We originally had local plans but the friend coming to town ended up not being able to, so I suggested we ride the bikes somewhere. Well, my husband grew up in Florida and purchased a motorcycle while he lived there. He eventually took a trip up to Johnson City and surrounding areas, including Big Stone Gap and he brought up the idea of heading back up there. Yes! I’m game! I’m always down for long trips, over night trips, anything to get the wandering travel bug out of my system if only temporarily.
Off we went!
Here are the GPS tracks from our trip:
Friday we slabbed it out. I left work in College Park @ 2PM … just in time for Atlanta long weekend traffic to kick in. My husband was trying to time his departure to meet me on the highway but thanks to traffic it took nearly an hour for him to make up the ~2 mile lead I had on him.
At our first fuel stop I made an OpenTable dinner reservation for 6PM at The Corner Kitchen in Asheville and made it there just a half hour late. If you have never been to The Corner Kitchen, I highly suggest it. We went a couple of years ago because I had a coupon and we go back anytime we find ourselves in Asheville.
We crossed the mountains into Erwin, TN just a bit too late to get some sunset pictures. Oh well. Reached the Comfort Suites hotel in Johnson City, TN and promptly crashed out on the bed.
My husband owns 2 FJR’s – one that he had before he met me, and his ’14. He went to the 2009 FJR Owners Meet and the routes we took over the weekend were previous routes used during the meet.
Saturday we rode what was the EOM-1 route. A quick trip into Shady Valley, then off into Virginia for a bit before heading generally south and crisscrossing between NC and TN a few times heading to Spruce Pine, then across Roan Mountain and back to Johnson City.
Sunday we did the EOM-5 route. Generally it’s a loop around Big Stone Gap that goes through Lynch and several other mining areas. Most of the riding we do in the mountains are around protected lands so it’s rather striking to see the impact of mining operations. Highlights of the route are VA-72 through Jefferson National Forest and VA-70 into Blackwater, VA. Those two stretches of road are as good as any of the more famous roads in NC & TN.
Monday morning we hit Shady Valley again, making sure to hit the spot where the photographer is stationed (421 on the south side). Went across Roan Mountain again and headed for The Devil’s Whip — NC 80. Unfortunately we got wet towards the end of NC 80 and Blind Kenny had packed it up before we got there. From there we headed for home, with a little detour to Batcave, NC because every time we are nearby my husband remembers he wants to go. Although it was about 25 r/t out of the way, we went and snapped a picture. We ended up taking SC 11 to I-85, again, just because, and discovered the Long Shoals Wayside Park right at sunset. Beautiful little creek / falls area. From there we hauled ass home and arrived a bit after midnight. Who had to get up at 5:30AM to work the next day? Not him, that’s who!
For anyone interested, here’s a link to his personal stash of the 2009 EOM route files.
The Corner Kitchen, Asheville
Amazing. Always. Pricey, but worth it. Never had a bad meal there. Highlights are the 3 meat meatloaf, steak, or herb chicken. Menu changes weekly. Desserts are made in house each day. I got the White Chocolate Bread Pudding. It is heavenly.
Freiberg’s German, Downtown Johnson City, TN
This was our first time here. It was pretty decent. Casual. I got Rouladen (stuffed beef) with red beets and pan fries. It was good, I just was surprised to see what they consider stuffed. It looked more like an after thought, an ‘oops, I forgot, let’s just throw a little bit of stuff in here’. It was disappointed. It was 98% beef with none of the bacon, mustard or pickles. Beets and pan fries were awesome. My husband ordered the Paprika Schnitzel with Bavarian Potato Salad and pan fries. He said the Schnitzel was good, the potato salad was not (I agreed, way too much dill) and again pan fries were yums. We both ordered the Apfel Strudel for dessert. It was very good. Since we were riding we didn’t drink so I can’t comment on the selection.
Pine Mountain Grill, Kentucky
It was this place or McDonald’s. It seems like a 4 star on the outside. Also because it is the ONLY place around to eat. Place is large, good for crowds and families. We got there on a Sunday after church folks started arriving and we didn’t have to wait long. They have a patio but apparently never seat people on it. That sucked. Waitress was less than stellar, but the menu looked good. I went with the Cornbread BBQ Stacker and fries while Bryce went with the Split Roast Beef Sandwich. My sandwich was made for a knife and fork and was absolutely fantastic. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for his sandwich. The menu states that it is slow roasted over night for the flavor. Apparently they cooked it so long it took the flavor right out. Very disappointing. When we went to pay our bill at the front desk I mentioned that his sandwich was not good and she took it off the bill no questions asked. I appreciated that very much.
Logan’s Roadhouse, Johnson City
I know, I know. A CHAIN restaurant! Well, getting back to the hotel super super late and not wanting to get back on the bikes, Logan’s was our only option since it was right next door to the hotel. Staff was friendly, food was good, and it was not that busy. Steaks cooked perfectly the first time, which is a rarity anywhere these days. Porterhouse and tater for the hubs, the Logan’s steak for me (not pictured, I was hungry!)
Whiteway Grill Restaurant
Not recommended. Run down, cardboard over a broken window or two. Hot, air didn’t seem to be working well. Run by some older women who move slow (no insult meant) and who aren’t very friendly or … engaging? The cook is young and came out to talk to us. Friendly, but needs to figure out what salt and pepper and seasonings are. And how to properly broil cheese on top of tater tots. Wasn’t very busy and a woman next to us who heard me order a chicken sandwich cautioned that it took 40 minutes for hers to arrive. Thankfully mine took 20. Nothing to write home about. Plain chicken (which is why I mentioned the use of salt, pepper and seasonings). Husband asked for a burger w/ lettuce, tomato, and some condiments, as did I. They forgot his lettuce and tomato. This is a great spot to be in, just needs some updating (inside and outside and staff-wise) and this could be a rockin’ place!
Riverview Grill, US-321 east of Watauga Lake
Stopped at a run down looking former Citgo because it had a sign for a deli and we were hawngry! We were skeptical of the place but this was possibly the best bacon cheeseburger Bryce has ever had. I got a grilled chicken sandwich and we split some french fries – my sandwich was delish! Took a while as he’d received a large order (we got there right at the prime lunch time apparently) but we had been riding a while and the long break was just what we needed. Guy was friendly, the store had other supplies / drinks / snacks and a clean bathroom.
Favorite picture from the trip: