Join Date: May 2003
Location: Huntington, WV, USA
Accidentally Discovered US 421 in TN
I sold my Honda ('97 750 Nighthawk) last week and agreed to deliver it to Boone, NC from Huntington, WV (one last ride...). The Mapquest route was very straightforward, so I "memorized" it and headed out Saturday morning for the 300 mile journey. Most of the trip followed I-77 South from Beckley, WV. At one point, I-77 and I-81 cross and overlap for about 9 miles. If you want to stay on I-77, you take Exit 81 when they split. What a coincidence. My mind remembered the 81 part, so I exited earlier to follow I-81 South. Disaster, right?
Well... From I-77 I was supposed to exit at 73B to take US 421 North to Boone. Since I hadn't realized I was on the wrong interstate I was happily cruising along looking for exit 73B. I crossed through Virginia to Bristol, vaguely wondering exactly how I would end up in NC knowing that 421N angled west from the interstate, but... The mile markers are counting down toward 1 as I get to Bristol and pass into TN. What is the first exit coming up? 74A-B. Cool. And there is a sign for 421 South. Next up should be exit 73 and 421 North, I figure. Nope. No exit 73. I stop at the next exit for fuel (and to turn around). I just couldn't figure how I missed the exit though, so I pull out the map. CRAP! WRONG ROAD!!
After a couple of seconds of "that feeling", I remembered that I HAD seen a sign for 421S back at exit 74. Checked the map again. Boone, NC was on 421 exactly between I-77 and I-81. Whew. How lucky.
After navigating through a couple of 421 detours in Bristol, off I went on 421S - 52 miles to Boone, NC. Keep in mind I knew nothing about that stretch of road, so (assuming you DO know) imagine my surprise when that first set of twisties came along. And then the next... and the next. What an AWESOME ride! Bikers were everwhere (and LEO's as well). And when I got to the bottom and the Shady Valley Country Store, there must have been a couple hundred bikes parked there.
I was too near the end of my trip (and still had to get home) to want to stop, but I filed that away for some internet research and perhaps a return trip on the LT. The Blueridge Parkway is in that area, and the famous Dragon at Deal's Gap. I'd love to make it back there when the foliage is turning. The drive goes through Cherokee National Park - the scenery is stellar.
That will probably be the luckiest wrong turn I'll ever take. I'm just glad I wasn't looking for exit 19 or something... I might have ended up in Knoxville before I decided something wasn't right.