Saturday, March 31, 2007

Our Weekend Trip - Part I

If you'll remember, I wrote last Thursday night about the trip we had planned for the weekend. You may have wondered why I didn't come back and write about how it went. I have really struggled about whether to write about it at all. But there are certain things that I really want to share that I can't unless I share the whole story.

Before I go any further, let me say right up front that everybody is fine.

Now that I said that, I'm going to start off by saying that the hubby had an accident Saturday afternoon. He's ok, had no serious injuries, but he scared the living daylight out of me...well, all of us. But let me go back to the beginning.

This entry is going to be long, so bear with me.

We had a great ride Friday night. We rode from Hope Mills to the hotel my mom's boyfriend had reserved at King's Mountain. We did have a little mishap on the way there. We came to a traffic light that had turned red in Charlotte. I put my bike in first gear when we stopped. I always make sure before the light turns green that I'm in first. When I put my foot up to tap the shift lever, there was nothing there. I put my foot up again, just in case I had missed it for some reason. Then I actually looked down. The peg had broken off from my shift lever. The hubby was beside me, so I let him know what was going on, and let him know that there was no way I could shift gears the way it was. He pulled up and let my mom's boyfriend know that we were going to have to pull over. So we found a spot where a man was guarding a private parking lot to keep people from parking there when going to the clubs. He did let us pull in there since we told them it would hopefully only take a few minutes. He was such a nice guy! He had a bag of nuts and bolts in his car that he went to get to bring us. The guys were able to use a nut and bolt, as well as a couple of washers, to make me a shift lever to get us to the hotel, and then to the Harley shop the next morning. Worked like a charm. I got so tickled at the guy when he brought us the nuts and bolts, though. He said, "Hey, I watch Orange County Choppers!" American Chopper is one of our favorite shows. I just thought it was so cute that he mentioned that as he was helping us with a temporary fix on my bike! Looking back, I wonder if that was a sign of things to come - mishaps and the wonderful people we'd meet along the way.

So we spent the night in King's Mountain, and got up and had an early breakfast Saturday morning. After breakfast, we checked out and got on our way. We stopped in Swananoa at the Harley shop to get an actual shifter peg for my bike. The makeshift peg the guys had fixed for me was working just fine, but I was definitely having to be careful. If I was too rough on it I could break the bolt or at least bend it. My mom's boyfriend was more worried about it tearing up my boot. He's so funny sometimes! But we found a new peg for less than $10, and the guys put it on before we left the shop. It bugged me a little because it didn't quite match the rest of my pegs (yeah, I'm a bit OCD that way), but I soon got over it and didn't even think about it very long after we left the shop.

After we left Swananoa, we rode on to Maggie Valley. Such a cute little town. We stopped there to fill the bikes up with gas since we planned to ride up to Maryville, Tennessee, and then ride the Tail of the Dragon back down on our way back to Maggie Valley since that was where we were spending the night. Although it was well before check-in time, we thought we'd stop at the hotel anyway, just in case our room was ready for an early check-in. That way we figured we could drop off anything we didn't need at the hotel before we took off for a ride. It just so happened that our room WAS ready, so they went ahead and let us check in early. So we unloaded the bikes and took everything we didn't really need in to the room. It was a beautifully warm day, so I decided to leave my leather jacket at the hotel, although I left my chaps on. The hubby decided to keep his jacket on, because it's well vented. So after we dropped the stuff off, we took off up the moutain toward Maryville, TN.

We stopped at a lookout point between Maggie Valley and Cherokee to take some pictures. It was a beautiful lookout point, and was labeled as the area's most photographed area. I got some good photos that I'll share later on in a different entry after I finish my story.

Then we rode through Cherokee, and stopped there for some lunch. That was my first time in Cherokee, and my first time on a Reservation. I'm not sure what I expected, but I guess I expected Cherokee to be different than it was. I wasn't disappointed by any means, but it was just different. I guess it kind of reminded me of a military base/post - pretty much looked the same as the surrounding area but with additional signs and other reminders that we were on a Reservation. We're going to have to go back some time so I can go to the Casino there.

After lunch, we left Cherokee on our way to Maryville. We rode the Blue Ridge Parkway. What a beautiful ride! We stopped at a point at the NC/TN border and took some photos. I haven't even looked at them yet, but I think I got some pretty good ones. I'll share them along with the others.

After we left the lookout, we continued along the Parkway toward Maryville. We were riding along a typical mountain road, taking our time around the curves. We were averaging between 35-45 mph, depending on what the speed limit was along the Parkway. My mom's boyfriend was leading (with my mom riding on the back with him), I was in the middle, and P was riding behind me. As we came around one of the curves, it got a bit sharper in the middle of it, and it startled me, although I maintained control all the way through. As I came through, though, I checked my mirrors, and I never saw the hubby come through the curve behind me. I got as close to my mom's boyfriend as I could, laying on my horn. He pulled over, and I told him that P hadn't come through the curve, and I didn't know what happened. My mom got off his bike, and he told me to stay where we were and he went back to check. Mom told me to shut my bike down and get off (she probably reminded me to put my kickstand down too) and we waited.

I guess about 5 minutes later (if that) a minivan came by and told us that we were requested back at the scene. "I think he's going to be ok," they said. So my mom and I walked back the way we had come. I was really panicky, and my mom kept telling me to breathe. We got to the curve, and sure enough, P had run off the road on his bike. When we got there, he was sitting up and had ice to his neck and face. This story's already pretty long, but I am going to make it shorter than it could be if I described everything. Some folks went up the road where they could get a signal and called for help. The Smoky Mountain Park Rangers came to the scene and began administering First Aid. There were also a couple of Paramedics that came to the scene to help out until the ambulance arrived.

Once the ambulance arrived, it had been about a half-hour or more since the time the accident happened. Due to that, and the fact that P had lost consciousness for a few minutes, their policy was that he had to be air-lifted to the closest trauma center because of the possibility of a head injury. I asked if I could ride with him and was told that I wouldn't be able to ride in the helicopter. I had another panicky moment there, and had words with one of the paramedics who was less than sympathetic to my feelings. I understand that his first priority was my hubby, but if he's going to continue a career in emergency medicine, he's going to have to learn to be more sympathetic to the next of kin. He was just a complete ass (and my husband pretty much told him so, not in so many words). I honestly think he was new, because the older gentleman was much more understanding and told me he'd ask about getting me on the helicopter. I also heard him explaining to the younger guy, the one who had been an ass, that although it wasn't common, they had been known to allow immediate family to ride on the helicopter if there was room. He asked, and I was able to ride with the hubby on the helo to the hospital in Knoxville.

After X-rays, a CT scan, and being checked by the doctor, the hubby was released from the hospital. He had no serious injuries at all. He did have a fractured occipital bone below his left eye, and has the black eye to prove it. That was caused by his goggles, from whatever they hit when he fell. He also had a laceration above his lip that had to be sutured. It wasn't very deep, but was fairly wide, and I told him they may decide to suture it, and they did. He also had a few abrasions on his face that have already healed. He has an abrasion on one ankle, from where something punctured his boot and cut his ankle. It's also sprained and bruised down close to his foot. So that's pretty sore. He had his sutures taken out on Thursday, and everything is looking great.

So - what saved him...

He was wearing a helmet. Thank goodness for that. And his helmet actually seems to have sustained very little damage, although it will be replaced for safety's sake. Remember I mentioned above that he chose to wear his jacket although it was very warm? Thank goodness for that, too. His jacket has armor, and definitely protected him. He had absolutely no injuries to any part of his torso, most likely because of that jacket. The doctor asked him numerous times about pain in his stomach, concerned about the potential for injury to his spleen or other internal organs. We truly believe his armored jacket protected him from any of that. He thanked me profusely for getting him that jacket for Christmas. Also, he was wearing chaps. Yes, he had an injury to one ankle. But if he hadn't been wearing his leather chaps, the injuries to his lower body could have been way worse.

We've always believed in safety gear. Even more so now.

There's more to the story, and I'll write more tomorrow. I'll be writing about the wonderful people we met because of this incident.