Sunday, June 19, 2016

Welcome To Paradise

"Welcome to Paradise" is what the guy who let me park my bike in his carport while I'm here said today. And he's so right. If where I am at right now is not paradise, I don't know what is. I'm north of the Smoky Mountains. Between the Cherokee National Forest and the Linville Gorge Wilderness. A few houses and a road that sees a few cars a day. It was so quiet last night that I heard the quiet ringing in my ear that I get after a long day of riding.

Yesterday was a perfect day for riding. Blue sky and temperatures in the 70ies (20ies in Celsius). I even had to zip my vents and add one liner to my jacket. I rode west from Clarksville, back into North Carolina. On beautiful roads. It is so incredibly green out here. I know this comes with rain, like the gushes I got when I rode to Virginia and it comes with bugs, too. But fireflies are bugs and I wouldn't want to live without them. But it also comes with fresh and clean air. And an abundance of green that soothes the eye and doesn't give you constant wild fire scares. 

I had to ride on a few interstates and highways with more traffic than I had recently. That is more stressful but at the same time it keeps me alert and awake. Like a video game where everyone is out to kill you and you have to survive. But you don't have spare lives which makes it extra fun.

Eventually, I reached the Blue Ridge Parkway. Less cars and such a beautiful road. Like Skyline Boulevard in California but longer and with even more stunning views.

I followed it for about an hour until I reached the road that would take me to my home for my vacation from my vacation. I had been warned that there was going to be a dirt road and told that I could park my bike at a place by the paved road. But when I got to the dirt road it didn't look so bad. So I went uphill. But after a few quite steep hills and turns I wasn't able to see the house. And so I turned around. Well, going downhill on a gravel road on a motorcycle with heavy luggage is not quite as easy as going uphill. And you can't just stop and get off it to I strap your bags, either. So I went downhill really slowly. Trying to use my clutch more than my brake to slow down. With the unwanted result that my engine started at one point. Good to now that it's that easy to push start my bike... 

I parked it halfway down the hill and went to find the house. I did find it eventually and I felt so bad that my friend's mother's first impression of me was that of a sweaty, smelly person with helmet hair... But Mimi was sweet and practical and drove downhill to help me get my bag and stayed closed when I maneuvered my bike all the way back down the hill on the slippery gravel slope and into a carport by the paved road. 

And then we went back to the place I would be able to call home for the next few days. And its incredible views over the Cerokee National Forest. It looks like a rain forest but is so much more quit and it is so much cooler here.

I know that I will certainly have a particularly hard time to leave this time. This is paradise. Truly. And of course, I should be out on my bike every day, riding this beautiful roads. But then, I'm just so content to sit on the deck and enjoy the view and the quiet.

But no rest for the wicked. Today I went rock climbing. For the first time in my life. With all the gear and ropes and shit. And a very experience instructor. An electrical engineer like my father. So I knew I was in good and safe hands. 

It was a bit of a drive and then a hike to get to the climbing spot. Which was, surprisingly for a perfect Sunday, empty. So we set up and I went on my first climb. So much fun. And once you get over the psychological barrier of hanging on a vertical wall of rock, not that hard. 

One of these things where you think you can't do it and sometimes on the wall you think you can't go further. But then you can and you do. Though the shoes are pretty uncomfortable and almost stop you blood flow. But it's exhilarating and I've always wanted to be a window cleaner in Manhatten or Shanghai. So I didn't have any issues with vertigo.

And the he view was absolutely worth it.

I wish I could have camped there. But I swore to myself then that would come back and backpack and hike in this beautiful spot. 

1 comment:

  1. Incredibly jealous. You have been visiting all the places I grew up or used to live or used to vacation at.

    If you are awed now, you should return in the fall sometime when the leaves change.