Motorcycling Through The Great Smokey Mountains

I’m experiencing withdrawal from vacation mode and attitude. What a difference it makes being gone from home and work, with nothing to do. There’s no meal planning or preparation, no laundry or dishes, no grocery shopping, no going to work every day, and no housework and routine. Our vacation was a “take it a day at a time” getaway, and it sure felt good to go to bed every night and know that when we woke up the next morning, all we had to do was look at the map and decide which direction we’d like to go. 

We left on Sunday, September 11 and headed south. We had thought about going north, but the weather forecasters were calling for rain, so we picked a highway going south, and off we went. Our suitcase fit just right on the luggage rack, our saddle bags were full, and the motorcycle was clean, gassed up, and ready to roll.

We spent most of our time in the Smokey Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Mountains. We filled every day with adventure and fun, but our most exciting day was Tuesday. We left our motel around 11:00 and rode the Foothills Parkway to Highway 129, where we picked up and rode The Dragons Tail. This is eleven miles of 318 curves, a lot of these being switchbacks. It’s a motorcycle riders’ delight. Along the route, there are photographers taking pictures of the riders on the Tail. The ride ends at Deals Gap, where we stopped to buy commemorative T-shirts and to take a picture of the Tree of Shame. Parts of motorcycles that crashed on The Dragons Tail are attached to the tree. Being a passenger on the bike, I got to enjoy the thrill of the ride, because I was not responsible for maneuvering the curves. But, according to Paul, maneuvering the curves IS the thrill of the ride. Either way, we both enjoyed an exciting ride.   

After leaving Dragons Tail, we rode the Cherohala Skyway, which winds up and over 5,400 foot mountains for fifteen miles in North Carolina, and descends another twenty-one miles into the deeply forested backcountry of Tennessee. The ride was breathtaking and while taking in all the scenery, I also couldn’t help but notice all the dead trees at the higher elevations. Being a nature lover, I had to know what was killing the trees, so we went looking for a forest ranger, and thankfully found two of them. The culprit is the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, a non-native insect, which feeds on the sap at the base of hemlock needles. This disrupts the nutrient flow and causes the needles to change from deep green to a grayish green, then fall off. Without needles the tree starves to death. I was glad to know that the park is using different types of treatment to kill the adelgids.

After leaving the Skyway, we stopped in Tellico Plains, Tn for a cold beer and a snack. The proprietor of the restaurant was from Florida and while talking to her we mentioned it was our third wedding anniversary. She and her husband insisted we have our choice of a big hunk of homemade cake to celebrate our anniversary. Paul chose German Chocolate and I chose Citrus. After indulging ourselves, we headed back to Gatlinburg where we had a wonderful steak dinner at The Alamo Steak House. We ended our day sitting on our balcony overlooking the Little Pigeon River, drinking champagne, and enjoying the full Harvest moon.  It was a great anniversary day.

We had beautiful sunny skies until Thursday afternoon, when the rains preceded us into Chattanooga and the temperature dropped. By early Friday afternoon we were no longer enjoying our ride because it was cloudy and 61 degrees, and on a motorcycle that feels like about 45 or 50. We were cold so we decided to head home in hopes of beating the rain forecast for Virginia for the weekend. We travelled Interstate for over five hours and by time we got home on Friday night our bodies were stiff with cold, and we were glad to get into a warm house.

All in all, our vacation was wonderful and we had a lot of fun. We saw so many beautiful sights, rode some great roads, and met many interesting people.  For us, the trip was all about the ride and the people we met,  and we were not disappointed. 

On our way out-of-town

Tree of Shame at Deals Gap

one of the curves on The Dragons Tail.

Cherohala Skyway.

Paul & Brenda at Newfound Gap on the Skyway.

Downtown Helen, Ga.


Dead hemlocks on the Cherohala Skyway.



Having dinner in Hiwassee, Ga.


Full Harvest Moon as seen from our balcony


Having snacks at Bubba Gumps


About brendamarroy

blogger, and author
This entry was posted in life musings, personal, Thoughts, Vacation Stories and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Motorcycling Through The Great Smokey Mountains

  1. Julio says:

    Looks like you guys had a great time. Life is good!

  2. Betsy says:

    It’s not a bike trip until you return cold and wet. Glad you made it home safely.

  3. Sharon O'Connor says:

    Great post and photos Brenda~ sounds like alot of fun. I’m considering how to make everyday feel like a holiday. Happy (be-lated) anniversary.

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