As long-time readers and companions of mine know, I have a little side thing for sporty cars and fun driving. To wit, my various cross-country road trips
, my track days
, and last year's "GerM2ny Euro Delivery"
This is another of that sort of trip report - in this case, it's a return for Luke and myself to the great twisty roads of Eastern North America, which are generally concentrated in a 600-mile long elongated oval centered over the southern Appalachian Mountains. Luke and I had a fantastic fall road trip to this area back in 2008
, and we had been hankering to go back ever since. That time had come, eleven years later.
Back then, Luke and I both owned red Honda S2000 convertibles. Luke then sold his original S2000, and many years later, purchased my S2000 from me. I in turn purchased a BMW M2 (again, which you can read all about in 2018's GerM2ny trip report
The Lead Role: Fabulous Twisties
Luke (friend and fellow sports car afficionado) and I both live in eastern Ontario, Canada. A very nice place, no question - but not really the kind of territory for fun motoring. The terrain in this region is flat; the roads are generally straight, and anything away from major arterials is often not paved well (if paved at all). And the slightest curve seems to be cause enough to reduce the speed limit to something I might manage on my bicycle. So, to be quite honest, a nice sports car is somewhat wasted around here.
To remedy this, Luke and I often visit local racetracks for lapping days, or go for the occasional day-jaunt to the Adirondack Mountains, which isn't too far away and has a few decent fun roads. But Luke and I, having been through the great passes of the Alps, or on some of California's best tarmac, we know what a *real* twisty road is like. And there just aren't many/any around here.
So, where are these eastern twisties?
The best place in North America for good fun twisty roads is in the Western U.S. - no question. But there's a pocket of twisty road excellence out east, too - perhaps not as scenic, but in terms of motorsport enjoyment, nearly as good: the wooded ridges and valleys of the Southern Appalachian Mountain range, in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Apart from a few very famous routes (Tail of the Dragon, Blue Ridge Parkway) they are relatively unknown, and mostly undisturbed by excessive traffic. And not all that far away from eastern Ontario, meaning that it is feasible for us to visit by extending a weekend by a few days. Which is exactly what we did.
2008's Fall Colors
As I mentioned above, Luke and I had roughly done this trip before, back in 2008's Awesome Autumn Appalachian Auto Adventure
. That had been a great trip, and the russets and reds and yellows of the fall foliage had been a very nice part of the journey. The only negative was that mid-fall means that daylight is pretty short; the sun came up late and set pretty early. And if I've discovered something over the years about twisty road driving, it's that it's a lot better to drive curvy roads in *daylight*, when you can really see what you're doing. And so this time, we scheduled our trip during the long days of summer, in early August (in fact, we would have preferred something even closer to the summer solstice, but Luke's car had a gremlin that wasn't yet fixed at that time).
And so after all of that, we arrive at the somewhat derivative title for this report: the Awesome Summer Appalachian Auto Adventure: the SM2000 edition
On a rainy August Thursday afternoon we met at Luke's place and began our drive down south. We planned to get a couple of hundred miles under our belts before stopping for the night, allowing us to more easily get to the twisties during the long "get-there" drive the next day.
At first we stuck to the most efficient route - down the four-lane 416 expressway, but after about an hour of driving, I felt like something little more scenic and relaxed might be nice. So, instead of turning onto the busy 401, we began driving along provincial highway 2 - the highway that runs right next to the Saint Lawrence River. The pavement is very nice along the stretch from the end of the 416 all the way to the US border crossing at Hill Island, and there are frequently good views to the wide, busy Saint Lawrence River. And as a bonus, part of the riverside route is on the Thousand Islands Parkway, which has a minimum of development and a lot of very nice next-to-the-water stretches of road.
1000 Island Parkway
The weather had cleared up into a fine summer evening. We crossed over into New York State at the Hill Island crossing, and then only very briefly stayed on Interstate 81, again instead choosing to chart a course south roughly adjacent to Lake Ontario, again on hopefully scenic and quiet backroads. A few monumental-looking thunderheads formed here and there as we drove south, but they seemed far enough to the east to not be of concern to us.
As dusk set, we did get a few strong rain showers, but by then we were almost finished with our evening driving. We pulled into our quaint little country inn - the All Seasons Inn in Scriba, NY
(near Oswego) right around 9pm - the perfect time to get ourselves settled in and to bed early.