Blue Ridge Parkway to Branson Missouri ... July 2003

In July of 2003, Marcia and David started the longest motorcycle trip they ever took.  On the morning of July 26 we met our best man, Jim, and his wife Sherry at a rest area on I-81 just outside of Watertown.  They had come up from their home in Newark, NY, and left their pets with Sherry's folks.

Marcia and David were riding David's 2001 Harley Davidson Road Glide and towing the Cycle-Mate trailer.  Jim and Sherry were on Jim's Yamaha Venture, a bike he had recently bought.  He had been without a motorcycle for a number of years but the bug bit again after he rode our Harleys the summer before.

Our trip took us to Hanover Pennsylvania that night where we stayed at the home of Lance and Nancy Griffin.  The Griffins had lived in northern New York for several years and were good friends.  Lance's job took them to the southern Pennsylvania area.  Early Sunday morning, we departed for the Skyline Drive which is the northern section of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  This section is a toll road that takes you 105 miles through the Shenandoah National Park.  We entered the park at Front Royal, Virginia, which was only an hour or so from the Griffin home.


The speed limit on this section of highway is only 35 miles per hour.  We traveled this to Rockfish Gap where the highway becomes the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The Blue Ridge, like the Skyline Drive, follows the crest of the Appalachians from the Shenandoah National Park in the north to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park of North Carolina in the south.  This 469 mile stretch of road has speed limits that vary, but mostly 40 to 45 miles per hour.  There is no shortage of scenery and various overlooks and highlights.  We spent four days riding this 574 miles.

Near the end of the Parkway, we split from Jim and Sherry.  They only had a week to travel and they were going to do some touring at the southern end before heading back north.  We were heading west.  We spent Thursday night in Gatlinburg Tennessee and then headed out on I-40.  We spent Friday and Saturday in Memphis where we toured Graceland and Beale Street, the home of the blues.  On Sunday we headed out once again and traveled to Branson Missouri where we had reservations.  We had swapped a week at our Myrtle Beach timeshare and stayed in Branson, seeing shows and enjoying the area.

On Tuesday night, we called Jim.  He was supposed to arrive back home that day so we wanted to find out how their trip was.  He announced to us that they had "totaled' the bike.  As it turns out, on the Friday after we left them, they visited the Biltmore Estate in Ashville, North Carolina.  While they were in a gift shop, a man driving a 1913 Stevens automobile on an antique car tour, parked his car in the parking lot, about three spots from Jim's bike.  He forgot to set the e-brake and it rolled in a semi-circle and knocked the bike over.  They were about the only two vehicles in that section of the parking lot.  The bike suffered mostly cosmetic damage, but because it was somewhat of a vintage model and parts are not available, the Yamaha dealer in Ashville declared it a total.  Jim was able to roadside engineer some temporary fixes and they rode it home, arriving the next day.

Meanwhile, we enjoyed six days in Branson and left a day early so that we could get back to Fulton in time to enjoy the annual family reunion at Mark and Lisa's.  On the way home, we stopped and visited with cousin Sue who lived in St. Louis at that time.

By the time we returned home, we had been on the bike 16 days and had logged over 3600 miles.  It was a great trip.


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