I started my journey west yesterday, driving more than 600 miles from Asheville to St. Louis where I feasted my eyes on the 630-foot Gateway Arch just as the clock said midnight and counted my 12th straight hour of driving, save for gas, bathroom and coffee stops.

Gateway to the west

Gateway to the west

I’m glad I was able to get one more ride in the Western North Carolina mountains before setting off; Pops and I rode a few miles around the Wayehutta OHV Park outside of Sylva this weekend, until it started raining and traction was hard to find. In Florida when it rains, it’s usually a welcome sign, at least if it hasn’t been raining everyday. The wet cools you off and loams up the sand, which there’s more than enough of. But in the mountains of WNC, when it rains it’s like riding on ice. There’s no traction and it’s hard to tell where the rocky mountain ends and the dirt begins.
I just tried bouncing from rock to rock but we had to be careful due to these “catch pits” that the forestry has developed, Pops said, “So they can have zero run off into the river.”

This makes the tree huggers happy not to have run off from the riding are. It was sketchy riding by because if you get off trail and hit one, you’ll end up on the opposite bank with your front tire stuck in a 6-foot hole. Day over.

We pulled up to an almost empty parking lot, except for one truck with a side-by-side parked next to it and a couple sharing a sub under the pavilion. The guy was quick to complain that “they had the trails all messed up” and must have blamed it on Obama three times before I stopped listening. “Ever since Obama got in there,” and “Obama came in there and messed everything up.”

After those guys took off, the volunteer ranger showed up to check on things and he told me “they spent $160,000 in the park this year,” making the parking lot bigger and safer removing trees and doing trail maitenance. It reminded me of the quote: “Believe half of what you hear and all of what you see.”

Trails to ourselves

Trails to ourselves

Today’s plan is to ride at St. Joe State Park in Park Hills, MO.


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