Thursday, November 14, 2013

Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway in a Motorhome

Our original plan was to spend two days driving the Blue Ridge Parkway but due to unforeseen circumstances we ended up with only one day to spend there. And, as all the attractions we wanted to visit were closed for the season, the drive becomes the story. And it was quite a drive.

We entered the parkway at Galax, VA with the plan to drive on it as far as possible, then exit and take interstate 40 to Asheville, NC and then on to Harrah's Cherokee Casino where we would spend the night.

The drive was spectacular.

There are many stone overpasses and low walls on the Parkway. Made with granite from the world's largest open face quarry in Mt. Airy, I expect.
Much of the Parkway is lined with split rail fences:
In other spots beautiful granite cliffs:
At one point this herd of Highland cattle came to check out our progress:
The Parkway runs along a ridge up and over mountain tops so the views are spectacular:
At the lookoff where the next picture was take we met a woman who told us we were at the highest point on the Parkway and that the weather there was the same as in Alaska. She is a nurse in an intensive care ward and drives over that section of the Parkway each day on her way to and from work. Helps her keep perspective on life she said. Apparently it had snowed there already this fall. Glad we missed that!
In the photo below you can see the blue haze over the mountains that gives them their name:
It was pretty early in the morning when we started out so the high spots on the ridge still had some lingering fog:
At one point we encountered a detour:
That took us down the mountain and through a area of very large Christmas tree farms. For someone who lives close to the "Fir Christmas Tree Capital of the World" (That would be Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia) this was really interesting.
After about 120 miles of this we decided that we better exit and take the interstate if we were going to make it to the casino before dark. Immediately after we exited we encountered this sign:
And then this one:
As you know there is little opportunity to turn around when driving a 38 foot motorhome, towing a car, through the mountains. The grade was 6% (fortunately, I had no idea what this meant) and Arch was thrilled to practice his driving skills.  And there were trucks ahead of us on the road so we figured we would be fine. And we were.

We exited the interstate just past Asheville to drive into the mountains again to get to the casino. Following road signs that directed us through the Maggie Valley commercial strip. Then we started to climb, and climb. Then down the mountain we went:
 It is really hard to show you in a photo how steep the road was but the grade was 7.5 %. I did not need to know what that meant to know it was tricky driving. After about 10 miles of this we arrived at the casino:
The casino provides RVers with beautiful (free for 1 night) parking spots beside a walking trail and a small cheek. Very calming after such a harrowing drive.

Later we took the shuttle bus to the casino and asked the driver about the road in. "Oh heavens" he said, "the signs and GPS tell you to come that way but there is a much better, four lane road in over there. The Maggie Valley business association doesn't want the directions changed because it will hurt business" Personally, I think some higher authority should overrule the Maggie Valley business association.

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1 comment:

  1. Glad you made it down the mountain! Thank goodness for exhaust brakes!

    Love the last picture with the colorful foliage:)

    Sorry the Music Center was closed. The jam sessions are so much fun to sit and listen to.


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