Monday, June 23, 2008

All the road that's fit to ride...

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Atlanta for work, and then the following week I had to be in Abingdon, Va. For those of you who motorcycle, you probably know what turf is between Atlanta and western Virginia. For those of you who don't, it's quite seriously where angels would go to ride a motorcycle, if they had to choose something within the Continental US. Here's a graphic to make it clear:

You should notice two things about that picture. First, that no matter how you route yourself, you end up skirting or crossing Great Smoky Mountain National Park (green blob at map center); and second, you can't draw a straight line from Atlanta to Abingdon because the roads are all bendy. Given that the Smokies are round-ish green mountains with lovely vistas and moderate temperatures that are a human's best friend and that non-straight roads are a motorcycle's best friend, this is then teh perfect place to ride. Ask any angel you meet.

Really, I can't say enough about how fabulous and fun the ride was, IN GENERAL. However, our first day out was rainy, and I assure you that while our rainsuits kept us dry, there was no love lost on the clouds (aka: fog as thick and soft as cotton bolls) we stumbled through when we ATTEMPTED to ride up on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Notice, if you will, the fact that although this photograph was taken at a scenic overlook, there is no scenery to overlook. The background closely resembles a cotton boll. After a little bit of that, we gave up and visited Linville Falls instead. A very short and pleasant hike through easy territory yielded us this neat little vista point:
Rose liked the flowers along the way. They call these "Mountain Laurel" but they look nothing like the Mountain Laurel I know here in Texas, and most disappointingly, they don't smell like my Mountain Laurel. *le sigh* I guess the angels got busy arranging the roads and forgot to perfume the flowers. Then again, it could have been the cotton boll fog just absorbing the smells. We only hiked out to the first waterfall because we were in serious danger of gnawing
each other's arms off at that point. Dark was falling and we had yet to reach a town that would do for dinner and hotel as we'd been ambling along the Parkway and other back roads in South and North Carolina which are known for their scenery but not their plentiful commercial services. Probably because the two are generally mutually exclusive. At a rest stop on our way up to the Parkway Rose found a plant with leaves bigger than her own head. Given that we couldn't see much further away than 100 feet because of the rain and cotton bolls fog, this was a choice bit of scenery for that day. We decided to take a tip from Mad Maps and go for dinner at a place called the Coyote Kitchen. This was a serious leap of faith for me because I've eaten at enough Tex/Ari/Cali/New-Mex style southwest eateries actually located in the Southwestern United States that I'm pretty much a connoisseur by default at this point. I don't enjoy the misguided attempts of yankees trying to make Southwest-Mex food and getting it wrong. Frankly, if I think the place is going to bill itself as a Southwest-Mex eatery, I'm only going to eat there if it is:

  1. south of I-30
  2. if I see actual Hispanic people in the kitchen preparing the food* or
  3. it comes highly recommended.
Furthermore, the I-30 border is a stretch. I used to say I-20, but I found a good TexMex place in Fort Worth that's just south of I-30 so I moved it north just for them.

Blessedly, and under clause 3 above, the Coyote Kitchen was fantastic. They were veggie/vegan friendly, the staff were friendly and attentive and above all, everything tasted fantastic. They had a number of different Caribbean-style salsas, and while I only ate the Mango Lime and Cranberry Chipotle myself, I would say based on these two that all the salsa in there was good enough to feed the angels. Seriously, it was so good I bought the t-shirt. Now I can say, when hyping this place up to random strangers on the street, that I have Been There, Done That, and Bought the T-shirt.

We drifted off that night with happy tummies and thoughts of waterfalls dancing in our heads...
And we woke up the next day to glorious sunny skies and perfect riding weather. But that's for another post...

*Yes, I am aware this is a blatant racial stereotype. I'm willing to accept the potential consequences to my immortal soul so as to avoid eating things like burritos topped with marinara.

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