m_walker26 Reader
9/12/18 3:40 p.m.

I wanted to write about a recent trip my wife and I took to celebrate our 44th anniversary. My goal was to relate our adventure and a lack of drama we experienced.   Our experience lacked the length, involvement, excitement and heartbreak of several other adventures documented on this forum.  Adventures like Ben_Modified in Cuba, Toyman01 and Sanford, Route 66 in a Maverick, Honeymooning in an old RV.  If you want to read about adversity read those.  I hope others are inspired to write about the places they have visited.


Others have written about acquiring cars, trucks, buses, and motor homes and spending weeks preparing them for trips.  My story is little different.  My good friend Richard called me from Richmond Virginia and told me “I have a car you need to buy”.  I immediately without any thought agreed to buy the car.   Turns out Richard’s good friend and coworker was retiring and had a 1990 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL.   Richard had ridden in the car several times and knew that it was well maintained and in very good condition.   Richard’s friend asked $3000 for the car.  I had already agreed to buy.   I talked with the friend to make arrangements to pick the car up and he dropped the price $500 because the car needed some work.  The cigarette lighter was nonfunctional and there was a leak in the hydraulic system for the convertible top.  A hard top was also included in the deal.    He had gotten quotes from $4000-$11,000 to replace the hydraulic system.  This was his motivation in selling the car.   I had the car shipped to my home and the hardtop has never been off the car since we owned it.   Shortly after we got the car I discovered a failing blower fan in the heater and air conditioning system and I got that repaired by local Mercedes-Benz specialist.   I was going to do the repair myself until I saw the YouTube video of the repair taking about six hours and removing countless parts and decided discretion was the better part of valor.


So for $2500 + shipping I got a 1990 Mercedes-Benz in excellent condition with only a couple of minor problems that didn't bother me.   I thought about flipping the car but after a few rides my wife said we should keep this and keep miles off the good truck (Toyota Tacoma).  You can drive this to the golf course and around those miles won't be on your truck.   So when it came time to take our anniversary trip she asked if we should take them Mercedes-Benz to keep miles off the other vehicles.  I don't argue with her reasoning, ever. 


Here is what the car looks like:


Our anniversary trip this year was from our home near Knoxville (in Strawberry Plains) to Blowing Rock North Carolina via Abingdon Virginia and the Barter Theatre.  We had stayed previously at the Azalea Inn which is only two blocks from “downtown” Blowing Rock.  We voted on where to stay this trip and I lost 1-1.  I made the reservations.


Azalea Inn:

On Thursday we traveled up I-81 to Abingdon, Virginia to see a musical tribute to Fats Waller at the Barter Theater (nothing else was available).   Linda and I had previously seen the history of Janice Joplin and her music and enjoyed the show.  While I'm sure the show was well done we didn't enjoy it very much.   After the show we traveled across Highway 58 to Damascus and then cut down through Northeast Tennessee to get to Blowing Rock.   A very enjoyable drive.   (Fun fact: from about anywhere in Tennessee the easiest way to get to Mountain City Tennessee is to go through Virginia.)   The roads in this area are much improved since I had to travel them to work in the late 1970s.  Just about all the drive is two lanes and through the forest.


We found the Azalea Inn charming as always and spent most of Friday wandering around the downtown area of blowing rock.   Friday was our anniversary and we traveled about 8 miles to Boone, NC to the Casa Rustica for dinner.   Our meals were excellent as was the service. 


Saturday we bummed around blowing rock.  There was a shop where Linda wanted to purchase some yard art, whirly gigs.   Her first visit to the shop on Saturday was met by note that said “if I'm not here and you want to buy something just call me and I can be here in 5 min., Or 10 if I'm still in my pajamas”.   Linda decided to come back later.   But the whole town is pretty laid back.


When it was time to decide on a place for dinner we quickly chose the Canyons restaurant.   We had been there before and enjoyed the view, when the wanted a T-shirt like the one she got before and wore out, and I liked the fact that Leon Russell had once done a show at the Canyons.   We had driven by the night before and the logo on the awning was still there and there were cars in a parking lot so we felt pretty good about the choice.   Alas upon arriving, we found that it was now the Ridgeline and the entire interior of the restaurant had been remodeled.   Luckily the food was decent and the view was still there so the evening was not lost.Sunday Sunday

Sunday morning we loaded up and left blowing rock via US 221.  It parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway for quite a ways and goes past Grandfather Mountain.    We saw hardly any cars on the trip to Linville and Newland, with the exception of a long line of cars waiting for the Grandfather Mountain Road to open.  It was a curvy tree-lined road through the Cherokee National Forest and we thoroughly enjoyed the drive.  Linda’s only complaint was we had not eaten breakfast before we left, had not passed a place to eat breakfast, Linville had nowhere to eat breakfast, and she was not sure about my promise that Newland was civilization and there were plenty of places to eat breakfast.    First stop light in Newland and there was McDonald's.  Breakfast solved.    Next-door to McDonald's we finally put gas into the Mercedes-Benz.  Linda had noticed the excellent mileage it was getting, and had noted it by saying “are you sure this things got gas in it?”   I had never driven the Mercedes-Benz on trip so there was some possibility that the gas gauge was incorrect.  A little spice to the adventure. 



From Newland we went through some of my extended families ancient stomping grounds in Cranberry and Elk Park NC.   We took a Highway 19 toward Elizabethton but turned left onto Highway 107 as I wanted to find a route I used to take back in the 1970s.   Two-lane roads and a lovely drive through Unicoi and along the Nolichucky River to Greeneville.   In Greeneville we got on 11E and followed it all the way home.


Four days, three states, close to 400 miles, and not a hiccup from a $2,500 car.   The car is now in consideration for longer, more involved trips.

irish44j UltimaDork
9/12/18 8:39 p.m.

Sounds like a great weekend drive. When I mention road trips in my Porsche, my wife generally thinks of an excuse as to why she can't or won't go lol. As i plan my epic around-the-country road trip I'm reading everyone's trip threads to see what roads I want to drive and what sights I want to see. Yours has given me a small portion of my trip, I think :)

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