Day 4 repeated the previous day for the most part. More scenery that you can’t get tired of, but doesn’t come through in words.
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Starting off from Galax our original intent on this Monday was to get all the way to Balsam Mountain. From looking at the map it looked easy enough to just push through and set up camp there. Our backup was to hotel it for the second night in a row. We’d heard about some detours south of Asheville but figured that it’d be no big deal.
We struck out on the Parkway heading south. It was another wonderful drive despite the massive rain shower we ran into on the way. (Incidentally this was the one storm we’ve ever pulled over for!) A highpoint was going over the quarter mile curved bridge which is the Blue Ridge Parkway Viaduct.
Watching the PBS special on the parks we’ve encountered mentions of this bridge which is built completely over land. Driving on it with trees on the uphill side level with the road, mountains on the other looking at the curves ahead is a unique experience. It was one of the highlights of the day.
Eventually our stomachs started talking and we needed to grab a bite to eat. We took route 80 into the tiny town of Burnsville, NC. If you could even call it a town. The road wound down from the parkway into the valley with a few buildings and a horse farm all contained within the Pisgah National Forest.
We found the restaurant and parked the bike amongst the other motorcycles and laid out or gear to dry a bit before we walked into the Mt. Mitchell View Restaurant. It was shocking at first to hear all the bikers. They were speaking French. It made sense when we noticed the Harleys out front all had Quebec plates on.
We ordered up some burgers and listened to the fan above the table squeak away it’s metronomic beat. While annoying at first it quickly blended into the background that was filled with old Nascar memorabilia of all vintages.
The cook/waitress brought out the burgers and some conversation as well (she was doing double-duty that day since someone else called off that day). Obviously she lacked someone to talk to that day. We obliged for a bit as we ate talking about football and how her husband is a huge Browns fan.
“I’m sorry” we snickered back jokingly mocking the quality of the home team.
Filled with the great burgers we suited up and rode back up to the parkway.
As we neared Asheville we looked at the clock. It was around 3 in the afternoon. We looked to be about an hour or so from Asheville and from the map it looked to be another two or three to the campground. Going with our gut we decided to hotel it in town. This turned into one of the best decisions of the trip!
The hour into town wound up being closer to an hour and a half with a large chunk of construction that constricted the road down to only one lane. Lots of waiting and poor driving cars later we made it through and started descending into the town. We pulled up some hotels in the Zumo and went in.
The hotel we picked, the Blue Ridge Motel (or something like that) turned out to be a dump. No life at all and peeling paint. We turned around and headed back the way we camp knowing we had passed a couple of hotels that we wouldn’t mind staying in. We decided on the Super 8 since it looked new and plenty clean. An added bonus was nearby restaurants.
As we were checking I had a thought. We’re in frickin’ North Carolina. We need some barbecue, not the Mexican joint next door!
(sorry — this is redundant from a previous post)
“Is there a barbecue place around here?” I asked the guy behind the desk as he finished checking us in.
“Yeah, you can go to the Fiddling Pig. It’s about four lights down the street.”
“Is that where you would go?”
At this point he looked a lot more interest.
“Nahh… Obama was just here three weeks ago and he went to the same place he went when he was campaigning. That seems to be his favorite place here in North Carolina. It’s called 12 Bones I think. Lemme check.”
He shouted out to the manager as he was showing someone how to use these new fangled key card and it was quickly confirmed.
Good food knows no political affiliation. In fact I heard that’s how barbecue really started taking off here; what better way of feeding a bunch of people you want to campaign to for a few hours.
(end of repeat)
We both took a shower and a quick 1/2-hour nap to re-energize before we went off to dinner.
Well, it turns out that 12 Bones is more of a lunch spot. And besides it’s closed on Mondays.
Looking around on the iPad I found another joint that’s not a chain: Luella’s Bar-B-Que. From the web site it looks like a chain trying to be upscale. It’s not. It’s just your typical family owned one location joint.
With some damn good food!
We ordered a couple of local beers to start with and a mix of different things. En got the pulled pork with collard greens and mac-n-cheese. I ordered a full rack of ribs with beans and cole slaw. Both came with some of the best hush puppies I’ve ever had. I can’t say anything bad about the place — the sauces were spot on, the meats were smoked to perfection.
When looking at the pictures, don’t think the slaw is bad. En just has a thing for slaw. She doesn’t like it in general. The face is classic, if fake. :-D
Riding back to the hotel reminded us how hot it was in the valley once you left the forest.
Continuing the tradition we walked across the street and picked up some beer to go with the the hotel room. Across from the gas station we found the Mountaineer Inn with a giant neon hairy-toed woodsman imploring us to “Get Cozy” with him. Hmmm. The Super-8 seemed better and better by the moment! ;-)
It was another good day on the Parkway!
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