Ed W 1986 Merkur XR4Ti 2dr Coupe

What If You Had the Blue Ridge Parkway All to Yourself?

Carlisle's All-Ford event in June 2010 coincided with the 25th anniversary of our little-known and seldom-heralded Merkurs coming to America. That's all the motivation I needed to drive my '86 XR4Ti to Pennsylvania to join in the festivities.

Taking full advantage of the road time, I took the "long cut" through Indianapolis, meeting up with a small group of Merkur road warriors at the Indy Speedway for a quick look around. (You can easily spend an hour or two just browsing the merchandise in the gift store!) Our group of a dozen or so Merkurs eventually arrived at our hotel near Carlisle to enjoy the all-Ford sights and sounds for a couple of days. But the adventure I'd been looking forward to most, oddly enough, would not begin until after the Carlisle show closed down Sunday afternoon.

After heading south for a few hours later that afternoon, I located a spot to overnight just off of I-64, not far from Afton, VA. This particular stopping point was situated very near the northern "trailhead' of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the object of my obsession.

My goal was to "beat the traffic" in the morning and, as planned, my 5 o'clock alarm got me to the Parkway by 6 a.m. With an early morning sun peaking over the horizon, a low mist was just beginning to lift. And it revealed what I'd been hoping for all along: an empty road!

That first run through the gears was everything I'd hoped it would be, and it just got better from there! For the next 120 miles and two hours I headed south toward Roanoke, never once running up on another car going in my direction! While I'd never admit to exceeding posted speed limits, that spirited run through mountain switchbacks was about as much fun as a life-long car guy can ask for.

My "traveling companions" on that early morning Blue Ridge Parkway drive included a number of deer, a rafter or two of wild turkeys and what appeared to be a mother bear and her cub ducking into the undergrowth. On that entire two-hour run, I passed two bike riders going in my direction and a single RV that was heading north. (Ask me how grateful I was that it wasn't going south!)

Altogether, my Carlisle adventure totaled a little more than 1,600 miles and created some great memories along the way. But that 120-mile stretch of nearly-deserted Blue Ridge Parkway always will rank near the top of my best-ever drives!

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