Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Blue Ridge Parkway~Day 2

Day two of our Blue Ridge Parkway drive was the best! We found the countryside to be quite different than day one. Even though there continued to be a multitude of overlooks on which to stop and soak up the view, there were no tunnels and the pretty trees did not always come up to the edge of the road.

Instead, we discovered gently sloping hillsides, multi-colored green valleys, freshly-mowed meadows, and quaint historical cabins. We even started seeing comfy homes nestled into the landscape here and there the farther north we drove, many of which included barns and gardens of various styles and sizes.

We also saw families enjoying the perfect weather, and the pristine scenery while sitting beneath tablecloth-draped picnic tables sharing a meal. Folks were often sitting in lawn chairs--sometimes on the side of road and sometimes at an overlook--inhaling the breathtaking views. Motorcycles were abundant the entire trip and rightfully so. The Parkway is a dream ride for bikers!

Both days of our Blue Ridge Parkway drive were enhanced by perfect weather! The evenings were a little cool but sunny skies with temps in the mid to upper 70's or low 80's warmed us during the day.

On this second day, we hadn't been on the Parkway for very long before we discovered the two little cabins below.

The second cabin was a church back in the day.


The Cool Spring Baptist Church.

And a view from the inside.

Do you see the path at the edge of the treeline? I wondered where it led, and if it was a route that the church goers traveled to and from church long ago.

Like yesterday, we blissfully absorbed many breathtaking views like the one below.


I love this fence!

Most of the overlooks had unique names.

We stopped at the little Northwest Trading post below, and did some shopping. While inside, they were playing a blue grass instrumental version of "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." It might sound corny but thankfulness welled up in my heart just hearing that song. I truly felt appreciative to be traveling this beautiful countryside with my hubby on this lovely September day.

I conveyed my feelings to George, and the next thing I knew, he had the CD in his hand! We popped it in the CD player as soon as we got back into the car and listened to the twenty, blue grass, instrumental hymns over and over and over for the rest of the day. In fact, we listed to it for most of the remainder of our trip! We both love the CD, and the music seemed especially appropriate for this heavenly drive!

After the Trading Post, we stumbled across more cabins. They're off to the right but I loved this view from the parking lot of the stone wall and winding road in the distance so I had to share it. Behind that weather-beaten wooden fence is a veggie garden.

I hope you can read through the shadows!

I told George to have a seat but he opted to stand.

Can you imagine living in these small quarters?  The loom might be fun!

We'd been following a Blue Ridge Parkway map throughout the drive, and it was advising us of sites along the way. I was highly curious and anticipating the next stop--the Blue Ridge Music Center. As we walked up to the Music Center we could hear live music playing in the distance. Once there, we found a little blue grass group strumming tunes and singing under a nice little breezeway with tourists and locals gathered 'round to enjoy. After listening for a bit, we decided to explore the grounds.

This bridge is leading George to an amphitheater. 

I'm walking toward the amphitheater. The breezeway where the blue grass band is playing is on the far side of the building that is partially showing on the right (behind me). It's the Music Center building.

The amphitheater seating reminds me of an ancient coliseum but we didn't see any lions, so of course, we didn't see anyone being thrown to them either!

Obviously, this is the amphitheater stage.

Inside the Music center, the Park Rangers told us that they just had a music festival here last weekend to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Parkway! Oh, how I wished it was this weekend because I would have loved to hang out and partake! The Music center building itself was fairly small inside but construction is currently underway to add a music museum.

I'm anxious to go back and check it out but hopefully, when we make this drive again, it'll be during autumn. We were only a few weeks short of getting to see the fall color, which word has it, is quite spectacular! I couldn't imagine anything that would make this trip any better but I guess leaves falling and changing color would do it!

To see pictures and get information about The Blue Ridge Music Center click

After the Music Center, we headed on down the road to Mabry Mill where we ate lunch in their restaurant.

George had BBQ pork served between corn cakes which were about 8" in diameter. I ate rather unconventional for me and ordered the dish our friendly and attentive server suggested--fried pork chops between biscuits served with a side of thick white gravy. It was quite good but I didn't dare eat it all because, 1) I don't eat a lot of fried foods, and 2) I wanted to save room for dessert.

George had an oversized slice of chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream for dessert, and had to try their peach cobbler (with ice cream of course)! It was quite yummy, and we were way too full when we were through eating!

After lunch, we waddled down to the Mabry Mill, and as you can see, it's quite beautiful!

George shooting video inside the Mill. He never even saw me takinghis pic through this opening.

The water wheel from inside the Mill.

This was taken from the side of the Mill looking back over the pond!

Another cool fence on the Mabry Mills grounds.

This log cart was the way they moved wood.

This is the trough they built to provide water to the Mill from a couple of different streams.

For more info on Mabry Mill, click

As the end of the day approached, we knew we needed to get off the Parkway in order to make up some time so we could get to our destination in Maryland on time tomorrow. Before we exited, we decided to make a pit stop at the Peaks of Otter Visitor's Center. While there, we noticed a lot of folks arriving with blankets and chairs. They headed out to the back of the building so we followed to see what was going on. We found concrete benches similar to the amphitheater and an area up front where three ladies were set up to play blue grass music!

We hoped to catch a few minutes of their performance so we hung around waiting for them to start. In the meantime, a lady park ranger droned on and on about park safety and various other things. She would have been a lot more interesting if we weren't in a hurry to get off the Parkway and go, go, go!

I was, however, very interested in one thing that she had to say--after the band was finished performing, she would be leading a night time hike to look for critters for anyone that wanted to go along. OH MAN!!! I wanted to go BIG TIME but there was no way! Finally, she advised everyone that the band would play at 8:00. It was now 7:50 and we didn't have time to wait, so much to our dismay, we moved on! Sniff! Sniff!

For more information about the Blue Ridge Parkway, click

Below is the Blue Ridge Parkway map we followed. It shows places mentioned in this post. If you're interested, I think you can click to enlarge it but don't hold me to that because I'm not sure. As an alternative, there's always a magnifying glass! Tee-hee-hee!

We missed about 60 miles of the north end of the Parkway by getting off. We did, however, make some of it up on the way back which will be part of the next post.

Wishing You Many Smiles and a
Beautiful Day in Your Neighborhood!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Blue Ridge Parkway~Day 1

As you know from the previous post, we went through Pigeon Forge and spent the night in Gatlinburg on our way to Maryland.  After leaving Gatlinburg, we drove through the scenic Great Smoky Mountain National Park to get to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  

We spent the entire day meandering the majestic parkway but only ended up going about 150 miles.  It was definitely something to savor so stopping a lot and driving slowly were important!  In fact, this part of the Parkway was abuzz with cars and motorcycles so it wasn't likely one would do much more than 45 mph even if they wanted to.

We saw a path, parked, 
and followed it to 
this peaceful stream.


We can see why they're called 
the Great Smoky Mountains.

I used my camera phone for 
nearly all the pics and videos 
on the trip. It's a handy gadget!

I want to go down that 
road again and right now!

These views were plentiful!

We can see why they're called 
the Blue Ridge Mountains.

More beauty!
This was fairly early in the day.

This is in the Folk Art 
Visitor's Center north of 
Asheville, NC on the Parkway.

The Folk Art Center. 
When I got just past the desk 
on the right, I noticed a sign 
that said, "No Pictures" so I quit.

Price Lake on the Parkway.

Really and truly, these photos don't do it justice because it's fabulous!  Absolutely gorgeous!  Can ya tell I loved it?

Again, I wasn't able to upload a video! In addition, the video works just fine in iMovie but some of the sound is off when I view it in iTunes.  :(  Oh well, I decided to give it up for now and just go ahead and publish this post.

Smiling but Disappointed,