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Ride to 2018 Thunder in the Smokies Motorcycle Rally By: Donna & David Leemon- Argo, Alabama

Written by  May 22, 2018

David and I, along with our son, Matt and good friends, Brenda and Michael Strickland, left Argo, Alabama on May 3, 2018 heading to Maggie Valley, North Carolina to attend the 2018 Thunder in the Smokies Motorcycle Rally.  It was the perfect morning to be heading to the mountains.  Our first stop was at White Lightning Harley Davidson dealership in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  We always stop at as many of the local HD dealers as possible during our travels.  Leaving Chattanooga we headed north to Cleveland, Tennessee and on through the beautiful scenic winding roads along the Ocoee River.  This is one of my favorite rides and I always enjoy watching the groups of whitewater rafters along this stretch of road. Leaving Argo Alabama

 

Next we took a short side trip to Fields of the Wood in Cherokee County, North Carolina.  Fields of the Wood is a unique Bible themed park with the world's largest New Testament opened concrete Bible that is 30 feet tall and 50 feet wide.  The world’s largest replica of the Ten Commandment, written on a hillside with concrete letters 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide is an awe inspiring site. There is also a re-creation of Golgotha "the place of a skull", where Jesus was crucified and a re-creation of Jesus' tomb.  It is definitely worth a side trip if you are in the area. Field of the Woods

Another place we always try to stop when heading to the mountains is Rib Country in Murphy, North Carolina.  They have delicious barbeque and that day was no exception.Lunch at Rib Country

Leaving Murphy, NC we headed through the Nantahala Gorge which is another of my favorite motorcycle roads and then onto the Great Smoky Mountain Scenic Parkway to Cherokee and across the mountain to Maggie Valley.  It had been a beautiful and fun day of motorcycling.View along the Blue Ridge Parkway

After a good nights sleep we took a short walk to Country Vittles Family Style Restaurant where we had a delicious country breakfast.  After breakfast we decided to take a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway since rain was forecast for the following day.Country Vittles in Maggie Valley

As many times as we've ridden on the Blue Ridge Parkway, with it's sweeping curves and beautiful views , it never seems to get old.  After stopping at several scenic overlooks we stopped at the highest elevation on the Parkway at 6,053 feet, where we couldn't pass up a photo opportunity.Scenic Overlook

Twenty miles further north on the Blue Ridge Parkway is Pisgah Inn.  Pisgah Inn is a rustic mountain inn and restaurant right on the parkway.  If you have ever ridden on the Blue Ridge Parkway you know that there are very few restaurants right on the parkway.  The restaurant is first class with the most beautiful and breathtaking view.  Fortunately we were seated at a table next to the window and were able to enjoy the view throughout our meal.View on BRP

Leaving Pisgah Inn we headed south on the BRP for a few miles and then exited going toward Brevard, NC.  This is a very nice motorcycle road.  About 10 miles from the parkway is Looking Glass Falls.  This is a great place to stop as the falls can be viewed from the parking area.  Of course you can walk down to the base of the falls and dip your feet or entire body in the freezing water -if you like.Looking Glass Falls

We returned to Maggie Valley on County Highway 276.  There is about a 10 miles stretch along this road that is a close rival to the Tail of the Dragon.  There are lots of twisty, sharp curves with a few hairpin turns that are not for the novice rider.  Once in Maggie Valley we headed to the Thunder in the Smokies Rally to finish off another awesome day.Maggie Valley

In case you've never been to Maggie Valley, I will tell you that it is a small, quiet town surrounded by mountains.  There are no fast-food restaurants or large chain stores, only small, locally owned restaurants and shops.  It is a very peacefully and beautiful place to visit, even with the rumble of 400 plus motorcycles in town for a rally.Maggie Valley

On Saturday morning the skies were overcast and there was a good chance of rain and we decided to walk back down to Country Vittles for another delicious breakfast.  The rally site was within walking distance so we left the motorcycles at the hotel and walked to the rally.  We spent the day checking out the vendors, the beautiful motorcycles in the bike show, watching the bike games and drinking some awesome lemonade.Thunder in the Smokies Rally

Since our group aren't really party animals, we had dinner at a local sports grill, played a game of carpet golf and had ice cream at the Jelly Belly store.  Then we headed back to the hotel to pack and get rested up for the ride home.  By the way, it never rained.

Sunday morning we packed the bike and headed over the mountain to have breakfast in Cherokee, North Carolina.  The weather was nice leaving Maggie Valley but as soon as we started over the mountain, there was a thick fog that almost felt like rain and the temperature dropped drastically.  The visibility was about 20 feet. Fortunately it is only about a 30 minute drive across the mountain.Heading Home

When we left Cherokee we ran into patchy drizzle off and on for about an hour.  Then the sun came out and it was a beautiful ride back through the Nantahala Gorge, past the Ocoee River and on to Chattanooga, where traffic was terrible for a Sunday afternoon.  We stopped for a late lunch in Fort Payne, Alabama and arrived safely at home around 4:00.Ocoee River

It was another awesome, safe and enjoyable motorcycle trip, with awesome friends.  Now it's time to start planning our trip to Milwaukee for the Harley-Davidson 115th Anniversary celebration.   As soon as I get all the laundry done I will be ready to ride again.