Monday, November 16, 2009

When Men and Mountains Meet

"Great things are done
when men and mountains meet."
~ William Blake

Heading south on the Blueridge Parkway, between US 70 and US 74, the winding road forms an "S." Add a blue sky and a warm autumn day and you've spelled: H-E-A-V-E-N!

(AskAsheville blog excerpt. Full blog entry: )

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Leaves Are Changing

Going through the "Garden of the Gods..."

Vibrant Harley ride yesterday with high visibility and the colors so clean and bright after all the rain we've had. The tree canopy so close, I could reach up and touch the bright colors. Up on NC 215 & Blue Ridge Parkway, the leaves are starting to turn and drop...

Close Up, Steven

NC 215, West Fork Pigeon River

Sparkling sunlight, bright colors
Rushing water over rock beds
Angler fishing, nearby waterfall.
Beauty, peace, light.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Cloud Ten

Heading north, back home. Our late afternoon run on the Parkway, just before 7 pm and the eye-level clouds are still miracles of nature, embracing, shielding Mt. Pisgah with white lightness.

"I was on cloud ten-- a very high, comfortable cloud, far from reality." ~ Lauren Bacall

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Reeves Cove Road, Candler, NC

Almost home...

Blue & White Sky

Heading North on the Parkway with Mt Pisgah straight ahead. No need to hurry, just soaking in the splendor.

No way to describe the spectacular sky. Bright blue, with billowy clouds, white, clean, as light as the joy in our hearts.

So easy to lean forward and whisper, "It's just the two of us. On top of the world."

Look at what we share.

Devil's Courthouse. BRP Milepost 422.4

Crag of Devil's Courthouse at 5720 feet
Popular peregrine falcon viewing. Spectacular.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


My ride's here...

CR11 - Auto, West Virginia

Rain today? Not yet, so we took a short ride to Auto (yes, they’ve got a place called Auto) on CR11 to the Monongahela Forest, through farm land that included an enormous corn field. “They can see this in space,” Steven said.

"Drive until you lose the road." ~ Isaac Slade

Monday, July 13, 2009

Humpback Covered Bridge, VA

Humpback Covered Bridge
Covington, Virginia
Very easy to find, even with the rain drizzle, this covered bridge over Dunlop Creek is made of white oak and hickory, was built in 1857, and traversed until 1929. Rising eight feet from the ends to the center, the bridge is a celebration of simple beauty and arching grace, from a different, long gone time.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Over 500 Miles...

We returned via VA- and NC-16 to the Parkway. After two detours (still in repair!), we rode the BRP to Asheville. It sure felt good to get home.

Not a bad Independence Day weekend--over 500 miles in two days, exploring beautiful Virginia. Mile upon mile full of blue skies, lush greens, and full hearts.

"The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness." ~ John Muir

Hungry Mother State Park

A walk down memory lane for Steven... Here he stands in front of the Dam and Spillway at Hungry Mother State Park, adjacent to the Park's spectacular lake and forest, located in Marion, Virginia, just off Route 16.

Almost 35 years to the day, he spent the summer along this 108-acre lake as a 16-year-old member of the Youth Conservation Corps. One of his jobs was cleaning out the Spillway.

Independence Day

Happy Independence Day... We rode back through the lush Thompson Valley, soaking in the greens and the blue-on-blue splendor...with a bit of white and red... FREEDOM!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Thompson Valley, Virginia

Our View of Thompson Valley off VA State Route 16
Tazewell County, Virginia
Isn't it appropriate that we are traveling through areas that were settled in the infancy of our Nation? The photos do not do the beauty justice.
Southwest of Tazewell, the fertile Thompson Valley is nestled between the Rich and Clinch mountains of Southwest Virginia. The 17 mile-long agricultural and grazing wonder attracted the first pioneer settlers and was named for William Thompson who settled there in 1772.

Virginia Backroads

Everywhere you look--Timeless Beauty.

Pastures of Gold and Green

A wonderland forest. A tunnel made of bending branches. Nearby pastures. Private. Untouched. From a different era. How are we so lucky to be able to see this?

"...And sweet blossoms fills the air
Pastures of gold and green
Roll down into cool clear waters..."
~Bruce Springsteen

Holston River, Virginia

Holston River, Virginia
We took VA 58 from Weber City to Hiltons, then traveled on the backroads through more rural beauty.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Saturday, June 27, 2009

NC-90 Turns to Gravel

NC-90 Turns to Gravel
In our quest to find NC roads we have NOT been on, we tried to get to the Parkway via NC-90 West. It looked great on Google Maps and the air cooled as we climbed up, along the river. There was virtually no traffic, which should have been a red flag: No Go. We hit gravel.
Ugh. (Sometimes when you explore, you hit unpaved roads. And evidently, it's eight miles of steep gravel before you hit the Parkway.)
Turn around.
"A dead end is just a good place to turn around." ~ Naomi Judd

Johns River

We stop to catch our breath, get shade from the sun, and enjoy the lush beauty of the lazy Johns River that curves along NC 90 near Mortimer, NC. No one for miles...
"To sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment." ~ Jane Austen

Dragon Garden in Morganton, NC

We ate delicious lunch at the Dragon Garden in Morganton. Great service. Loaded up on the water for the ride. I hated to leave the air conditioned restaurant and head off on the asphalt. It was so hot in Lenoir, NC that I felt like a fireball.

Glenwood, North Carolina

Glenwood, North Carolina

We did almost 300 miles in nine hours, about 75 miles and two hours over my desired limit. We took the back roads through the fertile but blazing hot tree farms of Glenwood toward Lenoir. We then headed up to Blowing Rock, then home via the Parkway.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

French Broad River

Another great late afternoon ride... This time, we explored northwest of Buncombe County through Madison County. The mostly-rural community is named after President James Madison. Agriculture--wheat, cattle, corn, and tobacco--is the primary source of income.

Here we are crossing the mighty French Broad River. The French Broad's majestic ebb and flow... More than just another snapshot, of the timeless and humbling beauty that surround us...

Marshall Gravel Road

Another ride, another gravel road. This one in Marshall, North Carolina.

"Nature distributes her favors unequally." ~ George Sand

Leicester, North Carolina

Late afternoon, images whirl by. How do I capture it all? We passed this farm in Leicester, North Carolina-- an artist pallet of neon greens and gold on crystal blue. The country air, the fragance of life lived simply.
"When I paint green, it doesn't mean grass;
when I paint blue, it doesn't mean sky." ~ Henri Matisse

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Herrin Knob, Jackson County, NC

Herrin Knob Overlook - elevation = 5510'
(Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 424.0)
Legend says that nearby Tanasee Bald is the home of the mythical, slant-eyed Cherokee giant Tsul 'Kalu, a great hunter who resembled a deer.

Blue Ridge Forest

Pull off the side of the road, and nearby you have all this to yourself...

"I can never feel certain of any truth, but from a clear perception of its beauty." ~ John Keats

Mountain Laurel

We saw beautiful pink Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) today on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

South on the Parkway

"Beauty... is the shadow of God on the universe." ~ Gabriela Mistral
This stretch on the Parkway is less traveled, through rugged terrain. How many times am I amazed at all the beauty to soak in?

Flame Azaleas

Orange flame azaleas against the clear, clean blue sky. This picture does not do Nature's magnificence justice. The azaleas are bursts of color amid the purple rhododendron and pink mountain laurel.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Mt. Mitchell Rhododendron

Headed north. This morning's ride's revelation: Purple Catawba rhododendron blossoms covered the Blue Ridge Parkway around Craggy Gardens, near Mt. Mitchell. Just stunning abundance of color...

"The personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself."--Anais Nin.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Green Tennessee

Down another side road, to a lake at the dead end. Exploration.

Steven turns the bike around and waits for me. Look at all the green!

Cows in North Tennessee

We had to pull over to recheck the map and the cows came over to check us out. Definitely glad I am off the beef.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Cove Lake State Park, Tennessee

We stopped at the Food City in Kingston and had a great picnic lunch (lobster dip, hot wings, and shrimp) at Cove Lake State Park. We had front row seats and watched hundreds of Canadian Geese and graceful cranes move across the lake, which is in Caryville, Tennessee, on the edge of the Cumberland Mountains.

Hwy 61, 62, & Big Brushy Tennessee

We continued north through Sugar Grove to Hwy 61, then 62, through the town of Petros and Big Brushy, site of a State Penitentiary, referred to in John Grisham’s The Firm and housed James Earl Ray. There are 89 inmates on Death Row there.
TN 116 was great for the Harley. No cars, lots of bikes, windy, mountain-forest road. The road soars from 1440 to 2140 feet elevation at Armes Gap in 1.6 miles. The rural spirit of the area permeates. This is old coal mining area and The Devil's Triangle.

Watts Bar Lake

We spent the night in Sweetwater, Tennessee, then continued west on HWY 68, then north on HWY 58 through the Watts Bar Lake and Tennessee River area. Off in the distance, the nuclear plant billowed steam. We made a pit stop at this Marina and Steven was fascinated by how the boats were stored in this building and moved to the lake by crane. Pretty cool.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Cherohala Skyway

With a break in the incessant rain, Steven had the fever, anticipated a breathtaking ride at dusk, so we left in the late afternoon, headed West, toward Tennessee's Tellico Plains. It was quite a ride, not what we expected.

Trying to get over the Cherokee National Forest before dark, we rode through the damp, low clouds that settled thickly over the Cherohala Skyway. No visibility and Steven said, "How about taking some pictures with your camera now."
Sometimes he is such a wise guy.
The clarity was unbelievable once we got down below the clouds. I was able to take this shot on the Tennessee side of the Skyway.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Asheville Sky at Dusk

Dusk paints the Asheville sky with clouds, dreams, and POSSIBILITIES.

Mt.Mitchell Restaurant

Two deer wandered near the parking lot of the restaurant up at Mt. Mitchell, just off Milepost 355...

Mt. Mitchell is 6,684 feet up, in the midst of the billion-years-old Black Mountains. Sitting on top of the world, we had such a relaxing stop, great service, excellent food. How can you beat this view? A very special experience, well worth the trip. Steven enjoyed the chili and corn bread. I highly recommend the mountain trout.

Riding the Parkway Curves

Each curve: Green Magic

Surreal Magic, Blue Ridge Parkway

We took a spontaneous ride through the low-hanging clouds, up to Mt. Mitchell. We had the parkway all to ourselves. The road has been closed for a year and a half and recently reopened.

What a stunning ride to the highest peak of the Appalachian Mountains--peaking at 6,684 ft (2,037 m).

Just breathtaking, with a spirit of surreal magic. It humbles you to see all the magnificent beauty. We got back just before dusk, with the Asheville sky awash with glorious colors.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Nantahala River

Nantahala means "land of the noonday sun." Here we are near the white water rafting experience. We watched folks tubing white water. Makes me want to try, too.

Bryson City Train

We stopped for lunch in Bryson City, North Carolina and watched the Great Smokey Mountain Railroad meander past us.

Tennessee Road Trip

Overnight road trip with Cathy and Dana…

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Beautiful North Georgia

Life in vibrant blue and green.

Riding Gravel in Georgia

Because life is always an adventure, our road near Rabun Gap, Georgia turned to gravel and instead of turning around, we tried to ride it out. Things became a bit scary--Steven had to turn the bike around near a precarious dropoff. He did it, but man, was it stressful. I walked about 1/4 mile while he rode the bike out solo. “Sure knows how to show a girl a good time…”

Beech Gap Forest

We continued up, reaching the crest of the mountains at 5,340-foot Beech Gap. Near Devil's Courthouse, we saw a white eagle in flight. First time. Remarkable.

Hwy 215 Waterfall

We rode NC HWY 215 past Lake Logan and Sunburst Campground, through the 495,000-acre Pisgah National Forest. We experienced views of pure drama, with miles of lush forest to our right and left. With the water levels up from all the rain, we stopped before the Parkway entrance and found this waterfall. which I believe is part of the West Fork of the Pigeon River.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sumter Forest, South Carolina

Picnic lunch just off Highway 28, South Carolina. Seemed like we had the entire Sumter Forest to ourselves.