Category Archives: outdoor roadside attractions

Gatlinburg visit, recovery from wildfire

Sunday night and Monday morning (July 9-10) I visited Gatlinburg, TN.  A huge wildfire took place on the mountains slopes surrounding the town in late November, 2016 (as detailed in an earlier post here May 24).

The town is encased on the western side of Great Smokey Mountains National Park, and you drive 5 miles of parkway from Pigeon Forge to get there.

The town seemed quite lively at night, with its theme park atmosphere.  10 miles to the S, Pigeon Forge has the appearance of a small Las Vegas, with a Titanic exhibit, upside down office building, and Hollywood replica.  That town was somewhat affected.

During the day Monday I took the chairlift ride and could see much more of the damage on the mountain slopes, including mountain homes that burned.  But it is true that the community is unusual in its direct exposure to possible wildfire, so building there entails some risk.

I do think that climate change has made the ferocity of the fire more likely.

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I didn’t get to the “Road to Nowhere” W of Asheville (on the east side of the mountains) but I encountered two short curved tunnels, each about 1/3 mile long (without elevation drainage like PA Turnpike has) on I-40 going Eastbound to Asheville.  This is a road to “somewhere” indeed.  The curve is to the left driving East.  There is a campground “Harmon’s Den”   Indeed, Richard Harmon is the greatest of all time.

 

(Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2017 at 10 EDT)

A visit to Crisfield, MD, on the Chesapeake Bay, max elevation 3 feet

Today I visited Crisfield. MD. on the SW tip of southern MD in the Chesapeake Bay’s “East Coast”.

The entire city lies at 3 feet or less elevation.  It appears to have had serious flooding during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.  Tidal flooding is not much of a problem because the Bay extends much further north.

The people seem comfortable with the risk and unconcerned about climate change.  One veteran said the city was built back better after Sandy.

There is one big windmill.

There is a ferry to Tangier Island, VA, one round trip a day, no cars.

Smith Island appears visible.

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(Posted: Monday, July 3, 2017 at 10:45 PM)

 

Raven Rock Mountain Complex in southern Pennsylvania, where the fibbies hole up during a nuclear war

Today, I drove up Rt 16 from Emmitsburg MD toward Waynesboro PA.  About two miles east of the little town of Blue Ridge Summit (at about 1300 ft) there is a cross street called Harbaugh Valley Road.  If you turn south, toward the MD line, you will drive past the razor-wire fence boundary of the Raven Rock Mountain Complex, a US government doomsday shelter property similar to Mt Weather in VA, and similar in purpose to the Greenrbrier bunker under the Greenbrier Hotel in White Sulphur Springs W Va, which I visited in 1997 before moving to MN.  That facility was built in the 1950s but never used.

You can see a yellow gate (the top of it) from one of the side streets.

As you drive East on 16, you come to Old Waynesboro Road, going off diagonally to the north. You can see a small structure on the mountain to the south that may be related to the tunneling.  You’re supposed to be able to see something from Jack Mountain road, but I did not.

The side roads are not marked very well, which seems intentional.

In case of a nuclear attack, only government officials and Congress could go.  Families are not included.  This sounds like a place for ABC’s “Designated Survivor” series.

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(Posted: Wednesday, June 28, 2017 at 9:15 PM EDT)

In the Moonlight (in the daytime)

At the Ballston Common (Arlington VA) Farmer’s Market today, a guitar performer was singing “Dancing in the Moonlight”.

That’s an old song I remember from 1973, about the time of my “second coming”.  I remember one Sunday night driving back home in late February, to northern New Jersey through SE New York State (from skiing in Killington VT) and hearing the song, as the radio said, “we may be dancing on the snowflakes”.

I’m reminded of Reid Ewing’s song, “In the Moonlight (Do Me)” from Modern Family.

You can look up “Imagine Me Naked” if you like.

(Posted: Thursday, June 22, 2017 at 5 PM EDT)

 

Crabtree Falls, VA (near Monroe Institute)

I visited Crabtree Falls in Nelson County, VA, on VA 56, on the east side of the Blue Ridge, west of Lovingston, in the George Washington National Forest, about 5 miles into the forest.

The road is steep and winds along the stream below the falls.  The Falls may be the highest east of the Mississippi (about 1200 feet total).  The lower two segments are visible from the parking lot, only 0.1 mile walk.

In Nelson County, along US 29, there are many “No Pipeline” signs.

As a crow flies, it is not far from the Monroe Institute, south of Charlottesville.

The mountain ridge at the top is generally around 3500 feet.

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(Posted: Wednesday, June 21, 2017 at 9:45 PM EDT)

Shenandoah National Park fire site has largely recovered naturally; a revisit today

I revisited the site of the Rocky Mount fire in Shenandoah National Park today (see May 17, 2016).

At the Brown Mountain overlook, most of the ground cover had grown back.  Some scaring of trees was visible in the distance.

But the area has recovered very quickly.

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I didn’t get to where there was Verizon Internet again until I reached US250 at the southern end of the Park, and learned quickly about Trump’s saying he had been elected by voters in Pittsburgh.

(Posted: Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 11:30 PM)

Below: View from 675 after climbing Massanutten into the Fort Valley, looks like the scenery of my “Ocelot” story in my DADT-III book.

Roads and Rails Museum in Frederick MD creates a Rama world

I visited the little “Road and Rails” Museum in Frederick, MD today, on East Street (MD 85 which you get on from I-270 4 miles east of the main US 15 turnoff for Gettysburg, PA).  There is a parking lot behind the building, hard to see.

The main layout is an 850-square-foot space (the size of a one-bedroom apartment) with an interior.  On the south end there is a huge volcano peak. There is farmland, suburbs (one little mountain), a big city, then a northern mountain section with a range that runs south-north with a couple more rails on top.  On the east side there is an “old west” canyon;  on the west side there are circuses and othr roadside attractions. There is one small town on the NW corner.

Imagine if you went to live in this community as a Lilliputian for your afterlife.

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The layout reminds me of Choo-Choo Barn in Strasburg, OA and Roadside America, on I-78 west of Reading PA.

(Posted: Friday, May 26, 2017 at 5:15 PM EDT)

Below: Fort Dietrick