Smokies - Day 03
Monday, August 15, 2005

Narrative

Today we traveled from Cherokee, NC to Aiken, SC.

From the motel we drove a short way up US Route 441 and entered the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The weather was warm and sunny. Certainly better than the last time we drove through the park. The Park is beautiful, peaceful and awesome! See pix below.

About half way through the Park we took a side trip to Clingman's Dome. According to the map, this is the highest point in Tennessee. 6,643 feet. That's up there. Enough to make your ears pop on the way up and on the way down.

Please pardon a short rant: When we got to Gatlinburg, I stopped at a Subway and got a 6" roast beef sandwich and a drink. I was sorta mentally figuring the amount of the bill. But the cashier surprised me with an amount more than I expected. I asked why. He said it was probably the sales tax which is eleven cents on the dollar! I paid and he handed me the bill and, sure enough, the difference was the sales tax. 11% sales tax. Outrageous!! Rant over. Sorry :)

We picked up US Route 321 when we exited the Park. Eastward to Hwy 329. This is the short road I mentioned in the Route overview as being interesting as it said on the map, "Closed from Nov to Apr." See map pix below.

Driving 329, better known as the Foothills Parkway, I can see why it is closed in the winter. Very, very steep grades both up and down and very sharp turns. Lots of fun to drive though. And the scenic views are beautiful.

From 329 we got on I40 (I know that's against the rules :) But there is no other way to go.) back into North Carolina and got off at Exit 20 and got onto US Route 276. We took 276 south through Waynesville, and Cruso, crossed the Blue Ridge Parkway and on to Brevard.

We got to Brevard about 4pm. I did some rough calculations and figured we were five hours from home. So, do we camp another night and drive home tomorrow (Tuesday) morning or do we make a run for home? The Navigator and I discussed this for a little while. I think he was leaning towards camping another night. But then I pointed out that if we drive home tonight we can make the weekly Pet Therapy visit Tuesday morning. That's all he needed to hear :)

We got home about 9pm. A very beautiful trip.

Pictures

Click on a pix for a larger view

This is the sign at the main entrance. This stream runs beside the road for a good ways through the park. The Navigator and I walked up this trail about 1/2 mile. Very lush. Further futile attempts...
at capturing the beauty... of this place. This pix was taken at Clingman's Dome. The dead trees in the foreground are being killed by the Southern Pine Beatle, a real pest. There were many, many dead pine trees here. A shame! You can see Hwy 329 on this map. Note how jagged the line is. The actual highway is the same.
This is the sign at the beginning of this part of Hwy 329. Note the ever-alert forest animal posing with the sign, wondering how long it will before the next handout arrives. A view from Hwy 329. I was in shadow (in fact it was raining slightly) but off in the distance, through the air pollution haze, the sun was shinning brightly.

Stats

Mileage:
Beginning time: 10:00am
Ending time: 9:00pm
Net driving time (includes stops, etc.): 11 hours
Begining odometer: 137,951
Ending odometer: 138,322
Net miles today: 371
Average MPH: 34
Total trip mileage: 844

Expenses:
Gasoline: $38.00 - $2.489/gallon in Waynesville, NC
Food, ice, etc.: $12.00
Lodging: $0.00
Other: $0.00

Thought For The Day

From TrailofTears in VA:

Only a fool thinks we can squander freedom in a phony exchange for safety without becoming a slave.

Joke

From Dorothy in SC:

Clever business signs:

On a Septic Tank Truck in Oregon: Yesterday's Meals on Wheels

On a Septic Tank Truck sign: "We're #1 in the #2 business."

Sign over a Gynecologist's Office: "Dr. Jones, at your cervix."

At a Proctologist's door "To expedite your visit please back in."

On a Plumber's truck: "We repair what your husband fixed."

On a Plumber's truck: "Don't sleep with a drip. Call your plumber.."

Pizza Shop Slogan: "7 days without pizza makes one weak."

At a Tire Shop in Milwaukee: "Invite us to your next blowout."

On a Plastic Surgeon's Office door: "Hello. Can we pick your nose?"

At a Towing company: "We don't charge an arm and a leg. We want tows."

On an Electrician's truck: "Let us remove your shorts."

In a Nonsmoking Area: "If we see smoke, we will assume you are on fire and take appropriate action."

On a Maternity Room door: "Push... Push... Push..."

At an Optometrist's Office "If you don't see what you're looking for, you've come to the right place."

On a Taxidermist's window: "We really know our stuff."

In a Podiatrist's office: "Time wounds all heels."

On a Fence: "Salesmen welcome! Dog food is expensive."

At a Car Dealership: "The best way to get back on your feet -- miss a car payment."

Outside a Muffler Shop: "No appointment necessary. We hear you coming."

In a Veterinarian's waiting room: "Be back in 5 minutes. Sit! Stay!"

At the Electric Company: "We would be delighted if you send in your payment. However, if you don't, you will be."

In a Restaurant window: "Don't stand there and be hungry, Come on in and get fed up."

In the front yard of a Funeral Home: "Drive carefully. We'll wait."

At a Propane Filling Station, "Thank heaven for little grills."

And my personal fav: sign at a Chicago Radiator Shop: "Best place in town to take a leak."

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