Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cranking thru to the Cherohala

In the planning stages of these trips from years of experience I had learned out East to plan on only 300 to 350 miles a day on the motorcycle. I also learned that targeted spots to visit needed to be kept in the realm of reasonableness. If you do the math traveling 325 miles at the average of 45 mph (which may be on the high side because we tended to stay off the major highways) translates to 7.2 hours just to travel. Add to that 2 gas stops, a rest and stretch stop at 15 minutes each you are up to almost 8 hours. Throw in 15 places to visit at 10 minutes apiece, you are up to 10.5 hours. If just one or two of those sites prove very interesting add another 30 minutes extra time (like watching the video and chit chatting with the park ranger) you have 11.5 hours. That’s a pretty full day on the bike and making it in before the sun goes down to avoid those critters that just seem to randomly get in your way and big constraint.
With the MINI, the constraints are far less. Gone is the need to be in before dark. We drive every day in our regular lives at night without even giving a deer strike any thought. Hit just one on the bike, the need for light is firmly in your mind. Gas stops are stretched out going for 325 miles versus 225 miles. The prep time to get off the bike (taking of gear, opening the trunk, insuring the stuff you leave behind is safe and secure) and getting back on the bike is eliminated. Rest stops are gone, you can drink fluids while riding even snooze a bit. The overall effect has to be a 20% in efficiency so that 11.5 hour trip is now 9.2 hours.

Is it less fulfilling riding the country side on the bike? That depends. If you have never traveled long distances on the bike, you don’t know what you are missing. The engagement with the environment, becoming one with the road is not there with a cage. Given that, if you have traveled extensively on the bike and the main objective of your trip is to explore places you have not been to then the cage works, especially if it is a vehicle like a MINI. What I did learn from our travels, is to stay off the beaten path and take in what there is to be seen. City travel becomes less tense than on the bike, roads that are going to shit in a hand basket are more doable, and maybe even worthy of an exploration. The bike gave me the Chase and I can apply the Chase to the MINI. 

Today we have breakfast at Foster’s Market in Durham. We are meeting Alan that moved from Mass for work and a riding buddy. He picked the place and it was a wonderful food start for the day. Foster’s in their words “ is a gourmet food market and cafĂ©, focusing on scratch made soups, salads, blah blah blah” Essentially they make everything they serve. It you are in the Durham area they are worthwhile visiting. The inside has the country laid back environment and is a great place to sit around, chew the fat or your meal and just catch up with friends.  Not sure how I didn't have a picture, but I don't.

Just south and a little west of Durham is Chapel Hill where the University of North Carolina is located. Old East is the first state university building in the US, built in 1973. It is a NHL, serving as a residence hall since its erection. Old East and Old Well (which I don’t have a pic of) have become symbols of UNC. 

Old East Building at the University of North Carolina

Old East Building at the University of North Carolina

Old East Building at the University of North Carolina

Right across the street is Playmakers Theater, also designated as a NHL. It was built in 1850. It has served as a lab, bath house and law school until it became a theater.  

Playmakers Theatre, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

The fountain, dedicated to  Christopher Fordham who was the Dean of the School of Medicine, sits right outside the Playmakers Theater.  

Fountain at North Carolina Univ

We did hit the Nash Cooper House, which is a tad underwhelming and boring, but it is a NHL One of the owners signed the Declaration of Independence, Cooper. It’s located in Hillsboro, NC.  

Nash-Hooper House

We hit Greensboro, NC right around noon to catch Blandwood Mansion. This place sits right smack dab in the middle of Greensboro and seems so out of place. It should be in the country someplace, I am sure at one time it was. Kind of like the Louisiana Mansions with the oil refineries sitting in the background. It was built in 1795, owned by the NC governor John Motley Morehead. It is believed to the oldest existing Italian Villa Style architecture in the US.  

Blandwood - Greensboro NC

As we move further west Winston-Salem is right in our path. Two stops are on the agenda and both are located on the same street. The Singles Brothers House. The house was built in 1769 to house the unmarried me for the Moravian Congregation. The Moravians are a Protestant sect who exiled form Saxony in 1722. 

Single Brothers' House - Winston-Salem NC

Down the street is the Salem Tavern. The original tavern was built in 1771, burned and then rebuilt in 1784 and served as a place for George Washington to stay in 1791. It was an important part of the Moravian's daily lives.

Salem Tavern - Winston-Salem NC

Salem Tavern - Winston-Salem NC
An Assist to get into a carriage, works for those trucks with the huge wheels too.

Salem Tavern - Winston-Salem NC
The Barn out Back
From Winston-Salem we passed thru Asheville, NC heading to ride the Cherohala Skyway, a National Scenic Byway covering 50 or so  miles of our last leg into Athens, TN. This has been a must ride for us tourer's on the motorcycle and if you are in the area take some time and ride along for the scenery even if you are in a car.

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Cherhala Skyway

Our travel for the day.

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