Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Blue Ridge in North Carolina

The southern part of the Blue Ridge, in North Carolina, is higher and more rugged. We also looked forward to seeing some rhododendron in bloom (it was a little too early in the north).

Jean has an old friend and mentor who lives near the Parkway in North Carolina. He was the one who basically set her on a career of teaching folk dancing. We pulled off at an overlook where she had bars on her cell phone and she called him. We agreed to meet in a couple of days.

Then we checked in at the Doughton Park campground, where we met a couple from Vermont. We shared a bottle of wine and talked for a long time.

Next day, we visited the Northwest Trading Post, which is on the Parkway. They had some interesting stuff, but none of the essentials that we needed, namely: rum, ice, and dog food. So we went on in to Boone.

While we were there, Gene decided to top up the fuel tank, even though we had more than half a tank left. We pulled into a Hess station, and pulled up to one of the pumps with a green nozzle (the usual color for diesel). He had pumped in three gallons when he saw to his horror that it was actually Regular. It was now 4:00pm on a Friday.

After jumping up and down and cursing for a few minutes, we considered our options and finally came to the obvious conclusion. Jean called for a tow truck on her AAA membership; and after some more phone calls found that the local Dodge dealer could, and would, be able to empty the tank. So we got towed there and after being assured that we had not started the engine, they proceeded to drain off 20 gallons of contaminated fuel. Meanwhile they took me back to the station where I got four gallons of diesel (the diesel pumps were on the other side of the station).

By now we were on overtime, but the very knowledgable crew stayed with it and got all the old fuel cleared out and everything put back together. The mechanic advised me to have a new fuel filter installed when we got back home. We drove to a nearby station and filled the tank and were back on the Parkway by 6:30. This misadventure cost us something over $200 and a couple of hours, but if I had started the engine we would be out about $10,000 and who knows how much time to rebuild the engine. Sure makes one feel stupid, though.

The next day we got to Grandfather Mountain and the Linn Cove Viaduct. This is the last part of the Parkway to be completed. It took 20 years for them to figure out a way to deal with the environmental, engineering, and land problems. The answer was to hang the Parkway on the side of the mountain.

View through the windshield

It follows an S-curve around the mountain, and then you're back in the woods again.

About milepost 352 we spot the first rhododendrons in bloom...

as well as some flame azaleas.

About mid-afternoon we went in to the town of Swannanoa and checked in to a KOA. It was more crowded and not as quiet as the NPS campgrounds, and cost four times as much. But it did have hookups and showers. Jean's friends picked us up and gave us a tour of Jean's old college campus, followed by an incredible pizza and lots of interesting visiting.

Next morning we took advantage of the campground's laundromat and did our laundry. Then a lunch at Arby's and back on the Parkway by mid-afternoon.

We spent a pleasant hour at the Folk Art center. This facility showcases North Carolina craftsmen with works on display and for sale. We had an interesting conversation with a young woman who was caning a chair. That is a more complicated process than we had imagined.

Spent the night at the Mount Pisgah campground. Had a Southern Country breakfast at the Mt. Pisgah Inn and watched the clouds moving up and down the valley through the picture windows.

 At 3:22 pm, we pass milepost 469 to complete the run down the entire Blue Ridge Parkway (as well as the Skyline Drive).

We have run the whole thing, but we are not done with the Parkway. On the way home we will come back to pick up a couple of places we missed on the way down. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing these adventures.'re mastery of spinning visuals with words so compliments the beautiful pictures you put in as well! Love and miss you. Be thankful you are in the "cool" mountains as it is as hot as hades here!