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It was always one of my favorite fea-

tures and it was a pleasure to see

them in action.

After an early breakfast on Mon-

day, the Tour was off at 9:00 sharp fol-

lowing Tom’s lead. The Monday

portion covered a lot of territory.

There’s not much flat land on the back

roads of far western North Carolina

and we did numerous ups and downs

on the curvy, damp roads offered that

day. We kept moving at a good clip and

the morning drive took us through

Franklin to Highlands, North Car-

olina for lunch, partially along “Moon-

shiners 28” – a very twisty two-lane

with lots of scenic attractions. At

Highlands, lunch was at a choice of

several restaurants in town. We chose,

with a few other Tour participants, the

old Edward Inn and Spa, a nice hotel,

dating from a beginning in 1883 with

modern construction in 1935. We left

Highlands at the back end of the

group and had to play “catch-up” on

our way into Georgia, to Dillard, and

back into North Carolina where we

followed the roads back to Rob-

binsville, noting roadside attractions

and scenery. We returned to the Lodge

in mid-afternoon.

Dinner was terrific with many

choices and afterwards Tom briefed us

on Tuesday’s run to include the fa-

mous “Tail of the Dragon.” Guests for

the evening were Ron Johnson and his

wife who ran the souvenir shop at the

Deals Gap (population: 6) where the

run would begin. He told how, after re-

tirement, he had decided to promote

the Dragon route and let people know

how special it was with its advertised

318 turns in eleven miles of ups and

downs. He mentioned that Michael

Schumacher had brought his motorcy-

cle over from Germany to run the

route. The Dragon is a favorite chal-

lenge for motorcycle riders. Johnson’s

shop hosts the Killboy group who pho-

tograph all the vehicles that run the

Dragon every day and post the images

on their website for purchase.

The next morning we awoke to see

the results of a night time windstorm

and found all of the cars covered with

wet pine needles and leaves. After a

hand-squeegee cleanup, we were off at

9:00 a.m. to the beginning of the

Dragon, following a good warm-up

route on some windy back roads. We

stopped at the souvenir store at Deal’s

Gap where the “Tail of the Dragon”

run begins. Lots of hats, shirts, sou-

venirs and decals were available and

many purchases were made.We left as

a group to take on the “Dragon” and it

was an exciting 11 miles, especially

with the wet surface and the multi-


Winter 2016 38