Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Why is it ...

There must be a magic formula?  Three minutes sewing = 30 minutes frogging! GRRR.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dragon Slayed!

Today was a perfect day for slaying dragons :)

Found a new-to-us road to get from Maggie Valley to the Dragon - NC Hwy #28 - another sweet ride!

Lunch at Deal's Gap, up the Dragon! Was very glad that I wasn't hugging the yellow line at the same time as the two bikes coming the other way were riding on my side ...

On to exploring a side road in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park - to Cade's Cove.  There's a scenic loop - single narrow lane, 20 mph limit but "cagers" can only handle about 8 mph, and jump out of their cars at the least provocation.  Oh well, it was worth a shot.  The road to the loop was very cool.

Besides lusting for the beautiful Crape Myrtle I've been seeing everywhere ... have also been seeing the 'Royal Empress' tree - look like giant velvetleaf!

Landed in Knoxville tonight - same spot we stayed when we were here for Honda Hoot in 2008.

I want one of these!  Have been seeing them all over - Crape Myrtle.
Wonder if they're hardy  in my zone at home??
Must be - we have all kinds of Carolinian species

Deal's Gap Motorcycle Resort!



Potential dragon-slayers building confidence,
or stress-relief after the ride :)

Sign reads:  No Burnouts, Stoppies or Wheelies


Disregarding the warnings about drownings, these
intrepid swimmers are jumping off the rocks into the pool below.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Drivin' in the rain, just drivin' in the rain

Well, only at the very end of the drive... back over the mountain to Cherokee, north into the Great Smokey Mountain National Park to Clingman's Dome - that last leg is a sweet 7 mile crooked road up to the dome.

Decided to partake of the hike up the pathway to the observation area - half mile.  Also elevation change - up more than 1,000 feet - that is almost a 40% grade.  Have you seen me recently?  Thankfully, there were were resting benches every 10th mile.  Once you're at the top, they have a circular tower to get even higher!

At the top there was a lady wearing a 'Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon' t-shirt - half way down, a fella wearing another 'Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon' shirt - there's no way they were connected.  What are the odds of that!

Spied another turtle in the middle of the road, trying to get across.  Pulled his legs and head in as Don was passing, peeked out and pulled back in when I went by.  Poor thing.

Wildflower beside the path buzzing with bees


View from the top

Observation tower
Drivin' in the rain

Today's route


Saturday, August 13, 2011

A wee wet ride

We started the day kinda lazy, the waffle iron at the hotel wouldn't release the waffles so we had bits and pieces of waffles.  Planned a shorter ride - weather predictions mixed, so didn't want to go too far astray.  Headed out of Maggie Valley to NC #215 to Rosman - a backroad twisty ride with possums playing dead here and there (maybe not playing!) and a lot of pavement patching that was not fun.  There was the usual truck advisory - road with switchbacks, 15 mph curves and high elevations - perfect!

Followed a Ferrari for a while!

Next to NC #64 - a wonderful ride!  Lots of new pavement - more truck advisories - but also tons of traffic.  And then the rain fell.  Went right by Bridal Falls and the spot where I tested the bank angle sensor last time we were here.  At Franklin, hit #441 and headed back to the hotel - still raining.

Nice dinner at the nearby Mexican restaurant - they make such lovely margeuritas :)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Snake bite doesn't hurt a bit

Started out today on "The Snake" - Hwy 421 between Boone NC & Bristol TN.  A sweet 22 mile stretch that goes up and down the mountains, with a stop in the valley at "The Store" in Shady Valley.

On through Bristol - last year we were here for the Bristol Nascar race - sure looks different without every available space gobbled up by cars/trucks/rv's by the thousands!  Hwy 70 between Hot Springs and Newport was very nice.  Gatlinburg was stinking hot and very busy - no surprise.  Driving through the Great Smokey Mountain National Park (Hwy 441) was amazing - from 35 degrees in Gatlinburg to 22 at the top at just over 5,000 ft elevation.  The shaded drive was such a relief - and the road was wonderful!  Lots of bikes, some hot rods, some dune buggies.

The photo below shows one fine little spiral curve - which also includes a tunnel!



 From Hwy 441 at Cherokee back to the Blue Ridge Parkway to get to Maggie Valley - only a few vehicles on the BRP and it goes back up over 5,000 ft.  So I think we now have travelled the BRP from end to end!!  Well, not all this trip, but this trip we did get some of the areas we missed on previous travels.

To finish the day, a healthy marguerita and Mexican in Maggie Valley.

Did make a pitstop at the ABC store in Maggie Valley before we checked in to our room - why is Canadian whiskey so cheap here, just infuriating.  And there's a very nice sign at the entrance - 'No firearms allowed' with a nice handgun and a red slash through it.  Also, a poster offering a substantial reward for information leading to the arrest of the villain who shot a juvenile bald eagle this spring in the Valley.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Blue Ridge Parkway - VA & NC

Today was more of mostly the Blue Ridge Parkway, from Roanoke VA to Boone NC.

A side trip at Hwy 52 at Fancy Gap - looking for food/fuel - the road into Hillsville VA is part of Virginia's "Crooked Road Musical Trail"!  Score :)

Lunch was at Brooke's, a little family diner.  Tried the Green Pea salad, hoping it would be a little like the frozen pea salad that my SIL makes, but nope, t'was made with canned peas.  Not such a fan of this recipe.
There were little business-card notices on the tables - prayers before meals encouraged and respected.

Speaking of churches, we really go past a lot - many with non-'traditional' denominations ... I always offer up a little thought of thanks as I whiz by, for my many blessings ... and then I want to string together all the names, kinda like "First Calvary United Methodist Presbyterian St John Episcopal Tent Revival Baptist Mennonite Church of the Apostle of the Redeemer of Christ".


And for dinner, we stumbled upon the most heavenly steak house in Boone, right by the hotel - The Peddlar Steakhouse (http://www.peddlerofboone.com/).  What fun!  They bring the loin of rib-eye to the table for your inspection and cutting instructions.  Yummm.  Accompanied by baked sweet potato.  Dessert of white chocolate coconut creme brule.  Oh my, I'm stuffed!




Criss-crossing WV

We've been finding so many glorious crooked roads!  219, 220, 50, 33 ...
Wed lunch we found a delightful little riverside eatery - Greenbrier - they had bags of corn you could throw out for the mallards to lunch on - hundreds of ducks!

Yesterday we were mostly on the Blue Ridge Parkway, with a few side-trips to go up and down the access roads.  The BRP is well-engineered to have mostly sweeping corners, but the access roads can be really crooked.  One had a 15% grade :EEK:





Monday, August 8, 2011

Weston WV - Lexingon V

This morning was cloudy but dry!

Yesterday, we saw two car washes - one that we ducked into to watch a storm crash by, and the other to wash the dust off the bikes at the end of the day.  And immediately after we did that and parked the bikes for the night, another storm rolled thru.  I was just headed out to fetch ice, and the hotel desk staff suggested we move the bikes up under the canopy.  Well, I didn't even have time to get mine started and down came the rain.  A lightening strike nearby took out power and gave a lovely spark show at the power pole at the end of the property!  Wind and rain just gushed out of the sky - I was drenched instantly.  Don thought the bikes would be just fine where they were - they were solidly parked, locked wheels, heads up, in gear ... so I abandoned them to the elements ... and of course they were just fine!

We had watched the clouds all day and at one point turned back rather than heading over a mountain pass where it looked very ominous.

Today, it was glorious!  Breakfast at the hotel was even fun - our breakfast-mates were a family from Florida and another family (not sure where they were from) ... the Florida family was on their way back from visiting the CN Tower and Niagara Falls.  The other family immediately translated that to "CNN Tower" ... I didn't have the heart to correct them :)

A few clouds here and there, not quite as hot as yesterday.  A magnificent ride all day long.  Hwy 151 off of 33 was a nice backroad (went through Jimtown!), followed by 219 - awesome, but we have to go back for the 'old 219' - a section that is marked 'not suitable for trucks'.  That, and #72, same warnings.

After a quick bite at Yokum's near Seneca Rocks, we headed off on #250.  Oh my, what a spectacular ride!
Seneca Rocks

Yokum's
We had to turn around and do it again on one piece :)  Road is in exceptional shape - nice cambers on curves, good markings, well signed.  One upside down truck grade sign, oh well!  We also tried out our video camera on the bike - no idea whether it was even aimed well!

Here's our result - we're headed up - wasn't it a beautiful day!!!  I do need to be able to stay closer to the bike I'm chasing :)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdWXE-BM6wA 

After our wonderful ride on #250 for miles and miles and miles, our GPS had us take a smaller road - we debated for a bit but decided to go for it.  No centre markings, about a lane & 1/2, no shoulders.  But paved!  We sure surprised some of the local folks :)  We thought maybe a few miles of this but it turned into more than an hour.  And of course, my fuel gauge started showing "E" shortly after we started out through the back country.
WV back country road
It was a nice crop tour - lots of livestock, including some *humungous* long-horn steers (even longer than the long-horns that Wayne had, I'm sure!).  An angry dog barking madly at us (glad he was behind a fence) and another beautiful German Shepherd that just trotted beside us for a bit.  One huuuuge hawk or falcon that tried to take off right in Don's path - narrowly missed each other, thankfully!  And then, just after the 'Prepared to Stop' sign, this lovely little spot ...
Backroad natural spring
A couple of taps for this natural spring, diverting water into a trough so it would go under the road rather than over it.  Pretty little sight!

Bonus - our hotel was right off of our shortcut, right beside both a gas station and Applebee's.  Hurrah! Tucked in for the night, fed and happy :)




Saturday, August 6, 2011

WV - Maryland - V

Rained pretty hard in the morning, so didn't get started until lunchtime.  Target today is #50 ... Hwy #310 to #50 is also awesome!  #50 deserves every green dot on the map!  Todays sightings:
- at breakfast, a teen wearing ... a shower cap!  I swear, that's what it looked like to me - a shower cap hat
- at the top of the mountain, corn fields!  Wouldn't it be fun to take the combine up these roads :)  Lots of 15 to  20 mph corners
- Cool Springs, just before Rowlesburg WV, a fun place to stop for lunch.  Their yard is full of decaying tractors, pumps, steam engines, a water wheel.  The store has a bit of everything - bits and pieces for your woodstove, a bag of cured back bacon, WV t-shirts and shot glasses, stuffed critters, groceries, giant pixie sticks, maple syrup, Cosmo magazine.  And an old-time lunch counter - t-shaped with stools around the outer counter, a few tables in the centre - the staff can get to any of them through the centre aisles.  We had chili soup, very tasty.
- passed by a store called 'Honeymoon Guns', and a gathering ... "Gun Bashing" - don't know what that is, but there were lots there!
- a hornet hitched a ride for a few miles on my mirror - hanging on for dear life - finally found a spot to stop and shoo him off ... really didn't want him to get blown off and into my jacket !
- Found this fixer-upper for dad ... a Caterpiller twenty-two dozer, along with a sleigh and surrey.

And these beautiful butterflies were drying off their wings ...

Managed to stay dry most of the afternoon, right up until we were coming into Winchester to find our hotel for the night.

Friday, August 5, 2011

WV sightings

Favourite sightings in Western Ohio and West Virginia today ...
- a billboard ... "Sandals .... and socks.  Really!"
- road sign "Forklift crossing"
- road sign "Cattle crossing" - this one right before we just narrowly missed the cattle crossing the roadway - the handlers held the cattle back for us - thanks!
- #250 - twisty, lots of leafy coverage - really nice for some relief from the heat!
- so many interesting barns and silos!
- the occasional antique tractor sitting at the side of the road with a 'for sale' sign hanging on it - and some there just on display :)
- a bright blue brick house - which would make it easy to give directions - how many could there be?
- car full of teens/young adults at DJ's Diner, who had to leave one of their crew in the car to look after the SNAKE they brought along - it had to come out of the car for a brief manhandling (it was huge) before it got handed back into the car ... really, you can't make this up!

And ... my bike has "Reverse" and I know how to use it!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Disappearing 4 Patch Healing Quilt

One of my first practice quilts! I have a Pfaff 18.8 on an Imperial frame that I'm still playing with. I am pretty happy with this one - wohoo!

This is a disappearing four-patch with some fat quarters from Joanne's on sale, along with some Fabricland fabric (the rusty orange for the sashing) that looks like 'fusions'.

I also have some new rulers from Gadget Girls that I am playing with - the ribbon in the border, the spine for the border feather and the orange peel border section are all done with rulers. The corner feathers are from my QBot, the design is from Digi-Tech, Betty's Feathers V Feather - each corner rotated.

The rows of D4P blocks each had a different freehand design - the outer rows have seaweed-ferny type designs, the inner ones have spiky feathery and echoing spiky things.

Learned LOTS on this quilt! 

This quilt is heading to my brother, who is nicely recovering from his heart bypass surgery and next has to deal with colon cancer - it will be his to hold him tight through his recovery.







Project 48 Quilt Finish

Project 48 Quilt We've had so much rain and wind it has been a challenge to find a good time for photos.  This is the finish of my ...