January 5-7, 2004

Blue Ridge & the Great Smokies

Please forgive, but we're just a little too road-weary to do give this travelogue the attention it deserves, but we do have some photos we can share.

Monday, January 5

We left the Poconos in steady rain and traveled thru southern Pennsylvania—coal country. It was interesting to see all the mines and mining towns, but kind of dreary (and the rain didn't help). Passed thru the home town of Yeungling Brewery (which we didn't see, but did see plenty of Yeungling trucks in the vicinity). Got to I-81 and decided to make some time southward, since the weather wasn't cooperating anyway.

The rain stopped in the afternoon, and, needing some exercise, we searched out Natural Chimneys State Park:

It was a bust (see above), but it turned out to also be the site of the:

Wow! What a find! They regularly hold jousting matches in the fields around the chimneys. Anyway, we got to do a little hiking before hitting the road.

As the sky cleared and the sun was setting, we were treated to some spectacular skies as we motored south, e.g.:

Tuesday, January 6

Having spent the night in Lexington (VA, not KY), we awoke to blue skies, and so shunned the Interstate in favor of the Blue Ridge Parkway. What a fantastic sports car road—endless twists and turns with the pavement in excellent condition—and we had it all to ourselves! There were many places where we were literally on the ridge, with marvelous views on both sides of us. Here's an example:

Then we got back on the Interstate for a while, but got off to cross through the center of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which goes up over a mountain. First, though, we had to drive through about ten miles of motels, amusement parks, fast food joints, water slides, etc. etc.—America at its finest. It was so atrocious that we were laughing by the time we finally got through it and into the Park. And here was our reward:

Oh, well. The skies were blue again on the other side.

Wednesday, January 7

Well, our Mission Statement has been modified somewhat, since we've been spending too much time on Interstates. So we may not make it across Texas and into New Mexico, but so what? Miles aren't the point.

We woke up in Bryson "City", North Carolina to a temp of 17 degrees and had to scrape off the car. We spent most of the day motoring through the back roads of Georgia (except took the bypass around the gawd-awful sprawling megalopolis of Atlanta). In mid-afternoon, we stopped at Providence Canyon State Park, a.k.a. the Grand Canyon of Georgia. The ranger said it was one of the Seven Wonders of Georgia. (As we were hiking, we wondered what the other six were—peachtrees? Jimmy Carter?) This canyon was a five-foot-deep irrigation ditch started by farmers back in 1850. (Oops, sorry about that, Environment.) Here's one of the views along the three-mile hike to the bottom and back:

What we don't understand is how they got the crane in there to lower the truck down over that tree. Here's a view from the rim:

Here's a version of the above taken with the "Astronaut Shuffle", which results in a 3D effect. Let your eyes defocus and go cross-eyed a bit, until the two images become three. Then concentrate on the center image, ignoring the two outer ones. The center image should appear three-dimensional. Relax, be patient and give it a little time if it doesn't work right away.

Hint from Jeff Vandegrift: My trick with 3D split images is to hold my flattened hand or a pamphlet in line with my nose and the boundary between the split images. Then, switching my attention from eye to eye, I turn and reposition the hand/pamphlet until the left eye cannot see any of the right image and vice versa. From there I just relax my eyes, perhaps doing something like what you described, and the 3D image snaps into place after a few seconds. For me, as long as either eye can see the image not intended for it I am simply unable to lock in the 3D image. I can remove the hand/pamphlet once I'm locked in and maintain lock in, but that initial lock-in requires a blinder.

And finally, an art shot from Vi:

Thursday, it's down to the Florida coast in time for the rains to reappear, and Friday into New Orleans.

Back to the Road Trip 2004 title page