For the first time in three days I have semi-reliable connectivity, so I’m hoping I can catch up on a few posts – hurray! :) This post dates back to Friday, November 7th. — We continue to make our way south. We have a couple more national parks to visit before we take our Thanksgiving break back up in Chicago and Appleton with family and friends; visits we are very much looking forward to! As we were planning our November travel, we learned that the Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Scenic Byway, making it a must-see/must-drive on. It connects Shenandoah NP in Virginia all the way to Great Smoky Mountain NP in North Carolina – how convenient as that’s exactly our itinerary!
Not so fast, though… upon further study, we didn’t think we wanted to drive the whole thing. Even through this is an All-American Road noted for its scenic beauty, we didn’t feel the need to enjoy all 469 miles of the parkway as the maximum speed limit is just 45 m.p.h. – a bit slow, even for Charley! It seems to be a dream for motorcyclists, though. Driving along the crests of the southern Appalachian Mountains through ancient bedrock, rolling forests, and 200+ small towns… not seeing a single billboard or road sign… marveling at the 151 bridges built by the WPA/CCC over several decades (construction on the parkway began in the 1930s, but it was not finished until the 1980s)… stopping at some of the 275 scenic vistas along the route… experiencing an untouched and untamed oasis of calm… while all of this would be lovely, we don’t have the time for it to take four days! We decided to drive a few portions of it, so planned our itinerary accordingly.
We spent a couple of nights in a great little campground on a mountaintop just outside of Asheville, NC. We had a few ‘big city’ errands to take care of there – got an oil change for Toad at the Subaru dealer and had some PC issues taken care of at Office Max – places we hope not to be too near any more than we have to on this trip. As we left Asheville, we stopped in at the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center for yet another stamp in our NPS Passport books, then headed on down the road, er, parkway…. Next stop: Great Smoky Mountains National Park.