Last week I took a mini-trip to Asheville, North Carolina. Did I mention this was a free stay mini-trip? (Which was the biggest reason I went!) Thanks to the airline Best Friend works for, she had an extended stay in Asheville with a nice hotel room.
So on Sunday evening I headed north for Asheville with my friend that I've affectionately nicknamed Germaphobe to meet Best Friend when her plane landed. After stopping briefly to satisfy a milkshake craving and driving along some dark, creepy roads in South Carolina (where they clearly do not believe in readable, lit-up signs for nighttime driving), we made it into Asheville late.
The following morning, the three of us headed off for some fun on the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, but not before enjoying our nice (free) breakfast at the hotel. Being starving, poor girls in Europe early this summer, Best Friend and I learned how to utilize all the free breakfasts we could and also how to steal food from breakfast and put it in our backpacks for lunch. However, even though I took full advantage of breakfast, I was too embarrassed to "pack a lunch" since the very cute First Officer flying with Best Friend joined us. I mean, he already saw me devour that waffle AND egg and cheese biscuit!
Anyway, with full bellies, we headed for Grandfather Mountain. The mountain has wildlife habitats to see native animals up close and personal (Bears, deer, Bald Eagle, Golden Eagle, river otters, etc.), incredible views, and the Mile High Swinging Bridge. A scene from Forrest Gump was filmed here, too, so you can run up the mountain in the steps of Forrest if you like. Me? well, I was just as happy with walking across the swinging bridge and standing on the edge of the cliffs for breathtaking views. The wind blows so hard against the bridge that it sings like a pipe organ. It sounds beautiful. However, you feel like you could blow away when you are standing on the sheer rock.
After leaving the Grandfather, we headed north on the Blue Ridge Parkway to another well-known attraction, Blowing Rock. I can sum it up this way: Yes, it was a rock. And it certainly did blow! Talk about a rip off! It cost $6 to see this damn rock that overhangs a deep gorge below.
The legend of Blowing Rock goes something like this: A Chickasaw Maiden fell in love with a Cherokee Brave. Torn between his duty as a brave and being in love with the maiden, he leapt (like a dumb ass) from the rock into the wilderness below. The grieving maiden prayed daily to the Great Spirit for her lover's return until one day a gust of wind from the gorge below blew the brave back into her arms. And there has been a constant updraft of wind ever since.
Here's the real deal: The rocky walls of the gorge form a flume through which the northwest wind sweeps with such force that it returns light objects cast over the rock. Light objects, boys and girls, so no jumping for realsies! So we tried out this theory ourselves and Best Friend threw her hat off the rock…and it returned! It returned with a vengeance, in fact, and blew up into a tree behind us. Don't worry; she climbed up the tree to retrieve it. It was hilarious!
Even with that entertaining moment, I still hardly found the rock whose current of upward flowing air prompted Ripley's "Believe-It-Or-Not" to dub it "the only place in the world where snow falls upside down", a waste of $6.
We turned around from Blowing Rock and headed back south down the parkway to Mt. Mitchell, the highest mountain in the eastern US. It is 6,684 ft. tall, but because of the building of a new tower on the summit, we were only able to go as far as the parking area. @ 6,578 ft.) It was my second time on Mt. Mitchell. I love this area. The predominate spruce and other coniferous trees, gives it Maine feel. The first visit to the mountain, found me in knee-deep snow so it was awesome to see all the Christmasy-scented trees without the blanket of white covering them. Unfortunately, our trip on Mitchell was cut short by the extremely close lightening and deafening thunder overhead.
That concluded our day in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but not the trip. The next morning Best Friend had to fly out early but Germaphobe and I continued on the parkway to Cherokee, NC to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The scenery on this section of the parkway was the most spectacular of all! We stopped numerous times to take in the views and even once for a waterfall hike at Graveyard Fields.
The Smokies were beautiful as always and we enjoyed the ride. It was so much fun but we were extremely tired and hungry by the time we finally drove into Gatlinburg, TN for a bite to eat. We chose a karaoke bar to eat in and had fun listening to everyone sing. However, we didn't get home until 1:30 a.m. thanks to Dolly Parton's flamboyantly gay nephew trying to talk us into singing karaoke with him. But that is a whole other story in itself.
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