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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm cleaning up at a hotel in Harrisonburg.

Day 1 - Apr 17 - The trip down
It was a crazy day on Friday, I ended up leaving way too late from home due to delays in getting ready plus a tech support emergency from work.

So I started driving and decided to see where it would take me. It ended up being an all-night trip with 3 stops at Sheetz stations for 1/2 hour sleep breaks.


Day 2 - Apr 18 - TECORE

I ended up at a 7/11 in Harrisonburg at 7 AM buying whatever they had for camping supplies. And then it was off to try to get to the TECORE camp by 9.

James called me up on the way and convinced me to go up FR225 to Meadow Knob. Great trail with some interesting difficult parts that had me in 4LO, 1st gear, with the Ected locker engaged.

Unfortunately as I was trying to get up there as fast as possible to not hold up the group, I didn't take any pictures or video.

We were off for the day with absolutely great weather heading up to Flagpole Knob and our picture op. Then some exploring and back to 33 for the fun at the river crossing.

I decided to test out my new suction cup mount during the river crossing. The good news is that it held no problem (no HDV camcorder in the river, thank goodness!), the bad news is that it looked pretty shaky so I don't know how the video will come out.

Long Run was next to get to the the Gauley Ridge Camp and set up. By then I was feeling dead tired from no sleep so I decided to stay back at camp to watch the fire while the group headed out for the night run.

We broke camp around 10 AM. I said goodbye to James and Cole as I knew it was going to take me a while to pack everything back up (haven't been camping for a year and a half now).

I will post some pictures a bit later that show the Camping Lab awning which works great.


Note: Anybody have any insight into the shared pages for SPOT? I can't seem to see any tracks prior to the current day.


AG
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Day 1 - Apr 17 - The trip down

OK, I am rebooting this thread. As usual, when I come back from a longer vacation there is a whole bunch of stuff to catch up on at work. It has just settling down now, so was able to process and pick out some photographs. As for the video, hopefully soon.

It was a crazy day on Friday, I ended up leaving way too late from home due to delays in getting ready plus a tech support emergency from work.

So I started driving and decided to see where it would take me. It ended up being an all-night trip with 3 stops at Sheetz stations for 1/2 hour sleep breaks.
I am adding some GPS tracks to the thread. Here is a grab from the Garmin software and maps. Note that the sizes of these will be pretty big, about 1600 x 1000. So I am also providing the data imported into GoogleMaps which ads the benefit of being interactive as well.

Apr 17 GoogleMap

I will finish uploading the rest of the days tonight.

AG
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Day 2 - Apr 18 - TECORE

I ended up at a 7/11 in Harrisonburg at 7 AM buying whatever they had for camping supplies. And then it was off to try to get to the TECORE camp by 9.

James called me up on the way and convinced me to go up FR225 to Meadow Knob. Great trail with some interesting difficult parts that had me in 4LO, 1st gear, with the Ected locker engaged.

Unfortunately as I was trying to get up there as fast as possible to not hold up the group, I didn't take any pictures or video.
In the group after the camp was packed up - following James up to Flagpole Knob.



The great view from Flagpole Knob, and a group shot.





The driving was great this day, lots of sights along the trail like the NSA base. Its kind of interesting to be in the Appalachians before the leaves start to bloom, some views would definitely not be visible in the summer with all the foliage.

Slightly off-camber turn coming down from the mountain.



I tried to use my rock sliders to pivot around the rock - a technique the Roadie uses often - but my Trailblazer was just too high for this little guy :D :cool: :D

The trail down was quite interesting with some creek crossings towards the bottom. After that we headed over to the longer and deep creek crossing and small hill climb - sorry, I didn't take any pictures in all the excitement :eek: :duh:

Here's some great pictures of the trails, the Gauley Ridge Camp, the creek crossing, and hill climb by other TECORE attendees.

More pictures 1
More pictures 2
More pictures 3
More pictures 4

And this is while TECORE thread.

Once again, a big thank-you to James who organized the whole thing and was an outstanding trail leader. It was also great to meet everybody and share some stories around the campfire.

Garmin GPS Track

Apr 18 GoogleMap
 

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Really NICE write up Alek! :yes: Thanks for the great photos too! :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Day 3 - Apr 19 - TECORE & Harrisonburg

After a great Saturday, the weather turned a bit gray on Sunday. Everybody broke camp in the morning according to their schedules. I ended up staying last as James and Cole wanted to do some more exploring but I knew it was going to take me a while to pack up as I haven't been camping in about a year and half.

I snapped some pictures of the Camping Lab Awning before rolling it up. Its a great product, very easy to set up and tear down. It started raining a bit before I was done and it really helped me out by keeping some items dry while packing up.





Here are some closeups after it was rolled up.





This was one of the views from Long Run Rd as I headed down and back into Harrisonburg.



On my way down I noticed some movement to my right so I stopped. A couple of curious White-Tailed Deer (I believe) poked around staring at my vehicle. I opened the sunroof and snapped some photos.





I eventually made it into town and checked into the Budget Inn to get cleaned up.

Garmin GPS Track

Apr 19 GoogleMap
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Day 4 - Apr 20 - Off to the Outer Banks

Today was the only day on my entire expedition where it rained for an extended period of time. I woke up and there was a steady drizzle coming down in town.

After a call to the Colonial Inn in Nag's Head, NC to book a couple of nights, I was off. Driving through Harrisonburg on 33, I spotted this:



If we had only known, we would have invited him (or her) up to TECORE, however, I don't think the vehicle is lifted.

I took 33 east out of Harrisonburg, which passes through Shenandoah National Park. Once it passes over Swift Run Gap, that's about it for the mountains.



Luckily the rain stopped around Richmond, VA and I had clear weather to the Outer Banks, although it was dark by the time I reached the hotel.

Garmin GPS Track

Apr 20 GoogleMap
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Day 5 - Apr 21 - Cape Hatteras National Seashore

I stayed at the Colonial Inn, right in the middle of Nag's Head.

Its a great little hotel nestled in right behind the beach dunes, next to the fishing pier. I woke up to beautiful weather Monday morning.



The first order of business was to get a haircut. I was so busy back home that I just didn't get around to it before I left. The very friendly staff recommended a place right across the street.

I then took some time to fill my Sceptre water containers and strap them down securely to the Surco Safari Rack.

Once that was done I headed south along Hwy 12 with my goal being Ocracoke.





However, it took me longer than expected to get to Hatteras where there is a car ferry that takes you over to Ocracoke Island. So I decided not to go over but to head back north and to take a break on the beach somewhere.

The building architecture is very interesting, I would assume all very functional to protect against hurricanes.



Garmin GPS Track - South

Apr 21 GoogleMap - Out
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Day 5 - Apr 21 - Cape Hatteras National Seashore - Continued

I headed back north with some notes handy that I took back at the hotel as to where the beaches were closed due to migratory bird nesting (Piping Plover, etc.).

Unfortunately this was the time of year that most of the beach areas that jut out into the ocean (the points) are closed. Most of the long, straight, narrow sections are open though. So I chose an access point, aired down to 20 PSI and headed for a spot with nobody around to relax a bit.











The waves were pretty big that day, and the water was cold. I did see a few surfers at other parts of the beach, all wearing wet suits. The awning worked great again on a much windier day than back in Virginia. Really impressed with the product.

As the sun started to fall below the dune, I packed up and drove back to the access point. I aired back up to road pressure and headed north to the hotel. I did stop one more time to get a picture of the last house in Rodanthe.



Overall a great day. I would have liked to have gone to Ocracoke but unfortunately not this time. On the positive side, it gives me an excuse to come back down.

One last picture for the day. I wanted to try out my HDV Camcorder's night vision mode, so I took a picture of the hotel's court (the camcorder can take pictures to a memory card instead of taking HDV video).



Garmin GPS Track - North Zoom

Apr 21 GoogleMap - Back
 

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Slightly off-camber turn coming down from the mountain.



I tried to use my rock sliders to pivot around the rock - a technique the Roadie uses often - but my Trailblazer was just too high for this little guy :D :cool: :D

The trail down was quite interesting with some creek crossings towards the bottom. After that we headed over to the longer and deep creek crossing and small hill climb - sorry, I didn't take any pictures in all the excitement :eek: :duh:
Yeah, I stopped in that corner to take a picture... Remember I'm stock height, so I just went around that one on the outside.

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Day 6 - Apr 22 - Heading West

Today I planned to start heading west towards Missouri for the next weekend's MORA event. The weather remained great although a bit unstable as some thunderstorms were moving through the area all morning.

There was definitely more to check out at the Outer Banks and its a place I would like to come back to and stay longer:
- Kitty Hawk
- Wright Brothers Memorial
- Sand dunes at Jockeys Ridge Stage Park
- Some fishing from the beaches
- Ocracoke Island and the ferry back to the mainland
- Some camping in the more remote areas

After grabbing some fresh-cooked crab cakes at an oceanside seafood stand, I headed over the Washington Baum and Virginia Dare Memorial bridges to get back to the mainland. Once there, Hwy 64 follows the Alligator River/Canal for a while.





My destination that night was the Days Inn in Morganton, NC which is at the foothills of the Appalachians.

Garmin GPS Track

Apr 22 GoogleMap
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Day 7 - Apr 23 - Appalachians and Table Rock Mountain

Today I planned a bit of a route going north-west out of Morganton, getting into the mountains, joining the Blue Ridge Parkway, driving south to its terminus, then continuing west over the Smoky Mountains.

My first destination was Table Rock Mountain as the (small amount of) research I did indicated it was a nice vantage point in the area. The road up was graded gravel in good condition. I would assume there are more interesting trails in the area but I just did not do enough research beforehand.



The last bit of road has been paved due to its steepness. At the end there is a parking lot, picnic area, and toilet. The views are great both to the east and west with the cliff right above the parking lot. Several groups came up with rock climbing apparatus so I assume this is a great spot if you are so inclined.



There are hiking trails that lead in all directions, including to the top of Table Rock Mountain. I did not take my hiking boots with me on this trip as I still have some tenderness in my toes from old cuts.

Here's a different angle of Table Rock after heading west to meet up with the Blue Ridge Parkway.

 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Day 7 - Apr 23 - Blue Ridge Parkway and Mount Mitchell

I have always wanted to drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway so when planning out this trip I took advantage of where I was going to be and worked it into my route.

The Parkway is beautiful as it winds its way along the Appalachian ridges. There are vistas almost every 5 minutes and stopping for each one would extend your drive tremendously, so you need to pick your spots.



My main destination on the Parkway was Mount Mitchell, the highest point in the US east of the Mississippi. Second is Mount Washington in NH but that is potentially for another expedition.

The road up to Mount Mitchell turns off the Parkway and is paved all the way to the top, where there is a parking lot, picnic areas, snack bar, and trails to the actual peak. It was early in the season so everything was closed but all the crews were out preparing, I assume for the Memorial Day weekend.









The last picture is looking west with the Smoky Mountains in the distance.
 

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Day 7 - Apr 23 - Heading West Again

The only glitch was that the Blue Ridge Parkway was closed south of Mount Mitchell. It seems that a cliff gave way during the winter and as a result, heavy road repairs were needed, again, I assume they would want it open for Memorial Day.

Using my GPS I improvised an offroad route which which did not take me all the way back to the official detour. Again, a graded gravel road but interesting nonetheless.

Rejoining the Parkway in Azalea, I headed south again. There seemed to be many more short tunnels in this section, which also included the highest point on the Parkway itself.

Along the drive I stopped at a couple of vistas. One was a nice frame for the Trailblazer, the other was an interesting dome-like rock formation.







As I was reaching the Parkway's terminus the sun started setting. I was lucky enough to be right around Waterrock Knob which ended up providing magnificent sunset views.





The Blue Ridge Parkway ends on Hwy 441 right at the edge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was dark by then so I headed west carefully along the road that would take me over the mountains and into Tennessee.

My destination was the Days Inn, Alcoa. Which is where the airport is for Knoxville. A couple of interesting things on my way down from the mountains:
  • at one point the road did a complete 360 degree turn where the ending of the turn was in a tunnel underneath the beginning of the turn - I guess its an alternative to 3 or 4 switchbacks
  • as I passed through Gatlinburg Tennessee, I put my GPS unit to the test as the main street was completely closed for a ribfest and I had to get around that
Garmin GPS Track

Apr 23 GoogleMap
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Day 8 - Apr 24 - Long Drive to Missouri

Today was an all travel day - about 500 miles. I wanted to make sure that I would get to the campground by daylight so I wasn't setting up in the dark.

The Garmin GPS took me across Tennessee, through Nashville, up into Kentucky and Paducah, through the south-most tiny tip of Illinois, and then into Missouri. One of the more interesting sights was the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. I now wished I had stopped and taken some pictures as it truly was an awesome site but I was weary of making it to camp by daylight. Here's a close up on Google Maps though.

The last leg was pretty tough as the highway passes through a long flat area of farmland. It was extremely windy that day and with my roof rack, I was getting pushed all over the road. Plus I was a bit nervous trying to go over 60 mph as my Surco was really bouncing from all the wind buffeting.

I stopped at the supermarket in Ellington for some supplies and also met up with some MORA attendees at the hotel people were staying at. A quick stop at Big Ed's for gas and some "liquid refreshment" and then it was off to the campground.

I found it no problem and set up right next to the Roadie and his traveling comfort station :tiphat We had lots to talk about that night. Later on additional MORA attendees made it out to the camp and we exchanged lots of interesting technical and travel stories.

Here's some pictures of the campsite and Ellington in on of Roadie's posts.

Garmin GPS Track

Apr 24 GoogleMap
 

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Gah.. I wish that I had known you were going to be coming through the south east. I would have driven up to tn to atleast get to see the TB and meet you. Maybe another time.. I love the Blueridge mountains, the scenery is so beautiful, plenty of wildlife too.
 

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Very good write up. I enjoyed all the sights that you were able to see. Gives me more incentive to take another road trip soon!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Gah.. I wish that I had known you were going to be coming through the south east. I would have driven up to tn to atleast get to see the TB and meet you. Maybe another time.. I love the Blueridge mountains, the scenery is so beautiful, plenty of wildlife too.
Yeah, unfortunately the plans were very tentative, all I knew was that I was going to be in Virginia one weekend and Missouri the next. Everything else in between was seat-of-the-pants.

AG
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Day 9 - Apr 25 - MORA

There was good attendance in Ellington, local and from afar. The farthest being theRoadie form southern California. I think I was second being from Southern Ontario, Canada.

Lots of interesting discussion, great to have met so many Trailvoy owners, some curious locals came out, there was the BBQ, and the raffle. A good cross-section of Trailvoys was represented.





Thanks again to bentcougar for starting the whole thing rolling way back in September. And a big thanks to ToyBlaze and everybody else who helped out in keeping it going (and for the Banjo music).

After the BBQ Big Ed presented the Roadie and me with some great plaques for attending from so far away. Thanks very much again to Big Ed and everybody else, it was a really nice thing to do.

And finally a big thanks to High Voltage for the Trailvoy.com Offroad decal. It looks great up on the windshield, more pictures with it on my trip home.

Here are some more posts with pictures from the meet, the campground, all the various Trailvoys, the plaque presentation, and finally some scans of news of the event in the local paper.

More Pictures 1
More Pictures 2
More Pictures 3
More Pictures 4

Entire MORA picture and video thread
 
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