"if you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much room"

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway Vacation Day 4

We checked out of the motel about 8:00am Monday morning and headed south into The Smokey Mountain National Park. We were heading to Cherokee N.C. which sits on the opposite side of the mountains from Gatlinburg. The 30 mile ride took us almost an hour because of the elevation changes and the switch backs along the route. The scenery was spectacular and we passed thru a couple of tunnels (little did we know these were only the 1st of several).
Arriving in Cherokee we looked for a restaurant with that "local flavor" we enjoy. We decided on the Little Princess Restaurant. Sometimes local flavor isn't what it's cracked up to be, and we were both disappointed in the meal. I really thought being in the South you couldn't go wrong ordering biscuits and gravy, this place proved me wrong. BLAH!

The Blue Ridge Parkway's southern terminus is at the National Park entrance in Cherokee. The parkway runs 496 miles north east to Shenandoah National Park in Virgina. The road twists and turns thru the mountains and valleys with a maximum speed limit of 45 mph. Commercial traffic is not allowed and there are no stop signs or stop lights the entire length. This is a motorcyclist dream road.

We headed onto the parkway and quickly started climbing. There was very little traffic and the weather was cool compared to what we had been experiencing. There are numerous overlooks on this southern stretch, just about every mile or two you can stop and look at the marvelous views across the mountains.

We passed thru several tunnels one of which was over 1500' long and had a nice curve in the middle of it. None of the tunnels had lights in them and driving into them from the bright sunlight was a hazard I hadn't thought of.

There are no services on the parkway and you have to exit for fuel, food and the occasional potty stop. The only exception is Mt Pisgah Inn which is high in the mountains and has a restaurant, store and bathrooms. They even have employee housing on site since it's miles from the nearest town.

We took our time and stopped at several of the pull off's. We tried to find the ones that had an information sign explaining the area or the view you were looking at. We pulled off in Ashville and found a lunch spot. The temperature off the parkway was at least 10* warmer and we were quickly shedding our coats as soon as we stopped.

We decided that Boone N.C. would be reasonable distance to ride before stopping for the night. We spent the rest of the afternoon doing the same as we had all morning, enjoying the ride, the scenery and each others company.

As we approached the exit for Boone we started seeing road construction signs and then detour signs. We made it to our exit but good thing we had not planned on going further, the parkway was closed for bridge repair.

We found a really nice Quality Inn with a Sagebrush Steakhouse across the street. We walked to dinner and then came back to the motel for a quick dip in the pool and then settled in for the night. I was able to research the road construction on the Internet and found that the parkway was closed for about 8 miles and then open for 5 and then closed again for several more miles. We decided to by pass the construction and head for Mt. Airy N.C. which is the hometown of Andy Griffith and the famous T.V. town of Mayberry is loosely based on. I have always been a big Mayberry fan and figured we had better check this out! I'll keep you posted.

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