Yesterday morning I was treated to a magnificent breakfast. An apple muffin of generous proportions topped with whipped cream was placed before me (and my host, Darryl). I demolished mine in a flash and then was presented with a sausage and egg casserole which could easily have served two. Before I was finished that, the piece de resistance appeared: a bowl of mixed berries. (I assume this might be from where the name Sweet berries is derived). I apologized for not finishing the casserole, because I just needed to deal with the 'dessert'. Pretty awesome and I announced that my next meal would be dinner!
Darrell, (he has a Harley!) his wife Louise and I had a long, wide-ranging chat over breakfast and my plans for an early start were forgotten. They are both nurses but are steadily building their B&B business. A very pleasant Christian couple who sent me on my way with a prayer and several maps showing the best biking roads in the area.
The Cherohala Skyway beckoned. The approach was stunning, riding through trees shading the road with the sun sparkling on the roadside river. It was still beautifully fresh and it was exhilarating to ride with the road largely to myself in both directions, with gentle, sweeping curves good practice for the path ahead.
Soon the gradient steepened as it climbed the Tennessee side of the Smokies. The road is in excellent condition but the bends are not as well cambered as they are on the Tail of the Dragon. Still, it was good riding in the verdant surroundings that are so much a part of the American scenery. Like the Dragon, there are few scenic overlooks, and those there were were pretty but not stunning; and unlike the Dragon there are few turnouts where slow traffic can let quicker travelers get ahead.
An historic feature of the Smokies is that in the late 1800's to about the 1920's commercial loggers pretty well denuded most of the natural forest, leaving the hills bare and susceptible to soil erosion and devastating fires. Public outcry led to the purchase of the land for the establishment of the National park in the 1930's. Public subscriptions were raised to assist the acquisition of the land. A far sighted act.
The Cherohala Skyway is regarded by many if not most as one of the world's top biking roads and I would not disagree, even though I have limited experience. The Tail of the Dragon, and I remind the readers: 318 bends in eleven miles; has to be a contender for number one. How blessed is America to have this plenitude of superb biking roads? I have been fortunate enough to ride a few and (DV) I plan to ride a few more. But regardless of when and where those may be, I have tamed the Dragon!
As the road descended from its maximum height of about 5,300 feet to the relatively low lying Robbinsville, I was held up by the strangest vehicle I have seen in many moons. It was a Harley Davidson, effectively with full size training wheels!! I wish I could have taken a photo!
My time in the hills over for the time being (Colorado is to be reprised) I plotted a course for Georgia. The plan was to get a couple of hours out from Atlanta, stop for the night and hit Atlanta airport Saturday evening to collect John H. I had heard about the Amicalola Falls from an old friend of mine and it suited my purposes, especially as it is in the North Georgia hills and somewhat cooler than the sweltering and humid flatlands. Well, that part worked, but TripAdvisor will be getting a review from me that is less than glowing. The paint was peeling, the furniture shabby and the plumbing barely adequate. And the WiFi didn't work. This was an issue because AT&T reception was too flaky get signal bars never mind 3G. It was expensive for what it was and did not include breakfast. Not happy, Jan.
However, Laura was in the area and we had breakfast together and then she showed me the very attractive falls just a shirt drive away. The best viewing is from below, so I climbed down the 425 stairs to get my photos. And then I climbed back up!
After that she drove and I rode to the Wolf Mountain Winery, which is a very well set up cellar door and restaurant. A few of their wines -they really do only blends - were rather pleasant. They were doing roaring trade. I bade Laura farewell and just took the main roads to Atlanta. It was hot and the people drive very fast. When the road sign says 'Reduced Speed Ahead' they take zero notice. Some even accelerate. It is hair raising driving past on ramps, where those entering are driving much faster than those in the slow lane, and there seems to be heaps of aggression. I will be glad to get out of here.
John H has arrived and seems to have packed, but it may have been a bit of a squeeze!
Tomorrow we strike out for Mobile Alabama