Therapeutic Trip: A Father-and-Son Journey on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Past

Blue Ridge Parkway Tail of the Dragon
Having fun with one of many 318 curves in 11 miles on Tail of the Dragon. (photograph by Killboy)

The few months main as much as this trip, which included the famed Blue Ridge Parkway, had been tough. My spouse was recovering from some main well being points, I used to be lastly recovering from a comparatively minor well being subject, and our 16-year-old daughter was in full teenager mode, and we had been all nonetheless in shock after one in every of her shut mates was murdered.

On many days, I felt like a darkish cloud was hanging over me. Happiness eluded me, and the fragility of life occupied my ideas. One thing wanted to alter, however I didn’t know what. It was time to reset and clear my head.

Blue Ridge Parkway

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Escape Plan

My spouse and daughter satisfied me that they’d survive – and presumably even thrive – with out me for per week, so I made a decision to take day without work from work and go for a solo bike trip. However the place to go?

Once I purchased a used Honda Gold Wing just a few years in the past, it had a few Offers Hole stickers on the again fender, and the earlier proprietor requested if I deliberate to take away them. I mentioned no, as I had ridden the Tail of the Dragon many instances and vowed to take action once more on the Gold Wing. This journey could be an ideal time to validate the stickers.

Blue Ridge Parkway
Cameron studying one of many historic markers on the BRP.

When my 11-year-old son, Cameron, heard about my deliberate trip, he begged me to let him tag alongside. He had been on a multiday trip with me earlier than, and he’s a stellar passenger. I figured he might most likely use a change of surroundings too, and I’d profit from the pure positivity that children have earlier than they find out how ugly the world will be.

With my spouse’s blessing, Cameron joined me. Along with driving via the Offers Hole space, I additionally determined to offer Cameron his first style of the Blue Ridge Parkway and to go to the Wheels By means of Time bike museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina.

Blue Ridge Parkway
Cameron’s smile all the time boosts my spirits.

See all of Rider‘s Southeast U.S. touring tales right here.

Blue Ridge Parkway Sure

After an extended, tiring first day of battling an countless procession of left-lane bandits heading south on Interstate 81 from our house in Ottawa (when did the passing lane develop into the driving lane?), we joined the Blue Ridge Parkway at its northern terminus outdoors of Waynesboro, Virginia, on a cloudy Sunday morning. It was like getting into a special world. Site visitors was nearly nonexistent. There have been no cease indicators, no visitors lights, and no commercialism. And nobody was in a rush.

Building of the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway started in 1935 and was largely accomplished by 1966, with one exception: the Linn Cove Viaduct round Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina, which was accomplished in 1987. From begin to end, the challenge took 52 years and price practically half a billion {dollars}. It was value it.

The clouds had been low, so mist and fog had been fixed companions that morning. It added to the mystique of the trip, but in addition to my melancholy. The day before today’s lengthy interstate slog had left me drained, which did nothing to clear the darkish cloud that had been following me. 

Blue Ridge Parkway
Cameron studying one of many historic markers on the BRP.

Low visitors and low pace limits made for a calming morning, however we received some rain on our Blue Ridge parade. A number of mild showers helped deliver out the rainbows – and the deer. We noticed 9 of them, and there have been most likely others we didn’t see, which helped justify the 45-mph pace restrict. Cruising at a reasonable tempo additionally allowed us to benefit from the surroundings. 

Cameron liked the concept that we had been driving via the clouds that individuals within the valleys had been wanting up at. I had been on this stretch of the parkway many instances, and I used to assume I wouldn’t have to do it once more, however seeing it via Cameron’s eyes gave me a brand new appreciation for the wonder. The beautiful views from the overlooks continually amazed him. His enthusiasm was infectious and ultimately broke via my sullenness.

Blue Ridge Parkway
Belief me, there’s a smile behind that chinbar.

After detouring via Roanoke due to street harm on the parkway, we stopped for the night time in Christiansburg, Virginia. At a soul meals restaurant, Cameron was launched to Southern accents and Southern meals within the type of scrumptious catfish and grits.

Touring with a baby is completely different than touring solo or with one other grownup. The sense of freedom I often have on a motorbike journey was considerably tempered. I couldn’t merely abandon my parental duties, and security turned an even bigger concern. However, having the ability to share a ardour with my baby is a chance I relished. I bear in mind bike journeys with my father, and I do know Cameron will bear in mind this one, so I attempted to supply good reminiscences. Fortunately, he’s a very good traveler and was comfortable to be there, so most issues had been simple.

Blue Ridge Parkway Bridal Veil Falls
Cameron cooling off at Bridal Veil Falls, which is on Freeway 28 close to Highlands, North Carolina.

The subsequent day was one other good one, with extra very good views and a better cloud ceiling that allowed us to see farther than the day earlier than.

For individuals who love tight, curvy tarmac, the roads that lead as much as and down from the Blue Ridge Parkway are sometimes extra enjoyable than the parkway itself. Climbing as much as 4,000 toes requires plenty of twists and turns, and easy pavement and good banking made for a Gold Wing carnival trip. Cameron loves the curves as a lot as I do, so we often took a aspect street that seemed attention-grabbing simply to get to the underside, then rotated and went again up. 

Associated: 2021 Honda Gold Wing Tour DCT | Street Take a look at Evaluation

We had lunch at The Bluffs restaurant, instantly on the parkway. Opened in 1949, it was the primary spot to supply meals on the parkway via a contract with the Nationwide Park Service. After closing in 2010, it was superbly renovated and re-opened in 2021. It’s a charming constructing, and the lunch was scrumptious however costly. I chalked it as much as the value of environment and historical past.

Blue Ridge Parkway The Bluffs
The Bluffs has nice meals and an important environment.

After some implausible overlooks and busting into the clouds on a foggy trip up Mount Mitchell at greater than 6,600 toes, we pulled into the Mount Pisgah Campground for our first night time of tenting. At nearly 5,000 toes of elevation, it offered a cool break from the warmth and humidity decrease down. The views from the Pisgah Inn the place we grabbed just a few sandwiches had been unimaginable. 

We woke as much as the clearest day of the journey thus far, with hardly a cloud within the sky. The southern finish of the Blue Ridge Parkway close to Asheville, North Carolina, typically has extra visitors than the northern half, however the views are fabulous. Cameron and I agreed that the easiest way to trip the parkway might be north to south, because the views get higher as you go south.

North Carolina Highway 28 Tsali Campground
Our spacious campsite on the Tsali Campground off North Carolina Freeway 28.

Slaying Dragons…and Mice?

After reaching the southern terminus of the parkway in Cherokee, we rode to the Tsali Campground on North Carolina Freeway 28 (aka Moonshiner 28). We arrange our tent early to lighten our load for our Offers Hole run. After a cease at Fontana Dam, we rode the Tail of the Dragon’s 318 curves in 11 miles. I’ve ridden the street a number of instances over the previous 20 years, however this was the primary time on such a giant bike and with a passenger. The aftermarket suspension on the Wing helped, and it dealt with the problem fairly properly, validating its stickers for me. The street is implausible, and we each had a good time on it.

Blue Ridge Parkway Tail of the Dragon
My 2010 Honda Gold Wing handles like a dream on curvy roads, and its footpegs are beveled to a pointy edge. (photograph by Killboy)

The subsequent day we rode south on Freeway 28, one other nice street, previous Franklin and made a cease at Bridal Veil Falls. We met a few guys from Minnesota who acknowledged my Aerostich jacket as being from Duluth, close to the place they dwell. Certainly one of them was driving an attractive early ’70s-era BMW that he restored. 

Freeway 28 permits you to go to a number of states in a brief interval. From North Carolina, we crossed into Georgia for about quarter-hour, then into South Carolina. On the fairly city of Walhalla, South Carolina, we determined to go north once more to our vacation spot for the night time, Maggie Valley, North Carolina. I used the “adventurous routing” on my Garmin GPS, telling it to take us on hilly, curvy roads to our vacation spot. The route delivered and included South Carolina highways 11 and 130 and North Carolina Freeway 281 to Tuckasegee and ultimately to our motel in Maggie Valley. 

Blue Ridge Parkway Deal's Gap
Having fun with a break on the Deal’s Hole Bike Resort earlier than tackling the Dragon.

For these of us not blessed to dwell in a motorbike nirvana equivalent to this space, it’s actually astonishing how excellent the roads are. Curves are in all places you look. Reviewing my GPS tracks afterwards highlighted what number of curves we went via in a short while. This a part of the world is actually a motorcyclist’s paradise. 

After a pleasant night, we settled in for a quiet night time. Cameron slept whereas I checked out maps to plan our subsequent couple days of driving. The rustling of a plastic bag on the TV stand attracted my consideration to a mouse making an attempt to get into our few provisions. I’ve musophobia – concern of mice and rats – so this was an unwelcome growth. After making an attempt in useless to catch the mouse with out getting too near it, I ended up going to the workplace and requesting one other room. I needed to get up Cameron, and we moved all our stuff to a special room. Taming the Dragon on a 950-lb bike? No downside. Sharing a room with a furry little mouse? No thanks!  

Blue Ridge Parkway Wheels Through Time Museum
The Wheels By means of Time Museum was one of many highlights of our journey. It’s a must-see for any bike fanatic.

After a fitful sleep stuffed with nightmares of battling large mice, we began our day with a go to to the Wheels By means of Time Museum, house to over 300 uncommon American bikes, memorabilia, and some vehicles. It’s marketed because the “Museum that Runs,” and does it ever. Employees stroll round answering questions and can typically begin a motorcycle to let guests hear it. It’s unimaginable to hearken to a 1950 Harley WL or an opposed-cylinder, shaft-drive military-issue 1942 Harley XA working in all their glory. Most museums are static locations the place you simply take a look at issues – at this one you may really feel, hear, and odor historical past. An unimaginable place. We had been each very impressed and can go to once more. If you happen to go, be warned: After leaving, you could really feel a strong urge to purchase an outdated Harley or Indian!

Associated: VIDEO: Wheels By means of Time’s Dale Walksler Fires Up Uncommon, American-made Bikes

From Maggie Valley we rode towards Boone on North Carolina Freeway 209, also called The Rattler. With curves in all places and little visitors, it was an important trip, even when we hit just a few rain showers that cooled us off. Garmin’s “adventurous routing” once more took us alongside a number of state routes, each seemingly curvier than the final, towards our mouse-free lodge in Boone.

Blue Ridge Parkway
Cameron was an important passenger – and a fair higher companion.

That Blue Ridge Parkway Peace of Thoughts

There comes a degree in each journey the place a metaphysical nook is turned, the place the journey is not in regards to the journey however about getting house. We had reached that time within the trip. Unwilling to let our enjoyable instances slip away simply, we spent the following morning taking the good distance house, winding our method on some small roads earlier than getting onto the I-81 left-lane visitors jam for the lengthy slog again house to Ontario. 

Flat Ridge Road Virginia
Taking a break on Flat Ridge Street in Virginia, our final little bit of enjoyable earlier than the lengthy trip house.

The purpose of this journey – and most touring, actually – was to relaxation, clear the thoughts, and achieve a special perspective. In that, the journey succeeded. Per week of waking up each morning with nothing to do however trip a few of North America’s best bike roads is an excellent approach to come to phrases with the hardships and challenges of life. Staying within the current second by pondering solely of the following curve really does assist heal the thoughts and soul. It’s not the primary time a motorbike trip has finished that for me, however this was most likely essentially the most important. Sharing new reminiscences with my son made it even higher.

Blue Ridge Parkway
We got here, we noticed, we slayed the Dragon! We’re already wanting ahead to our subsequent father-and-son journey.

See all of Rider‘s touring tales right here.


Blue Ridge Parkway

Patrick County, Virginia, bike routes

The Bluffs (Blue Ridge Parkway milepost 241)

Mount Pisgah Campground (Blue Ridge Parkway milepost 408.6)

Pisgah Inn (Blue Ridge Parkway milepost 408.6)

Switzerland Inn (Blue Ridge Parkway milepost 334)

Tsali Recreation Space

Deal’s Hole Bike Resort

Tail of the Dragon Images

Maggie Valley Space Chamber of Commerce

Wheels By means of Time Museum

The Rattler / NC 209