Gents and ladies;
I just completed a 5-day 1,500 mile RoadTrip in my wife's no longer new Chevy Equinox. The routing was from Raleigh, NC to LaGrange, GA, thence to Talladega Superspeedway, and the next two days from LaGrange through Boone, NC, and back to Raleigh. The purpose of the trip was to attend a reunion of college friends from back in the early 1970s, spend a day fishing on West Point Lake, see the NASCAR race on Sunday, then two of us took in around 200 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) on the return trip.
I got started at 0330 on Friday 30 October. I favor the I-95/I-20 route to the south side of Atlanta since it's barely longer and is much flatter. It also lacks much of the heavy truck traffic of I-85. Having left a couple of hours sooner than needed, I stopped by the Lake Murray Dam outside of Columbia, SC, where a friend from geology school days had spent around 8 years on the "backup dam" project.
Having dawdled a bit, I was right on time to pick up some of the fly-in crew at the Atlanta airport. I often wonder why more airports don't do as is done in Salt Lake City: create a "cell phone lot" well away from the parking decks, etc, but within the "loop drive" to and from the terminals. Those picking up arrivals can wait there for a cell phone call from their arrival party. At SLC, there are even illuminated sign boards showing arrival and baggage status for each flight. It's a great system, but not employed at Hartsfield-Jackson Intl.
A good day's fishing for striped bass on West Point Lake followed on Saturday. We got wet early on and the temps never rose above the high 50s, but we were properly attired and suffered little.
Early Sunday morning, we set out for the racetrack, some 100 miles northwest and across the southwesternmost tail of the Appalachian Mountains. We took a side-trip to Cheaha Mountain, the highest point in Alabama, and one recently visited by Lifemagician on her epic cruise of the US. The race was OK (Talladega is my least-favorite track) but we had a rollicking good time with the crowd of mostly Junior Nation fans.
On Monday morning, with one other, I drove via Interstates 85 and 26 to Asheville, NC and there got on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The weather was crystal-clear, so Mount Mitchell was on the agenda. At the point at which we got on the BRP, the bridge over the French Broad River is mere feet over 2,000' elevation. Around an hour later, the peak of Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi River, is reached, and the elevation there is 6,684'. We could clearly see Grandfather Mountain, Unaka Mountain (site of an early October cruise), and Mount Rogers, VA, the latter being some 80 miles distant. It was an awesome hour at the top.
From Mount Mitchell, it was a very light-traffic 50 miles to the Blowing Rock exit, nearby to my family's vacation home. Much to my surprise and pleasure, we arrived mere minutes before the sun set behind Grandfather Mountain. We've always called it "bagging a sunset" so that was an unexpected pleasure.
Early Tuesday morning, we ventured north on the BRP and got as far as Meadows of Dan, VA. Around half of that segment is new ground for me, so while the scenery in that part of VA isn't as dramatic as that along the BRP in NC, it was very enjoyable to be breaking new ground.
Turning east on US 58 at Meadows of Dan, we stopped for a few minutes at "Lovers Leap", an overlook of the Blue Ridge enscarpment some 5 miles east of Meadows of Dan. Then it was down the mountain to Martinsville, VA, where we stopped by the historic Martinsville NASCAR racetrack. The gate to the track itself was open and it was surely tempting to take the 'Nox out for a few hot laps. Common sense prevailed, however.
On the home stretch, we stopped by Virginia International Raceway (VIR). Our good luck continued as there was a testing session for the Porsche Rolex Grand Am teams, so we spent an hour watching some very fast V8 Porsches working over the 3.27 mile road course at VIR.
Steaks and fine wine at Raleigh's Angus Barn rounded out the trip quite nicely. We're already scheming for the next outing.