Day 54 - Playing Tourist Around Asheville, The Biltmore Is Not For Us!


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Published: July 18th 2017
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Day 54 - Asheville to Wheels Through Time to Chimney Rock to Asheville


Today we are going nowhere. We have planned 3 nights in Asheville to try and recuperate from the last couple of days. The last time we were in Asheville was back in 1999 when we were first dating and we came up here for the Honda Hoot Motorcycle Rally before they moved it to Knoxville and ruined it. It's a beautiful area, with the Blue Ridge Parkway running just outside and mountains everywhere. Since we have 2 full days here, we decided to spend one day sightseeing in the area and one day visiting downtown. We had hoped to do the downtown thing today, but the museum we wanted to go to is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays so we had to change our plans. We had also planned on visiting the Biltmore Estate, but when we saw how much the tickets cost ($75 per Adult) we rethought that idea also. We had already seen the Biltmore back in 1999, and saw the Boldt Castle in the Thousand Islands for $9 and 5 mansions in Newport, RI for $35 on this trip already, so the thought of paying $75 each to see 1 mansion that we had already seen was just too much, so we decided to change that plan too.

After a quick breakfast at the hotel, it's time for a little museum wandering. After watching "What's In The Barn?" on the Velocity Channel, I always wanted to see the Wheels Through Time Museum featured on the show. It's only about 35 miles from here, so today seemed the perfect opportunity. It was a nice pleasant ride over, passing mostly between mountains and through a couple of quaint southern towns. In less than an hour, we pulled up at Wheels Through Time, and there were motorcycles all over the parking lot. Evidently we were not the only motorcycle rider who watch the show.

Most museums especially motorcycle museums tend to feature meticulously restored vehicles back to the original factory specifications. In fact, many are over-restored where the fit and finish is much better than it was when originally built. The Wheels Through Time Museum will never be accused of over-restoration. From watching the show, Dale Walksler, the owner, specialize more in leaving the bike in original condition but making sure it runs. The most interesting thing about Wheels Through Time is that it is not laid out like any other museum I have ever seen.

The inside of the museum has more of the feel of a huge barn, or motorcycle shop, or motorcycle graveyard, where bike are grouped together by genre and stored among miscellaneous spare parts. There are areas called the "Choppers Graveyard" where all the bikes are once popular, now defunct choppers. There was an area of homemade equipment where motorcycle engines, mostly Harley & Indian, were connected to various homemade farm equipment like roto-tillers, grass cutters, ice saws, etc. There were several motorcycle engine powered cars either race cars or children's cars. But the most important feature that was common across all the exhibits were that they were unique and rare. Many were old, one of a kind motorcycles, but there were a lot of racing motorcycles that were actual one of a kind racers, usually with a card explaining the history of the bike and how it was found.

There were a few staff members who wandered about telling stories about some of the bikes, some were one time Hollywood bikes, used in any number of movies. There was one bike that was a Harley - US Army bike that had some sort of cage arrangement attached to the back. We were trying to figure out what it was when the staff guy told us it was a pigeon carrying bike from WWI and the cage in the back was for carrier pigeons used during the war. There were also a few old cars including a fiberglass bodied 1949 Veritas that I had only ever seen in books. Needless to say, we thoroughly enjoyed Wheels Through Time, and of course we picked up some t-shirts.

Since we had done something indoors in the morning, we decided we wanted to do something outdoors in the afternoon, since Biltmore was out. We decided to visit Chimney Rock State Park that we had also visited back in 1999, but most of my recollection was vague. Unfortunately, where Wheels Through Time was about 35 miles southwest of Asheville, Chimney Rock was about 35 miles southeast of Asheville, so it took over an hour to get there. The ride over was smooth and pleasant until we got about 5 miles away, then it was a multiple switchback ride to the top and back down over the course of only a few miles. This was mostly second, third gear riding but it was enough to get the adrenaline flowing again. When we reached the gate of Chimney Rock, it was about a mile up a very narrow twisty road in not very good condition, with a 15 mph speed limit, with turns so sharp and steep, I had to downshift into first gear. It was really fun, and when we arrived at the ticket booth, they told us it was 2 more miles up a similar but steeper road to the parking lot. It was great fun!

Once we reached the parking lot, we remembered just how high up we were and how many steps there would be to the top. This should give us a great workout! There is normally an elevator between the lower and upper snack bar, but the elevator was broken so we had to follow the trail. The view from all the various vantage points on Chimney Rock were spectacular! The steps were a little steep, and I think it took Jody & I a little longer to make the climb than it did back in 1999 for some reason. But it was still a fun climb. While I still have a fear of heights, I was able to climb most of the initial paths. I made it up onto Chimney Rock itself, but navigating to the edge was just too much for me, so I handed the camera to Jody who has no problems with heights to take the remaining pictures.

The last section of Chimney Rock is a place called the Exclamation Point Trail which goes up another couple of hundred feet above Chimney Rock. By this time, I was done with the high places, so Jody went on to the Exclamation Point Trail and too some great pictures, while I hung out around the upper snack bar. When Jody returned we walked the remaining steps back to the lower snack bar and found a couple of great t-shirts. The 3 mile ride down the mountain to the Chimney Rock gate was a little easier than the ride up, but I was grateful we met very few cars coming the other way.

As we started our ride back up and over the mountain to Asheville, it began to drizzle. Soon it was raining a little harder, but as we looked ahead at the clouds we could see that the sun was really trying to come back out. By the time we reached the top of the mountain it had stopped. But we decided it was coming our way, and it would be a good idea to head back to the hotel. It was a good thing that we did, because as we pulled in the parking lot, we began to hear thunder and by the time we reached our room, the sky had opened up and it was pouring rain.

Luckily, it was only a passing shower, so when the rain stopped, we decided it was time for dinner. On our way to Wheels Through Time this morning, we had noticed a Mexican Restaurant about a mile up the road, and the reviews were excellent. The place was called Papa's and Beer, a strange name but the food was excellent! We have been looking at the map of downtown for tomorrow, and I think Jody as mapped out a strategy to attack downtown Asheville in the morning.

125.7 Miles Today

8663.1 Miles Total

5.710 Gallons Today

219.394 Gallons Total


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