So a few months ago I had solicited some ideas on a road trip during a free week I had in October. The thread can be found here
. Originally I had planned to drive up the East Coast to the Vermont/New Hampshire area to do some leaf peeping and driving around the country back roads. But then there was a mention of US 129 and the Blue Ridge Parkway. The rest as they say was history.
After 69 driving hours, 3362 miles, 8 states and 2 countries, below are the results…
Getting a good night’s rest before the big trip! She looks like an angel when she’s asleep, lol.
And the clock starts! Left Sunday afternoon for Atlanta as a pit stop before heading up the Dragon. b33g33 you should have been there!
A quick face shot before getting really dirty. So fresh and so clean! The PPF was a very good idea.
Got up early to head out and the forecast wasn’t looking too pleasant for shenanigans at the tail. Checking the weather map, it looked like things would be cloudy but no falling precipitation. Yeah, ok. Oh and by the by, traffic heading into Atlanta on a Monday even at 5 in the morning. Ridiculous. Seriously, just ridiculous.
Getting closer to the Tennessee/North Carolina boarder. Wooded two lane roads FTW. The rain started to let up.
A scenic turnout! Checking out some info on William Bartram and his trail.
The Great Smokey Mountains! Smokey.
The Cheoah Dam, aka The Fugitive Dam. It’s the dam that Harrison Ford leapt from in that one movie… what was the name of it again…
A close up shot of the dam. Not as awesome as the Hoover Dam or that one damming the Yangtze, but pretty cool nonetheless.
Yes. Now that’s more like it. Need more signs like that.
Finally made it to the Tail. I can feel the excitement starting to rise…
At the front gates to the infamous Tail! It was still pretty cloudy and the roadway was still wet and covered with random smattering of wet leaves. Not the most ideal conditions, but I was there and determine to experience one of the greatest roadways in the world. And, since it was a regular Monday (i.e., everyone else at work and no weekend or holiday fanboys) I pretty much had the run of the road to myself for a few trial turns.
Yeah, she was rearing to go.
At this point I had just finished my first run. At a turn out close to the end of the 11 mile stretch overlooking the dam. Oh holy cheese fries what a road. I mean, just unbelievable. Who in their right mind would have thought the speed limit through there should have been 55 mph? I had no idea what to expect so I basically kept in third the entire way. And that was good enough for runs one through three
Some scenery while catching my breath… OMG, OMG, OMG this stretch of road is amazing!
A 1M + US129 at Deal’s Gap = Cookie Monster in Keebler’s house unbridled JOY!
To give you guys an idea of the road, props to Chris Jackson for posting a video of his 1M Dragon Run which can be seen here on Vimeo
It does look like a Dragon’s Tail. And just as dangerous.
Yeah, the Tree of Shame. I had no intentions of adding any bits of Emma to that tree.
Here be dragons.
Ok, so my original plan was to do a couple of runs on the Dragon and be on my merry way. I still had the entirety of the Blue Ridge Parkway to get to! But that stretch of road was just too amazing. Two hours since arriving I was still going back and forth on the road. Even getting a bit more adventurous, I began playing with shifting gears, just 2 and 3 through the turns and the very limited straights. The sun even began to peak out of the clouds at some point. Oh it was a glorious day. Then, I met a group of guys on a pilgrimage from Michigan that were spending three days in the area just to drive the roads with the Tail a major focus. So I hooked up with them for more runs! A Cobalt SS, a Subaru’d Saab Nine two wagon, and JCW race prepped Mini. I will say this road definitely favors the lighter cars, by a long shot. The 1M power kept it fun, but to extract maximum enjoyment of the Gs on this road, you’ll need a lightweight handling machine. There were a lot of smoking brakes when we were done. But Emma flawlessly maintained her composure.
Six hours later I finally pulled myself away from the crazy fun and started on the Parkway. Way past when I had expected to start.
Starting raining again. Yes, I was sad to leave too.
Mile 0 or 469 depending on which way you’re going.
More of those famous Smokey Mountains! But at this point, it was getting dark and the clouds/rain was really starting to roll in.
Tunnels! They are pretty cool.
Inside the fog and darkness.
Could be ghosts in here.
So I didn’t not account for the crazy wind and rain storm that rolled through the North Carolina part of the BRP. Also the very curvy part of the parkway. After a couple of hours of highly tense driving on a very curvy mountain road in the dark with zero visibility, heavy wind and rain I was one tired puppy. I treated myself to a night in Asheville at the Grand Bohemian. Hunting Lodge chic?
Literally passed out as soon as I hit the pillows.
Getting up early to head out, some other hotel shots. It’s a nice place.
I’d recommend it if you’re in Asheville for vacation. Also, Sherry at the local Bank of America is really nice. Everyone in Asheville was really nice. I think I’d like to go back and visit.
Yes, prepared for more road tripping.
At the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitors Center.
Yep, went inside to learn more about this fantastic roadway.
My sentiments exactly.
More driving on the Parkway. Still fairly cloudy but much, much better than the previous day.
Some very nice look outs. It’s no Stelvio Pass, but hey you take what you can get. ;-p
Driving into the clouds.
A nice turn out.
A rare shot of the driver in the wild.
You think of clouds as being fluffy and soft. Nope. They’re dreary and wet on the inside.
Have the Langoliers been here?
Almost 0 percent visibility. Good for sightseeing, lol.
Oh, but there are some peeks into the Valley.
The classic open road shot, yeah?
A modern take?
Hey a break in the clouds! Highly recommended doing the drive with fewer clouds.
Some views from the cabin. Nothing like driving along the ridge.
Look, a 1M in the wild!
We like to see roads do this.
We’re headed North! Wait… South! No, North!
So. Much. Fun.
Starting to head back into the clouds.
She’s starting to get a little dirty. But still looks good.
Got watch for those dangerous curves off the side of a mountain.
Blowing through the leaves.
Scene from the a Zombie Apocalypse?
That great open road!
Oh, some baby waterfalls!
Just so you know, watch out for motorcyclists flying over rainbows.
Small, rocky falls.
It’s starting to get real again.
I call this one, Fall in the Fog
This one? Beast in the Mist.
Oh, but it’s really a beauty in the mist.
She’s coming to life again.
My Ansel Adams tribute
Some old timey fences
It just looked so lonely, I took a picture.
Working on the two tone paint scheme. White and road dust.
Valley of the Clouds.
Yes, more of those roads please.
A moment of reflection
Looks so good on the road
Quite a few admirers out on the road. Thankfully, the kept off the road. End of another day.
Starting another day, still on the BRP.
Not the best to start out the day with a casualty. Poor guy didn’t have enough time get off the road.
Heading further north
You know, going up on the map.
A lake of clouds!
Yep, just confirming. Two days and I’m still on the Parkway.
So had a bright idea, let’s take a short cut to get to the Natural Bridge.
Yeah, so let’s do a little tracking. That’s what street performance cars are wont to do. Okay, so maybe not the right track.
What could go wrong here?
So far, so good!
You know, just driving down the side of a mountain. No biggie.
Yes, made it in one piece! The wonder that is the Natural Bridge. Or at least the sign for it.
Like whoa. It’s a natural bridge.
Back on normal roads! Headed back over to the Blue Ridge Parkway after the slight off mountain detour.
Ok, had to memorialize this. So if you want a roadway that is similar to the dragon except you can go much, much faster? This State Road (SR 501 South) in Virginia is amazing. About an eight mile stretch, but an amazing run could be had and it was a thing of beauty to have the 1M chew up this road like a champ. Should have had a Go Pro.
Um, chicanes or esses? Doesn’t matter. It’s on the ridge of a mountain and sick, crazy fun. I made a few runs, yes.
Finally hit mile 0 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Again, it’s a great road to travel. For the most part, the road is non-stop and best enjoyed at a leisurely pace. The speed limit is 45 mph throughout and best at that speed to really take in the sights. But admittedly there are some sections that just make you feel the need, the need for speed.
On to another mountain drive!
The curves, they just feel so good!
Catching my breath and having it taken away. The Shenandoah Valley, behold.
Yeah, that’s right. Flying over the valley.
Can you ever have enough curves? No, I don’t think so.
I think she’s winking at me on the Skyline.
Yes, hiking the Appalachian Trial. 1M Style.
Sunset in the Valley
Then the monsters come out at night. These little bastards just creeped into every crevice they could find. It was creepy how they tried to take over the car. As soon as I hit a town, I hit up a spray car wash to flush out these bugs. So many were flushed out it really grossed me out. Six months later there are still one or two falling out of the car. My god, I can’t imagine hiking through that mess and having these things creeping in all of your junk. Bastards.
But I got back at the little buggers. Mass insecticide.
Small town Americana for the night.
Having looked at my timetable and my location, I had to reroute my original plan. Getting to Acadia National Park wasn’t going to happen nor roaming around Vermont and New Hampshire to do some leaf peeping. Those will have to wait for next time. So instead I decided to head to Niagara Falls. So getting back on the road through Pennsylvania northbound.
Starting on US322. Oh look, Punxsutawney!
Turn off onto Penn State Road 153 northbound
Now heading North on Penn State Road 255 northbound
And caught a brief stint through the Allegheny National Forest. Very Scenic.
And finally, the signs indicate I’ve arrived!
The Falls! Really, an amazing thing to behold.
Yep, I did the Maid of the Mist tour thing. It was cold and wet.
Detained by immigration because the 1M was too hot. Who drives to Niagra Falls from Florida to just to see it and not have had booked a hotel for a stay? Apparently that throws some red flags.
Ah, now that’s out of the way. The actual Niagara Falls! A view from the Canadian side.
Now heading back to the US after getting my pics and Canadian souvenirs and snacks.
Blazing a path under the full moon to get to Syracuse. So begins the mad dash to get back to Florida in 24 hrs.
Now its sunrise!
Some tunnel action on 95 Southbound
The rest of the drive was on I95 so nothing too exciting. But finally made it home about half a day later than expected. The final stats.
And yes, the lady got the full spa treatment after the long trip.
That’s it. Another great American road trip! I’m planning the Acadia National Park run for next October so I can do the leaf peeping for reals. And maybe on the way back, I’ll hit up the Dragon.
Road Trips FTW! I hope this inspires you 1M owners out there to take your girls for a ride. The entire time I was driving, I just couldn’t shake the feeling of absolute contentment with this car. Every mile was pure driving pleasure. An amazing car. The ultimate driving machine indeed.