Newfoundland/Labrador: Day 1 A Complete Success
Ten hours and 478 miles between Maggie Valley and my motel in Luray, Virginia. What a perfect day on a motorcycle. I layed awake most of the time after 2:30 a.m. this morning thinking about the 30+ day adventure that lay before me and I’m a little tired tonight. I had planned to go kickstand up at 0700 but I was so ready and so anxious that I actually fired the engine, loaded Willie Nelson on the CD and started a few minutes before 7, much to the chagrin of one of my neighbors who wanted to wave goodbye from her porch as I left. Sorry Yvonne, but at least I revved my engine as I went by on my farewell loop around Raven Ridge circle.
For the first hour on the road (mostly interstate to get through Asheville) low-lying clouds hugged the ground and climbed the mountain sides but usually failed to get to the top of the peaks, providing occasional glimpses of the Smokies at their best. I headed east for about 60 miles before turning north, and when I did the mountains were mostly on my left side as I rolled through rolling farmland and foothills. Good roads though, with enough sharp and steep twisties thrown in to keep the ride interesting.
Thanks to farmers who were out early mowing hay, I was reminded of one of the great pleasures of riding a motorcycle: the smells. There are few aromatic delights more invigorating than fresh cut hay in the morning. You miss that riding in a car with recycled, air-conditioned conditioned air that always smells stalely the same. Note to friends on four wheels: Go for a ride in the country from time to time, roll down your windows and take a deep breath. Aaahhhhh. Riding a motorcycle is always sensual because all the senses seem to be heightened: Smell the fresh mown hay. See a kaleidoscope of colors as scenery flashes by all around you. Feel the wind (and bugs) in your face and on your arms as air rushes by at 70 mph. Hear the gentle roar of the engine (volume dependent on muffler choice) and the woosh of the air going by. Taste? Well maybe not so much taste unless you’re grinning real big and a bug smashes between your nose and your chin. All in all, though, riding on two wheels is truly sensual.
I suspect long-time readers of this blog are waiting for me to get to the good stuff. OK. Here it is. Apple pie for an early lunch at a real diner. And the slice was so big and so full and so juicy that the waitress, somewhat puzzled by my 11 a.m. menu selection, had to put it in a bowl. Maybe it was deep-dish apple pie. Definitely a good gastronomic start to the trip, even though I opted not to add the ice cream that would have no doubt nicely complemented my apple pie lunch with diner coffee chaser.
Almost 500 miles today and no rain. That’s a good start. But the temperatures did climb into the mid 90s as several Virginia cities set June 18 record highs. I kept my long sleeves on to protect my arms from the sun and it wasn’t too uncomfortable as long as I was rolling. Lengthy stop lights were another matter.
One of the great things about a trip like this is that you never know what what to expect as you round a curve. For example, today I didn’t expect to see a pink elephant, but suddenly there it was. Perched on a platform high in the air. And below this particularly poised pachyderm was a plethora of other beasts and fowls of various stripes. All composed of the same concrete mixture as the Dumbo want-to-be. It was worth turning around and going back for a second look and a few pictures. I even found a motorcycle with less power than mine standing near a hippopotamus and a squad of grape-laden Greek warriors. (More pictures are available on the Flickr link below.)
Most of the day I rode parallel to the eastern slopes of the mountains, sometimes separated from them by several miles of lush farm fields sprouting corn, tobacco, and lots of hay and dotted with agricultural structures and vehicles in various states of disrepair. This was especially true as I rode the “Stonewall Jackson Memorial Highway” in the Shenandoah Valley. Earlier in the day I had putted along on the “JEB Stuart Memorial Highway.” In Virginia, of course, you’re never far from reminders of the Recent Unpleasantness between the States and I whizzed past several fine-print highway historical markers that I’m sure recounted the excellent exploits of troops on both sides of the Civil War but that I couldn’t read because I was going too fast and they were written too small and there was no place to pull over and stop or even turn around so I kept going. Some genius in the Virginia DOT Highway Historical section needs to come up with a solution.
Tomorrow I continue north, probably ending somewhere in the middle of Pennsylvania or maybe New York depending on the weather, the quality of the roads, my response to reveille and whether or not there are more concrete kingdoms or equally entertaining oddities to explore.
I’ve put pictures on a Flickr Album designated for the Newfoundland/Labrador trip. If all goes well, you should be able to see them by clicking on this link (which I’ll link to in each blog post from here on out): https://flic.kr/s/aHsjXhQnYK