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Old 08-22-2009, 07:02 PM   #1
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On the Path of Riflemen - Ohio to Smoky Mtns to Charleston, SC 2Up

On April 19, 1775, average people - farmers, blacksmiths, pastors - kissed their families goodbye, grabbed their musket from over the mantle, and stood shoulder to shoulder with friends and family to oppose the best trained and most feared military the world had ever known.

These British colonists in and around Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts had the courage to muster in the path of their own regular army, the Redcoats, that were tasked to invade private homes and confiscate food, supplies, powder, and firearms.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about the men and women that acted on this fateful day.

April 19, 1775.

The day that our War for Independence officially began. The day that brought us "the Shot Heard 'Round the World".

Many brave men and women fought before that date to protect their homes during war or everyday life on the frontier. Many brave men and women fought after that date to defend our country in places like Gettysburg, Normandy, and Afghanistan.

However, these patriots.... on this day.... are unique. They are the first that stood together and fought as Americans.

This ride report will chronicle our trip from Dayton, OH to the Smoky Mountains and Charleston, SC. I wanted to hit as many great roads as possible, include some sights the wife would enjoy, and squeeze in as much "Rifleman" history as I could.

For some background into why I chose this route:

I am an Instructor for The Appleseed Project. The 30 second pitch is that we are a 501(c)3, non-profit, all-volunteer effort charged with returning America to a Nation of Riflemen. Simply put, a Rifleman is someone that has basic rifle marksmanship fundamentals and knows how and why their country was founded.

We hold weekend events truly from coast to coast and border to border. The Appleseed Project began just over three years ago with 7 events in North Carolina. We are scheduled to hold over 450 events in 2009 with 10,000 participants. The program is exploding! Rifleman patches are awarded to participants that score 210 out of a possible 250 points on the qualification test that used after our instruction.

I've had the honor of awarding several Rifleman patches.

... As well as meet hundreds and hundreds of friends! It's a pleasure to get to know them and their families. (Women and children attend free.)

I wanted to visit historically significant locations and posthumously award Rifleman patches to some very worthy Americans......... and see a lot of great countryside along the way.

So... bear with me. This is my first ride report.

Crack open a cold one. I have.

My wife took over 600 pictures during the trip. Hopefully I'll share the ones you'd be most interested in. Well, the ones of the bike and landscapes you'd be most interested in.

Enough pre-RR babble!

On with the show!

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."

Learn how Project Appleseed is supporting freedom.
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Old 08-23-2009, 09:09 AM   #2
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Trip Map

Here's the entire trip:

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."

Learn how Project Appleseed is supporting freedom.
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Old 08-23-2009, 10:38 AM   #3
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Day 1: Aug 15, 2009

Day 1 - Aug 15, 2009
Dayton, OH to Lenoir City, TN

Joanna and I have been looking forward to this for awhile. The drag of normal 9-5 day jobs had wore us down and it was time to hit the road before we each blew up and re-enacted a scene from the movie Office Space. Originally, we had planned to tour the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This changed after a few days were spent with my sister-in-law's family in a cabin on Lake Erie last month.

So I pulled out a map two weeks ago, broke open a tall Labatt, and started seeing what was south or east of us that would be interesting.

Virginia and Blue Ridge Parkway? Done.
Ozarks? Done.
Smoky Mountains?

A plan was starting to form...

After the wife expertly packed our ST1300, our first order of business was dropping the dogs off at Grandma's in Cincinnati so we could begin our trip.

Therefore, the first uneventful 45 miles were done solo.

Finally 2-Up and it's time to slab it out of Cincinnati.

After dropping off I-71 South at the earliest opportunity, Route 127 was a great road that would take us to our first stop.

But first... food! We had easily doubled the "no breakfast before 50 miles" rule.

Kentucky has some great riding. It's full of easy sweepers, rolling hills, and beautiful farms. Eventually, you can start to get a glimpse into southern life only a short distance from the Yankee landscapes of Ohio.

Beautiful home with a beautiful view.

Before leaving Kentucky, we passed by Lake Cumberland.

Finally it was time for a new state!

More easy riding through small towns and we saw the first infestation of kudzu. After devouring every TransAmerican Trail ADV report I can that all describe this weed, I could pretend to be smart when the wife asked, "What the hell is all that?"

Around 4:00 we arrived at our first official Rifleman Destination: The Home of Sergeant Alvin York in Pall Mall, TN.

There is a great museum in his former home that describes his life. His son is the Park Ranger that spends his days at this location. It was an honor to talk with him.

Alvin York was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for leading seven men in an attack on a heavily guarded German machine gun nest. Using marksmanship skills passed down through his family, he almost singlehandedly achieved his mission. His team killed 28 German soldiers and captured 32 machine guns. 128 of the enemy surrendered to him and were marched away from the battlefield! Unbelievable.

York recalled from the battle:

"And those machine guns were spitting fire and cutting down the undergrowth all around me something awful. And the Germans were yelling orders. You never heard such a racket in all of your life. I didn't have time to dodge behind a tree or dive into the brush… As soon as the machine guns opened fire on me, I began to exchange shots with them. There were over thirty of them in continuous action, and all I could do was touch the Germans off just as fast as I could. I was sharp shooting… All the time I kept yelling at them to come down. I didn't want to kill any more than I had to. But it was they or I. And I was giving them the best I had."

He is also remembered as saying that he started with German soldiers to the rear of the nest and dropped them in order because "that's what we did when turkey shooting back home". In this way, targets could hopefully be eliminated without alerting the entire group.

From the movie starring Gary Cooper:

Sergeant: "Where did ya learn to shoot, York? "

York: "Well I ain't never *learned* Sergeant! Folks back home used to say I could shoot a rifle before I was *weaned*, but they was exaggeratin' some."

Marksmanship skills have been essential from the very first citizen soldiers that founded our country, to helping Alvin York's generation win a World War, to Admiral Yamamoto answering, "... because behind every blade of grass would be an American Rifleman" when asked why the Empire of Japan never invaded the U.S. during WWII. Unfortunately, most of my generation (I'm 29) and those that follow don't receive these skills from fathers and grandfathers like Americans used to. The Appleseed Project hopes to preserve this unique American tradition.

A couple miles up the road and we stopped to pay our respects at the final resting place of Alvin York - American Hero and Rifleman.

It was an honor and a privilege to posthumously award an Appleseed Rifleman patch:

After leaving the town of Pall Mall, we continued on Route 127 and hopped on I-40 East to our hotel in Lenoir City, TN.

We were starting to see the first signs of the Smoky Mountains.

After getting to the hotel, we asked for a local recommendation on food and were sent to Little Joe's.

Now... I love riding. I love meeting new people. I love seeing new sights.

But one surprise remained for the night.

Tennessee has Yuengling! I have no idea why Ohio can't import this fine Lager all the way from Pennsylvania.

Final Stats for Day 1:

Tomorrow... we arrive at our cabin in the Smoky Mountains via the Tail of the Dragon. Rest assured, more Yuengling is involved, which helped the hot tub situation immensely.
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."

Learn how Project Appleseed is supporting freedom.

MeanStreaker screwed with this post 08-23-2009 at 10:43 AM
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Old 08-23-2009, 10:40 AM   #4
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Old 08-23-2009, 01:47 PM   #5
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When you guys get to Charleston, shoot me a pm! I'll be a tour guide, if you need one, (and if I can get off work!)
Txt msg with Dan right after he was paralyzed:
Me: Hey Dan-O. Just wanted to say howdy and Love ya!
Dan: Howdy and Love you too. Doin' good and feeling good.
Me: Give 'em hell, little Bro!
Dan: Roger that.
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Old 08-23-2009, 04:18 PM   #6
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Thanks, but we got back yesterday afternoon.

Wish I was still out there, though.
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."

Learn how Project Appleseed is supporting freedom.
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Old 08-24-2009, 12:10 PM   #7
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Day 2: August 16, 2009
Lenoir City, TN to Bryson City, NC

I woke up as eager as a kid on Christmas morning. Today I was going to ride The Tail of the Dragon! I have to admit that I usually shun the typical vacations and destinations that attract people, especially when it comes to motorcycling. I have no desire to go to any of the big rallies. The cruiser bike nights don’t do much for me. As you will learn from reading this report, I’d rather get a cabin in the middle of nowhere, visit (sadly) lonely historical sites, and share a campfire with my beautiful wife than spend a week in some sandy tourist trap of a resort.

However, this mindset does not apply to The Dragon! I know motorcyclists are drawn to this road as much as they are Sturgis or Daytona Bike Week.

I don’t care. I was pumped to see what these famous curves were like for myself.

Which brings me to this:

I brought along my iPod for those times when I didn’t want to be alone with my warped stream of consciousness while eating up the more boring miles. I have a playlist that includes all songs rated 4 out of 5 stars or higher, which ends up providing some variety. Anyway, the first song on this enormous playlist (sorted alphabetically) is AC/DC’s “Hells Bells”. It’s a great way to start a day of riding.

But just before we get to the northern edge of The Dragon, we stopped at a nice little pull-off next to Lake Santeetlah. Yeah, it was pretty, but I didn’t think it was anything spectacular.

However, the wife later told me that she thought this was one of the highlights of her trip. She felt it was one of the most peaceful places we visited.

I yield to her judgment. After all, she has impeccable taste in men.

After this quick, peaceful stop and a bottle of water, it was finally time to see how my 700 pound Sport Tourer toting all our luggage, carrying a 205 lb MeanStreaker and an 85 lb Mrs. MeanStreaker would handle 318 curves in 11 miles.

There were bikes everywhere!

I was worried about it being late Sunday morning and being full of rubbernecking squids, but all in all, it was a good clean run and we both really enjoyed it. However, route 129 definitely made me wish I still had my CBR.

Here is the stop everyone is apparently required to make, myself included:

Of course, we had to check out the Tree of Shame.

After slaying The Dragon, we were off to find our home for the next three nights outside of Bryson City, NC.

At about this point… and I don’t know why… I started thinking a lot about John Parker. I understand that not many of us know that name. I certainly did not until a couple years ago. As a nation, we remember and honor people like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and John Adams… yet not many know John Parker and his role in the founding of our country.

John Parker was Captain of the Lexington, MA militia on April 19, 1775. Thanks to the alarm system that Paul Revere participated in (I like to think of it as a very complex antique phone tree) Captain Parker learned that the Redcoats were en route to his town to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock for the simple fact that they were vocal in disagreeing with their government’s policies. The British regulars were to arrest these men and continue to Concord a few miles further to confiscate colonial arms and powder.

It fell to John Parker, who was suffering from the late stages of tuberculosis, to muster his friends and family on Lexington Green in the path of the most feared army of the day to defend their homes. Not only did he and seventy others stand there watching professional soldiers carrying muskets with sixteen-inch polished steel bayonets march towards them...... Those ordinary men… those Americans… were told that if there was going to be violence, they had to take the first punch.

Captain Parker had given the order:

“Do not fire unless fired upon!............. But if they mean to have a war, let it start here.”

Those are some of the facts that I’ve read in history books.

But I started thinking about more than the facts. After all, these weren’t characters in a movie. These were real people. They had real families.

Now, I’m from a small town in northeastern Ohio. Its population is larger than Lexington’s in 1775, but it’s a small town nonetheless. What if it was my home that the King was invading?

If I were formed up on Lexington Green, I would know every man standing with me and I would know him well. I would know his wife. I would know his children. Maybe my Dad would be standing next to me on my right. My school teacher would be on the left. I’d look further down the line and see my uncle. I’d glance in the other direction and find my Pastor looking back.

And we would all be waiting to see what would happen next.

We would be waiting as Redcoats formed into offensive lines in front of us.

We would wait.

You and I know that a shot rang out on the morning of April 19, 1775 on Lexington Green. We will never know for certain who fired it. We will never know how that scene began.

However, we know how that scene ended.

It ended with Captain Parker giving the order for his men to disperse before that first shot was fired. It ended with most colonial casualties being shot in the back. It ended with Jonathan Harrington, one of our countrymen, crawling slowly to his doorstep, and dying in the arms of his wife and young son.

That scene began with eight pairs of fathers and sons standing on Lexington Green.

That scene ended with five of the eight pairs shattered by death.

Worst of all, that scene ended with the Redcoats standing amongst the bloodied and broken bodies of our countrymen………………….. and firing a Victory Volley before marching on towards Concord.

What if that was my town?
Those men on Lexington Green were real people that stood up for our Liberty.

That’s what I thought about… as the ST took us closer to Bryson City and the Smoky Mountains flashed by my visor.

On the way, we stopped at Fontana Dam on Route 28.

The wife starts to confuse purposeful meandering for being lost.

We arrived safely at the cabin after a small quantity of miles that were full of quality riding.

The sun had set, the mountain rain was upon us, and Yuengling was enjoyed from our covered porch.

Final Stats for Day 2:

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."

Learn how Project Appleseed is supporting freedom.

MeanStreaker screwed with this post 08-24-2009 at 04:58 PM
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Old 08-24-2009, 05:13 PM   #8
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Our Cabin

I highly recommend Lands Creek Cabins. The cabin we chose was secluded, beautiful, clean, and the owners provided everything we needed - including firewood.

Our three nights here could not have been better.

The screened-in porch with hot tub was much enjoyed.

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."

Learn how Project Appleseed is supporting freedom.
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Old 08-24-2009, 05:39 PM   #9
I'm better now.
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Thanks for the American history lessons, you're a good boy!
I ain't a going without my hog, my gun, my whisky and my Bible.

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Old 08-25-2009, 08:37 PM   #10
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Day 3: August 17, 2009
Smoky Mountains, Waterfalls, and Blue Ridge Parkway

Is there anything more refreshing than sleeping next to the sound of active water in cool mountain air? This Ohio flatlander doesn't think so. I've lived in western Ohio for the last seven years. If you don't know, the eternal flatness begins here that ends somewhere close to the Rockies.

I mentioned that I grew up and spent my first 22 years in Eastern Ohio. Elevation changes don't exist there that compare to the Smokys or Appalachian range. But at least there are some friggin' hills! Folks around here don't believe me, but the roads a few hours east actually have curves!

I sure missed sleeping in a non-urban setting, knowing that good motorcycling roads were just past my doorstep.

So after a morning yawn and a brief ceremony of remembrance for my fallen Yuengling comrades strewn around the cabin... it was time for our first full day of riding in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

We started by completely disregarding the 50 mile ban on breakfast, as the Iron Skillet in Bryson City looked too good to pass up.

This was the best breakfast we had on the trip. Eggs, biscuits with gravy, sausage, bacon, pancakes, grits. It gets no better than this. I could write an entire 20 post trip report on just this breakfast, but I wouldn't want to ruin all the meals you'll ever eat that weren't this one.

So I digress...

We didn't have much of a plan for today. I had decided that we should see some waterfalls and natural beauty of the Smokys and pointed the bike south on US 28.

This was a great road with some wonderful views.

Somewhere along the way, we came across this tunnel and I came as close as possible on this trip to dumping the bike.

I know what you're thinking. We haven't hit any dirt. He's not on the KLR that's sitting in a Dayton, OH garage jealously sipping on a battery trickle charger. He's on a Sport Tourer. This isn't your typical Continental Divide, Baja, or Copper Canyon ADV Ride Report. How could this guy almost dump his bike?

Well you're right. It wasn't that exciting. 95% of the adventure on this trip occurred in the inner monologues sparked from the scenery and the historical significance of certain events that kept plaguing my thoughts.

You're not going to see the rubber side up in this Ride Report. Maybe that's why so few people are following along!

Anyway, we rolled into this tunnel and it was pitch black inside. Stupid me didn't take my sunglasses off before we entered. I have always done that for the countless other dark tunnels on remote roads we've ridden through. But I didn't for this one. No big deal, but I couldn't see squat for awhile. I didn't know if I was going to hit a wall. I didn't know how far away the tunnel ended. So I came to a stop, ripped off the shades, handed them back to the wife, and continued on.

There you go. There's my dangerous encounter. We made it through unscathed.

Route 28 took us to our first semi-planned stop of the morning.

We had gotten a lot of rain the night before so I was hopeful we'd see some serious action.

Eh, it takes a lot for me to get disappointed, so I was happy. Niagara Falls it's not..... but I still think it would impress the wife if I went over in a barrel.

She disagrees.

We took Route 28 to Route 64 and tried to soak in as much of the Park as possible.

Eventually we made our way into the Pisgah National Forest and found Looking Glass Falls.

After this stop, it was time to start completing our circular route and head back to the cabin.

But that doesn't mean the riding didn't get better.

Joanna and I took a bike trip on our '05 Kawasaki Mean Streak to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia two years ago. We rode many miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway then and were happy to continue on the southern portion here for awhile.

If you've ridden it, you know it's impossible to get lost on the BRP. There aren't any other roads!

I don't know why... maybe it's the slow easy pace........ maybe it's the lack of most things man-made that clutter up every other road................ but it is easy to get lost in your thoughts on the BRP.

Knowing that I had sites significant to the Revolutionary War waiting as our route takes us south in a couple days, I again started thinking about April 19, 1775.

If you've read the previous posts, you'll remember that the residents Lexington had seen their husbands and neighbors shot in the back as they were dispersing before their Regular army. Then the Redcoats, in their arrogance, had the balls to stand there and fire a victory volley before continuing their march.

You've got to be kidding me.

A victory volley?

The ARROGANCE of these people. How they could slaughter their own citizens like that, and then celebrate.... I can't even imagine.

Lord Hugh Percy, one of the haughty, arrogant Redcoat officers that saw action later that day had written that he saw the colonials as nothing more than "beasts of burden" that could rightfully be taxed to pay the King's debts.

Beasts of Burden.

That's what Lord Percy thought of us. I started to think about the beasts of burden that had to have been trudged over these Mountains as our ancestors settled further and further west. The donkeys, or horses, or cattle, that were probably strapped down with as much weight as they could stand and whipped and beaten for the use of their owners.

Those are beasts of burden.

The Arrogance of these people.

Lord Percy also wrote that he could take one company of Grenadiers and march easily through every colony, gelding the willing men of America as he went.

These are thoughts that were likely on the minds of each man in the British column as it marched out of Lexington.... after having shot (in their eyes) an unruly and undisciplined mob in the back, letting loose a Victory Volley with three cheers of "Huzzah!" and continuing with banners waving, fife and drum playing... thinking that no resistance can stand in their way.

As we left the Blue Ridge Parkway and dropped in elevation (enough to make my ears pop and bother me for a few hours), I thought about what the Redcoats encountered in Concord, about six miles west of Lexington. I thought how at that point, they probably weren't considering their kinsmen from across the pond to be merely Beasts of Burden any longer.

Back in Bryson City, we stopped for dinner at the Bar-B-Q Wagon

We swapped stories with a nice couple from Michigan that parked their Gold Wing next to our ST. He started the conversation by saying, "You must be regulars to Bryson City."

"Nope, first time in the Smokys," I replied.

He explained, "Well that's a first! Most folks spend a few trips choking on the traffic of Gatlinburg or Pidgeon Forge before looking elsewhere."

"Well, Sir, I avoid tourist traps like that like the plague. Only reason we'd go to Gatlinburg is if I was lookin' to kill the dirty, mangy dog that named me Sue."

He got the reference, we laughed, and one of those unlikely and brief friendships occurred that never seem to happen when travelling by four wheels.

We made our way to the cabin, soaked in the hot tub for awhile, relieved the fridge of the weight of a few Yuenglings, immersed ourselves in the sounds of the forest surrounding us............. and later sat outside and took in more stars than I've seen in a very long time.

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."

Learn how Project Appleseed is supporting freedom.
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Old 08-26-2009, 04:47 AM   #11
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Brings back memories, Blue Ridge Parkway in 88 on a CB900F.

Appleseed, Athens, 09, Meanstreaker history lesson....outstanding!

Keep up the good work.
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Old 10-06-2009, 06:27 PM   #12
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Day 4: August 18, 2009

Day 4: August 18, 2009
Part 1 - Bryson City, NC

Due to eating up a decent amount of miles the previous day chasing waterfalls and also knowing that we had a full day of riding to get to Charleston, SC the next day... we had planned for this to be a leisurely afternoon in and around the town closest to our cabin.

We were very happy with Bryson City. It was small enough that it didn't reek of "tourist trap", yet large enough to offer amenities to travelers like full a grocery store and excellent restaurants.

It poured every day that we were in the Smokys. Luckily, whether on the bike or off, we never once got wet. For instance, just as we parked the ST and walked into a little diner for lunch, the heavens opened up.

As soon as we paid the check, the clouds broke and we were good to go.

I wasn't complaining!

We strolled across the street and shared ice cream for desert.

While Bryson City is far from a tourist trap, there were still a few little shops that beckoned to the wife.

I amused myself in between reminding her how little luggage space exists for souvenirs.

When she kept reminding me that everywhere ships nowadays, I resigned myself to defeat and set up for some people watching.

I don't remember being overly annoyed... but this photo seems to tell a different story!

We spent time in a local art store. She found some appropriate local scenes to ship home and I enjoyed talking to the artist, Charles Heath. Neither of us feel the need to collect random trinkets that remind us of our adventures. However, we usually buy local art to ship back and hang in our home. It's much more meaningful to display that than mass-produced junk sold in Target or Pottery Barn.

After a few hours of seeing everything there was to see in Bryson City, we rolled out of town towards a destination I had waymarked while planning the trip.

The Road to Nowhere...
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."

Learn how Project Appleseed is supporting freedom.
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Old 10-06-2009, 07:14 PM   #13
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Day 4: August 18, 2009
Part 2 - The Road to Nowhere

Being a firm believer in the need for smaller government and a return to our Founding Principles that both major parties ignore, there are few things that burn me up like a good ol' Bridge to Nowhere, an airport built basically for the personal use of a Congressman, or other pork spending of money that the American people ultimately don't have.

While Bryson City's Road to Nowhere is a bit of a different animal, it is still a worthwhile piece of history that should be told.

In a nutshell...

Throughout the '30s and '40s, Swain County North Carolina gave up the majority of its land to the Federal Government for the creation of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Land was also ceded for the creation of the Fontana Dam (which Joanna and I visited earlier in the trip). Literally hundreds of families and thousands of residents were forced from their homes where they had lived for generations.

One of the main roads that was destroyed by creation of the dam and resultant Fontana Lake was promised to be replaced by the Federal Government. That would be Lakeside Drive, or as locals call it, The Road to Nowhere. Among other uses, Lakeside Drive would have allowed for the displaced residents to visit now isolated family cemeteries.

That was in 1943.

I was told that sometimes in the summer the residents' tax money is used to charter ferries for select days so families can go visit those gravesites.

If nothing else, the ride down the six completed miles of Lakeview Drive were absolutely beautiful.

After gawking a little, we pull up to a parking lot...... in front of yellow cement barriers...... in front of a tunnel. On the other end of that tunnel is the end of the road.

Well hell, I didn't come all this way to stop 100 yards short.

Here we are:


While sitting there, I sure wish I had the KLR that was snugged into its garage back in Dayton, OH. I could've turned what you see into a road to Somewhere.

Alas, we turned around and made our way back through the tunnel.

It was pitch black inside, but near the ends we could see the interior was covered with graffiti.

But as I said, Lakeside Drive to and from was gorgeous.

The cabin welcomed us home yet again for a coal-toasted dinner and a night of stargazing.

Before officially turning in, I polished off the last Yuengling in the fridge and reviewed our plans for the next day.

Basically... we were to ride all of this until we saw the Atlantic off the coast of Charleston, SC.

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."

Learn how Project Appleseed is supporting freedom.

MeanStreaker screwed with this post 10-06-2009 at 07:19 PM
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Old 10-07-2009, 07:43 AM   #14
needs improvement
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Thanks, MS. This RR speaks to me. On a bike; with the Mrs.; on the BRP.
And I'm behind my blade of grass.
Thanks for the history reminder and the RR.
I went somewhere once and came back.
It was kind of fun. I just might do it again.
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Old 10-07-2009, 08:12 PM   #15
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Day 5: August 19, 2009 Part 1

Day 5: August 19, 2009
Part 1 - Bryson City, NC to Cowpens National Battlefield, SC

The Smokys were everything we hoped they would be. It was great to unwind and relax amongst great roads, great views, and great food. However, these mountains were only major destination 1 on our itinerary. Joanna and I awoke this morning with our eyes set on eating up some miles and making Charleston, SC.

In our planning, we knew this would be a long day full of interstate.

Thankfully, I had planned a stop that had been calling to me for years.

We made our coffee, bid goodbye to the Lost Moose Cabin, and stuck our chin out to prepare for hours of Devil road. My hope was that at least the change in climate will give us palm trees and scrub brush along I-26 to at least make it somewhat interesting.

Knowing the drudgery lying in wait, we cherished the sweeping roads the morning began with while we could.

After a couple of hours, I exited and made our way to the official Rifleman Destination Number 2: Cowpens National Battlefield.

This was one of the highlights of the trip for me. On January 17, 1781, the Continental Army and colonial militia won a decisive victory on these hallowed grounds that turned the tide of the war. As an ever-learning student of history, I've read everything I can about the Battle of the Cowpens. I won't go into the details here as I'm sure your Google-fu is strong if you're interested in researching it. The final battle depicted in Mel Gibson's The Patriot was very loosely based on this piece of history.

Daniel Morgan is another name that every American should know well. He led our countrymen to victory this day and gave our young country a glimmer of hope during a destitute time of the southern campaign. General Morgan is perhaps the most underrated American military commander of all time.

I begin every Appleseed event (after an extensive safety briefing) by having the students post their very first target of the weekend. Our Redcoat Target.

We do most of the shooting at 25 meters with reduced size targets that simulate silhouettes from 100-500 yards. The silhouettes depicted on our Redcoat target are at 100, 200, 300, and 400 yards. There's also a little bitty square near the bottom left that simulates a 250 yard headshot. (It's pretty shot up in this pic, but it's there.)

Now, I know talking about a 250 yard headshot sounds all bloody and gruesome. BUT, it does have historical significance...

During the Revolutionary War, Daniel Morgan (well before Cowpens) was charged with forming an elite corps of Riflemen to augment the Regular Continental Army. How did he go about this?

He put out a call to every colony to have all marksmen meet at a pre-determined location on a pre-determined day to see who could make the cut. Across hundreds and hundreds of miles, either by foot or by horseback, men traveled far and wide to answer Morgan's challenge.

When the candidates had gathered, Daniel Morgan paced out 250 yards and dropped a bucket that was the size of a human head. He then commanded each man one at a time to load their antique weapon.... their heavy-ass antique weapon.... their heavy-ass muzzle-loading antique weapon.......with terrible sights (if they had any).............. and take one shot at that bucket.

If you hit your target?...... Great! Welcome to the elite corps of Riflemen.

If you didn't?

Thanks very much and we can use your services in the regular army.

It was good to become a Rifleman on that day. Riflemen used cover and concealment. They worked in small teams and traveled fast. They used accurate fire to safely engage the enemy outside the effective range of those Redcoats.

If you weren't a Rifleman, you got handed a brightly colored uniform, stood shoulder to shoulder in a neatly trimmed line, and traded lead with the world's most disciplined and well trained army.......... from about 40-50 yards away.......... until enough people died.

It was good to be a Rifleman.

Daniel Morgan was able to make 1000 Rifleman with his 250 yard headshot test back in the 1770s with the group of men that assembled. How do you think modern day 2009 Americans would do? You can even use modern firearms with rifling, scopes, and match grade ammo! Well, I can tell you from first hand experience that America is losing its long held tradition of being a Nation of Riflemen.

But we're working on it.

I'd like to introduce you to Brigadier General Daniel Morgan:

The battlefield has been "restored" to resemble the lay of the land that would have been present in 1781. It was open fields with trees sparsely populating the area.

It was an honor to stand where so many brave Americans stood over 200 years ago to fight and die for a chance for us to have liberty.

This was a monument to the Washington Light Infantry:

I felt privileged to visit the Cowpens National Battlefield.

Joanna and I drank some water, paid our respects one last time to the patriots that gave their lives for us, and suited up to continue the long drive to Charleston.
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."

Learn how Project Appleseed is supporting freedom.

MeanStreaker screwed with this post 10-07-2009 at 08:27 PM
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