Alright! Sorry I haven't updated everyone recently, but I have been just super swamped, and haven't really had a moment to sit down and type things out. So the trip is over, and went off (mostly) without a hitch. I had a blast, the bike generally ran great, and I really enjoyed and solidified a friendship with a buddy I hadn't gotten to see too much these past few years. Success all around.
We started off on Friday, May 31 in Franklin, NC. My buddy Josh met me at work, and we headed west, in direct opposition to the direction we would be riding the rest of the week.Nothing of note there, just about an hour and a half trek to the western tip of the state at the Tennessee line.
At the start of the trip, my odometer showed 28,553 miles.
Once in that area, we did hop off the bikes to check out the Tripoint of NC, GA, and TN. It's on a farm owned by A.D. Patterson, and he was gracious enough to let us hike through his property and find the marker.
Here's Mr. Patterson telling us about the various surveys that have been done on his property over the years, and how many times the line has moved.
Our first campsite was at the Occoee Whitewater Center, just about 5 minutes west of the state line, where we started the next morning.
Before turning in for the night, we did run over to Copperhill, TN, formerly the site of a massive copper mine that left the mountains stripped bare of trees, creeks so polluted with sulfur that no fish could live in it, and acid rain so bad that it killed all the crops in the area. It's been the subject of an EPA rebuilding project since the early 2000s when mining and chemical production ceased, and the area is recovering.
The next morning, we woke up, grabbed a quick granola bar and cowboy coffee, and hit the road. We started at the state line, and of course had to stop in front of the Distance to Manteo sign.
From there, it was a pretty quick smooth ride into Murphy, NC, but it took longer than normal since we detoured on many of the remaining side roads and "jug handles" left over from the original route of 64.
We went right through downtown Murphy and made some kids really happy by revving our bikes a bit. From there, we continued on East towards Hayesville. Just outside of Murphy, Current 64 diverges from Original 64, and our route took us along Brasstown Creek, and past Clay's Corner Store, world famous for the New Years Eve Possum Drop!
We heard a bit of Saturday morning pickin', then went kickstands up and headed on into Hayesville, NC. Just outside Hayesville, there is a vintage Volvo restoration shop that I like to stop in at when I pass through. This morning was a treat, there was a beautiful 123GT up on the lift for some finishing touches.
From Hayesville, we continued on east towards Franklin, and made our first little interesting detour onto an old section of 64 which runs beside a stream, and is now almost completely overgrown.
It was kinda surreal to stop here and take a break, with minivans and 18-wheelers screaming by on the new road about 1/8 mile away, and think about how different things must have been when 64 took this road.
Down into Franklin we went, the scenic route avoiding the current Windingstairs Pass route, and instead past Standing Indian campground and through the Cartoogechaye (Kar-too-guh-jay) community just west of Franklin. A quick dip through Franklin, and we headed towards Highlands, NC, up the Cullasaja (Kulla-say-juh) Gorge.
Before you make it to Highlands, you'll pass Bridal Veil Falls. The road under the falls used to be the only way around it, and while it's barricaded from cars, you can still get a bike behind it, so that's exactly what we did.
Really not too much happened the rest of Saturday, we just rode a lot. From Highlands, 64 passes through the town of Cashiers, then you're headed down the Eastern continental divide through Sapphire, Lake Toxaway, Rosman, and eventually Brevard, NC.
Just before Brevard, we stopped at Headwaters Outfitters for the first of several delicious BBQ lunches. While there, we were treated to a whale-tail 911, and shortly after, a really nicely restored Model T just trundling down the road, complete with original driver!
After leaving Brevard, we started our first major departure from Highway 64 as it's currently signed, turning left at Bat Cave, NC instead of right. We then took NC-9 up a bit, and picked up Old Fort Road for the trek over the ridge and back down to Old Fort. Again, we had several jug handles and gravel roads along this stretch of the trip, but we really didn't slow down too much since this is home turf for both of us and we can revisit it whenever we wanted.
Historic 64 loosely follows what is now signed as US-70 into Marion, NC, and that's basically where we wound up Saturday night, camping at Lake James State Park just north of town. Not really a way to sugarcoat this, but it's the worst campground I've ever been to! It's like they clear cut and graded for a subdivision and decided last minute to make it a campground instead. No decent sized trees, no shade, just weird.
Sunday morning, we were up with the sun and ready to get the hell out of that campgorund. We packed up before the heat set in and headed east through Marion, Nebo, Morganton, Valdese, and several other small towns. At Hildebran, we made a short detour south to check out the Henry River Mill Village, site of a successful cotton mill in the early 1900s, and later, a filming location for the Hunger Games movies.
After that, the rest of the day was a bit of a grind. It was the hottest day of the trip with temps in the upper 90s, but sitting a couple feet off baking blacktop, it felt like low 100s. The bike ran great though, and even sitting in traffic, never gave so much as a hint of overheating.
After a stop for a bite to eat around Mocksville, we decided to make a pretty significant detour down to the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, NC. I had a pass that gets me free admission, and we really needed some time to stretch our legs after being on hot bikes all day. About 30 minutes later after some nice flowing two lane roads, we arrived.
The NC Transportation Museum is pretty unique for a couple reasons, both the size of the facility, and the capabilities they have. The museum is mostly railroad-centric, but has a lot of displays and a large collection of cars, motorcycles, trucks, and airplanes as well. Being that it occupies the former roundhouse and shops of the Southern Railway (Now Norfolk Southern), the collection of rail equipment is extensive, and train rides are offered around the property.
It is also a working museum, and has a fully equipped restoration shop, and is one of a handful of facilities in the US that can still accomplish a complete overhaul and rebuild of a steam locomotive. This is the place where Norfolk and Western's J-Class #611 was restored twice, and many other operating steam locomotives owe their existence to the skill of the craftsmen who volunteer here.
Leaving the NCTM, we headed north back to our intended route, and continued eastward. Lexington, Asheboro, Ramseur, Siler City, and a dozen other unincorporated communities all faded into our rear view while our machines continued buzzing along, as content to be ridden on these roads as we were to ride them.
A brief stop in Siler City to pay our respects to Frances Bavier, known better as Aunt Bee from the Andy Griffith Show, and we went on towards our destination for that night, Jordan Lake State Park.
Jordan Lake was the polar opposite from Lake James. It was a beautiful shaded site right on the water, and a really nice place to spend the night.
We woke up the next morning at about 7, and were out of the campsite by 8. A stop by my buddy's aunt and uncle's house got us a great breakfast, and a tour of his 2002 and Karmann Ghia restoration
Knowing that the third day was going to be a grind, we said our goodbyes and headed out. A brief stop at the State Capitol for a photo was in order...
As we went farther east out of the Piedmont of the state, the curves and hills began to disappear and tun into cotton and soybean fields, wider views, and higher speeds. Coming into Nash County, I had found what looked like an abandoned bridge that used to be part of the route of 64, so we decided to break our "no dead ends" rule to go investigate.
The bridge was still there, and in good condition. We walked across it and took a couple pictures.
While on the bridge, we noticed an old building that turned out to be an abandoned mill, so of course we investigated and snapped photos. It was a really neat area, and provided another welcome rest on a hot day.
More small towns and off-the-beaten path detours swept by...Rocky Mount, Tarboro, Conetoe, and one one particularly straight section of old 64 outside of Williamston, I discovered just how quick the KZ1300 gets up to healthy triple-digit speeds.
Arriving in Williamston, the sun had already passed the halfway mark, and we were tired and hungry, but didn't want a big meal to weigh us down. Some ice cream and gallons of water did the trick, and we swung north to another sightseeing oddity, an inland ferry.
Before the NCDOT embarked on a bridge-building campaign in the 1920s, there were dozens of cable-drawn ferries used to cross the wide, flat rivers of the eastern part of the state. Today, only three remain. Sans Souci ferry on the Cashie River, Parker's Ferry on the Meherrin River, and Elwell Ferry on the Cape Fear River. All three of these inland ferries are guided by cables strung across the river that normally lay on the river bottom. As the ferry moves across the river, the cable naturally lifts from the bottom and rides through pulleys on the side of the barge, disappearing back into the river behind it.
Unfortunately, the water was too high for the ferry to operate, but we did at least go and check it out.
From there, we had to loop up to Windsor, and back down to Plymouth to rejoin the planned route. With the unexpected ferry closure, that added almost an extra hour and a bit of frustration. I caught myself getting grumpy for no particular reason pulling into Plymouth. A quick leg stretch and photo-op with the Roanoke River Lighthouse, and it was time for the final leg of the trip.
Pineridge, Roper, along the southern shore of the Albemarle Sound, past the Sound Bridge, and along the worst stretch of Old 64 of the old trip, a segmented concrete road that absolutely battered us at 55 while watching cars whiz by on new, 4-lane 64 just beside us. By the time we got to Columbia we were both frustrated and in pain.
As we turned onto Soundside Road, moods improved significantly. The sun was behind us, and golden hour was approaching. We rode the last 10 miles side-by-side on a two lane road, through a marsh without another car in sight.
And finally, at long last, we made it. The end of US-64 in NC as it existed in 1932. It's no more than a rotting boat dock and the ramshackle remains of a ferry terminal now, but think back to the 30s and 40s before the bridge. Before the highways, before the Outer Banks were easy to get to. What kind of people would be here? Farmers taking produce to the isolated communities of the banks. Doctors bringing medicine and expertise across the water. Adventerous tourists who had heard of an unspoiled beach holding onto the edge of the continent by a thread...what a place this must have been to be in that time.