AARoads Forum

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length

Author Topic: Road trip report: Grand Rapids MI to Greensboro NC and back  (Read 232 times)

A.J. Bertin

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 836
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Grand Rapids, MI
  • Last Login: Today at 05:52:53 PM
Road trip report: Grand Rapids MI to Greensboro NC and back
« on: November 22, 2020, 01:46:55 PM »

Last weekend I had the opportunity to take a 5-day road trip from my home in Grand Rapids MI to Greensboro NC, and back, for the purpose of attending a well-organized and fun (but also safe and socially-distanced) road meet in Greensboro.  Overall, the trip went quite well.  I took my time getting there and back because I wanted to give myself time to explore a couple of cities on the way down and back that I really hadn't explored much beforehand... namely, Charleston WV and Huntington WV.  For the most part, I had good weather and very few traffic issues.

Day 0 - The evening of Wednesday, November 11: Grand Rapids MI to Fort Wayne IN
Local roads in the Grand Rapids area -> U.S. 131 south -> I-94 east -> I-69 south -> local roads to my hotel in Fort Wayne.

Most of the time, when I take a long-distance road trip out of Grand Rapids, I either go east on I-96 and south on U.S. 23 to leave Michigan via Toledo... or I take I-196 west/south toward the Chicago area and then south or west from there.  (This of course does not include times when I'm heading north in Michigan.)  On this trip, I took a route out of Grand Rapids that I don't usually take... U.S. 131 south toward Kalamazoo and then east from there.  That route made the most sense to go toward Fort Wayne and matched Google's recommended route.  (In the earlier stages when I was planning this trip, I had considered staying in the Toledo area... but based on Google's recommended route from Grand Rapids to Charleston, I decided to switch that up and stay in Fort Wayne instead.  That worked out well.)

Day 1 - Thursday, November 12: Fort Wayne IN to Charleston WV
Local roads in Fort Wayne -> I-69 south -> I-469 east (south) -> U.S. 30 east -> IN 101 south -> U.S. 33 east -> I-270 south -> U.S. 23 south -> U.S. 35 east -> U.S. 35 "south" after entering West Virginia -> I-64 east -> local streets to my hotel in Charleston.

In the morning as I was leaving Fort Wayne, I was trying to find a quick breakfast.  Because I'm generally not partaking in any hotel breakfasts during this pandemic, I was looking for my usual standby: McDonald's.  Funny enough, I could not find a McDonald's location in the area of Fort Wayne where I was lodging/driving.  I ended up grabbing breakfast from a Wendy's drive-thru.  (Until then, I had not tried a breakfast from Wendy's before.  I had hoped that my first time having breakfast at Wendy's would be in one of their dining rooms, but it will be a while before any fast-food dining rooms will be open again... and since nothing else was around that fit the bill, I went for it.  It was pretty good but I wasn't as crazy about their breakfast potatoes.)  I ended up getting on the road at around 7:30 a.m.

One thing I have to say is that I find it annoying that I-469 is not just all signed north/south.  It's a highway that trends north/south.  I think it's silly that it's signed east/west in some sections and north/south in others.

Anyway, I had considered following Google's recommended route out of Fort Wayne, which would have entailed taking U.S. 30 east all the way to near Lima OH and taking some local roads in that area to U.S. 33.  But I decided against that and thought I might prefer to just get to U.S. 33 sooner, hence my choice to take IN 101 down to U.S. 33.  Well, it turns out that I should have just followed Google's recommendation.  Unfortunately, I ended up getting stopped by an Indiana State Trooper for speeding along a pretty empty stretch of IN 101 around 7:45 a.m.  I got slapped with a speeding ticket.  Yes... I've developed a bit of a lead foot in recent years but I managed to get by for the previous 15 years without a speeding ticket, but I wasn't lucky this time.  (Basically I was doing about ten over the speed limit and a trooper coming in the opposite direction clocked me at doing 12 above the speed limit.)  Oh well... lesson learned.  I'll pay the ticket and move on with life.

The rest of my drive to Charleston was relatively smooth.  My lunch was in Gallipolis OH.  I arrived in Charleston at around 2 p.m. or so and spent the rest of that day exploring downtown Charleston.

Day 2 - Friday, November 13: Charleston WV to New River Gorge Bridge overlook to Greensboro NC
Local streets in Charleston -> U.S. 60 east -> WV 16 south -> U.S. 19 north -> New River Gorge Bridge overlook -> U.S. 19 south -> I-77 south -> I-74 east -> U.S. 52 south -> U.S. 421 south -> I-40 east -> local roads to my hotel in Greensboro.

Originally, I had not intended to check out the New River Gorge Bridge, but it's something that Cody Goodman recommended for me... so I went for it.  I was really glad I made that choice.  The drive from Charleston to the gorge was very pleasant, and I got to see a few waterfalls along the way.  The visitor center building at the gorge was closed, but the walkway to go and check out the gorge/bridge was open.  While I was there, I saw a black bear in the distance along the hillside.

The rest of the drive to Greensboro was relatively uneventful.  For lunch, I went through a Cook-Out drive thru in the town of King NC, which is a little ways northwest of Winston-Salem off U.S. 52.  Because I really don't like eating meals in my car and didn't want to eat a second meal in my car on the same day, I was desperately looking for a picnic table or someplace where I could eat outside.  It was warm and pleasant.  I couldn't find any picnic tables, but I did find a bench in the middle of a carpool parking lot off U.S. 52.  Sometimes you have to be creative.  I felt a little funny sitting there in the middle of that parking lot eating my lunch, but it was definitely better than eating in the car again!

Day 3 - Saturday, November 14: exploring Greensboro and attending the road meet

Not much to report from this day, other than the fact that Collin organized a nice road meet.  We had nice weather for it too.  Between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning (including the road meet), I had the ability to drive most of Greensboro's freeway network which was good to do.

Day 4 - Sunday, November 15: Greensboro NC to Huntington WV
Local roads around Greensboro -> finishing portions of the Greensboro freeway network I wanted to finish -> I-40 west -> U.S. 421 north (via the interchange west, rather than east, of downtown Winston-Salem) -> I-77 north -> I-64 west -> local roads in Huntington to my hotel.

It was around 9:30 a.m. or so when I left the Greensboro area.  The drive went smoothly for the most part, but it was a foggy morning... especially once I crossed into Virginia on I-77.  VDOT uses variable speed limits along a portion of I-77, and at one point, the visibility was so bad with the fog that the speed limit on I-77 had actually dropped down to 30 mph.  I was driving through dense fog for probably about 20 miles or something like that before the fog lifted and the sun came out.

On a separate note, I had the pleasure of meeting up with my husband for a late lunch in Beckley WV.  This was pretty funny because, as I was driving north home to Michigan, he was driving south to North Carolina for work (a different area of North Carolina than where I was).  We were passing each other on I-77 and arranged to meet for lunch at a steakhouse not far from the Tamarack visitor center.  Kinda funny running into my spouse on the road like that, but it was a little strange.  After lunch, we said our goodbyes as he continued south and I continued north.

I very much enjoyed the stretch of the West Virginia Turnpike between Beckley and Charleston... very fun to drive.  I finally made it to Huntington at around 4 p.m.  Unfortunately, there wasn't a ton of daylight left so I didn't have much time to explore Huntington before it got dark.  I walked around downtown which was nice and did a little bit of driving before it got dark, but I was pretty exhausted by this point and didn't have the energy to do much after that.  I was still pretty full from my late steak lunch that I didn't bother having dinner.  I just crashed in my hotel room from 7 p.m. onward for the night.

Day 5 - Monday, November 16: Huntington WV to Grand Rapids MI
Local roads in Huntington -> WV 527 north -> OH 7 south -> U.S. 52 west -> OH 823 north -> U.S. 23 north -> I-270 west -> I-71 north -> OH 315 north -> U.S. 23 north -> OH 15 west -> I-75 north -> I-475/U.S. 23 north -> U.S. 23 north -> I-96 west -> local roads to home in Grand Rapids.

I don't have much to report from this final day of my trip.  My breakfast came from the drive thru at one of the Tudor's Biscuit World locations in Huntington where I sat in the car eating in the parking lot at Harris Riverfront Park... enjoying an early-morning view of the Ohio River.  (It was unfortunately too cold to take my breakfast to one of the picnic tables.)

My goal for this day was to get home as efficiently as possible, so there was no real exploring.  I left Huntington around 8 a.m. and made it home at around 4:30 p.m.

On a separate note, as much as I like eating McDonald's breakfasts when I'm traveling, I was happy to get a break from McDonald's breakfasts on this trip.  One of my breakfasts came from Wendy's, two came from Tudor's Biscuit World (Charleston and Huntington), one came from Biscuitville in Greensboro, and one came from IHOP in Greensboro.  (The IHOP experience was less than pleasant, unfortunately.)  I love that southern states have local fast-food places that specialize in breakfast foods.  I made a comment on Facebook recently stating that I wish Michigan and other Midwest states had something like that.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2020, 09:13:30 PM by A.J. Bertin »
Logged
-A.J. from Michigan

oscar

  • *
  • Online Online

  • Posts: 8154
  • Age: 64
  • Location: Arlington, VA
  • Last Login: Today at 07:37:10 PM
    • my Hot Springs and Highways pages
Re: Road trip report: Grand Rapids MI to Greensboro NC and back
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2020, 02:54:48 PM »

It was around 9:30 a.m. or so when I left the Greensboro area.  The drive went smoothly for the most part, but it was foggy morning... especially once I crossed into Virginia on I-77.  VDOT uses variable speed limits along a portion of I-77, and at one point, the visibility was so bad with the fog that the speed limit on I-77 had actually dropped down to 30 mph.  I was driving through dense fog for probably about 20 miles or something like that before the fog lifted and the sun came out.

I went through there about the same time you did, after overnighting in Mt. Airy NC, and also got caught in the fog. As you might guess from the variable speed limit signs, fog happens a lot where I-77 cuts through Fancy Gap between the NC line and Hillsville.
Logged
my Hot Springs and Highways pages, with links to my roads sites:
http://www.alaskaroads.com/home.html

hbelkins

  • *
  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 14997
  • It is well, it is well, with my soul.

  • Age: 58
  • Location: Kentucky
  • Last Login: Today at 03:45:48 PM
    • Millennium Highway
Re: Road trip report: Grand Rapids MI to Greensboro NC and back
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2020, 08:04:50 PM »

What hotels did you use in Charleston and Huntington?

And was this your first trip with the toll transponder?
Logged

csw

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 944
  • Age: 23
  • Location: Virginia
  • Last Login: Today at 07:10:59 PM
Re: Road trip report: Grand Rapids MI to Greensboro NC and back
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2020, 08:30:00 PM »

Ah yes, the real star of the meet, Biscuitville. (and the guy that got arrested right in front of me!) Glad you had a safe trip, A.J.
Logged

cabiness42

  • *
  • Online Online

  • Posts: 2300
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Munster, IN
  • Last Login: Today at 07:36:35 PM
Re: Road trip report: Grand Rapids MI to Greensboro NC and back
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2020, 08:44:28 PM »

Day 1 - Thursday, November 12: Fort Wayne IN to Charleston WV
Local roads in Fort Wayne -> I-69 south -> I-469 east (south) -> U.S. 30 east -> IN 101 south -> U.S. 33 east -> I-270 south -> U.S. 23 south -> U.S. 35 east -> U.S. 35 "south" after entering West Virginia -> I-64 east -> local streets to my hotel in Charleston.

In the morning as I was leaving Fort Wayne, I was trying to find a quick breakfast.  Because I'm generally not partaking in any hotel breakfasts during this pandemic, I was looking for my usual standby: McDonald's.  Funny enough, I could not find a McDonald's location in the area of Fort Wayne where I was lodging/driving.  I ended up grabbing breakfast from a Wendy's drive-thru.  (Until then, I had not tried a breakfast from Wendy's before.  I had hoped that my first time having breakfast at Wendy's would be in one of their dining rooms, but it will be a while before any fast-food dining rooms will be open again... and since nothing else was around that fit the bill, I went for it.  It was pretty good but I wasn't as crazy about their breakfast potatoes.)  I ended up getting on the road at around 7:30 a.m.

One thing I have to say is that I find it annoying that I-469 is not just all signed north/south.  It's a highway that trends north/south.  I think it's silly that it's signed east/west in some sections and north/south in others.

Anyway, I had considered following Google's recommended route out of Fort Wayne, which would have entailed taking U.S. 30 east all the way to near Lima OH and taking some local roads in that area to U.S. 33.  But I decided against that and thought I might prefer to just get to U.S. 33 sooner, hence my choice to take IN 101 down to U.S. 33.  Well, it turns out that I should have just followed Google's recommendation.  Unfortunately, I ended up getting stopped by an Indiana State Trooper for speeding along a pretty empty stretch of IN 101 around 7:45 a.m.  I got slapped with a speeding ticket.  Yes... I've developed a bit of a lead foot in recent years but I managed to get by for the previous 15 years without a speeding ticket, but I wasn't lucky this time.  (Basically I was doing about ten over the speed limit and a trooper coming in the opposite direction clocked me at doing 12 above the speed limit.)  Oh well... lesson learned.  I'll pay the ticket and move on with life.

The rest of my drive to Charleston was relatively smooth.  My lunch was in Gallipolis OH.  I arrived in Charleston at around 2 p.m. or so and spent the rest of that day exploring downtown Charleston.

I have to say, it's pretty unusual for a state trooper to be patrolling such a lightly traveled state highway at that time on a Thursday morning. That's some pretty bad luck you had.
Logged

A.J. Bertin

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 836
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Grand Rapids, MI
  • Last Login: Today at 05:52:53 PM
Re: Road trip report: Grand Rapids MI to Greensboro NC and back
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2020, 09:09:41 PM »

What hotels did you use in Charleston and Huntington?

I stayed at the Hampton Inn in downtown Charleston and the DoubleTree in downtown Huntington.  (I've become quite loyal to Hilton properties over the past couple of years.)

And was this your first trip with the toll transponder?

Nope... this was my second.  My first trip using the I-Pass transponder was to Kansas City and back for the road meet that took place on October 17.  (I used the transponder on the short stretch of I-80/294 that's tolled in the southern Chicago suburbs.)  I decided not to post a trip report on this forum after my Kansas City trip.
Logged
-A.J. from Michigan

 


Opinions expressed here on belong solely to the poster and do not represent or reflect the opinions or beliefs of AARoads, its creators and/or associates.