It had to happen sometime. Google map's GPS girl and I have had a very contentious relationship. We have fought for years. She takes me on an extremely unbeaten path without regard to road surface (sometimes dirt, sometimes worse, over the years), without regard as to whether I can find food, water, or motels, without regard to ascent and descent, without regard to distance or time of travel. She doesn't even give me an option of the most obvious route, if the route is a busier road. It's all about being isolated, and 'safe.' She gives no regard to the amount of dogs on those backroads. Tennessee was the final straw. She had me everywhere except where I wanted to go sometimes. I was just turning her off more and more. Then, I met the competition. The motel in Dandridge had an atlas book, that was put out by MapQuest. The MapQuest app does a much better job of giving me more direct routes, often on busier roads. Sometimes with Google girl I discovered hidden gems. Sometimes I didn't. MapQuest girl gives me alot more options. Sometimes I'll use a combination of both girls. MapQuest girl sounds like Lilith, in the old Frasier show. Very monotone. But results are more important.
As for other observations about Tennessee, since I've been across the ENTIRE state. Tennessee leads the nation in flying Confederate flags. Just my observation after being in every southern state over the years. Tennessee leads the country in using old cars as yard art. Even old cars are very common, like in other states, but in other states more of them work, as more than lawn art. On the positive side, Tennesseeans do a really good job of keeping their lawns and property mowed and weeds wacked. Just saying....its May 4, and the grass is going off.
As for the trip, US 25 and 70 ran concurrently along the Pigeon River and Lake Douglas, keeping it pretty flat, and the surface on shoulders were great. It pretty much paralleled I 40 to the town of Newport, where I picked up US 321, and headed off to the north, toward Greenville. This is the option Google girl didn't give me. 321 started out rough, with no shoulder, but turned into a divided four lane with an eight foot shoulder. I climbed quite a bit, but the miracle of modern road construction kept the roads I was on, with a very steady climbing pace, and with descents just as gradually. Being so close to the towering presence of the Smokey Mountains on my right for the entire trip, it was amazing how the road found such a level, gradual path of travel. It was just a great bike ride. Mountains everywhere, and such gradual ascents!
I made Greenville TN about 45 miles into the ride. It is the birthplace of our 17th president, Andrew Johnson, and there was a very historical down town area. As I got out of town, I turned onto Andrew Johnson Parkway, and had a very busy business stretch, until I turned onto TN 107, for the final 26 miles into Erwin. 107 started out with lots of Greenville traffic, and the road headed right into the teeth of the mountains, but somehow remained very gradual. It think I followed the Nolichucky River. The scenery was absolutely beautiful. The land was mostly ranches, grazing land and forest for the entire ride. There were some chicken farms, with the accompanying chicken trucks. That's also where I learned what a cackleberry was. I saw it on a sign in a yard. For sale: Cackleberries from happy hens! I saw trucks of Hillbilly Pride eggs going by.
TN 107 eventually became a nice road with a great shoulder in Washington County, but when it bordered Greene County,(coincidence eh?) it went back to a bit of a deathtrap. I was following the Nolichucky River, but the curves were frequent, and the truck traffic was way heavier than it should have been, but I 26 was nearby in Erwin. I has to pull totally off the road once and let a line of eighteen wheelers roll by. It got a little crazy right before emptying out into Erwin. A beautiful town, surrounded by mountains. I'm gonna have to do some serious climbing tomorrow to get to Boone, NC.
|Douglas Lake, near Dandridge, where the bass tournament was|
|I-40 going across the lake, parallel to my bridge|
|US 25/70, with nice shoulders, and ominous clouds that kept me cool for most of the day|
|The Smokey's loom ahead on US 321|
|The Nolichucky River near Erwin, TN|
|The Nolichucky has many of the same recreation opportunity's as the Youghogheny and New Rivers|
|Even though the TN 107 was a death trap, bicycling was heavily promoted on it|