My wife and I drove the entire length (469 miles) of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was a seven day trip beginning on the southern end at the Cherokee Indian Reservation, Cherokee, North Carolina and ending in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.
We stopped often to enjoy the scenery, the animals and the many people we met at stops along the way. Our first stop was at the Folk Art Center near Asheville. Here we enjoyed watching basket weaving and glass blowing, two of several crafts being made.
The many crafts available for purchase threatened to cause us to run out of money early in our trip, but they will make great remembrances and Christmas gifts.
We stopped dozens of times as we made our way north along the parkway. Grandfather Mountain, with its mile high swinging bridge, and the Linn Cove Viaduct, a 1,243-foot concrete bridge which snakes around the slopes of Grandfather Mountain, were two of our major stops.
We spent the night in Linville, NC. While there we visited the Linville Caverns which are just one mile off the parkway. Streams ran through the caverns, and according to our guide the trout fish, due to their spending their lives living in the dark, are blind.
By dinner time we were in Virginia. We visited Galax, Ararat, and Fancy Gap where antiques again threatened our wallets. By breakfast on the third day we were at Mabry Mills, where the breakfast of country ham and buckwheat pancakes ruined our diets for a week.
Mabry Mills featured many exhibits on rural life in the Appalachian Mountains. Exhibits were featured such as a restored water wheel and corn mill, a blacksmith shop, a pedal-powered wood lathe and even a bootlegger’s whiskey still. The U.S. Forest Service maintains the exhibits, and volunteers are often there to demonstrate them. The blacksmith gave me a nail he fashioned from scratch while I watched. I thought, How did they ever make enough nails to build a house?
As we continued north we bought candy at Nancy’s Candy Company, and the delicious peanut brittle was our lunch. My wife kept a running tally of the many animals we saw along the parkway, which included deer, bears, rabbits, squirrels, birds and the first-ever for me, a grouse.
By the third evening we were at Milepost sixth three, where we exited for the night and visited the Natural Bridge, advertised as one of the seven natural wonders of the world. While there we visited the Natural Bridge Zoological Park. Here the animals almost got into the car with you as you drove through. It provided an opportunity for many great pictures.
The next day we began our journey south toward home, stopping at some of the same spots, but also visiting some we had missed on our way north. We spent the night in Roanoke, Virginia, then down to Martinsville and back into North Carolina. We visited some friends in Stoneville and an invalid sister in Winston-Salem. After seven days we arrived back home in Murphy, North Carolina, glad to get home, but with many great memories.