Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bryson City, North Carolina  May 19,2012

The Tennessee Valley Authority has a series of dams on rivers where electricity is made. The river is cut off at night then released during the day.  current is used to generate electricity. Water is released from 6 rivers near Bryson City, North Carolina. There are dozens of companies offering rafting and kyak tours along these rivers. The main one is the Nantahala Outdoorn Center. There is a 3 hour 8 mile trip for groups in rafts or singletons in kyaks. Tour times are 11 am or 2 pm. An advantage of the 2 pm tour is the water is warmer by then and also the Rapid Transit option of a railway excursion featuring h an adult beverage car over the Nantahala Gorge in the morning, a stop for lunch and then rafting in the afternoon. You can rent mountain bicycles at the center. Besides river kyaking there is also group or solo kyaking on Fontana Lake.

Rafting options are a fully guided tour with a guide in every raft, guide assisted which has a guide in every other raft or rent a raft on hour own. Guest need to be 7 years old or weigh over 60 pounds.

Rafting is available on 7 rivers, the Nantahala being the biggest. The others are the Ocoee, the chattanooga, the French Broad, the Nolichucky, the Cheoah and the Pigeon.

Nantahala Outdoor Center is located in western North Carolina on Hwy 19 twelve miles west of Bryson City past Cherokee on the south side of the Great Smoky Mountain park in the Appalachian mountains.

NOC 800-232-7238

Professional photographers are stationed at several points and after a trip guests can purchase
one developed photo of a dramatic moment in the rapids for $20 or a cd with 6 photos on it
and then print as many photos from that as they desire for $42.

Guided tour rate is $47.99/person with a $7.20 spring discount from April to Memorial Day.
The season ends in October.

We had a wonderful guide named Tom. He told us about a scenic road less than 20 miles from there called the Tail of the Dragon. This 2 lane road has been famous since 1981. It is 26 miles along the borders of the states of North Carolina and Tennessee, designated Tennessee state road 115/ highway 129.

 It is 1756 feet above sea level. In Tennessee it is called the Calderwood Hwy but is referred to in North Carolina as the Topoco Road. The speed limit of 30 mph is strictly enforced by Tennessee highway patrol.  The Tennessee portion is 11 miles and has the most curves, 318. The curves have names such as Copperhead Corner, Hog Pen Bend, Wheelie Hell. and Gravity Cavity.  Look for the Tree of Shame which is festooned with crashed motorcycle parts.

It starts just south of the Foothills Parkway on Tennessee 129, ride along the Little Tennessee River, overlooks the Calderwood Dam.

GPS setting is 35.555823 - 84.002377

It ends at the Tail of the Dragon motorcycle resort. in Deals Gap, 17555 Topoco Road, Robbinsville, North Carolina.

Atlanta was a 3 hour drive from Bryson City. We stayed in Kennesaw overnight, a suburb adjacent to Atlanta on the west side of town.

Note: the Georgia legislature passed a resolution this year that all hotels with a pool must install a handicapped lift and be inspected before the pool can be opened.  Don't be surprised if the pool in a place you are staying looks worse than a swamp. The key phrase is ' has to be inspeted'. This can take awhile after the lift has been installed. Therefore I will not mention the state of the pool at the places we stayed on our weekend holiday.

We stayed at the Best Wetern Kennesaw Inn
 3375 Busbee Drive, Kennesaw 30144
It accepts pets.

We had been there before and liked it.  Best Western is updating the rooms in its hotels nationwide. This one has not been updated yet. an advantage to that is it requires less points to qualify for  free stay, as little as 12,000.

If you have a Best Western member card you accumulate points for every stay. Hotels that have been updated go for upwards of 16,000 points. We were able to access the website enroute and use our points to reserve a room.

By contrast Holiday Inn requires at least 25,000 points. Not every hotel has rooms set aside for free stays and it is almost a magic trick to find a free rooom using points within an hour's drive of where you would actually like to stay plus they require you to make this reservation days in advance. I had Holiday Inn points and I traded them in on magazine subscriptions. That is what I think about staying at Holiday Inns. In fact if I was dead and being waked at a Holiday Inn before the funeral I would sit up and walk out of that place.

We dined at a great restaurant we had visited before and found it just as good as last time, so glad they were still in business.  California Dreaming was around the corner from our hotel.

745 Chastain Road
Kennesaw Georgia 30144

An entree, salad and side order is less than $20. kids meals are $7. One of the chefs had been to France and mastered pastries and croissants. You get one basted with honey, melts in your mouth, with your salad or can order a basket for $5. We usually have a rack of ribs or steak or a pasta dish, all delicious and the salad is great. No room for dessert.  There is a big wrap around porch with candles and ceiling fans for alfresco dining which we prefer.

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