Sunday, November 12

Great Icy Mountains

The ride into the park was much longer than it seemed on the map, and signs were lacking, so by the time I got in it was almost dark and getting very cold. Surprisingly, there was no entrance station like all the other national parks I've been to, so it would have been free even without my pass. (Maybe the first half of the park is free and then they charge you, I don't know.) I started riding along the park road, up into the mountains, as it got darker. At a good vantage point I got some long-exposure shots just in time. I kept going up but started to encounter snow and ice on the side of the road. With no indication that the elevation would drop or that the temperature would rise if I kept going, and with the road being too dark to see if there was ice on it, I decided to turn back and not risk it. So I backtracked through the mountains, back through Cherokee territory, got a big triple combo and tea at Wendy's, and got on I-40 heading northwest towards Knoxville. However, my next destination being Richmond, VA, I wasn't sure if I wanted to go all the way to Knoxville, so I stopped at a motel in Newport, TN.
Depending on how early I wake up, I might go to Knoxville for breakfast, or I might try to see the park again from the northern side. Then I haul ass to Richmond.


I had breakfast at a cafe on N Main St in downtown Greenville. From there, route 25 headed north, became I-26, to Asheville, NC. Uncle J recommended an itinerary of things to see, including the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. Unfortunately, entry to the estate (on top of any tour) is $47. Instead of that, I'll head west a little, towards Smoky Mountains National Park, where my national parks pass will get me in free. I was going to go to Charleston, WV, but I'll take UJ's recommended route instead through Richmond to see Civil War sites.
I am currently sitting on a bench outside the Biltmore information center - the only free area on the estate. My hands are going numb from the mountain cold, and nasty gray clouds are moving in so I expect it to start raining any minute.