Be sure to check which button you press when getting the Google directions. I accidentally pressed cycling directions and it took me around some backroads about which I am still laughing. Let's say, I got a good look at the runway side of the Charlotte Airport and some industrial lots with businesses with names I had never heard. Since I had pressed cycling directions, it also gave me an arrival of time of eleven at night with the sad news that the business I was attempting to reach would be closed. It was then I knew I need to find a gas station and buy a map. Unfortunately, the gas station did not have a state map but the attendant was most helpful. He told me the exact road to take and the exact exit: exit 27. Ever doubtful that anyone could pull that information right out of the top of their head, I did take Int. 85 but before reaching exit 27, I saw a sign for a Gaston County Visitor's Information Center. I immediately got off the road. I found it was well stocked, and after a few minutes some very attentive attendants greeted me and provided all the necessary information to make my trip up the mountains successful. Exit 27, turned out in fact to be the right exit. Oh, so sorry for doubting! The gas station guy was right! In addition, I also called my good friend in Charleston for help in securing a room and she recommended a Sleep In in Boone which online appeared to be a very nice place. Then she sent me their number in a text. It turned out to be an excellent choice with its clean accommodations, King sized bed, and generous breakfast full of choices. When I reached Hickory, I stopped at their Visitor's Center and made me reservation by phone. By the way both Visitor's Centers had clean bathrooms and were good places for a single lady to stop.
I still had to finish the climb to get to Boone. The road, fortunately, had been widen since the last time I had come in 2007. It was now technically a four lane high way, but I wasn't surprised to find that it was being repaired and because of that, it had narrowed to a two lane, but with plenty of should space as not to be frighten with the high precipices. It was all good. Look, I am human. I could feel the pressure and my rental had to coerced into going into turbo in order to climb it. There were so many sensory sensations going on, I had to focus. Finally, I reached the top and slowly started descending a tad towards Boone. My ears popped happily. Traffic started picking up but it was lovely nonetheless. Then more people. I had reached town.
I thought with my sore knee the best thing is to buy some dinner before heading to the motel. Best thing I could have done. I had lots of choices but I stopped at Five Guys Hamburgers and rested. I didn't eat there since I wasn't that hungry, but I got to stretch after that strenuous climb. Believe it or not, driving in unfamiliar places can be strenuous. The area is at least 3000 feet above sea level. So that also takes adjusting to. It turned out to not be a problem. I reached the motel and to my surprise it was nicer than I expected and shared a parking lot with a Quality Inn both with manicured landscaping. I easily checked in and settled for the night.
The next morning, I woke up refreshed and ready for breakfast. They had a wonderful clean breakfast area where you could make your own waffles, cereal, or simply have fruits and an English muffin. The guests and attendant were friendly. When I mentioned Cheap Joe's the gal recommended a ham place near it. She said they sold the same ham they served at the Daniel Boone restaurant which is so well known in town. Alas, I was unsure if I could spend another night because a friend in Charlotte invited me to spend the night. I only had two nights left before I would be heading to Rochester. I had to make my decision, but I consulted the ladies at the desk. There was room for another night but I told them I would call them early to reserve if I decided to return.
So after breakfast I packed my things and went to Cheap Joe's which was one of the reasons I had come into town in the first place. Thank goodness for GPS. Cheap Joe's is located on a little hill inside an industrial park. Though they have a warehouse, the ambiance inside the story is anything but industrial. Right before stepping in though, I saw the rocking chairs were still there from the time I had attended a workshop around 2007 with Carol Cooper. They were poised to take in the spring greens and beautiful mountains. I wished I hadn't had so much on my schedule that day. By then a friend had invited me to spend the night in Charlotte and I still wanted to see the Blue Ridge Parkway and take in the colors and breathe in that mountain air. If not for that, I really would have enjoyed sitting there for a spell.