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Old 08-02-2007, 08:56 AM   #1
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Route Planning - FL to MI Fall Color Trip

Well folks, retirement is about six weeks away. We're planning on traveling the whole month of October. The objective is to go north to hit the peak of the fall colors, and then follow it back home.

Our rough itinerary is:
  • Viera, FL to Savannah, GA (courtesy parking in daughter's driveway)
  • Savanna, GA to Jackson Center, OH (annual service and warranty repair of corrosion problem discussed on another thread)
  • JC, OH to Lake Michigan coastline (fall color reportedly peaks in early to mid October)
  • North, maybe as far as Traverse City, MI
  • Southeast to Detroit area (family visit)
  • South to meet up with our forum friends at Falluminum
  • Return to FL.
Only two items on this list are "appointments" (Jackson Center on October 1, and Falluminum on October 26). It's great to not have a daily activity schedule anymore!

Not having a schedule anymore, means we've set the GPS to avoid the super slats and give preference to the US and State highways. Using Garmin's MapSource software, AAA State maps, Mountain Directory East, and Google Earth, here's the route we're looking at for leg 2 of this trip where we have to cross the Appalachian Mountains.
  • US-321 from just north of Savannah to US-19e just outside of Johnson City, TN. The Mountain Directory East says we'll experience some 5 to 10% grades climbing out of the costal plane into Blowing Rock, NC. Between Villas, NC to the intersection with US-19e, the AAA maps indicate this as a scenic drive, and it looks twisty, but there are no mountain warnings.
  • US-19e and US-19 to the intersection with US-460 southwest of Tazewell, VA. One mountain warning on this stretch between Hansonville and Holston, VA where we'll see some 7% climbs. Otherwise, this looks pretty easy.
  • US-460 to the intersection with US-23 near Pikeville, KY. Looks a little twisty, but no mountain warnings.
  • US-23 to Columbus, OH, then US-33 to JC, OH.
We're allowing three travel days for this leg so we can stop when we want and take our time in the mountains. Any comments from anyone who has traveled any of these roads before?

We would also appreciate any recommendations for sites to see, campgrounds, diners, taverns, etc. for anywhere along or near our route of travel.

Thanks,
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Old 08-02-2007, 09:03 AM   #2
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Congratulations on a spectacular trip plan and your soon-to-be-here retirement! As for suggestions, do save leisurely time to enjoy the peninsula at Traverse Bay: meander the roadways, savor the roadside produce, linger at the vineyards/tastings, you get the picture Also, the nearby Great Bear Sandunes (not exactly sure of the name) are not to be missed. Wonderful destination! ~G
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Old 08-02-2007, 10:16 AM   #3
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Hi Randy -- Congratulations on your pending retirement! I know we turn colors up here not quite 2 weeks before our daughter does in Madison, WI. Traverse City -- may I guess about the end of the first week of October. What'd I win?! You will find a 50-75 mile wide band of color progressing gradually south somewhere in your travels -- be prepared to take side trips at that point.

BTW -- it's a pretty severe drought year in the upper midwest. Speaking for here that prevents the maples from making as much sugar (the controlling factor over the amount of color) -- but you'll see some neat splash somewhere along the way!
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Old 08-02-2007, 04:30 PM   #4
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Max and Georgia,

That's called the Leelanau Peninsula. We were there for a day about 15 years ago, and are looking forward to spending some time there now doing as you say. There is supposed to be a great campground at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore. We want to check that out too.

Thanks,
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Old 08-06-2007, 09:15 AM   #5
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Columbus, Ohio

Has anyone driven northbound US-23 into Columbus, Ohio and northwest bound US-33 out? Examining this route in Google Earth, looks like it might be an okay scenic drive to take on a Sunday, instead of the intersrtate bypass.

On US-23 you would get a look at the city, and US-33 follows a river out of town, and that's the route to get to Jackson Center.

Randy
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Old 08-16-2007, 03:05 PM   #6
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Construction and Road Closure Information

Here's another site that I'm using to plan the upcomming trip: National Traffic and Road Closure Information. It's pretty thorough and gives you all the construction and closure issues you might find in each state. Can't remember where I found this--maybe here.

Randy
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Old 08-16-2007, 04:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverCabin
Has anyone driven northbound US-23 into Columbus, Ohio and northwest bound US-33 out? Examining this route in Google Earth, looks like it might be an okay scenic drive to take on a Sunday, instead of the intersrtate bypass.

On US-23 you would get a look at the city, and US-33 follows a river out of town, and that's the route to get to Jackson Center.

Randy
Took that route in preference to the interstate from Columbus to Jackson Center. It's good, goes through a number of pretty small towns. No problems. Enjoy.

Ohio flattens out a lot the farther north and west you go. No routes that are really scarey.

Paula
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Old 08-16-2007, 04:39 PM   #8
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US 321 North

Congratulations on the impending retirement. 321 is a great choice. It will take you close to where I live in Mid-western, NC. 321 will also take you through the busy capital city of Columbia, SC. Traveling the mountain sections North of Hickory, NC, the route is sometimes closed in the middle of the day due to road construction. The dept. of trans. crews are " moving mountains" to build a new 4 lane highway. Thought I would give you the information about that stretch of 321 near where I live.
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Old 08-17-2007, 10:16 PM   #9
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Thanks Paula. That looked like it might be a nice drive on a Sunday. I wouldn't want to pull the Airstream through there on a weekday.

A friend just tipped me off to an airshow at the Rickenbacker Airport in Columbus, OH on the Sunday we are going through there (September 30). The Gathering of P-51 Mustangs and Legends, Sept 27-30, 2007, Columbus, Ohio, Rickenbacker Field They are planning on having a flyover of 51 P-51 Mustangs. That should be something to see.

Randy
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Old 08-17-2007, 11:33 PM   #10
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I don't know if you're into this kind of stuff, but there is a train that runs through the New River Gorge in West Virginia weekends in October. the scenery is great, adn you don't have to worry about towing the Airstream through those winding mountain roads while gaping at the colors.
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Old 08-20-2007, 01:49 PM   #11
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Us-321

Silverhobby,

Thanks for the review of US-321. Looks like a good route to stay off the Interstate. I did see in that construction website I posted that there are some periodic closures going into Blowing Rock. We'll have to try and time that well.

Thanks,

Randy
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