Tuesday, October 23, 2012

ESTN Day 4: Exiting Sparta Tracking North

Sunday morning, we woke up, showered, and wandered out to the parking lot in time to see Jerry, David, Jeff, and John head out. We bid a few other folks farewell, as well. Frank and Scott...er, sorry...Frank and BEANS! (that's the new nickname we've bestowed on Scott) were still at the motel, so the four of us decided to walk down to The Pines Restaurant for breakfast. Frank and Beans were taking two days to return home, too. Like Jerry, David, Jeff, and John, they didn't know where they were going to end up that evening. Chris and I were pretty well sure that we were going to make it to Marietta, OH that night. 

After dinner, we returned to our room to pack up the bike, check out of the motel, and hit the road. We departed just after 9 AM and made our way to...you guessed it...the gas station across the street. LOL!

Our Sunday route took us from North Carolina to Ohio by way of West Virginia...which is sort of a given (look at a map!)...but our particular route took us to the New River Gorge Bridge, which is something I hadn't visited in about seven years. We tried to get to the New River Gorge Bridge back in May during the Region 6 Spring Meet, but the rain and our slower pace meant we cut out that portion of our ride. Chris had explained to me that there was a road you can take to get to the bottom to look up at the bridge, so I definitely wanted to do that!

We hopped onto the interstate (I-77 and I-64) to make up a little time so we could be touristy at the bridge. This meant we rode through several mountains, which was pretty cool!

Approaching the Big Walker Mountain Tunnel.

Approaching the East River Mountain Tunnel.

When we arrived at the New River Gorge Bridge, we headed into the Visitor's Center so I could purchase a walking stick pin (I collect them from National Parks, National Rivers, National Forests, etc.). We took a few pictures "from above" before getting back on the bike so we could venture "down below." It was a great ride down to the bottom and the views from below were spectacular!

After our New River Gorge Bridge adventure, we rode up to Summerville to grab a late lunch at McDonald's where we used their free wi-fi to book our hotel room for the night. We fueled up at the gas station behind the Mickey D's and got back on the road. We took WV 39 to WV 16 to head north toward Marietta. Along WV 16, we found the little town of Clay, WV and instantly thought of our friend Clay, who lives in Michigan (whose BBQ we attended back in June).

The thriving metropolis of Clay, WV!

We had a lovely Sunday afternoon ride up WV 16. The roads were great, the weather was perfect, and we alternated between listening to our podcasts (more Nerdist for me!) and talking to each other. Before I knew it, we arrived in Ohio and at our hotel - a Microtel - in Marietta. 

Our Concours parked in front of the hotel.
After checking in, showering, and changing into street clothes, we walked to the nearby Mexican restaurant for a tasty meal and a much-needed margarita. We ended the evening by tuning into Sunday Night Football for the first Steelers game of the season. Thankfully, we fell asleep before the game ended so we didn't watch them lose to the Broncos!

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