Thursday, September 19, 2013

Blue Ridge Parkwarkway - Day One

Yes, we're off on another adventure! We finally finished up all but a few small tasks with Darin and Diane's new house and decided to reward ourselves. We have enjoyed our overnight scooter/motorcycle trips in the past, and decided to do another one. This one will be much longer than any of the previous ones. It will probably take more than a week.

We left Cleveland/Benton Tennessee where we have been staying for the past few months and rode east about 100 miles to Cherokee, NC, the start of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Even the trip to Cherokee was a beautiful ride. The trees and greenery, the hills, mountains and rivers combine to make this part of the country very beautiful.

The Parkway is 469 miles long and runs through North Carolina and Virginia. At the northern end of the Parkway we plan to transition to Skyline Drive which continues another 105 miles to a point only about 40 miles from Washington, DC.

The speed limit on the whole Parkway is only 45 MPH, but most of the time you can't drive any faster anyway. The road lives up to its name. It indeed follows the ridge line of the mountains. Many times we found ourselves heading southwest instead of the overall direction of northeast. We climbed from about 2,000 feet to over 6,000 in short order, and there were many times we could see out both sides of the road to the valleys far below and the mountains marching off in the distance in both directions.

As we rode along we thought of Dale's hike last year. His route paralleled our route for much of the way, but I suspect ours was much easier. I can't imagine slogging this area on foot with a 35 pound pack on my back.

Unlike the Natchez Trace which we rode a couple years ago, the Blue Ridge Parkway does not have a lot of stops for anything except views. Not that many people lived right on the ridge of the mountains. Surprisingly we also found that many of the pullouts with signs for a view of some mountain or valley would only have been worthwhile in the winter when there were no leaves on the trees. It was impossible to see anything except the trees! Of course, not all the stops were like this, but in this part of the Parkway, at least 3 out of 4 were.

The weather forecast for Thursday and Friday was for a 30 percent chance of showers. Naturally that means that you have a 100 percent chance of getting wet, which we did. As neared the highest parts of the road south of Asheville, NC we found ourselves riding above the clouds, and then in them. Visibility dropped to 100 feet or so and a light rain began. It wasn't bad, but we still stopped and put on our rain gear.

We encountered light showers one more time before we dropped into Asheville where we stopped for the night. It was a fun day with very pretty things to see. We're looking forward to more to come, although the forecast is again for a 30 percent chance of rain tomorrow, followed by a 100 percent chance on Saturday.

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