Honeymoon on a Harley
We decided that since we were both in our late 30’s and had already had traditional weddings that we would just quietly sneak off and get married. We decided that we would get married in the mountains and then ride the Blue Ridge Parkway end to end for a honeymoon. I started looking on-line for wedding chapels in Tennessee and North Carolina as well as the legal requirements for each state. We decided to go with NC since there was no wait time and it is easy to get onto the Blue Ridge Parkway from Maggie Valley. I called Caroline’s Wedding Chapel and set the date and time. The photos we have seen on-line of the chapel were beautiful, the gazebo where the ceremony was to take place was right in front of a waterfall with a mountain behind it.
We were all excited about getting up there. The ceremony was to take place at 3:00pm on a Thursday. On Wednesday night, I cleaned the Harley while the wife to be packed our bag. On Thursday morning about 11, we bungied the bag onto the Sporty and hit the road. For those of you who don’t know, the Sportster is the smallest Harley. I am 6’ 220lb and my wife is 5’6”. In other words, we definitely filled every inch of that bike. The first eighty or so miles of the trip were fine. I pulled into a gas station and turned off the engine and for some reason, the starter motor was running. I turned the key to the off position and then back on and the starter motor started running again. What was happening to my bike was the equivalent a car driver putting his key into the ignition and then it trying to start even when the key is not turned. To make matters worse, even with the engine running, the starter motor was still cranking. By this time it was a bit past noon. Less then 3 hours to the ceremony and we are sitting in North Georgia in the middle of nowhere with a broken Sportster. The strange thing about this is that we both somehow knew that this was not going to stop us. There was absolutely no panic by either of us. Now some people and most bikers are good with tools, other people, like me should not be allowed anywhere near them. Anyhow, I did have a tool pouch because the Sporty has pulled other stunts in the past. I was able to determine that the problem was with the starter button. There was moisture in the switch so it was sticking in the on position. I let the switch dry out and put it back together and we were back on the road.
We made it up to Caroline’s by 2:30 after a brief stop at the county courthouse to pick up the license. We did have a hard time finding Caroline’s; we were looking for a mountain, a waterfall, woods etc. But as you know, things are not always as they appear. Caroline’s was in a parking lot on the side of a 4 lane road. The waterfall was a 10’ hill with a man made waterfall like you would see in someone’s backyard. I do not want to give you all a totally bad impression of the place. Caroline did take good care of us and took beautiful pictures. From looking at the pictures, you would never know that it was all artificial. Well, we were legally married by 4:00.
Now it’s time to start on our honeymoon. We jumped onto the Blue Ridge Parkway from Maggie Valley and headed north. For those of you who are unaware, the Parkway is a 500 mile long national park. The south end of the parkway meets up with the Great Smoky Mountains National park in Gatlinburg, TN. The northern end of the parkway meets up with Skyline drive in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. After riding for a little while, we came upon a trail that leads to a waterfall. We parked the bike and walked down the trail about 1/4th mile. After climbing over some rocks and going up another trail, I arrived at the top. Well, between all the coffee I drank and the sound of the rushing water, I had to empty the bladder. So here I am standing on the top of a waterfall peeing when all of a sudden an elderly man appears at the base of the falls. As you can imagine, I was extremely embarrassed. The man was trying to pretend he did not notice but he could not stop laughing. I would not have mentioned this except for the fact that throughout the day at various rest stops etc, we saw the guy about 5 more times and he laughed at me each time. We rode the first day until early evening and found ourselves on the NC / VA line in a little town called Hillsville. We got a Jacuzzi suite and a local hotel and settled in for the night. The next day we took off and headed up the parkway. We stopped at Mt. Mitchell which offers a great view of the mountains. By early evening we made it to the end of the parkway. My wife went into our bag to find something and noticed that some of her stuff was missing. All of a sudden I had a feeling of panic. We opened the bag and found that some of her clothes were missing but more importantly, my motorcycle club colors were missing. If you are in a motorcycle club, loosing your colors is a cardinal sin. I went into full blown panic mode at this point. After numerous attempts to contact the hotel we stayed at the night before, we finally got through. The manager on duty assured us that they had my colors and some of my wife’s clothing. I relaxed a little bit and told my wife that we were going to have to ride most of the way back to Hillsville so I could get my colors as early as possible the next day. Luckily she is used to the motorcycle club stuff so she did not complain about the fact that we rode till 11:00pm to get close to Hillsville.
We got up early the next morning and noticed that the sky was gray. With rain threatening, we took off south down the parkway and made it back to the hotel from the 1st night. We retrieved my colors and about ½ of my wife’s missing clothes. Next to the hotel was the “Mayberry Restaurant” I thought it would be a good idea to eat with Andy and Barney so we headed over there. I do not know how that place stays in business but we left after sitting there for 10 minutes without being noticed by any of the staff. We decided that instead of taking the parkway all the way home; we would go a different route. Highway 221 runs almost parallel to the parkway through southern VA and NC. It is a beautiful road with a lot of pretty farmland in the hills as well as great curvy mountain riding. We stopped at Lineville caverns to do the tour there. That is a pretty nice place to see. We continued down 221 until we got to Lake Lure NC. Lake Lure is a resort area about ½ hour outside of Asheville, NC. I have already decided that I want to retire in this area. It is unbelievable. Apparently there was a very large wedding going on so we could not stay at our favorite hotel which is the historic Lake Lure Inn.. Almost every place was booked but we finally found a German B&B, the Salzburg Gausthaus. We paid about $100 for a private cottage in the property. In the morning the owner, prepared a German egg breakfast which was fantastic.
After checking out of the Gausthaus, we decided to see Chimney Rock. This is the place where they filmed the mountain / cliff scenes in “Last of the Mohicans”. Chimney Rock is something that everyone should experience at least once. After Chimney Rock,, we headed up highway 68 back to Asheville to pick up the Blue Ridge Parkway again. At this point, we were only about 4 hours from the house but we wanted to stay on the road for a bit so we rode the parkway to the very end. We then rode through the Smokey Mountain National Park and ended up near Knoxville. From Knoxville, we headed back to Cherokee, NC and headed south back to Ga.
We survived our honeymoon and are celebrating our first anniversary in a few weeks with a cruise to the Bahamas. Since the trip, I also have sold the Sportster and bought a Wideglide.