Thursday, July 28, 2005

Motorcycle Honeymoon *---Part #2

In the morning, the temps had fallen into the 40’s overnight, and according to the weather channel were expected to continue to fall all day… not exactly the best news when your only mode of transportation is a motorcycle, and you’re away from home!

One of the places we wanted to see was the Train museum in Roanoke, so despite the weather we packed the bikes, suited up and headed out. By the time we reached the museum, the temps were in the lower 40’s, but the sun was out and riding, in town at least, didn’t seem all that bad. We had a great time in the museum checking out a ton of historical train info and climbing around on old locomotives, but, by the time we were ready to leave, it had started to snow, and snow fairly heavily, these great big flakes that reminded me of the ‘lake effect’ snow we’d get when I lived in North Bay.

Undaunted we headed out anyway. We rode over to a Department of Environmental Conservation office in Southeastern VA, where Donna had once worked, before Tim snatched her off to a ‘life of luxury’ so she could say Hi to some old friends. As we sat in the parking lot, it continued to snow, enough that it was beginning to cover the grass, but the pavement remained only wet.

Once Donna had finished chatting with her old friends we headed out. One of the places we had still had to go was to the motel where her parents were staying, as she would not be taking the rest of the trip with us. Donna was going to visit with her parents and hop a flight back to Kansas City, while Tim and Steve hooked it back on the bikes later in the week.

When we got to Donna’s folks room, they were kind enough to let us all hang out in there and get warmed up, before we threw a leg, pointed the bikes towards the Blue Ridge Parkway and headed out once again. The higher we climbed in the mountains the cooler it got. It did stop snowing, but it continued to get colder by the hour, not warmer. We had to drop off the parkway in at least two places that I remember as it had been closed due to ice and snow.

Late that afternoon we decided to call it a day and slipped into ‘Fancy Gap’ to find some warm food, and hopefully an even warmer motel room. We found a motel, the only one there in Fancy Gap; it was definitely NOT the Marriot! The rooms were marginally clean, the bathrooms, well, suffice it to say neither my wife, nor I, were willing to shower in there. There was more “black” in the shower stalls than there was on our leathers!!

We checked in, cranked the heat up and walked a couple of hundred yards down the road to the local restaurant. As I recall, the food was acceptable, barely, but the company was good and the coffee was hot, and we ended up laughing about the day and our ‘chilled to the bone’ bodies.

I don’t know how everyone else slept, but Maryan and I slept the sleep of the dead. We laid down, with at least me having initial thoughts that had nothing to do with ‘sleeping’, but, the next thing I knew sunlight was streaming through the windows and it was morning. I don’t think either of us ‘moved’ all night. We were still cuddled up like I remembered us being the night before… and it took everything I had, to get up out of bed, go get some coffee from the office and get our day started.

It wasn’t long before everyone was up, the bikes repacked (which by the way, is almost a ritual on motorcycle road trips) with all our gear and we were once again suited up against the cold and heading out.

This day was even colder than the previous one, the difference being the sun was out and we had high hopes it would warm up. It would, but warm up meant it got all the way up to 42 degrees! I remember at one point, around noon, we had to drop down off the parkway again, as yet another section was closed due to ice and snow, and found ourselves in some little town South of Fancy Gap, but still North of Little Switzerland.

We found a local hardware store there, and initially went inside to see what we could find in the way of gloves, either to wear over, or under the ones we already had. When we got inside however, they had this huge old coal stove sitting in the middle of the store. It was all stoked up and pouring out an incredible amount of heat.

The four of us ended up standing around this stove; it was so big I’m not sure we could have all held hands. One by one we were opening up our jackets and letting that heat soak in, each of us taking a little journey to the ‘glove isle’ only to wander back to the stove again. The shopkeeper was very friendly, and sympathetic to our plight, he even pointed us to the best of the local diners for lunch.

I wish I could remember the name of the town, and that store, to give them credit for being so hospitable, unfortunately I can’t.

I do remember we bought sever pairs of gloves, some thinner, cotton types to act as glove liners, and Maryan I think got some X-Large leather work gloves to wear over her regular riding gloves.

Once we’d all gotten as warm as we could stand and had lunch, we once again saddled up and headed out looking for the next entrance to the parkway. Once we found it and got back up on the Blue Ridge it felt as though the temperatures had dropped another 10 degrees, I’m not sure it actually did but the wind was just cutting though us. It was the first time, in all my years of riding, that I actually found myself wishing I’d installed a windshield on a bike! The wind was just that cold.

I should mention that it wasn’t for ‘lack of gear’ that we were cold. I was wearing leather pants, with leather chaps over those, an undershirt, a long sleeved pullover top and a flannel shirt, underneath my insulated leather jacket, a full face helmet and heavy ‘winter’ gauntlet style riding gloves. Maryan, Tim and Steve were all similarly attired, however both Tim and Steve had windshields (wimps!).

We cruised down the ridge eventually reaching Little Switzerland around 3:00, maybe 4:00 in the afternoon. We’d initially intended to stay at the famous ‘Lodge’ there, but on arrival we discovered they wanted over $120/night and that simply wasn’t in the budget!

I’m glad it wasn’t, because about a quarter of a mile down the mountain was this small little motel/restaurant that had rooms for about $40/night and the restaurant served beer!

So we checked in, got relaxed and cleaned up (the bathrooms here were very clean!) and headed over to the bar for a little post ride, pre-supper BS session. I remember this as one of the best meals we had on the trip, and that the four of us laughed all through dinner.

The best part was yet to come though, as after dinner the waiter suggested we enjoy the sunset on the deck. It was absolutely perfect! The building sheltered us from the wind, and the sun was setting over the mountains as we all sat there, talking and marveling at the view. It was a $40 motel, with a million dollar view, one we most likely would have missed if we’d stayed in the ‘better’ place!

Part #3… to follow… If we hit a hotel with access along the way… well then I’ll post it before I get back, if not… I’ll post it when I get back!!


Beth said...

$40 hotel with a million dollar view. Gotta love it!

Trevor Record said...

Have fun, Bill!

Greg said...

why now?...I ask in wonder. Why now?

Comfort Addict said...

I'm looking forward to it, Bill.

Bill said...

GK - The view was absolutely 'off the hook'!! When we get back I'm going to look for the pics we took from the deck.

Trevor - Thanks! So far so good.. we checked into this hotel last night, and got involved in the 'reception' they have for guests... and I was asleep 10 minutes after we got back to the room... too much 'cheer' I think.

Greg - I'll ask in return... why *not* now?

CA - I can't post the next section today, as it's not finished :( and we're pulling up stakes here in about 10 minutes...

I'll post it soon though... also, if I can find them (which translates to "If Maryan can remember where I put them") I'll post pics of the trip when we return.

It was nice to check in this morning and see these notes from y'all!! Thanks!

seeingdouble said...

Have a great trip, Bill. I'm really enjoying these posts, quite a different style than your normal writing. (of course, that wasn't meant to imply I don't enjoy your "normal" writing!! :) )

Joy said...

I cant think of the name of the little town below Fancy Gap either but I will ask someone who knows. Now Im just curious!

The parkway is heaven on wheels for any one who rides too. If you ever want to relive a bit of your honeymoon, jump on your bike and ride the parkway all the way to the northern most point of it. There are several areas in Northern Va on the parkway that have wonderful lodgings for good prices and those million dollar views!

Kim said...

lol, nothing like bike treks... I love it.

Bill said...

Seeingdouble - I'm glad you noticed the style change... I switch about a bit when the topics vary :)

Joy - I've riden the ridge from Winchester, VA and the top en of the Shenandoah... all the way to Cherokee, NC.. In both directions, several times... you're absolutely right, it's beautiful, end to end!

Kim - we've been on more than a few... as soon as we get Maryan's back in shape again, we'll be out on 2 wheels as soon as the Doc clears her!

We've have a great week... I took a ton of pics and have more than a few stories to share... we should get home late on Saturday... I hope to post something on Sunday!

Thanks for stopping by!