Brent and I awoke Wednesday morning (Now 3 weeks ago) after one ridiculously amazing night of thunderstorms. While we remained mostly dry inside the tent, the same wouldn’t be true outside. Occasionally we would get a 2 min break in the rain. The Internet in the lodge and weather channel all predicted showers throughout the day. We threw a little pity party for ourselves and then we were notified that we are in the mountains. I know you are probably like “wow, idiots you weren’t aware of that” Yes silly…we knew we were in the mountains, what we didn’t realize is the weather forecast doesn’t change much because the mountains tend to interfere with the weather patterns so in order to maintain a somewhat accurate forecast there is a chance of showers about 75 % of the time.
We pulled ourselves out of the puddle of tears we’ crying because it was raining on our vacation (really we weren’t crying). Rather we rustled about frantically to get as much ready as possible in the 2 minutes of slight drizzle. Thankfully, we invested in some fancy rain gear for bikers, thus now was as good a time as ever to try it out. By 9 am I had eaten 3 times and was still hungry, I was dressed in a few layers and constructing a way to take pictures on the back of the bike with a 30 foot lens, and prevent the camera from being damaged in any downpours along the way. We were off and riding before most set to ride do a loop of a about 200 miles before the day end. We would head south through the Cherahola Skyway- which is a 2 lane highway through the mountains, with a fair share of bends and twists in the path.
Just as we turned onto the route (which is approximately 40 miles from camp) we saw a glimmer of hope!
Since we were actually seeing mountains and not fog or rain we took a little advantage of the photo op and posed in our ridiculously dorky-matching rain suits each taking a turn with the mistress.
That wouldn’t last long- soon the clouds surrounded us and seeing 10 feet in front of us was becoming more and more of a challenge. Added to that we were being pelted with raindrops the size of lemons. I may still have a few welts to prove it. I don’t have pictures of the roadway, but there really isn’t any place to stop for cover. So being the die hard bikers that we were,we continued on!
We had heard from some folk back at camp that there was a really cool waterfall (Bald River Falls) just as we were getting off the Cherahola Skyway. They took a trail down into the little stream bed and climbed on the rocks. We were pretty excited to check this place out since I have an obsession for waterfalls. However things were quite different then described.
Apparently this waterfall is usually about a third of this size. The stream that was described was now a raging river with rapids and all, the waterfall completely covered all of the rocks…as you can see there were to many places to get down in there and climb around. Not to mention we were still be stalked by a nagging rainstorm. Rocks+wetness= bad idea for a pregnant woman to go hiking around. Really I’m not losing my sense of adventure, but Brent advised me to find my better judgement and I obliged.
Not 2 minutes after we were back on the bike to continue the next 120 miles of our loop the rain stopped an it was so humid it became hard to breathe. Strangely I began to FREEZE! I think all the wetness combined with the altitude of the mountains was messing me up a bit, or it was my body going into shock after not being fed for almost 3 hours! Coming down a bit out of the mountains we caught a fabulous little diner along the raging river with patio, and amazing food. A diner that serves Grilled Cheese and hot chocolate is a diner after my own heart.
So we sat and chatted with a couple who had retired and moved to the area. Appears no matter where we go, someone else is always from Wisconsin. The couple had retired and moved down here and both were first responders. They went on to share a few stories of all the major accidents in recent years. Made me a bit reluctant to get back on a ride another 3 hours. But we did.
Next up was “The Dragon.” This little devil was what drew Brent to this area. As we headed on our way things the skies cleared and things heated up a bit. I ended up falling a sleep on the back of the bike for a bit- full belly and sunshine somehow always leads to a nap in my world. I woke up sweating. The raingear we were still adorning was doing a great job of keeping water out, but it also happened to be really good at keeping heat in. With the added pleasure of the sun on our all black costumes- I was scorching hot. Not by appearance I assure you, just body temperature.
Then it was here…the next 11 miles we would experience 316 turns, nearly all of them were near 120 degree turns.
…you get the picture. Major bends with no clear sight of what’s in front or in back. No guard rails and major “cliffs” usually 50 feet or greater on the edges of these roads. The speed limit was now 25 but apparently that is something new, as just last year they reduced it from 55 mph. Even at that rate were passed by a few crotch rockets. That might have something to do with this:
all the unfortunate (or stupid ones) who laid their bikes down and in doing so donated a piece of it to the tree of shame. You might notice there is quite a bit more plastic than chrome on this tree…one more reason I think crotch rockets are stupid (an that’s the nicest word I could find). Throughout our stay heard of MANY who had died in recent weeks. In fact while we were there a fellow camper laid his bike down and broke an arm, collarbone, and several ribs. He ended up being hospitalized for most of the time we were there.
The publicity behind “The Dragon” started in the early 90’s when this place
put it on the map by establishing several “races” of which the record stands from 1996 of a crotch rocket doing the full 11 miles to the other side and back in 11 minutes. I should note this was all done “unofficially” meaning the road was still open for traffic and the little racer dude never knew what he might face around the next bend. That was enough insanity for me for one day.
Just down from Deal’s Gap resort is “The Fugitive” dam. If you ever watched the movie, this would be the dam that Harrison Ford jumped off to escape those who were chasing him.
And to round out the loop we have a few shots on the way back to our campground…
once back at camp (around 5 pm) we made dinner for the slightly famished woman on the trip. Being the luxurious campers we are we pulled out the camp stove and cast iron post and made one of mom’s quick dinners of Cheesy Chicken broccoli and rice- which hit the spot! We did manage a quick trip in to a town in the opposite direction due to my husbands inability to relax for more than 5 minutes. Noting real exciting there to report other than on our way back towards camp we were stopped by a State sheriff who just wanted to check that Brent had a license. Seemed odd, but that was an easy enough test to pass.
We were welcomed yet again by a soggy campground that was now seeping into everything. Life as we knew it was becoming very MOIST. With that I’ll leave you for now.
It might be a few days before you get to hear about day 4 and 5…there is so much yet to share! I’m travelling and don’t have the pictures uploaded to help tell the story. Don’t you fret, there will be other non-related vacation posts coming in the meantime. 🙂