Before leaving home, I noted the location of ten LOVEworks in the region around which I thought I’d be traveling. I didn’t know if I’d get to them or not, but thought I might, being in the vicinity and all.
So, when I left Gatlinburg, Tennessee this morning, my first destination was Gate City, Virginia. To get there, I had to pass through Kingsport, Tennessee, which is rich with kitsch. No lie.
In fact, Kingsport is where I captured my favorite pic of the day. But first… something really off the wall happened on the way to Kingsport. I have to file this in the “too strange to be made up” category.
It happened right around Limestone, Tennessee. I saw this guy driving in a little dune buggy that reminded me of one of the Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars of my youth. It was a tiny little thing with those lollipop headlights. I laughed out loud when I saw it. What a fun car! It gets weirder…
The guy was zipping along ahead of me, darting in and out of traffic, so I had to make a bit of an effort to keep up. He had what looked like a tapered bucket strapped to the back of the buggy. I thought it was odd, but didn’t give it a whole lot of extra thought. Until, that is, a bunch of red flowers mysteriously appeared on the road. I wasn’t directly behind him at that point. But, a couple of minutes later, when I WAS right behind him, a bunch of blue flowers came out of the funnel-bucket.
Yes, I was actually traveling behind a Hot Wheels-looking dune buggy that shat flowers upon the road. Really. There’s GOT to be a story behind that, right?
Sadly, I had to turn off of the highway shortly after that.
Here’s my favorite capture of the day from Kingsport.
As for the Gate City LOVEwork… if you followed my route, you’ll see I rode all over town looking for the thing. It’s a really cute town, by the way.
Gate City may be in the same state, but it’s kind of a different world. The Hardee’s where I stopped to cool off and grab a lite lunch was packed with locals. One older gentleman was trying to talk to me. Bless his heart, I don’t think there was a tooth in his head. Between that and the thick VA/TN accent, I could barely understand the man. After a few minutes, when I realized he was telling me there’d been a bad motorcycle accident just down the road that morning, caused by a girl on a cell phone, I tuned him out. Rude, I know, but that’s not the sort of thing I really need to hear while road tripping.
Anyway… the guy at the counter told me where to find the LOVEwork, so off I went. Only to find no LOVE. I asked another guy at that spot and he told me it had been or was being moved to a field down the road. I looked in several fields only to find no LOVE.
I did manage to capture this lame, plain LOVEwork at the rest stop on I-81 just outside of Bristol, VA.
From there, despite the heat, which is worst in urban areas AND while crawling along in traffic, I ventured into downtown Bristol, VA, where I saw a much cooler sign painted on a building (I’ll share that one later).
There were two other ones on my list for the day, one in Abingdon and one in Galax. The latter was a maybe, as I wasn’t sure I wanted to head that far east. After a sweltering 20 minuntes in Abingdon — another adorable town — when I discovered the sign had been damaged and removed for repair, I decided to give up on LOVE for now. It’s too hot for a wild goose chase.
From Abingdon, I headed for higher elevations.
I stopped for gas along the way at a typical, quirky, ruralish gas station/convenience store/hunting supply shop, which is where I found this guy hanging out.
Oh wait, I almost forgot to share this barn quilt I spotted somewhere along the way. Yes, I should have made note of the location, but didn’t.
After the LOVE disappointment in Abingdon, my focus turned to riding. I tested one of AmericaRidesMaps recommended routes (VA-58) which was amazing.
The next pic was captured along VA-58.
From there, I headed north to Marion, VA, which is at one end of the Back of the Dragon. It was around 5:00 by that point. Had I found any decent-looking accommodations, I might’ve stayed there, but I didn’t. So I went ahead and rode the Back of the Dragon. Having ridden the Tail of the Dragon in TN three times yesterday — why not? — I can honestly say VA’s dragon is a much nicer ride. It’ll be more well-known one day, like that other Dragon, and I’m sure speed limits will be reduced and it’ll be more heavily patrolled. So enjoy it soon, while you still can!
Tazewell, VA at the northern end of that road had even fewer lodging choices. That’s how I ended up in Princeton, West Virginia. I really had zero inkling that I’d hit West Virginia on this trip. But I’m glad I did. It’s much cooler in the mountains. And I FINALLY got a margarita.
Now I just need to figure out where to go tomorrow. Stay tuned…