25th Wedding Anniversary Trip - August 8th ~ 10th, 2008

It has become a tradition for Julie and I to celebrate our wedding Anniversary by going on a long week-end road trip. Last year Bryan and Jordan joined us and we all had a great time. It was their first long trip riding which made it that much more fun and special.
This year they couldn't join us, so Julie and I struck out on own own, headed for "Wild, Wonderful" West Virginia.

We left early Friday morning and headed up US 52 going towards Mount Airy, NC to I-77. In the interest of time we decided to make time and ride the 'big roads' up to Bluefield, WV., then take WV 16 out of Welch, WV and start seeing some new roads!


Our first gas stop was in Bastian, Va. Just a wide spot off I-77 before the West Virginia state line.


"Now lets see... who's called looking for me?"

"Hi Sweetie!!!"

We rode up 16 to just south of Beckley, WV and had a ball! The road is a hoot overall, but the further north we went the rougher it got. Not bad or dangerous, but we were noticing the bumps more. Close to I-64 we pulled off at a convenience store, fueled and took a Coke Zero and ice cream sandwich break. It was here that I got to not only re-live one of the coolest moments of my life, I got to expand on it!

I finished filling the tank with liquid gold then pulled up into a parking space in front of the store. There we sat and had our snack and looked over the map.

It was just after mid afternoon, and we still had plenty of day light left to ride. We had thought about going further north on 16, but were afraid we'd get out in the middle of Nowhere, WV after dark in need of a motel that could be still a good ways off. We were looking over the map when this stereo-typical West by-gawd Virginia good ol' boy stopped by and asked where we were headed.

Flashbacks of our trip to The Trace of a few years ago and sitting at the Sonic in Natchez, MS when the manager of the place asked us the very same question and my heart filled with glee...

"We don't know... We're just out riding."

Oh man, I love riding motorcycles.

He stayed there and talked with us for 15 minutes or more, telling us about some of the areas more interesting spots and pointing them out on the map. Using our new information we decided to ride a little ways east on I-64 looking for one of the roads and a waterfall he told us about.

Following his directions we turned onto 133 and headed south in search of a waterfall.


133 was a good motorcycle road! It wound up a mountain and had several steep grades and lots of twisties. We were turning to our left in the photo above when we came on this wide spot in the road. I whoa'd up the Nomad and got it stopped safely in time to get off the road and stop, and we found what you see below.

We found the waterfalls!





We parked the bike, took our gear off and grabbed our two favorite electronic devices. The camera and the cell phone.

The parking area was small, and off to the side were the signs above at the entrance to a trail that went down hill to a viewing area.

My beauty taking in the beauty.


"Hey Teddy!"


The falls as seen in normal view in the camera. Not sure of the distance, really. But a long ways off.





Zoomie, telephoto stuff. The camera continues to amaze me.


Look close.


Closer...

Invasion of privacy?


On the way back out, Julie spotted a birds nest under the shelter of one of the signs. She took the photos below.


Check it out!


Whoa!


Where'd it go!


OMG!! There's two!


Ready to go.



Gone.

We stayed on 133 for several miles, then wound our way back to the Beckley area in pretty much the same predicament we were in earlier?
Which way now?
You gotta love it...
The way we had it figured, we could ride up US 19 and check out the New River Gorge Bridge again. We were in the area, so why not? That would put us close to dark-thirty and there was a hotel about 20 miles from the bridge. Done deal. We headed for that monster of a bridge.


"Oh boy! Stairs!"


"And more stairs..."


"Hey Darlin'!"


The view from the upper overlook.



More zoomie stuff.




Pretty unreal huh? Oh, and the bridge is cool too.



The New River Gourge, looking south west from the bridge.


Due south. There's a river down there!


Looking out over the gorge. Notice the old bridge in the lower left of the photo.

Zooming in on the river, just south of the old bridge.


We'll be riding across that bridge soon.


More of that telephoto stuff. Before the big bridge was built in the 70's, this was the only was to cross the river at this point. The trip from one side to the other using the old bridge takes about 45 mins.


Going the old was you cross directly by the major support struts of the bridge. This is one massive structure.




Just crossed the old bridge, we're half way there!


Looking up from the old bridge...


...and the river under the new one.

Once across the gorge we rode the 20 miles or so to Summerville, WV and then stopped for the night.
Saturday morning we got started about our usual time, deciding to head due east and south for the day. We planned on another night on the road, but didn't want to be so far from home that we had to ride hard and still get in late on Sunday.
We got some 'tips' on West Virginia roads from the http://www.motorcycleroads.us/index.html web site before leaving on the trip and had used some of them already that day. There was mention of a "County Route 1" that we found interesting and planned the morning around going in that direction. Along the way we ran across "The Falls of Hills Creek" scenic area and decided to check it out.




Julie decided we just had to go for a hike. A nice mile and half walk in and back out. No problem.

The upper falls.

"Oh look. More Stairs."



Quiet little creek along the way.


The middle falls.


"My, my. Even more stairs..."


"sigh..."






Like the sign says, "The Lower Falls". I felt the same way she does.

"No problem Fatboy. We'll just march right outta here."

After changing back into my boots and catching our breath... we continued on across 39 and then took 55 north. Our goal was to stay on 55 to 150, where we would
take it north on a scenic route through the mountains.
We missed the turn off for 150 and didn't realize it until we had started down a grade and into a desending right hand turn. At this point we were committed and stayed on 55 as it wound down off the mountain. Once at the bottom we just kept on going, taking in the view, and rode to where 219 intersects 55. We stopped and looked over the map, then loaded up and headed back the way we'd just came from wanting to go back and take 150 as planned. It was a beautiful day for a ride.
Why not?

We caught up to a pick up truck and just eased along several car lengths back behind it. In no hurry, just listening to the radio and loving life as we climbed back up the mountain through the twisties we'd just come down.
As we entered the very last turn, this time an uphill left hander, I noticed a couple of pick up trucks sitting in a wide spot on the left shoulder of the turn. I set the bike into the turn and looked ahead.
I knew that I was going to have to turn again in the middle of the turn and make a line change in order to come out smoothly, looking ahead at the pivot point in the turn ahead of me I noticed dark spots in the road that ran from the inside (to our left) of the road. They ran at an angle to the turn and into our lane and I saw that our line through the turn would have the front tire coming very close to one of those spots.
They appeared to be pieces of ashphalt where a repair had been made. I began to alter my line slightly to go a little wide of it, but the tire still caught the edge of one of those spots. When it did, I lost all feeling in the bars and the bike quit turning and was sliding straight ahead to the outside edge of the road.
It was oil.
Some of you might know the term 'losing the front end', where traction is completely lost on the front tire and it 'pushes' away from the direction of the turn. You try to 'catch' the front end and make it dig in, and if that fails you try to shift the weight of the machine to the rear, hoping it will 'catch' before all adhesion is lost and the bike and rider(s) are dumped on their...
Thats exactly what happened to us.
What I'm about to tell you happened in about four or five heart beats.
Falling back on my off road background I instinctivley chopped the throttle hoping to transfer some weight forward, then I shifted my weight forward and stuck out my left foot, sliding it along the top, not planting it, allowing it to skim across the road. At the same time I pushed down hard on the right floorboard, hoping to make the back end bite.
It works great on a 200 lb dirt bike.
Not to good on a 600 lb touring bike.
What can I say, it came naturally...
What Bryan and I figured later was that the front tire slid on the oil it hit, but due to forward motion the tire still rotated, just slower than it should have been. When it rotated enough that fresh rubber was on the ground it bit.
When it did, our weight began to push us forward, only now the front tire had traction and was turning. In order to prevent a highside, where the weight transfer throws you over the handlebars on the outside or 'high' side of the turn.
Now I had to straighten the bike up a bit and 'catch' it again, only we were running out of road, the shoulder was approaching!
I pushed on the left side of the handlebars intitiating a counter steer which brought the bike back into a turn, but under my control. In order to get back in line with the radius of the turn I had to lay the bike way over to the left, the left floorboard thudding when it hit, then scraping along we continued through the turn. I applied full throttle allowing the weight to transfer to the rear and drive us out of the turn.
As I exited the turn I rolled off the throttle and then began to cuss like the proverbial sailor outloud and therefore into the intercom.
Julie said, "Whats wrong?"
I cussed some more.
She had been looking up and listening to the radio, she had no real sensation of what had happened until the floorboard hit, and as she told me later, "You've been doing that a lot lately so I didn't think to much about it."
Hmmmphh.
Back in full control of the bike I slowed down well before the intersection of 150, made the turn and continued to just ease along slowly replaying the incident in my mind.
After a bit I picked up the pace a bit, but I was still a little skiddish of the bike. We pulled over a couple of times to take in the view, which allowed me some more time to get my thoughts together and confidence back.
We had been lucky.




Hard earned views of the Greenbrier River Trail State Park as seen from Wv 155, The Highlands Scenic Highway.

The views from the mountains were spectactular. 155 wound it's way north and east for about 20 miles where it intersected with 55 again. From there we went south in search of another one of those roads on our http://www.motorcycleroads.us/index.html list of suggested roads and found ourselves in Edray, WV at the southern end of a local county road, CR1.
What was touted as a road for 'serious and experianced riders only' turned out to be not much more than a long winding driveway that wound around and through rural West Virginia. It was a beautiful ride, but a real PITA too as each time we met another vehicle coming the other way, they would have to get at least half of thier vehicle off the pavement for us to pass, even with us on the shoulder! We crept along like that for 30 miles when we intersected with hwy 66 and bailed out on the other 35 or so of CR1.
Maybe next time...
As we poured over the map at the intersection I saw that we weren't too far from The Cass Railroad and the Greenbrier Observitory. These were both points of interest that an Internet forum buddy had told me about.
Hoping to find some lunch and a cold drink we headed that way. It wasn't far over to Cass, WV and the ride through town was worth riding over for. It's just a small little country town in rural West Virginia, but it just had an appeal about it. The Cass Railroad was on the far side of town and it wasn't hard to find.
We pulled into the parking lot and it was loaded with motorcycles. There must have been 20 or more. A couple on a Harley trike were standing not far from where we parked and we struck up a conversation with them while we took our gear off and got the e-gadgets out. They highly recomended the observitory and told us a little about it. We yacked for a bit and then said our good byes, they were headed north for the night.
We wandered around the gift shop then had some lunch at the resteraunt.
While we were waiting on our lunch the train came in, and then left out as we were leaving. That thing is loud and smokey. It made all sorts of noise as it came and wentand the smoke trail could be seen for quite a distance.





The Cass Railroad.

We could have spent more time in Cass, but we were both curious about the telescope in Greenbrier so we saddled up and skipped the train ride and headed over to see this overgrown sattlite dish everyone was making such a fuss over.
Not long after leaving Cass, Julie spotted it off to our left. It was at least a mile off in the distance and it was still huge.
It's called The Green Bank Telescope (GBT), or "The Great Big Thing" as the tour guide called it, and it is massive. 100 meters across and the whole structure weighs over 16,000,000 pounds. They said you could fit an average size collge football stadium inside the dish!




The "GBT". Green Bank, West Virginia.

The whole facility was to say the least, impressive. We decided to stay a while and took the guided tour. As part of the tour an indtroduction to the facilty was given as well as some demonstrations of how the systems worked were given. I could go on and on about it but sufice it to say that Julie and I both enjoyed our visit and will probably stop again if given the chance.

When we were ready to go it was late afternoon, we had decided to head south and ride some more. We wanted to be a bit further south than we were to start the next day. Neither of us wanted to faced with a long ride home on Sunday.
The GBT is located right on WV 92 so we rode south towards White Sulpher Springs, West Virginia 92 intersects with I-64. It was a beautiful ride.

The road winds through the country side of West Virginia passing small farms and through towns in the foothills of a rolling mountain side. There was little traffic and we had plenty of fuel so we just ran a nice easy pace soaking it all in but still making good time not having to stop along the way.
At the intersection of I-64 we pulled off at a gas station to stretch, get some water and figure out what we wanted to do. A couple of different locals came up and spoke to us, commenting on the Nomad and asking where we were going.

They told us that the WV State Fair was in town and they didn't think there'd be any rooms available, but suggested a few we might try. But there was several (a few?) hours of day light left and we were both still in the mood to ride some more, so we saddled up and rode on.

Julie spotted Hwy 311 on the map which runs from just outside of town and goes south into Roanoke, Virginia.

We figured we could get there before dark if we hurried so that was our game plan. After a brief ride across I-64 east (and west, and then back east) we (finally) found 311.

Man oh man, let me tell you what. We made a find!

311 is one sweet ride. It's two lane all the way, but in very good condition. From almost the start we wound and twisted our way up a mountain, a bit tight at first, then it became more flowing. The country side and sights are spectacular and the greatness of the road makes it all the more enjoyable.

About half way to Roanoke we stopped in New Castle, West Virginia to top off the tank for the ride in. In slightly more time than NASCAR pit stop we did our gas and go then mounted up and started down the mountain into Roanoke.

We made another find.

The ride down the mountain was better than the ride up!

Oh boy!

The road really flowed well, I found a sweet spot in forth gear that let me use some engine breaking as needed, and then just apply enough throttle to maintain momentum. Julie asked me at one point if I was having a good time, so I guess we were carrying a bit too much momentum but it sure was fun.

We beat nightfall to Roanoke by a bit, we checked in checked in to our hotel, I took a few photos and we walked down to yet another Mexican resteraunt for supper as it became dark-thirty. This time we hit a home run though as it not only had tall, cold, mexican draught beer, the food was more than good too.

Hot damn!

These places have the most comfy beds I've ever slept in.





The view from out our door. Thats Roanoke's airport off in the distance.


Our second Mexican supper in a row. This time it was actually pretty good!

We left Roanoke Sunday morning about our usual time. After a short ride out on 220 we got on the Blue Ridge Parkway and took it south to Tuggles Gap, Virginia and then stopped at the Tuggles Gap Resteraunt and Motel for some coffee and pie. Julie called Bryan and he was feeling poorly so Momma was ready to bust a ride straight home from there.

Hwy 8 south as it leaves Tuggles Gap is one of those roads that I love to ride. It is another one of those great 'getting off the mountain' twisty roads that we are fortunate to have so relatively close to home.

In Winston Salem we picked up Hwy 52 and took it on into Lexington and then came on to the house.

Another trip under a thousand miles. We're going to have to get busy if Momma is going to beat her boy in their milage contest!

Bruce