Tail of the Dragon

Friday was the perfect weather day, cool and sunny.  So we took the motorcycle for a short ride of about 250 miles on some of the most beautiful roads in the country.  We first headed south of Knoxville, through Marysville TN and on to Route 129, known to motorcyclists as “The Tail of the Dragon” as it is a winding road up and over the Smoky Mountains into North Carolina.

There are various legends as to how they came up with the number 318 but they feel its as good a number as any and the true number is certainly close to that.  The road is a great two lane one and not dangerous if you take your time, the biggest danger is from young riders on speed bikes chasing each other.  We just took our time and had a great ride.

Calderwood Dam Overlook

We then turned north through Bryson City, NC and up Rt. 441 into Great Smokies National Park.  About half way through the park is a 7 mile side loop up to the top of the highest point in North Carolina, to Clingman’s Dome.  From the parking lot you walk up (and we mean up!) a paved path to the top of the mountain, where there is an observation dome that gives a 360 degree view.

Path to the dome

You’re at over 6,000′ so the thin air just adds intensity to the walk (climb), but we made it. Pam had to stop a few times on the way up but many people were commenting on the speed John attained during the ascent!  Many asked if he was a triathlete,  but he humbly said that he was just in great shape.

Once you reach the top you need to go up the long ramp to the observation point.

The ramp to the dome

The "Dome"

It was a cool day in the valleys, but a COLD day on the mountain.  We spent a very brief time in the dome as the wind was strong and the temperature an estimated 25 degrees!

Tennessee from the Dome

Coming Down - the bike is in that parking lot

We then rode about 15 miles into Gatlinburg, then into Pigeon Forge where we sat outside in the sun at a Starbucks and had a warm drink.  We then rode the rest of the way home and didn’t get back to the motor home until dark.  Wow, this retirement thing is hard work!

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One Response to Tail of the Dragon

  1. Bruce says:

    Those photos look great. What a beautiful part of this great country. Be safe in your travels. See you later.
    Bruce & Barb

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