You are currently browsing the daily archive for 4 May 2010.

Welp, the title pretty much sums it up.  We had another busy day with plenty of quality time spent smooshed together and laughing.

Today the sun was shining so we could see all sorts of beautiful vistas, the pictures of which are still on Mom’s camera, so you will have to wait until tomorrow.  But while I’m thinking about it, here are a few photographic moments from yesterday…

Every time we get in or out of our car, it looks like we belong in the circus.

Amazing view from Mount Mitchell…  pretty much sums up our views from the whole day…

Yeah, I’m not even going to try to explain this picture…  :-D  Draw your own conclusions.

Not gonna lie to you…  we spend most of our time in gift shops buying postcards…

The sign says it all.  We’re just cool.

It’s the most photographed spot on the Blue Ridge Parkway…  we caved to the pressure…

So yes, anyway, that’s all from yesterday.  Tomorrow you can look for today’s pictures.  :-D

We left around 8:30ish again today and headed back to the Parkway.  We stopped at a random visitors’ center, Otters’ Peak maybe?  Before settling in for the long haul on up the Parkway.  Today we spent all of our time looking out the windows; every view looked like a postcard.  It was gorgeous.

Around lunchtime, we headed off the Parkway to the town of Lexington, Virginia.  We wandered around the downtown area and got lunch at a KFC.  The downtown was really lovely and there were a couple of fun bookstores.  Believe or not as  you will, but I didn’t buy a single book.

Back to the Parkway and on up.  Off the Parkway again to stop at a random park…  back story time…

In 1999, our family was vacationing in Virginia.  For those of you as bad at math as I am, that’s 11 years ago, so when Dad decided to take a hike up a mountain, Mom decided to stay at the hotel with Timmy & Mary Rose, who were both pretty young at the time.  Meanwhile, Dad, Matthew & I traveled into the mountains and found this random park, Crabtree Falls, near Montebello (not to be confused with the more famous Monticello) and hiked up along the waterfalls.  Of course, that particular day was almost as foggy as yesterday, so we couldn’t really see much.  But Dad & I were both seized with a wild desire to take this hike again…  which we did today!

So Mom stayed in the car to read a book in the shade, while the rest of us began to toil up the 2.7 mile trail that literally went straight up the side of the mountain.  The girls bugged out about halfway up, but Dad, Timmy, Isaac & I were determined to reach the top.  Crabtree Falls is absolutely beautiful with water flowing allllll the way down the mountain in a series of cascading waterfalls.  And the view was much better from the top today than it was eleven years ago!

We actually made good time, considering the terrain.  Not to leave you hanging, but pictures coming tomorrow.

Made it safely to Charlottesville, and are all settled in here.  We had supper at a fabulous Italian restaurant down the street and are now ready to collapse.  Tomorrow?  Monticello!


I really want a creek.  I don’t understand why so many people get creeks, but not me.  It’s ridiculous.

Believe it or not, I was way too exhausted last night to update this blog, despite the fact that I pretty much was just sitting in a car all day.

We left a little after 0830.  First stop was just outside of Asheville in the official Blue Ridge Parkway Visitors’ Center.  We bought postcards and played with the gigantic interactive map, which was way cooler than it sounds.

Our main problem yesterday was the weather.  It was ridiculously foggy.  And not just those nice wisps of ‘smoky’ fog (aside:  doesn’t ‘smoky’ look like it should have an e in it?  Smokey looks so much better…) but seriously just a solid mass of white cloud through which we really couldn’t see.

So driving time was slow because of fog and because the Parkway is intentionally slow; that’s kinda the point.  But all of the overlooks just showed us more fogs.

We drove about 30 or so miles before our next stop, Mount Mitchell, the tallest peak east of the Mississippi, at almost 7000 feet.  The Appalachians are at their most rugged through North Carolina, with several peaks over 6000 feet and quite a few more between 5000-6000.  Now I realize that in comparison to the Rockies, 6000 feet is laughable (if I remember correctly, the whole city of Boulder is around 6000 feet…) but for us’n’s in the hills, that’s pretty intense.

The view of fog from the top of Mount Mitchell was fabulous!

The lady at that visitor’s center/gift shop was also entertaining.

Dad: “Get a log of fog up here?”
Lady:  “Eight days of ten, I’d say.  You get used to it.”

The thing is, in Ohio we don’t ever have fog last past mid-morning.  In the mountains?  It was literally foggy all day long.

Mom, Erin, and I were also (embarrassingly) carsick; I think the fog made it worse.

The Parkway has really strict rules about not building anything commercial along it.  It makes the drive lovely, but also makes it difficult to find lunch.  We took a shot in the dark and got off randomly at a town called Little Switzerland.  A restaurant literally loomed magically out of the fog in a very Brigadoonish way, but turned out to be delicious and not too expensive.

Part of the Parkway was closed, so we followed a U.S. route for a bit, which was down in the valley and thus not nearly as curvy = less carsickness.  It was also quite picturesque as we were below the fog and thus able to see all sorts of lovely Christmas tree farms–we passed at least a dozen.

We got back on the Parkway in time to stop at another visitors’ center for a bathroom break and to stretch our legs…  have I mentioned that I could never travel in such close confines with any other group of people?  Our car is ::quite:: cozy…  nothing too exciting there, really, except a lady who acted as though she hadn’t seen another human in three weeks.  However, she was unable to help us determine what the trees are here that look like wisteria blossoms except the blossoms are upsidedown and instead of a vine the plant is a tree.  Is there a wisteria tree?

Onward and upward.  We made good time (not that Dad would ::ever:: speed) when we were below the fog and slowed to a crawl when we were in it, which was frequently.  We stopped again at a random BP about 3 miles off the Parkway; Garmin told us how to get there.  The proprietor there was hilarious and friendly.  We had seen quite a lot of windfall branches along sections of the Parkway; he told us that they had had a ridiculously icy winter with high winds; the damage was extensive.

Our last stop along the Parkway was the Mabry Mill, the most photographed spot along the Parkway.  We were mostly glad to see the bathrooms and run around in circles to stretch our legs.

We exited the Parkway at Virginia Route 8 and drove to Christiansburg to stay the night.  We were all exhausted, so we ordered pizza in (got coupons to a local place from the lady at the desk) and went to bed early.  A good day despite the fog–honestly, my family is hilarious and we had a blast.

Today we’re heading back up the Parkway to its conclusion near Charlottesville.   The mountains are spreading out and the sun is shining; I think it’s going to be a good day.

More to come!


Sarah E. McCafferty

May 2010

it’s in the past