Blue Ridge Parkway to Washington, DC

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After leaving the rally, I made my way to Ravensford, NC, the start of the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is a nice scenic road that stretches into Virginia, eventually turning into Skyline Drive. The southwestern stretches are very curvy, but straighten out into more sweeping curves as it makes its way north.

There were a few sections that were closed for construction, so I rode nearby highways a few times. I saw an interesting mower that was attached to an arm on a tractor so it could mow hilly areas.

A little south of the Virginia border, I had my first mishap of the trip. I was making a u-turn in the middle of a wide open stretch of road so I could go back and take a picture, when I let the bike lean too far and dropped it. After a few tries, I got it stood back up without having to unload everything, and walked it over to the side of the road to inspect the damage. The cupholder was broken, and my clutch lever seemed bent. I tried bending it back:

Ah crap! I was in the middle of nowhere, and broke my clutch lever completely off. At least the view was nice.

I unpacked all my luggage to get my tools out, particularly the one tool I thought would help me: the little 12V rotary tool. I had installed cigarette lighter outlets under the seat so I could run chargers and such off of them, and it definitely paid off. I shaped the metal a bit so the clutch lever would catch enough for me to work it. It had to be held in place and would often pop loose when clutching if it wasn't exactly right, but it did at least give me some clutch action. I called my dad and asked him to look for motorcycle shops in Roanoke, VA, where I planned on camping that night.

I made it to Roanoke and camped for the night. The next morning after breakfast at McDonald's, I started calling shops around town. I wasn't having any luck until I called Motorcycles & More. They didn't have the exact part, but I just needed something that worked, and they said they could do that. The bolt was stripped out bad, I couldn't even get it to come off using a pair of vise grips, one pulling on the nut, the other pulling and turning on the bolt. I started grinding it off with my little cut-off tool, but the shop owner brought the bike around back and made short work of it with a real grinder. A short while and $20 later, I was ready to go again with a working clutch lever!

I left Roanoke and continued along the BRP. It was a foggy morning, and as it turned out a sign of the weather to come the next day.

I made it to the Skyline Drive, which goes through Shenandoah National Park. After paying the admission, I found it was pretty much the same as the BRP that led to it, except for the additional signs everywhere warning that the speed limit was enforced. After about an hour on the road, I exited and slabbed my way to Washington, DC. Unfortunately, I arrived around rush hour, and had to crawl through downtown traffic to get a few snaps of the Whitehouse.

I was ready to leave downtown, but I was having trouble finding out where a campground was in the area, so I went to a public library and got on the internet to do a little searching. I finally settled on Capitol KOA in Millersville, MD. It was late and had been raining lightly by the time I got there. The place was rather pricey, $43 IIRC, but I didn't want to have to search for another campground that late, so I paid and settled in.

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Copyright (c) 2009 Paul Miner <$firstname.$>