Monday, August 1, 2011

Rallies 2011 – Day 18

After 2 weeks on the road we’ve really hit our stride. Things work like a well oiled machine every morning now. Since today is a work day that meant we worked until 10:30ET this morning. This works out well and allows us to travel an extra week this summer. Next year this routine will allow us to travel even longer. And since we won’t be on the east coast we should be able to finish our work earlier (1 hour per timezone going west).

We’ve started staying at Quality Inns again on this trip just like we did last year. And again I’ve discovered that Quality Inns are really a great value. They are only a few dollars more than a Super 8 but the breakfast is Hot and nearly rivals the Hampton Inn. We’re definitely going to be staying at more Quality Inns during this trip.

With work done, we loaded up the bikes and headed to the Skyline Drive. We entered the park and stopped at the first visitor center to get the passport stamps, buy a patch for Reagan and learn a little bit about the park. Then we continued south through the park. It seemed like we had the road to ourselves. Only occasionally did we find a vehicle traveling in our direction. A brief stop at one of the lookouts usually resolved that situation.

We stopped for lunch at the Skyland center. The view from the dining room was great! The food was better than normal for national park food and the prices were extremely reasonable. As we were getting off the bikes, Reagan had a close encounter with a deer. They were within 5 feet of each other at one point and the doe wasn’t the least bit scared. NO, Reagan did not try to pet the deer…  After lunch when we returned to the bikes we found a pair of deer just a little deeper in the woods with a little fawn being the closest. The deer didn’t spook when she started her bike either. On the way out of the area we saw a turkey run across the road.

After lunch we had a little more than half the park to ride through so we picked up the pace a little bit and headed south. The ride was very pleasant and relaxing. I found myself slowing at most of the lookouts like a bonafied tourist. In many cases, seeing the lookout from back on the road before the turn off gave a greater image than pulling off to look down in the valley.

Before I knew it we were at the end of the park and turning into Waynesborro. As we road into town we found a BBQ joint next to the Sunoco. We’ll get a picture tomorrow on our way back out. It was a little too far from the hotel so we won’t be dining there tonight.

Checking into the hotel was a real treat. Saturday night Reagan was in charge of booking rooms and picked the Quality Inn rooms. This was another fantastic choice on her part. She discovered we had a free night’s stay from last year’s promotion. So she opted to use it for tonight’s room. However because we had previously booked a room for July 31st the web site thought the second room, in another town was also for the same night. When we tried to correct the mistake the site would not let us. When I tried to call in to customer service I got an unsure commitment that the reservation was changed. Yesterday I called the hotel and got the reservation changed to tonight.

When I showed up to check in though I was still unsure about whether we actually had a room. As luck would have it the lady at the front desk was the same lady I spoke to on the phone yesterday. She said she had a room for me but there was a slight problem. “Oh boy”, I thought, “here comes the fact that I lost the free room.” She said, “We have you a room but we don’t have a key to your room.” She went on to explain that their computer system was messed up as result of an update earlier in the day which had disabled their ability to create room keys. We could still get into the room via a master key which had to be used by a hotel employee only. Because of this “inconvenience” and because we are Choice Rewards members they decided to refund our points used for the room AND…. wait for it…. give us the room for FREE!!!! How cool is that! This has been a great day on so many levels.

Needless to say, we’ve already got another Quality Inn stay booked for tomorrow night. And I’ll start looking for Wednesday night’s room before I go to sleep tonight.

day 18 

Today was a fantastic day of riding. We covered a short 113 miles in 5.5 hours. It wasn’t about the quantity of miles but the quality. Tomorrow we start the Blue Ridge parkway and stay in Christiansburg.

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