Our fifth wheel and the truck

Sunday, May 22, 2011

More Blue Ridge Parkway.

Hi everyone, welcome back. See I told you, you wouldn’t have to wait too long for the next exciting chapter in our trip. But can I keep it up? That is the $64000 question!

Picking up from where I left off in the last blog we continued our journey along the Parkway with a visit to more mountains, valleys and glorious views. We lunched at a place called Peaks of Otter Lodge and Restaurant which was lovely. Sitting in the restaurant with views out over a lake and to the hills in the distance. There were no otters evident however we did take a stroll around the lake to find a dead turtle floating in the lake and sitting on its back was a cute little frog. Small things and small minds!

From there we took off along the Parkway again to stop at Apple Orchard Mountain. Due to the severe weather, the trees (Northern Red Oak) have been pruned by the wind, ice and snow to give the appearance of an old apple orchard. It was just beautiful and oh so peaceful. I think we are too early in the summer season to encounter too many tourists so it is really quiet and reflective. You just can't help bad luck!!

Our next stop was at Otter Lake (I think) which was a glorious spot. There was a gorgeous lake with a spillway and the river flowing through rocks, wildflowers and trees just getting their leaves. I hadn’t realized how many photos I take with water in them till now.

Just goes to show you just how much water there is in this here country. I know there are places experiencing droughts just like Australia but there is soooo much water! There are creeks and rivers all over and of course they provide beautiful environments for the amateur photographer.

We took a side trip to the Natural Bridge which is just off the Parkway. This was just amazing - here I go again, running out of superlatives.

Our arrival at the entrance of the Bridge attraction was quite a jaw dropper. There is a huge elaborate motel up on the hill overlooking the parking area and an enormous welcome building to the bridge. Of course we had to walk into the obligatory gift and souvenir store to buy our tickets! We then walked down to the Natural Bridge attraction.

We were amazed to find out that about two weeks before our visit the whole area had been under water when the river had flooded. The walkway had been washed out and the evidence of the flood could be seen in the branches of trees where debris had been trapped. Obviously a great deal of work had been done to repair the damage and return the attraction to a standard that could cater to visitors.

Something that I found quite interesting is that there is actually a road that goes across the top of the bridge. Aren’t they worried that it will cave in one day and the bridge will be gone forever?

The actual bridge itself is enormous (215ft high, 40ft thick, 100ft wide and a 90ft span between the walls) and the arch that goes under it is huge. There is a river running under the bridge and we took the walk up to the falls. It was a beautiful walk up to the Lace Waterfalls with cliffs on either side and a path along the edge of the river. Evidence of the flood was everywhere however it didn’t detract from the beauty and serenity of the area. The only thing that did that was the kids running amok with their parents smiling benignly upon them! And to think, I used to be so patient with kids - what has happened to me? Haha!

The next day was to be our last on the Parkway and we got off to a late start. We stopped at a little historic reconstruction of an early settlers farm. It was so interesting how they survived without all the mod cons that we take for granted and how they were so creative with solving the problems they faced. Like the bee hives that were made out of hollow sections of the black gum tree, the bear proof pen that had to be constructed to keep the pigs safe when they were rounded up in the autumn and the substitute for a fridge - a shed constructed with a creek running through it to keep everything cool. Norm walked inside and immediately commented on how much cooler it was inside. The early pioneers in any country certainly did it tough and especially in places of extreme weather.

We continued our journey along the Parkway and were continually amazed at the views of the valleys and mountains that were around every bend in the road.

Heading back to the campground we found the most gorgeous restaurant and I would highly recommend it to anyone who happens to be in the vicinity (don’t ask me what vicinity though!). It was an old mill and we were pretty late arriving (3.00pm on Mother’s Day) and they were about to close however they were very accommodating and allowed us to stay. And I have to say it was the BEST meal we have had since our arrival. Cloth tablecloths and napkins and amazing food! The bread was to die for and the main meals were brilliant. The staff were amazing and so friendly - in fact Kelly, our waitress, was gorgeous and was talking about bringing her family to Australia in the near future. We hope to see you in the West some time soon Kelly and Seth!. The place is called Osceola Mill and was brilliant.

This was to be our last day on the Parkway as the next day we were heading up the Shenandoah Skyline Drive through Virginia.

Tess and I decided we needed some quilt therapy so we left Norm at the fiver with some jobs to do and we took a long drive through the Shenandoah River Valley to Lynchburg. It was just glorious driving along the banks of the river through beautiful green trees covered mountains. We found the quilt shop and spent quite a bit of time there (and a little money!) before we found somewhere for lunch. As we headed back to the campground we were engulfed in a huge storm and it was absolutely pouring down making driving a little difficult. A girl’s day out - just what the doctor ordered!

We set out early the next day for the Skyline Drive and about 20 miles into the drive we decided that we were Parkway and Skyline’d out. Despite the deer, the fabulous views of gorgeous valleys and mountains we had just had enough and we called it a day with plans to head back to Cary the next day in time for a bit of sight seeing before Tess’s flight home.

We arrived back in Cary and had a day or two before Tess was due to leave so we visited Raleigh for a day and had a great time in the Capital Building and watching a group of school children drilling in the square as if they were Confederate soldiers. What is it about American government buildings that they love to build them with cupolas (I think that is what you call them - you know - those great big round domes on top of them)? We visited a mall - just so Tess could say she went to one - and as we were leaving we were aware of the ‘tornado skies’ as there were more threats of tornadoes in Raleigh. This was the last thing that the people of Raleigh needed as they were still cleaning up after the April 16th tornadoes of which there was evidence everywhere. Downed trees and tarps on rooves and walls.

America had been hit by record numbers of devastating tornadoes this spring with many people losing their lives and others losing everything they owned in the world. I am blown away (no pun intended) by the resilience that these people demonstrate in their attitude and ability to get back up and move on with their lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with them all as they try to recover some normality in their lives.

And while I don’t want to finish on a sad note I am going to add to it by saying that this brought the end of Tess’s holiday and we had to say a sad farewell until August when we will be returning home. We had such a good time however I am not sure about Tess! We will see!

Once again we say adieu until next time. Thoughts and prayers are with you all - stay safe, healthy and happy and take care of you. I will catch you all again soon.

PS The next chapter is being worked on as I post this one - getting back into it now!

Byeee y'all.

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