Wednesday, April 20, 2005

YeeHaw Welcome to the South

You didn't think I was really going to wait until I got back to Somerville before updating my LJ did you. The way my luck was going with wireless internet connections its a wonder I got this far. Now for a quick update and maybe a few pictures if you are lucky and I can stay up that long.

Saturday (April 16th)
Woke up bright and early and drove south. We made great time and were in DC after only about eight hours. Since we were trying to be spontaneous we hadn't booked a hotel so using google text messaging and good old cold calling we managed to find a place about ten miles outside of Chapel Hill, NC. Finally twelve hours after leaving Somerville we were at the hotel. After unloading we rushed out to take in the sites of downtown Chapel Hill. It is a classic college town and reminded me a lot of State College, PA. It was rather deserted, which we found strange. After wandering around for a little while we ate and then retired for the evening.

Sunday (April 17th)
After an early start we decided to go back to Chapel Hill and see what it looked like in the daylight. The weather was fantastic and the town was even more beautiful. The streets were oddly quiet because there were preparations going on for an annual festival called Apple Chill. We grabbed a couple coffees and were back on I-40 driving westward before long. A few hours later we arrived in Asheville, NC. It is a city nestled among the mountains. The downtown area was really cool and small enough that you could walk most of the area in a couple hours. We walked around a bit, ate lunch, had some dessert, booked a room for the next day and just plain relaxed. For our night in Asheville we had booked a cabin at the Log Cabin Motor Court. It was this place where they built about eight different cabins and you get one all to yourselves. Quite different from the Carolina Duke Motor Inn from the night before. In the afternoon we went to the botanical gardens and then to Beaver Lake, a small recreational lake for fishing with a very relaxing area of land around it. I was beat at this point and went right to sleep out in the warm sun. We had dinner back at the cabin before going in to town for a little live music.
Chapel Hill, NC and downtown Asheville, NC
Botanical Gardens and Beaver Lake, Asheville, NC.

Monday (April 18th)
After sleeping in a little it was time to get started on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We found our way up this windy dirt road through the forest to the parkway. It was amazing. Basically picture the Kancamagnus Highway, but almost five hundred miles long. We followed the road for about thirty miles to Mt. Mitchell State Park. We drove to the top of Mt. Mitchell, the tallest point east of the Mississippi. It was chilly at the top and nobody was around except for a couple park rangers. On the way there we had seen a bunch of signs about the road being closed and found out there were some landslides north of where we were and we had to go back to Asheville. So we turned around and drove an hour back to Asheville. Even worse we had to make a two hour detour to meet up with the parkway again above the landslides. 150 miles of interstate later and we were back on the parkway just north of the VA-NC border. The part we were driving on now wasn't as mountainous, but it was still quiet and peaceful. We continued along stopping at overlooks or little sights along the way. I have to say driving down this road was so peaceful and relaxing, it might have been slower than the interstate, but I liked flying up and down mountain passes and around curves without the annoyance of three lanes of traffic. Three hours after getting back on the Parkway we were in Roanoke. Our arrival was very abrupt since we were immediately thrown in to a commercial zone. We found the hotel and once again set out to find the hot spots of Roanoke. Unfortunately we were disappointed to find that yet another southern city was devoid of any people in its major downtown area at night. Luckily Jennifer remembered the name of a place she had seen in the Let's Go USA book and we ate a fantastic dinner of pizza. I couldn't believe how dead the place was, granted it was a Monday night, but at least a couple of places should have been open.

Tuesday (April 19th)
After a horrible nights sleep we made our way back downtown to check out the farmer's market, what we found was three little stands set up one of which was selling fruit and the other two were selling flowers. What a bust? So it was back to the Blue Ridge Parkway for a few more hours of the most scenic road I have ever driven. Once again we stopped along the way and did a little hiking and a little picture taking. According to the books it was the most popular part and I can now understand why. It starts off in farm country and gradually climbs upward until you are weaving around dangerous mountain passes. Truly amazing!!! We completed the parkway in the early afternoon and found ourselves in Charlottesville, home of the one and only Dave Matthews Band. The first thing we did in C-ville was go to the Thomas Jefferson Vineyards. I found it on the internet and figured why not check it out. The wine was delicious and the tasting only cost a dollar each. The wine server was great and filled us in on places to see in town. It was getting hot and humid and even sprinkled a bit before we found our hotel. Once again Priceline had come through and provided us with another decent place to stay for the low price of $45. We weren't in the hotel a half hour before it was time to get back out there and explore the latest southern city. Downtown Charlottesville has a really great feel. There is an area called the mall where there are a bunch of shops, restaurants and cafe's. It is outside and a great place to hang out. We stopped in a bunch of shops and I even had a beer in the bar where Dave Matthews used to work. For dinner I was craving Mexican so we found this awesome place called Mono Loco. The food was phenomenal. It was still early in the evening and we couldn't wait two hours for live music so we decided to come back to the hotel.

Tomorrow will involve driving Sky Line Drive through Shenandoah National Park and after following Route 66 back to DC, we shall turn north for Aberdeen, MD. Lots more to come since the week isn't even half over. Talk to y'all soon.

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