State of Franklin

As I headed out of Asheville, North Carolina it occurred to me to wonder why I was heading north on Interstate 26. It was clearly labeled “North,” I was currently pointed north, and as far as I could tell—glancing at the dashboard’s big bright display while negotiating the swerving and undulating roadway—it was going to take me very-much northward. None the less, even-numbered Interstates are usually east-west routes. Also odd: The signage in North Carolina said “future” I-26, but it looked pretty in-existence to me.

North Carolina’s license plates say, “from sea to mountains.” Or something like that. Asheville and surrounds take that seriously. Lots and lots of hills and mountains and valleys for my little 4-cyclinder van to lumber up and down. Dang pretty though. Lots of evergreens, but enough deciduous trees that I bet the fall foliage is a spectacle.

At which point Siri announced: “Welcome to Tennessee!” Wait, wat?

I really should look over the map route before I start driving. I was expecting to go straight from North Carolina into Virginia. In hindsight, I see that was an option if I’d gone east from Asheville and northward from, like, Charlotte. And so I got an extremely brief glimpse of an extremely beautiful part of Tennessee.

But first, I drove up and down 42 steep hills like this one:

Somewhere along the way I saw a sign for the almost-was-a-State of Franklin. I’d read about that years ago, and—serendipity!—here I was driving through it. (The entire far-eastern pointy bit of Tennessee was once almost-sort-of Franklin.) Anyway.

Eventually I reached that quintessential American experience: The scenic overlook. I parked here:

I can tell when I’ve been sitting too long, riding in a car for days… I get the urge to bound up the stairs, one might even say the urge to run. Same shot, selfie-mode:

Two tricks to better selfies: Look at the camera lense, not the screen, as you trip the shutter, and intentionally lower the shoulder of the arm holding the camera. The one shoulder scrunched up is the dead-giveaway in selfies. Also, dude, get a hair cut and shave.

As I was strolling away, I realized there was a side trail. It mentioned 800 feet, and 150 feet vertical. I didn’t “run” up. I briskly walked up while thinking, “oooooh max heart-rate cardio… didn’t see that coming either.” But it was worth it: