Tuesday, September 27, 2011


The Navigator and I have been away. We’ve been enjoying some quite secluded time in the woods on a mountain top far, far away. Our favorite campground was running at less than 50% capacity over the end of the work week and through the weekend. It was, in the fullest meaning of the word, glorious…

Blue skies reign

(Saturday brought clear blue skies highlighting the beginning of fall colors)

The trip started on Thursday amidst…

dark and dreary skies as the forecasted rain seemed to be imminently upon us. When we reached the 5,280’ mark of our trip, I looked west through a gap in the mountains and could see where we were going. It didn’t look good. a heavy dark cloud had descended onto the top of the mountain and was hugging it tightly.

With limited traffic on the road, we were hopeful of seeing some wildlife. We were not disappointed!

Elk in repose










Elk resting in a meadow










(Bull elk and his cows resting and eating in mountainside meadow)

In addition to the elk, we spotted more turkey than we could count and even flushed a Grouse at one point in our trip. Thankfully, the presence of wild hogs was not to be seen this trip. The hogs devastate pretty much any area that they visit.

Into the murky world of the clouds…

We arrived at our designated site and even though it wasn’t raining, the moisture of the clouds resulted in everything getting wet. We did minimal setup on Thursday evening as we knew the cloud wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Friday morning was equally gray and damp as the cloud continued its presence on the mountain. Large drops of water condensed on the overhanging limbs of the trees turning them into early adorned Christmas trees. The first two or three cups of morning coffee were spent enjoying the richness of the forest and the birds that were flitting here and there.

My friend, the Velo Hobo, would certainly not give me any bonus credits for ultra light camping as our setup includes a 26’ Keystone Hobbi camper and lots of comforts of home. The company of our two Labrador Retrievers, Zeke and Orla, add great fun and joy to these too infrequent getaways.  As you can see, neither Zeke nor Orla had difficulty adjusting to the sun once it broke through the cloud canopy.

Zeke sunning himself 







(Old Man Zeke heats up the aging bones thanks to Mother Nature)

Orla snoozes in the shade








(Orla recharges following a walk along the ridge.)

Once the sun chased the cloud away on Saturday, I was able to get my solar panels setup and charged our camper batteries. The system worked well as 5 hours of bright sunshine topped us off for the evening and through our Sunday departure. The panels always draw interest from our camping neighbors so I get to talk about them – a lot!

Solar panels charging up the Hobbi

(No prizes for Ultra Light camping to be won here!)

Sunday morning came around much too quickly and it was time to pack up and head back to the house. As we left the campground, only two campers remained. They were in for a most excellent secluded time! Of note throughout the weekend, lots and lots of bicycles were attached to the cars and campers that did stop over. Additionally, road cyclists were quite abundant on this quiet spur in the National Park. I missed the Fargo but not enough to let it interfere with some fine campfire cooking and quiet reading. I certainly managed to recharge my own batteries with this short quiet trip from home. Next up, we go back to the Low Country of South Carolina in one week for time riding around the League of American Bicyclist Platinum level community – Hilton Head Island.


At last week’s South Main Street study meeting, I had the opportunity to ask of the DOT official at the meeting about adjusting an insensitive traffic light sensor at the intersection of the Super Wal-Mart and South Main Street in our hometown of Waynesville, NC. I made the inquiry in a written note and had to leave the meeting before getting to speak with him. Within two hours, I had an email response back assuring me that DOT wanted to work with us to fix the problem and asking when we could do it. We scheduled it in two days but was rained out. We rescheduled for yesterday and I was met by two NC DOT staff members, who worked with me to adjust the light sensors until they were repeatedly picking up my bike and making the proper lighting changes to allow cycle traffic to enter South Main. This is a very busy intersection and has been somewhat dangerous for riders as they had to either wait on auto traffic to trip the light or take their chances running the red light. The service of the NC DOT was excellent in this case and they get many kudos for the effort!


One of my first activities after unpacking the Hobbi was to check out my Carradice Nelson Long Flap saddlebag that arrived. UPS delivered it just before we left on our trip and I didn’t get the chance to check it out.

Carradice unwrapped!

(The Long Flap Nelson arrived nicely packaged and in good shape)

Signed by Christine!

(Each bag is signed by the person who made it. Thanks Christine!)

The dowel gives it shape...

(Two leather straps around the dowel secure it to my Brooks B17 saddle)

Right side mounted view

(After connecting the third strap to the seat post, the bag snuggles into the seat)

Post mount rear view

(Rear view after fully mounting the Nelson Long Flap)

I have yet to ride with the bag on Fargo so I’m not sure how it will meet my expectations. My first impression was that it was small. However, that was without benefit of having packed it. My research indicated it was of sufficient size for day commuting and light overnight camping. I don’t see light overnight camping in my future so that isn’t much of a concern. The quality appears to be excellent as advertised and I certainly had a great shopping experience with Wallingford Bikes in New Orleans.

My Schwalbe Big Apples arrived at my LBS while the Navigator and I were in hiding so the Fargo is going to the shop today for the new tires. I should have everything ready to go for the Low Country trip on Saturday. I’m looking forward to trying out both the Long Flap Nelson and the new treads.

Until later,

- Zeke

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