November 21, 2015
It’s early on day 4 and I’m sitting in the lobby of the Little Switzerland Inn just off of mile marker 331 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Nita worked late last night on pictures and I’ll try and get some uploaded before we leave today – needless to say there are some great pics. Right now it’s coffee in hand and an amazing view of the Blue Ridge Valley.
Days 2 & 3 were spent almost entirely on the parkway. After breakfast with Mir, we continued south on Skyline Drive with the previous days events clearly etched in our heads. The last 60 miles of the Drive were ridden (by me at least) with two fingers firmly planted on the brake lever. Even with a mid-day departure and in the middle of this intense heat wave deer were often seen in the trees just feet from the road. To be honest, I’ve never seen so many deer on one road. Still, the Skyline is a beautiful road with the foliage running right to the road – it felt as though you were nestled in on a hiking trail with the occasional peek out into the valleys.
Before we knew it we were out of the Skyline and onto the Blue Ridge Parkway and the difference between the two roads was immediately noticeable. The BRP had much faster lines with beautiful sweeping corners that seemed to go on *forever*. The tarmac was in incredible condition – in fact when we ran into the occasional construction it was hard not to be grateful to them for the way this road has been maintained. The foliage has been cut back from the road just enough to give us a much better view of wildlife and possible hazards which made for a ride filled with more confidence that the days prior.
With no hotel booked we decided to stay in a town called Natural Bridge which was a great choice. We turned off of the BRP and rode a stretch on the Lee Highway (I think!) which was completely batty. There were *so* many low-speed turns with 2-4 foot banks – it was like no road I’ve ever ridden. We pulled into the Inn and I think we were all so happy to have had a normal day all we could do was giggle about how beautiful the ride had been. The evening was spent eating and planning the next days ride to Little Switzerland.
The next morning it was time to add oil to the bike as the oil pressure light came on just as we pulled in. In NYC Michael had told me to take a quart with me and in Calgary Chris had mentioned that his new GS went through plenty of oil in the early days. It sounds like this is par for the course but oil on the GS is like a sock in the dryer – where does it go? Still, it’s supposed to get better as the bike breaks in. Half a quart in and we’re ready to head back out on the BRP.
Day 3 was going to be a long day on the road but after the previous day we were excited to head out. In a matter of 10 minutes we were back in the constant turns, the long sweepers and the occasional stop at a construction area. At one stop we met a great older couple from Quebec (not the first) – riding two-up on a Harley pulling a trailer. They’d been on the road for 17 days and had a couple of weeks left to go. He had been a truck driver hauling *caskets* across canada so the long hours were nothing new to him. His accent was thick but he was saying “casket” perfectly but it wouldn’t register. We were all looking at him confused saying “Cascades? Pardon?”. He was laughing his ass off. I just couldn’t quite believe that they actually shipped those things :)
A few miles down the road we saw a black bear scurry into the bush and a few miles later it was a duck with ducklings – which was super-cute. The road continued to impress and somewhere along the line I just fell in love with it. I said to Nita that I’ll be sad to leave the BRP – it’s been amazing with views that words will never do justice. We watched clouds roll over the peaks below us as we rode the spine of a mountain upwards for what seemed like an eternity, and we saw a section of highway that seemed suspended on the side of the mountain. It’s been incredible.
We pulled into Little Switzerland at 5:50pm and sat in the hot-tub until dinner. Great laughs, good food and wine finished the night off. It was two great days of riding.