Natchez Trace

October 24th, 2018

This was a let down and we didn’t have much time because we needed to get me to an airport in Dallas by the 25th.  Natchez Trace Parkway is all about the history and without much time we decided we should save this for another time.  We did spend the night in one of their great campgrounds and traveled about 75 miles but then we chose to exit.  Before we did we saw a mom and 2 fawns that were so small!  I think they were only a few days old.  Good thing they are way south.  When we found a way off the parkway we came across a very cool eatery!  Big Joes BBQ.  The lot was a mess and inside were several locals having lunch at a small round table.  The only other table in the place was covered with stuff; bills, newspapers, napkins!  Definitely not inviting but the guys eating said “just move that aside and have your lunch!”  Ok, that’s what we did.  There was an young guy behind the counter that took Pauls order and disappeared.  We realized he went out to get the ribs of the BBQ!

The old guy says “what are you eating?”  “Can I get the stuffed baked potatoe?”

Yep, everything?”

“OK, can I get the pulled pork on the side?”

“I guess!” “Butter”

“Sure”

I got the biggest baked potato with at least 3/4 c of butter lathered right up on top!

So we sit down and then the old guy comes out and takes a seat.  I’m tasting Pauls beans and they were good, very smokey.  So the old guy says “you want your own beans?”  I’m thinking sure, but I have this huge baked potato and a bunch of pulled pork but he gets up, takes my plate and loads me up some beans!

Then he wants to know what is wrong with the butter that I’ve moved to the side!  Nothing, just too much.  He says “thats not much butter!”  And then he sells Paul one of his T-shirts and invites us to his church for BBQ and to watch the big game!  Tennessee and Alabama!

That was an experience that you just can’t plan and his BBQ was delicious!

Then we come across this place

Sweet Potato Store

I didn’t even know the best sweet potatoes come from Mississippi.  This little shop had all kinds of goodies; cookies, breads, pies, whole sweet potatoes!  The bread was delicious.

Another trip wrapped up!

Maintenance Items and then off to more fun stuff!

October 21st, 2018

Once in awhile you have to take care of regular stuff when you spend a lot of time on the road.  This weekend we found somewhere to change the oil and get new tires for the van!  55k miles was all the tires were willing to give.  We arrived in Knoxville for the first appointment at Big O and I did laundry while the new tires were being added.  It worked out really well because it was raining really hard in the am but the weather said things would be clearing by noon.  So after we had new tires, clean clothes and a few more groceries we headed towards Nashville.

Dukes favorite part is when we find a nice spot of grass!

Our next destination is Natchez Parkway NP  that goes from south of Nashville all the way to Natchez Mississippi!  But before that we will do a little tasting on The Jack Trail.  We chose two distilleries and both were impressive.

 

                            George Dickel Distilleries

The only one I really liked was one that is not readily available!  That’s ok, I prefer Vodka.  The tour was very impressive and the hollow the distillery was beautiful.

George Dickel found a beautiful location to Distill his Whisky

On to the big guy!  Jack Daniels.  We didn’t have reservations so we could only get into the tour without samples!  I’m not a whisky lover so i’ll save my sippin for something else.  The whole town of Lynchburg is all about Jack Daniels.  I did find a small tasting room for wine – passed on it to because all they had was sweet wines.  And then I found a spot for whisky tasting for flavored whisky’s.  The bad news was before I paid I got the first sample of lemon and it tasted like cough syrup so the nice girls said “you probably won’t like any of them!”  Saved myself $10 and a bottle of something I really didn’t want!

black residue on all the buildings is from the burning wood that is part of the process in Tennessee Whisky!

Mr. Jack Daniels

 

 

Great Smokey Mountains

October 21st, 2018

We were here 4 years ago and hit the peak of fall!  The colors were spectacular and then it snowed and it was all gone.  We were hoping for a repeat but we only saw the beginning which was beautiful but nothing like before.  This park is very popular and crowded in the main areas.  We tried a different area, a little out of the park and it was busy too but not as much.  This is a park that would be best during the week.

We spent our first day exploring Deep Creek which is outside the main park of the park and quite beautiful.  We took a short hike and saw a couple more waterfalls.

A Small waterfall after a short hike.

Then we stopped in Bryson City but I didn’t want to shop too much because I was looking forward to Gatlinburg on the other side of the National Park.  I had decided that this time I was going to shop!  What a disappointment.  Gatlinburg is right next to Pigeon Forge and is one big amusement park.  All there is here are gift shops and chain stores!  Should have stayed in Bryson City!  Next trip

Gatlinburg at night! It was beautiful looking down from the park

The final few miles

October 19th, 2018

We are closing in on Great Smokey Mountain NP at Milepost 469!  So between Shenandoah NP and The Blue Ridge Parkway we traveled about 600 miles in a National Park and we are about to enter another National Park.  You can travel these three NP’s with only a 1/2 mile outside, although you do need to leave the parks to fuel up and get groceries.

Before we leave Blue Ridge Parkway another hike and another waterfall.

That is the Parkway.  We saw so much beauty and a few really cute communities.  One town had the most amazing toy store, better than any other I have been to!  The bummer was I can’t bring much home but I found a couple small things.  And we found a very interesting ice cream shop that wasn’t very appealing on the outside.  It was located all by itself and appeared to be just a warehouse.  Inside was a bit dark but they had great ice cream and I even tried Kale/ Blueberry ice cream.  It wasn’t green and it was sweet and creamy and had a blueberry flavor!

Pisgah National Forest

October 18th, 2018

A nice little side trip to see a few more waterfalls, Pisgah National Forest We chose this side trip because I read in my research that the town of Brevard was considered a “cool” town!  Well the drive was very cool and we saw some really nice fall colors and waterfalls but the town really wasn’t that “cool”!  The Pisgah NF  is also home of the first school of forestry in the United States, now preserved at the Cradle of Forestry in America historic site, and boasts two of the first designated wilderness areas in the east.

Posing in front of Sliding Rock

It is hard to see but this is a giant slab of rock that in the summer they allow you to slide down into the pool below.  I love it.  A natural water slide.  This was a beautiful spot but there were no sliders and mostly retired people checking it out.  I am sure it would be a whole different experience in the heat of summer!

Enjoy the views

October 17th, 2018

Being a National Park the landscape is different than many places we go so I work hard to find memories that will remind me of my experience.

This little hike was under the Linn Cove Viaduct and the trees were amazing.  Growing on the rocks and perfectly straight trunks!

Linn Cove Viaduct

Linn Cove Viaduct    A 7 mile link that was the last part of the parkway to be finished in 1987.  It was delayed for twenty years as environmentalists, adjacent landowners, engineers, and architects sought a design that would preserve and protect the fragile habitat of adjacent Grandfather Mountain.  The hike under it was pretty cool.

Its a Catch!

Taking a lunch break along this small lake while this dad caught a Big One!  His son was a little afraid and then they released the fiesty fish.

One of 26, most are in North Carolina near the end of                                  the Parkway

Changing Seasons

We were about a week early but in the higher elevations we were getting glimpses of the beauty to come.  Our last trip here we hit the peak at the end of October.  The most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen.

Being the end of the growing season we saw lots of hay waiting in the fields.  They have plenty of water so they can grow the hay in very small areas.

There are not a lot of buildings on the parkway but I was able to find a couple weather worn to photograph.  It’s fun hunting for something to photograph.

Waterfalls on the Blue Ridge Parkway

October 17th, 2018

I always try to find the waterfalls and the Parkway had plenty to choose from.

Then we found a side trip to a National Forest that boasted there many waterfalls so we decided to take a detour.  Pisgah National Forest is in North Carolina and the little bit of it we saw it was beautiful.

We also got to experience another form of entertainment in retirement.

        Two Ladies along side a waterfall                      making their music.

Sometimes you just need to rest!

Paul was definitely getting into vacation mode.  We took a nice hike along a waterfall and there was some beautiful rocks to sit upon and enjoy the flow!  Put him right to sleep.

Along the Parkway

October 16th, 2018

Parkway Signs are about all you see that is similar to the outside highways.  The speed limit on the parkway is 45 so not many residents take the parkway even though there are many homes right on it.  There are lots of roads running along side with driveway like entrances.  The signs were interesting to us although there was one we just didn’t always understand.

These were all sizes and mostly turnouts!

Anytime a crossroads entrance.

This sign was very helpful because you didn’t enter the same way as a normal onramp and it could be miles before you realized you were going the wrong way, unless…..

Every Mile

Sometimes they were hard to find and they were only on the southbound side of the road with numbers on each side.

                       Top of the Parkway

It was a spectacular day when were reached milemarker 431.  We even saw a couple that brought out there recliners and were enjoying the views.

                              Music Center

We arrived here late in the day but on weekends they have live local bluegrass music.  I think the sign is really cool, the shape of the NP sign but almost looks like an instrument.

Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail crosses the parkway in several spots.  We choose this one for a short hike so now we can say we walked the Appalachian Trail.  Paul has dreams about hiking the Trail, not me!  It isn’t that scenic as you are deep in the woods for much of it and camping is what you bring on your back!  Nope.

 

Lizzy Mabry Mill

October 15th, 2018

Lizzy Mabry Mill   Mile Post 176 in Virginia, One of the most picturesque places on the Parkway. Mabry’s original sawmill and blacksmith shop still stand.  The National Park has done an amazing job in preserving this treasure.  We saw a blacksmith working his craft, corn being ground and hand weaving.  The Mill was very picturesque and picnics were welcomed.

                                  Mabry Mill

The Big Deal

October 14th, 2018

The main focus of our trip this fall was to return to North Carolina and the Smokey Mountains via the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We have done many miles on the Parkway but this trip will be 469 miles on the Parkway.  Smokey Mountain NP will be the ending of the Parkway. We will take several side trips but mostly we will be on the parkway.

First item on the to do list is get to the entry gate at milepost 0  in Virginia and get our senior parks pass that will be good for Paul’s lifetime.  A great value as long as we keep moving.  Not only do you get into the National Parks free but also get 1/2 off camping in most.  So on this trip we spent (actually Amy and Stephanie bought it for Paul’s birthday) $80 and saved about $60 in entry and camping.

A real senior benefit

Our first view of the beautiful area is behind Paul.  We will get in some hiking on this trip but also a lot of views!

Because of the winds last night the parkway had lots of debris because the NP Service does all the maintenance and often closes stretches of the parkway if they cannot get to it.  That happened at about mile 30 but the detour was beautiful also.  We missed about 11 miles of parkway but none of the big stops.

Peaks of Otter near Mile Post 86 is a beautiful resort area complete with a lodge, restaurant and a beautiful lake.

The lodge of Peaks of Otter

Fuel is not available on the parkway so you need to exit the parkway and even though there are lots of signs on the parkway it is a National Park so signs of what is available at the exits is minimal so it is up to your smart phone to guide you to the outside world.  Sometimes you get really lucky and find some amazing place!  Some not so much!

You decide!

Paul pulls into the station for fuel and sees this sign and says “you need to go shopping! I have some work to do!”  Ok then, it was kind of a warehouse with lots of racks of clothing in beautiful colors.  Tunics and Leggings were the hit of the party.  I walked out with a $75 Credit Card bill but some really cute leggings for Halloween.