Monday, March 29

Leaving Gatlinburg

Sunday morning we got on our hiking gear, took a little tour through Gatlinburg, before heading to the Laurel Falls trail.  Once in the park we saw that the road over the top was closed for snow and ice conditions. The trailhead tor the falls was off on a different road so we took that hoping that the weather would break, so after we finished our hike, the road would be open.  It was a little bit of a climb up to the falls and almost 2 miles , but the trail was well packed without rocks or roots so it was easy going. With all the rain, the streams were really running and the falls were quite spectacular. We were thinking that we would have to drive around to get to Asheville but the rangers had opened the road and we headed on. The Appalachian Trail crosses the road at Newfound Gap, so we stopped and took some pictures, then on down the other side and on to Asheville.
We had a nice time in Asheville. Really liked the city, with lots of cafes, and little traffic. After we arrived we got out and walked around, looked at the art work on the streets, had a little coffee and decided on a place to go for dinner. Asheville has a really nice bookstore!! Actually Asheville has a lot of nice places to visit. We had a great dinner at the Lobster Trap which is also known as Oyster Brewing and although we were not able to sample their signature brew- Oyster Stout- their IPA was quite good. When we walked in, Ellen said, "they use the same brewing system you do". Theirs is actually a little more sophisticated but the principles are the same. A two tier system, but I do not have a keg mash tun.(anyone interested I can explain??) So I had a couple of drafts and some jambalaya, and we both were quite happy. The next day we did some shopping in the local wine store and then on to some serious antiquing. Ellen found a nice tin carrier that she can use for plants, but I lucked out on my search for a grain scale and some apple peelers. We decided this wasn't apple country nor an area with grain silos. Then on to the Blue Ridge Parkway. First we stopped at the visitor center where we found out which parts of the parkway were open and which were closed and then a visit to the Craft store for some pottery for Ellen. There were a number of sections of the parkway that were closed for construction and storm damage so we are definitely going to have to come back to see those sections. We got on at Linville Falls and stayed on to Deep Gap. It actually was the last section of the Blue Ridge parkway that was completed. A lot of the road was held up by columns and subsequently the elevated road ran out along side the ridge rather than over it. It made for some rather spectacular views. One of the things that was really apparent in the North Carolina section , was the wind/snow storm damage on the trees. It looked like a giant had taken a scythe and swiped off the tops of the trees. Tree tops were down everywhere and you could see where they had been ground up . But there was still substantial more work to be done to clean up the roadway and hills. We spent the night in Wilkesboro, NC and the next day got back on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Roaring Gap, finishing North Carolina and then we were able to go to the end of the Virginia section. We saw lots of deer, 1 wild turkey and 2 Mountain Goats. After the Virginia section we went into the Shenandoah National Park and onto the Skyline Drive. We did not take the Skyline to the end but got off and spent the night in Winchester, VA. The next day was was the last day of our vacation and was spent on a long ride home on the interstates, going from Virginia, through West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and finally Massachusetts and home. There are more pictures of our trip filed on the right hand side of the blog under "Other Stuff" click on Florida Vacation 2010 and it will take you right there.

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