Skyline & Blue Ridge Locator map

Day 1
Racing on the River

Day 2

Day 3
Skyline Drive

Day 4
The House that Tom Built

Day 5
Starting down the BRP

Day 6
Not Snappy Enough

Day 7
Nothing Could Be Finer

Day 8
Clinched: BRP

Day 9
Crossing Paths

August 29, 2010 (day 9)
This was really just the getting home day of the trip but I did work in a really great museum and hooked up with another roadie friend. In between I drove some favorite two-lane.

This was a great trip aided in no small part by the pleasant weather. I now know that the Blue Ridge Parkway's claim to the "America's Favorite Drive" title is a valid one. It's a wonderful drive on its own but it is also a "park to park" highway that connects Shenandoah National Park with the Great Smoky Mountains. Throw in the purpose built Skyline Drive through Shenandoah and US-441 through the Smokies and you've got a scenic route that's hard to beat.

August 28, 2010 (day 8)
I reached the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway about 2:00 in beautiful weather. Weather had been quite cooperative for the whole trip and allowed me to drive the entire Parkway, and Skyline Drive, topless. A pass through Gatlinburg made me appreciate the quiet Parkway overlooks even more and I ended the day with a long anticipated meal.

August 27, 2010 (day 7)
After starting the day with some laundry, I returned to the Blue Ridge Music Center to catch a little mid-day music before heading into North Carolina. I ended the day in Asheville at the very spot where rootball burst onto the sports scene. It's not listed in the Parkway guides but it should be.

August 26, 2010 (day 6)
I saw Mabry Mill and Roanoke Mountain on the Parkway and Mount Airy off of it. But I was too late for a pork chop sandwich and I missed the musicians at the Blue Ridge Music Center, too.

August 25, 2010 (day 5)
Two, two, two breakfasts in one day. And a latish start down the Blue Ridge Parkway. I'd driven the first forty-five miles before but that made it no less beautiful and after that it was all new to me.

August 24, 2010 (day 4)
The target for the day was Monticello and it was fantastic. And it was bracketed by two fantastic meals and a fantastic reunion with friends. There was a brass band serenade in there, too, although that wasn't quite so fantastic.

August 23, 2010 (day 3)
After a pause in a cemetery, I spent the entire day covering about a hundred miles of wonderfully scenic countryside.

August 22, 2010 (day 2)
A high percentage of the roads I drove to reach Winchester, Virginia, were scenic and wiggly two-lane. Skies were mostly gray but only about a dozen raindrops landed on the windshield. The day ended in sunshine.

August 21, 2010 (day 1)
There was some rain today but it stayed away for the Cardboard Boat Races. This was the 18th year for the event and it is another one of those things that make me wonder why I've stayed away so long.

Prelude 2 - August 11, 2010
This outing now has a tentative date. When I posted the first prelude I was thinking that I had a clear schedule after a family reunion on August 7. That wasn't true then and is less true now. In order to make the family gathering, I had to skip out on an end-of-season playoff match for the trivia team. A replacement/upgrade was found and the team made it to the finals. Those finals, which I intend to take part in, are Saturday, August 14. I also want to be around here for the next weekend in order to attend the Cardboard Boat Race at New Richmond River Days. New Richmond isn't so far away that I couldn't attend the festival then return home but that's not what I'm planning. I'm going to start this trip with the festival rather than after it. Launch day is August 21.

Prelude 1 - July 18, 2010
The Blue Ridge Parkway turns 75 this year. Well, not the whole thing. The full 469 mile long roadway was officially dedicated just 23 years ago; in 1987. But construction had started 52 years before and that is what this year's celebration is all about. After it began in 1935, work on the Parkway moved along in fits and starts until 1968. Seven sensitive miles remained around Grandfather Mountain and it was that engineering and environmental wonder that made the parkway complete nearly two decades later. I've driven a couple small appetite-feeding fragments of the BRP and have dreamed of doing the whole thing. This seems like a good year to do just that.

The BRP makes a diagonal slash through Virginia and North Carolina. Smoky Mountain National Park is at its southwest tip with Shenandoah National park on the other end. There is exactly one road through Shenandoah NP and that road is about as well known as the BRP. In 1939, a 97 mile long Skyline Drive, that road through Shenandoah, was completed and officially opened. It connected directly with the Blue Ridge Parkway which, at the time, had exactly eight and a half miles in place. In 1961, those eight and a half miles became part of Skyline Drive giving it a length of about 106 miles and an even stronger seniority claim.

Of course it would be silly to drive the 469 mile BRP without also driving the 106 miles of SLD so the entire 575 miles of slow-paced limited-access ultra-scenic roadway is on the agenda. I plan, for no particular reason, to drive it north to south. I'll approach the start of Skyline Drive on US-50 which means I'll get to see nearly a hundred miles of that road for the first time. At the other end, the Parkway will delivery me to US-441 which, despite being extremely scenic as it travels through the Smokey Mountains, has no other name that I'm aware of. Then, somewhere around Knoxville, I'll turn to the expressway and hurry home.

This trip doesn't exactly have a "Fixed Lead" as the menu claims. There are things that will keep me around here until after August 7 but after then it will essentially be dependent on weather. I'll hit the road when I see a five or six day dry streak approaching.

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