We took a little trip up to North Carolina this weekend. The purpose of the drive was two fold, a few Motoring Challenge points and my sister’s 60th birthday.
Saturday’s goal was driving up to the top of the highest point east of the Rockies, Mount Mitchell. This was going to get us 1 point each for a sign with 8% (or greater) grade on it, famous road for the Blue Ridge Parkway and Mount Mitchell being one of Nature’s Giants. After an unimpeded spirited run up North Carolina 80 to the Parkway, we were surprised to see we couldn’t head south to Mt. Mitchell. The Road Closed gates were padlocked shut, leaving us no other option but to drive back down the windy road.
Turns out the last weeks’s winter precipitation still covered some of the parkway, never mind on the higher elevation of the mountain. This was a very minor setback as we had already snagged a few points for some other destinations, oddities and a random 1964–1/2 Ford Mustang parked in front of bar. The road block turns out to have been a bonus in a way as it means we have to take another run at conquering Mount Mitchel and having to drive the twisty roads on the North Carolina mountains.
Sunday was set aside for bringing bagels for breakfast to the birthday girl. We stopped in at Joey’s NY Bagels as it is right on the way to her house. We bought 4 poppy seed bagels, Diane and her husband Allan’s favorite and 4 plain for Donna and I. One each for the four of us and one each for later. After a couple hours of chatting around the kitchen table it was time for Donna and I to drive back home to prepare for the next week of exciting valve building.
I’ve got a couple other little stories of the trip that I’ll try and write about tomorrow and Thursday. Here is a sneak peek of them — 1) Waffle House & 2) Gate House. Until then, marvel in the weirdness that is two grown adults having their picture taken with a car and an object or scene holding up what is essentially and advertisement for a car parts business:
Two weeks ago I changed the oil and rotated the tires on the CTBNL because we were getting ready to take a weeks vacation and drive to Louisiana. After studying the future weather in Hammond all week with figures crossed, on Friday night we gave up hope and started to pack like we had 3 times the storage space of a Miata, because we did. The forecast said anywhere from 100% to a low of 60% chance of rain/thunderstorms for the entire four days we’d be there and for the drive both there and back. We’d take the Sonata.
We still were going to take the back roads as both Donna and I abhor the Interstates. We simply enter home as the start and add our the destination into Google maps while selecting the Avoid Highways option. We then made a couple of slight shifts in the route to accommodate our choice of an overnight stay and a small bit of nostalgia. 673 miles/12 hours 56 minutes There was of course a few more minor shifts (and one major) in the route on the fly as usually happens when we get going.
The minor shifts mostly involve wandering around looking for suitable lunch places. Because the route and timing may fluctuate it is nearly impossible research every little town and every little eatery on the internet beforehand, so we are usually end up relying on our Garmin GPS. And while I try to keep the maps updated (and I did just before the trip) its database of places to eat is not that comprehensive, so we’ll roll up on what is supposed to be a chosen lunch spot and it will be out of business, only serves dinner or there are no cars in the parking lot. So we try again. If that fails we will try and find a local and ask, “Where is a good place for lunch.” This works well, if you can find someone knowledgeable, but you might be surprised at how many people say, “I don’t know, I just work here. I live in another town.”
The major one happened because we were using the map of Alabama that we used 2 years ago for the Motoring Challenge Loop and it had a nice highlighted route on it. On that trip our last stop over was in Evergreen at a Sleep Inn & Suites, somehow we got that in our heads that that was where were going, except we were staying at a Holiday Inn Express this time. As we got closer and closer to Evergreen the GPS was kept telling us to veer north. Finally Donna pulled out the reservation email and noticed that the HIE was up the road northwest 35 miles. If you leave the GPS in the Avoid Highways mode and select Shortest Distance under navigation, the route turns very zig-zaggy and adventuresome just to save possibly a few feet.
Visibility along the Gulf Coast last Friday was a little more than a mile in spots (or 66,000 inches) and along there somewhere the Purple Whale passed the 66,000 mile mark.
While walking along the Island Ford Road near Ninety Six, SC always be on the lookout for the Cherokee.
After a somewhat noisy night in the Tolovana Inn, we awoke to partly cloudy skies instead of the rain that we thought we’d get. A few minutes later it poured for about 5 minutes then stopped.
Because it was low tide this morning when we walked down to Haystack Rock, we could walk right up to it. On the way back to the hotel we stopped in to a local place, Sea Level Bakery + Coffee for a light breakfast.
We got sprinkled on during the short walk back to the hotel, that and the earlier shower were a harbinger of the day to come. The whole drive from Cannon Beach to Granite Falls it rained, sprinkled or was sunny for brief and alternating periods.
We spent last night in Medford, Oregon and tonight we are in our favorite town in the whole state, Cannon Beach. Along the way we saw some elk, a lighthouse and some California gray whales.
I was driving along towards the Oregon coast when I noticed a sign that said elk viewing area, so I pulled in. It was a big old open marshy area and we got lucky, there actually were some elk to view. There were four of them and they were a long way off, so much so that you can barely tell what they were. Trust me, they’re elk. We stopped at an overlook on US101 and there was a lighthouse on a point across the way, Heceta Head Lighthouse. I actually took a picture of the same lighthouse from the same place in 2011. We walked up to the lighthouse and there was a crowd along the fence looking down at the ocean. There was a small pod of whales swimming around feeding just off the point. It was 200 feet down, so it is kind of hard to tell exactly what they are, but trust me, they’re California gray whales.