Like last time, I immediately got lost in Cherokee. It is perhaps the most confusing area I have ever driven around in. The roads seem to continuously loop around like an old video game. Travel far enough down any of the roads and you will be right back where you started. Leaving the town behind, you go around another turn and you are right back in the middle of it. It also doesn't help that there is a river going through the middle of the town. That just adds to the confusion. We had a hard time finding a decent hotel there. Eventually I found a wireless spot outside some deli and after some searching I managed to book us at the local Holiday Inn for the night.
We were kind of surprised to find that most of the restaurants were closed for the evening. Especially peculiar for a Friday night. We saw a big high rise casino which I don't remember being there before. Perhaps all the business is going there now at the expense of a lot of the other places.
The next morning we checked out some more of Cherokee. Not getting lost as often this time, but we are probably taking the long way around all the time. Eventually we found our way to the Cherokee Bear Zoo, the same place I visited and enjoyed last time I was here. We checked out (and fed) all the bears. No baby white tiger this time, though there were a couple grown tigers. This time you could have your picture taken with a couple of bear cubs for $5 but we didn't go for it. After seeing the bears we went down below to see a really fat looking lemur and I got mauled by the hungry pygmy goats.
Afterwards, despite the fact that it was a cloudy day we decided to head onwards and start our long journey on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Unfortunately, we barely started driving up into the mountains before the fog came in and our lovely view shrunk to just a few feet in front of us. Up and down the mountains we drove. The higher up we went, the foggier it got. The fog only seemed to clear when we went down lower, meaning we missed out on most of the nice views. Still, we managed to get a few nice photographs.
Dad was a little worried that the car (which had been getting noisier and noisier as the trip progressed) might not be up to all the climbing and crazy twists and turns of the parkway. That, along with the poor weather, made us decide to veer off the parkway and hopefully go back on it a little further up where it was likely less hilly. We ended up spending the night in Morgantan, North Carolina. I felt a little guilty about using the wireless internet in the Holiday Inn parking lot to book a room for the night at Quality Suites. In the morning we met up with the parkway once again.
When we got off the parkway once again we made the mistake of stopping at the worst McDonalds I have ever been in (and I have been in a ton of them). It's not that the place itself was bad, just that the workers were so unbelievably incompetent. It would have required a lot of extra training to make them so utterly bad. We were practically the only customers there but you would think that they were trying to keep up with a dozen different orders based on the way they were running around in such confusion. Of course only a couple were actually running around. The rest were standing there just jabbering away with each other as if this was simply their local hangout instead of their workplace. My favorite was the girl who made my sundae. She poured all the hot fudge on one side and then, after it had solidified there, tried shaking the whole thing as if that would now distribute the fudge properly. Heck, they didn't even come close to putting the hamburger in the center of the bun.
So much for culinary criticism. We ended up deciding that we saw enough of the parkway and got on the interstate and cruised northwards. We stopped for the night at Lexington, Virginia. We were using the wireless of the hotel to check on prices beforehand and I nearly booked a room for us in Lexington, North Carolina by mistake. That could've been interesting.