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    Cruisin' the Twisties Rhiannon's Avatar
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    Feb 2007
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    Winston Salem, NC

    My MINI Information:
    Countryman S
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    My "Memorial Run" 3/22/11

    In memory of my father....
    May 4, 1947 - March 22, 2006

    I didn't really get an opportunity to get to know my dad growing up for various reasons that wasn't his fault. (long story). When I was finally able to reunite with my dad, it was the most wonderful feeling to have that "missing link" back in place. I was only allowed 7 years in this lifetime (out of my 27 years of living) to be with him before he passed away from a massive heart attack. When he passed away, it was a rather traumatic experience having my dad stripped away from me yet again after only having reunited with him not too long before. When it came to funeral arrangements, I decided to have him cremated so I would always have him with me. One would think that it would get easier as time passed, and although it has become "somewhat" easier, its still pretty emotional this time of year.

    My dad was born in and lived for the first several years of his life in Bryson City, Swain County NC. When we reunited after being apart for so long, he used to tell me a little bit about his life growing up in Bryson City. I always asked him to take me back to his old home place to share the memories with me, but he never would; it was almost like it was a sore spot for him for some reason that he would never explain. From what his brothers had to say about life in Bryson City, it wasn't all that bad. I will never know my dad's reasoning.

    Since my dads passing, I have been trying to tie up "loose ends" to help me find closure with various things and that was one of the main reasons I decided back in August to make a "spur of the moment" trip to Maggie Valley, Cherokee, Bryson City (and then a side trip to the Tail of the Dragon).

    This time of year is always the hardest for me since it is the "morbid anniversary" of my father's passing. (He passed away March 22, 2006).

    I was already planning on heading towards Bryson City this past Tuesday anyways, but my best friend suggested a better idea.
    We decided at 5pm Monday night to pack a bag for an overnight trip and decided to head to Asheville that night so we could get an early start for Tuesday and our adventures that lay ahead of us. -Daddy's urn included.

    The purpose of our adventure was two fold. One to celebrate my dads life and to explore places and do things we (my friend Amanda and I) have never done before.

    When we left out Tuesday morning, we ventured west, driving through Maggie Valley, then on into Cherokee - making a stop off at SoCo falls for some photo opps, and then on over to Bryson City. I wanted to make a second attempt at finding my dads old homeplace (after obtaining documents from Swain County Tax Administration/Records Office the last time I was up there) but with me being an emotional wreck at the mere thought of such a goose-chase - and running the risk of getting yelled at by some property owner (who probably would have been some long distant cousin), I decided to forgo the notion and ventured on to other things while in town.

    Last weekend while at work, I did some researching on things to do and see while in the area and found "The Road to Nowhere" quite interesting. After reading the history and the events that led up to what it is now, it was one of the stops on our mental "itinerary." For some reason while we were out there at the tunnel, it seemed eerily nostalgic. Another feeling that crossed my mind was in reference to the movie "Silent Hill" wondering if once we got to the other side of the tunnel, if we would enter some alternate reality. (lol)

    While in Bryson City, I learned a lesson that has better prepared me for the next time I go into town; that lesson being that the only bathrooms in downtown Bryson City are either in diners or at the train depot. When you've got to go, you've got to go and finding that nearly all the diners within a 3 block range are/were ALL closed, its a bad feeling. Even the womens bathroom at the train depot was closed so I had to resort to using the mens which was ironically.... unlocked. Go figure. On a brighter note, Soda Pops Ice Cream Shop was rather nifty and very nostalgic. Even though it wasn't open when my dad and his brothers were growing up in Bryson City, I could SO totally picture them all (6 brothers and 1 sister) sitting in there eating ice cream, talking about girls and their next fishing trip.

    After we left from Bryson City, it was up in the air as to what to do next. Part of me wanted to venture to Deals Gap to share the Tail of the Dragon with my friend Amanda (who was happily "doped" up on Dramamine) :-D but ended up venturing off towards Robbinsville by way of 74/19 through the Nantahala Gorge down to Topton NC.

    I had been following Nantahala Outdoor Center on Facebook and have been interacting with some of their folks regarding some pictures I had found digging through my dads things after he passed away, but had absolutely no idea what kind of a place they had down there! Sure Ive seen pictures and what not on their website, but in person was even better. Pretty cool setup, all things considered! When we drove by, there were people out on the river kayaking UPstream, which Ive yet to understand. To me, its like going up a down escalator and the only function/purpose would be for exercise- I could be wrong though.

    Driving down through the Nantahala Gorge, something was burning somewhere that put a haze over everything. It wasn't all that bad since it was higher up in the sky, but it wasn't pleasant either considering we had the sunroof open and both windows down. It wasn't until we got into Tennessee that it seemed to dissipate.

    When we got to Topton NC, we made a turn onto the lower end of 129 and headed towards Robbinsville. In Robbinsville, I was still up in the air on whether or not to continue on 129 and hit the Dragon or turn onto 143 and take the Cherohala Skyway. Figuring that we'd be making a trip over to the Dragon in June at the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway Tour, I made the turn onto 143.

    The Cherohala Skyway was nice, very peaceful, beautiful vistas (from what we could see that wasn't hindered by the smoke that we had just come through) but once we got towards the end, we were READY for it to be over with. Maybe it was the fact that we had already been driving for so long and covered all those many miles? The Skyway didn't have as many tight twisties as the Dragon does, but it was a nice change of pace from everything that we had already been on and all the roads back home. Surprisingly enough, we only encountered maybe 5 cars and 7 bikes (give/take) along the entire Skyway.

    The ideal "plan" was to be back in Asheville by around 5pm so that we could swing down to Black Forest Restaurant to have traditional German food for dinner. (something else Amanda hadn't had). Lets just say those plans were shot all to crap considering we got to Tellico Plains Tennesse at around 4:30pm!!!

    Looking for the best route back to Asheville NC and after entering in the destination into Google Nav on my Droid X (I LOOOOOVE my phone!!!) we literally CRINGED when the navigation directions took us BACK the exact way we came across the Skyway, to Robbinsville and back over to Bryson City. >.<

    So after some re-calibrating the destination to take us up to Maryville since I knew we could get to Interstate 40 rather "quickly" (all things considered), we ventured TN411 to TN115 to I40 in Knoxville. Driving through Maryville, we decided to make a pitstop at the local Krystal Burger to rest and relax a bit after all of the altitude "jumps," the curves, and the smoke.

    We eventually made it back to Asheville and on the home stretch with us getting back to the house around 11:30pm Tuesday night. We covered somewhere in the ballpark of 635miles from 5pm Monday evening until 11:30pm Tuesday night and although it was long and left us both "road weary," it was well worth it. Considering Amanda had to get up for work at 4am the next morning, she wasn't exactly a happy camper Wednesday - even though she napped on the way home from Asheville.

    Would I do it again? Heck yeah!!

    I'm hoping to be able to make a "pilgrimage" to Bryson City/Nantahala Gorge every spring in memory of my father. Maybe (hopefully) I can actually FIND my dads old home place without having to go on the very vague directions from 3rd and 4th cousins (a couple times removed) who are in their 80's - on the verge of loosing their memories. (Trying to get information, (even so basic) from whats left of my dad's immediate family is like pulling hens teeth - despite the fact that they venture up there at least once a year)

    Attached is a picture of our trip with info compiled from the MyTracks app for Droid. There is one segment missing from Bryson City to Nantahala Outdoor Center because my phone decided to reboot on me (I had literally killed the battery since it was doubling for pictures and navigation)

    If anyone is interested in seeing the pictures from our trip, you can view them on my facebook page. Here is the PUBLIC LINK to view the album. They are not in order of occurrence, but they are there.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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