due to the ridiculously high nighty rate.

Thanks to the “Around Me” iPhone app, we located a hotel in Hickory, NC that met our needs. Matt keyed in the address in his Garmin and we were off… Just 40 miles to go. Once again, the Garmin led us on a wild goose chase, and Google Maps bailed our bacon out of the mess. So, after 11 hours, and approximately 300 miles, we landed at the Best Western in Hickory, NC. Nice, Clean, and the right price.

Dinner was at an Italian restaurant named Carrabbas. The Minestrone soup was fantastic, the wood grilled salmon (rare, of course) was terrific, and now it is time to turn in for the night! We will press on towards Lorton, VA tomorrow. The weather doesn’t look much different for tomorrow, unfortunately…














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