The Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway is hands-down (at least so far) the prettiest stretch of road we've done. It is 469 miles/750 km through and along ridge lines of the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina and Virginia. It was originally built in the 1930's as a joint effort between the National Park Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps specifically to be majestic and to get people out of the cities to give them a chance to reconnect with nature - in my opinion it hit the mark.
We were greeted just before we got on the Parkway by a couple of deer (or maybe elks - they were awfully big). These were the first of many deer we saw in the next couple of days, but this was the only one we managed to get photos. The rest we were all watching like a hawk to see which way they would go - fortunately all of them were good enough to keep to the roadsides and not jump out in front of us.
The parkway itself is best let to the photos. Between Jon and I, we probably took about 800 photos so here's a small sampling of the rolling green mountains, vista overlooks, windy roads that make up the length of it. Absolutely stunning.
Oh, and the tunnels! There are 26 tunnels along the length of it, some of them so long and dark you need to have your headlights on or it would be too pitch black to see. Obviously, when given a long echo-y sound stage, we made sure to rev our engine (Jon) and toot our horn (me) through all of them. :)
In addition to epic ride, other highlights on the road include our new friend the black rat snake that we saved along the way. He/She was in the process of crossing the road when we came by. Fortunately, Jon was quick enough to spot her and swerve and warn me through our headsets as I came up behind him. So, we avoided her untimely demise at our sets of tires, but she got spooked into not moving which is not a good condition for a snake on a parkway. We hung back for a bit hoping should would finish making her way across, but when she didn't move (and we didn't want to leave her to chance with the inevitable next car) we found a comically large stick and gently lifted her into the grass next to the road. She acted super pissed off about being picked up with a stick by the scary bald monkeys, but deep down I think she appreciated it.
Other notable photo ops: We did the whole length of the parkway, so obviously stopped for photos with the signs at both ends. We also hit the both the Virginia state line and our 5000th mile in the middle of it!
We also found what may be the best motorcycle warning sign ever. Apparently we were lucky to see it. We're told it's such popular sign to steal that they have trouble keeping it on the road and actually sell stickers of it in the gift shops.
While we spent most of the time riding, I took one morning while Jon was working to go for a hike up a few short paths to some water falls. These were the best kind of hikes - relatively short, not overly strenuous, and include amazing views and viewpoints. As I was walking, I noticed another man walking wearing motorcycle pants, so I started chatting about our trip and riding. At 5000 miles into our trip, I'm not used to many riders that can put us to shame, but then I met Bob... Bob lives in central Pennsylvania and has put 60,000 miles on his motorcycle in 3 years. I think it's pretty badass that Jon doesn't own a car (he just owns two motorcycles), but we live in San Diego. Bob lives in Pennsylvania and parked his car 3 years ago when he bought his bike. He just puts studs in his tires in the winter! In any case, we had a great time chatting and swapping stories. It's awesome the people you meet on the road! (Keep an eye out for Bob, he'll come back later in our story!). (JF: I'm not putting miles of ice on either of my bikes, but Bob is. Bob's hardcore.)
All told our end-to-end trip took us the better part of 3 days/2 nights. If you ever get a chance to drive this stretch of road, I would definitely recommend it - and take even longer if you have the time. It's certainly been one of the highlights of our trip so far! (JF: Take WAY longer. The road is worth more days than I've given it.)