Monday, August 31, 2009

New Map - North Carolina / Viginia Border Rides

It's finally ready! Thousands of miles of road work, hundreds of hours, the first of the Virginia series of maps, North Carolina / Virginia Border Rides is now completed.

It's been a long journey to reach this point. I never expected to be including so much of North Carolina in this map, but that's the way the mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway run. As you approach the border between the states, the mountains make a lateral jog east-west before resuming their regular diagonal parallel to the coastline.

The Appalachians are comprised of more than a dozen different mountain ranges. While the tallest ones to the south start to play out here, those more west begin to grow. What this area lacks in height, it makes up for in breadth. The steepest flanks are along the eastern edge descending from the highest ridges towards North Carolina. The west is characterized more by rolling hills, sometimes quite impressive, but lacking the grandeur of the regions south.

The cities, all of them relatively small, and the towns, lie in the valleys between the mountains. Most of the major roads run though these valleys connecting the towns. Roads perpendicular to these vallies traverse gaps in the ridge lines. It's a hilly and rolling country regardless, much of it rural and pastoral, and you will be rewarded with views of the extensive ranges of low mountains from almost every high vantage point.

Most notable to me was the large number of roads that are found here. I suspect this is due to the fact the mountains are not as high as to the south, so there are less impediments to travelling through them. Where dramatic rock outcroppings erupt, state parks sequester the areas for all to enjoy and preserve.

The other thing I enjoyed was discovering some of the hidden historic sights on many of the rides. More accessible, this area was probably settled much earlier than the higher areas of North Carolina. I came across old abandoned mills, country stores, barns, farms, and other relics that tell of a historical past worth delving in to and I took more than a few photos for my collection.

I must confess, this central portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway tends to lull me to sleep. Urban encroachment is far more evident, and challenging sections of roadway give way to gently rocking, almost monotonous curves. There are points of historic interest, but I suspect many just motor through seeking the more dramatic views to the north and south. This map reveals there is far more here than meets the eye.

Check out the new map,
North Carolina / Virginia Border Rides here.

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