or, The Trips Ride The Smoky Mountain 500.... In early June Mrs. Trip and I drove down to the Smoky Mountains in the Rhodyroamer with our bikes in the trailer. It took us a couple of days to mosey our way to Tennessee, with a night spent at our favorite in transit campsite: The second evening, we made it to Townsend, TN and a real campground. The next day rode up into Cades Cove in the National Park. Its a beautiful place: but I'd been warned to expect a bit of traffic... A parking lot is more like it...you gotta be kidding me! We finally made it to Parson Branch Rd, and left the crowds behind: Parson Branch was a good ride, with a few steep loose uphills, a few mildly rutted descents, and 9 water crossings in its 8 mile length. All of the crossings were on what we know as "topes" from our time in Mexico...a concrete bed for the water to run over: Parson Branch Rd let us out on Rt129, the "Tail of the Dragon" about halfway through. We headed east to Deals Gap to grab some lunch... Mmmm...BBQ! Then west again, through all 318 curves...even got our photos taken, compliments of Killboy: From the Dragon, we took Happy Valley Rd up and over the ridge, and back to Townsend for the night. Next day, we headed into Knoxville to find a replacement water pump for the camper...took all day, but we got it installed, and headed for Stecoah, North Carolina and the Ironhorse Motorcycle Resort. The Ironhorse is the start point for the Smoky Mountain 500. It soon filled up with cruisers parked under the front eaves, all wiped down and shiny in the evening cool. Its a nice place with friendly folks...we missed reserving dinner, but had a good breakfast in the morning. We went out for a ride around, and then spent the afternoon getting the bikes and ourselves ready for tomorrow's ride.