Graduated, Got Divorced… I Need a Vacation – Blue Ridge Parkway

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Telekinesis, Sep 25, 2019.

  1. mhr650

    mhr650 Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    May 8, 2017
    Oddometer:
    588
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    Had you turned left at the bottom of HWY 80 you would have found regular suburbia civilization within a mile. Multiple big gas stations and places to eat, plus you could have run back up 80 to the Parkway section through Mt Mitchell and Craggy Gardens, a nice high elevation section.
    #21
    Telekinesis likes this.
  2. Telekinesis

    Telekinesis Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    60
    Day 4: Canton, NC to Almond, NC via Blue Ridge Parkway
    Saturday, September 28, 2019
    Miles: 87
    Hours: 2.5

    With how the camp locations worked out, today was going to be my “short day”. Less than 100 miles of riding leaving plenty of time for other pursuits, and since I had some weather related issues the night before I decided to take my time packing up to let my sleeping bag dry out a bit.

    Then the oddest thing happened. The guy camping a few spots over actually came up and *talked* with me. Now I’m firmly an introvert at heart. Not to an awkward degree or anything like that, but I have absolutely no problem sitting down alone to work through something on my bike or just be alone with my thoughts for hours on end. Hell, that was a stated goal of this whole trip!

    But in talking with this guy about the V Strom versus his bike (HD Electra Glide) for long distance riding, his past in motorcycle racing, and conditions of the BRP, I recalled a few things from ride reports that I had previously read. First, you get some amazing stories that really add color and perspective to the trip. Sure, I could have just brushed this guy off and not engaged, but talking about bikes and things that we had each seen and done really adds a new dimension to the experience of the trip. Second, people seem much more willing to approach someone who is riding alone to offer assistance or camaraderie. Something I would find several more times during this trip.

    After we had wrapped up our conversation and I had made these stunning revelations, I rode back down Highway 278 to rejoin the BRP and a few miles in I decided to stop at another one of the “scenic overlooks”. I know, gratuitous pictures of bikes and mountains, but be honest this is at least part of why you clicked on this thread.
    67319124-C053-4E5B-8EB4-4EEFCDB9B361.jpeg

    610F329C-AAA1-4CDB-92BC-ABCDE2C447B9.jpeg

    While I’m standing there taking pictures, these two old ladies also pull off the road to take some pictures. As there were two of them and only one of me, I kindly waved but didn’t approach lest I get trapped in a conversation about knitting and the appropriate time of day to eat dinner, but for sake of this thread let’s call them Dorcas and Ethel.

    As I’m putting my gloves back on and getting ready to move on down the road, Dorcas and Ethel hop back in their blue Civic and beat me to the intersection of the parking lot and the BRP. Not wanting to be right behind them (and wanting better sight lines to the traffic, I tell myself) I decide to turn around and use the other entrance/exit intersection. As I’m making a very slow turn on a slight incline, my heavily laden V Strom decides that it’s had just about enough of my constant demands (you know, like riding it) and resolves to take a little nap in the parking lot.

    I’m fighting like mad to keep the bike upright, but I know that I’m past the point of no return, and with the extra weight of my obscenely overpacked luggage, there is no way out. The bike is going down. I frantically look around and make eye contact with Ethel in her rear view mirror, and what does she do? She just hits the gas on that little blue Civic and leaves me!

    Now I don’t know what I expected a pair of eighty year-old ladies to do. I’m in my late twenties and there’s no way that I could let them help me lift the bike, both from pride and from a honest desire that they not get hurt trying to help lift a heavy bike. But the insult of leaving a fallen rider just ripped apart any faith in humanity that I had.

    My poor, narcoleptic V Strom
    0A757296-68E1-486D-BD1C-3EB589B3951B.jpeg

    Luckily, my faith in humanity would be quickly restored. I was cursing my decision to not install crash bars as I removed my helmet and gloves, but by the time I had set them down on the curb and turned back around, I saw two guys in a blue mustang come to a screaming stop and pull into the lot. As luck would have it, these guys were fellow motorcyclists from Arkansas and upon seeing my poor excuse for low speed bike control, decided to pull over to help.

    Between the three of us we very quickly righted the V Strom and checked it over for damage. I thought for sure I would be replacing fairings and other expensive bits, but as luck would have it, only the front turn signal and bar end were damaged. The bike started up without a hitch and seemed happy after it’s quick nap. While the front turn signal bulb and wiring was still intact, the bulb would not flash - I would be getting some strange looks as I used hand signals for the rest of the trip, but all things considered it turned out about as well as it could have.

    The two gentlemen and I chatted for a bit - they were planning on attending the Barber Vintage Festival in a few weeks and we discussed a few nice roads that they should check out when they came down. Then after a heart-felt “thank you” to both of them, we waived and headed our separate ways.

    0E4E1040-D845-4586-B2BA-0AA4BD521A55.jpeg

    The remainder of the BRP passed quickly. Very beautiful views, especially when the mountains were layered in fog, but I wasn’t able to get many pictures. I really need to find a way to take pictures/video while moving, or at least get a separate camera so I don’t need to completely remove my phone to take pictures every time I stop.

    At the end of the BRP, I turned South on 74 and then South on 19 to head to the Nantahala Outdoor Center for their Guest Appreciation Festival (GAF). This was a continuation of the whitewater kayaking theme where I was meeting up and camping with a Birmingham kayaking group who was in the area for GAF.

    GAF itself was a madhouse of people and vendor tents. As someone new to the whitewater sports, I felt very much like a fish out of water, very similar to when I was just getting interested in motorcycling. The people looked different and spoke an almost new language of boats, paddles, and water. The wares for sale were new and strange, and promised to be great deals though I was wary. And I overheard whispered conversations of “he must be one of them...motorcycle guys...”.

    In reality it wasn’t bad at all, but it was definitely an odd feeling having not been “new” to a culture for a long time. There were a few good deals, 20-35% off brand new rescue life jackets being one of them. I may have to go back next year to pick one up.

    The view from the spectator bridge. Note the numbered “gates” for competitions.
    4C3B8F59-01A7-4112-9887-93BF70FBFFBE.jpeg

    After concluding that I had no idea what was going on at GAF and not wanting to pay festival-type prices for food, I decided to head to the campground to see if I could meet anyone from the group I was camping with and then grab some food. Unfortunately the whole group was away doing some paddling or something stupid like that, so I decided to set up my tent (which would hopefully keep me dry) and then go into town to grab some dinner.

    I ended up stopping at a place in “downtown” Bryson City called Jimmy Mac’s. Good food with a pretty relaxed atmosphere (I recommend the burgers). I was a little early for the dinner rush and apparently that whole “people like talking to a lone guy on a bike” thing was working in my favor and I got to chat up some of the waitresses. Left with a phone number and direction to let her know next time I was coming through town. :clap

    Anyway, back to the campground I go. Turkey Creek Campground has a nice location right off Highway 28, just a few minutes from Highways 19 and 74. I met up with the group who was trickling in after having wrapped up their day on the water. They were a bit stand-offish at first, but eventually warmed up to my impeccable charm and humor. There were a few guys there interested in bikes as well, so I got to discuss the V Strom, MSF courses, gear, etc.

    As a side note, the management of Turkey Creek Campground leaves a bit to be desired. The group I was camping with had reserved several adjacent camp sites so that we could group everyone together and not take up 16 different campsites. Turns out that the management gave away several of our campsites and the group ended up being spread out across the entire area. We were also expecting an $11 charge, but ended up getting hit by the “$20 minimum charge per campsite” fine print, even though we were all splitting the campsites. Not the end of the world by any means, but I’m not sure I would recommend the campground.

    A day of ups and downs had a nice, sedate ending sitting around a campfire with the group, discussing many different topics but mostly circling back around to kayaking.
    #22
    Snapper33, tjzondrz, Samspade and 2 others like this.
  3. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    May 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    13,641
    Location:
    Huntsville , Al
    I have a waterproof camera that I carry with a strap hanging around my neck. It's always ready to use, even when riding. I just grab it with my left hand, turn it on, point and shoot. Some people keep a camera in their tank bag, attached with a tether. As a result I get a lot of pics I otherwise wouldn't. It also takes much better pics than my phone.

    A big thumbs up for having the state of mind to get a pic of your napping bike before picking it back up:thumb
    #23
    Parrothead and Telekinesis like this.
  4. Telekinesis

    Telekinesis Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    60
    That’s a great idea on the camera. I’ll have to look into that. I have a pretty nice DSLR, but i ended up leaving it at home just due to the amount of space that it took up.

    In retrospect, I should have gotten the “trophy hunter pose” of standing behind it with one boot on the tank. Maybe next time!
    #24
    klaviator likes this.
  5. Telekinesis

    Telekinesis Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    60
    Ah, I knew I was doing something wrong!

    I’m going to take some time this weekend and play around with the setup in my back yard and hopefully sort out a few of my camping issues before the next trip. I’ll give the diamond setup a shot.
    #25
  6. borderlinebob

    borderlinebob Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2016
    Oddometer:
    155
    Location:
    CANADA-1/4 mile N of International Falls, MN
    Using it diamond shape will really only work if your tarp is square though?
    If it’s for example 8 X 10 it will end up weird.
    #26
  7. CopyCat

    CopyCat I am NOT like the others Supporter

    Joined:
    May 16, 2015
    Oddometer:
    608
    Location:
    behind the cheddar curtain
    Great report and an attention getting title. What is this yellow cord please?
    861F65AA-57A7-4525-87BB-F7323358F6BC.jpeg
    #27
  8. borderlinebob

    borderlinebob Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2016
    Oddometer:
    155
    Location:
    CANADA-1/4 mile N of International Falls, MN
    Looks like the cord to remind you that your disc brake lock is in use.
    #28
  9. Telekinesis

    Telekinesis Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    60
    Thanks!
    borderlinebob got it right, it’s just a little cord to help remind you that the disk lock is on. I think it also makes the lock itself a bit more visible to other people passing by, so it might provide a tad bit more deterrence against the random kid who wants to mess with the bike (not too convinced about that though, and it certainly won’t do anything for a guy who really wants to steal the bike).

    When I got my first bike a friend recommended I get one, so I just picked it up when I got the lock and kept using it. Here’s an example from CycleGear.

    https://www.cyclegear.com/accessories/kryptonite-disc-lock-reminder
    #29
    CopyCat likes this.
  10. rrittner

    rrittner Expand your sphere of awarness

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    306
    Location:
    New Castle, CO
    My first wife was ADD and Bipolar, nothing was ever her fault, spend money like no tomorrow. Never could keep a job more that 2 months except for being a Ski Instructor. Divorced her after 7 years never looked back. Now I've been remarried for 13+ years to wonderful person who gave me a son.

    Your ex wife did you a favor, by cheating on you got an out. Be strong enjoy what your doing and get your head back on straight. I had a dog that got me out of the house and hiking , backpacking and then backcountry skiing.

    I also had a lot of dept that I had to deal with, take your time it will go away. Be positive.
    #30
  11. Telekinesis

    Telekinesis Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    60
    Day 5: Almond, NC to Birmingham, AL
    Sunday, September 29, 2019

    Miles: 276
    Hours: 4.75

    My last day of the trip started off well. Made some coffee, chatted with a few of the guys, and then packed up my gear and headed off. My plan was to follow Highway 74 past the Nantahala and Ocoee Rivers, then take I-75 to I-59 back to Birmingham.

    I’m still amazed every time I think about how Hwy 75 changes between a winding, 2 lane road with scenic views of rivers and a 4 lane, limited access road that is essentially an interstate in all but name. Northern Alabama may be a little backwards, but at least our highways don’t suffer from an identity crisis and try to look like interstates!

    Anyway, I always enjoy riding past smaller whitewater rivers and planned to make a few stops to take pictures. Unfortunately I was enjoying the scenery so much that I completely missed the (unsigned) pull offs for the Nantahala. I did however manage to stop by the Ocoee Whitewater Center.

    The Ocoee river (or the Toccoa depending on which side of the state line you are on) is quite an interesting whitewater river. Technically split into Upper, Middle, and Lower sections, the Lower is mostly a calm feeder for a lake, while the Middle is the traditional whitewater section with class III-IV rapids depending on the flow of the river. The Upper section contains a man-made class IV section which was used as the site of the 1996 summer Olympics.

    The river is controlled by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) which generally diverts the river to feed 3 hydroelectric power plants stationed along various parts of the river. Actually, as you go down the river, in many places you can see the flume used to transport water to the power plants. It is only through the good graces of the TVA (and quite a bit of lobbying I imagine) that the Ocoee river is even allowed to flow. The TVA not only has the ability to turn the whitewater sections (Upper and Middle) on and off, but they can also control the amount of water including flow rate, and thus the characteristics of the rapids.

    Through various contractual agreements, the TVA guarantees a set number of days per year that water will flow through the Upper and/or Middle sections of the Ocoee. Unfortunately today was not one of those days.

    The Olympic section of the Upper Ocoee, at the Ocoee Whitewater Center.

    AF8D1638-A48E-4ABE-B1BC-C66A609CDAC7.jpeg

    7CCC46D7-E5A7-4923-A1F1-1F1B24E94390.jpeg

    When the Upper section is running, it tends to look a bit more like this (pic shamelessly borrowed from Google)
    1356533A-44F9-4940-9AB2-EC59B777024E.png

    All was not lost though, Highway 64 (which follows the Ocoee) was a pleasant ride.

    The rest of the ride was mostly uneventful, save for a little traffic around Chattanooga. As I was crossing the Alabama state line I decided to stop at the rest stop to take a few minutes and grab a drink and a snack from my tank bag.

    As I’m standing next to my bike in this massively oversized parking spot, the guy a few spots over with his car’s hood up ambles over and asks “how’s that bike for travel? Isn’t it hot in all that gear?” Now, if I’ve learned anything from the “Stupid Questions People Ask You When Stopped” thread, I need to make some snide, sarcastic comment. But instead I answer like a reasonable human being that my jacket has mesh panels to help flow air and the upright seating position is very comfortable in my opinion, especially compared to other types of bikes.

    He and I went on to discuss his travels from Maine in order to see his father who is not doing so well, and how he was about 18 hours into the trip when his car died on the interstate. He luckily was able to get the car restarted and get to the rest stop, but was now waiting on a tow truck. He told me that he had about 6 more hours to go once the car was back up and running. Having unexpectedly lost two close family members earlier this year, I assured him that even though it sucked to be stranded for a bit, he was making the right call to see his family. I offered to help take a look at the car, but he had already diagnosed the issue and just needed a tow truck.

    After a few more minutes I hopped back on the bike to head for home and completed the trip without incident. I had survived my first real motorcycle adventure.
    #31
    RedEX, popscycle, Kidder and 4 others like this.
  12. Telekinesis

    Telekinesis Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    60
    Thanks rrittner. I definitely agree that in this case divorce was the best option. It was a very painful process, from the shock of even contemplating that it could happen, to the anger caused by the betrayal and loss of trust, to finally accepting that this was the reality I had in front of me and that I needed to make short term goals and start working through them with determination in order to unwind the relationship. While this kind of thing is never actually “simple”, I am incredibly thankful that we didn’t have kids who had to go through this too.

    I won’t say that I’m completely cured by any means, but as soon as I made the decision to go through with the divorce my overriding emotion was that of calm, rather than anxiety. It was as if I had known for months that this needed to happen, and just finally allowed myself to recognize what I already knew was necessary.

    This trip was a great way to continue that process of creating separation between me and that previous life. Accomplishing new goals, experiencing new things, and creating new memories are all helping to keep me moving forward :ricky
    #32
    RedEX, mspgirl and klaviator like this.
  13. Telekinesis

    Telekinesis Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    60
    A few takeaways:

    I of course expected to have fun kayaking, see some great views, and have some trouble camping. Even though I had heard about how random people would come up and talk to you as a lone motorcyclist, I didn’t expect anything like that to happen to ME. But the most interesting parts of my trip (at least, interesting to me) were the random, chance interactions mostly initiated by others going out of their way to help or just chat.

    I need to flesh out my camping setup and get better at packing. I forgot to bring a hammer and had to drive in tent stakes using a rock or my boot.

    My top box ended up being a mass of random junk, very little of which I actually used. While my soft bags and top box were waterproof, my duffle bag and tank bag were not. Getting a waterproof duffle bag and tank bag is on the list.

    Crash bars might have been helpful... :fpalm

    My little Amazon LED lanterns were very useful, I just clipped them to the tent or ridge line of the hammock and had plenty of light at night (headlamp was very useful too).

    I need to get more carabiners - I used them for everything from securing/safety wiring my phone and duffle bag to setting up the lines on my hammock. Very useful at $10 or less for a good climbing rated locking carabiner.

    Do a moderate distance test ride after messing with the bike. I would have much preferred to find that burning wire smell when I was 30 minutes from my own garage.

    I need a better way to take photos - most of us enjoy pictures.

    Writing these ride reports can be difficult while on the road (more than half of these updates have been from my phone). I don’t know if it’s better to delay the report, or do less written detail/more pictures and multiple days per post, or maybe just know going in that I’m going to get behind on updates.

    As a planner it pains me to say this, but the second half of the trip where I had a bit less of a plan was more relaxing than the first half of the trip where I had more of an itinerary of places to go and things to do. I think a 2-4 hours of riding and having the time to explore a town or two is a good goal. Maybe there is something to the idea of just pointing the bike in the general direction of where you want to go and making it up as you go along.



    I also want to express my thanks to everyone who has followed along and offered thoughts and advise. As my first ride report I wasn’t really sure how this would turn out, but I’ve really enjoyed this aspect of the ride as well. It still amazes me that (as of right now) over sixteen HUNDRED people have been interested enough (or been hoodwinked by the title) to at least view this thread.

    Im not sure when my next trip will be, but I’ll be typing up a report for sure!
    #33
  14. zaxrex

    zaxrex Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2018
    Oddometer:
    200
    Location:
    Frederick, MD, USA
    Enjoyed your trip report -- thanks for sharing!

    I'm really sorry to hear about your marriage. Bipolar is tough on everyone. Sometimes I think the manic episodes are more challenging as the spouse than the depressive episodes. As someone who has seen his fair share of fortune and misfortune over my short time on this planet, I have learned that there sincerely is a silver lining in everything if you are willing to look for it.

    Hope the next trip is even better! Separate note - what did you study in graduate school?
    #34
  15. Clampett

    Clampett Uncle Jed

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,540
    Location:
    Clampett_Valley (Bama)
    Roll Tide. (We are Bi here as my son is grad from Auburn). I'm from Gardendale area.
    Enjoyed read'n your adventure. IF you hadn't dropped the bike, you wouldn't have met those 2 riders in the car.
    If your timing was different, you would have stopped somewhere else for dinner and missed getting the phone number.
    So many IF/Then things happen. I have a journal full of them. Both in working and adventures.
    Planning? Yep, I now keep just a small bag haggin on my door knob with toiletries, a change of undies, and wipes.
    Tent is by the bike. Grab 'em and go. 2 days or 2 weeks is still packed the same. Used to be a Gold Wing with a trailer. Life changes.
    You are now wiser and know more about what to look for in a mate.
    Looking forward to your next ride and how it changed your planning, your life, and your outlook.
    Looking forward to not meeting you (you said you were an introvert :hide )
    #35
    EZMoney and klaviator like this.
  16. Tazui1982

    Tazui1982 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2019
    Oddometer:
    33
    Location:
    Vietnam
    Great report. I'm in, will be following from Vietnam :)
    #36
    Telekinesis likes this.
  17. BoilerRealm

    BoilerRealm Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2017
    Oddometer:
    150
    Great ride report. I've kayaked the Nantahala and Ocoee. Wonderful rivers. I took a trip this summer on the BRP, and I've spent a lot of time riding around that area of southeast TN. Wonderful riding.

    Maybe look into getting a dedicated hammocking tarp. You can pick up a nice silnylon or silpoly tarp with doors for under $200. Will pack tiny, weigh very little, and provide much better coverage.

    As far as ride reports, I waited until after my trip was over (7 days). Sorted through all of my pics and got my thoughts in order. And I didn't have to worry about cell signal or doing anything other than relaxing at camp.

    I also was surprised at how many people came up to talk to me. I think that is the best thing about solo traveling.
    #37
  18. MarkVeeMarkADV

    MarkVeeMarkADV sharing misinformation and useless trivia

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2014
    Oddometer:
    156
    Location:
    at the MA/VT/NH border
    upload_2019-10-4_10-8-26.jpeg

    welcome to the horizontal club..
    in my 50 years experience riding, i learned the hard way that
    side crash bars installed before needed, have saved my bikes
    from damage in too many tipovers(like yours). Two of 'em in
    two different driveways my first weekend on my new to me v2 strom.
    No damage convinced my 2 friends/witnesses to install bars on their bikes.
    Glad you are ok.
    Ride safe.
    #38
  19. Telekinesis

    Telekinesis Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    60
    Thanks zaxrex! I think you’re right about the silver lining. You can’t always control what happens to you, but you CAN control how you react to it.

    I have a Masters in Business Administration and have previous work experience in large banks and healthcare and am currently doing a lot of analytics/automation work. If anybody knows of a good job opening...
    #39
    klaviator likes this.
  20. Telekinesis

    Telekinesis Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    60
    I’m actually a LSU fan (yeah, I know...) I spent most of my formative years in New Orleans and it just stuck. It could be worse though, I could be a Tennessee fan!

    I like the idea of having a small kit so you can quickly throw it on the bike and be out the door in a few minutes with everything you need. I think that’s my eventual goal, but it may be a while before I get there. Having clothes to look presentable while off the bike seems to be a challenge.

    And I don’t know if I’m THAT much of an introvert (I mean, a true introvert probably would’t have started a thread like this). Happy to meet anyone on here!
    #40
    klaviator likes this.