Today is the first opportunity this year to drive what many around the world call The Tail of the Dragon! While off work today I took the chance to take my Honda Civic to Deal’s Gap store inside North Carolina, and turn around. A good friend of mine, Al otherwise known as WA4HSM, has a photography business called Moonshine Photo, and he sits on US Hwy 129 near Calderwood Dam, and snaps photos of cars and motorcycles on the Dragon. I recommend checking out his website at moonshinephoto.com and see what pictures you can find of yourself!
Al told me about the old community of Calderwood, where people who worked at the dam lived. I took a moment to drive through the delapitated community, which is open Monday – Friday until 3 pm, and viewed where the old houses and churches stood. A few buildings are still standing and they are quite remarkable. This also happens to be a nature reserve and the wildlife is bountiful! I had the chance to see deer and turkey, and while no bears were spotted, beware if you are in the mountains as many live in the woods.
On my way back towards civilization I took a moment to stop and marvel at the Little Tennessee River. Currently (as of today, Friday, August 12, 2016) repairs to Calderwood Dam have forced the company that owns the three dams on the river to drop the water level. I rememver when this was initally done the police found a bounty of cars and other items discarded in the river, that some parties probably wish were still underwater. Ha who knows, maybe Jimmy Hoffa is at the bottom of the river.
I took Foothills Parkway back to Maryville and enjoyed the drive through the mountains and nature. I do recommend careful driving as some drivers choose to drive recklessly, but law enforcement stay on the Dragon to keep them in proper check.
Another reason for driving the Dragon was to see how well simplex radio communications were received a distance away in Philadelphia. To our surprise and joy it received quite well! The only place that had difficulty via simplex and repeater was at Deal’s Gap store, located just inside North Carolina. Transmissions were still readable, although with significant static and difficulty. But along the Dragon, radio communications to the W4YJ, 145.250 MHz and KK4DKW, 145.270 MHz repeaters were nearly full quieting the whole trip, and with minimal difficulty. A note to other ham radio operators in the area, these two repeaters can be of assistance while on the Dragon, and all of US Hwy 129 from Tennessee into North Carolina.
Take a look at the pictures below!