So I took a trip down to Atlanta for my friend (and fellow county counter) Jim's wedding. Because I am clearly demented, obviously I could not take the "normal" way to Atlanta (duh).
But I also had Carolyn with me, and in the weeks leading up to this trip, I professed to her that I loved her more than I love counties, so nor could I take the county-cramming-est way either.
Clearly, a compromise of some sort was in order! Also making things easier was that the hotel was not actually IN Atlanta, but more to the NE of town, so I decided to go down 75 to Knoxville and then instead of continuing down 75 to Atlanta, cutting east to go around the mountains the other way and then in to Georgia on I-85 (our hotel was right off I-85).
Things started off well - we set off bright and early Friday morning and headed south. At Knoxville, we took 640 to I-40 East and headed into North Carolina (Haywood County - #1, passing all the signs for all the Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge attractions that we saw last summer.
I had tossed around a few ideas of ways to go, but in the end, decided that less counties while still following the Law of Conservation of Counties. So we got off the highway on US-74 South. 74 was a nice highway and we made good time. The plan was to take it past Waynesville and then hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway heading south (east?), which I thought would give some nice views and maybe a place to get out and stretch the old legs.
Problem was, when we got there, it was CLOSED! (for the winter I guess). Google did indicate that it was seasonally closed, but I didn't put it together that it would already be closed in early November. Buncha wimps. The big problem is that I didn't have any map / atlas type info with me, nor do I have one of those new-fangled fancy phones. Luckily there was a rest area / visitor information area about 1/2 mile back on 74, so we turned around and stopped in there and picked up a map.
The original plan was to take the Blue Ridge parkway to SC 215 to US 64 to US 178 into South Carolina, but with the parkway closed, we took an audible and continued south on 74 through Jackson NC (#2) and then went south on SC 107 near Sylva, NC. Then in the lovely hamlet of Tuckasegee, we turned on to SC 281.
This was a bad road. I mean, the road itself was okay, but it was just a VERY winding road and Carolyn started to get a little sick from all the switchbacks. Eventually, we made our way through Transylvania NC (#3) over to US 64 and then US 178 which took us into Pickens SC (#4). US 178 was pretty winding as well, but eventually we made it through the clear onto SC 11, which was a nice flat road, which perked up spirits in the car. That took us into Oconee county, which I already had. There was a slight detour onto SC 24 and SC 59 which was supposed to pick up Anderson County, but I messed up the turn at Fair Play.
We got on to 85 South and into Georgia, which picked up Hart (#5), Franklin (#6), Banks (#7), Jackson (#8), Barrow (#9) and Gwinnett (#10).
That was all for the trip there, and while at the hotel over the weekend, I re-examined our route home, to make sure that we would not run into such mountainous conditions. It looked like we were all good, so we continued as planned. Rather than taking 85 South into downtown Atlanta to pick up 75 North, the plan was to head more or less northwesterly, picking up 75 near Cleveland, TN.
We started off on 85N to 985N, picking up Hall (#11). Back on GA 347 West and GA 13 South to GA 20 West into Forsyth (#12). Then on to US 19 / GA 400 which was a nice divided highway, to GA 369 and then GA 9 for Dawson (#13). In Dawsonville, we turned on to GA 53 West, which was a bit of a tricky turn, and probably the most winding of any of the roads of the day (but still nothing like the ones in NC on Friday). GA 53 took us into Pickens (#14) and one (of the many?) "Appalachian Highway(s)" - GA 5 / 515. That was a very solid road which we took for awhile (through already visited counties) till we cut over on GA 136 over to US 411, which we took up into Tennessee and then through Cleveland on to 75.
Here's a subset of my county map, with the new counties on this trip marked in blue. You can see where I messed up Anderson SC - it's the county that would connect the 2 blue segments