As my friend Rick said “who knew Bristol is such a cool place?”. Well, I’m sure many already knew, but I sure didn’t! What a great downtown area! Many others evidently thought so too because I could not get breakfast without waiting in line for 30 minutes, and after waiting in line a lot last evening, I just couldn’t do it.
Bristol went all out in preparation for the Gentlemen of the Road Stopover, to the point of displaying flags from Britain, the US and Virginia on all the flagpoles.
Carol sent me the following link which has a nice review of last night’s concert but also provides information about Bristol. Mumford and Sons chose communities like Bristol, that are part of National Trust Mainstreet Communities, in which to play their stopovers, and returned nearly one percent of ticket sales to downtown revitalization. Now I love them even more!
So after taking pictures of historic buildings like the Post Office, The Paramount, the train station, and the sign across the road, I headed out of town on Rt 11, towards home.
As I hoped I would, I came across a little place called JJ’s Downhome Diner. Tiffany (pictured in the middle; the owner is to the left) recommended the potato soup and grilled cheese and she definitely knows her business! It was just like homemade (but better than my homemade!).
I got to chatting with the owner who told me that the property has been sold and the building will soon be torn down so that more big box stores can be built there. Like there aren’t enough just a mile up the road? What is it with people having to go to chain restaurants and the same ol, same ol places all the time? I just don’t get it!
Off my soapbox and back on the road, I stayed with Rt 11 almost all the way home. I loved riding through communities that I only really know of from signs along the interstate. Places like Chilhowie, Marion, Wytheville (where I just had to stop and take a picture of the pencil for those who’ve never seen it) and Pulaski. Built in 1907, the Pulaski County Courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Throughout my travels in Tennessee, I would see old barns with pretty quilt squares painted on them, but it never failed that I saw a barn too late, or there was no place along the road, to stop. Finally, somewhere between Marion and Wytheville, I was able to pull over and take a picture.
According to a website called American Barn Quilts ( http://www.americanbarnquilts.com/ ), the practice of painting quilt squares on barns can be traced back almost 300 years to the arrival of immigrants from the central regions of Europe; Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. “Paint was very expensive in those days and painting a decorative and distinctive quilt pattern on their barns was a wonderful way of allowing for decoration. It also became an excellent way for travelers to find particular families or cross roads as towns people would just tell them which pattern to look for”.
I rode up and over Draper Mountain and stopped at the Drapers Valley Overlook. The day was so clear that the views were quite remarkable – my camera and I just did not do them justice!
As I got closer and closer to home, I found myself riding slower and slower. This trip was my third ride of exploration and I have found all three times that I just did not want it to end! If I didn’t have friends and family to come home to (oh, and a job), I would just keep on going!
My Tennessee Tour has been everything I had hoped. Tennessee has quaint small towns and interesting and fun large cities, full of history and engaging people. I found the roads to be well maintained and the signage excellent (I rarely took a wrong turn, which is good for me!). I was a bit disappointed in the obvious presence of the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) and hated to see so many rivers that had been dammed (of course, I am hypocrite because I used the power generated by those dams). It is a beautiful state, full of historic buildings, excellent music, delicious food and gorgeous scenery.
But … home and job responsibilities called. Thankfully, I was able to meet with Pam, who had ridden her bike, at the Rock House Marina for the traditional “end of the trip” beer. It was a nice reminder that I have great friends to come home to.
As I got even closer to home, I was able to meet up briefly with several friends for a gathering at Cindy’s. A gorgeous evening, a wonderful group of friends, and I was ready to head up my driveway and park the bike.
And … I finally got to meet Chayanne, the new member of the Miller/Singer family.
Total miles: 1100! No drops, no burns, no wrecks!
Now … where shall I go next year?