Today is our first train ride on this trip. I'm not sure whether it is because I'm a retired engineer (not THAT kind of engineer), or because my dad was always into trains, but I have always just loved trains. This train is called the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, and it is less than 50 miles from Helen, GA on the way to Chattanooga tonight. Since the train doesn't leave until 11:00, there was no real rush to get started this morning, but nevertheless, it's too hard to sleep in really late. So we had a quick breakfast and got under way at about 7:30. The first 20 miles getting out of Helen was just awesome! Twists and turns and ups and downs, I was in 4th gear most of the time between 30mph and 40mph. That sure gets the adrenaline going first thing in the morning! The remaining 30 miles to Blue Ridge were typical mountain roads, the scenery was beautiful and the riding was great.
We arrived in Blue Ridge at 8:55 and everything was closed. But by the time we parked the bike, and stored everything away, it was 9:00 and life was beginning to stir. The
train station opened up and we were able to get tickets for the open car. As a veteran we were even able to get a military discount! All the other shops were closed and since it was 9:00 and the train doesn't start boarding until 10:15 we went exploring in the town in search of coffee. We looked in the windows of the closed shops and by the time we circled back around town we found the only open coffee shop. The coffee was great and really hit the spot. By now it was getting closer to 10:00 and the gift shop had opened, so it was time to pick up a t-shirt for me. No good women's t-shirts for Jody. We dropped the t-shirt back at the bike and headed to the train for boarding.
We arrived early enough to get our choice of seats, with most of the scenery to the right side of the train, we picked great seats in the center of the car facing east. The train got underway at 11:15, a few minutes late and headed out on the 1 hour ride from Blue Ridge, GA to the combined towns of McCaysville, GA
and Copperhill, TN. The train follows the Toccoa river, and there were plenty of people either fly fishing, tubing or kayaking. The scenery was beautiful, and the train ride was smooth and comfortable. By the time we arrived in McCaysville, it was 12:15 and we were getting a little hungry for lunch. So we headed out to visit a few of the shops, Jody always likes to go to the rock shops to look for stones for her jewelry. She managed to find a few that she liked, at least stones don't take up much room on the bike. We also stopped at McCaysville Drug and Gun. This is a combination Drug Store and Gun Store, so I had to get the t-shirt that says " McCaysville Drug and Gun - Pistols or Prozac - Dispensing Happiness".
We were trying to pick out somewhere for lunch, and I remembered the conductor recommending the Copper Grill, and sure enough when we got there, several of the crew were eating. Jody had the chicken sandwich and I had the Philly cheese steak and both were delicious. I expected the cheese steak to be that shaved Steak-um stuff, but it was more
like steak tips, and it was REALLY tender. Best cheese steak I ever had! Jody said her chicken was awesome too! On the way back to the train from lunch, we stopped at some biker jewelry shop. They didn't have anything really interesting, but we were talking to the owner and it turns out she is from Daytona Beach - graduated from Seabreeze High School in Daytona. It's a small world!
The train ride back was relaxing, we sat on facing the other side on the way back, so the view wasn't as nice, so we just sat back and relaxed and enjoyed the motion of the train. On the way back, there were small bursts of rain, and we were hoping to get back before it began raining very hard. I needed to add air to the rear tire, and I was hoping to do that before the sky opened up. Sure enough, it stayed dry long enough for us to fill up the air, load up the bike and go. We put on our rain-suits, both as a precaution and as a talisman against the rain. It looked inevitable and the sky was clouding up and getting
darker. Its only 88 miles to our hotel in Chattanooga, about a 2 hour ride. We managed only a few drops in the first half hour and it was looking pretty clear until we were about 30 minutes out of Chattanooga. Then the sky opened up, and we kept riding. The rain-suits work very well at keeping us dry, and my new windshield since the last trip sheds water better than the old one. It only rained for about 10 minutes and then the sky cleared up enough for us to get to the hotel. We're staying at the Hampton Inn in downtown Chattanooga (another Maureen special - thanks!) and the hotel is really nice. There is underground covered parking, so we don't care how much it rains tonight as long as it clears up tomorrow. And, of course they have coffee and white chocolate macadamia nut cookies!
For dinner, we looked for something within walking distance, and settled on an Italian place across from the hotel, but when we got there, it was closed on Mondays, so we looked around and found a barbecue place next door called Sticky Fingers. Ribs and pulled pork for me and a
half-chicken for Jody - by the time we were done, we were stuffed! So we headed back to the room, for me to write the blog and Jody to do the laundry. She likes to do laundry in the nicer hotels as the equipment is better and more likely to work. The plan for tomorrow is to head over to the Honda dealer first thing in the morning as they are only 5 miles away. Hopefully we can get our tire problems resolved quickly and get on with our tourist stuff in Chattanooga.
150.1 Miles Today
900.1 Miles Total
4.287 Gallons Today
23.184 Gallons Total
Tot: 1.547s; Tpl: 0.027s; cc: 15; qc: 59; dbt: 0.034s; 1; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb