I believe we were the first to leave the Apple Cover Inn in Maggie Valley this morning, as at 7AM, the parking spaces still held last night’s other vehicles. I had been talking up the renown Joey’s Pancake House to my wife for days, and we headed a few businesses away on our way out of town to enjoy some of the best breakfast foods I’ve ever tasted. What we found was a empty lot, as then saw the sign that stated they were closed Thursdays. What a bummer. We would have to continue on to find our morning meal before setting out for the Cherohala Skyway in Tennessee.
We pulled out of the parking lot, hitting a little gravel forcing the bike sideways out of the attended path. Immediately correcting, I was able to make the turn and give it some gas to get going properly. Probably cost us an extra second of travel time, and in a few minutes, it would show that an angel was looking out for my wife and I. Maggie Valleyhas a long three mile hill to climb to get out of the valley where it is located, and the bike did great with the cool fresh engine on the bike. Passing past the Blue Ridge Parkway on our way to Cherokee for food, disaster nearly struck.
Riding along, I’m watching the road about twenty yards ahead of me, scanning for potholes and road debris from last night’s rain that had gone through. My wife behind me on the back of the Ultra suddenly dug her nails deeply in my sides and I could hear her gasp. I was just about to turn my head to the side and ask her what was wrong, when a full-sized adult doe ran in front of the bike about 30 yards ahead. The deer was at a full charge to cross the road, and had we been a second further in our travels, we would have either hit it in its side, or it would have ran into the side of us. Either way would have been disastrous and probably deadly. I slammed the brakes out of reflex when it came into my vision as it cleared the grass on the side of the road, just missing the tail of the doe.
I looked back at my wife, who had not let out her breath. Once she was able to talk again, she saw the deer running towards us on a collision course a good three seconds before I had my first look at it. Her reflex was to gasp and dig her hands into my side, bracing for the inevitable impact that by the grace of time or a spiritual hand allowed us to avoid.
Ten minutes later, we stopped at the Pancake House in Cherokee, where we talked about the event minutes before while waiting for the slowly served less-than-hot breakfasts. With our morning excitement contained, we headed out on the asphalt and truly started the day’s journey. Making our way to Robbinsville, NC, we stopped at a gas station to fill up the Harley’s fuel tank before proceeding out to ride the Cherohala Skyway. My wife enjoyed the ride as much as I did, and she continued to try to fill up her memory card with many photos along the ride.
The Cherohala ends near the Cherohala Harley-Davidson store, where the wife another pink shirt to add to her collection. We then rode the Scenic 360 route up to 411, shot down 72, then over on US-129 to the HD store near the Tail of the Dragon, a world famous ride holding 318 curves in about 11 miles. No purchases were made, but the sales lady recommended a ride to their mother dealership in Maryville. We enjoyed some good food in their custom garage restaurant behind the dealership. The Smoky Mountain dealership is supposed to be the largest store east of the Mississippi, and being in an old Lowes store, it just may be. The staff was very pleasant and made sure we relaxed from our trip.
We decided that time had finally arrived for us to start our trek homeward, and we worked our way west on I-140 towards Knoxville. A bad storm was brewing in the distance, and a previous check of the My Radar app on our iPhones only confirmed what we knew…a storm is coming, one we could not outrun. And it’s big…so we decided to find a local Microtel hotel, and bunker down for the night. We’ll play tomorrow by ear for a route home.
Since leaving out on our own, we both have been able to find some relaxation over the last couple of days. Nothing against our riding friends, but the building circumstances just warranted our breaking off and going our own way for a few days. We look forward to our next ride with them, I just think that we’ll need to cement our complete plans before leaving.