Friday, February 8, 2013

Pigeon Forge Conclusion

Hey Gang,
Well.... we survived our harrowing experience of the 82 scenic drive, from here is should be all down hill or maybe I should say down mountain.

Our next route is Rt. 60. I wanted to escape heading northeast because of the pending snow so decided 60 west to 23 north through Kentucky and Ohio would be safer. Kentucky? Yes, I wanted to take the long cut home.

Rt. 60 has some pretty mean twists and turns going down steep grades but after what we’ve been through it was a sort of a relief.

 If ever in this area slow down, well that was stupid you have to slow down or you will die especially with snow on the road, and check out Hawks Nest State Park on 60, another place with breath taking views. Just plain awesome!

A short distance from Gauley Bridge is the historic Glen Ferris Inn built in 1839. It looked a bit fancy but we were hungry so we stopped for lunch. We ordered pork loin chops, so tender. It came with potato, grilled vegetables and hot buns all for $11.99 not bad for an elegant inn with a chef. Another place on my list of must return. I want to get a room here and stay. A few of the past notable guests who stayed here are Andrew Jackson, Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley. Supposedly a few rooms are haunted but as long as the goblins let me sleep I don’t care.

That was our last real stop. I pretty much drove straight home from the inn.  We did drive past the capital building of Charleston W.V.  I always wanted to see it close up and just a brief jaunt off our route in Morehead, Ky. to visit a friend then back on 60 to 23 north and again in Waverly, Ohio to order pizza from Franks for the ride home. The deep dish pizza was pretty good. 

I was saddened to see Waverly and long stretches of Rt. 23 being developed. Waverly is a quaint charming city quickly changing. Now when you enter it from the south old Sciota Discount Store has been razed along with an old apartment style building and across from it is now Walmart. Progress? I don’t think so.

The same with a stretch of 23 before you get to Columbus. Prime farmland is fallen prey to corporation greed; Walmart and other chains are now popping up. They leave the small towns vacant and decaying and take away fertile ground for produce and livestock. Sad.

And with that - it’s a wrap. All in all, terrific time enjoyed the trip and travelin’ with Ruth.

Gotta GoGo!!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

6 Pigeon Forge

Hey Gang,  Its our last morning.  Heading home today.  There is snow on the ground and sunshine in the sky.  The TV is still giving travel warnings…  If traveling please bring blankets, food and drinks with you in case of being stranded.  I never saw that warning before but then again we're in the mountains and I guess if you slide off it could be days before you’re found.

We ran off our list, blankets – check, food – check, drinks – check so it was onward  to New River Gorge.  The truth is we almost needed those provisions and if I had to do it over again I wouldn’t.  It was that scary, no make it horrifying.  If I won’t speed and tell you not to try it, it has to be bad.  

The last time I was at New River was in the mid-90’s so my memory was a bit fogged.  We started off in historic Fayetteville.  The welcome center that has a sign proclaiming open year round was closed because of the snow.  So back on 19 and off at the next exit.  The National Park Visitor Center was also closed because of the weather but still not enough to deter me or should I say enough to light the bulb above my head that I shouldn’t go or don't be stupid.
I found a road on the area map that was outside of the welcome center, 82 scenic drive.   The drive had a number, the map had Fayette Station marked which sounded like a town to me so this must be the road to see the bridge.  It started off alright but quickly turned into a OH NO.  A narrow, I mean narrow road, more like a path with hairpin curves.  It was all one way, impossible to turn back.  A truck crept up behind me so I eased as far over without going off the edge of the drop off to let him pass.   Much later we caught up to the truck. 

We tried our best to enjoy the the awesome beauty but it sure was muted with fear.  I really had no time to look around as all my concentration was on the road.  Later on Ruth told me she saw a bird with a red beak but didn't want to take my attention away from the road that's how dangerous it was.  Serious there were sections that I really thought of just pulling over and waiting a day or two for the ice to melt.  The road slants in sections and being ice and snow covered I thought for sure we were doomed .One section the road was even flooded. 

Finally relief was up ahead, an arrow pointing to Fayette Station.   It turned out to be nothing more than a parking lot.  I found out later Fayette Station is actually the name of the road and the spot on the map was for the Fayette Station Bridge and parking area, no town at all. 

When we arrived at the bridge there was the truck we let pass.  He pulled over to take photos.  I thought it was time to stop also to snap some and relax for a few minutes.  When the man saw me he said glad to see you made it, didn't think you would.  I replied I felt the same.  

After gathering myself together it was back on the path or as they call it road.  Most of the way I drove 3 to 5 mph and only once or twice hit 10.  Impossible to go faster and maybe 10 was suicidal.  Nothing relaxing at all.  You know.... I should contact Chevy and have them do a commercial on my stunt.  And it really  was a stunt as we saw only one other vehicle besides the truck, a jeep.  But we made it.  BUT never again.  I think it put a bigger bald spot on my head.  Even Ruth spoke up twice and said it's scary. 

Gotta GoGo!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

5 pigeon forge

Hey Gang,
Our last morning at the Blue Green resort.  Sad to leave the place.  We didn’t use any of the facilities but our condo was well equipped with a wonderful large tub with whirlpool jets. 

 I need to give a warning, careful on how much bubble bath you use in a whirlpool tub.  I thought I was being attacked by the blob.

It seems like I always have at least one regret or wish that this or that would of happened instead.  It was the same on this trip.  I wasted so much time finding places to eat and going in circles that I wish I had that lost time back.  Food bought at the store and cooked would of actually saved time, money and is always way better in taste.  Our second to last night we did buy food to cook.  I made us steak and crab cakes, Ruth laid out the rice, spinach.  We had a nice feast on the patio at 11:30 pm in 68 degree temps.  How romantic and fun.

Thursday morning we left about noon and headed towards Jonesborough, Tn.. The route I drove from Gatlinburg followed the mountains, Smokies and Cherokee National Forest.  It was Rt. 321 through Newport to 75 through Jonesborough to 11E-321 through Johnson City to 91 through Elizabethton to 37 which changes to 19E which again changes to 11E19 and that ends at Bristol, Tennessee & Virginia.  There I blazed a trail for you, well sorta.  The entire route had spectacular scenery.  

For lunch we stopped at Tinkers on Rt. 321, don’t ask me exactly where it is but I can tell you this, it is small, independent, and the hot ham sandwich was delicious.  Yes Virginia there still are non corporate places to eat out there.

Before Jonesborough we made a stop in Newport.  Believe it or not we found a dry goods store, Newport Dry Goods.  It has wooden floors, ornate ceiling, unbelievably low prices and about 4 cashiers each in their own department with their own register just like years ago. Variety was pretty good also.  Ruth bought a couple of blouses,  I bought a surplus German army winter hat.  I told you the the variety was pretty good.

After that it was on to Jonesborough, Tennessee’s oldest town.  I found out about it doing an online search.  If ever in East Tennessee you have to check out this small city.  What charm, you will love the looks and feel of it.  The buildings were all very old but well kept.  Unfortunately we arrived late and it was the off season so many of the stores closed early.  I have to put this on my list of places to return to.  If possible I may even stay at one of the bed & breakfast, historic Eureka Inn on W. Main St. looked very inviting.

From there we headed to Elisabethton but it was late so not much to see or report other than a covered bridge in the middle of town and our eating experience at  Dino’s Italian Restaurant.  The place is honored with a plaque designating Dino’s as the first place to serve lasagna in Eastern Tennessee - 1960, if I remember the date correctly.  The meatballs were huge, the sauce tasted very homemade and the chicken tenders Ruth ordered were some of the best I ever tasted. 

After dinner onto Bristol, Tennessee not Bristol, Virginia.  At first back and forth Ruth and I went, Virgina - Tennessee.  Well guess what?  We both were right.  Leave Bristol, Tenn and you are in Bristol, Va..  It seems the state-line goes right through the city.

 From Bristol a short drive through the south western part of Virginia to our next destination Beckley WV.  HUH?  Yep.  I told Ruth you saw the mountains of Tennessee now I will show you another jaw dropping site – the New River Gorge Bridge.  

Not to far from Beckley the snow hit.  Travel warnings were blaring on the radio… We could expect an inch to three inches of snow, travel advisories are in affect.  1 to 2 inches up north ain’t nothin’ but on mountain roads as I found out, it can be treacherous.   I was beyond tired, almost blizzard like conditions on mountain roads at night, not a good combination so off the freeway.    We found a Travel Lodge that in its day it must have been a fine motel, now its retro old.  Cool if you are into reliving road trips back in the day.  But the room was cheap and clean.  
More when I wake.

Gotta GoGo!!