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Journal Entry # 06
Mayberry to Maggie Valley

May 12, 2004

The weather and route for the first week seemed to correspond to the pressure we were feeling as we began this 220-day journey. The first three days were spent dodging rain and riding through sleet as we pointed the bikes straight up into the Blue Ridge Mountains. If that was Mother Nature's way of trying to deter us, she doesn't know us that well. This ride is on - no matter the weather or terrain. But if Mother Nature actually reads this, we wouldn't mind a few more sunny days in the coming days and a few less Kamikaze turkeys. But I'll get to the turkey story a little later.

I ended the last journal entry with our rainy May 1st "Get Out Of Town" ride. That was Saturday. Sunday morning came and was promising to be just as bleak on the weather front. As we nibbled on some breakfast, the weatherman stood inside his dry studio showing his fancy maps covered in shades of green, indicating rain. But, it was sunny - sort of - when we peeked outside. Based on the donut hole in the weatherman's green map, we had about a three-hour window to make our way from Greensboro through Mount Pilot (picture 01) and into Mount Airy - Mayberry, if you will - so we threw the dogs in the sidecars and raced toward the hills.

Being a Sunday, it's not hard to imagine that we had the normal Sunday drivers. They laughed, smiled and casually clicked photographs of the dogs riding in their sidecars. I have this mental image that all those photos will look like some Norman Rockwell painting where the father is leaned forward, gripping the steering wheel with a determined look on his face, racing to his destination. But we only had three hours to get to Mayberry! So, if you took one of those photos, maybe it will be worth something like the Norman Rockwell paintings one day. The important thing is that we arrived with only a few drops of rain finding their way down the backs of our shirts.

Monday's sunrise broke into a beautiful sunny day, so we headed into the town of Mount Airy to get a little taste of Mayberry (pictures 02-07). The whole town has that old-time feel with antiques and relics that take you back to the days when Andy and Barney could have patrolled the streets in their polished police car. Based on a tip from a good friend, our goal for the day was to grab a bite at the famous Snappy Lunch where the fried pork chop sandwich is the local favorite. But just as we approached the turn onto Main Street towards the Snappy Lunch, we were attacked!

Bailey has already spilled the beans on this part of the story, so I won't rehash too much of it. But, we had screaming little people everywhere, swarming like flies around Max & Bailey in their sidecars (pictures 04-05). Finally, with more than a little coaxing from their teachers, the students were dragged back to the sidewalks and allowed us to make our way to the Snappy Lunch - and then they regrouped for a second attack. Actually, they were very gracious and interested in our ride. We passed out photos and spoke to the teachers about our ride before leaving to take a walk through Mayberry before lunch.

The walk didn't take very long because small towns are supposed to be just that: small. But, just across from the Snappy Lunch is a wall mural with drawings of all the cast members from The Andy Griffith Show. And on that wall is a drawing of Opie that could just as easily have been a picture of me as a youngin' (that's what they call little people in these here parts). So, for your viewing pleasure, we took a photo of me next to Opie (picture 06).

Then came Snappy Lunch - well, sort of. This is a working charity ride, so we first had to put the dogs back in their sidecars so we could go into the restaurant. That, of course, created quite a stir ('stir' is another one of those southern words) with the local folk. So, before you knew it, we had answered all their questions, spent 45 minutes telling stories about Max & Bailey's ride, collected several donations and sold more t-shirts. Okay, so THEN we had our fried pork chop sandwiches, giving us the fuel for the ride along the Blue Ridge Parkway over the mountain to Deep Gap.

Remember, I told you that it was sunny. That will be important later in the story.

Somewhere along our route, while trying to catch our breath from all the breathtaking views (pictures 08-12), one black cloud began to form. I didn't see if form. Janet didn't see it form. And if Max & Bailey saw it, they didn't say a word. But form it did, and just as we were crossing the highest point on this route, the temperature started to drop - quickly. Then, DANG-NABBIT (another southern term that I learned), it started to sleet! You're probably laughing at home, but it was like watching a Chinese fire drill as we clumsily hopped into our rain gear and put the rain covers over the sidecars.

You know what happened next. That's right; it stopped sleeting. Right about then, I said another 'dang-nabbit', or something to that effect. There might have been a few more adjectives involved.

So, three days into this trip and passersby with cameras now have whole collections of photos from our ride that just scream Normal Rockwell: the ones where we were determined and racing to Mount Airy, my Opie Taylor look-a-like photo and this latest one of two unprepared, wild-eyed sidecar tourists hopping up and down because their boots kept getting stuck in the pant legs of their rain gear. And, God save us, we still had 217 days to go.

The day ended well with a relaxing respite at the mountain home of our friends, Jim and Sue Taylor (picture 13-14), complete with a soothing soak in the hot tub under a full moon.

Day 4 - Tuesday - was a good day. After several months of emails and a few phone calls, we were going to meet Karen Price (picture 15) and Ann-Marie Hillings from the New Life Mobility Assistance Dog (NLMAD) organization at their Moravian Falls (Wilkesboro) headquarters. We also met Cookie and Lacey, two of the Assistance Dogs trained by NLMAD. It was only a short visit because we had to push on towards the west if we hoped to meet our first school visit in Knoxville, but we felt like we'd known them for years. Frances, from the local paper, came out to interview us about the ride and photograph our visit. We were honored to leave Karen with a $1,000 donation as a prepayment of what we hope will be a much larger contribution at the end of the ride.

From Wilkesboro, we made our way towards Boone, North Carolina. Following more beautiful roads with too many twists and turns, we eventually arrived at the Mast General Store (circa 1883) in Valle Crucis (picture 16), adjacent to Boone. This was a waypoint that Janet had planned based on the comments of Charles Kuralt, who said that this store embodied the soul of the south and where one could find absolutely everything one might need in an unhurried, somewhat cluttered and eclectic general store. He was right. I found an ice-cream sandwich and an ice-cold root beer in a glass bottle. Janet found a diet Dr. Pepper, also in a glass bottle. Max & Bailey found some new friends in the store's employees who gave them free treats and some snazzy bandanas. And Marie Freeman, a reporter from the Watauga Democrat newspaper, found us. Actually, she had chased us all the way through Boone, but we didn't know she was following us, so we never stopped.

Leaving Boone, we immediately jumped back on the Blue Ridge Parkway on our way to Maggie Valley. And immediately, the temperature started to drop again. Only this time, I had one eye on the road and the other on the sky for any fast-forming black clouds. I'm happy to report that it was a dry ride, only the second one since our journey began. But, the day wasn't completely without incident and no good motorcycle story would be complete without a little wild turkey. So, read on.

Janet and Bailey lead the way on their bike. She has the GPS and as you may have heard me mention before, she has been telling me where to go since the day we met. Why should this ride be any different? But the important thing for this part of the story is that she was in front and I followed behind her, where I had the world's best view of what happened next.

Imagine rolling hills and trees with their new spring foliage lining the long sweeping curves of the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you can't imagine, go look at a few of our pictures and then come back (pictures 17-23). Now that you have that image, insert one Kamikaze Wild Turkey lying in wait on the right side of the road. We saw him waiting for us to approach. And, just as Janet got close enough, he took his first step into the road and grinned at her, daring her to keep it coming. Janet kept coming and that turkey took a few more steps, now in the middle of the lane and still staring Janet down. It was a Mexican Stand-off of Butterball proportions. I think I saw Bailey put both paws over his goggles so he didn't have to watch.

It all happened so fast that if it hadn't been for the turkey's long neck, I never would have seen him swallow in fear and realize that this was a losing proposition. In the blink of an eye, he spread his wings and propelled his Butterball butt out of the way, missing the front of Janet's bike by only inches. We all breathed a little easier and when I looked back, I think I saw a turkey giving us the finger.

Next stop: Maggie Valley. But this journal has gone on for more words than I'd ask anyone to read in one sitting. So, I'll fill you in on some more highlights in my next journal entry. Join me next time when I tell you about how we raised $140 while eating breakfast at Maggie Valley's Country Vittles restaurant (picture 24), how some very generous Knoxville students raised $285 for Max & Bailey's ride and introduce you to Uncle Lester and his rhinestone covered tap dancing shoes.

Thanks for traveling along with Janet, Max, Bailey and me. This is the part where most of you turn off your computer, hoping I won't ask you to make a donation to help the millions of people we're out here riding to support. If you're still here, thank you. The four of us have traveled through the cold, rain, and sleet on this journey. We've climbed mountains with overloaded motorcycles, fought our way around too many sharp turns and successfully taken on kamikaze turkeys. I'm only asking you to make a small donation or buy some Max & Bailey logo gear. I'll leave the decision to you.

Max, Bailey and the entire Hogs For Dogs team thank you for your support. You can help us make a difference for millions of people with disabilities by making a donation today.