Welcome to OPEN ROADS 2002
July 8th A day with Elvis100 miles to Memphis. We arive at Graceland, home of Elvis Presley, before it opens and have to kick our heels for an hour. The music of Elvis calls from every corner and we are soon in the mood. Head phones are handed out and a shuttle bus takes us over the busy road to the entrance. Moments of nostalgia. Many of our generation will have lived and loved to songs of the king. We spend three hours strolling around with our private memories. Seeing the piano, where he sat the day he died at the young age of 42, brings a lump to the throat.
I had expected to be disappointed but am pleasantly surprised by the way it is handled. I had not realised how much he gave to charity for example. Videos and flash are not allowed so only this banner to show we are here.
By lunchtime we still have 200 miles to go in searing heat. 20 miles of Interstate 40 and we have had enough. Head off onto Rt. 64 then 100. Beautiful tree-lined road, somewhat cooler. We chase a rainstorm- wonderful refreshing atmosphere. Then we catch it, very wetting atmosphere. Emergency stop to put the top up as it is coming down in stair-rods. Continue on Rt.100 running parallel to I 40. Pas fabulous stud farms. Most attractive area spoilt by horrendous trafic jam on Rt. 96 into Knoxville. Engine goes to 230 +. Meet up with Alf and Kathy Sharpe who arrange a supper party with the local Group. Hickory smoked BB pork - Yummy. A Tennessee special.
July 9th Deal's Gap and the Dragon Run
Leave a bit later at 8.00 a.m. as we have a lunch appointment with Gary Lownsdale, President of the Austin Healey Club of America.
Head off on Rt. 96. Farms to die for. Fencing must be cheaper in the U.S.A. than the U.K. or farming doing better. Miles of beautiful post and rails. Heavily wooded low hills interspersed with jigsaw puzzle shapes of fields. We choose Rt. 70 marked as a scenic highway. Unfortunately this coincides with it being upgraded to a four lane highway. A huge car dump mars the scenic aspect. At the rate we are travelling our lunch appointment is looking more like tea.
We abandon Rt.70 and get onto I 40 again. and arrive only 20 minutes late at Ruby Tuesday's restaurant famed for its fish dishes.
An afternoon treat is a drive though Deal's gap on the famous Dragon run, 318 curves in 11 miles. This adds us another State as we dip into North Carolina. We survive the Dragon Run and get the T-shirt. Passed one poor motor cyclist who hadn't, missed a turn and crashed his cycle, but fortunately lived to tell the tale.
Back into Tennessee and through Cherokee Village. Pass signs selling Peter's pancakes!. Back over the Smoky Mountains ( yes, correct spelling) and down into Gatlingburg, very touristy ski or white water rafting resort.
July 10th Third time Lucky or ? unlucky
Julian and Lawrence go their own way again. We have a pow-wow with Kathryn and Philip and the Interstate gets the vote, at least to play catch up as we are 150 or so miles behind schedule. I take the wheel to start with. 45 miles of slow roads then we hit I 81 just as a huge convoy af trucks wakes up from their breakfast and takes to the road. I squeeze in feeling very small. Trucks thunder past to right and to left of us. Into the valley of death rode the red HEALEY. The speedo fluctuates so widely that to estimate speed is a guess based on the slightly less fluctuating rev counter, engine tone and the speed that other vehicles are going.
Must have got it wrong as the neon lights of the Police car draw alongside.
" Ma'am, I clocked you at 72 mph in a 65 mph limit zone ( or was it 55 mph zone?). I look suitably chastened. Why doesn't he go and catch some of these trucks belting past me at about 85mph? The ones that are trying to turn us into a jam sandwich. I get away with yet another warning.
Stop at Marion and find a charming little place called the Appletree for breakfast, and to recover our composure. We have that end of the road feeling, one last full day before returning to David's.
We have to slow down now as we are a marked car. Time to enjoy the road. We leave the Interstate to avoid road works. Decide to test the Blue Ridge Parkway. We have been advised it would be crowded with R.V.s but it is raining and misty. We have the road to ourselves. Americans obviously don't travel in rain. Beautiful road but very slow. We return to I 81 through Glasgow, 13 miles further on from where we left it. We have travelled 45 miles to progress 13 miles!
July 11th Final paddle at Woodlands Beach, the Atlantic Ocean
We set off across the Potomac into the Delmar peninsula. Breakfast stop at La Platte where we find it partly destroyed by a tornado this April. 100 businesses destroyed and 1000 people lost their homes. We return to Rt. 50 where we started five weeks ago. We decide to make the extra mile to go coast and back so detour over to the Delaware Bay to touch the Atlantic more truly at Woodland Bay. Below we have Peter, Myself, Philip and Kathryn enjoying a final paddle in the Atlantic, considerably warmer than the Pacific..
A great achievement - close to 8,000 miles, a little over a third of our Around the World distance. ( Total 19,100 miles) in 32 days.
Sadly Julian missed on this one as he took a different route. We arrive back at David Stonely's in time for a swim, watch the fledgling ospreys and enjoy an all American Bar-B-Que. This is the end of the road. To-morrow the cars are left at the docks and we board the plane for Scotland. Another wonderful adventure to remember for the rest of our life. Many miles travelled, many friends made. We hope that we will have the opportunity meet many of you again in Scotland.
An enormous thank you to David and Joyce for all their wonderful help and hospitality.