The sun was just rising when we left our hotel in Waynesville on twisting, curving 2 lane roads that led to the Parkway.
The Blue Ridge Parkway began when President Franklin Roosevelt visited the Skyline Drive in Virginia in 1933, and together with legislators and the Department of the Interior developed plans for a park-to-park public works project to connect with the Great Smoky Mountains Park. Even though millions of people drive portions of the Parkway each year, today we saw very little traffic and enjoyed curving along the sweeping 2-lane road.
Yesterday's ride on the Cherohala Skyway and the Moonshiner 28 featured twisty, technical curves through densely wooded mountain forests, and today's ride offered more sweeping curves up and down the mountains with periodic wide-open vistas over the valleys below.
The Blue Ridge Mountains get their name from the blue cloudy haze that hovers above and below some of the tallest peaks.
At one point, the clouds and fog dipped down to completely cover the road in front of us, then the sun came out and started to burn off the fog.
There are 25 tunnels in the North Carolina portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and we rode through several of them today.
After about 3 hours enjoying the scenery along the quiet, sweeping Parkway we completed our day's ride heading north on U.S. 21 toward Sparta North Carolina, our stopping point for today. The local communities along U.S. 21 in North Carolina and Virginia have a tourist campaign called "Take a Break from the Interstate", referring to I-77 that took much of the traffic away from U.S. 21 that used to be the main north/south route from the Great Lakes to Florida. We heartily agree with enjoying the more scenic, slower paced 2-lane highways and avoiding the Interstates whenever possible.
Our host at the Alleghany Inn recomended Becca's Backwood Bean Coffee Shop that serves artisan-style pizza on Thursday nights. The coffee shop was crowded when we arrived, and luckily there were 2 open seats at the bar where we enjoyed delicious ham and pineapple pizza with fresh salads. We walked down the street to the recently opened Laconia Ale Works second location. Friendly people, good products, and we wish them all the best.
We've traveled roughly 3400 miles over the past 12 days, and tomorrow we continue our trip north through West Virginia and into Virginia. We're looking forward to continuing our ride in the Appalachian Mountains. Here is today's route