One Trip, part of One Month

Back to Toronto, back to the cool temps of early spring up here, back after a nice trip.
Back, and already planning the next trip.

It was a nice long week away, and the change on the way down was very noticeable! Warmer, greener, more spring-like. A day’s drive took us through Ontario, New York, Pennsylvania and into West Virginia. A night in a rest stop there was less than relaxing, however the price was right (can’t argue with free). Not a bad start to the trip, and for a first trip south I do have an appreciation of why people head south for late winter or early spring! And day one was just such a taste.

I’ve taken Babe out on some trips before… Elk Grove and Mt Ste Anne being the two big ones before. This was her first trip with a new engine though and it’s the first trip to test how ready she is (we are) for this next chapter. In many ways… ready. Not totally there though, and so she’s back in Dave’s shop to deal with the final details. The new engine runs well, is very solid and strong (until we hit big hills, that’s no surprise though) and she ran between 25 and 27 MPG (around 7L/100KM if my math is close). I’m ok with that, she’s sipping a reasonable mixture. So this trip (2060 miles, 68 gallons of fuel) was a good test. The next one will be longer (down to Arkansas) followed by a trip up to the Gatineau hills.

Back to this trip…
One night, around 700 miles over those 2 days, and poof… in the middle of spring. Ontario, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia on day one followed by West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina on day two. Nice weather, which got better and better. And when we finally arrived at Davidson River Campground it was around 7PM, not bad. Andrea was surprised to learn that rest stops in the U.S. work the way they do, pity it’s not the same in Canada! What better way to encourage drivers to take a break than to offer a free and safe place to pull over and rest. Up here, police will show up at some point to chase you out of your rest and get you back on the road.

Learned a lot about the new GPS and how to tell it where to go (and how it can get you lost when it thinks something different!), and how it feels to fight the wind in a toaster without power steering… while we weren’t in any tornadoes the winds certainly were high and a few spots (high bridges in particular) were a real challenge. The first taste of that was in Ontario as we went over the Skyway… very white knuckle. There was another high bridge down on the the trip that I didn’t even want to look at, just focused on keeping Babe moving ahead. Amazing. Past that… life got better and better. Here’s a shot looking at some of the roads.

Camping… I think this is the first trip I’ve taken with Babe that I spent every night in her. No motels or hotels, just her cozy space. I really liked that and I feel like I learned a lot about the space that she occupies in my life. Driving and living… inside and out. Definitely felt good and I look forward to more. The first night at DRCG did remind me that I need to learn more about how the inverter works, I had no luck getting it to power up 120V things (including my computer). I will get a 12V inverter to help out while I learn more, and at DRCG I opted to pay an extra $5 per day to have a site with 120V external power. Otherwise, everything worked as it should. The fridge, in particular, amazes me. On both propane and 120V it kept things very cold. I will look for some way to enhance the lighting for “working” at night, the one main interior light isn’t enough.

As for the Blue Ridge / Asheville area… wow. I love it. Beautiful, inspiring and so very much to explore. I knew we were on a short trip, I’m glad to have gone even for that short time. And I look forward to going back to explore more.

Simple things… like the “Pisgah Tavern”, established long ago and now still very much alive in The Hub (a bike shop on the same location). A nice place to have a pint of Fat Tire Amber, while chatting with other cyclists. In my case, it was a table full of Canadians 🙂 And all of them visiting in VW campers, one being another ’82 Vanagon… a sister to Babe.

Then there was the cycling… it was one of the main reasons for the trip. I didn’t fully appreciate the “hills” there, now i do. My second ride was about 5 hours long, of which the first three were almost all climbing! I’m not sure if this link will work for everyone, however it’s the map from my Garmin…

If that doesn’t work, here’s a couple of photos from along the way. The first is looking back at the route up to Mt Pisgah. The second is from the valley roads.

Some days were spent watching the big races in Europe and then being tourists in America, some were just relaxing. It was very much about the bike, though not exclusively. There were a few trips that were exploring this land of waterfalls, and I like some of the photos I was able to take… here are a couple:

And then, eventually it had to come around to the return trip… which included a stop at one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous creations… Fallingwater.

The return trip was 3 days (2 nights), included L-B-L, crossed 4 states and one province, and was very enjoyable. We went through every sort of springs you can imagine… and camped in Blowing Springs. A nice spot, down the road from Hot springs and Warm Springs… don’t ask me, they named them!

Andrea wanted to see Fallingwater and I agreed it was worth the detour, so we planned a route to get us there and still allow us to be in a place to watch Liege-Bastogne-Liege Sunday morning. I’m glad we did, what an amazing place. I’ll end with this photo of the classic view of Fallingwater (taken from where the original thinking had the home placed… well!)

These and more photos are on my picasa site, feel free to explore…

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