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Author Topic: Accidental gathering of Nighthawks in the Smoky Mountains  (Read 1277 times)

Offline Drdubb

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Accidental gathering of Nighthawks in the Smoky Mountains
« on: June 09, 2014, 12:30:24 PM »
Disclaimer:
For some unknown reason, I did a very poor job of recording this trip on camera.
My apologies to my avid fans and to heck with my critics.

(Another apology...I didn't ride my Nighthawk for this trip. I was on the DR650 as a test ride prior to my mini-TAT)


Wednesday dawned with blue skies and moderate temps. I arose early in order to beat the morning commuter traffic, thus I hit the road about 7:00. Traffic was busy, but not standing still. The chosen escape route was a negative commute, skirting south of the Research Triangle Park, which is the destination of most local commuters. The scenes quickly turned to pastures and farmlands, with cows outnumbering the cars.  The old DR putted through the small towns of Ramsuer, Ashboro and of course, Siler City of Andy Griffith fame.



Dubbs DR

Siler City, despite the script of the Andy Griffith show, was not close to Mayberry. Griffith's home town and inspiration for Mayberry was Mount Airy, N.C., which is a few hours from Siler City. This is a small mill town that has been hurt by the migration of textiles to other countries. Francis Bavier, who played Aunt Bea on the show, actually settled in Siler City in the later years of her retirement. The word is that she was a little cantankerous and did not welcome the results of her fame.  Betty Lyn, who played Barnie's girlfriend Thelma Lou, moved to Mount Airy a few years ago. She was promptly mugged.



The cows take over hppants job of sitting in the creek.

The choice of route was to not only avoid heavy traffic, but to allow this rider to warm up to highway speeds before accessing the interstate. Prior to this trip, only 50 or so highway miles were logged on the DR. The high speed handling and power were still unknown. With this intent, I was able to travel about two hours on secondary roads before being forced onto the interstate. At that point, I was pleasantly surprised. While not as "planted" as the Nighthawk or as quick to access passing power, the DR performed well. In fact, I found that if I did not exceed 70 mph, the DR preferred to stay in 4th gear and leave 5th for the really fast stuff.

The Blue Ridge rose up in front of me within three hours and we pulled into KSL about 1:30. My riding buddy Tom was napping as the old DR thumped to a halt in front of his tent. The skies were clear and the cows were about. A great day.



Calf Approval


Tom and I didn't make any effort to ride that afternoon. The heavy storms were due in that night and we were busy attempting to predict the weather and what that weather may do to our camp. The official forecast was for 5 inches of rain in our area and since the tents were pitched next to a creek, flash flooding was a distinct possibility. Mo, the KSL owner, also mentioned the possibility of falling trees (very big trees) and that the emergency meeting spot would be the bath house. Tom, claimed the clothes dryer for his spot. The rest of us just assumed out landing spot would be Oz. Back in the real world, Tom and I pitched out tents, but chose to sleep in cabins just in case.




Dubb's DR tentatively approaches Tom's Nighthawk.

Mo seems to collect strays and she had one this year. Nice fellow from Louisiana. He had pulled in a homemade camping trailer behind his Harley and it served his summer home. The little trailer had a flip up top and a bed inside. He also pitched a tarp to provide a covered porch and lounged there seated in his Kermit chair.



Tbante contemplates the latest stray.


Night came and so did the rain, but not nearly as bad as predicted. I woke about midnight, looked at the weather radar on my 'Droid, seeing lots of red and yellow headed our way. I woke again about 4, still raining, but no monsoon, no flooding, and no thump of crashing trees. Checking the radar, the yellows and reds were other places. Mo was right when she said the surrounding mountains had a way of splitting the storms. We were saved!



All the Comforts of Home


The temperature started the day in the 60's but  dropped during the day, with continual drizzle and light rain. We decided to hang around camp and not push our luck. DWR, another Nighthawker, arrived from Kentucky with a wet bum. He had a big tear in his waterproofs right in the seat and that is where all motorcycle water flows. He hit pretty rough weather on his way down. Tom matched that experience by riding through a thunderstorm while crossing the Cherohala Parkway. For those that don't know, the Cherohala will put you in the clouds, very close to the source of the electricity. Poor Tom.



Robbie's ultra clean 750. The dirty DR is in the background.


As the day wore on, we decided to ride down to the local diner for supper, but noticed Mo was cooking as we departed, so we just headed down highway 28 towards Fontana for a little warm up ride. We crossed the roadway over the dam and headed up into the Great Smoky National Park a mile or so to some trailheads. Beautiful country. Tom had backpacked that area, while my backpacking was done in the central and northern part of the park. Tom, in his love of precipitation, enjoyed heavy snowfall during his hiking experience.



DWR lectures Tom about Fontana Dam


Back at camp, we enjoyed a great vegetable lasagna, courtesy of Mo. We chatted and watched other riders arrive. One fellow on a Ducati was from Seattle. He had taken about two months off from work and was touring America. The guy made me tired just talking about this ride. He had to be back in a couple of weeks for an IRS audit. I wish him luck.



SCGuy's 700S looks no worse for wear after his epic two week RideAbout.


Springator also came in adding to our merry band as well as RCNighthawker from Michigan and SCguy.  RC came in past my bedtime so I greeted him in the A.M. Others from Florida rolled in on trailers. One of those, Larry, decided to join us other old farts on our Friday ride. RC and SC went with some younger folks. Speaking of young folk, CJBear came in with his brother and brother's girlfriend and it is was great to see them. CJ is the ultimate mello dude.



RC's Vetter dressed Nighthawk 650.


One of the highlights of the weekend was having latte with Springator. He had to have his daily latte, so we hopped into his Navigator and climbed over the mountain to the McDonalds. Attempting to order an unflavored latte flummoxed the wait staff and despite eventually getting the order correct, the barista failed.

Friday morning was met with frustration as we couldn't make a decision on which way to ride. Despite the weather front having passed, spotty showers were everywhere and it was cold. The temp when I slipped out of my sleeping bag was 39! Sheesh, it was spring already.



Tom adding layers to fight the cold. Larry's Harley to the right.

We finally settled on a trip up to the BRP and then decide from there. I led the group over to Cherokee and then up the mountains. The temperature quickly dropped some more and the sun started playing peek-a-boo in the clouds. I stopped several times to see the sites and warm my hands. Then drizzle started kicking in and I know I saw snow flakes mixed in with the rain.

Our goal was to make it to the high point on the Parkway and then decide where to go next. Well....we didn't make it. The rain and cold drove us back down the mounting onto the Smoky Mountain Expressway at which point, the skies opened, the rain fell, and the wind blew. We stopped under a service station canopy, hoping it was a quick storm, but the deluge continued. Someone mentioned that they had seen a McDonald's sign, why not go there and warm up with lunch while the rain did its thing. The vote was taken and off we went. The rain quickly let up and we stopped at the McD.



Tom, Larry and Springator ham it up for the camera.
Those guys are hysterical.


While we ate, the sun shown brightly, just teasing us and attempting to get us out in the open. We fell for it, and left out of Ronald's protective arches and headed down through Sylva to Cullowhee and the promise of twisty roads. I had heard that Tilley Creek Road was fun and it would take us over to 28/64. From there we could see the waterfalls and then head on home. Seemed like a plan.

Tilley Creek Rd was more than expected. There were some serious switch backs, steep climbs and hairy corners. Sometimes three or four tight switch backs would be stacked on each other. I was doing about 10mph on the DR, I don't know how Larry was doing on his Harley.

After about 10 miles, we crested the ridge were headed down the other side when a group of bikes came from the other direction, flagging us down. The leader said a tree was down and we couldn't get through, so what did we do....we rode to the tree.

When we arrived, yes a tree was down, yes it blocked the road...but Tom thought we could move it. I vetoed that idea when I noticed that the top of the tree was tangled in the power lines. So back we went into the maze of switch backs.

At the end of Tilley Road, I turned us down Cullowhee Mountain Road. My memory of the map indicated that we could still get down to Highlands using this road. It was also freshly paved; so freshly paved, that we ran into the paving crew doing touch up work. This again, was  a challenging but rewarding piece of tarmac. The only problem was that the rain was back. When we topped the ridge, I was surprised by a plateau, covered with farms. Beautiful scene. We continued on, riding by a lake, over a dam and through more mountainous terrain. As we hit a T intersection of an actual road with numbers, Larry indicated he was done. Tom joined that point of view and also mentioned that he had seen hail in the rain.  I then reluctantly led us back to Cullowhee, on an actual highway which still added its own surprises.  We eventually made camp and that is when the previously mentioned latte adventure occurred. Huzzaahhh for Springator.

That night was BLT night at the KSL. I don't how she does it, but those were great BLT's. The evening included some campfire watching, lying and other story telling and general camaraderie. It was really a nice day, with varied entertaining interludes. No pressures, just following the flow.

Saturday dawned with a similar forecast and more new nighthawks in camp. RobbieAg had rolled in Friday afternoon and Aristo had arrived late in the night, again, after my bedtime.



Looks like Aristo's 650 is afraid to come out and play.

I had talked with SOQS the previous evening and could tell she was not doing well so I decided to leave for home that morning. It was still cold and the forecast was dubious. TBante had already planned to leave on Saturday, so I knew that meant rain wherever he was and I need to get away as quick as possible. The ride home was dry, uneventful. Tom had about two hours of heavy rain.

SOQS was glad to see me, so I made a good decision.
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Offline Hog Dog

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Re: Accidental gathering of Nighthawks in the Smoky Mountains
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2014, 07:59:24 PM »
  Sounds like the crappy weather didn't stop ya'll from having a good time. 
Lucky Lindy's evil twin

Offline Drdubb

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Re: Accidental gathering of Nighthawks in the Smoky Mountains
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2014, 08:22:04 PM »
It really wasn't that bad....we are just wimps.
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Offline Hawks Nest

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Re: Accidental gathering of Nighthawks in the Smoky Mountains
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2014, 08:29:47 PM »
You call me a 'wimp'?  ddg1

Sorry that I could not join the KSL rally this year. I was in Europe that time visiting my daughter.  Also sorry to hear that the weather was not cooperating much this year.   I really enjoyed your RR. It brought back fond memories of last year's trip to KSL.

Offline Bajakirch

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Re: Accidental gathering of Nighthawks in the Smoky Mountains
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2014, 09:57:45 PM »
Dang, I've got to make this trip. Is there any way to move KSL, The Dragon and the BRP closer to Wisconsin?

Wonderful RR; it looks like you guys had a great time, rain be dammed (see what I did there?)
Get on your bikes and ride!

Offline Drdubb

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Re: Accidental gathering of Nighthawks in the Smoky Mountains
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2014, 12:59:04 PM »
We had a rider come in from Michigan this year...Can't be that much farther.

Take a week off and come on down.
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Offline Bajakirch

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Re: Accidental gathering of Nighthawks in the Smoky Mountains
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2014, 04:00:57 PM »
I'm working towards it. This year I was able to wrangle 5-1/2 days for my trip around Lake Superior.
Get on your bikes and ride!

 

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