Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Smokey Mountains

 Hello!  I'm back again to tell you more about my Romantic Getaway with my husband to North Carolina.  As I stated in previous posts, we went to North Carolina to visit the Biltmore Estate, and really didn't have any other plans other than that, which I think was one reason our trip was so enjoyable because there were so many pleasant surprises and no expectations.  On the first full day of our visit to Ashevelle, I stopped at the hotel lobby desk and asked the clerk 'Are there any good places to go hiking around here?'.  And he said 'Yes, if you go a mile down the road you can get on the 'Blue Ridge Parkway' and there are many hiking trails on that road;.  Well, I never heard of the Blue Ridge Parkway before, so I had no idea what was in store for me....

Here's a sign as you get on the Parkway.  To our wonderful surprise and amazement, my husband and I discovered that The Blue Ridge Parkway is a beautiful scenic road that runs for 468 miles and goes through the Blue Ridge Mountains,and the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina and Virginia.  My husband and I stopped and watched a video of the Parkway at the Visitors Center and saw lots of old footage of how this beautiful road was built through the mountains.  Believe it or not, construction started on this road in the 1930's and it wasn't finished until the 1980's!  Wow!  They had to blast through rock to create lots of tunnels, there are so many twists and turns, and steep cliffs, it's actually kinda scary to drive if you've never seen mountains before.  There were so many times I was terrified we were going to drive over the edge!  And neither my husband nor I knew that you were suppose to put the car in a lower gear when driving DOWN the mountain, so we definitely needed new brake pads when we got home to flat Wisconsin! 
All along the parkway there are 'scenic overlooks' where you can just stop your car, get out, look at the beauty and take pictures.  It was so funny because when we first started the drive, we were awestruck at the slightest elevations, little did we know what lied ahead!  Here I am at one of the lower elevations, a mere 3000 feet, it's nice and warm outside, in the upper 60's.

A few thousand feet later and we dropped about 20 degrees in temperature and it started to get very chilly.

These next pictures show the highest peak of the Blue Ridge Mountains East of the Mississippi River.  I was never so cold in my life.  The wind was so strong it literally knocked me off my feet several times, and it felt like icicles on my skin.  The only way I think I would have been warm was if I had a parka on, mittens and a ski mask.  Were were so ill-prepared for the cold temperatures.  We had no idea the temperatures got so cold that high up in the mountains.  But oh, the beauty.  It felt like we were in heaven looking down on the earth.  The mountains seemed to go and on forever in the distance.  Just gorgeous!

And finally, I leave you with my favorite picture: 

I really enjoyed our visit on the trail.  I'm the type of person who loves nature, and enjoys hiking, but doesn't want to do anything too dangerous or adventurous.  The Blue Ridge Parkway was perfect for me because you basically get in your car and drive, enjoy the beautiful scenery, then you stop, get out and hike a few tenths of a mile, stretch your legs, and see views like above.  But for the more adventurous hiker, there are many longer, more difficult trails, and also lots of mountain climbing, mountain biking, etc.  So there is something for every age and every physical ability.

Have a great day! Amy


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