Monday, September 14, 2009

Coalwood and Beyond

I have been totally ignoring this blog ever since creating it last March and doing the Bikeweek post. I got busy with the cottage renovation (see Penny's food blog for photos and details ) and really didn't ride much all summer. The goal was to have two more bedrooms and a guest bath done by Labor Day weekend for a vi st by family and friends. I completed the final detail work with a day to spare so I also had time to get the boats cleaned up and ready for the weekend. I am now relaxing and riding again.

Long standing plans called for a two-week ride westward to the Grand Canyon and other national parks in AZ and UT with my riding buddies, Diamond Jim McMillan and Ronald Pitstop Pittman. But best laid plans often go astray. Ron's eighty something mom fell and hit her head which led to brain hemorrhaging and the ICU for a couple of weeks. She was moved to a rehab facility two days ago, and is hopefully out of the woods, but nothing is for sure. Needless to say, Ron isn't in a position to ride out west for two weeks. Being the nice guys that we are, Jim and I agreed not to leave Ron and go west on our own, but rather to stick closer to home to be within a day's ride of Johnson City, TN in case she takes a turn for the worse. It's not much of a sacrifice in-as-much-as we have some of the best riding roads in the country right here in our own back yards.

Jim had already said that he couldn't leave on Saturday because he was throwing a surprise party for wife Barbara's 60th birthday. Here she is with her big red birthday present. Nobody ever gave me one of those for my birthday.

I rode from Lake Lure in western NC to Jim and Barbara's Richlands, VA home in southwestern VA on Saturday for the birthday party while my bride drove her car so she could go back home on Sunday. Jim and I rode all day Sunday but covered less than 200 miles because it is hard to average more than 30 mph on the mountainous back roads around here. Since we won't be going to the Grand Canyon, we visited Breaks Interstate Park instead. The park straddles the VA and KY border 8 miles north of Haysi, VA.

Here's why they call it the Grand Canyon of the South.

Jim also took me on a tour of his ancestral home in Coalwood, WV.

Coalwood, made famous in the book Rocket Boys and the movie October Sky, based on the book, was the home (above) of Jim's grandfather who worked as a machinist in the coal mines. Jim spent many a carefree summer day playing in the hills above the house and in the stream directly behind it which would sometimes run yellow from some unknown substance, and at other times would run black with runoff from the slate dumps. That explains a lot about Jim's current behavior.

We returned to Richlands for another of Barbara's fantastic home-cooked meals....this one included pinto beans, mashed potatoes, corn bread, fresh tomatoes from the garden, and her mom's pickled tomatoes, onions, and banana peppers. Birthday cake for desert of course. I gained another pound.

Tomorrow's plan....ride. We are to rendezvous with Ron at The Country Store in Shady Valley, TN at the intersection of highways US 421 and 91 in extreme northeast Tennessee. This section of US 421 is commonly referred to among motorcyclists as "The Snake".

No comments:

Post a Comment