North Carolina - June 2002

Wheels Through Time Museum - Maggie Valley, North Carolina

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Blue Ridge Parkway near Waynesville, NC - June 29, 2002

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Road Trip Story - North Carolina by Car

  John wants me to help him bring his photo collection of motorcycle racing to the Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina.  As always, I'm up for another road trip.  A little MapQuest research shows that it's 868 miles.  We'll drive all the way to the end of I-81 in Tennessee and then over the border into NC crossing the Smokey Mountains.

  A swap-meet friend of his is moving his museum collection of antique cars and motorcycles, and he wants John's photos to be part of the show.

  We'll leave Weds. and drive all day. And leave mid-day Sat. for the return trip.  Dale Walksler, the museum owner, will pay our expenses.  John and I talk about possible rides on old Harleys since he says that Dale is a former big Harley dealer from the Chicago area.  If John is working on the photo exhibit Thurs and Fri I might have some play time on my own.

  Weds. - We don't get going until 11am so we call at dinnertime (mediocre chinese buffet) from the outskirts of Roanake Va. and find out we'll have a motel room waiting. We'll get there after midnight for sure so this is good news.

  I pull the last leg down 81 and over the mountains.  The 30 miles on I-40, edging past trucks in the rain, is a tough drive and we arrive at 1am rather road weary.  Dale is waiting for us and amazingly, gives us a tour of the musuem and the bikes and wants to see John's photos right away.

  The subtitle of the museum logo is "The Museum That Runs", and this is the secret of this place.  The antique bikes, the race bikes, the restored bikes, and the cars are runners.  Dale kicks over a few vintage race bikes, blasting exhaust sound and smoke and dripping oil on the floor.  He starts a pre-1920's, original Henderson for us to hear.  We're walking around the unfinished exhibits at 2:30am looking at bikes and talking about the museum and motorcycle racers and the museum's opening set for Fri. June 30th.

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1:30 am Thurs. morning

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  Thurs. - We try to sleep off the drive and the late night, so it's nearly noon on Thurs. when we get back to the museum.   There's lots going on.  Carpenters and electricians are busy in the exhibit areas.   A husband and wife team are painting.  Tile layers are working on the entrance area which which is just open space.  There are rolls of carpet yet to be laid.  None of the bikes have identifying placards but they are lined up in period or model related groups.  The cars are parked in the large square room.  The race bikes are arrayed around the upper level leaning against the walls if necessary and not at all looking like an exhibit.  John and I figure there's no way this place will be ready to open, but no one else seems to think this.  All very southern and unhurried.

  We talk more with Dale's assistant, Jeff, who will be managing the place for him.  Someone's young boys are watching a video in the motorcycle exhibit area.

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Hanging the new sign

  A large boom-crane is getting set up outside.  Dale and Jeff and the carpenter are going to be putting up the new sign from the suspended cage.  Dale asks me to take some photos of this job.  Good.  I'll have something to do other than walking around getting in the workers' way.  He also asks if I would take pictures of the workers.  That's good.  I'd like to do something to help out as long as I'm here and  I planned on taking plenty of pictures anyway.

  We lay out John's photos on the floor against the wall where they'll be displayed so Dale and John can sort out which ones to use.  But this now seems less important than getting the museum ready for business.

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Carroll Resweber's bike

(with autographed #1 plate)

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The first exhibit room

  Race bikes and Dayton cycle

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Evel Knievel bike

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