I arrived at Deal's Gap on Thursday afternoon on the south end of The Tail of the Dragon. Plenty of riders were already there and the weekend hadn't even begun...

I was still full from lunch but I checked out the Dragon's Den Pub & Grill anyway...

I also looked inside the Deals' Gap  store. T-shirts and bottled water were selling fast, but there were plenty of sunglasses, clothing and other accessories...

I pulled out of Deal's Gap and headed north on US Rt. 129 -- The Tail of the Dragon -- for my very first time...

I wasn't intimidated because I was driving my car, rather than riding my motorcycle. The twists and turns were a blast. A real adrenalin rush.

For a while I wished I had ridden my bike, until I rounded a bend and saw a woman standing off the road, frantically waving her arms and pointing at something I couldn't see around the next bend.

I rounded the curve and saw two big cruisers lying on their sides in the right ditch with two police cars blocking the rest of the narrow road. I stomped on the brakes and slowed down just in time. (I'm not sure this Old Coot would have stopped fast enough on his motorcycle.)

Once past the accident I headed up to the only overlook on The Dragon. There's not a lot of parking area, but the view is terrific...

I drove to the end of The Dragon and turned around when I reached Tabcat Creek at Chilhowee Lake. I thought there would be a major traffic jam by the time I got back to the accident, but there was no hold-up at all. They had already moved the motorcycles further off the road, as well as the police cruisers, and waved riders and drivers by.

I must admit I was impressed with The Dragon, and I'm looking forward to going back again soon. But as I continued south past Deal's Gap where I started out on The Dragon, I quickly realized US Rt. 129 is another terrific road. It's very scenic with lots of sharp curves and almost no traffic. I was amazed at the beauty...

After going by this dam...

...the two-lane highway followed this beautiful stream...

I turned off of US Rt. 129 toward the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness. A good friend told me recently that I needed to hike into the virgin forest to see the massive trees, but I was running late so I headed on after taking only one picture...

I continued west on the Cherohala Skyway (NC Rt. 143 and TN Rt. 165) toward Tellico Plains. The Skyway has many overlooks, and the road is pristine, with lots of curves and elevation changes, but very little traffic. I stopped at a couple of overlooks...

By the time I got to Tellico Plains it was getting late (and pretty dark) so I used my GPS to find the quickest way home -- after I found a McDonalds and had a Strawberry-Banana Smoothie. (I think I'm addicted.)

My GPS directed me south on TN Rt. 68, then east on TN Rt. 123, NC Rt. 294, US Rt. 74, and I-40. Then south on I-26 toward home.

Here's a map of the fun, scenic roads where I took these pictures...

(Click here to watch a short video of my ride on the Tail of the Dragon.)

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