The Parkway covers 469 miles. Today we started from around mileage marker 242 and finished at 408. It wasn’t fast progress. As Dennis mentioned yesterday, speed limits are low, partly because of the terrain but also because it is a scenic route designed for people to drive at their leisure. Today we faced major roadworks too. Almost all this part of the route is being resurfaced. Apart from having to stop for stop-boards and be escorted by a pilot car through works, there were many miles of loose, dusty gravel.
The scenery, however, became even more magnificent as we climbed higher during the afternoon. We passed Mt. Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi River at 6684 ft. Tonight we are camped by Mt. Pisgah which peaks as 5721 ft. Sadly we cannot do justice to the view photographically. It is very hazy and I read somewhere today, there is 80% more pollution in the atmosphere than there was 50 years ago.
Our first stop was at the Moses H Cone Memorial Park. Moses was a wealthy industrialist born in 1857 to German-Jewish immigrants. Starting as a salesman in ready made clothing and fabrics he established a textile empire with his brother. Mills were built throughout the south and they became the country’s major supplier of denim. In 1888 Moses married Bertha Lindau from Baltimore. Together they built a 3,500 acre summer retreat. Beginning in 1897 they designed an impressive estate with carriage trails. orchards, lakes, fields, forests and a 23 room mansion, Flat Top Manor. Sadly, Moses died at the age of only 51, but Bertha continued to manage the estate until her death in 1947. Spending the winters in Baltimore and summers at the estate with her two sisters, Bertha was said to be a formidable overseer. The land and buildings were subsequently donated to the Blue Ridge Parkway in 1949. We watched an interesting short movie about the Cone’s and construction of the estate, before getting on our way again.
Lunch was at Linville Falls. We thought we would eat and then look at the falls. However, we discovered the falls were a trail walk away. There wasn’t much water in the river either, so we thought they might be rather an anticlimax after Niagara and gave them a miss.
We also decided not to stop at the next attraction, the North Carolina Museum of Minerals. We have seen so many minerals in other museums. Similarly, we didn’t bother with with Crabtree falls. They were a hike away. Perhaps we are getting lazy, or blasé in old age.
Today parts of the Parkway were more open and we passed fields with grazing beef cattle. Angus and Herefords. Again roadsides full of flowers and butterflies, but today the butterflies were mainly large black ones.
During the afternoon we stopped at a viewing point and were approached by a couple. A Pom and a Kiwi no less.The Pom, Shaun (sorry if the spelling is incorrect) comes originally from Lewes in Sussex – very close to our place in Wineham for those of you not familiar with this part of the UK. Rita is the Kiwi and they live in Kumeu, just outside Auckland. Obviously we had a lot in common so stopped and talked for a while.
We needed to get off the Parkway to find fuel and yet more food so we headed for Asheville. After a corkscrew descent we found the town centre. Not really what we wanted, so we asked for directions to a supermarket/gas station. These were on the outskirts of the city, to we set the Sat-Nav and quickly found them. While I was shopping, Dennis tried to use the supermarket’s wifi to post some blogs, but to no avail. I hope Lizzie you are not getting anxious. We haven’t been shot or eaten by bears. Finding decent wifi is such a pain, or any at all when you are up in the mountains.
We had hoped to reach Mt. Pisgah campground by about 4.30. The stop in Asheville had taken much longer than we anticipated and we didn’t arrive there until around 6.30. It was packed and we were concerned we wouldn’t find a place. Our unusual set up, with the tent attached to the vehicle, restricts our choice of sites even more. After driving all around the campsite, we managed to find one of the few remaining spaces, and it would accommodate us. Virtually every site has notices advising it is booked for the weekend. That is a bit of a worry for us for tomorrow night.