Day 33 – She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain…

19th July 2018

Woke up early… got myself sorted and make my way to the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It’s just 35 or so miles from Gatlinburg, but the road passes over the highest point in the Smoky Mountains and crosses the state line between Tennessee and North Carolina.

Do you think this is why they’re called the Smoky Mountains?

The highest point is so high that the clouds are billowing over the top… giving the impression of fog, but it is the actual clouds… a bit damp and chilly but spectacular.

It’s certainly quite twisty in sections; nothing compared to the tail of the dragon though, so I’m an old hand now, lol.

A few miles further on and I come to the state line…

The road actually passes the entrance to the BRP, but I carry on a couple of miles into the town of Cherokee in search of a coffee and something to eat.

Of course the name gives it away.. it’s the capitol of the Cherokee Nation.

I manage to find a coffee/diner type stall and get something to eat… I see this shop, with a name like that I just have to go in for a look.  It’s all metal work, some of which is very good, but not for me…

Back on the bike and return to the entrance of the BRP.  It’s 469 miles long and ideally I would like to ride the whole thing, but I feel it’s not going to be possible given I am still some 600 miles from New York.

It’s a very beautiful road, the scenery is outstanding and, as it’s a national park, very well maintained.

The views are stunning, especially once the sun comes out to play.

At the overlooks, where the park service have created areas to pull over and admire the views, there are often information boards…

I am particularly surprised by this one… I know the expression ‘groundhog day’ but never given it much thought, so this was a revelation

How cute are they, but I now realise what the furry little roadkill I saw earlier was… aww what a shame. Speaking of roadkill, haven’t seen much wildlife yet, apart from this and also a dead doe on the side of the road, probably both hit by cars… am surprised they didn’t take the deer home.

At another of the overlooks I bump into a couple who are riding north to south… we chat for a few minutes. They tell me there are Elk feeding on the side of the road just past a tunnel a little further on, they had to slow down for them. Oh goody, I can’t wait.

I pass through said tunnel slowly as I don’t want to frighten them off, but they either heard me coming or have eaten their fill because there’s not an Elk to be seen, damn!

I do turn on the GoPro though, just in case. I decide to let it run for about 10-15 minutes to save editing and just before I am due to turn it off a doe suddenly appears ahead and walks across the road in front of me, luckily I am far enough away to slow down, but am delighted that the camera is still running as I wouldn’t have time to get the still camera or my iPhone out before she was gone. I leave the camera running a bit longer, just in case more deer appear. (As you know I can’t upload the video until I get home).

I am heading to Asheville for my first stop.  About 10 miles before the turn off of the BRP to Asheville there are road works and the road has become one way.  I have to stop and wait to be allowed to continue so I turn off the engine as these stops can be quite lengthy.  After about 10 minutes the guy controlling the traffic flow comes over to me and says ‘my advice is to turn around and go back down to Cherokee and take the interstate, the road ahead is loose gravel and we already had a couple of motorcycle incidents’, ‘how long is the gravel, I’m heading for Asheville’ ‘it’s about 10 miles so you can get to Asheville on the interstate, it’s better to be safe if I was you’, ‘yes absolutely and thanks…  can I get onto the interstate at Hendersonville?’ ‘Yes you can’. ‘Thanks’.  I had just passed a turn off for Hendersonville so that’s better than having to go all the way back to Cherokee.  I turn around and am soon entering Asheville.  I find a Starbucks and have a look at my options.  There are places to stay on and near to the BRP, but they are very expensive.  I decide to stop here for the night and find a motel… the Mountaineer Inn is a good deal and only 2 miles from me.  I arrive quite early and have picked up a microwave meal in a petrol station… yep it’s shit, you’d think I would live and learn wouldn’t you… Motel is about average, but compared to what I have had in Maryville it’s a dump, but sometimes you get what you pay for and sometimes, like Maryville, you get a pleasant surprise, so no problem really.

It’s back to the BRP tomorrow, after Starbucks of course.

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