Ahhhhhh… Luscious Scenery from Asheville to Chattanooga

October 27, 2009

You’d have to say we’ve been a bit lucky this trip, with pretty decent weather when we needed it most. You who follow this blog saw how crummy the weather was for our day at the Biltmore in Asheville; well, the next day, our travel day, dawned bright and clear, and we headed up Oxcart Road out of Weaverville to the good old Blue Ridge Parkway. From the stuff we saw on Oxcart, we weren’t sure we needed the Parkway for beauty:

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Oxcart Road, on the way to Blue Ridge Parkway from Weaverville

But we did get onto the Parkway, and the colors up there were nearly as glorious as those on Oxcart Road ;-). Here’s a puzzling signpost: “French Broad Overlook.” Does it mean that the French have a broader perspective than most Americans? Does it mean that this particular view was witnessed by a cheesy French woman? No to both of the above, actually it’s a view of a bridge over the French Broad River. Whew!

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French Broad Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway

Navigation was a bit frustrating on the Parkway that day (Saturday); we were cruising along the Parkway in a southerly direction, stopping at interesting overlooks, etc., when we came to a sign that said “Parkway Closed 8 Miles Ahead.” OK, thought we, we’ll find an exit before then? Next came another more ominous sign: “Parkway Closed, 1500 Feet.” Oops! We had to backtrack to get down off the Ridge, and wound up cruising through Asheville again on I-40, just south of where we’d started the morning in Weaverville! Grrrr… (We found out later that the BRP had been closed by a rockslide, much like the one that was to close I-40 further west that night) We’d decided to hole up for the night at Maggie Valley, NC, but we got to our inn early enough that it seemed like we could shoot up to the BRP again and view it from the other end. So we did, and found ourselves in some fog! But we kept heading southward, and once out of the fog, saw some great views from the mile-high altitude:

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View East from the Blue Ridge Parkway at 5,000 ft.

You’ll see lots more scenes from this viewpoint in today’s gallery, which is extra large for having to cover three travel days. Take a look by clicking on that emboldened “gallery” word? 😉 Next morning, we headed up the Blue Ridge Parkway for the last time out of Maggie Valley, but on the way, stopped to check out a little general store, where you can get Moonshine Jelly!

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Moonshine Jelly for sale!

We saw more great scenery on the Blue Ridge, then transitioned into the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, where we visited the Cherokee Museum in the town of Cherokee:

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Welcome Sign at the Cherokee Museum, Cherokee, TN

You’ll see some poignant shots taken inside this museum in our gallery; please look and absorb. On a related literary note, some of you may recall our visit to the Crazy Horse monument back in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Curious about what really happened at “Custer’s Last Stand,” an Indian guy there recommended that I read a book by Evan Connell called “Son of the Morning Star.” Well, I picked up a copy in Hill City that same day, and finally finished it yesterday. Great book, and if you’re even mildly curious about Custer, Sitting Bull, U.S. – Indian relations or lack thereof, it’s a good book to read.

Indulge me here for a little art, folks. Near a grist mill in the Smokies, I cranked up my camera’s aperture to f22, (so I could get a really slow shutter speed) and got this frothy water photo from the stream passing by:

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Frothy water over rocks in a Great Smoky stream...

So we spent the evening and the night in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. After throwing our bedrolls into our hotel room, we strolled the entire length of the main drag there to a great Tennessee Barbeque restaurant, Calhoun’s. Here it was Sunday night, and Gatlinburg was hopping! People everywhere, the place seems much like a giant carnival, with different attractions everywhere you look, many of them, believe it or not, seemingly owned by Ripley’s?

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Believe it or Not!

Yesterday morning (Monday), we left Gatlinburg for Chattanooga, but not before making one final museum visit: The Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum of Gatlinburg, a MUST SEE for my museum-conscious wife:

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The Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum of Gatlinburg, TN: 20,000 Sets of Shakers!

I admit, I went in grudgingly, tried to make a case for skipping it altogether in the interest of time, but finally I softened, and succumbed to the inevitable. I gotta admit, it was fun to see all those thousands of shakers so proudly displayed by their owner, a little Belgian lady who also appears with Jane in our gallery. Look at these cows kicking back at the beach; see what I mean?

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Cow Salt & Pepper Shakers Kicking Back

OK, we did make it to Chattanooga, and we had to choose some “rainy day” activities today; it poured! But if you’re good, I’ll tell you more about our visit to the world’s only Towing Museum in our next blog. Can you wait? Meanwhile, remember to check out today’s extra-large gallery, and if you’d like to subscribe (that is, receive an e-mail anytime there’s a new blog update), scroll all the way to the bottom of the screen, and click the link there, to be included.

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One Response to “Ahhhhhh… Luscious Scenery from Asheville to Chattanooga”

  1. Rhys said

    Since you’re in the area, you could even visit the real Cherokee indian reservation 😀

    I’ve been and it’s fun. Don’t miss “unto these hills”.

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