I was originally going to title this entry “Old Friends … and Broken Systems” because of the first two “little bits” below, but then there were so many other things to mention that I couldn’t limit it to just those.
1. I’m sure I’m not the only one who notices these things, but sometimes it takes me by surprise to see a route number that I’m familiar with in one place suddenly pop up somewhere else. For example, US Route 60 ends, I believe, at I-10 west of Wickenburg, AZ – at least, I can’t find any mention of it west of that point on a map. I grew up near Route 60 in Virginia, and I tracked it across Kentucky and West Virginia earlier during this trip. I paralleled it again in Virginia the other day, going from Richmond to Virginia Beach. But there are others, too: US 50 “followed” me from Illinois east for several days; US 52 has shown up at various points on my trip (most recently today); and US 220 also put in an appearance today. I’m most familiar with 220 from my days in college in Pennsylvania. Now, I *expect* Interstates to follow me around. I mean, that’s what they were built for, right? But US routes don’t have the same rigorous numbering scheme, so a lot of times it’s just a surprise to find a familiar number in an unfamiliar place.
2. Speaking of the Interstate system, the numbering scheme is borked. You may recall I talked about this a while back – how Interstate numbers aren’t supposed to be near corresponding US route numbers, and how the even numbers get higher from south to north and the odd numbers get higher from west to east. (If you didn’t read it when I posted it, here’s the link: https://50states50weekends.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/2014-expedition-day-2/. Well, back about 10 years ago, I-99 was completed in central Pennsylvania to run between I-80 in the north and I-76 in the south. Now, i understand that there is no logical place for I-99 east of I-95 unless you go out on Cape Cod or something. But couldn’t they have chosen a number a *little* closer to the original plan? Well, apparently not (as I just found out). All of the odd numbers from 69 to 97 are used elsewhere. I-67 isn’t yet in use, but that’s really no better than I-99. I think someone just goofed up here.
But today i saw a sign that said “Future I-74 Corridor” WHILE DRIVING ON US 74 IN NORTH CAROLINA!!!! Then I got to a part of the highway that looked like it was Interstate quality and I found this:
WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON HERE?!?!?! How can 74 be so far south of, say, 64? And what about the confusion between US route numbers and Interstate numbers? The numbering system is seriously borked, folks.
3. I saw a sign for a community college today. Its name is (you can’t make this stuff up) “Isothermal Community College.” Its website is http://www.isothermal.edu/. Since isothermal means that the temperature stays the same during a chemical reaction (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isothermal_process), does this mean the temperature at the community college is always the same? Inquiring minds want to know!
4. I saw a lot of train tracks and rights-of-way today, in various stages of use / disuse. The first set paralleled a road in Fayetteville, and I wondered how often it was used until I saw that there were sections of track missing, and some of the roadbed had been covered over with sidewalk, and stuff like that. But random sections and lengths were still in place. I also saw a bridge that had a tree growing out of it. If I hadn’t been going about 70 at the time, I would have stopped to investigate. And then there was the section I saw that was in the process of being converted to a paved path – perhaps a “Rails to Trails” conversion. Part of it was paved and the rest that I saw was like a two-track dirt road (but there was a siding next to it that still had the rails in place). I also saw several crossing signals that had been covered; near one of them there was a sign that said “Tracks not in use.” Things like that always make me wonder about the history of the track: When was it first used, when was it last used, why was it not used after that, and so on.
5. I crossed the Eastern Continental Divide today, at an elevation of around 2290 feet. So now I’m back in the “center” of the nation, where water flows toward the Gulf of Mexico.
6. US 64 is the first road I have *ever* been on where the posted speed limit was an unattainably-high number. Seriously. The speed limit was 45, and there were times where I didn’t feel safe going more than about 30.
7. Also on US 64, there is a town called Lake Lure (http://www.townoflakelure.com/). Driving west on 64, you come through a gap in the mountains and the first building you see is the “Point of View” restaurant. It has a great view (what I could see of it while also trying not to drive off the road) and I think it may have been sitting on a point of land above the lake. The second sign you come upon is for the “Dam Marina.” I think North Carolinians have a good sense of humor.
8. US 64 itself is something else! It goes through the Pisgah National Forest, and I would have been happy to ride the Honda on it! Twisty turny UP twisty turny MORE UP twisty turny TOP OH MY GOD twisty turny DOWN DOWN DOWN! I was in second gear all the way down and on the brakes for about 2/3 of it.
Tomorrow I ride the Honda on the Tail of the Dragon and as many other local roads as my butt will endure. Until then…