Tuesday, October 29, 2013

EAST COAST 2013: North Carolina

SATURDAY, October 26, 2013
Smithfield, VA to Lewisville, NC
Home of Rob and Karen Rembold
268 miles

View today's pictures HERE

         Another beautiful day in the South, although frost is on the windshield of the truck and it was a COOOOL night!  (I accidentally turned the heater to fan again before we went to bed, so it was 38 degrees when we got up to go to the bathroom!)  A BRISK MORNING!! 
Betty, Tom, and Rick
         I got up around 7:15 to head inside and work on journal and pictures, although no internet, so no posting.  Rick up around 7:45, and Betty came out to greet us at 8am, very apologetic about sleeping in!!!  No apologies necessary!!!  We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, packed up and were on our way shortly before 11. 
         Again, we are traveling on the side roads, with only a 30 miles stretch of Interstate freeway entering Greensboro, NC.  The notable fact for today?  WE ARE HEADING WEST MOST OF THE DAY!!!  First time since we left that the majority of our travels are taking us westward.  Our route is across southern Virginia on four lane US 58 – a beautiful highway with business routes into most of the small towns, so we don’t even encounter many stop lights.  We pass cotton field upon cotton field, bursting open with balls of fluff.  Looked to be ready to harvest soon.  We also passed one obvious peanut field, with the plants upended and the peanuts on top drying in the sun.  We are starting to think that the stick plants might be peanuts. 
Check out the gas price!!!
Cotton fields!
         The terrain is lined with trees, the sun shining through the branches, other places open fields of agriculture.  Southern Virginia is a major peanut production area, but we see more cotton fields than peanuts.  Tom also said there is considerable soybeans grown for fuel purposes. 
         It is along US 58, but NOT at an interstate junction, we see gas for $2.99 for the first time.  One area had several stations, so we stop at a Sheetz where we also get a 3 cent discount.  Gas for 2.96!!!  Wow!  Too bad we only needed a half tank. 
         We stopped at a small town Wendy’s to grab a lunch and I drove for about 85 miles until the Sheetz.  Rick took us on in to North Carolina, Greensboro, and then I-40 through Winston-Salem to Lewisville. 
         Rob and Karen have located in a small residential community about 6 miles west of Winston-Salem.  Pretty setting with winding roads, beautiful homes and landscaping and wrapped in trees.  The trailer we sneak through the gates into the back yard and set it up so we have access all week.  We are sleeping in a downstairs guest room.
Rob and Karen's new home
   The bathroom is unique!  Because it is in the basement area and they are on a septic system, it is raised with 4 steps leading up to it!  I said it was truly a ‘throne’!  Suggested Karen add a red piece of carpeting on the steps and perhaps a Burger King crown to wear while sitting. 
         Whew!  We are glad to be in one spot for a little relaxation for a few days.  Told Rob and Karen we didn’t want to do ANYTHING on Sunday (I don’t think they have establish a church home yet.)  I hope to catch up on some of my devotion materials. 
         At 7pm we head out to a restaurant for dinner.  We are hungry by then!  Good meal with an entertaining crowd! 
         Late evening, but the bed sure feels good and it is MUCH warmer sleeping tonight! 

Sunday, October 27, 2013
Just chillin' on the back patio
A Day of Rest

         Lazy day finally!!!  We are up and coffee, I work on posting and picturing and journaling, etc.  Karen and I take a walk – fast pace for me and 2.5 miles – I am sweating by the time we get done.  This should help the weight of the last 1o days!  Rick and Rob take off with the dog in another direction. 
         Other accomplishments today?  We do a load of laundry.  Karen and I go to the grocery store.  Karen makes a pot roast for dinner which we all enjoy, along with some really good bread I found at the store. 
         Our cell phone gets lousy coverage here in Lewisville.  Well, Rick’s phone works if you stand in the middle of the road.  Not the best scenario.  But I did manage a conversation with Mom Mac later in the evening!  I spent much of the day catching up on computer work, devotions, etc.  Whew.  

Monday, October 28, 2013
Mount Airy, NC (Mayberry)
Hanging Rock State Park

View today's pictures HERE

Our afternoon ambles for today,
circa 120 miles!
          A little adventure today, but saving most of it for tomorrow!  We have a leisurely morning, all walking the dog Sadie together in the morning, and I get caught up on a little correspondence. The weather today is forecast for clouds and perhaps a little rain.
 Around noon we take off, circling around Lewisville countryside a little, then into Winston-Salem, and north 35 miles to the town of Mount Airy, home of Andy Griffith.  Mount Airy was the model for the town of Mayberry in the Andy Griffith show.  We parked and walked around the downtown section.  Found Opie’s Candy store, Floyd’s Barber Shop, Aunt Bea’s Restaurant, etc.  Much of the downtown caters to the Mayberry trade.  An old police cruiser, ala Barney Fife, gives rides down Main Street.  It was fun and we topped it off with lunch at one of the diner’s.  Good meal. 
Mount Pilot
Mayberry Barber Shop!
         On the way up to Mount Airy, we passed Mount Pilot, which was often mentioned in the TV show.  It is a rounded knob jutting into the horizon, about 2400’ in elevation. 
         Robin had read in a newspaper supplement a couple months ago about trails at Hanging Rock State Park which lies southeast of Mt Airy, so we went there on our return.  There are so many country roads here that wind in and around and everywhere!  Hard to figure it out, and Rob and Karen had their GPS going to help us find the park!  I
Colors at Hanging
 Rock parking
was totally twisted around!  It started raining again as we drove, harder this time, and we wondered what kind of hike we would be able to make.
Group on top of rock
     We visit the new Visitor Center, just built in 1996.  The park is bigger than I expected, considering the access.  But I don’t think we came by the normal route!!  There are vacation cabins, campgrounds, a man-made lake, and numerous trails.  But the ‘main attractions’ are huge rock outcroppings, the remains from centuries of erosion, of volcanic rock, the largest of which is called Hanging Rock. 
From top of rock
         Once we arrived, the rain
Rick on another
portion of summit
stopped!  We were left with a stunning, 1.3 mile trail, through a largely oak mixed forest in an array of autumn colors.  The trees are so tall there is an openness to the forest.  The reds are present at this elevation.  (Hanging Rock is 2150’)  Our view from the top wasn’t quite the dazzling vista Rob had hoped for due to the cloudy skies, but it was pretty good!  We could just make out the outline of the front ridges of the Appalachian Mts and the Blue Ridge Parkway. 
         Back to the car by 5:15 and the drive home to Lewisville via more back roads!  Dinner of salad, wine, cheese, and chips!  Yum!
Sunset enroute home!
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
The 'High Country' and
Blue Ridge Parkway

View today's pictures HERE

         Rob is going to get tired of serving as a tour bus driver!  Today was a long day of driving, but beautiful.  The skies had cleared a little from yesterday’s light storm, and while there was still cloudiness over the
Today's travels - about 220 miles
mountains, patches of blue sky reigned as well!  Warmer temps forecast also!
         After Sadie is walked and tended and a rather leisurely start to the day, we left shortly after 10 to head west toward the ‘High Country’ of NW North Carolina – the Blueridge Parkway and some of the small towns in the mountains. 
View from section of parkway
         Our first stop is the Blueridge Parkway….closed!!!  A 5 mile section of road was in trouble, the very location we wanted to enter!  Change of plans and 10 miles on in to the town of Boone.  At 18,000 AND the home of Appalachia State University, Boone is NOT very small.  We drove through some of the brick-building campus and admired the huge stadium tucked into the hill.  Hwy 221 winds in and around the parkway so we followed it until we were able to rejoin the parkway.
My best steeple find of the day
...near Boone, NC
         Rob and Karen had tourist materials from the NPS on the Blueridge, so I was able to follow along and read information as we drove.  And take pictures out the windows!  We missed the peak color season by a week or so….many of the bright reds have fallen.  But that always allows you to see THROUGH the trees much better to vistas that are normally hidden!  The road is not fast with a maximum speed limit of 45.  The last section to be finished is a viaduct along the side of Grandfather Mountain – a compromise to complete the parkway but not damage the hillside ecology. 
Group shot at Linnville Falls
     Our first STOP is Linnville Falls around milepost 316.  I get a NP passbook stamp at the small visitor center, and we take the short hike down to all three viewpoints for the multi-tiered falls.  There is considerably more water coming down than I expected this late in the season and with the apparent waterflow in the river above!  Lots of steps in the trail; two busloads of school children on a field trip (we don’t miss it!); and an area absolutely covered with rhododendrons.  In fact, I think the rhodies were probably the most amazing ‘find’ of the day.  Hillsides are carpeted with huge plants.  They are EVERYWHERE!  It must be gorgeous in the late spring/early summer. 
Upper Linnville Falls

Color reflection in Linn River above falls

Starting across the Suspension Bridge
Rick gazing over the mountains
from top of Grandfather
         Up to Grandfather Mountain.  I had read about this spot in Guideposts and then Mom R mentioned it when she returned from her visit with Rob and Karen last spring.  You drive up to the top of the mountain (which is actually a series of several ‘peaks’) where a suspension bridge was built back in 1952 between two of the smaller summits of rock.  The vistas to the south, east, and north are spectacular.  We didn’t have the clearest of days, but you could see far enough!  Linnville itself sat just below, with its high-end hotels, resorts, and golf courses.  The bridge used to be called the Swinging Bridge because of the extreme  SWING!  But it was rebuilt in 1999 and now is just a SINGING Bridge….the new platforms whistle slightly in the wind!  It is exactly a mile high in elevation. 
Bridge and other peaks from tip of Grandfather Mt.
         We stop on the way down to check out the nature center – excellent displays and I found the oak red earrings I was hoping to get to match the necklace!  However, our stomachs are rumbling wildly at the lack of food and it is nearing 4pm!!  So we leave in search of something more than the small Milldred’s Grill at the center! 
The Gardner Statue tends the flowers
of the town park along Main St of
Blowing Rock, NC
         About 20 miles to the town of Blowing Rock, a village of 1500 in the winter that swells to 8000 in the summer heat!  This was where Jan Karon lived while writing the Mitford series of books.  It has a wonderful downtown with quaint shops and buildings.  Rob remembered the Six Pence Pub and we went there directly to catch a dinner!  (Portebello Sandwich – yum!!) The stores were closing as we left the restaurant, which probably was GOOD for the budget, but we did sneak into one shop and purchase a small windflag for the front of the house at Christmas. 

         By then….the skies were darkening and it was time to call it a day!  Quiet drive home, arriving around 7:40 to a very excited Sadie dog!!  Early to bed!  

WEDNESDAY, October 30, 2013
Salem Lake Greenbelt Bike Ride
7 mile Bike Ride around Salem Lake
         Ah, another day of rest and relaxation!  I can get used to these leisurely mornings, daytime TV, unlimited coffee, and a morning walk with the dog!!  But I also spent some time looking ahead on the computer, and making sure I was ready for the END of iGoogle in two days!! 
         Around 11:30, Rick and I head out for Winston-Salem to visit Weight Watchers and then take a bike ride.  Rob and Karen opted not to go, so it was a good opportunity for us to ‘get out of their hair!’  We found the WW locale easily and were delighted to see a Super-Cuts next door.  Just what I needed!  So….after a successful weigh-in (3 lbs plus!) I went and got my hair trimmed!  Nice gal and I enjoyed listening to her accent! 
         Then it was on to a lake that sits in between Winston-Salem and Greensboro….Salem Lake and the greenbelt.  There is also about 6 miles of paved trails that connect the lake system to downtown Old Salem.  We parked and unloaded the bikes.
A pause for a picture
     What a BEAUTIFUL ride!!!  A few steep grade sections, but overall fairly level as the path winds right around the shoreline of Salem Lake.  The trees were incredible in shades of purple-dark red, orange red, oranges, golds, and greens.  The path was lined with dead leaves, splattered with an occasional leaf of color.  I saw some magnolia leaves that had to be at least 18” in length!  The sun was shining through the trees and casting gorgeous shadows and bright patches of color. 
         We saw a couple of herons, LOTS of turtles from little tiny baby ones to a giant one, and mallards.  The path was busy with joggers, cyclists, moms pushing strollers, and walkers of all ages.  While it was mostly unpaved, it was well graded and packed.  A fun time!!!
Gorgeous trees!
    Back to Lewisville, dinner was BBQ turkey burgers and hot dogs, and then an evening of TV and conversation.  Tomorrow we will do a final load of laundry and have the trailer all packed up and ready to go! 

Saw this scene over and over today!

THURSDAY, October 31, 2013
Happy Halloween!  
Reorganization Day!

     A day of rest before we take off in the morning for Great Smoky Mountains and points west!  I am excited to get going, but also have appreciated the somewhat relaxing days here with Rob and Karen.  We all tend to such things today as laundry, packing, and preparations to leave.  Rob and Karen are heading east in the morning to visit with college friends in Virginia Beach.  They will stop and see Tom and Betty's new place in Smithfield enroute home on Monday.  
Sadie dog in her shark costume
     We pack up the trailer in the early afternoon before any chance of the forecast rain begins to fall.  It is a mild day.  I wore just a t-shirt when Karen and I took our walk.  Rick went with Rob to walk Sadie dog.  
     I spent a VERY lazy afternoon out on the screen porch finishing my book!  That felt very indulgent!  

Pumpkin in front of
Blue Moon Oyster Bar
     I got a picture of Sadie in her shark Halloween costume (compliments of Megan!).  We went to the Blue Moon Oyster Bar for dinner - oysters but other seafood as well.  Rob and Karen had shrimp dishes, I ordered Blue Moon Cannonelli (angel hair pasta, shrimp, ham, artichokes, and sundried tomatoes) which was very good.  Rick had salmon.  An interesting place with no actual tables, just bar style seating.  Fun to see many customers in costume come in before heading out to Halloween parties.
     Just 5 Trick or Treaters came to our door.  The road isn't walking friendly and most kids go to the housing developments on either side.  More Snickers for Rob this way!!  
     Thus ends our North Carolina adventure.  Tomorrow we start anew!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment