Friday, October 2, 2009

The Dragon of Deal’s Gap II

Hubby was up by 4 am – damn the military!

I got up around 8 am. He has been gathering ideas – mounting the movie camera on the bike – and generally behaving like a hyperactive child on chocolate. The mountains are misty and it's COLD! I've got long johns and other cold weather gear. I'm cozy for the moment, the room is warm. I hear voices, better get a move on.

We went into Robinsville for breakfast. There is a little house tucked off the main road called "Our Daily Bread". They have wonderful breakfasts, good coffee and occasionally serve Squirrel Gravy. (No, we didn't taste it, though it was highly recommended.) We got to chat with Carl about local life.

Then it was back to the motel to suit up. The mist has burned off to a light haze and the roads are dry. Hubby's chomping at the bit to get going.

Our first destination is Fountana Dam – the second largest dam in the USA at 500 feet tall. We climbed to the top, its amazing. The water off the other side is a deep dark blue. There is a line where the water line has fallen, that looks 10 feet high. This is a TVA dam, one in a string of lakes that follow the mountain curves like dark blue/green jewels.

In places the juxtaposition of road and water make it look like the water is running uphill. The trees have yet to turn, so we don't have the glorious autumn painting the mountains. But the sky is that autumn shade of blue that backgrounds the green trees and the dappling of sunlight on leaf, trunk and road.

The air is still chilly so the heavy leathers I wear over turtle-neck and sweater are welcome. So are the long johns that I'm hiding under my jeans. We meander beside the river or lake depending on which side of the many dams we're on at the moment. Soaring up and down the dips and switchbacks that lead us back to the Dragon we duck in and out of shadows. We stop again for lunch at the Restaurant – Gas Station. This time I've got sense enough to say no to the Onion Rings that kept me up half the night. The pulled pork is fabulous again.

Okay, I lied about the onion rings – I finished off Hubby's. (Which is why I'm still up writing.)

I bought a dragon patch for my jacket, a stuffed toy for my sister and two stickers for the car. When I get the patch sewed on I discover that Dennis does pin-striping. I watch him paint for a while. He's good, the designs are 'old school' he says. I admire and start asking prices. Hubby's not interested, but I want to make my PT Cruiser look just a bit prettier. He says he'd love to get his hands on a PT Cruiser. We talk about colors. When the patch is finished Hubby and I depart, with a 'hmmm' in the back of my mind.

We suite up, ass-up and take off up the mountain into the maw of the Dragon. The M109 has a deep-throated growl that is far different that the whine of the sportbikes or the patented blasting rhythms of the Harleys. This huge machine has more to give than we care to take on this swelling series of swoops and dives that is the Dragon. He's careful on this ride, I don't have to tell him to slow down, so I can kick back and enjoy myself.

We recorded the day on Video – but it's a format that needs to be translated and edited before I can upload it anywhere. I briefly miss the Def Leopard sound track that I was listening to yesterday. Only briefly, this kind of driving doesn't need a soundtrack. The wind makes it's own music through the trees, the muted echo of motorcycle engines and car engines, the static noise of streams. The experience is richer than the most decidant cheesecake!

The air smells of Fall – chilly, with undertones of river, occasional snorts of diesal or bike exhaust. There is no scent of old fish or molding anything today, the air is scrubbed clean and waiting for lungs to breathe it. The mountains are breathtaking, the dappled road snakes before us. Occasionally some young buck passes us on a curve or a big pickup crosses the yellow line. There a plenty of young bloods wanting to break the speed record of the Dragon. (Nine minutes to travel 11 miles and 319 curves.)

We take a break at the lake side gas station. Nice folks here, too. Then we suit up for the return over the Dragon then onward back to the motel. It's been a great day. We're looking forward to Saturday since tomorrow is supposed to be cloudy. I get my email and fuss around d/ling video before I settle in for the night. Hubby crashes out, while I start typing all this up. Since the car is likely to get a custom pin-striping the laptop got the stickers, it looks nice.

I'm yawning – tomorrow is another day.


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