There are about 4 million miles of public roads in the United States. 120 of those public roads are considered National Scenic Byways. And 31 of those byways are considered All-American Roads because they have features not seen elsewhere in the U.S. With 20 million annual visitors, the most popular All-American Road is the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway through Virginia and North Carolina.
It has no stop signs or traffic signals, no interchange ramps, no commercial vehicles. With no straight section–well, anywhere–and two lanes the entire length, the speed limit is 45mph. But no one is in a hurry. Around every corner is a turnout with panoramic vistas galore. Elevation is as low as 650 feet MSL and goes up to 6000 feet MSL. The roller coaster of a ride probably averages about 2000 feet MSL. The Touareg definitely got a workout pulling the Airstream all week.
Other than in a couple of places, there aren’t really any businesses on the Parkway itself. There are park service buildings, and various art and music centers, museums, and rest areas. The many overpasses, guard rails, and 26 tunnels (yes, 26 of them!) are all made of stone, concrete, and wood. Scattered throughout the drive are Appalachian homesteads, farm houses, log cabins, and mills. It really is a step back in time.
I would hop on the Parkway in the morning, drive a bit, stop at a scenic turnout to eat lunch and code for a few hours, drive some more, exit the Parkway, find a nearby campground for the night, and do it all again the next day. I loved every minute of it!Read More
Next golf stop on the Eastern Seaboard: the states of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. Officially, I had been to these states before, but it was just traveling through on the interstates. This was a chance to knock three states off my golf list.
In Delaware, I played a decent course called The Rookery. The best part wasn’t the course itself; it was the people I met at the course. (There is probably some metaphor for life in that last statement.) I hope to see my new golf friends later this year down in Florida. I’d never pass up a free round of golf at a private club!
Next, the course in Maryland, Queenstown Harbor–now that’s a golf course! Located just outside Washington, D.C., it truly is a golf experience. I played the River course, an Audubon Sanctuary on the banks of Chesapeake Bay. It was my favorite course since playing the Highlands Links course on Cape Breton Island in Canada. There were photo ops around every corner! No houses, no road noise, no distractions–my kind of golf!
After the round, I got back on the road with no destination in mind. I saw I was just minutes from Washington, D.C., and since it was election night, I figured I would see if I could catch a glimpse of the U.S. Capitol lit up in the night sky. One little problem: confusing restrictions. I wasn’t a commercial vehicle, I wasn’t a truck, but I certainly wasn’t just a car. With my GPS screaming at me to turn, I followed the local traffic signs instead. I did not want to make the evening news for bringing a trailer down to the U.S. Capitol on a media-crazy night. At one point, I even tried to ask a cop for help, but he cruised right on past me. Fed up, I decided to give up and head out to the expressway. When I turned the next corner, the Capitol was right smack in front of me. I snapped a quick photo (hence the slight blur) and got on out-of-town. To this day, it is shocking that someone didn’t give me some sort of grief–if only temporarily–for doing what I did. I found a rest stop just outside of D.C., went to sleep, and woke up the next morning for a taste of the 1700s.
Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia is a step back in time (1699 to 1780, to be exact.) For me, it is a perfect blend of historical restoration and interpretation with commercial interests. I am sure it isn’t 100% accurate, as some historians have noted, but I still think it is the ultimate field trip for school kids. No cars on certain streets, workers dress and talk in character, horse carriages clamber along. It really does feel like a step back in time. And it is big–over 300-acres big! Adjacent to the interpretive area is a more modern retail section with Baskin-Robbins, William-Sonoma, Talbot–all in a colonial theme. And just down the road from all of this is one historic golf course, The Golden Horseshoe Golf Club. It just reeked of old money! And rightfully so. Robert Trent Jones Sr. and son Rees Jones designed the world-famous 45-hole complex. It was an absolute treat to play!
With no advanced planning whatsoever, I just stumbled upon Queenstown Harbor, Washington D.C., and Colonial Williamsburg as I made way south to warmer weather. I hope to keep stumbling on places just like these! I have a feeling I may do just that in the Outer Banks of North Carolina!Read More