Raleigh has such a great location in the State of North Carolina – – centrally located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Appalachian Mountains. And these vacation hot spots are not far in either direction. In fact, in about three hours with Labor Day weekend traffic, we were soaking in the sights on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Not bad at all.
So to get to the mountains we headed down I-40 West. Same road we take to get to the beach, just the opposite direction. Soon after hitting the road, there was an “1-800-By Train” sign. I don’t really know what these train signs mean, but we figured they must be connected to the mountains somehow and we were excited to see them.
The main difference between the reasonably short trip to the beach and the reasonably short trip to the mountains is that on the way to the mountains there is actually stuff to look at along the way. Sure, the trip starts with what appears to be the same dense, green scenery and the same strict billboard regulations, but things start to change near Burlington and it only gets more interesting the further west you travel.
There’s life along this stretch of highway. It’s almost like a business route. You can see businesses, shopping, food, motels, and traffic on other roads. You don’t have to wonder how far off the exit you’ll have to travel to get to the local Hooters. You can see it from the highway. It’s that close. There are also homes close to the road and even brand-new, high-rise apartment buildings so close to the 8-lane highway that you could probably spit your gum onto their front mat. Really. And once you turn off of I-40 for the final leg of the trip, then the scenery really gets interesting in that quaint, small-town, charming sort of way. It’s a preview of the fresh, change of pace awaiting you a short distance up the road.
A visit to the Blue Ridge Parkway requires you to slow down and appreciate the breath-taking views. It is like taking a step back in time, while surrounded by postcard-beautiful scenery. All this less than three hours away? That’s a day trip. I’m in.
That’s Life in Raleigh.