A few weeks earlier the wife and I were back in Galena IL staying at Chestnut Mountain Lodge. It's kind of our place, the place we go to escape home and our three kids. That's not bad to say but everyone needs to run away from time to time. So anyhow I picked a tourist pamphlet and they had a picture of the Grotto and the story behind it. Unfortunately we had no time to head up north to see it but now I had free Sunday..
Just a little breakfast for Jim and I before a three hour ride west to get to roads that aren't straight and that requires a lot of coffee to get there. :)
The banks of the mighty Mississippi River with Jim
These kids were just hanging out on the boat launch but they were having a good time playing with crayfish. All Jim and I thought about how cool it was seeing kids doing this. My kids only seem to care about gaming and not getting dirty or sweaty.
The Chestnut Mountain Lodge runs Alpine slides in the summer and is a ski resort in winter. This was the first taste of speed I got when I was a kid here back in 1984ish. Me and my Dad would race all day and one of us would always get burned from the track. Even these days I still push it and get burned.
This was back in 2009 and it feels just like road rash and showering with rash will make you scream.
Unfortunately or maybe not Jim and I grabbed bummer sleds and it was super slow and he didn't get the true feeling of how fun it is.
Here's Jim moon walking across the Grotto entrance! OK, he's not..
It reminds me of something that should be around the Day of the Dead down in Mexico. Up close it's just loaded with color.
Looking at the whole place as art is the only reason I came and it was really interesting. Rolling back to my house at 8:30 at night and 420 mile for the day felt great. We found some great roads that I didn't even knew live in northwest IL. Thats one big thing the GPS can do, You can ad-lib your route and something a lot of anti-GPS bikers will never know what they are missing out on.
Deals Gap will always be a special spot for me and motorcycling. It was the first BIG bike trip I ever went on in my early days of sport biking. It became a habit to head down there for a few Memorial weekends and a couple labor day trips.
My buddy Jim said he was doing the trip this year and I was in since me and the ZX-10R haven't played rough for a few years. The plan was to truck the bikes down (I know the journey is part of the ride, too bad) and day one was pretty freaky a hour north of Indianapolis Indiana. All hell broke loose with lightning and tornado sirens blaring as me and my friend Mike who was following me on his ST1300 were hiding out in a gas station. The worst part was the guy working there said it was leveled twice!! :0 What would be the chance of a third??? That night we got to Indy safely but not after seeing two semis tipped over in ditches and trees torn up.
The host hotel for the trip was Two Wheels Inn.
Nice little garages for the bikes at night but not really a BIG deal to me. I don't really mine wiping the bike off in the morning. The Ninjas were able to squeeze in to one garage.
First pull off on the Cherohala skyway and so pretty. The weather was perfect for the two days riding we did down there. My riding was a different story! After years of being out of touch with the Ninja and the brain still in check with the KLR's lack of speed I was having issues. Not blowing turns or crazy riding, just really slow corner speed. Don't get me wrong no one was catching up to us on the roads but I was riding rusty.
Me, Mike, and Jim.
The trusty ST of Mike.
Me (Mr.clean) and Jim doing the one handed camera shot.
We ran down this little off shoot road to see the Hiwasse Dam. It was a nice surprise since it wasn't a planned stop but more a detour to avoid the logging trucks that were making small parades of the back-roads.
This was Day two and a stop at the "HD" store in Cherokee NC. It was on the way to the southern staring point of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the point was to grab a shirt for a friend at work. As it turned out they had only 4XL or small sizes so no luck. Maybe he could use a 4XL as a HD tent!? LOL.
It was funny seeing the faces of riders when they saw the Ninjas parked in front! :)
Back again for the fifth time?? something like that... Oh yeah by now I was also riding way better. smoother cornering and coming on with maintenance throttle earlier and really liking it.
Mike looking proud as he conquered the parkway!!
We did hit Deals gap and it was VERY busy on the third day which was Sunday. I got a clean run for about three and a half miles from the gas station. I had the great luck of finding the Deals Gap officer. I look down and see 72MPH on the speedo, how the hell did I hit 72MPH on the Gap!!! Any how I hit the brakes and two gears to the snore of 35mph and I just kept cool. I have no clue how I didn't get pulled over other than the fact he was pointing towards me and would have to whip the car around.
After that I was done going fast and Jim caught up to me and we hit traffic so slow my cooling fan was running and Jim pulled off and we headed back to load up the bikes.
Things to remember when doing the gap or anywhere that curves are plentiful. Always ride within YOUR PACE!! Also the YELLOW line will kill you, stay off it and keep your body away from it when leaning left. Besides all the folks that will be coming the other way liking your lane more that you. Be Safe!!