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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