6 July: Safely back to Jim's in Mount Airy, MD before noon. Coffee and breakfast help, a shower will feel great. My facial skin is toooo hottttt with windburn. (Sorry Pam, but hoooot and haaat don't read right.)
Last night at dark a wicked looking storm with massive, turbulent black clouds approached as I neared Front Royal at the end of Skyline Drive. I had no tent, camped on a fire road, and fell asleep instantly - exhausted. Soon a loud clap of thunder awakened me and it rained intensely for 15 minutes. The thunder gave me only enough time to put on my motorcycling rain suit and to zip the bedroll protector (thanks Walt) in total darkness. I set the bedroll onto the bike seat and covered it all with a plastic tarp. Then I stood in the cold black rain dressed in only the rain suit, shoes & helmet until the dripping stopped. A noise in the dark reminded me that I had seen a big black bear a few miles earlier.
5 July: 500 miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway should qualify me for "Iron Butt" honors, especially on Jim's DR650. I didn't ride aggressively, but enjoyed the handling, the road, and the wildlife = baby bear streaking across the road in front of me with mama scowling from the roadside; one BIG bear who ambled along ahead of me and up a hillside (he took up a whole lane, so I stopped respectfully); one mama deer with a single spotted fawn; a repeat of mama deer with fawn; three turkeys alongside the road; one overstuffed turkey flying up into a roadside tree - or it may have been a jumbo jet struggling to take off without a runway; and WAY TOO MANY deer at the edge of the road at dusk.
Sadly I helped to pull out of the woods the big Suzuki touring bike (Victory?) belonging to an injured Canadian motorcyclist. No friends nearby, no cell phone, probably no US insurance, right hand & arm limp & useless. He just wanted to sit & think, so I left him in peace with best wishes. Fifteen miles later I saw a Park Ranger hustling southwards.
4 Jul: Chris at Acme Motorcycles in Ashville, NC replaced the punctured tube for me today, July 4th. What a Godsend. It deflated entirely 20 miles north of town on the Blue Ridge Parkway and the first bike by was a Suzuki V-Strom 650. The owner is delighted with it and prefers it to any BMW, good to know since Jim strongly recommended that bike to me. Several very nice people hereabouts deserve thanks and appreciation for being sympathetic and helping me with good advice, especially Gale who recommended Acme over breakfast at the nearby Waffle House. $200 tow, $100 room at Motel 6 for 2 nights (fun staff there); $60 motorcycle shop pickup; $35 flat rate tire change; and $10 for new tube. (RideLikeRon carries tools for that repair, so expense would have been $0.50 for tire patch. More costly on borrowed bike without tools & no tire patch kit.)
Any motorcycle trip that ends with the motorcyclist still alive is a good trip.
Any incident that only costs money is cheap.
1 Jul: It has been a good several days with Walt & Pam, Lee & Tammy, Jim and 11 other motorcycling guys & girls. We've been camping at the Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge campground in Stecoah, NC and have ridden Deal's Gap, the (Tail of the Dragon) once. (Pictures to prove it are linked on my web site.) Lots of good riding hereabouts. Today most of the guys returned home, but Jim stayed another day. Walt & Pam; Lee & Tammy; Bill & Cheryl stayed until Tuesday.