The Beauty Around Us

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Posts from the ‘Tennessee’ category

VROC Reunion Rally 2015: Getting There – Central City KY to Dyersburg TN

Today is Day 4 of our 13-day vacation.  We are traveling to Eureka Springs, AR to attend the annual Vulcan Riders and Owners Club (VROC) Reunion rally.  Yesterday, we met up with six VROC friends.  We are riding, as a group, to the rally.

We awakened at 5:15 am, after a good night’s sleep. The eight of us had discussed meeting for breakfast at 8:00 am at the Huddle House located next to the Best Western Plus Venture Inn, our hotel accommodation for the night. That didn’t happen. Everyone ate breakfast at the hotel, which made sense as breakfast was included in our room rate.

We left Central City, KY en route Dyersburg, TN at 9:00 am, after fueling up at a Shell gas station located near the hotel.

En route Shell gas station, at 8:36 am

While at the Shell gas station, Jim A. and Jim T. consulted a map of today’s planned ride.

I think Katie looks a little bit concerned that Jim A. is helping plan today’s route.
Jim A.’s VROC nickname is “Wrong Turn” 🙂

At 10:19 am, during a rest stop, Jim A. and Jim T. took another look at the map.
Bradley, Tim and Bob look on.

About an hour later, Jim T. made a wrong turn.
The rest of us did not follow him.
We waited a few minutes for Jim T. to catch up with us.

I smile when I think of the few times today that Jim T. raised his hand in the air, making a circle with his finger.  One such U-turn was made on a 4-lane highway!

A highlight of today’s trip was when we drove through the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.  Located in western Tennessee and Kentucky, the Land Between the Lakes is the largest inland peninsula in the U.S.A. Originally created when the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers were impounded (creating Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley),the Land Between the Lakes features over 170,000 acres of forested and protected public land, and over 300 miles of undeveloped shoreline. We stopped at the Golden Pond Visitor Center.  While Jim T.. Bradley, Tim and Dee and Jim A. and Katie watched a 35-minute show in the Golden Pond Planetarium, Bob and I went for a drive through the Elk & Bison Prairie. We saw several bison and some turkeys. There are elk on the prairie as well, but we didn’t see any. We drove the prairie loop two times. On our second trip, bison were on the road. Bob had to slowly weave the car through the herd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We made two more scenic stops en route Dyersburg, TN.  From the Golden Pond Visitor Center we drove to Fort Donelson National Battlefield, stopping at the remains of the Great Western Furnace.

Great Western Furnace

 

Interpretive Signs Regarding the Great Western Furnace

 

Preparing to leave the Great Western Furnace

We began our tour of Fort Donelson National Battlefield at the visitor center, where we watched the orientation film Fort Donelson: Gateway to the Confederate Heartland.  The film centers around a story line that draws on the lifelong friendship between Union General Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate General Simon B. Buckner.  The film was informative, as well as engaging.  From the visitor center we took a short ride through the battlefield to Fort Donelson.

Bradley at Fort Donelson
He is looking out at Lake Barkley (the historic Cumberland River).

This is what Bradley was looking at.

This is Jim T. and his son, Bradley.
Jim and Bradley have a wonderful father-son relationship.
This will be Bradley’s first trip to the Eureka Springs Reunion Rally, as it is our first.

Be sure to continue to read my blog posts about our Eureka Springs vacation.  Bradley will be the recipient of a BIG surprise, while at the Reunion Rally.

We drove 286 miles today. To the best of my recollection this is the route that we followed today:

We arrived at the Hampton Inn Dyersburg at 6:45 pm. We checked in and went to dinner at Applebee’s, located near the hotel. We had a party of 15 for dinner. We met up with Jason and his girlfriend Traci, Toby, Bill and Carolyn and Butch and Theresa. We now have riders from Pennsylvania, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Kentucky.  All 15 of us (8 motorcycles, one car and one truck) will be riding together to the VROC Reunion Rally in Eureka Springs tomorrow.

West Virginia and North Carolina Vacation – Day 6 of 9

On the morning of Thursday, May 13, we awakened at 6:15 am and were showered and dressed by 7:00 am.

We ate breakfast at Pop’s Grits & Eggs, which is located next door to A Holiday Motel.  At the time,  the restaurant had been opened for only a week. Laura F. and “Bassman” joined us for breakfast. The food and service were great, even though the waitress had called in to say she would be a no show that day.

Ready to Roll

We departed A Holiday Motel at 9:00 am en route Townsend, TN. I drove; Bob rode the motorcycle. Sandy R. accompanied me. Sandy and I were at the end of a line of motorcycles, led by “Skid”. We took U.S. Route 19 to the Blue Ridge Parkway, which we followed to U.S Route 441. Sandy and I got left behind when we made a bathroom stop at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, located about 16 miles from Newfound Gap. We caught up with everyone at Newfound Gap.

Newfound Gap
on the North Carolina-Tennesee Border

Bob and Mike

Newfound Gap

 

From Newfound Gap we followed Rt. 441 and Rt. 73 to Townsend, TN. We ate lunch at Smokin Joe’s BBQ.

“Skid” and Sandy at Smokin Joe’s BBQ

Jaime and Phillip and their son, Caleb, met us at Smokin Joe’s BBQ.
“Skid” says hello.

Lunch at Smokin Joe’s BBQ

Lunch at Smokin Joe’s BBQ

Lunch at Smokin Joe’s BBQ

Lunch at Smokin Joe’s BBQ

Our lunch group took over a room inside Smokin Joe’s BBQ.

Lunch was very good.  I ordered ½ chicken with hush puppies, coleslaw and macaroni salad. Bob had a meat salad (and some of my chicken).

After lunch, Sandy and I parted ways with the motorcyclists. The motorcyclists left to ride The Tail of the Dragon. Sandy and I returned to Maggie Valley via Pigeon Forge and U.S. Route 441. We stopped at a couple overlooks and at a waterfall on our way back to A Holiday Motel.

Sandy at the Chimney Tops Overlook
Newfound Gap Road (U.S. Route 441-TN)

We made a second stop at Newfound Gap because I wanted to take additional pictures.

Sandy and I on the North Carolina-Tennessee Border

Newfound Gap view

Newfound Gap
Rockefeller Memorial and The Appalachian Trail

Sandy and I at Newfound Gap

 About 20 minutes after leaving Newfound Gap, we saw water rushing down a hill on the side of the road.

Waterfall along U.S. Route 411-NC

Sandy and I returned to A Holiday Motel around 3:50 pm.  Bob returned to the motel about 1 1/2 hours later. He enjoyed riding The Tail of the Dragon but said he would not have enjoyed it as much 2-up.  Bob said that I would not have liked it.

Bob “goin’ mad on the Dragon”
(Bob purchased this high-resolution digital image from killboy.com.)

We ate dinner at Guayabitos Mexican Restaurant with Candy and Karl R. This restaurant is located within walking distance of A Holiday Motel. Bob and I each ordered a taco salad with beef tips. The taco salads were delicious, and the service was good.  We were sorry to hear that Karl has not been feeling well.  He spent the day at the hospital…diagnosis: pneumonia in the lower part, I believe, of his lung.

We spent the evening of our 6th day of vacation, as we do so at every VROC rally … at the “kaw pasture”, sitting around a roaring campfire, listening to music and talking with our friends.

North Carolina Vacation – Day 2 of 9

Day 2 (Monday, May 12) of our North Carolina vacation was a travel day.  We departed Oak Hill WV at 8:00 am, after a hot breakfast (complimentary) at our hotel. We arrived at the Best Western of Asheville Biltmore East in Asheville NC shortly before 2:00 pm. As was the case during yesterday’s travels, we had beautiful weather for traveling.  The sky was blue, with plenty of sunshine and no rain.  We had light to moderate traffic, with no delays in travel because of traffic.

We could have made the drive from Oak Hill WV to Asheville NC in 4 to 4 ½ hours, but we made several stops along the way. In addition to fuel stops, we made a few photo stops. We stopped at two rest areas in Tennessee and one in North Carolina.  All three rest areas were located in scenic areas and were well maintained.

The first Tennessee rest area that we stopped at welcomed us to the state. This rest area was located along Interstate 81 in Bristol TN.  We ate lunch at this rest area.

Tennessee Welcome Center

“Citizens” c. 1982

Lunch Break

We liked the sheltered picnic areas at the Tennessee Welcome Center.  Our picnic lunch included Bumble Bee tuna salad with crackers (ready to eat), no-sugar added diced peaches and a sugar free chocolate chip cookie.  We brought the makings for this picnic lunch for FIVE picnics!  Oh, see the box of creamer?  I brought the fixings for several cups of tea with us on this trip.  We did not bring a cooler with us.  The creamer did not require refrigeration; however,  it had to be stored below 80 degrees.  The temperature in the car would rise above 80 degrees very quickly, when stopped for more than a few minutes.  So, I had to bring the creamer with me when we stopped for lunch or photo opportunities.

The second Tennessee rest area that we stopped at was also a Welcome Center.  This rest area was located in Erwin TN along Interstate 26.  This rest area had beautiful mountain views and lots of land to stretch your legs.

Rest Area in Tennessee

Rest Area in Tennessee

Rest Area in Tennessee

 

We stopped at Metcalf Overlook in Tennessee, located along Interstate 26 near the North Carolina border.  I loved the tree-covered hills at this overlook.

The cows grazing in the field at the foot of the hills added a pastoral feel to the entire scene.

Metcalf Overlook

Our last stop before arriving at our hotel was at the North Carolina Welcome Center in Mars Hill NC.  What a beautiful rest area!

North Carolina Welcome Rest Area

North Carolina Welcome Rest Area

North Carolina Welcome Rest Area

As we were leaving this rest area, I noticed a trail behind the Visitors Center.  I read afterward that the trail provides beautiful views of Interstate 26 and the surrounding mountains.

 

As I wrote earlier, we arrived at our hotel in Asheville NC shortly before 2:00 pm.  I took note of the odometer reading upon reaching our hotel.  We put on approximately 650 miles on the car / motorcycle since leaving Warren PA on Sunday morning.   Our home for two nights was a large room with two queen beds, a desk and chair, a table and two chairs, microwave, refrigerator, dresser, nightstand, flat-screen TV and a large bathroom. Our room was located on the first floor at the back of the property.

We chose a great location for our 2-night stay. There were several restaurants in the immediate area to choose from, as well as plenty of shopping opportunities. We stopped at a couple of those shopping opportunities soon after arriving at our hotel. We purchased a Universal AC Adapter at Best Buy.  We communicate via Blue Tooth, while traveling.  Bob forgot to pack the charger for the Blue Tooth.  We walked into the Asheville Mall, looking for a restaurant.  We didn’t find a restaurant; however, I did find something interesting to photograph in the parking lot.

A “love, peace and harmony” van was parked at the Asheville Mall.

A “love, peace and harmony” van was parked at the Asheville Mall.

We ate dinner at Chili’s Restaurant, which was located a few hundred yards from the mall. We ordered from the 2 for $20 menu, which included one appetizer and an entree for each of us. We chose chips and salsa as an appetizer and ordered sirloin steak for our main entree. Bob ordered a 10 oz steak for $4.00 more. I ordered a 6 oz steak. Dinner was filling and very good.

We visited Biltmore Estates, while in Asheville NC — the subject of my next several blog posts.

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