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Sanctuary

September 17, 2012

We were out of cell range over the weekend and I was unable to publish the posts till today. I was also unable to upload pictures to the blog because of that and will add some tonight.

My eyes popped open at 5:00am. It was hard to tell what was going on outside weather wise with the babbling river just outside the door. I reluctantly dragged myself to the front door of the hotel and am dumbfounded to find the ground dry as a bone. Once again, for the second year in a row, we’ve been spending a lot of time watching the weather channel and garnering very little solid information.

Now the frenzy starts. Should we just pack up and go, ride the mountains in the dark with possible rain coming? Is there time to shower, should I bother? Should we stay put for another day? Before long, Dorothy’s awake and we set a plan….quick shower, pack up and hit the road. When we’ve stayed in a place longer than 1 night, chaos usually ensues during the packing up process because we tend to spread out a lot over those 2 days. Crap everywhere. Unless you saw it, you would never believe so much stuff fits on 2 bikes.

By 6:15 we’re ready to go…..it’s still pitch black out. I’m pacing, pacing, pacing waiting for either the sky to lighten up or the rain to start. All the other motorcycles left town yesterday and I’m beginning to thing we made a mistake by staying. Dorothy repacks her bike because we had nothing else to do, too impatient to get breakfast. Then the sky turns the faintest of grey. Finally, the light is coming. We head to the gas station. Leaving town, I cave to the inevitable and we preemptively don our rain gear. I mention to Dorothy how I had forgotten how much I really enjoy being layered up in gear..just like the kid from a Christmas story.

Heading north, we have 16 miles over mountainous switchbacks and curves to the interstate. The worst possible time for rain to start. Now the anxiety starts. We can ride over mountains in the rain. It’s not hard….you just have to take your time…..but why would you want to? We head north on rt 19 and discover a whole new section of Cherokee complete with a giant Harrah’s casino. As we got closer to the mountains, interestingly enough, the sun was coming through the thick mountain smoke and turned the sky a beautiful salmon color with pinpoint breaks of blue. It wasn’t rain clouds we were seeing, it was the famous low lying morning fog of the Smokey’s. The mountain was dry and 16 miles flew by. We got to the other side and entered Maggie Valley. 19 is the main route through this area and dotted with old americana motor courts as well as modern hotels etc. Very cute and I can’t wait to come back again when we have more time.

With 28 miles to Asheville we were still dry and counting every dry mile as a blessing. The clouds began to change from smokey to dark and stormy as all I could do was wait for that familiar smack of the first raindrops on my helmet. Often you here the rain coming before you see it. Sure enough, about a mile out of Asheville, I heard it. You try to fool yourself by saying that it was only a stone from the road but you know better.

We had luxury accommodations waiting and I knew we weren’t far but we just couldn’t get there. We needed to pullover and regroup…..conveniently, we found a waffle house. I love regrouping over breakfast! And I finally had enough service to post the weekend blogs. With breakfast off the list, we made our way to the Chateau de Papier, most sought after accommodations in Asheville.

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Chuck and Judy are longtime friends of Dorothy’s who are coincidentally visiting in Asheville for the month. They have been kind enough to offer sanctuary during the rain and we couldn’t be more thankful. They even gave up their garage to the bikes. We spent some time catching up and recapping the trip when on their suggestion we decided to visit the Biltmore Estate. It’s a Vanderbilt mansion built in 1895. 200+ rooms, 33 guest room, 43 bathrooms….the house itself is 4 acres. Both Dorothy and I have passed it on the road from time to time but never had time to stop. The house is incredibly opulent and the grounds are phenomenal.

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Anyway you get the idea…..BIG

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This was our $14 ice cream

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Vanderbilt spent so much money on his house he couldn’t afford to upgrade the car:)

Seriously though, we left the bikes home and rented this car. Yellow isn’t my best color!

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It took us 20 minutes to drive of of the Biltmore property then home for cocktails……out to dinner and into our luxury suite.

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In bed with the window open, I can hear the steady rain now and I thank my lucky stars for Chuck & Judy and yellow economy cars.

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