Sunday, May 17, 2015

Maggie Valley North Carolina to Erie Pennsylvania

Sunday morning. Time to head home.

I didn't mention it in the last few posts, but it looks like my angina problems have returned. After not having any issues since the stent was placed in my circumflex artery in November, 2013, Sandy and I were walking back from Country Vittles after supper on Wednesday when that familiar burning started in my upper chest. I had to resort to my nitro spray, which stopped the pains. Unlike the last time, I told Sandy right away.

I had a second attack while riding The Tail of the Dragon on Thursday (not surprising since stress usually caused my attacks in the past) and another yesterday while loading the bike (something that always happened last time). The most recent happened this morning as we were getting ready to leave. I guess the number one priority when we get back will be to call the doctor, although I don't like what this portends for the trips this summer. Now that a pre-existing condition is unstable, my travel medical insurance won't cover it and I won't travel to the US without coverage.

By 6:40 AM, we were packed and ready to roll. Bass Man and Laura had already left, as had Cargo. Willie Wonka and the Lovely Carlene were still packing, so we said our goodbyes to them and hit the road.

Maggie Valley Sunday morning

Traffic was light as we headed east on I-40 towards Asheville and then followed I-240 to I-26 north. We stopped at a McDonald's in Weaverville for breakfast to go, which happened to include over toasted, chewy buns. Although quality is supposed to be consistent in chains, you can never tell. We finished the breakfast off with Wanda's cookies, a special gift from a very nice lady.

I-40 traffic is non-existent

We have I-26 all to ourselves as well

The trip up I-26 into Tennessee to I-81 and then east into Virginia was uneventful other than an east wind adding to our fuel consumption. We stopped at the Travel Center of America in Wytheville, Virginia for fuel. The price was just $2.35 per gallon, so I towed 316 miles for a mere $54.00. That's half what it would cost at home, even allowing for the difference in exchange rates (which are getting uglier).

Traffic was a bit heavier as we headed north on I-77 through Big Walker Mountain Tunnel. I was past the exit ramp for the last Rest Area in Virginia when I saw Billy Bob and Linda stopped there. He was riding their Kawasaki Voyager while she was driving the car. Traffic eased a bit after we climbed to East River Mountain tunnel and entered West (By God) Virginia.

Big Walker Mountain Tunnel

East River Mountain Tunnel

Bob and Linda passed us as we were climbing the long Camp Creek grade, on their way back to Pennsylvania. I'm not sure if they noticed it was us. We got back ahead of them at the WV Turnpike toll booth where our EZ-Pass allowed us to zip right through without stopping, but they soon rolled back by us again. This time, Linda waved.

The motorcycle in the distance is Billy Bob

Linda passes us the second time

We departed I-77 and took US 19 in Beckley. This route is so very familiar now. We made a brief bathroom stop in Summersville before continuing along the Mountaineer Expressway to connect with I-79 north.

Summersville Lake

Once on I-79 near Sutton, we got hit hard with a sudden rainstorm. Some folks were pulling over but I didn't find it that bad. I slowed and put the four-way flashers on until it eased. We did wonder how old Billy Bob made out on the bike. Fortunately, it didn't last too long.

Rain on I-79

And more rain on I-79

As we approached Morgantown WV, traffic ground to a halt. I wasn't sure if this was a temporary thing but, rather than taking a chance on getting stuck, I took the exit to I-68 east and then got off at Exit 4. We stopped for gas and another bathroom break at a Speedway while I consulted the GPS to find a street level route that would put us back on I-79 north of town.

I managed to plot a route that led right through the heart of town. Morgantown is a big college town and it seems our arrival coincided with the West Virginia University commencement exercises. In the north part of town, cars were parked everywhere, but not many were moving so we got back onto a free-flowing I-79 without incident. I did note that the potholes on some sections of the town roads were worse than Sudbury.

The streets of Morgantown

Downtown Morgantown


WVU commencement parking

Overflow parking but no traffic

The highway was moving nicely past the Pennsylvania border but ground to a halt as the highway was shut down to one lane near Waynesburg. To keep people from jumping ahead, I ran a rolling road block up to the merge. This meant I stayed in the merging lane but remained even with one specific vehicle, preventing latecomers from driving ahead and then cutting in. At the merge, someone always appreciates the move and lets me back in. Semi drivers do this regularly. The funny thing is that, for all the orange barrels, there was no construction equipment in the blocked area. Maybe they are starting tomorrow? Or maybe they just like messing up weekenders returning to Pittsburgh.

Before the bottleneck

We stopped at the Grove City Rest Area so I could call ahead and reserve a room at the Super 8 in Erie. Then we stopped at a McDonald's at Connaught Lake to get food for Sandy. I had been munching on leftovers from Pop's yesterday and was stuffed. It was sunny now and in the high 20's (C), but felt a lot warmer.

We arrived at the Erie Super 8 at 7:00 PM after covering 633 miles in just over twelve hours. The room was fine,as usual, but the WiFi was slow. It didn't take us long before we were in bed and asleep. Blogging could wait.

Our home for the night

Today's Route (633 Avalanche miles):

1 comment:

Linda Gross said...

Haha .. I forgot all about you seeing us and us seeing you :-) That was my 700-mile drive that I will never ever do again!