No chance to dry the Caranex out this morning as we were surrounded by trees and everywhere around was damp from rain the previous day. What I noted though, one of the guy rope pegs had been pulled out of the ground, and lying about a foot away from where it was banged in. Mmmmm unless someone was snooping, there was a furry visitor during the night. Big enough to pull the peg out…! I think I would prefer that latter.
Setting the sat-nav back to the Parkway we have been on for the last few days, the distance was 71/2 miles. Cool I thought, but when we got to it, we were at mile 82. It was Mile 115 when we left it. In the end, to save 50 miles last night, we had travelled, (wasted) 83 miles and about 3 hours).
Thankfully we will recover from it . Have we learned a lesson?…probably not..:).
This, or these Parkways, are amazing. There are no towns or facilities along their lengths, except those provided by the Park Service. You can get on or off the network at regular points but the roads are commercial free. You are not even allowed to drive a vehicle on them if it is for commercial gain. That’s something, for the land of commercial opportunity!
The roads maintain an elevation of between 2500 to 3900ft, so it runs the ridges where possible. There are wonderful views from both sides of the road, where lack of vegetation permits. Gradients are gentle as are curves. Speeds are mainly 45mph max, to 35mph in sections, which suit us. Park Rangers patrol the length, and I suspect they have similar powers to the Police. It’s hassle free motoring. We think we will shift from this one to the Smokey Mountain Parkway that links to this, and goes further south. This is all part of the Appellation Mountain range that starts in Pennsylvania in the north east and appears to end south west in Alabama. At some point soon though, we are going to have to head due west.
It seems the height of the season on these Parkways is the Autumn, when the forests are turning yellow, brown and red, just before leaf fall. During the last couple of hours we have passed mile after mile of Rhododendron at the roadside. That must be some sight in the spring, when they are in full bloom.
We stopped at a couple of interesting sights along the way. The first Mabry Mill. A watermill and surrounding buildings including a forge, that supported life in the community. At the moment the water wheel is being rebuilt.
The second stop was at the Blue Ridge Music Centre. Live music from the area, is played daily from 9am till 4pm. Unfortunately the two musicians were otherwise occupied answering questions from older travellers who wanted to know if they knew the tunes their grandfather used to play..:). Inside the museum was an excellent documentary being played that traces the origins of this unique music, from Ireland, Scotland, Germany and of course, Africa.
Oh! There was another brief stop to read the roadside sign and photograph the little cottage. I’ll let you read the notice. Twenty four and not one survived?! Call me a cynic.
Not wanting a repeat of last nights fiasco, when we drove for miles looking for a camp site, and not go backwards, we have stopped at 4pm, at a park site. It’s sunny between the trees and the tent has dried out. Jen forgot to replenish the beer fridge so we are going without tonight. Which suits my philosophy but not our thirsts.
A brilliant meal of thick juicy spiced pork chops and salad. Followed by a desert of chopped up banana, nectarine and orange with yogurt.
Park Warden Blair just dropped by to see that we are behaving ourselves. I asked Blair about the powers of the Park Ranger. He tells me that they have Federal Powers, not just State. If arrested by one, you have to argue your case in a Federal court, which would no doubt, be very expensive. Jen tells me I had better behave myself then.
Blair would be in his late 70’s, perhaps early 80’s and after retiring from a profession of Bookkeeping, I guess that means Accountancy, in our language, has been working for the park Service for the past 15 years. He lives in his 34’ Airflow caravan, with his wife, for six months of the year while the Parkways are open. His home is in Florida. A lovely guy to chat with.