Just got back from Austin, TX and I got to hear Christopher Cross in a small concert. About 600 people total made it in and he was on stage just in the front of the room. Here is one of my favorite songs he did (a long time ago).
It reminded me of a trip I made with my uncle Richard in the spring of 1980. We took our motorcycles from Indianapolis to the Smoky Mountains National Park. I remember one point on the road I was listening to that song (loud speakers and a cassette player on the bike) and my uncle pulled over. I pulled up beside him and he said ‘are you ok?’. I was and it really puzzled me why he would stop to ask that. He explained that he could see me weaving on the road and as I thought about it, I was. In time with the music. We laughed and headed out again.
This was a camping trip and the first tough lesson was to bring an air mattress. We didn’t and suffered the first night on the ground in the tent.
We solved that when we got to the next stop in Gatlinburg. We got to the store just as the owner was locking up but he opened the door when we explained our plight and allowed us to purchase a yellow Donald Duck air mattress each and those got us through the rest of the trip.
The next clear memory is of the first time I almost laid my bike down. As you might expect, the roads through most of the mountains are 2 lane, winding and with beautiful vistas, sometimes on both sides. Drivers are not supposed to stop or make left hand turns off those roads but not everyone follows the rules. Thank goodness this was before the proliferation of cell phones and certainly before texting.
Yeah, I’m showing my age a bit.
Anyway, I was riding in second position and the view to the left was spectacular. The next thing I heard though was my uncle locking up his brakes. As I turned my head back to the road I was clamping down on the rear brake and reaching for the front and saw a car stopped in the road, my uncle just to the right side of the car and I had to decide whether to lay it down and slide under the car or go between my uncle’s bike and the car. I chose the latter. My front wheel ended up about 2 feet past the bumper of the car.
Heart beating, sweating and a pulled muscle in my right leg as I struggled to keep the bike up. We got off at the next legal opportunity and I checked for skid marks (not on the road).
All was well and we were off again. Lesson No.2, pay attention to what’s in front of you.
The third lesson was off the bike. We decided to hike up Chimney Tops. Taking some water would have been a good idea but we didn’t. That was not really the lesson though. As we arrived at the top I was confronted by a 50 foot wall that I had to scale to get to the very top. My uncle was ahead of me and I was standing there trying to decide if my fear of heights would prevail or my desire to see the very top.
Above me I heard a little girl say ‘Daddy, I’m scared!!’ and as I looked up I see her and her dad climbing down. I heard dad say ‘Good, it will help you hold on better!’.
Lesson No. 3. It’s OK to be scared but don’t let it stop you. I made the climb and was treated to the best view ever.
Here is a link to some pics and words that do a good job of describing the location. Not my words or pics so follow the link.
This one got a little long. I’m going to stop at this point. We made it back home and it was a trip to remember. Learned a lot. Loved it. Thanks to my uncle for taking me with him.
Thanks for listening,
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