Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fog And Clouds

A few random scenes from our drive through the southern Appalachians. Warm, wet, pre-frontal and gray. By Thanksgiving when the cold front blows through they promise blue skies, bright crisp sunshine breezy north winds and nighttime lows near freezing. Key West is supposed to be 80 by day and 70 by night.

















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Tail Of The Dragon

There is this place, my wife was astonished to learn, where motorcyclists gather in the mountains.


It's on US Highway 129 between North Carolina and Tennessee and it is to found on the edge of unspoiled national lands. Lands developers have not yet managed to wrest from we the people.


The road winds a long way into the middle of nowhere from the edge of nowhere. This is isolated country.


And there in the middle of nowhere rises the symbol of motorcycling Nirvana in Deal's Gap the motorcycle-only resort.


The place was closed for the season and of motorcycles there were none but you can tell this place does get busy.


The Tail of the Dragon is a much hyped section of Highway 129 said to include nearly 400 turns in eleven miles. Many are called to ride this road and a few are chosen for spectacular spills. Their motorcycle parts get hung on a tree at the resort.


Cheyenne went to look for bits from my Bonneville on the tree of shame.


For some the tree of shame is a place to advertise!


Good job Micah!


The Tail of the Dragon is all about bikes and is a well thought our facility.


The road is a road and it's all fine for riding.


But hype rules these days and the Tail of the Dragon is hyped.


We were two hours from Asheville and we had sent entirely too long in the car.


The drive out of Deal's Gap marked an epochal moment in my marriage as a driver. For the first time in history my wife urged me to drive faster as she feared being late for the family. Oh, I said, a little surprised and suddenly the winding drive became fun. Not as fun as a ride, and certainly not as fun for Cheyenne but I'd did get to wring the little Fusion out.




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Murphy North Carolina

"I want to drive a new route to Asheville," I told my wife. We always go up I-95 rated by me as the most boring drive in e national interstate system. So this time we went up the west side of Georgia all the way to Cherokee County the westernmost tip of Western North Carolina.


Murphy is, it turns out, a hopping town. It's filled with transplanted Floridians enjoying the good life in the mountains. It's a life my Labrador could learn to enjoy, though I find winter days at high elevations too short and too cold. Sorry,Cheyenne.


Cheyenne was fed up with two long days in the car and though the road to Columbus is rated as scenic by Georgia authorities she found the drive tedious and excessively long. She leapt out of the car as though it were on fire on arrival in Murphy. I had already spotted the Methodist Church and made a beeline with my eager dog.


There was a man on the lawn, a former Orlando resident retired and now happy in the mountains. As a mark of the laid back nature of the place we fell into conversation and mercifully it wasn't about the weather. Murphy has a long and storied history since it's founding in 1839. The place thrived on agriculture timber and a particular gray marble mined in the area. I suspect moonshine and mountainous rebellion played a part in this area's history too. These days there are rules.


And the Wild West is kept firmly at bay.


The dude at the church also told me a little about the architecture of the peculiar dome of which there are, they say half a dozen in the state designed by a man who offered the plan to local Methodist communities and the crowd in Murphy were smart enough to adopt this fascinating round design. That sort of avant garde thinking permeates the town today which eschews box stores.


The courthouse is in daily use as a vital part of the community and it is lovely in it's blue marble livery. This was another spot when an old dude in suspenders stopes by and watched Cheyenne drinking found water. We fell into conversation, once again nothing mentioned about the weather, and talked about skiing in Innsbruck (!) and tourism in London versus Paris. I have no idea how the conversation took the turn it did.


Local economy? Local stores! No CVS or Walgreens here in this dynamic downtown.


A roof top balcony on a bar is the equivalent of a sunset viewing perch in Key West.


A storm was blowing in so the weather was warm, in the mid sixties and the sky was a uniform shade of gray. Christmas was in the offing though this was Thanksgiving week.



For all that it was warm and damp I could not imagine going shoeless or shirtless but apparently such behavior is a problem among these hardy mountain people.


And lest one imagines that Murphy is a quiet old mountain town where quiet old men sit on rockers in this place but it does have police and fire with lights and sirens. I was just glad not to be at work so I ignored them. Nothing to do with me, nothing to see here, move along.


My wife bought a print to remind us of this delightful place and I took Cheyenne for a walk in the back of places most people don't go.


Murphy gained fame a few years ago when a city police officer arrested Eric Robert Rudolph the Olympic Park Bomber who killed two and injured 150 as part of his anti abortion anti gay beliefs. He was on the run and hid out in these mountains helped by certain among the locals.


Murphy charmed me, another Floridian who liked the architecture and the people we met who after all really are laid back because they live in an economically proportioned community. Its hard to be laid back when it costs three jobs just to pay the rent unless you have a private income. I really want to come back in the summer and walk these green and leafy mountains.


I will walk them with pleasure in the sure and certain hope of not coming across a wild eyed FBI fugitive lurking in the woods. These people are too nice to lynch an atheist in their midst.



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Heading North To Asheville

Oh crap, this must be a road trip...and they make it sound
like the meeting might be a bad thing:


When I get to meet The Almighty I'm going to have a big old bitchfest. So God, how about your downer friends? See, it's not so bad meeting You.


We left our home in the capable hands of the house sitter who promised not to kill the plants and we got on the road.


It was a funny day Sunday with the weather veering between summer rain storms and bursts of bright crisp sunshine. We stopped for coffee in Key Largo and Cheyenne did her best to avoid the rain.


I spotted a bizarre logo on a construction truck and laughed a little to myself. Who dreams these slogans up?


Building intelligence? A boss with delusions of grandeur I take it. On the other hand cheap houses are for sale as the mortgage banking crisis strangles the economy:


While NASCAR came to Homestead with the First Lady to watch the last race of the season with three points separating the leaders. Southbound cars on Florida's Turnpike backed up for miles, we rolled just fine well beyond the speed limit.


By lunchtime we were in Boynton Beach for Jewish food at Flakowitz, a staple of our road trips.


A full on Jewish deli for lunch involves a potato knish, stuffed cabbage leaf and matzo ball soup.


Stuffed we set off on the Turnpike once again, passing the nearly dead of Fort Worth and the Magic Mouse Kingdom and on to Interstate 75 toward Georgia. More rain.


I did envy this sport bike riders for a minute but a man does need his family from time to time. The house sitter doesn't get to use the Bonneville in my absence.


Stupid bastard riding the turnpike at 80 miles an hour taking his helmet for a ride on the hook...Oh, and if you need a cow for dinner this is the place to stop to pick one up on your way home:


God showed up again in that part of Florida known as Georgia South. Weird how the Almighty is a White Guy in a beard. Perhaps I'm related?


Skies cleared ready for an early winter sunset. Not as lovely as sunset over the Florida Keys, nowhere near as lovely.


Cheyenne had her dinner in a rest area. A woman from somewhere up North asked from across the lot if my dog was on leash? No I yelled back. Does she need to be, the idiot called? Huh? My attack Labrador ravaging a bowl of kibble. No one got out alive.


Then came the bad news. We wanted beer to accompany the roast chicken dinner transported from Flakowitz but we were in Eastern Georgia. The workers at the supermarket 60 miles south of Columbus, our destination, told us no alcohol for sale on Sunday. Columbus, a progressive University town does allow alcohol sales in restaurants only on Sundays, no take out. We risked damnation and opened a bottle of wine bound for my wife's sister in Asheville and drank it in the room like bootleggers in a speakeasy. Stupid stuff. I don't often desire alcohol but when it is banned it becomes the Elixir of Life itself.


Piggly Wiggly was so named by the founder of the chain who created uneven aisles to force customers to check out everything as they navigated this new style of shopping. Nowadays it's just another supermarket here competing with the ubiquitous Publix chain from Florida.


My wife's iPhone went nuts and sent us to the torture School of the Americas presumably confused by the military radio waves and electrons but we called the hotel and the clerk said Huh? when asked for directions. No one knows anything anymore.
Cheyenne was glad to get out of the Fusion after 14 hours and 750 miles. So was I.



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