USA, Blue Ridge Parkway, 6 – 11 November 2016

Blue Ridge Parkway (755 km) – one of my favourite roads and this is my second visit, the last time was on my bike in September 2010. This time I was driving a car with friends. This is a National Parkway managed by the National Parks Service, there is no entrance fee, the speed limit is 70 kph or less, there are no gas stations or hotels along the Parkway, you have to find a nearby town for gas and accommodation, most of the Visitors Centres and other sights along the way close on 30 October. The best place to start is from Skyline Drive (170 km) which is part of Shenandoah National Park and has an entrance fee of $20 per car.

Day 1 – New York to Winchester, Virginia. The New York marathon was on and we had to drive via White Plains to get around all the road closures and crowds in Manhattan.

Day 2 – Winchester to Charlottesville, Virginia. The road follows the ridge so there are lookouts with views on both sides, looking East and West. We stopped at Skyland for their famous Blackberry ice-cream pie but the restaurant does not open until 1200 so we carried on to Hawksbill mountain, a 1.8km walk uphill with 360 degree views. Next stop the Wayside restaurant at the Meadows where they had the Blackberry ice-cream pie, huge serving enough for three people.

Day 3 – Charlottesville to Fancy Gap, Virginia. First stop Natural Bridge which is off the Parkway and the Monacan Native Village. Then off the Parkway to fill up at Buchanan and back and on to Mabry Mill, beautiful drive all day through colourful forests.

Day 4 – Fancy Gap to Cherokee, North Carolina. First stop Blue Ridge Music Centre but the gate on the entrance road was closed hahaha could not even get near it. Next stop Moses H. Cone Visitors Centre and it was open, basically a house and estate donated to the NP and now used as a Craft Centre. On to Little Switzerland, small village wandered around, a biking road 226A runs through it something to remember for future rides. Next Mt.Mitchell State Park short drive off the Parkway and then walk to the top of  Mt.Mitchell 6,684 feet highest mountain East of the Mississippi freezing cold and windy at the top. Had to backtrack 15km for fuel from just past Asheville fuel gauge on the last bar.  Beautiful scenes at sunset, got dark and then a deer ran into the side of the car after I saw it and braked, bounced off and kept on running did not look hurt, car undamaged as well.

Day 5 – Cherokee to Nags Head, North Carolina. This was a straight boring run on the freeway to Nags Head on the Outer Banks.

Day 6 – Nags Head to Atlantic City, New Jersey. Along the coast and then over the bridge and tunnel complex to get across Chesapeake Bay then to Chincoteague Wildlife Reserve. Next to the Delaware Bay ferry where we found it was full and you have to book in advance so we had to drive all the way around the Bay to get to Atlantic City.

Day 7 – Atlantic City to JFK, New York. Only one stop today at the 9/11 Tear Drop Memorial built by Russia in New Jersey across the Hudson from Manhattan. Then return the hire car, on the plane and back to Dusseldorf.

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