Sunday, April 28, 2013

Magic Bus Tour- North Carolina and Virginia, Days 30-34

Late April, 2013
So I broke camp and was ready to high tail it out of Georgia, but I wound up taking the long and winding road that perhaps The Beatles wrote about as I burned up my brakes on the numerous, twisty, steep grades leaving Cooper's Creek. After crossing the state border I blinked and almost passed right through that evening's rest stop, the tiny country town of Franklin, North Carolina.  One of those kind of towns that still has a "Main Street" that looks like a "Main Street" and very few other streets. One of those towns with a 25 mph Speed limit "to tame them new confounded loud smelly wheelie contraptions".
The next morning I awoke and drove through the slightly bigger mountain town of Bryson City, but including  "City" in the name must be an inside joke. It does however grant access to another epic mountain bike trail system called Tsali. I only got to do one of the loops before my knee screamed at me to quit, but with four loops in total I would have to give this place a really high rating even sight unseen. You'll have to spend 2 days there if you want to do all the loops because you can only do 2 a day as they alternate with the horses. Well, horse riders. And based on the lack of horse poop I'd say those horse riders are reserving much more time than they really need.  However, there is a very nice campground there though so it is very convenient to spend the night and get to do the whole trail system. I might just have to do that at some point in the future.

Mage gave me a scare when she stalled on me twice and in a secluded, no cell service mountain area. I was relieved when I popped the hood and saw that one of the air filter ducts was loose and sucking in straight air. You might not think that taking in too much air would cause a stall, but it does! I realized that after installing the battery isolator and trying to run the engine with the air filter removed.  

Confident that the problem was resolved, but not cocky I decided to get out of the mountains (after the trail ride of course) and head for Asheville just in case some more in depth repairs would be needed. All seemed well with Mage so I made for one of America's Scenic By-ways, "The Blue Ridge Parkway". Definitely worth a "Sunday Drive", it's chock full of some wonderful scenery interspersed with areas to pull over and take in the views. However, I would also recommend the occasional detour to drive along one of the roads on the map that you have to squint to see. There's something special about driving the local roads, gliding through the farmlands and spotting those rusty antique cars and old farm equipment amid the rolling hills and methodically plotted plantings.

Back on the Blue Ridge Parkway I stopped at mile 115 for another trail ride. I really wasn't expecting much of it, but it was on the way. Boy did I underestimate it! The Beginner's 1 mile loop was fast a furious as you would expect. Then I rode the first half of the Intermediate course and it too was rather fast and flowing. Then I hopped on the 1.4 mile Expert section even though I normally stay away from the tough stuff when riding alone in the middle of nowhere. Well it offered  downed trees,  slippery leaf covered, off camber and super steep sections nearly impossible to traverse and capped it off with the occasional thorn bush branch reaching out to say, "Hello, Nice to meet you! Would you care to donate blood today?". Needless to say I walked a fair bit of that section. Then to add insult to injury I hopped back on to do the last half of the Intermediate trail and it too got rather technical so that by the time I had thoroughly explored "Explore Park" as it's known, my butt was thoroughly dragging!

Now for a slight detour into culinary news. Being a vegetarian, fast food has never really had much to offer for me, but Burger King and Subway both offer veggie burgers so I have occasionally dined with them, but after recently learning how they and that other "clown outfit" are poisoning us I have sworn them off. It seems they add to their breads a chemical called Azodicarbonamide* that's only use is in the making of plastics. This chemical is banned from not only food, but food packaging in... well..... just about every other country on the planet. No wonder you can put that crap on the sidewalk and none of Mother Nature's critters will touch it. Bon app├ętit! So as a result I have become a frequent purveyor and budding connoisseur of Asian buffets.  Is it better than fast food? Well, that all depends on your choices. Yes, you can overdose on MSG and oil and too much food in general, but with some discernment you can also do quite well. And I have been doing pretty well, except that there is always that damn dessert aisle! However, even at the most packed of buffets, it is really easy to spot the plastic and thus refrain from eating it!

Anyway, I've driven the length of the Blue Ridge Parkway and I'm now in Woodstock. Janis Joplin, Hendrix and Santana are nowhere to be found, but I'm a hop skip and a jump away from High View, West Virginia where I'll be tomorrow to start a week long personal meditation retreat.
More to come on the flipside, if I don't take a detour into Nirvana!