After yesterday's rest day everyone was up at 7 am ready and raring to go for the eagerly anticipated rider to the Tail of the Dragon. Everyone, that is except Timbo who had evidently caught swine flu at the Mexican restaurant yesterday and was feeling unwell. To add to his misery I had accidentally shut his fingers in the door of the taxi on the way back from the pizza restaurant the previous evening, so a trip up and down the corkscrew that is the Tail of the Dragon was not really on the cards. So Tim went the direct route up the Interstate while we set off on a 300 mile loop round the Smoky Mountains.
Truth to be told, the Tail of the Dragon was a bit of a let down. Some selfish person had fallen off half way up so our death defying slalom round the 300+ bends in 11 miles was more of a funeral cortege behind the ambulance which was taking the hapless casualty off the mountain.
Still - we rallied. The sunshine and the scenery were fabulous and we wound our way through some beautiful Tennessee countryside on our route up to Johnson City.
It is a strange part of the world, this. Some of the most beautiful landscape you could ever hope to see, interspersed with some of the most vile, ugly and vulgar places on earth. I am of course referring to Pigeon Forge, home of Dollywood, the world's only theme park devoted to the unfeasibly large breasted chanteuse herself, Dolly Parton. What a dump. It is a bit like someone (probably that bloke who bought the old London Bridge and transported it to the Arizona desert) had tranplanted Blackpool pleasure beach to the middle of the Smoky Moutains National Park. But it was heaving with cars and people driving from tacky amusement park to tacky amusement park. Bizarre.
We arrived at the Hampton Inn in Johnson City early evening. After a long hot day, Al was looking forward to a dip in the hotel pool, so imagine his disappointment when the young man behind the desk told him that the pool was closed for maintenance. He couldn't believe it and stood there "oh man" ing and pacing back and forth until eventually he leaned across the desk and said to the guy "is Mr Hampton in"? He then dissolved in laughter. What a guy.
We're off for some Bluegrass and pasta.