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Day Two

* Map *

Day Two
"The Drive"
(Best roads on the trip)
Lenoir City, Tennessee to Claremont, North Carolina
Highlights of this section include drives on The Cherohala Skyway and The Tail Of The Dragon, through Great Smoky Mountains National Park and a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

* Stories from the road *

Where do I begin... There are many words I could use to describe my experience today, some of which include: spectacular, amazing, awe-inspiring, phenomenal, breathtaking and exhilarating... I'll sum it up in one small word: WOW. Today I saw some of the most beautiful mountain views, the most pristine wilderness, and of course the most challenging roads. Starting off on the Cherohala Skyway was a great idea, it prepared me for the entire day. The views were wonderful, the road fairly easy yet fun and twisty. The road between there and The Dragon was fun as well, but nothing could prepare me for what I was about to experience... Tail Of The Dragon at Deals Gap is by far without a doubt the most challenging road I have ever had the pleasure to drive upon. It was everything I had heard and then some. While I was on the run there was a decent amount of traffic, but nowhere near as much as a weekend (the locals called it a light day) and some unfortunate motorcyclist took his bike on an unplanned nature hike. When it was all over I couldn't stop saying "wow" for at least 20 minutes. I have this feeling I'll be back there someday... After I slayed The Dragon I continued on via the Foothills Parkway, a remote road with some more great views. This took me to the road that would get me to the road which I was to use to enter Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP for short). Inside the park, there were more beautiful mountain overlooks and fun twisty roads. There was a fair bit of traffic but they were all turning off to other places as I was just passing through. I did stop at one point to stretch when I noticed a small waterfall right off the road. I decided to take a closer look and hiked about 50 yards into the woods along the side of the stream... it was waterfalls all the way up the mountain! I decided to take a quick "break" here and on my way back out of the woods I splashed some of the stream water on my face... It must have been spring-fed because the water was nice and cold, and I exited the woods and got back into my car feeling quite refreshed! Moving along out of GSMNP I hooked up with the tail end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. This road is amazing. It's not so much like The Dragon, but it is nice and twisty... What makes this road so great is the fact that traffic never stops and the views were the most spectacular of any I've seen in the east. Also, the altitude was the highest I will see on the trip. I have this feeling I'll be back there someday as well, maybe to do the entire Parkway! After a short trip down some interstate highway I finally made it to the hotel after spending 11 hours and 40 minutes on the road. I guess Streets and Trips doesn't calculate the "wow" factor into it's route times. After I checked in, I visited the local grocery right next door and found 3 beers I have never seen before, so I grabbed some to sample. Anyway... that's barely scratching the surface of the stories I could tell about this day. Time to retire, for there's another big day right around the corner!

* Photos and Links *

Day Two Photos

Day Two Pic One
When I arrived at the Cherohala, I was greeted by this sign.

Day Two Pic Two
One of the highest points on the Cherohala. (you can see the road in the distance)

Day Two Pic Three
My car made a friend at the beginning of the Tail Of The Dragon.

Day Two Pic Four
This is what NOT to do at The Dragon. (what an idiot.)

Day Two Pic Five
One small section of The Dragon. (this was one of the easier parts)

Day Two Pic Six
Check out this rickety old bridge I had to cross in GSMNP.

Day Two Pic Seven
Part of the waterfalls I found right off the road in GSMNP. (I stopped here to take a "break")

Day Two Pic Eight
This is the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway, but I made it the beginning.

Day Two Pic Nine
One of the many spectacular views from the Parkway. (you can see more of the Parkway in the distance)

Day Two Pic Ten
The highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway. (6053 ft. above sea level)

Day Two Pic Eleven
This is where the ground meets the sky. (that's not fog, that's a cloud!)

Day Two Links

The Cherohala Skyway
North Carolina's most expensive highway with long, sweeping corners and scenic views.

The Tail Of The Dragon
318 curves in 11 miles. Need I say more?

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
America's most visited national park.

The Blue Ridge Parkway
America's Favorite Drive.