I drove down to Gatlinburg, splitting the ride over two days. Cruising down Rte 81 through the Shenandoah Valley all the way is such a beautiful ride
. Surrounded by mountain ranges on both sides with breath taking views at some places and best of all being able to do it with a 70 mile per hour speed limit is just awesome! The highway is also nicely paved and the truckers even obey the speed limit and stay to the right, making this a dream drive.
Just before hitting Rte 81, I gave myself a chance to enjoy the scenery and a little wine at a winery off Rte 66. It was about 5 miles off the highway and had a beautiful view of the mountain range. The tasting room was a really nice building with a great deck and umbrellas outside, but you were only allowed to sit there if you were buying their food. If you brought your own, (which I did) you had to sit down in the buggy, sweltering "picnic area" with no shade. I was a little pissed at this because I have never been to a winery that treated people that way and felt that my $12 glass of wine should entitle me to sit wherever the hell I wanted.
Anyway, I needed the break from the road and sat down with my cooler of road food and enjoyed the view and the wine.
About 3 hours later, my next stop was at my hotel, my halfway point in Salem, Va., nice Comfort Suites affording the same magnificent views of the mountains and a much needed hot tub for my weary bones and sore back.