Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Highway Sets the Traveler's Stage

So here we are. My journey has all but come to an end as I pause in New Jersey before completing the last leg back to New England (and before soon embarking on a new long-term journey to Boston). After a mundane driving day (I thought about waking up early to give Shenandoah one more shot at a sunrise but chose instead to sleep until a normal hour), I thought this space would be better spent reflecting on the tumultuous experience that was the past week.

Friday, April 19, 2013

We Have Come This Far, Always Believing

What a strange day. It didn’t really have a beginning, since I went right from writing last night’s post into watching breaking news coverage of what at the time looked like a random crime spree around Boston but that was getting national coverage because all the media in the country was already there. When I decided to go to bed around 2:30 that was still all it was.

From there, things got weird. The first important piece of information is that the Motel 6 sheets were made of some strange material that got much warmer than most sheets. The other key piece of information is that the TV in the room had no sleep timer. Combined, these factors led me to wake up several times during the night to adjust the heat, while also hearing a version of the story that was slightly different from the last one. It wasn’t until 8:00 when the alarm went off that Morning Joe proclaimed “it’s all connected, folks.”

Thursday, April 18, 2013

On Top of Old Smoky

While it wasn’t covered in cheese, it was still the main event on today’s schedule. But before I get to that, there is much scenic driving to report:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Chasing Waterfalls


I laid out a rather ambitious plan for today – carefully navigate to 4 waterfalls in a precise order and then wind up a dirt road to set up camp and climb a mountain. All this needed to happen within 12 hours.

With so many places where parts of today’s plan could have gone awry, I’m pleased to report that I reached each of those destinations and did everything I wanted to do at all of them. The only low points of the day, and to call them low points is a stretch – were that I didn’t get as good of a picture of Looking Glass Falls as I had hoped and I wasn’t so happy with the Max Patch Road. But more on those momentarily. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

After the Morning After

 North Carolina comes through again. Having trudged through 200 miles of fog yesterday all through Virginia – your remember Virginia: my least-favorite state due to its questionable politics, overeager state troopers, those ugly-named suburbs of DC, and Shenandoah National Fog Park – I awoke today to a Virginia invasion across its southern border. In other words, Wildcat Rock was still enveloped quite thickly in fog. In fact, after turning out all the car lights last night the fog still seemed to glow even though there weren't any signs of civilization for miles. Spooky.

With no Plan B, I just kept on going down the Blue Ridge Parkway, knowing that the forecast called for “AM clouds / PM sun” and that the road would be rising higher than in Virginia, which might put me above the fog. Apparently I also had the sun on my side, as it burned off all of the fog by the time I stopped in Boone (yes, a real place name – as is “Gooch Gap”) at 9:00. Of course, by that point I had reached the one stretch of the Parkway that I was able to drive last year so there was nothing new to see. I was even there at the same time of day.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Fire & Rain

We awoke this morning in a fog. It was a fog so thick that the outside world seemed almost to fade away, leaving only Latke and me as survivors within our front-seat universe. Nevertheless we set out, treading slowly and carefully through a world indifferent to our plans and itinerary.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Dog & Her Boy

Unfortunately, nothing particularly interesting happened today (Note to self: Do not start posts with "nothing interesting happened today" if you want people to read it). Which is not to say it was a wasted day. It got me in position to begin my assault on the Blue Ridge parkway in the morning, but more importantly it gave me some valuable information about my travel companion and gave me a general idea of what it will be like to drive another 1,800 miles with her.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Everything Old Is New Again

So here we are again, on the eve of another road trip adventure. Having procrastinated all day, my bags are finally packed, my itinerary set, and my dog sufficiently confused. In the morning the two of us will head out once again towards the Blue Ridge Mountains. This time, the goal was initially to go back and see the places on the Blue Ridge Parkway that were closed when I was there last February. But then when I found out that the governor of North Carolina will personally send you some pretty good swag for driving the entire 469 miles and becoming an “end-to-ender” I decided to try that. Throw in a little bit of Great Smoky Mountains National Park that I missed last time (namely Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in the park), some waterfalls in nearby Transylvania County, and a couple of strategic stops along Skyline Drive at Shenandoah, and my week was pretty much filled out. As usual, here’s the plan, courtesy of Google Maps: