Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Hittin' the Road, Jack - Day 3

Day 3 started early. With some BK breakfast sandwiches in our stomachs, we said goodbye to Cherokee, NC and hello to the stunningly scenic Blue Ridge Parkway. When we first started to plan our trip, we thought we would drive the entire Blue Ridge Parkway from beginning to end, thinking it'd be a cool story. Unfortunately, driving the entire Blue Ridge Parkway takes a good two days - and that's without any pitstops or side adventures! It's crazy to think a drive that would likely take 6-7 hours on a highway takes TWO days on the Parkway. We learned quickly that the Parkway is a place for those who like to move at a leisurely pace. Sidenote: I was happy to be moving at a leisurely pace considering those sharp turns curving around the tops of some of those mountains created the illusion that I was about to go flying off! 


There were scenic overlooks around every corner it seemed, each one with a completely different and breathtaking view.



My Dad did the majority of the driving along the parkway, while I twiddled my thumbs, took control of the music and snapped pictures out the window. Look - we even saw a deer! I'm proud of that photo. Taking a picture of a moving subject in a moving object is not the easiest.


We climbed higher and higher in elevation, and finally reached the highest point along the parkway - 6,053 feet! Of course, we got out, stretched our legs and took in the view. 



We even took some jumping pictures! Unfortunately, we've got to work on Dad's ups for next time. 


After twisting and turning along the parkway for a couple of hours, we stumbled upon the Pisgah Inn. Literally in the middle of nowhere, this hotel/restaurant combo overlooks the Appalachians in all their glory. Each room has a spectacular view, and the restaurant looked really authentic (and crowded!) It's definitely a place to keep in mind for future reference.


The flowers were in bloom at the Pisgah Inn! 


One thing that my Dad and I knew we had to tackle on our journey through the Blue Ridge Mountains was a hike. There were so many options and difficulty levels within the NC/VA area, it was hard to choose an appropriate trail. Finally, we settled on Linville Falls. We arrived and did not see one soul in sight. We did, however, find one old, moldy, confusing map. After pretending like we knew what we were doing, we found a trail that we thought would lead us to a great view of the falls. The trail started off smooth and flat, but quickly turned rocky and steep. My Dad was loving this. I, the worry queen, was not. I mean, we were inexperienced hikers literally walking along the edge of a muddy, rocky cliff! In the heat of the moment, I demanded we turn around. My dad grudgingly obliged, but only after he made me walk to the edge and look down. Ah, I'm getting nervous just thinking about it!! 


After I saved our lives by making that smart decision, we began the drive back out to the main road, but actually discovered other cars parked in a lot next to what looked like a trail! Could it be? Human civilization? Possibly a beginner trail to the falls? Indeed it was. An easy half mile walk (nope, not even hike) from the parking lot were two different overlooks of the falls. The first (pictured below) brought you to the same level as the falls, the second (pictured above) gave you a view overlooking the falls. Both were spectacular. 


My Dad and I took in the views. It's always crazy to me that mountains this size are just a day's drive away from the good ole' state of Florida - and even closer now that I live in VA! Before I end this blogpost, I would just like to share the below photo. As we were observing the falls and the scenery, my Dad had the brilliant idea of snapping a photo series of him "falling off the edge". These photos are actually for a stop-motion video I'm planning for later this summer. They make a lot more sense in a super fast slideshow, but I just had to share! Even this pretend accident made me nervous. Who am I?!?


Safe and sound and back on the main road, we traveled another two hours and decided to call it a day. Luckily, at this point, we had made it into Virginia and were very close to Blacksburg, home of Virginia Tech University. I was excited about this because I love college towns. They are always so fun. Have you ever heard of an un-fun college town? I sure haven't. We drove around the campus and down their main street. The sun was setting, so everything was so beautiful. (Sadly, I have no photos.) For dinner, we indulged at an Irish pub on the main street, and I mean INDULGED. I had worked up an appetite with all that hiking and worrying and being a passenger in a car doomed to plunge off a cliff! After a pint and some good Irish style cookin', we geared up for yet another night on the road.

Day 4 Coming Soon! 

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