We arose at 5 a.m. and were out of the house in Malibu, fully packed, etc by about 6:20. We had surprisingly little traffic all the way there on PCH, 10, 405. We parked easily and had not too bad a time getting the bag checked and thru security. The flight was uneventful after sitting in the waiting area almost 2 hours since we made it so early.
It was raining a little in PIT. We got the car, a Toyota Yaris easily and the instructions on getting out of the airport were pretty easy to follow. The trip to Cambridge OH in the dark and rain was alarming - the truckers in OH are VERY aggressive and bad. We got to the hotel before 9 local time, watched a little Monday night football and read and went to bed.
We had a pretty good dinner at THE FORUM, suggested by the desk clerk.
We were up by 6 and had breakfast in the Best Western which was adequate (and FREE thanks to Rosemarys cards). The trip on I70 across Ohio was a white knuckler because of all the trucks. Probably as bad as the 710 and not as polite. Campbell Hill was a nice spot in the middle of a school and easy to find and a drive up high point. More white knuckling all the way to Indiana. We drove straight to Hoosier Highpoint and had no trouble locating it. There is still a register but no signs. Minor league vandalism has occurred. White knuckle back to the Dayton OH turnoff and then south through Cincinatti across the Ohio, thru Covington KY and on south. Nice visitors center entering Kentucky. Too bad we dont have time for the bourbon trail or the Louisville Slugger baseball bat plant. We got to the BW in Barbourville about 6 after stopping at Sanders Café in Corbin to see the very first Kentucky Fried Chicken before it even was KFC. Lots of interesting material on an American success story. We took some good pix, including one of the Colonel wearing a Santa Barbara Woodie Club sweatshirt.
Once south of Lexington traffic was better. We ate at Country Village Resturant - another nice picture - yes, that is how they spelled restaurant on the billboard outside - and it was full of locals and pretty good. Weve had a good time so far and tomorrow should be an easier drive
The Best Western last night was quite good but breakfast was so so. At least they had apples. We got to the Cumberland Gap National Park in the fog by 8:30 a.m.. We watched a couple of films on the site, its people and the settlers, including one on Daniel Boone. The invasion by Europeans cost Boone two sons and a brother - the original inhabitants did not take kindly to that invasion. The fog lifted and we enjoyed wonderful views which showed just how important the Gap was to the westward movement of the nation. The country without roads would be forbidding indeed. We proceeded on to Black Mountain Kentucky and arrived around 12:30 p.m. There are a couple of transmission or radar towers of some sort and a bunch of broken glass - fairly disappointing, although the views on the way up were nice and trees were starting to turn. The drive to Black took us down into VA on Hwy 58 (JEB Stuart Hwy) and then back up into Kentucky. The land itself is owned by a coal company that believes in strip mining. The mountain itself had not been disturbed but much of the surrounding area had been. We headed on to the Hikers Inn in the small town of Damascus, VA. It is a house with a bunk house in the back that is literally right on the Appalachian Trail although it is on a street. We saw hikers going right down the sidewalk in front while enjoying the company of the owners (both old and the new owner) and a couple of hikers. We walked around the town quite a bit. This was an enjoyable stop. Pretty good weather today.
Today was truly beautiful. We had a nice chat with Suzanne, who sold the place after 8 years to a couple that was actually there too. Suzanne has stayed on to manage for a couple of months. The temperature was in the high 30s in the beautiful mountains with trees turning in the area. Very pretty drive. The wind was howling when we arrived at the Mt. Rogers trailhead at over 4000 feet. We put on long johns, wind shells and balaclavas and headed out up a moderately rocky trail by 8:45 a.m. or so. The summit was 4 miles and about 1500 feet gain from the start. We stopped at an A.T. shelter at Thomas Knob and chatted with some hikers (none were through hikers though). We then proceeded the last 3/4 mile to the summit. The views a good part of the way up were beautiful but the high point itself is heavily forested. The upper portion is a considerably gentler slope than the first part of the trail. By the time we were returning it had warmed up quite a bit although the wind kept blowing. We were back to the trailhead by 2:45 p.m. and were able to take some pictures and enjoy a short picnic before heading north to Winchester. We got there around 7:30 p.m. pretty tired from a long day. We had a nice dinner with our young friend Eric Latham (who walked across America a few years ago right after graduating from college in order to raise money for cancer research) and his fiancee Kat (for Katherine). Kat grew up in this historic town and proudly told us of its history including George Washingtons surveying shop which we visited (from the outside since by now it was after 10 p.m.) Wed love to return to see more of the historic sites.
By climbing Mt. Rogers Bill has now been to the high point of every state East of the Mississippi. Rosemary needs another attempt at Katahdin, Maine, to complete the same area. Bill has 34 highpoints and Rosemary 31. The technically challenging peaks await.
We arose early to head for Reading, PA. We went to the Maple Grove Raceway to watch the National Hot Rod Association drag races. Courtesy of John Siragusa we were served food in the VIP suite at the starting line. That was a real treat. It was a beautiful day and we met up with a bunch of the Woodie Club folks and John and had a great time of it. After the drags we headed to the HQ hotel in Lebanon, PA and Rosemary and I walked around long enough for her to get in her 10,000 steps on her pedometer.
An interesting observation included road signs: Beware of Inattentive Drivers Thumbs on the Wheel and a variety of anti-texting messages.
Loyalty to the country always - loyalty to the government when it deserves it
--------- Mark Twain