Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Long Way Home, Part 2

This entry is a continuation of an earlier entry describing my trip from Tallahassee, Florida to Brevard, North Carolina in early April.

From Forsythe, I take 83 through Monticello and Madison. This is only about fifty miles total, but Monticello and Madison are two of the most beautiful historic small towns in this part of Georgia. Monticello (Courthouse Square pictured top) is the first town and is much smaller. It is the hometown of country singer, Trisha Yearwood. As I leave Monticello, I drive on the Trisha Yearwood Parkway towards Madison. Madison is a true historic treasure with a very lively downtown (historic Madison downtown pictured immediately above). Madison is located in the middle of dairy country. As I proceeded north on US 129 from Madison to Athens, sparkling dairy farms line my route.

Previously, I would pick up 441 in Athens and continue north to catch Interstate 85 all the way to Greenville, South Carolina. This time I continued northeast on US 29 to Roydston and then went north to Lavonia where I picked up Interstate 85. I was only in I-85 for about 25 miles or so before I hopped off and went north through Pickens and Pumpkintown, South Carolina. Just outside Pumpkintown, I was able to connect with US 276 which would be the road I would have normally taken out of Greenville. But I picked it up north and west of Greenville which allowed me to avoid the big city traffic and probably saved me 15 miles or more travel distance.

I love driving on US 276. It is probably one of the most scenic and curvy mountain roads around. Normally it takes at least one hour to travel forty miles , most of which is on Cedar Mountain, but the scenery is worth it and I never tire of it. The border between North and South Carolina is near the top of the mountain, but terrain is very different in the two states. In South Carolina, the mountain is mostly undeveloped, very steep and rocky with Table Rock, Caesar's Head, and Caesar's Table being major landmarks.

The road up the South Carolina side has much steeper grades with numerous switchbacks, many of which are 180* or more. My car is a five speed manual transmission and during most of the South Carolina section, I am traveling in no higher than third gear and for much of the mountain, I am in second gear.

Shortly after I enter North Carolina near the top of the mountain, the grades and turns become much less severe and there many places where the road runs along a flat ridge line. As I get within fifteen miles of so of Brevard, there are a few small commercial establishments and the community of Cedar Mountain. Then the road begins to descend into Brevard. It is still beautiful coming down the mountain, but the there are small homes and several pottery shops along the road. Just before I reach Brevard, I come to the French Broad River valley where there are farms and fields. I cross the river and it is only a couple of miles to home. Wow, what a beautiful way to end my journey on the long way home.

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