Saturday, October 01, 2011

One last Alpaca Roadtrip

As I write this we are on our last leg of our final 4000+ mile road trip to deliver 14 alpacas to the east.  We started our 9 days ago and spent the first two days driving across Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and into Kentucky where we made our first Alpaca delivery before heading onto Columbus, Ohio, where we delivered 9 rabbits for our neighbor. The next day poured rain on us all day while we drove to Martinsburg, West Virginia (spitting distance from DC) for the next alpaca delivery.  Those folks entertained us and put us up for the evening, and the next day headed on toward our delivery in Georgia, in the Smokey Mountains (about 5 miles from the North Carolina border).

This day we had planned to slow down a bit and hoped to drive the full length of the Blue Ridge Parkway, but within about 5 miles we recognized that was a very impractical idea.  For one thing the fog was so thick that we could not see 15 feet in front of the truck.. So we stopped at the first visitor center, and picked up literature then headed back to the main highway.  I suppose this was best because as it was we didn't make it to that Georgia delivery point until 7pm.

With plans to get back to Asheville that evening, our day was just too long and we stayed the night in Franklin, NC, in the Smokies.  But we were still in Asheville, to my Uncle Charlie, and Aunt Cordie's house, by breakfast.   Nice because A) we got to arrive refreshed, and B) we got to drive up the steep hill to my uncle's house and park the truck and trailer in the daylight.

We spent 2-1/2 very relaxing days in Asheville; visiting waterfalls and other local sights, getting in a few hands of Mah-jongg, and eating wonderful meals!  We thoroughly enjoyed the pampering that always is showered on us at Charlie and Cordie's, and yet after contemplating the 2-16 hours days of driving ahead, we decided that it might be nicer to meander and see a few sights along the road on the way home with our empty trailer (ie. no animals to take care of), and we chose to leave 1/2 a day ahead of our original schedule.

So leaving at noon, heading toward Tennessee,  our first top of interest was to be the botanical gardens and model train exhibit in Nashville.  But then we realized we would be getting there at 5:20 pm, and they close at 5pm.  So while Mike drove I kept seeking out sights of interest along our route using the GPS and internet on my smart phone.  I hit on a stop that fit the bill perfectly.  A treehouse that some crazy guy built and built and built.  It was free, 5 miles off the highway and would be good to stretch our legs and imaginations.  I looked up the exit and announced my plans just as we passed the exit.  With the next exit 9 miles away we decided to save that for the next trip...  (
We did get off the highway in Nashville and drove by a few sights.  The most noteworthy was the Parthenon, an art museum that is a full scale replica of the parthenon in Greece.  But at rush hour, driving around in downtown Nashville traffic was not too fun and so we went on.  We stopped at a hotel about an hour later in time for Mike to catch his online class.

Day 2 of the return trip we drove across Kentucky and Illinois.  We got to Saint Louis around noon and planned to stop at Union Station, an old train station in downtown renovated to house shops and restaurants.  Thought that would be an interesting place for lunch and stretch the legs a bit.  But there was no where that we could park the truck and trailer in or around the spot...   So we went on.  We did stop for lunch a few miles later (at a Steak n Shake) and took a walk around the strip mall before continuing down the road, and somewhere along the way we stopped for a restroom stop at a Harley Davidson dealership.  That's always fun!

The one spot that we noticed on our way east, but didn't stop because we had a trailer full of alpacas, and may in fact be the reason we decided to take the slow road home, was a marble factory (yes, small round glass things) outside of Kansas City.  So when all else failed we plugged that into the GPS and it said that we were going to got there at... you guessed it... 5:20, when it closed at 5:00.  AND it didn't open until 10am, so we wouldn't be waiting for that.  We did pull off the road and drive by to make sure it should stay on our list for "next time" also, and indeed it will.

After another nights good rest we started out on our final day and mid-morning stopped at the "Cathedral on the Plains" a beautiful Catholic Cathedral in the middle of Kansas.  That turned out to be a wonderful stop, and we took a few photos below.

All in all the trip went smoothly.  Our only snafu was that the people picking up the rabbits from us in Ohio had a car breakdown and we ended up driving an extra 4 hours to deliver the rabbits.  After trying the Blue Ridge with no success we decided that we would have to return in the next year or two and drive the full length by motorcycle, maybe camping along the way.  That sounds like more fun anyway, and will give us an excuse to get back to the neighborhood!  Love it!