Chapter FL1-M visits Virginia's "Rally In the Valley"
Eleven members of our chapter left on Tuesday October third from Clearwater for our visitation to "Rally In the Valley" in Salem, Virginia, which is just outside of Roanoke, Virginia.
Our ride took us north up I-75 to the Florida-Georgia border where we then took to the country backroads for less hectic driving conditions and some enjoyable farmland scenery. Our first nights stopover was in Douglas, Georgia where one of our members friends had just relocated his aviation restoration facility from Kissimmee to this area and is now in the process of restoring vintage W.W.II aircraft. We were fortunate to see a Curtis P-40 that was in the final stages of being completed. Also were two SNJ/Texans/Harvard's, and a B-17 that was just starting a 10 year restoration. Tom Reilly's restored B-25, "Killer B" and a Douglas DC-4 were also on site for our viewing.
Jerry really enjoyed eating at the local oriental restaurant in Douglas. This shot should be good for the sloppy pin award
The second day of our trip consisted of many miles on the rural backroads of Georgia, South and North Carolina. The lack of rain in the areas that we rode was quite evident. The streams were dry and the rivers were barely a trickle. Those crops that were growing were being irrigated by enormous irrigation pumps and sprinklers. There was mile after mile of cotton fields. As the afternoon turned into evening we passed up through the heart of NASCAR country in the area of Charlotte, North Carolina. Our final destination that day was Mount Aire, NC. It turned into a twelve hour riding day.
Isn't that Rich's bike on the side of the road? What's he doing in the woods?
Our third day was very pleasurable. We had less than one hundred miles to the rally and only the Blue Ridge Parkway to ride. The sky was clear and the temperature mild. We were fortunate in that we practically had this beautiful stretch of roadway to ourselves. The leaves were just starting to change into their beautiful autumn colors. There was very little haze and the scenery was magnificent. As were glided around the mountain roads and the rolling hills we were awed by what mother nature was showing us. Out across the farmlands were numerous hay bails that were scattered throughout the pastures, as were many pumpkins that were still in the pumpkin patches.
After a few hours of riding we stopped at Mabry Mill, a grits mill, restaurant and souvenir shop. The mill was in operation and we also toured an adjacent early American woodworking operation. An elderly couple, probably well in their 90's provided live Appalachian music.
After our break we continued northeast on the parkway towards Roanoke.
Once again we pulled off of the roadway and took time to enjoy the view from one the the many lookouts that are along the parkway.
As sun shown from the western skies we reached our motel. We would consider this home for the next few days.
After checking in and unloading we headed out to the rally site to register. We found the rally well organized and it appeared that lots of time had been expended on it's preparation. Our fellow goldwingers were friendly and were very helpful.
Just outside of the main building were about fifty vendors. As we started to make our way to the vendor area, mother nature began to show her ugly side. First the clouds grew dark and then came a slight misting rain. Hoping for a better day tomorrow we headed back to the motel. The mist became a heavier rain and the temperature started to take a nosedive as be covered our bikes and headed inside.
Friday was a day that was like the previous afternoon. Off and on cold drizzling rain. We were dressed up in our weather gear and looked like a bunch of teddy bears riding around. The wind had picked up so us southerners spent most of the day indoors trying to keep warm and dry. Cold and wet just don't go together.
Seeking some activity for the evening we headed out to Floyd, Virginia. Floyd is well hidden in the hollows of the smokies. It is located were rt 8 and 221 converge. We had heard that each Friday night the local town's people gathered at the towns general store for bluegrass music.
Apparently we weren't the only visitors that headed to Floyd that evening. When we arrived at the General Store there just standing room only and very little of that. The place was packed. There in the rear of the store was a makeshift stage were a local band was strum'in and drum'in some good ole bluegrass. There on the floor were about twenty to thirty locals flat foot'in to the music.
The friendly atmosphere that the local towns people showed made for an enjoyable evening. They made us feel right at home with their hospitality. If you had a need for some ice cream or a cola just ask the fellow behind the counter.
Before the clock showed it was Saturday we ventured outside to return to our vehicles. There wasn't any moon, just gray skies and a cold drizzle. The temperature was 42 degrees - definitely not bike riding weather. We headed back to the motel. Hoping for better weather tomorrow.
Tomorrow.... overcast, cold, cloudy and windy. Well at least it wasn't a constant rain so we were able to visit the vendors and of course spend some money for some much "needed" items for our bikes. As the clock showed 5:30 PM we entered the main auditorium for the closing ceremonies. We were seated at two of the many nice tables that had been arranged on the floor. The meal and service that we were given was by far the best that we had experienced at any rally. Our chapter won a number of awards. Barb and Gene Henry for most distance traveled two-up. Lucy Schaad for most distance traveled on a trike. Jerry and Nancy Costell for most distance sidecar. Debbie Magness for most distance one-up female.
The ceremony was quite lengthy due to the number of acknowledgements, awards and prizes. One unique part of the ceremony which was the manner in which they honored their members that now are looking down on us.
Although we didn't have the opportunity to ride the countryside as we had planned, the rally wasn't a complete washout. We enjoyed the hospitality of the chapter members and the acquaintances we met while visiting the Salem area.
Please check back as we will post additional pictures as they become available.