Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Don Wood Approved

This past weekend was Labor Day weekend and I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with my wife and daughter. We had planned on a quiet weekend at home, away from the traveling masses. This was the plan till about 7pm friday night. I asked the wife how she felt about a little road trip. As usual, she was game and asked, "Where we goin.?"
We got up Saturday morning and set out for Maggie Valley, NC. Destination; Wheels Through Time Museum. The owners, Dale Walksler and his son, Matt call it The museum that runs and for good reason. A lot of the bikes in their collection run and it is not uncommon for a staff member to hop on a bike and crank it to life. Burn outs are not uncommon. I had done a little checking and I knew that Dale and Matt were in Davenport, Ia. for an event so I called a dear friend who works at the museum. John Dills has been a friend for quite some time and when I asked him if the Museum would be open with the Walkslers being out of town he told me. Come on. When you gonna be here.?
We arrived to find John and a young fellow washing one of the many collectible cars on display at the museum. It is more than just a bunch of motorSickles, you see. Cars, Trucks, chain saws, Ice saws, Harley powered toboggans, outboard motors, Harley powered farm equipment and even a Harley powered airplane. I'm not sure of the oldest  but there are many motorcycles that date back to the beginning of time. Knucles and pans. Shovels and wl's from the war era. Full dressers and board track racers. Choppers and Police specials. Harley's and Hendersons, Arrows and Indians. and some motorbikes that I have never seen before in my life.

In the last 2 1/2 yrs I've been to this place I call Mecca, 6 times. I've probably spent over 20 hours walking amongst The history and collectibles. I have been given the high honor of being invited to the back room to see where the magic of restoration happens. I can tell you this.. I could spend another 20 hrs there tomorrow and still not see it all. Some folks go to Art galleries or to a comedy club. I like studying motorcycles. I've been to quite a few Motorcycle museums and a few very impressive private collections. I am yet to find anything that compares to The Wheels Though Time Museum. It's the people that make all the difference in the world. They are the kind of people who know that they are blessed and they treat their work as if they are caretakers. They have a desire to share their knowledge with anyone who might have a question and if you have a motorcycle related question you couldn't find a more prepared group of people to find your answers.
The area around Maggie Valley makes this Museum a destination for a rider of motorcycles. Maggie Valley is a town of 1,000 people but this is a tourist town and there are many options for eating and lodging. This small town lies on the eastern edge of the Smokey Mountain National park. The Blue Ridge Parkway runs within a few miles of the Museum. Check their website for days and times of operation.
I want to thank Dale, Matt and the rest of the staff for always making it a joy to spend time with them and their collection. I also want to thank John Dills for the time and friendship he has shown me and my family. These are some of the greatest people on planet earth.

1 comment:

  1. Don, I live about an hour and a half away. I head to Maggie Valley and Wheels Through Time about 3 times a year. I love the place also. From the beautifully kept grounds (I call the the guy who works so hard with the plants "GROUNDS KEEPER WILLY". Sorry, I don't know his real name, but he recognizes me every time I come in and has to show me what's new in the plant department!)

    It's not hard to spend a lifetime in that place, and what's really nice is that he don't keep the displays behind glass. You can get great photos without flashback and stuff. You can smell the exhaust when they crank the suckers up for you, you can watch them lay a line of rubber on the cement floor as they roll the baby out the door to ride up the hill and over the bridge! I LOVE "WHEELS THROUGH TIME"