Friday, October 23, 2015

Gering / Johnson 2015 Road Trip - Day 2 - Florence, AL to Asheville, NC

Day 2 we left Florence, AL headed to Asheville, NC to catch the Blue Ridge Parkway.  

Today's route took us through Huntsville, AL and back into Tennessee where we made the first stop of the day in Chattanooga to see the famous train.  Charlie entertained us on the road there by playing several versions of the Chattanooga Choo Choo song and having us guess the artist singing the classic lyrics:

"Pardon me boy, is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo?
(Yes yes, track 29)
Boy, you can give me a shine
(Can you afford to board Chattanooga Choo Choo?)"

 Inside the depot.

Not too far outside of Chattanooga we veered from the busy highway and took a slower road through the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests which turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip, beautiful mountains, lakes and rivers.  We enjoyed seeing lots of whitewater rafting on the Nantahala and Ocoee Rivers.  We also saw the Watts Bar nuclear power plant.  

This is where we stopped for a nice long break and watched the rafters practicing on the calmer part of the river above this dam and then as they were getting ready to enter the faster rapids.  Lots of safety and pep talks being made by the guides.

We also learned that the Ocoee River was the site of the 
1996 Olympic Whitewater competition.

Once in Asheville we checked into the hotel and headed out for some really good pizza at Asheville Pizza and Brewing.  This unique restaurant also has a theater where you can catch a movie while you eat your pizza.  We enjoyed our pizza in the non-theatre section.  Bobby was excited that this pizza joint served RC Cola (yuck!) and Teresa stashed one of the cups with the RC logo into her purse as a souvenir for him!

After dinner we embarked on a search for ice cream.  The bad news was that Dairy Queen was already closed, the good news was that after circling the neighborhood(s) several times we not only found a Marble Slab Creamery but also found the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway for the next day!  The creamery was located in the historic downtown district of Asheville.  The ice cream was delicious and we returned to the hotel stuffed and tired!

Funny of the day: since we were going to be on the road for eleven nights we packed our clothes into large containers and stored them in bed of the pickup under the cover and would pull out what we needed for the next day and put it into smaller bags for the hotel.  To aid in retrieval of all the bags and containers from the back of the pickup bed, Bobby attached a hook onto the end of a wooden pole and would hook the bags and pull them to the tailgate.  Teresa and Charlie have traveled in similar style before and have used a garden hoe to retrieve their items.  Charlie made the comment that 'we have a hoe, but you guys have a hooker!'

Asheville and the surrounding National Forests are places I would like to return and spend a lot more time!  


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