Sunday, October 2, 2011

Trip to Oz 10/01/11 Beech Mountain North Carolina

Well our dear friends Ervin (yes one of the less than 1,000 or so 'real' Iron Butters) and his girlfriend Stef invited us to go to the 2011 Wizard of Oz Festival in North Carolina this weekend, website:

We of course agreed and left around 08:00 Saturday (10/1/11) morning and 65F.  We met with Ervin and Stef at the intersection with SC200 and I77, gassed up, well eventually gassed up due to this Hess gas station having issues with card readers and pumps, what a joke but alas, and off we went. Up to Charlotte, across to I85 then to Hickory and up towards Banner Lake.  All is well, some nice bendy roads and we climb.  As we climb the temperature drops of course and we get closer to Banner Lake.  Ahead dark, in fact black clouds await us.  Will we turn and miss them or will we not?  To cut to the chase, NOT.

Wow it gets colder and colder and colder.  We get to the 'bottom' of Beech Mountain and join the line. Oh dear oh dear.  It is 34F and starts to snow.  We crawl up the mountain side and it gets colder and colder, snow prevails.  At about half way Ervin suggests we jump the line and scoot up the outside to the top of the hill and the 'Wizard of Oz' Festival. So off we go.

We get to the top, still snowing and park the bikes.  Shivering we manage to get some hot drinks and we walk around the Festival.  Well done to all the volunteers who support this, despite the cold, they did a great job and the 'characters' were unbelievable.

As a little background Ervin first visited the 'Land of Oz' as a small child back in the 70's.  Apparently when it was opened in 1970 the park became an extremely popular tourist attraction and remained as such until 1980.  In addition to the obvious Wizard of Ox characters and memorabilia the park also had themed rides and the access to the park was via themed cable cars, not motorcycles, and was extremely popular.

But, in 1980, the Park was subject to an arson attack and was forced to close down and remained closed until 1993 when it opened its doors again for one weekend a year to celebrate Oz.  The Yellow Brick Road was reopened, Dorothy's post tornado house reopened amongst numerous other themed attractions but of course none of the rides, just tractor pulled hay wains and golf carts to transport people around in addition to lots of volunteers who dress up as the characters and others to provide snacks, beverages and history.   

So we did the tour, had a great time and thank goodness booked a hotel nearby in Boone to thaw out, have a great dinner and a couple of drinks.  Some photos of the day follow.

Stef looks at the Conc with Wend wondering what the hell we are doing. Ervin tells some of the volunteers that we are real, we did ride these bikes here to over 6,000 feet despite the fact that it is snowing and the temperature just hovering around freezing!

One of the 'Oz Team' can't quite believe what he is seeing!

Final Check on the bikes before we seek the Yellow Brick Road.

The Gang and the bikes.

l to r, Ervin, Stef, Wendy and Moi - yes we are smiling.

Dorothy and Wendy

Stef, Dorothy's Mum (?) and Ervin

Walking through some dark place Wendy, Stef and Ervin with his Darien's Scotchlite reflector screwing up the photo.

Stef, Wend and Ervin in the Tornado damaged house!
The Conc and the Wing at Boone post Oz.

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