I-40, Business 40, US 52, I-74, I-77, I-81, I-26, US 11W, TN 31, TN 131, US 25E to Cumberland Gap.
Return home: US 25E, US 119, US 421, VA 224, TN 93, US 11W, I-81, detour into and out of Bristol on US 421 and I-381, I-81, I-77, etc to home.
I gained six new counties one this trip - 4 in TN and 2 in KY. 50 for 2017 and 1144 overall.
We left Chris' house at just after 6 am. I don't get to the North Carolina High Country much anymore - let alone in the morning. And I found that this photo of I-74 West approaching Interstate 77 west of Mount Airy as scenic but also makes me wish for more time to get back there.
April of 2010. It is amazing how where you live can limit your regular exposure to various roads. For example, since moving to Raleigh from Charlotte in 2003 - I may have been on I-77 north of Huntersville maybe twice. But when I lived in the Charlotte area in 2001-03, I was on it often. Same can be said for Interstate 95 between Interstate 40 and Rocky Mount. Because I live in Raleigh - there's not really any need for me to travel that stretch of Interstate. I can pick up 95 south in Benson and 95 North in Rocky Mount.
|The Mountain Empire Airport borders I-81 to the south near Groseclose. The airport is used primarily for general aviation.|
|I-81's last exit in Virginia is for US 58 and 421.|
|I-26 West approaching TN 93 in Kingsport.|
|US 11W in Eastern Tennessee.|
Wilderness Road that Daniel Boone blazed and early pioneers and settlers used to head west into Kentucky from Virginia. At Cumberland Gap, there is a sign that reads:
Each was here in the Cumberland Gap and now so are you.
- Salt seeking buffalo
- Moccasin clad warrior
- Dreaming pioneer
- Battling Civil War soldier
At the Gap, the trail leading to the Tri-State Peak begins. It is just over a half mile or so from Cumberland Gap to the Tri-State Peak - the point where Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia all meet. Immediately after turning on to the Tri-State Peak Trail, a monument honoring Daniel Boone erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution sits.
The Tri-Point is well maintained (be sure and sign the guestbook) and the brick pavers and stone walls depicting the state lines are very nice, but the views are underwhelming. Panaoramic vistas are difficult and the best view looking west towards Middleboro is obstructed by high-tension wires.
After the hike, it was time to explore the town of Cumberland Gap. And it was a nice small mountain town indeed. The original "Gateway to the West", this tiny town of about 500 residents sits right below the Cumberland Gap to the south in Tennessee. The town is home to a number of specialty shops, bed & breakfasts, and eateries. It is popular with those spending a weekend adventuring outdoors or dayhikers like ourselves taking sometime to explore after a good hike.
One of the more unique roadgeek finds in Tennessee sits in front of the Cumberland Gap Post Office - an old faded sign leftover from when US 25E was routed through the town still stands.
Rax Restaurants in operation. I grew up in Pittsburgh in the 1980s and they were awesome. In fact, Rax was the subject of a recent Pittsburgh Dad episode on YouTube.
I talked myself out of stopping to eat there. We had a long drive ahead and it was about 3pm when we went past it. Why didn't I make us stop!!! The funny thing is I would so be like the Pittsburgh Dad character calling friends from back home in PA if we had stopped. I can still remember going to the Pleasant Hills and Belle Vernon Rax 30 years later. The Salad Bar was great - but the chocolate chip cookie you got with the kids meal was pretty damn awesome.
|The Rax in Harlan, KY mocks me.|