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Day 6
Friday, April 15
                     Eastern Tennessee                      

Tennessee Well there is only one word for eastern Tennessee in the springtime -- gorgeous. I left Knoxville on I40 but immediately got off onto various US and State highways, and wandered through the countryside. Incidentally, Tennessee's non-Interstate roads are very good; easy driving and stress-free. Anybody who is going through this state and not in a huge frantic hurry would be well advised to use US70 or any of the other US highways rather than I40.

Tennessee Travelling backroads without a navigator, I missed my turns any number of times and ended up exploring a lot more of Tennessee than I had originally intended. Bound for Johnson City, I ended up in Kingsport up on the Virginia border. I should have stopped and used a map at that point -- but instead I passed an onramp for I26 to Johnson City and jumped on it. Down to Johnson City then exited onto US 11E bound for Shady Valley -- missed my turn onto State 44 and ended up in Bristol, back up on the Virginia border. This time I stopped and did the map thing and found I could pick up US421 in Bristol which would take me eastward to Shady Valley -- but as it is, I progressed eastward like a sailboat goes upwind -- a long northeast tack, followed by a long southeast tack, followed by another long northeast tack. Oh well, at least I saw a lot of lovely countryside. In actuality, I could have used US11E to go straight across from Kingsport to Bristol and saved myself a lot of time and miles.

Eastern Tennessee is a place of water, and of fishermen. Everywhere I looked there was a stream, or a river, or a lake; and in most of them there was at least one guy fishing -- even somebody fishing in a little tumbling stream that ran alongside the highway right through the center of one small town. Tennessee

Tennessee There aren't as many dogwoods as there were farther west, but the redbuds make up for it. In places there are huge banks of redbuds bordering the woods. Their branches are particularly beautiful silhouetted against blue water.

Tennessee This is where I parked to eat my lunch and take a break from driving. Yet another lake fringed by yet more redbuds in bloom. Oh the tedium of it. (Not!)

Rested and refreshed, it's back on the road again past yet another expanse of blue water surrounded by green hills. And on these excellent back roads, almost no traffic and not a single truck. This is driving as I like it. Tennessee

You're probably wondering by now about all these photos obviously taken through the windshield from the middle of the road, yet I am driving alone. Yes, I took these pictures while driving the car. No, it isn't at all hard with a digital camera although the glare from the windshield makes the picture quality not as good as it could be. One gets the camera all ready to go, then one holds the camera in one hand and glances momentarily down at the display to locate the sky/ground horizon, which you can see at a glance. Snap the shutter, put the camera aside again, then see what you got later. A little photoshop work removes the bug splats, levels the horizon, sharpens the contrast and reduces the blue hazing to make an acceptible if not wonderful image that records exactly what you saw as you drove along.

Tennessee One of the places I wanted to see is called Backbone Rock. It is a tall, very narrow spine of solid rock out in the woods near Shady Valley, that had a tunnel blasted through it for railroad access. It's like a castle wall rather than a hill, and I imagined it stretching for miles to either side else why wouldn't the railroad have gone around it? Well the actuality is not quite as strange as that. The rock wall is everybit as bizarre as it sounded, but one one side it merges into a mountainside and on the other side a river goes around its foot. The total length of the rock wall is not more than a few hundred feet -- not quite such a geological curiosity. But worth seeing. Backbone Rock Tennessee

Abbington Green B&B It's just as well that I spent so much more time in eastern Tennessee, because I found the Blue Ridge Parkway closed after I had driven no more than 10 miles of it. I had to cut down to I40 in North Carolina and whizz my way westward again to Asheville.

Abbington Green B&B In Asheville, I am staying at a wonderful B&B called Abbington Green. The rooms are magnificently done and the gardens are spectacular. Here is the breakfast room, and the bedroom I am staying in. The hostess is also very pleasant and welcoming. It's a real treat staying here.

I plan to spend the day in Asheville seeing the Biltmore Mansion and maybe doing a little arts & crafts shopping. :-)