On what will probably be our last day of leaf peeping before the rain comes, we decided to take another 150+ mile ride through scenic roads. The first leg was down the Foothills Parkway like before. We have a few raindrops, but nothing significant. It caused of a bit of nervousness on our part, but the road didn't even get wet. We pressed onward. The colors seemed even more magnificent than our previous two trips down this road.
The top of the drive was at peak color.
To get to the next scenic highway, we needed to drive about 40 miles of other roadway. Even the non-scenic roads were a pleasant drive. Here are a few shots from Highway 360.
We arrived in Tellico Plains in time for lunch. We both ordered country fried steak. It is sometimes strange ordering food away from home. In Texas, you order a chicken fried steak and you know exactly what you get. Outside of that great state, you must specify that you want that steak with white gravy, not brown. Seriously, brown gravy on chicken fried steak? I would not put white gravy on my pot roast, what makes you think I want brown gravy on my CFS? Unbelievable! The steak was good and the portion was small, so we split dessert. We had cheesecake wrapped and fried in puff pastry then served with ice cream and whipped cream and drizzled in chocolate sauce. WOW! It was awesome! We didn't think to take a picture before it quickly disappeared, but a picture would not have done justice to the taste anyway.
After lunch in Tellico Plains we drove the scenic Cherohala Skyway (Highway 165) The first 12 miles had some of the most stunning color we have ever seen. It was like driving through a fairy land of color and it left us speechless. We took many pictures but the pictures were disappointing. I don't know if a setting was wrong (most of them from a moving scooter without the cheater glasses) but they just didn't convey the otherworldness we experienced. At a rest stop, one lady kept looking at her camera screen and then the view beyond and commented "I can't get it to show up right." Yes, we understand.
The first few are of the roadway.
We stopped and got a few distant pictures of the mountains in color.
Haven't taken a picture of us in a while. This one is for the parents.
During our ride on the Cherohala Skyway, our scooter passed the 20,000 mile mark! We've logged all but 1,700 of those miles ourselves. What a blessing this little scooter has been!
As we approached the upper elevations of the highway, the trees were mostly brown and barren. As we descended at the other end, green reappeared and we drove for a while by rivers and lakes. We also stopped to explored a bit.
The next part of our journey took us back to the Dragon going the opposite direction. On our way to Deals Gap, we passed a bike accident. It didn't look to be too serious, but there was a rider sitting on the side of the road with an officer nearby. We hoped everyone was okay. We arrived in Deals Gap and took another break. We decided to take more breaks today than our first riding day so that we could avoid re-injuring the back. As we walked around the campground, we saw a tree riddled with bike parts. It was called the Tree of Shame.
Not sure who is responsible for placing items on that tree, but it certainly drew lots of attention.
We noticed that there were many more bikers and sports car owners making runs down the Tail of the Dragon. The last time we were here was a Thursday. Today was Saturday. It was certainly a different atmosphere. We left the Gap and began our descent down the Tail of the Dragon hoping that not too many speedsters came up behind us. Shortly after, we passed a car pinned against a mountain wall just off the road. Doesn't look like anyone was hurt in that accident, but I wouldn't want to see the other side of that car! The rest of the trip went smoothly. We were passed by a couple of other bikers on the road, but most of the time we were able to move off on a pullout before the adrenaline junkies approached. We will not visit that road on a weekend again. Too many people - too many thrill seekers - too much potential for danger.
After the Dragon, we took the Foothills parkway again to home. It was a long day, but such a memorable one! We still can't believe we were able to catch so much color on the Cherohala Skyway. We now know exactly what "Peak Color" is.
The forecast calls for rain the next 4-5 days, so we will stay home and work. If we get the opportunity to find color elsewhere after that, we will. If not, we are thankful for what we have been able to see the past three days.
Monday Update: Friends emailed last night to invite us for another day of leaf-peeping. We drove the Foothills Parkway with them, took a couple of short walks/hikes, and then came home and visited the remainder of the day. Susan pretty much handed the camera to the two oldest girls and they took some great shots. It is always fun to see how young minds view the world. Thought we share a few of those pictures with you here.
Such interesting pictures! It was an unexpected outing and a very good time with friends. Days like these are precious!
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!