Friday, January 02, 2009

NC Scenic Byways - Colonial Heritage Byway

I think I've mentioned it here before, but one of my "projects" that I am currently working on for the Tar Heel MINI Motoring Club (THMMC) is a covered bridge run.  The other big project being the Blue Ridge Parkway Tour 2009 (and I suppose as an extension to that, help with some related events like The Great Ice Cream Run 2, Bar Harbor Invasion, and Minis On Top). And in the background, I continue to toy with an idea to run a "gimmick rally" for the club.

Work on the covered bridge run has been plodding along and has been a little frustrating.  I'm sure Twister, THMMC founder, who proposed the original idea for a covered bridge run was hoping we could drive to a small handful of covered bridges and actually drive our Minis on them.  That would appear to be a pretty big challenge as there aren't really any public covered bridges in NC anymore.  At least, not historic ones.

The gimmick rally work has been a little bit slow as well, but perhaps a bit more fruitful, at least in the early research stage.  For both of these events, I have discovered some resources on-line.  One of them is the Visit NC website where I was able to find a bunch of information about historical sites and places to visit that could prove to be destinations for the rally.  The other site has been one that provides information about Scenic Byways in North Carolina (and other states if you are so inclined).

I drove portions of several a few weeks ago while scouting out the Pisgah Covered Bridge.  More on those in a later post.  On New Year's Day, my wife and I decided we could squeeze a little motoring in between some errands and other stuff we had planned.  So, we decided to give the Colonial Heritage Scenic Byway a try.  The Google route is shown below:


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We drove it from the west end to the east end.  It just worked out that way, but it looks like the State recommends that way as well.  The route starts off Hwy 29 on the north east side of Greensboro at Hwy 150 in Monticello.  Though I don't recall seeing the town or community named Monticello.  Following the route took us through some very nice country with some rolling farmland.  Notable were a few horse farms that we passed by.  The route worked its way up to Yanceyville.  I don't recall more than a couple good twists in the road, but being all two lane country roads kept it interesting.

In Yanceyville you pick up Hwy. 62 toward Milton.  As you approach Milton you get some good twists in the road.  Some Mini enthusiasts may recognize Milton as also being the location of Virginia International Raceway.  I also travelled this portion of 62 on the way to Waynesboro last year for the BRP Tour 2008.  At Milton, you take a right and head down Semora, where you take another right onto Hwy. 119.  The roads are a little more interesting through here and my wife reported seeing a huge wild turkey off in the woods as we travelled down 119.

From 119 you have to make a turn onto Stephenton Road.  This caught me by surprise, but I managed to get it woah'ed up enough to make the turn.  It helped being out in the middle of the country where there is no other traffic.  Stephenton Road started to get us onto some more "back road" type asphalt, which also raised the twisty factor considerably.  At the end of that, you turn back onto Hwy 158 (which was the road that led into Yanceyville and you are not far from Yanceyville at this point having made close a loop) which was still a little twistier here than earlier in the route.

From there, you hook up on Hwy 86 heading south into Hillsborough.  This was probably the worst part of the route.  Very straight, big road.  According to the NC guide on scenic byways, there are a couple examples of old country stores along this section.  I'll have to look harder next time.  Just before hitting Hillsborough, you take a left onto Governer Burke Road, then do a little loop into downtown Hillsborough.  Where among other things, you can see the old Orange County Courthouse.  Cross the Eno River, and then hang a right on Hwy 70 (the business route).  You follow this into Durham where you hang a right onto Hwy 751 for a short drive through Duke Forest to the end of the byway.

20000_miles.png

One event of noteworthiness during this particular drive was hitting 20,000 miles in my Mini.  This happened on the twisties of Hwy 62 as we neared Milton.  A nice appropriate place for that to happen.  According to Google, the drive should have taken three hours, but I did it in about an hour and fifty minutes.  Not sure what the disparity was - I wasn't really driving that fast.

That gave us a little extra time, so my wife wanted to head down to Fearrington Village.  Problem was, she didn't know exactly where it was.  And thanks to AT&T, I still do not have an iPhone that I could use to GPS it.  So we asked for directions in a couple places.  Below is where we ended up driving:


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Later we figured that we just missed it.

So, that is a scenic byway I can check off the list as having been completed. It was nice in the middle of winter to be able to get out for some motoring. Still debating whether I'll propose it as a drive to the THMMC. I know there are many members who are really looking for the twisties and this probably would not be the most appealing drive for them. But it is an opportunity to get on some back roads and see the NC countryside. And not much traffic to have to contend with. So maybe I'll do a series of these drives. If I had the money and time, I could probably do one a month in different parts of the state. That might help get some more club members involved in drives if they new they didn't have to travel so far and could do something closer to their home.

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