25 October 2014

Across the U.S., Day 19 - Knoxville (TN) to Asheville (NC) and Greenville (SC)

In preparation for the ~ 320 km ride across the Great Smoky Mountains Nationalpark to Greenville (South Carolina) today, I prepared one of those breakfast packages I had brought with me from Sunnyvale: oats mixed with nuts, raisins, dried cranberries, flax & chia seeds and milk power. Mixed with water, fresh fruit and yogurt if available, this gives an easy, healthy meal that brings me through the morning.

Oatmeal, milk (in lieu of coffee) and water to start the day

On my way to the Smoky Mountains I passed by Pigeon Forge. Wow, what a terrifying mix of plasticky, touristy "attractions", everything from the "largest christmas store of the South" to fake castle style buildings. The wax museum and many fast food chains (and certainly what they serve) fit right into all of these artificial stuff. Traffic was heavy and lots of red lights slowed down my escape from there even more.

Once I reached the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I was rewarded by Mother Nature and all of her magnificence.

Big Witch Overlook

It was a mild, sunny day with temperatures in the low 60th F (~ 17 C), no wind and actually perfect for motorcycling. Well, next time!

One of the many creeks in the Smokies.

Fall foliage

I took a tiny stretch on the Blue Ridge Parkway, ~ 45 km out of this over 750 km long scenic road which connects the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina with the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

These guys had a very smart idea:

"Most photographed view in the Smokies"

By saying so, they probably made it true. They charge 50 ct. for access to the tower. Of course I had to check out the view, too. And once up there, why not take a picture. ...

Before I reached my next stop (Asheville), my little Volkswagen Golf TDI, who had done an amazing job so far, surprised me with a "Check tire pressure" warning. Oh, oh! Really not what I needed! And indeed, the pressure of the right rear tire was significantly lower than of the other three. Luckily, a gas station wasn't far. I corrected the pressure and made it safely into Asheville and will keep checking from now on.

Asheville, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, is a vibrant city with many art galleries and lots of outdoorsy folks.

On a busy day like today, the best is to get straight to the Visitor Center. Not only do they have good suggestions on how to explore the city, but they also offer free parking on their lower level lot. The Asheville Urban Trail, a 1.7 mile loop (2.7 km), is a great way to some of the many sculptures and art works that a placed all over downtown. It felt like a treasure hunt to me. :-)

"Curtain Calls" - Asheville's vibrant
theatrical presence and human struggle

Novelist Thomas Wolfe's size 13 shoes.
(He was born 1900 in Asheville.)

"Past and Promise"

I also tried some street photography today. Certainly, Asheville is ideal for this.

The women's museum aSHEville is also located here. Their mission is to - quote - "contribute to the creation of a more just and equitable world by sharing engaging stories, facts and visual imagery of the richly varied achievements, experiences and challenges of women and girls throughout the world" - end quote. They have some neat photography exhibits. (Katja, I'm sure you would love that place!)

Yeah! I made my way into South Carolina without another tire pressure warning (fingers crossed!!).

More to come.


  1. Just in time to see the fall foliage in full force...
    Lovely area but not a lot of diversity showing - pretty much all caucasian?

  2. Pretty much. According to the population census (2010), almost 79% are white, followed by 15% black. The other groups are not present in notable %.

  3. I've heard that Asheville was a pretty artsy community but when we stopped there, the town felt deserted. Maybe March was a bad time though it felt wonderfully warm to us.

    1. Hey, you are from Alaska. I bet pretty much everywhere will feel warm for you! I would expect that Asheville is busy most of the year as long as the Smokies show some green or like now golden-red foliage. It probably calms down in Winter, pretty much what you experienced.