map0008

On our last drive, we took time to look at a campground at Fancy Gap that we were considering for our next stop.  After seeing the steep incline to the campground, we decided to instead stay a few days more at Wilkesboro, and drive the extra miles from there for another drive on the Parkway.

First stop on the drive was at the Puckett cabin.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (5)

puckett Born in 1837 “Aunt” Orelena Hawks Puckett lived here during the latter of her 102 years.  She was past age 50 when she began a long career of midwifery.

She delivered more than 1000 babies, delivering the last in 1939, the year she died.  It has been said she never lost a child or mother through her own fault.  Sadly, none of her own 24 children lived beyond infancy. 

If she received payment in cash, it varied from $1.00 to $6.00 per birth.  She never refused to go, sometimes on horseback,but often walking.  She is still remembered for her witty, cheerful personality as well as for her skill.

At the Groundhog Mountain Overlook, the observation tower is built in the shape of a wooden fort.  Although you can climb to the top, there is very little to observe, as the trees have obviously grown considerably since it was built.  Nevertheless, it is a neat spot.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (26)

Also on the grounds are examples of 4 types of wooden rail fences.  At their origin, fences were constructed more for keeping the animals out, rather than in, of an area such as the garden.  Lifestock were permitted to run free, usually foraging near the home.

Snake Rail fences were easily constructed, but required more materials.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (21)

Post and Rail fences were sturdy, and required less materials, but were more labor intensive to construct.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (20)

Buck Rail fences were used less often, but provided good fencing for uneven terrain.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (23)

Picket  fences are still common today as decorative yard fences.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (19)

Several stretches of wooden fences have been preserved and maintained along the parkway, adding a nice touch to the scenic views.

The highlight of the day, however, came at Mabry Mill. 

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (32)

When Edwin Mabry (1867-1936) built his water powered mill in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, he had no way of knowing it would become one of the most photographed places in the United States.

In fact, it is so much an icon of a peaceful country setting that other locations have stolen it, as in the case of Iowa and Connecticut printing it on postcards.

The mill is a part of a reconstructed pioneer village.  We stopped, as most everyone does, at the most photographed view.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (41)

While strolling through the village, we enjoyed seeing old tools familiar to us, others that we didn’t recognize, and visiting with the many re-enactors present.

Part of the flume leading to the mill:

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (45)

Looking like a cannon base, this is a log cart.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (47)      2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (71)

Many farm implements are scattered throughout the grounds.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (49)

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (87)

This gentleman makes handmade cane bottom chairs.  He said although the bottoms occasionally need replacing, the chair itself will last well over 200 years…made completely without any hardware.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (50)

In the forge, ornamental plant hanger poles were being fashioned.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (52)

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (51)      

The mill was unlike any we had seen previously.  The power supplied by the waterwheel powered not only a grain mill, but a sawmill and wood shop as well.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (62)      2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (61)

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (65)2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (60)           

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (66)      2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (63)      

In the cabin, a weaver sat preparing her loom for another project.  On the wall hung examples of her craft.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (82)

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (77)     2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (76)      2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (79)

Across from her, a lady sat spinning.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (80)      2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (78)

Out in the front yard, straw brooms were being fashioned.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (81)

Nearby stands a sorghum mill and the evaporator pans.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (84)

This contraption is a “bark mill”.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (94)     2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (96)

Powered by a horse, it was used to grind oak and hemlock bark to extract the tannin, producing bark liquor for tanning hides.

And finally, what mountain homestead was complete without the moonshine still?

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (91)      2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (92)

By the time we left, it was time for our picnic lunch.  We found the perfect place at Rocky Knob.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (108)       2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (105)

It’s easy to see where it gets its name.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (106)

After lunch, just down the road a piece, we found the cabin of T.T. Trail.  Built in the 1890’s by the Trail family, it is typical of rough log cabins built throughout the mountains.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (116)

The hardships were numerous, living in a home such as this, but the rewards were beautiful.  So why is this overlook called “Smart View”?  Because it’s a right smart view out over the valley!🙂

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (119)

Another great day for us on the Parkway, and what better way to end it than with an ice cream treat purchased at the Mayberry General Store?  (The nearby community of Mount Airy was home to Andy Griffith of TV Mayberry fame.)  The store’s aisles and shelves are packed with everything from souvenirs to locally made jams.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (120)  

   2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (121)   2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (122)

2012-07-31 - NC to VA - Wilkesboro to Buena Vista (3)On the last day of July, we moved from North Carolina to Virginia.  We had planned to stay  at Roanoke, but the campgrounds were full.  We stayed instead at the little town of Buena Vista.  The drive up the interstate was very scenic.

2012-07-31 - NC to VA - Wilkesboro to Buena Vista (4)

2012-07-31 - NC to VA - Wilkesboro to Buena Vista (8)

2012-07-31 - NC to VA - Wilkesboro to Buena Vista (10)

We were dismayed to see that the kudzu problem of the south has reached the area.

2012-07-31 - NC to VA - Wilkesboro to Buena Vista (11)

As we drove through Roanoke, I spotted this lovely cathedral.

2012-07-31 - NC to VA - Wilkesboro to Buena Vista (12)

The campground we chose was in a Buena Vista City park, the Glen Maury Park… although we thought it a little overpriced, it was a very pretty park. 

2012-07-31 - NC to VA - Wilkesboro to Buena Vista (19)

Just to the side of us in the park was the Virginia Historic Landmark, the Paxton House.   Built in the 1830’s the house is lovely.

2012-07-31 - NC to VA - Wilkesboro to Buena Vista (18)

Several Canadian geese were in resident, making an appearance each night and morning.

2012-07-31 - NC to VA - Wilkesboro to Buena Vista (20)

We were parked in an open field with no one close by.  We spent 3 nights there, enjoying the solitude.

map0008

On our last drive, we took time to look at a campground at Fancy Gap that we were considering for our next stop.  After seeing the steep incline to the campground, we decided to instead stay a few days more at Wilkesboro, and drive the extra miles from there for another drive on the Parkway.

First stop on the drive was at the Puckett cabin.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (5)

puckett Born in 1837 “Aunt” Orelena Hawks Puckett lived here during the latter of her 102 years.  She was past age 50 when she began a long career of midwifery.

She delivered more than 1000 babies, delivering the last in 1939, the year she died.  It has been said she never lost a child or mother through her own fault.  Sadly, none of her own 24 children lived beyond infancy. 

If she received payment in cash, it varied from $1.00 to $6.00 per birth.  She never refused to go, sometimes on horseback,but often walking.  She is still remembered for her witty, cheerful personality as well as for her skill.

At the Groundhog Mountain Overlook, the observation tower is built in the shape of a wooden fort.  Although you can climb to the top, there is very little to observe, as the trees have obviously grown considerably since it was built.  Nevertheless, it is a neat spot.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (26)

Also on the grounds are examples of 4 types of wooden rail fences.  At their origin, fences were constructed more for keeping the animals out, rather than in, of an area such as the garden.  Lifestock were permitted to run free, usually foraging near the home.

Snake Rail fences were easily constructed, but required more materials.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (21)

Post and Rail fences were sturdy, and required less materials, but were more labor intensive to construct.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (20)

Buck Rail fences were used less often, but provided good fencing for uneven terrain.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (23)

Picket  fences are still common today as decorative yard fences.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (19)

Several stretches of wooden fences have been preserved and maintained along the parkway, adding a nice touch to the scenic views.

The highlight of the day, however, came at Mabry Mill. 

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (32)

When Edwin Mabry (1867-1936) built his water powered mill in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, he had no way of knowing it would become one of the most photographed places in the United States.

In fact, it is so much an icon of a peaceful country setting that other locations have stolen it, as in the case of Iowa and Connecticut printing it on postcards.

The mill is a part of a reconstructed pioneer village.  We stopped, as most everyone does, at the most photographed view.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (41)

While strolling through the village, we enjoyed seeing old tools familiar to us, others that we didn’t recognize, and visiting with the many re-enactors present.

Part of the flume leading to the mill:

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (45)

Looking like a cannon base, this is a log cart.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (47)      2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (71)

Many farm implements are scattered throughout the grounds.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (49)

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (87)

This gentleman makes handmade cane bottom chairs.  He said although the bottoms occasionally need replacing, the chair itself will last well over 200 years…made completely without any hardware.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (50)

In the forge, ornamental plant hanger poles were being fashioned.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (52)

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (51)      

The mill was unlike any we had seen previously.  The power supplied by the waterwheel powered not only a grain mill, but a sawmill and wood shop as well.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (62)      2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (61)

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (65)2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (60)           

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (66)      2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (63)      

In the cabin, a weaver sat preparing her loom for another project.  On the wall hung examples of her craft.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (82)

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (77)     2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (76)      2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (79)

Across from her, a lady sat spinning.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (80)      2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (78)

Out in the front yard, straw brooms were being fashioned.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (81)

Nearby stands a sorghum mill and the evaporator pans.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (84)

This contraption is a “bark mill”.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (94)     2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (96)

Powered by a horse, it was used to grind oak and hemlock bark to extract the tannin, producing bark liquor for tanning hides.

And finally, what mountain homestead was complete without the moonshine still?

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (91)      2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (92)

By the time we left, it was time for our picnic lunch.  We found the perfect place at Rocky Knob.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (108)       2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (105)

It’s easy to see where it gets its name.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (106)

After lunch, just down the road a piece, we found the cabin of T.T. Trail.  Built in the 1890’s by the Trail family, it is typical of rough log cabins built throughout the mountains.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (116)

The hardships were numerous, living in a home such as this, but the rewards were beautiful.  So why is this overlook called “Smart View”?  Because it’s a right smart view out over the valley!🙂

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (119)

Another great day for us on the Parkway, and what better way to end it than with an ice cream treat purchased at the Mayberry General Store?  (The nearby community of Mount Airy was home to Andy Griffith of TV Mayberry fame.)  The store’s aisles and shelves are packed with everything from souvenirs to locally made jams.

2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (120)  

   2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (121)   2012-07-29 - Blue Ridge Parkway - MP 155-199 (122)

map0007We could not have had a more beautiful morning for driving this section of the Parkway.

This was the view from the Basin Cove Overlook.  

2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (2)

I loved this huge old evergreen.

2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (5)

As we got closer to the North Carolina/Virginia state line, the countryside became more open with rolling meadows interspersed with the trees.

2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (7)

It would be a long time before I would tire of scenes like this one (if I ever did).

2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (8b)

This next spot, looking down from Wildcat Rocks fascinated us.  Check the two photos following this one to see why.

2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (46b)

Looking closer into the bottom center of the photo.  Down in the middle of nowhere, that’s a homestead clearing.

2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (52)

You can still see the roof of the  Caudill cabin through a zoom lens.  Amazing!  Can you imagine living in that wilderness?  When the cabin was built in the late 1800’s the nearest town was Absher which was 8 miles away. The only way in today is by hiking down into the cove.  The family still maintains a website here:  Caudill Family Cabin Homestead.

2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (53)

It was such a scenic place, we couldn’t resist taking a picture of each other, and “photoshopping”  it into one.  Without carrying a tripod, when no one is around, this is the way we manage to get pictures of us as a couple.

2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (59)

Not far down the road, we came to the Brinegar homestead. 

2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (67)

The Brinegar Cabin was settled by Martin Brinegar in 1885 and occupied until the land was purchased for construction of the Parkway in 1935.

2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (74)

A vegetable and herb garden is well maintained at the homesite.

2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (75b)

2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (80)

2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (95)

The cabin has an over one century old loom that is still used in craft demonstrations in the summer months.  The cabin was locked when we were there, but we could glimpse the interior through the window.

  2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (98)

There is an outhouse and spring house as well.

2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (87)      2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (90)

Inside the spring house.2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (92)

 2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (91)

From an overlook not far away, you could spot quite a community below.  Wonder what the Caudills and Brinegars would think of the area now?

2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (108b)

Standing out from the endless rolling green mountains of the Blue Ridge is Stone Mountain.  The 600 foot dome of exposed granite is a result of millions of years of changes to the landscape revealing what we see today.  Even though the granite outcropping was extremely attractive to area miners, the area’s terrain proved to difficult to access. 

2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (111)

As a result, the land was donated to the State of North Carolina and would become part of Stone Mountain State Park in 1969.

One of my favorite stops on the Blue Ridge Parkway was just across the state line in Virginia, the Blue Ridge Music Center.

2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (125)

As we approached the building, strains of music floated outward.  A couple of  musicians was performing.  A performance is daily at the center, featuring different musicians from the area.

 2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (126)

We sat and listened for a while then entered the building to tour the museum.  The Roots of American Music museum is fantastic, covering county music’s evolution from the days of the slave spirituals forward.  A multi media museum, it features displays of instruments, audio renderings of songs and videos of such icons as Mother Maybelle.

2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (127)

The following photos are but a sampling of all the museum has on display.

 2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (134)2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (129)

2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (133)

2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (135)    2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (140) 2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (138)

 

   2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (136)  2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (146) 2012-07-27 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-199 (141)

What a wonderful tribute to American music this facility is, and what a great way to end another day on the Parkway!

We enjoyed our overnight stay at Marion.  The Tom Johnson RV Center offers a nice RV park there with a large lobby, small restaurant area, and laundry facilities, all located in a scenic area near a creek or small river.

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (148)    2012-07-21 -NC, Marion - Tom Johnson RV (2)    

Our next move was to Wilkesboro.

Marion to Wilkesboro

 2012-07-22 - NC, Marion to Wilkesboro-001     2012-07-22 - NC, Marion to Wilkesboro-003    2012-07-22 - NC, Marion to Wilkesboro-004

We found a C.O.E. campground that we loved, Bandit’s Roost.  There weren’t that many campers in the park at any one time, and our site was toward the end.  We could see the lake through the trees.  We still continued to have rain most every afternoon, but the mornings were perfect.  If we weren’t on the parkway, we spend the mornings from breakfast to lunch in our lawn chairs, Ron carving or reading, and I worked on my quilt block, tatted or read.  We decided to stay several days.  The only thing that was not so good about Wilkesboro was its distance from the Parkway.  We drove at least 30 miles each time to reach the Parkway.

2012-07-24 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-295  (4)      2012-07-24 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 254-295  (3).

maps 5 & 6Our first drive on the parkway from Wilkesboro began where we had left off at MP 295.

Our first stop was at Price Lake. 

 

2012-07-24 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 295-254  (17)

Down under the bank, a young family was fishing.  I caught this photo which I love:

2012-07-24 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 295-254  (18)

Our next stop was the Moses H Cone Memorial Park, the country estate built by Moses Cone in 1901.2012-07-24 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 295-254  (26)

The 20 room, 13,000 square feet, palatial estate is a beautiful site, situated as it is atop the mountains.  You approach the mansion from the side via a shaded pathway.

2012-07-24 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 295-254  (21)

The owner of the estate, Cone, was a prosperous textile entrepreneur, conservationist, and philanthropist.  He and his brother developed Cone Mills, becoming a world leader in the production of denim, earning him the title of “The Denim King”.

The manor downstairs is now the home of the Parkway Craft Center, one of five shops of the Southern Highland Craft Guild which features handmade crafts by hundreds of regional artists.  Throughout the season, local artists demonstrate crafts such as quilting embroidery, weaving, pottery, glassblowing, and woodcarving on the front porch.  We were there too early in the day to catch a demonstration.

The front overlooks a serene lake view below.

2012-07-24 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 295-254  (20)

25 miles of carriage trails wind through the estate.

2012-07-24 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 295-254  (32)

Cone’s interest in nature and conservation led him to plant extensive white pine forest s and hemlock hedges, build several lakes stocked with bass and trout, and plant a 10,000 tree apple orchard.

The original carriage house/apple barn still stands.

2012-07-24 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 295-254  (33)

Inside you can see carriages and an apple cider press.

2012-07-24 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 295-254  (30)      2012-07-24 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 295-254  (29)

Driving on, the views were panoramic in scope.

2012-07-24 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 295-254  (35) 

An easy walk through the hardwood forest leads to the cascades of Falls Creek.

2012-07-24 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 295-254  (46)

 The trail winds along the stream, often past small ripples.

2012-07-24 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 295-254  (52)

2012-07-24 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 295-254  (53) 

The only strenuous part of the walk is the stairway leading down to the falls, over 100 steps, and as we know, what leads down must later lead up.

2012-07-24 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 295-254  (49)

Once there, the falls are worth the steps.

2012-07-24 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 295-254  (59)

2012-07-24 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 295-254  (60)

2012-07-24 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 295-254  (66)

Then it was time for the climb back up.

2012-07-24 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 295-254  (68)

The second half of the loop trail was just as scenic as the first,winding alongside the stream through the trees, rhododendron and mountain laurel.

 2012-07-24 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 295-254  (69)

At the parking area, there was a nice shaded picnic area, the perfect place for our lunch.

2012-07-24 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 295-254  (71)

We finished the this leg of the trip at Jumpinoff Rock overlook.

2012-07-24 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 295-254  (76)

2012-07-24 Blue Ridge Parkway MP 295-254  (79)

maps 5 & 6We moved from Asheville to Marion, NC, a few miles away.  While there, we covered a short distance on the parkway, just 35 miles.

Starting at the Museum of North Carolina Minerals, we continued northward.

The Parkway was quite often bordered by wooden rail fences.

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (1)

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (9) 

The Blue Ridge Parkway gets it’s name from the Blue Ridge Mountains, but it runs on the ridge itself in many areas, as is plainly visible here.

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (2)

We stopped to take photos above the Historic Orchard at Altapass.

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (12)

We were planning to attend a local barbecue and bluegrass festival later in the day, so did not take time to stop at the orchard.

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (13)

A little farther along, we stopped at an overlook where we could look back at the orchard on the mountainside.

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (20)

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (22) 

Zoomed:

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (24)

Looking the other direction

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (26)

A little off the Parkway near MP 316 is Linville Falls.  We hiked the Erwin’s View Trail.  The trail, rated moderate, crosses the Linville River behind the small visitor’s center,

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (34)

and then winds upward through the woods.

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (39)

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (40)

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (41)

Near the falls, the layers of rock resemble flowing water.

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (55)

There are two upper falls,

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (43) 

and

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (42)

Both are shown in this shot.2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (57)

The river bubbles over the rocks,

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (58)

Then narrows, and churns around a bend, where it drops over the larger falls, not visible at this point.

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (53)

We continued on the trail another .2 miles to an observation point for the lower main falls.

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (67)

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (64)

This long shot captures both the upper and lower falls.

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (62)

As the day progressed, once again the clouds began to form over the mountains.

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (77)

(Do you see the glimpse of the road ahead in the photo below?)

4632012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (79)

The Linn Cove Viaduct is an engineering marvel.  Constructed of 153 concrete segment, only one of which is straight, it is huge.    I found this excellent shot online, either taken from a point high on the mountain, or from the air.

blue-ridge-parkway-720

There is a visitor center at one end of the viaduct, and a path that leads under the structure.

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (84)

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (93)

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (94)

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (98)

These are our shots as we drove over it.

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (107)

2012-07-21 - Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 330-295 (110)

And this zoom shot is from an overlook beyond the viaduct.

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What amazed me more than anything in the story of its construction was that very little of the surrounding habitat was disturbed in its building.  For some of the construction pictures and more on the process, see my earlier post on the Parkway’s history.

Beyond the viaduct, we traveled the Parkway a little farther to MP 295 near the Julian Price Memorial Park, containing a campground and picnic/hiking area.  We then headed back the way we had come.

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The skies continued to darken, and a storm looked imminent.  We decided that going to the festival as we had planned probably was no longer a good idea.  Usually we pack a lunch, but hadn’t today, planning on the barbecue.  We decided to stop at the Orchard at Altapass and see if they served lunch.

Sometimes your best plans are made at the last moment, and the decision to stop at the Orchard proved the point, but first, a little on the history of the Orchard.

Through this area, the old Clinchfield Railroad loops and tunnels through the mountains.  4000 immigrant workmen labored from 1905 to 1908 to complete this difficult section of track; over 200 of them were to lose their lives.  The railroad brought timber and mining companies to the area, providing a way to transport the natural treasures of the mountains and  forever changing the lives of the mountain families.  A community sprang to life, called Altapass, meaning “High Pass”.

When the building was completed, the Clinchfield Railroad built an apple orchard on this section of land.  The area was perfect for growing apples, situated on the mountain in such a way that it was almost frost proof.  Before long, it was producing State Champion apples at the rate of 125,000 bushels and providing many local jobs.  Every family for miles had at least one member working at the Orchard.

Then everything changed again.  The Clinchfield ceased to provide passenger service, and plans to build the Blue Ridge Parkway came to fruition.   Following an ancient buffalo path, layout for the Parkway route passed through the center of the large orchard.  Area residents and business owners forced the issue all the way to the Supreme Court, but in the end, Parkway planners won.

What was left of the Orchard fell into a state of disrepair.  Then in 1994, a half century later, help came in the form of a lady named Kit Trubey.  She purchased the orchard, and began the work of preservation along with the help of her brother Bill Carson and his wife Judy.   The portion lying above the Parkway was sold to the Parkway to assure its perpetual preservation.  The remaining land will be protected by conservation easement.

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Today, the work continues with hayrides, story telling, butterfly tagging, free mountain music and dancing on weekends and a store to sell ice cream, fudge, country products, local crafts, and of course, apples.  The Orchard at Altapass is a success once again.

As we parked, we could hear the strains of mountain music, and to our delight, when we entered the building, a mountain clogging demonstration had just started.

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This clogging was different from any we’d seen.  Much of it was “free-style” with one of the dancers calling directives, many of them new to us, but several we recognized from square dancing, such as “promenade” and “swing your partner”.

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We have helped with many square dance demonstrations where participants from the audience got to experience being in a square, but this time the tables were turned when we had our chance to be a participant from the audience.  We joined the last dance, and I’m sure didn’t do much clogging, but had a lot of fun, even learning a few calls such as “wind the yarn”.

Afterwards, we were really hungry and found a lunch wagon set up outside selling, of all things, barbecue; we got our barbecue dinner after all.

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When we returned to the barn, a small country music band was setting up. With the first song, folks left their chairs to dance, until the small dance floor was full. 

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What a nice time we had after just stopping on a whim.  On the way out, I purchase a half peck of the only apple ripe at the time, Lodi (they produced the tastiest applesauce we have had since making our own from the apples we grew on the farm years ago!)

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A volunteer offering tastes of ice cream also offered me a taste of Key Lime Pie hand dipped ice cream; one taste, and we also had to have a dish of ice cream to finish our day.

The Orchard and its entertainment was one of our best experiences yet on the Parkway, and one we won’t forget soon!

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map0005Our second day on the Parkway took us from Asheville to MP 330 where the Museum of North Carolina Minerals is located.

Our day began with a stop at the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center.

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map photo2The center has many displays, including an interactive digital map. 

Taking up one entire wall, it had a slider bar that when moved horizontally across the map, opened videos showing different stops along the Parkway.

The next stop was at the Folk Art Center.  The two story center had beautiful quilts on display on every wall.  There was a large display of projects from a nearby college Creative Arts department.  Downstairs was a craft center displaying and selling all manner of local crafts.  No photography was allowed inside.2012-07-17 Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 396-330 (6)

The sky could not have been any better for photos… bright blue with fluffy clouds, making the overlooks very photogenic.  Even on a pretty day, though, there is still a haze about the mountains.  One display says that the visibility is 80 percent less now than 40 years ago.  Some of the haze is due to the moisture given off by all the vegetation, but much of it has been caused by man and his pollution of the environment.

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Much of the Parkway is lined with stone cliff cutaways.2012-07-17 Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 396-330 (11)

Often, there are homes visible far below in the valleys.

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Craggy Gardens Visitor Center sits at the base of a mountain.

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The area gets its name for the many rhododendrons also known as azaleas that bloom in the spring.  We were past that point on our visit, but there were still several wildflowers blooming.

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While we were there, the clouds rolled in, bringing the first of the daily showers.

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The Craggy Pinnacle Tunnel is one of the most photographed tunnels on the Parkway, created right at the edge of the mountain.

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Often the best scenes are right after the showers.

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Glassmine Falls is falling for more than 800 feet from the mountainside miles away, just visible from the Parkway.  It is one of the tallest waterfalls east of the Mississippi.  At the base of the falls is the old Abernathy Mine, where mica was mined.  Mica resembles thin sheets of glass, which is where the falls got its name.  The overlook is the closest permissible viewing of the falls.

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zoomed in

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A short path led to a higher point with a panoramic view of the mountains beyond.

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Our “turning around point” for the day was at milepost 330 where the Museum of North Carolina Minerals is located.  The museum is not large, but contains nice displays.

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On the return trip, we decided to take the short drive up Mount Mitchell to its peak, the highest point east of the Mississippi (6,684 ft).  The mountain was named after a professor, Elisha Mitchell, who determined its height in 1835, and fell to his death at nearby Mitchell Falls in 1857, trying to verify his earlier measurements.

The clouds were rolling in by the time we reached the summit, and the rain began as we left the truck. 

I had just time to snap a couple of pictures before we ran for shelter at the nearby snack stand.  The resulting panoramic shot is probably going to become one of my favorites of this trip.  This is truly my “Blue Ridge” shot.

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As the rain began to pour, we purchased cups of hot apple cider, thinking as soon as the rain passed, we would take the short trail to the observation tower.

Unfortunately, when it did abate, the fog was so thick we knew there was no point going on to the observation tower.  2012-07-17 Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 396-330 (122)

As we started down, the rain began again, making the narrow mountain curves a little scary.2012-07-17 Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 396-330 (129)

Naturally, as soon as we got off the mountain, the rains quit and the skies cleared.

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2012-07-05 - NC, Blue Ridge Parkway -  MP396 - 469 (42)When the Parkway was laid out, and the mileposts added, I suppose its creators assumed it most often would be traveled from northeast to southwest (in other words, starting in Virginia).  Thinking we would like to travel farther north when finished, we’ve chosen to run it the opposite direction.

This first leg of the journey began at Asheville, NC and ran to the end of the Parkway at Cherokee, NC.

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As we moved farther up the parkway later, there would be several historical sites, but on today’s drive, the appeal was the fantastic scenery!

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The Parkway is just as it’s name implies, a road running along the crest of the mountains.   Nowhere is that more evident than when looking down upon the road from an overlook above.

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At Milepost 431, you encounter the highest point on the Parkway, at 6,047 feet.

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Shortly after this photo, we experienced what would become the norm for several days…an afternoon thunderstorm.

The Parkway comes to an end at the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is also at Cherokee, NC. 

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Having been there several times before,  and arriving past lunch time, we decided to eat and head back over the mountains.  We chose the first restaurant we came to, The Little Princess.

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Turns out, we could not have chosen better.  The fried fish plate with onion rings and slaw was delicious, and almost more than we could eat.  Not enough, though, that we couldn’t stop in for ice cream at the dairy bar next door.

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The dairy bar is conveniently located with steps leading down to the Oconaluftee River, luring “tubers” to stop for a snack.

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Back on the Parkway, the rain had stopped, leaving behind miniature waterfalls on the rocky ledges.

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Devil’s Courthouse’s sinister appearance contributed to many folk tales in the area. 

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Within the mountain is a cave where, according to the legends, the devil holds court.  The Cherokee believe it to be the private dancing chamber and dwelling of the slant-eyed giant, Judaculla.  The one half mile climb to the top gains almost 300 feet in elevation, so we decided not to try it.  However, as you can tell from the close-up, many do.

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There are many formations along the drive that make you wonder…how and why did that form in the manner it did, such as this one titled Pounding Mill?

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It was a great day for our first day on the Parkway.  Here are a couple of my favorite panoramic shots from the day (click on any photo to see it larger).

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blue ridge complete Running 469 miles along the ridge of the Appalachian Mountains from the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a designated National Parkway. We decided make its length our primary destination this summer. 

The Parkway is many things.  It is the longest road planned as a single unit in the United States.  It is an elongated park, protecting significant  mountain landscapes far beyond the shoulders of the road itself…It is a continuous series of panoramic views…a museum of the American countryside, preserving the rough-hewn log cabin of the mountain pioneer, the summer home of a textile magnate, and traces of early industries.  It is the fleeting glimpses of a wild animal or a spot to picnic in the woods.  It is all these things and more. 1

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Started in 1935, many of the earliest workers came from federal agencies including the well-known Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and Works Progress Administration (WPA).

A lesser known group of workers came on the scene during the war (WWII), the Civilian Public Service, made up of conscientious objectors to the war.  In fact the work was slowed or halted throughout the years during both WWII and the Korean wars.

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26 Tunnels had to be constructed through rock.  The longest is 1,320 feet long.

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tunnel

176 bridges were needed to allow other roads to pass the Parkway without directly intersecting it.  The structures of both tunnels and bridges are works of art, using a “capstone” arch design.  Stone from the immediate area was used by the stonemasons at each site to help the structures blend into the landscape.

Driving_through_Time_bridge_under_const 

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The last and most impressive element of construction came in the early eighties with the Linn Cove Viaduct.  Grandfather Mountain was considered a too fragile and valuable eco-biological resource to deface, so a viaduct bridge was designed to provide access around the mountain. 

 l_cove

The 153 precast segments, each weighing 50 tons, were made in a facility a mile away, then each was trucked to the site and added to the extension of the bridge.  Only one segment was straight, as the entire bridge is shaped in an S curve.

 

The only disturbed areas of the mountain were where the 7 supporting piers enter the ground.

lcvconstruction

Otherwise, the construction crew never touched the ground.  Trees that were there before the bridge started were still standing at its completion, an amazing feat in itself.

The icon is 1,243 feet long and 35 feet wide.  It is located at an elevation of 4,100 feet.  Taking three and a half years to complete, the final cost of the bridge was 10 million, and provided the completing link to the Blue Ridge Parkway in November 1982.

Over 52 years after the start of construction, in 1983 the Blue Ridge Parkway was complete.

If you have found the above of interest, more detailed information on the Parkway’s history can be found on the following sites:

Blue Ridge Parkway Travel Guide /Parkway History

Blue Ridge Parkway/ More Than a Road

Timeless Gem of the Blue Ridge Parkway (Linn Cove Viaduct)

1 Paragraph adapted from Highways in Harmony:  Designing and Building the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Historical photos were found at various sites on the internet.

After the vent cover problem of the day before, and the hard rains that followed that night, we knew we had to replace the fan immediately.  The temporary cover of garbage bag and duct tape could not last through many such storms.  Fortunately for us, a new Camping World opened in nearby Hendersonville this spring.

We decided to combine a little sightseeing with the trip to Camping World.

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Our campground within the Pisgah National Forest is within 3 miles of an entrance to the Parkway.  We decided to drive a loop that would cover a small length of the Parkway and the Looking Glass Falls, reportedly the most photographed falls in the east.

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The Parkway looks lush and green, belying the fact that this area, like most the of the country, has been in the grip of a drought.  Obviously, the mountains have been getting sufficient moisture.

It wasn’t long as we climbed in elevation that we began to encounter fog.

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We stopped at the overlooks for photos.

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But it wasn’t long before we were engulfed by the fog.  It’s an eerie feeling to be driving along the crest of a mountain on an unknown road at almost zero visibility.

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We drove in and out of the pockets of fog. 

There are 26 tunnels on the Parkway.  Pine Mountain Tunnel is the longest, at 1,320 feet long.

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I’ve always loved trying to get photos as we emerge from tunnels.  Once in a while, you get a good one, as I did here.

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Most of today’s, however, were gray with fog.

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After 18 miles on the Parkway, we took Highway 276 South.  This is a photo of one of the 176 road bridges on the Parkway.  The Bridges are all of this stone arch construction.  One of the principals followed in constructing the parkway was that all building materials such as stone had come from the immediate area in which they were used.

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The road winds down through the Pisgah National Forest. Our first stop was at Sliding Rock.  This is one of the most unique natural playgrounds we’ve ever encountered, loved by locals and tourists alike.

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Here the river rushes down the mountainside.

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You hear the shouts of fun and excitement as you walk down the short trail.  A bathhouse is provided, and just around the building, you see the reason for the shouts.

Here the 50 to 60 degree water flowing at the rate of 11,000 gallons of water per minute makes a swift descent over 60 feet of slick rock, providing the perfect natural waterslide. 

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At the end of the slide is a drop into an eight foot deep pool.  There are signs warning that everyone must be able to swim.  There is also a park attendant at the top of the slide and lifeguards at the bottom.  A few strokes takes each participant to the boardwalk where they get in line to do it all over again. 

We stood for several minutes watching the young and old alike enjoy the slide.  This is the platform at the bottom where the line forms.

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And then the swift ride down.  Often, we saw parents descending holding the hands of their child.

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We stayed and watched for quite a while.

We’ve just missed the season for spring flowers.  A few of the rhododendrons are still blooming.

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Just down the road from Sliding Rock is the majestic Looking Glass Falls.  The name Looking Glass comes from the Looking Glass Rock.  Looking Glass Rock is found up river from the falls.  Water freezes on the side of the rock during the winter, glistening in the sunlight like a mirror or “looking glass”.  The river forming the falls is also named Looking Glass.

I took this at the top of a short flight of stairs that leads down to the foot of the falls.

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Well worth the climb down the stairs, at the bottom you are at the river’s edge, close enough to feel the spray of the cool water falling over 60 feet.

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A couple asked us to take their picture at the half way landing of the stairs, and returned the favor for us.

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One more treat awaited us.  After our stop at Camping World for the new fan, we happened upon the “Little Farmers Market”, where we found beautiful produce at great prices.  We purchased enough to enjoy for several days, along with a jar of local apple butter.2012-07-14 - NC -4- Hendersonville Little Farmers Market (1)2012-07-14 - NC -4- Hendersonville Little Farmers Market (2)

 

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