Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
(August 2003)

This trip was planned to allow my brother to make an interview in Charlottesville, Virginia. Charlottesville is a small high-technology center that's centered around the University of Virginia. Nestled in the Appalachian foothills, Charlottesville offers its residents a fast-paced lifestyle with easy access to the Blue Ridge hill country. Hence, we decided to extend the trip to include a drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway.

After using the Interstates to get out of the northeast, Mike and I decided to take secondary roads to avoid a major accident on Interstate 81 in West Virginia. Evidently the heavy rain had caused a semi to spill its cargo, which forced closure of the Interstate. Little did we know that the police would redirect the freeway traffic onto the very route that we were using to bypass the Interstate!

So we took a crossroad in attempt to head away from the traffic. This picture of my Insight shows where we stopped after we got lost in the Virginian residential roads.

The nice bridge that we crossed and persuaded us to stop to take pictures of our "scenic detour" through the Virginia residential countryside.

The view off the bridge. Looks very much like a Louisana creek with the trees unable to decide whether to reach upwards to the sun or down to water.

Since there were some tourists already standing in front of the sign, I decided that a drive-by shot would work better. And after all, we're guys so why stop when we can speed by? Mike was quick with the camera as we shot by the stereotypical Asian tourists blocking half of the sign.

Shenandoah is a National Park and costs $10 to enter. Is the Blue Ridge Parkway in the park, you may ask? Well, yes and no! Normally I do not contradict myself (only others), but technically the Skyline Drive is the northern part of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Drive passes through Shenandoah National Park.

A panoramic of sorts of the first vista on the Skyline Drive.

Virginian mountain neighborhood? This was the largest concentration of houses that we could see from this lookout. They are just visible in the middle picture of the above panorama. Isn't it nice what 12x of optical zoom can do?

This shot was taken as we drove by a gap in the trees. Truly, the best views are available not at the vistas with parking areas but from the road between them!

Left-click to see the full size version!

When the weather was clear, which was intermittent along the Skyline Drive, we made good time as the hybrid car hummed along the nice tree-covered road.

This picture helps to describe the unusual weather changes that we witnessed as we cruised the Drive.

This shot reminds me of a photograph I saw in an elementary school science book that shows a similiar tree being struck by lightning. Fortunately for these people this tree wasn't struck!

It was amazing to see a cloud slide down the side of the mountains as we drove!

The fog got quite thick and we saw deer near the road so we had to slow to a crawl.

Sure enough we had our run in with deer. After cresting a hill we saw three deer grazing on the grass on both sides of the road. We stopped and flashed our high-beams at them as we slowly crept forward. No effect; the deer looked at us briefly and then continued eating. They were so close that we could almost touch them as we drove by. Now that's tame.

Poor visibility and slow speeds forced us off the Skyline Drive after only driving about a quarter of its length. It really is too slow and nerve-racking in poor weather.

On the road down from the Skyline Drive we encountered these tight sweepers. The poor lighting and our high speed confused the camera, which focused on the windshield, and created this blurry exposure. It was fun to see what Honda's hybrid car could do through the turns. Our speed was higher through the turns than is appropriate to mention!

But nothing lasts forever. We quickly caught up with this rolling roadblock, I mean minivan, and its other victims.

These fast zig-zags marked our return to flat land.

From here we continued on to Charlottesville where we joined up with the rest of the gang.

Mike's salute to the famous shot at the very beginning of the car chase in Bullitt.

Pictured is the rest of the gang in a 2003 MR2.

Another fine shot of an important sign :)

Note the truck and trailer. Though the trailer appears to be for lawn mowers, I think it was deliberately placed there for those cars with short ranges. Namely my 200-mile Midget. I appreciate the thought boys, but I left it at home! And that was a smart move because it rained on and off for the entire trip.

The Blue Ridge has only one gas station on it, as far as I know, so fill up before getting on it!

A panoramic of the first vista on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Bob's entourage- strange choice of word, hmm. . . well remember that the only reason why we went to the Blue Ridge was because Bob had an interview so technically we all followed him!

From right to left: Dale (Bob's ex-girlfriend), Bob, Mike (Bob's brother), and myself (Bob's supply for Southern Comfort liquor).

Note: Honda Insights also double as camera tripods.

Looks like a giant draped a green felt cloth over the mountains!

The Blue Ridge Parkway gave us a chance to hustle the cars through the corners. While Bob's MR2 is the definite winner for any straight-line driving, the Insight kept up well with it through the corners and short straights on the Parkway, all while returning 60 mpg!

We stayed the night in Linville Falls. On the way back from our Myrtle Beach trip in March, we had good luck in this small North Carolina town. This time it was overrun with tourists, which really detracted from the beauty.

This is a shot of the falls, for which the town is named.

After leaving Linville Falls we decided to spend a few days in Myrtle Beach. We had the good luck of staying in the same hotel where we stayed in March. In Myrtle Beach we showed Mike the sights that we cared about, i.e. the beach and the Square Mall.

We watched Pirates of the Caribbean at the Square movie theater after stomaching very American burgers at the nearby '50s diner. Curiously our attractive waitress couldn't've gotten much less American, as she was visiting from Belarus. After that slimy American burger, foreign is sounding good. . . that's foreign food is sounding good :)

Upon leaving Myrtle Beach for home, we decided that it would be fun to stop over in Virginia Beach.

This picture shows the gruesome weather that we encountered on route 17 on the way to Virginia Beach. When it rains in the South, it rains!

After no luck finding accommodations in Virginia Beach, Bob asked the guards at a Langley gate where there were more hotels. That's Bob for you- mistaken leads you to a government installation and then asks for directions! We ended up staying at the Hampton Days Inn. The Virginia Beach & Hampton area is really crappy when compared to Myrtle Beach!

The next morning Mike and I broke company with Bob and Dale and took Interstate 95 north. We crossed the Woodrow Wilson drawbridge near Washington and continued on to home.

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