Chris' 1994  R100GS/PDChris' new bike, a 1996 F650 ULTIMATE JOURNEY Erin's 1997  F650
Living a Dream . . . 2 Live-N-Ride

July 29th, 2003.-- more than 50 months and 100,000 miles...

Credit to Carolina:  The Blue Ridge Parkway to Wilmington

-- Story by Erin --

Tues, July 15th:  Here we are in lovely Roanoke, stuck really.  Yesterday evening we pulled off the road and found a small motel for the night.  As we were lubricating our chains, Chris discovered he had a pin hole leak in his front brake line.  Well, we couldn't go any farther, especially not on the twisty Blue Ridge Parkway, until we got a new one.  

Luckily, a company called Cycle Brakes in California was able to get a new Galfer line sent out to us, which should arrive tomorrow morning.  The one-day rest is not unwelcome.  This whole area, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina is very lush and green, densely packed forest.  Reminds us a lot like the forest of the Amazon.

Wednesday, July 16th: The brake line arrives in the morning and Chris makes quick work of changing it. We are back on the road by noon and heading south on the Blue Ridge Parkway enjoying the solitude and twisties of a mid-week ride. Notorious for being bumper to bumper traffic on weekends we are thankful to have it to ourselves now. There is the occasional motorcycle passing by but little else. Farmers are out cutting their grass to make hay, while horses with their ponies chew lazily in the fields.

Late in the afternoon we run into a thunderstorm and take shelter in the national park visitor's center with several other riders. When it finally passes we find the nearest camp ground and set up the tent for the night.

Thursday we take our time packing up in the morning and enjoy the peace and quiet. Later we stop frequently along the parkway to enjoy the view of the Great Smoky Mountains. There are deer around every turn including lots of babies with their white spots. We even see a big fat ground hog nibbling the fresh grass on the side of the road. That night we stay again in one of the many national park campgrounds.

Friday, July 18th: We arrive in Asheville, NC around lunch time and load up with groceries for the weekend. Our friend Sean calls on our cell phone to say that his is broken down outside of Knoxville and he can’t make meet us for the weekend. His CDI unit on his Transalp has gone bad. We are disappointed but sympathize with his situation. But Roger Coffey, who we also met at the Charleston rally meets us later that day at the famous Blue Ridge Parkway Motorcycle Campground in Cruso, NC.

We arrive at the campground and are immediately impressed with it all. There is a narrow wooden bridge across a river that must be crossed. A sign hangs over the bridge that says "motorcycles only beyond this point".  Once across, there is a small camp store, snackbar/game room (for rainy days), a dining area next to the kitchen, about 20 small cabins, well situated camping sites, and even a fully stocked trout pond. There is a big campfire in the middle of it for story telling after dinner and the occasional impromptu musical performance. We were lucky enough to experience both!

Roger arrives around dinner time and brings 4 bottles of very good wine. Two bottles and several tall tales later we call it a night.

Roger knows the backroads around here better than most people and helps us plan a route for Saturday. After a long breakfast and fiddling with the bikes we set out on quiet and winding country roads. This is some of the most picturesque farm country we’ve ever seen.  As we are winding our way over the highest pass in the east, Erin's odometer reached 6,750 again after more than 4 years -- we've now crossed the 100,000 mile mark on our journey! 

Around noon we find ourselves at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park near Cherokee, NC. Cherokee is on Indian reservation land and is quite the spectacle with every other shop a souvenir store, roadside Indian dances and photo op’s to take your picture with a "real" Indian. It is so crowded with people and vehicles that it’s like Disney World in the summer. The national park is the complete opposite, offering quiet and solitude.

That night back at the campground we have a wonderful southern dinner of fried catfish and turnip greens. Another two bottles of wine later and we are sitting around the campfire listening to bluegrass on a guitar and "pony" banjo. There are some contemporary songs we know (like John Melencamp) and can sing along with, and others that are old-time folk songs handed down through the generations to the folks in this area.

Sunday, July 20th:  A huge southern breakfast of pecan pancakes and eggs with biscuits and gravy is a great way to start the day.  Later, after the tents are packed and the sleeping bags are stuffed we say goodbye to Roger and the nice folks at the campground.

It’s a two day ride for us to then get to Wilmington, NC where my parents live. As we pull into town on Monday the local NBC TV news van meets us at the entrance and films us coming in, all the way to my parent driveway. My mom had called them a few days earlier and set it up. I got all choked up as I listened to my parents describe their feelings about our trip to the reporter, Heather Higgins. Next Heather interviewed us. That night we saw ourselves on the 5 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 11 o’clock news! My parents were the local celebrities around town and on the golf course for the whole week we were there.

Wednesday, July 23rd is my mother’s birthday (the big Six-0) and we will have a big party at the house on Friday with all their closest friends. We spent a wonderful week catching up with my parents, playing golf, getting to see my uncle’s new Swan sailboat, the Gypsy, that is docked nearby, eating lots of good southern food, seeing old friends, and bonding again with our two cats, Toby and Tabasco. The poor cats were complete strangers to us after 4 years and it took much of the week to get them to come out from under the bed!

Our old and dear friends from New York, John and Elaine Andrews, live in Wilmington and own the fabulous South Beach Grill restaurant on Writesville Beach. They have two wonderful children, John (7) and Emily (5).  John Jr. is Chris’ Godson and they both grew by leaps and bounds since we’ve been away. The Andrew’s success in the restaurant business had grown by leaps and bounds too. They now have a nice big home and a nice Sea Ray speedboat called the Emily J. The speedboat saw lots of action that week as we spent a few days on her wake-boarding and navigating the channels. It was good to see our friends again and spend good quality time with them.

Finally, on Monday, July 28th, we tore ourselves away with only a short time left before returning home. There is another old friend that lives in Raleigh, NC, Lisa Darrow. We stopped in for the night to see her and her children as well. We got the same shock when seeing how grown up her children are and how well she are doing are doing.


Are we in the Alps, or the Smokey Mountains?!?


The motorcycle campground in Cruso, NC


Cruising on the Blue Ridge Parkway...


Shortly after this photo, we passed the 100,000 mile mark on the journey

Erin, Roger, and Chris

Please don't pet the animals


"Meet the Press" on the outskirts of Wilmington, NC


Meet the Doherty Clan

Erin, Linda, Jim, Mike, and Murph (the dog)

World map with postcards we sent


The Andrews Clan

Elaine, John, Emily, and little John

Chris doing a little wakeboarding


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