The Reunion Tour 2008 in Our Own Words
In the Early Morning Dawn, Sandies Ride;
5:55 in the morning traveling down hwy 47. The sun slowing picking thru the clouds, as a fog hovers just over the fresh-planted corn. Cool morning, bike humming, what a great morning to ride.
Smokehouse is just an hour away. About 55 minutes into the ride guess what, a phone call. My brother is at the wrong place. Yea he was late. Just back from a foreign country heading to another foreign country. That's right Alabama. I mean bless his heart, he don't know what a hen aig is. He doesn’t know what a hen aig is but it didn’t stop him from eating them. Eyes swollen, barely any sleep, but plenty of hunger. Brothers to the end, I mean I couldn't let him eat alone. Ordering another breakfast just seemed liked the right thing to do.
Off we go to Tennessee. Interstate the worst way to travel unless you’re in a hurry, and we were. Alot of road to travel. Finally hit the back roads in north Alabama.
Friday morning we headed to the Dragon. 318 turns in 11 miles what a ride. After some souvenirs, we hit the hellbender. Joejoe and the Mitchell headed off from the rest of the group. Not wanting to be left behind after I adjusted my camera, I took off after them. That's right I had a video camera. I passed George, Sam, and Jerry, I know George set aside so I could pass, I appreciate it and I headed for the leaders. Not long before Tina and I caught them. Joe on his Hyabusa, Mitchell on his BMW and me and Tina on the 1800. We flew right on by about 500 hundred feet did a front wheel stand and tape them coming head on. I have the tape to prove it. If the tape didn’t run out honest, that's the way it happened. I’ll send u the tape soon as I can. Until then just imagine it in your head and that's the way it happens.
The next day we went to the Reunion. Most of us dressed in motorcycle gear. All but George, no George dressed in FISHING PANTS. I know they were fishing pants because a youngster said, "hey George I like those fishing pants". It was great to see all the family and talk about old times. I know I was part of the family because I voted and donated. And the fact that Janet Moody was there. Long lost double third cousin on mother's side, maybe.
Editors Note: David is presently under a Doctors care for Mental Issues; please take his imaginary Journey accordingly. George does exist and is a very good rider, wearing real gear. Editor
The 2008 Sandie Reunion Tour
The 2008 Reunion Tour started just like most Sandie Road Tours, early ( O dark 30 o’clock) and right on time. The night was clear and cool, almost chilly for this time of year. We rapidly progressed up Hwy 85, P .J. Adams Rd, US 90, up Rte 189 through Andalusia to a new road for me, RT 107. Reaching Greenville for breakfast with an outstanding average of right near 60 mph.
Dave and Tina were waiting there and Chris M. caught up with us before we departed. Someone needs to talk to that boy; he should know that a BMW never arrives late. He must have thought he was still on a V-Rod and made a few gas stops.
One word about the café, they make the best “hub cap” sized biscuits you’ve ever seen, but don’t order a grilled ham & cheese sandwich. A grilled cheese runs $3.75, add the ham to it and it costs $8.50. Musta’ been a prize winning pig.
Another gas stop at Gadsden then on to Chattanooga, Tenn. After a total of 427 miles for the day... We stayed at the Main Stay Suites, very nice rooms with a completely equipped kitchen. Had a super supper at the Texas Roadhouse. They gave me two delicious pork chops so big that I had to bring one home for a midnight snack and still couldn’t finish it.
Almost forgot, Skwirrel and Steve G were just missed by an idiot driver who proceeded to wipe out another bike right in front of them. They stopped to help and luckily, the rider didn’t seem badly hurt. The car’s driver biggest concern was that he wouldn’t make it to a store before they closed. Left the next morning after a hotel breakfast for a bunch of “twisties”, ending at Deals Gap. It was as curvy as ever and crowded with all the GW’s from the annual Honda Hoot at Knoxville. There were quite a few State Police there also and they weren’t shy about chasing down anyone they felt were unsafe. After we stopped at the “Crossroads of Time” café on Deals Gat, we continued down Rte 28 known as the “Hellbender”. This is a great ride with wider, smoother roads with many “sweeper” type curves without all the traffic, cops, and crowds—highly recommended.
Leaving there, we went through many, many small villages connected by interesting roads until reaching Maggie Valley.
There we had the most confusing part of the ride with 3 or 4 people trying to decide where to eat with everyone else in the middle not on cob’s making 5 or 6 u-turns and a few stops before settling down at a great home-style cooking buffet. After lunch, we went to a museum with motorcycles of all ages and types. Our Road Boss did manage to get a 50% discount for all of us (after his shirt got him a 100% discount!). Even at full price it still would have been a good deal, the owner even did a burn out and high speed run on an antique bike down the aisles of the museum (although part of the bikes chain guard fell off). Leaving there, we proceeded to Elizabethton, Tenn(our destination) with a total of 720 miles in two days.
Arriving there was the most pleasant surprise of the trip. On a slight rise about 40 yards from the Watauga River was our home. They were called Bee Cliff Cabins and some were cabins, but our place was a fully equipped house with 3 bedrooms on the top floor, 2 bedrooms on the lower with 2 living rooms. 3 baths and 2 kitchens. We were met by Sam’s Mom, Dad and brother with his wife. There were 2 BBG’s stoked up for a great cookout.
The next day we rode the Snake/421. I believe this is more fun than the Dragon. In Shady Valley, there is a biker store/café/gathering place. Within 12 miles of the store, there are 489 curves. They have a sticker that says it all “Dragon Smagon, in the playground there be twisties”.
Highlite of the day was a reunion that included 4 or 5 generations of relatives and 9 traveling freeloaders with a table that must have been 50 feet long crammed full of some of the best home cooking and desserts you’ve ever seen. JoJo and I were in heaven. All the folks were the most open, friendly people I’ve ever met... When I was asked who I was by an attractive elder lady, I answered that “I was an out of state freeloader” she said “Freeloader or not, you still have to give me a hug.” A real sweetheart, she turned out to be Sam’s aunt.
We left he next morning (Sunday) traveling south mostly on twisties down through North Carolina almost to Georgia before heading west to Chattanooga. Other than an hour or two of on again/off again rain, it was a great run. Sam & George left us there as they had an appointment the next day. The rest of us ran south to Gadsden for fuel then everyone except Chris M. and I stopped nearby for the night. He and I pressed on getting to Prattville, Al about ½ hour before sunset. I was surprised to find even with the gas stops, two lane twisties and rain, we traveled 521 miles that day. After sleeping in and having a hotel breakfast, I left for home. After a small mishap in Georgiana, I made it into Niceville just before noon for a well-deserved foot long chili cheese dog and strawberry shake at DQ. All told, 41/2 days and 1623 miles of great riding, it doesn’t get much better than that.
Jerry G (The Comb)
A Skwirrel’s Journey
How to write about an absolutely fantastic trip to TN the Sandie way I can
only hope to do it justice through my description.
We gather in the o'dark thirty hours of the morn. Ride up toward the freeway via the backroads hooray! So much better! We stop at a nice place to eat called the Smokehouse. Meet up with the rest of the Sandies. Take a bit of freeway then we all head off to the backroads up Lookout Mint AL through Lookout Mint GA to Lookout Mint TN.
How cool is that!
Descend the mountain and onto the freeway where 24 and 75 sort of smish together...at 5 PM ewww. Since we all knew where the hotel was, we didn't have to keep together as usual. Plus, the cars wouldn't let you in the lane when you need to merge anyway. Im sure y’all know how it is.. blinker on until you think the battery would die.. as you use you eyes like a chameleon to look forward backward and sideways... get a slight opening to merge the bike into the lane some yahoo fills it in as your bike is almost half in the lane. Traffic comes to a sudden halt, but the yahoo who is cutting in line across the 3 lanes cuts right in front of a bike that happens to be coming up in the fast lane...on Steve's left. The idiot clips the biker's front tire and causes him to "lay her down". Here the miracles abound.
1..the car in back of the biker stopped on a dime and didn't run over him
2..no pieces of bike went into Steve's lane the would have compromised his riding
3..the rider was able to friggin' stand up afterwards!
Welcome to friggin' Chattanooga!
Later on Steve and I make it to the hotel and were able to resume the fun with the Sandies.
Next day we all head out to the Gap....Oh my gawd!!!!!! After living in FL for decades, the definition of "hills" is so much different than mine. Like a roller coaster ride, there's up and up then UUUUUPPPPPPPP!!!!! I swear I could hear the ominous sounds the coaster makes as it slowly rolls upward before it drops like a rock down the track. Here we go!
Can't scream ..too busy holding on! Heeding the advice I was given earlier..."don't daydream ,don't sightsee pay only attention to the road".. oh yeah and pay no mind to the tire marks and blood stains on that sharp curve. Go granny Go!
Make it all the way down and see the Sandies waiting.. smiling, congratulating. Woohoo! Into the shop to buy my red badges of courage! I swear I felt so full of...testosterone!!!!
A few things I learned afterwards...engine braking is a good thing and just because the picture of the Gap on a map is flat does not mean that it is! Was like doing Uturns on a hill. We did it and no one left anything for the Tree of Shame. A great ride!
We all go to the cabins.. so nicely set in a serene country setting. I loved it. Sam's kinfolk come in and we are treated to grilled supper and great company. Was so nice watching Sam and her brothers and parents having a good time visiting. They are some really great folks!!
The next day we all get led through another animal's body part. The Snake. Nice rolling curves. Everything is so pretty. We all go to the re union greeted by some really nice kinfolks. One cool dude there was attired in star shaped Elton John glasses and court jesters hat!
That night we are treated to George's culinary arts and some of Jerry's Capt Morgan.
Next morning it's time to say goodbye and head home. Wonderful place to be. Had a wonderful time with wonderful people. The route home was not a straight line.. and that's what makes it so much fun.
I have to say this...if it weren't for being in the Sandies club, I know I would have not seen or experienced as many things that we have seen. It's a blast and I’m so glad to be a member
Sharron (Skwirrel, Da Queen, et .al.)
The NOT ride
This is a biggest NOT ride I've ever been on.
First of all, I wanted to take my big touring bike, a Harley Electraglide Ultra Classic on this 1600-mile trip but noooooooooo, some person who will remain nameless says I just gotta take the Hayabusa Sportbike. So the first NOT is NOT riding the Harley Touring bike on the Reunion Tour. Then comes the next NOT. This is Summer, this is June, this is the hottest time of the year....NOT! We leave Fort Walton at NOT light out time and only about 63 degrees. Guess what? It drops to the 50's by the time we get to the Alabama line.
So when we stop (for my second breakfast of the day) at the Smoke House it is NOT dark anymore. Then we proceed to hit the road again it is NOT cold anymore. Somehow, it magically warms up to acceptable temperatures, the 80's NOT the 60's or 50's.
When we get to the motel that evening, it is NOT very far from the Steak House. So what's a hungry Sandie to do? NOT give up a chance to eat a steak dinner is what! That is when that nameless person drops the Sandie Coin at dinner and I did NOT have my coin on my person, it was NOT very far away in my jacket pocket in my hotel room!
The following morning we leave again almost before NOT light again. Next, stop Deal Gap! So there I am on a 160HP super-Sportbike ready to slay the Dragon, NOT. Seems the Tennessee Highway patrol had other ideas. The fourth curve into the DRAGON there are 4 police cars ready to escort anyone that needs it. So I end up massaging the Dragon instead of slaying it. Can you say "30MPH"? Stopping at the Gap store, we do some shopping for t-shirts and stuff. I took some photos of the Tree of Shame. Glad we did NOT leave any mementos on it!
We also took a bunch of pictures with the Sandollar Banner. Guess what? I did NOT forget to leave room in the photos so I could Photoshop us all in the same picture, including the photographer.
So after NOT eating any food at the GAP we head down the mountain. When we get down to the bottom, we did NOT see two of our group following us so we pulled over and waited for them. It was NOT a long wait and we had time to take more photos. Our next stop is the Wheels Through Time museum. That is one place you do NOT want to miss. If you wear your Sandollar Club patches and stuff, you may even get in free and NOT pay any entrance fee like George did. Seems the Museum is planning to move to Arizona in the NOT too distant future so don't wait too long to visit them.
After the museum, we headed through the hills to get to the cabin. Seems that when we got there the keys to the front door were NOT available. So jumping for joy our intrepid group danced on the front porch, NOT!
We did have a nice BBQ style cookout that evening and an empty belly was NOT found anywhere in the neighborhood. The following morning under a bright sunny sky, (NOT) we headed to the SNAKE, highway 421.
Had a good time following the Martin brothers (our intrepid guides) along parts of the Snake under an overcast and sometimes drizzly sky. I only had one problem. We were headed to a feast at the Martin reunion but riding the Snake was just too much fun, so I could NOT figure out which one I wanted to do more. We ended up fashionably late to the food but it seems that the meal was held up and we did NOT miss a thing! NOT a bad way to end a morning's ride. Again, NOT and empty belly was found in the neighborhood. I was NOT feeling very chipper after the feast (seems it was naptime) so I and a few others headed back to the cabin via the local Harley shop. When we got to the shop, we hung out for about an hour and then used Steve's wonderful GPS machine to get back to the cabin real quick, NOT! Seems his little GPS toy likes to take the scenic routes through some lovely trailer parks and such. So ends another great day, NOT! Seems we have to eat some more food before we call it a day. Can you say "NOT and empty belly was found in the neighborhood" again?
The following morning we start the day off by visiting the Watauga Dam just up the hill from the cabin. I'm glad we did NOT run into the two deer standing in the middle of the road on the way up to the dam. We NOT only took more pictures, we talked to some hikers and observed the beautiful scenery.
While riding down from the dam we did NOT forget to visit the little Church In The Wildwood and take some more pictures.
Then it was another short downward ride to the Martin estate to say our goodbyes to our hosts and of course, we did NOT forget to take more pictures.
We also did NOT forget to stop at the Huddle House for breakfast. Again, "NOT and empty belly was found in the neighborhood".
Heading back to the south
was NOT a bad ride either. We found some NOT so traveled and NOT so well
known roads with all kinds of nice twists and turns to enjoy. All in all
NOT a bad ride and I would NOT have missed this ride for anything.
UP AROUND THE BEND
(AND AROUND THE NEXT BEND AND THE NEXT AND THE NEXT--)
Why does George always make these trips sound so fun and simple? “Come
on”, he says, ‘join us on the reunion tour. It will be loads of
fun, lots of twisties, the Dragon’s Tail, the Snake, the Chameleons Tail,
the Dogs Leg, the Chickens Beak” and a few more I think he just made
up names for.
“A nice days ride, a good hotel to rest in, good company and then a short run to the Dragon’s Tail.” Sure, it sounded so simple and fun. And mostly it was. He also mentioned in passing “oh-it’s going to be hot so dress cool”. That last as an after thought I think. Or maybe more of a disclaimer. And then of course “did I mention we will be leaving really early? Like 5AM early?” Sure, now the truth starts to leak out. But being a Sandie, I’m up with Skwirrel at the appointed time at the appointed place with a big bunch of Sandies headed north to the first stop.
It was deliciously cool outside. A wonderful temperature to ride in. High 60’s to low 70’s for several hours. However, as we stopped for breakfast at the Smokehouse restaurant near I-65 (yes, fellow Sandies, this trip would include a lot of the dreaded and much avoided Interstate Highway System, a necessary evil for Sand Dollars when time is of the essence), it started to get a bit warm. Mitchell joined up at the Restaurant after an errant stop by him at the wrong Smokehouse. Filled up, rested and eager to ride, we went outside and found the temperatures had climbed to the low 80’s and was going higher. Nevertheless, we headed out through Montgomery, through Birmingham, and up past Gadsden. Off the super slab into the hills, some simply nice rides to start out.
As the Sandies got closer to Chattanooga, the roads got twistier. Is twistier a real word? Who cares, they got more twistier the closer we got because we were riding the spine of Lookout Mountain up through Georgia, Alabama, into Tennessee. Great roads. And only one Sandie really knew where we were. Can you guess which one? Sam? Nope, George? Not a clue, Me? Totally clueless as well. The answer will soon be revealed.
Climbing the rest of the way to the top of Lookout Mountain, we circled Point Park, the site of a Civil War battle known as the “battle above the clouds”. Up and down and around and around we went. The reason we were going in circles is because Skwirrel, the Queen herself, was leading us. Now you may ask just why she is in the lead instead of our intrepid director of directions, George. Because she was giving us the grand tour of her childhood home, that’s why. It seems she grew up on the mountain, looking down on her soon to be royal subjects in the unsuspecting town below. She was the only one who knew where she was for sure and what was around the next corner. Of course she ditched us soon and we had to send out a search party. Mitchell cornered her and we all got behind George again as we started to slide down the mountain. Just a note here folks. If you are not up on your hills skills, don’t even attempt this feat. Switchbacks, tight right and left hand turns, steep, and I mean STEEP, downhill all the way to the bottom. Lots of brake smells on the way down from our crowd and the other vehicles headed down too. Arriving at the foot of the mountain, we gassed up and off onto the Super Slab we went on the way to the motel.
As Skwirrel and I were held up by a bit of traffic, we got on late. The others were about a half mile ahead and traffic was horrendous on this road. If you don’t have to go through this town (Chattanooga) during rush hour, then please go around it. A silver Toyota pickup comes off the On-ramp, barely misses Skwirrels rear tire, I brake hard to miss him and he continues on to the next lane. Thirty seconds later another biker on a 02 VStar passes me. Just in time to get taken out by the pickup changing lanes. The VStar tumbles, the rider tumbles, Skwirrel goes to the right shoulder and stops, I hit the brakes, cut into the left shoulder and prepare to pickup the pieces.
Surprisingly, the guy on the bike sits up and then stands before I get to him. He’s mad and takes off his beanie style helmet. There’s a chunk out of the top of the helmet by the way. He has a t-shirt, jeans and leather vest on. No gloves or heavy boots. He has a couple of minor abrasions on his elbows and otherwise seems ok. He had also bounced off a small red import car that, fortunately, stopped just before it ran over him. Traffic is blocked; Skwirrel is chasing down the pickup, which incidentally, had also stopped on her side of the road. The guy in the pickup tells her “well, the store closes in 15 minutes” and “I guess this means points on my license”. No Sh#@#6t Sherlock. He sits and waits for the cops at least. Once the cops and ambulance, etc get there, the statements are all taken the bike is awaiting a trailer and off we go to join the others at the motel. Traffic is still horrendous and now we are especially vigilant.
The hotel is a refreshing break for the evening as we relax. George was right, good company was there. All the Sandies who headed up that way and Dr Cycle Therapist, Terry C his own self, with his wife, were there also. Off to dinner, a nice steak, and a few libations for those desiring such and lots of fun. Returning to the hotel, Skwirrel meets some old friends (did I mention she grew up there?) and off to the steakhouse they go again for some further libations. More fun to be had by all. I went to bed exhausted.
And that was just the first of the five day trip.
The second day we got underway and up the Super Slab we went again. Soon we were off the big concrete ribbon and onto the smaller, twistier, more fun, asphalt sections in the state. Suddenly we were upon it. The Dragon. Skwirrel took her time, handled the curves very well, albeit slower than most. Head turns, braking and entering curves all went well. Being way behind, we stopped for a breather near the top, talked to a few folks and took a few pics. Soon we were passing the area where they stand and take pictures of everyone passing by. We also noted several police type vehicles standing around. Seems that every time a group of bikes came by that looked like they could go fast, the LEO’s took off and followed them. Did I mention the speed limit on the Dragon is now 30mph? Did I mention they have already had more fatalities on this road so far this year than all of last year together? Seems they are doing their best to limit the squids from committing suicide. Not to mention the cruiser riders who think they can keep up with the Busa’s and ZX14’s. Safety was the word of the day for Sandies. Only one Sandie had anything close to a close shave. But I won’t mention Dave M’s name here.
At the bottom of the hill shopping was the order of the day as the lady Sandies hit the store for appropriate souvenirs. And trust me on this folks, there were plenty of things to buy to remember ones trip. Decision’s Decisions decisions. Skwirrel and the others, some of the guys too, got the loot and off we went. More awesome roads as we headed to the Wheels Through Time Museum. You just know you are in a classy place when you see a 12 foot high chopper (that runs) sitting outside. Inside, George bribes the owner with a Sandie coin. It works; we all get in half price. Once inside the owner walks over to a Crocker, fires it up in three kicks, rides it around the inside of the museum and then does a burnout half the length of the building. Like George said. “I guess if you own the place you can do that.” Indeed, several times throughout the time there, bikes were started up. Bikes older than even me. Or George. And even a couple older than Jerry. Outstanding exhibits everywhere. Not enough time to really appreciate it but perhaps some other day when we are not in a hurry to get where we are going.
Speaking of where we were going, we arrived at the lodge soon after. Beautiful place, on a hill overlooking a river with trout fisherman wading, a nice twisty road going further up the hill overlooking Lake Wautauga and a beautiful view! It just doesn’t get any better than that folks. A big delicious cookout and to bed we all go. No, not to just one bed. Quit thinking like that! Shame on you!
Rested and ready we head out the next day for a ride through the hills guided by Sam’s brothers. They are really good guides and we hit the road named the “Snake”. It was a fun road, not as challenging as the Dragon and not as tight in the turns. No problem, Skwirrel had lots more fun on this road. Not because of any lack on her part but it just wasn’t as intense as the road the day before. All of us enjoyed the ride and mid day we attended Sam’s family reunion, hence the name of the ride being the “Reunion Tour”. Some fine folks and fine fried chicken was there. We enjoyed the day and the food and the folks. I’ve got to say, Sam’s family was very friendly to a bunch of bikers in off the road. Thank them all for us Sam.
Back to the motel for some of us while some others went to see the “Blue Hole”. I have no idea what it looks like because even though pictures were shown, none of them resembled a blue hole in anything. Maybe someone has an actual picture of it they are hoarding?
Sunday we all packed up and headed towards Chattanooga again. Once again we encountered some very enjoyable roads on the way. Even the mountain road with gravel on every turn was fun. But the fun was cut a bit short as rain moved in. After a rest at a truck stop we headed out on the super slab again for awhile. Soon though, we were hitting the more local roads. Not twisties per se, but fun and scenic nonetheless. As we neared Chattanooga, Skwirrel, myself, JoeJoe, Mitchell and Jerry decided we did not want to face the heavy Monday morning rush hour of Chattanooga. We continued on another hour past there and found a Holiday Inn Express to hole up in. Jerry and Mitchell kept on the road and I hear they made it to Prattville that evening. The rest of us had a nice supper and headed out the next morning. We averaged 75mph headed down the Interstate towards home, stopping for gas and once to eat at the same Smokehouse restaurant we stopped at on the way up. Refreshed and refilled we hit the road to the house. Only two hours away, we took our time and arrived back home around 4pm. The pets were all still alive, some minor indiscretions by the kids while we were gone and most of all, we rested in our own beds.
There’s no place like home, no matter how enjoyable the trip.
Can’t wait till the next one!
My Journey Of Re-Discovery
I will let Jerry G and Steven G gives you the day to day, I was there stuff. For me this trip was all about a renewal, a back to why I love Motorcycling. In this time of change, it was nice to rediscover the joy of riding with friends on sweeping roads, topping a hill and the next valley is spread out in front of you and the road you’re following flows downhill and disappears into the trees. Riding with Sandies that had never been to East Tennessee helped make this renewal happen, the excitement was infectious. No matter how bad the traffic in Cherokee, no matter how many U-turns in Maggie Valley (9), everyone just had fun. Even the people you ride with add to the whole timber of the Road. Well, the Mitchell and the Duck added to the level of fun. The people you meet along the way if they ride a Motorcycle, you have an instant bond. It was all about watching Sam with her family and watching them interact with the Sandies. Like The Duck voting on Martin family business since he did contribute money to next years family reunion. The time one of the more eccentric Aunts wanted to know what side of the family he was from and he remarked to the effect “he was here from Florida to eat the free Lunch and she remarked that she hoped he had enough to eat. It was watching The Sandies roaming around The Wheels in Time Museum and they really understood the significance of the exhibits. It was listening to the conversations around a meal table and how everything revolved around those motorcycles outside and the journey still to come . It was watching the expression on JoeJoe’s face when he realized that he had left his Sandie coin at the Hotel. It was Skwirrel’s smile when she pulled into the Store at Deals Gap after running the Dragon. This was a Journey for me, it helped me rediscover what I had come to love about Motorcycling: The Roads, The Friends, The adventure and how that adventure is as close as 5 miles or 350 miles away.
The reunion tour 2008.
I rode, I saw, I liked
Good bike, good friends (ok riding acquaintances), and good roads
Sore butt, sore legs, sore brain
and one Alabama ticket for "not doing a good enough stop"
Last revised: August 5, 2008
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