Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A dream trip...

So what would a dream road trip be? As I've mentioned previously, it would be the trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway. We would begin with a run back down to Alexandria Bay, NY via the 1,000 Islands Parkway, where I would pick up the I-81 Southbound. We would no doubt stop over in Syracuse to feed and water ourselves.

Leaving Syracuse, NY it would then be another 467 miles (751kms) until we reached Middleton, VA. In all likelyhood, we would stop overnight in Pennsylvania. There are a number of great online search engines for locating accomodations along the way. The link below is just one of many I found, but is even more helpful than most, as it is 'Interstate specific':

The following morning, we would complete the leg of the journey which would lead us to exit I-81 at Middleton, Virginia. We would then take Rte.11 to SR55. Heading East for a mile or two, we would then arrive in Front Royal, VA. This is the North Entrance to the Shenandoah National Park, and the beginning of the Skyline Drive.

Travelling South some 105.5 miles, we would then arrive at Rockfish Gap, which is the South Entrance to the Park and Mile 0 of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The Blue Ridge Parkway meanders South for 469 miles (755km), along the backbone of the Blue Ridge Mountains, through some of the most breathtaking scenery the Eastern U.S. has to offer. I would expect we would take a good 2 days to complete this part of the trip, taking our time and participating in many walking and hiking tours as well as enjoying some good Southern cooking. Again, online information about available resorts along the Parkway is plentiful and you can book a reservation before you even leave your driveway. Failing that, I would carry a list of potential rest stops, along with their coordinates.

For such a scenic trip, some thought has also been given to bringing along a small laptop. This could be used for not only providing internet and e-mail access while on the road, but also for uploading pictures from our digital camera, enabling us to then clear the memory card and carry on taking pictures.Reaching the end of the Parkway in Cherokee, NC we would then take some time to browse around there and rest up. FromCherokee, we would then take Rte.19 to Almond, where we would pick up Rte.28 to Deal's Gap, which effectively is the beginning of the notorious Tail of the Dragon, US Hwy.129.

The Tail of the Dragon is a mere 11 mile stretch and as such will not take up a major amount of touring time. With that having been said though, one would want to complete it in both directions, to truly say that you had 'slain the Dragon'. And an extra run through would not be out of the question, just for the sheer fun of it. After having travelled all that distance, it would be a shame not to take advantage of it...

Following a thorough exploration of the Dragon, a more leisurely ride would be called for, after having returned to Deal's Gap to retrieve a well-earned t-shirt and other souvies. The Cherohala Skyway was completed in the fall of 1996 after being under construction for some thirty-four years. It is North Carolina's most expensive highway carrying a pricetag of $100,000,000. Winding up and over 5,400 foot mountains for 15 miles in North Carolina and descending another 21 miles into the deeply forested backcountry of Tennessee. The road crosses through the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests thus the name "Chero...hala". The Skyway is becoming well known in motorcycling and sportscar circles for it's long, sweeping corners and scenic views.

This road enthusiast's dream connects Robbinsville, North Carolina with Tellico Plains, Tennessee. It can be desolate at night and extremely dangerous in the winter months. There are no facilities other than restrooms for the entire 36 miles so travellers are advised to make sure they have enough gas to make the crossing. There is little evidence of civilization from views that rival or surpass any from the Blue Ridge Parkway. With it's elevations, it is said to have views to rival or surpass those offered by the Blue Ridge Parkway itself!

We would return to Robbinsville, NC for the evening, bedding down at one of the many local inns. At this point one would imagine it would be early in the evening, with plenty of time left to walk about, feed our faces and take in some of the sights. We could sit down and plan the next day's activities, which might include an expedition southeast of Robbinsville, which would lead us across the State line into Georgia. A scant 15 miles to the East of that and we would be in South Carolina. We could visit all four states in one day: Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia! Then would be the time to begin planning our return strategy.True, we could simply reverse directions and take the BRP back up North. Who knows...when the time comes, we may very well do just that. I have been nursing thoughts about reliving some of my previous trip to Daytona Beach, by meandering up through Virginia along Route 1. That however, would be a pretty long haul. Just as long as we manage to squeeze in a side trip to Gatlinburg, TN before we leave...

Man... what a trip that would be... :)

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