Saturday, November 3, 2007

Enough, already!

Friday, November 2nd, 1007
Flatwoods, West Virginia to Winchester, Virginia

200.0 miles
Heavy fog early, then sunshine

Enough already! The things I do to myself, and my coach, just to get a stamp on a map! I’m exhausted!

The last 800 plus miles have been thru absolutely spectacular picturesque gorgeous countryside – the rolling hills, the incredible colors, a few tiny towns, few people – I couldn’t have asked for more.

But it’s the hardest driving I’ve ever done. Narrow winding roads thru steep up and down hills – many miles in 2nd and 3rd gear – and several 9% grades in 1st gear. Hours at 25-30 mph. My hands are cramped, my shoulders are cramped and having spasms . . . I’m tired and beat up. I’ve seen enough pretty two lane roads to last me for a long time! And I truly hate to admit that!

I’ve said it before – my education was definitely lacking. I thought if you wanted to see the fall colors, you had to go way up north east to the New Hampshire, Vermont type area.

I’ve now covered a whole lot of territory, and seen some magnificent colors everywhere – and I’m delighted to have done it all!!!!!

More fun names too – Hillybilly Haven Log Cabin Rentals - Pruntytown - The Honeymooners Gun Store ?? A two-lane bridge that says “only one truck may cross at a time” did not give me a great deal of confidence!

Saw a Las Trancas Restaurant, which made my mouth water for the good Mexican food to be found at a Las Trancas in Rio Rico, Arizona!

I think I'll try to stick to highways for a while.

Candy Hill Campground
165 ward Avenue
Winchester, VA 22602

Amusing names

Thursday, November 1st, 2007
Meadows of Dan, Virginia to Flatwoods, West Virginia

259.4 miles
Sunny and cool

Lots of mention of Mayberry around here. A gal at a gas station told me that way back when, the Andy Griffith Show was often filmed in this area, hence everything carrying the name!

Back in the land of the riding lawn mowers – great big yards of green grass!

After a short stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway this morning, I moved on to the Virginia By-Way. Equally curvy and hilly and colorful as the previous drive!

Near Roanoke, passed the Catawaba Sanatorium – circa 1915 – which looks just like you might remember from weird movies! Not for crazy people though, but for those with 'consumption!'

You might notice on the map that I had a little detour – came to a low overpass that I could not sneak under. Took me 23 miles and almost 45 minutes to find a way around it!

Local elections here soon and one sign caught my eye – an old fashioned “wanted” poster, with picture, saying “Wanted – John Hall for Sheriff” – clever!!

Great names here is West Virginia – Towns like Ronceverte, Alderson Pense, Zickafoose, Muddlety! Possum Hollow Pizza – we deliver!

And, shiver, great big logging trucks trying to blow me off the narrow little winding road as they roar by! 

Interestingly, I have seen no signs of coal mining, which I thought was big in WV. Did see one sign advertising for an ‘underground mining specialist’ though.

One thing I'm sorry to see - the West Virginia land I've seen so far is rather like the jokes and media stories - dilapidated homes, beat-up old cars, tired looking people. Good country folk though, for the most part. Friendly, curious about this blonde driving the big box by herself.

Way pretty drive, all in all – but a long long day – and again, no phone, no internet, no TV. Maybe I should try sleeping!

Flatwood RV Park
2000 Sutton Lane
Sutton, WV 26601

Blue Ridge Parkway - WOW!

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007
Asheville, North Carolina to Meadows of Dan, Virginia

216.6 miles
COLD again and sunny

29 degrees, two mornings in a row. YUCK!

For the last couple weeks, I’ve been seeing some really pretty vines covering over other trees and shrubs. I know that’s not a good thing, and there’s a word for it that I can’t pull out right now, but it is attractive anyway. I’ve been trying to get a picture, while on the move, of course, and finally parked right beside some of the stuff last night. The park owner tells me it’s called kudzu, and it’s very unaffectionately know as “the plant that ate the South.” He told me that it was brought in by the government to try to improve the appearance of strip mines, where nothing else would grow. It started in Copperhill, Tennessee. What it does, when covering over trees, like in this picture, is kill the host tree. And of course there is no way to get rid of it now! There are similar stories around the country, and it’s frustrating. But pretty!

Words really cannot describe today’s drive! I followed one of my favored dotted roads – the Blue Ridge Parkway – and oh my goodness, is it a spectacular scenic road!

As the website says, "America's Favorite Drive winds its way 469 miles through mountain meadows and past seemingly endless vistas. Split-rail fences, old farmsteads and historic structures complement spectacular views of distant mountains and neighboring valleys.”

That pretty much covers it! I picked up the Parkway just outside Asheville and planned to take it all the way to my next RV park, in Meadows of Dan, Virginia.

But . . . the road is narrow, generally with no shoulder, extremely winding and hilly, with vistas of the distant mountains. Four hours into the day, only 100 miles up the road, I decided I had to find another way to my destination, sadly.

The vistas, the colors, what a magnificent drive – not, however, for a big motorhome! My hands ache, my shoulders ache, the pinched nerve in my back – all are screaming at me – I spent most of the drive in second and third gear, trying not to burn out my brakes; I was trying to gawk at the views, and point and shoot pictures, while not running off the road or running over other vehicles.

I highly recommend this drive to anyone anywhere near the area, especially if you have a sports car or a motorcycle (unless someone, such as I, is slowing the drive!) and I’d do it again in an instant! In a car.

I saw wild turkeys walking on the road, horses grazing in rich pastureland, lots of tunnels, and fall colors past their prime that were still some of the prettiest I’ve yet seen! Signs for wineries and vineyards, but again no grapes! Lots of field full of lovely shapely Christmas trees, ready for the coming season!

Without a doubt, one of the most beautiful drives in the nation!

Meadows of Dan, you ask? Interesting website on its history Apparently, its name is derived from being located near the headwaters of the Dan, and ‘the meadows’ because after a fire, the grasses grew to the height of a shoulder of a deer. I don’t know – you figure it out!

Colors are fading

Monday, October 29th, 2007
Bradley, Tennessee to Asheville, North Carolina

210.9 miles
COLD and sunny

Folks in this part of the country took the lessons from Katrina seriously – there are ‘evacuation route’ signs everywhere! Since there’s no need for speedy evacuation, I’m instead able to enjoy the very good Tennessee roads!

Scenic too – with trees in the medians, unlike Arizona which cuts down everything in sight, ‘for safety sake’, making the roads very boring! And as far as I’m concerned, I’d rather see a run-away vehicle hit a tree than drive head-on into a car load of kids!

Scenic with glimpses of ranch lands, pleasure horses, cattle and goats. Lovely countryside!

Criss-crossed the Watts Bar Lake, which looks considerably more like a river than a lake, with signs indicating dams, but I never saw them. Also saw signs of wineries and vineyards which also are in hiding somewhere!!

Gonna have to miss several turkey shoots planned thru the area over the next couple weeks.

The TVA, the Tennessee Valley Authority, still exists – signed into effect on May 18, 1933 by President Roosevelt - - has been one of the more innovative agencies created by the government…“a corporation clothed with the power of government but possessed of the flexibility and initiative of a private enterprise.”

Sevierville already has its streets decorated with holiday lights!

I’m reminded why autumn is not my favorite season – after all the spectacular fall colors I’ve enjoyed on my travels the last few weeks, the trees here are turning brown, with dry falling leaves, so the vista is of lifeless naked trees. I’ve never been fond of naked trees, and now even less so because of the previous marvelous colors. Depressing to me. Just my opinion.

Heading east, there are more signs of the drought this area has suffered. River beds are dry…crops dead in some fields. Mama Nature has not been sharing her wealth this year!

Big deal about the Biltmore Estate hereabouts – turns out to be understandable! “Biltmore House is a French Renaissance-inspired chateau near Asheville, North Carolina, built by George Washington Vanderbilt II in September between 1888 and 1895. It was the largest privately-owned home in the United States, at 175,000 square feet. Still owned by Vanderbilt's descendants, it stands today as one of the most prominent remaining examples of the Gilded Age.” Pretty fancy! 

Taps RV Park
1325 Tunnel Road
Asheville NC 28805

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