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by Phil Sikora "It was the best of trips..."
By James Allen
Posted: 2022-10-27T15:22:00Z

It was the best of trips; it was the worst of trips. I often think that without that contrast, things blend into very little contrast, and become unrecognizable in the end. 

This was a must-do trip for me for a number of reasons. I’ve intended to partake of a few events lately and circumstances and procrastination has gotten the better of me. The Iron Horse even was NOT to be missed! 

We’ll need to skip around a bit in time to keep to the structure of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly but it’ll be easy to piece it together.

The Good. I made it. ‘nuff said. 

I know that the quote that life happens while you’re busy making other plans has been, of late, attributed to John Lennon, I did see a reference dating back to 1912, but I could not find it again. IAE, that’s been the story of my life. Skipping the details, my intention was to leave on the Wednesday before the event, make a necessary m/c-related stop in Milledgeville, and continue to Iron Horse. After two presentations the night before to our quarterly HOA meeting, I started packing the morning of departure. I don’t function well that way and leaving three hours later than needed/expected was not a surprise, necessitating a night in Commerce, GA before continuing to Stecoah Valley, NC. 

The ride on Wednesday was pleasant. The odometer registered 124K miles on my ’94 R1100RS. 

 The KOA was pleasant if not chilly. And I believe the only other tent was the occupant’s full-time home. That’s kinda rough.

The first relaxing breath after arriving at Iron Horse and setting up camp is always rejuvenating. A lone leaf fell on my favorite camping chair to mark the official start of a great time. The spot next to the water was appreciated, as well. 

Wanting to get some riding in on a short trip, I headed towards Robbinsville proper and headed east on 129. Lots of nice vistas along the gentle route including a damn.

Although I’ve been to two monthly meetings lately, I only recognize two or so people from the club. It was a pleasant surprise that after talking to Chip and Dave the next morning concerning the benefits and detriments of a good cup of coffee, that they were club members. 

Bill P. and I decided to take a leisurely approach to setting off for the day and he artfully led this almost-newbie in and around the mountains. While doing the Dragon on a Friday was not originally in our plans, apparently all roads lead there as we ended up at the start and decided to give it a try. It’s been over ten years since my first traversing of that route, and this time was just as great. A few other road-sharers moved over for us and it was a great workout. The Foothills Parkway right after that was a nice diversion. 

The Bad.

I really wanted to try out using our Magellan RV GPS on this trip, but I couldn’t find the BMW plug-to-lighter socket conversion adaptor I made. That left me with my phone under the sorta clear map cover on my tank bag. It’s hard to see in direct sunlight. Even generating a shadow is barely readable. 

As mentioned earlier, leaving three hours later on Wednesday put me in a bit of a mood – at least until the tires started turning and it was ok. 

And did that cold snap really have to arrive for this weekend?!!! What was worse was that even though I have a ton of electrically-heated gear, it somehow never entered my mind to take it on this trip. In my defense, I did see reports of daytime temps of 70 degrees. Yeah, I’m an idiot.

Since our move from NY to GA two years ago, I have not found my winter mummy bag. I did find half of a sleeping bag I made in ’73 based on materials I found in the Last Whole Earth Catalogue and sourced in the NYC garment district. Longer story there. It worked superbly. 

The Ugly. My heated grips didn’t work. That coupled with no electric gloves brought much discomfort leaving the KOA in Commerce on Thursday morning. I left at 8:30, after repeated trips to the men’s room to unthaw my fingers (the fun of packing metal tent poles in near-freezing temps is overrated), I could only make it to 10:00 and Franklin, NC where Shoney’s was my guardian angel. I think I saw a shift change as I worshipped multiple cups of coffee.

Not to be upstaged, both my alleged self-inflating sleeping pad and pillow decided to breathe its last breath as soon as I laid down on it. That finally did me in and I left Saturday instead of Sunday. 

On reflection, it was fun while I was there and fun thinking about and writing about it now. It was really good to get with the club. I miss that. And just that brotherhood of people doing the same thing they like was rewarding, as exhibited by any number of random conversations with other riders around the fire pit. Very cool. (And sometimes very cold.) I rate it   .


Did these things have heat? I’ve never seen glamping in person. 

by Phil Sikora

P.O. Box 9857
Fleming Island, FL 32006-0035