Posted by: mckenzie68 | June 30, 2010

A Dragon’s tale…June 28 or Day 71

As soon as I woke up I was nervous.  I had heard about so many crashes on the Dragon (US 129) that I had it in my head that I was going to be the next to get bitten!  But that’s what this trip is all about right?  Finding out what we’re made of and testing our metal…at least that’s what I was telling myself this morning.

We packed our bikes and headed out.  It was pretty early so we ended up taking a round about route to Fontana Village, but once there we rode right by…having decided to ride the Dragon fully loaded (the bikes, not us).  Ray had taken me through a couple of side roads with some curves to get me into focus, which I appreciated as my nerves would have done me in, straight off, had we just gone into the Dragon.

To get to the Dragon we rode a bit on US28 which is also known as the Hellbender.  Is that a cool name or what?  It’s not named that for its danger, but rather it’s named after a salamander that lives in the area.  The gas station at Fontana Village was also named Hellbender as it’s at the mouth of the road…but the council who oversees these things made the county remove the name saying it was “offensive”.  How goofy is that?  The little gas station is now the ‘Pit Stop’, but the road still retains its name – though not officially.  The US28 is known as the Moonshiner officially.

Anyway!  We road in, past the motel at Deals Gap and straight onto US129…the Dragon.  Ray was excellent and rode slowly for me to follow.  Although he will argue the point, I was trying to follow his line!  I am very proud to say that I did ride the thing, I didn’t crash and I even had fun riding it back.  That’s right, I went from white knuckle heading out to enjoying myself on the way back in.  Once the pictures are posted to, we’ll post them here….proof!  HA HA!

We did stop at Deals Gap to have a bite to eat (we were starving!) and chat with those who were there hanging out.  It was pretty cool – we met people from as far away as South Africa, who were there to ride.  Inside, at the Grill, there are t-shirts and things posted from all over of people who have ridden there.  One of the coolest things we saw was a plaque with a hand written letter and photograph of an Astronaut who rode his bike through the Dragon.  His comment was how riding US129 was cool, but the camaraderie he found at the Gap was really amazing.  I have to say, it was pretty awesome as people riding all sorts of bikes are just mixing and sharing ‘war stories’.

Eventually we found our way to Fontana Village where we booked in.  The gal who booked us in was lovely – she had worked for years at Disney and was only 6 weeks into her time at the Village.  She had some really interesting stories.  Our room was nice with a glass patio door looking out to the mountains (partially) and the pool.  The reason I mention this is because, as we sat relaxing in the room later that night, the sky opened and a huge rainstorm hit the hotel.  We popped out to watch the rain (our patio area is mostly covered) which let up quite quickly…then…the fireflies came out.  I’ve never seen a firefly before.  They are just, well, kinda magical.  It was mesmerizing.  I’m hoping they are out tomorrow too!

By the end I and Ray were totally exhausted so off to bed.  Tomorrow…Dragon day 2…will I be as lucky as today?  I sure hope so!



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