Monday, May 14, 2018

Washington Pennsylvania to Maggie Valley North Carolina

It had rained last night and the sky was still overcast grey as we left the Microtel at 7:00 AM. The young lady at the desk said the forecast there was calling for rain all week.  We stopped at McDonald's where, as soon as we had ordered and paid, the power went off. They locked the doors and made our order without the benefit of the screen system.

 No power - just ordered in time

 Briefly got 30 MPG drafting this guy

 West (By God) Virginia at 8:00 AM

 Orange posts for construction to start "later"

 NASA facility in Fairmont Virginia

 Too late, we are already stopped

 No zipper merging here

 I always sing "Last Train To Clarksburg" (I know....)

 Nice memorial in a rest area

 I-79 looking north from the rest area

 Mowers take their lives in their hands

 I-79 is not a dull Interstate

It was 80F as we passed Sutton, West Virginia. Towing a trailer in the mountains with the Equinox V6 was a bit of a challenge. You could drive without the cruise and play with the throttle and transmission in a "Rolls Cunardly" mode. You rolls down one side of the hill and cunardly get up the other. This screws up other traffic. Or you can set the cruise but you have to downshift before the grade. Otherwise, the automatic transmission will lose speed before it realizes it needs to downshift and then tries to make up that lost speed, burning extra fuel for no reason. Oddly, I found 70 MPH was better than 65 for the gearing in this vehicle.

 We have to leave the Interstate Highway System to take a shortcut

 Big grades add an extra slow right-hand lane

 The high point on the Mountaineer Expressway

 Summersville W(BG)V isn't joking about "strictly"

I would have liked to make it to Wytheville for fuel, Virginia, where the gas is always very cheap, but that was not to be. We stopped at McDonald's in Summersville, West Virginia to get Sandy a smoothie (the had power but were being renovated so we had to use the Drive Thru) and filled the tank at an adjacent Sunoco.

 Crossing the New River Gorge Bridge

 I love my EZ Pass

 I remember when the toll here was a quarter

 Camp Creek Hill

 The two-lane road is US 19

 As if the 5% downgrade wasn't enough, they put this at the bottom

 The Virginia state line is in this mountain

 Right about here

 Tunnels should always come in pairs

 At least it is well lit

 Wytheville water tower on I-81

 Note the upwards curve on the runway to the left

 Mountain Empire Airport

Rather than have a fast food lunch while we were driving, I thought it would be nice to sit down and suggested the Cracker Barrel in Abingdon. Sandy thought that that would be too much food, so we settled for an Arby's in Marion. She didn't like US Arby's because they did not automatically add Arby's sauce to the Beef 'N Cheddar. This time, however, they did. It was nice to see the Lee Highway (11 through Marion) had not been renamed. Yet.

 Marion Va - shoutout to Gary and Dianne

 Arby's for a change - Marion Va

 Pretty flowers

 Welcome to the Volunteer State

It was 88F as we went through Johnson City, Tennessee. We stopped at the little WalMart in Unicoi for a few supplies like water and Sargento snacks. They didn't have any Irish Cream single serve coffee creamers so we will need to check elsewhere.

Walmart in Unicoi Tn

Getting supplies

 Starting up to the NC state line

 Made it

 Last state line for a while 

Sandy's camera battery died as we entered North Carolina and the new backup battery was dead as well. This will take some sleuthing, but she used my Rebel for the rest of the trip. We hit Ashville right at rush hour where I decided that drivers in this city are nuts. We survived the transit to I-40 but I had my doubts for a few moments.

 Looks like some weather in those clouds to the south

 Rain started as we reached Maggie Valley

 It was raining hard when we reached the motel

 Brandon & Sheil from Kansas and Boomer from NFA were waiting

After the rain let up, I unloaded the gear and the bike and parked the trailer in the yard. The six of us went to Fat Buddies BBQ in Waynesville for supper. The evening was quite pleasant when we came out.

Fat Buddies BBQ - Waynesville NC

Laura and Bill from Arkansas had arrived when we got back

Back at the motel, after some visiting, I sorted photos and trascribed notes. The WiFi was flaky but I remembered that this was a problem due to our room location and the access point. The computer worked better when I turned it sideways. Outside was even better, so uploading the photos would wait until morning.

Today's Route (481 Equinox miles):

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