Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Day Two: Crossing state lines a BUNCH

This morning I woke up suddenly at 7:21.  I was a little sad that I missed seeing the sunrise over the mountains... however, it was soon forgotten when I opened the curtain of my hotel room.  We did a good portion of the mountain drive in the dark last night, so we didn't really have any idea of what the landscape was like.  When I opened the curtain, it was to a lush green mountains as far as I could see.  I stared out the window for a few minutes, just amazed that yesterday I was in rainy, gray Green Bay.

Tony and I met up for breakfast and solved a Sudoku puzzle over biscuits and gravy, and looked at maps to plot the day.  My goal was to see the Cumberland Gap and drive through the Cumberland Gap tunnel.  In order to get to the Cumberland Gap National Park, we took the tunnel, which starts in Kentucky and ends in Tennessee.  Then, a few minutes later we crossed into Virginia to the park entrance... except the park entrance we were at was for camping and not where the access to view the Gap actually is.  So we got back in the car, drove three minutes back to Tennessee, crossed through the tunnel again and came out in Kentucky, and found the right park location.

The ranger at the visitor center was a hoot.  She asked where y'all from, and when she learned we were from Wisconsin she was excited to tell me that a co-worker of hers was currently in Wisconsin in a town with a funny name but she couldn't remember where.  Immediately we suggested Oconomowoc, Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Lac du Flambeau, Weyawega...and she suddenly said KENOSHA!  She was delighted that we drove through there just yesterday.

There were lots of things for us to see in the Visitor Center and I'm glad we gave ourselves a lot of time to spend there.  We drove to the Pinnacle  which is the overlook that looks over the Cumberland Gap and the three states.  The drive is an adventure.  There are sheer dropoffs, hairpin turns and steep hills as you go up the mountain.  .  Parking for the Pinnacle is in Kentucky, and then you walk out to the overlook which is technically in Virginia.  Then you walk from Virginia back to Kentucky to the parking lot.  All in all we figure we crossed state lines six times today.  There's a point in the park where you can stand on a marker where Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee meet.  However, you have to hike out there for half a mile.  I was all for the hike until I was warned about snakes.  Snakes?  I'm out.

The Overlook is awesome.  Literally, it left me in awe.  I'll let the photos do the talking.

We wrapped up our visit looking for just the right souvenir in the gift shop, and I was glad to find a small, handy little trinket that'll be on my desk at work on Monday, and will remind me of Cumberland Gap.

We said goodbye to the Cumberland Gap and made our way to the next stop:  Nashville!  It was a long day of driving again, with heavy traffic but not so many trucks today.  (I forgot to mention yesterday that we saw about a dozen SNBC trucks!)   My ears popped a lot through the twists and turns and hills and it made me miss the long boring stretches of highways back home.

We stopped for a stretch and when we were driving back out toward the interstate we heard a huge kaTHUNK and I felt it in the steering wheel and immediately pulled over, fully expecting a flat tire.  All four were fine though, and there was no damage to the car.  Best I could figure is an invisible pothole.

The rest of the drive went smoothly and we arrived in Nashville safe and sound.  Our hotel gives each guest a card good for three drinks from the bar and has a light dinner buffet, so we were happy to get here and not have to go anywhere else for dinner.  We've plotted our Nashville points of interest for tomorrow, and are ready for another day of adventure.

Our temporary trunk accessory

View from the hotel in Kentucky

Approaching the Cumberland Gap tunnel

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