Friday May 7, Erwin TN to Abingdon VA
Took care of my laundry last night.
I stopped at this motel because there are two restaurants right across the street. Last night I discovered that both have been closed for over a year. That’s not a big problem because I almost always carry pre-prepared foods, but I was looking forward to a real sit-down at a table supper. I have a wide variety of most excellent pre-prepared foods, all basically high-grade protein based. Some are better appreciated if nuked up in a microwave, but can nonetheless be equally enjoyed even when not heated. I can easily make up a three-course meal from several entrees and associated accompaniments, hot or cold, or mixed. The presentation is primitive, but colorful given all the writing and pictures on the cans. Mary does a very much better job at this than I do. And she doesn’t yet fully appreciate my selections of entrees. But with three cans of entrees, with or without heating, I can whip up a pretty good supper of high-grade protein.
I left Erwin on TN 107 with two objectives; Roan Mountain and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Following those I planned to pick up US 58 to head Westward. TN 106 was a joy, but way too short. Beautiful coves and high ridges.
At US 19E I had a short hop down to TN 143 which becomes NC 261 at the top of the pass at the state line. TN 143 has been re-surfaced since we were last here and is very smooth and well marked. Fortunately, cutting and filling and straightening was not a part of the upgrade.
Zipped up to the pass and stopped to take in the beauty. Richard from the Bronx was also taking a break. He’s walking the Appalachian Trail from end to end all at one time making about 10 to 15 miles per day. Richard has a friend living in Saratoga Springs. Small world. From Roan Mountain he has a little over 1800 miles to make by about mid-October at which time the Northern end of the Trail is closed.
The NC side of the road hasn’t been re-surfaced yet, but it’s in good shape. It’s a long ride down and a ride up from this side is more fun than up the TN side.
NC 226 will take me right to the Parkway and when I get there I see signs that the Parkway is closed a few miles North. Since the road is not blocked off here I suspect that the closure is just past the exit to US 221, so I putt-putt up that way. A beautiful ride up here on the Parkway today. Nice and cool, lots of Dogwood budding out, lots of very long mountain views because the leafs are not out yet, and no other traffic. Wonderful. Especially enjoy the coolness because it’s getting really hot down off the mountains.
I take the US 221 detour and get back on at Grandfather Mountain and enjoy the ride up to the exit at US 21 to head North to US 58.
This part of US 58 turns out to be a work in progress. It’s nice and twisty as expected. But it’s also been neglected and there are loose stones on the road surface at almost every curve. I mean every curve, especially the very tight right curves. Stones all the way across the road. Stones from the other side of the road in my lane. Did I mention that the surface is in bad shape? Miles and miles of this stuff.
The road situation got much better somewhere East of Green Cove; the valley beneath Whitetop Mountain is very nice and then the road enters the Mount Rogers NRA and is a joy.
I pull into a cheap-looking motel in Abingdon and it turns out to indeed be cheap. I think I’m sharing my room with mosquitoes, flies, and spiders.