This morning I woke up early again (6:45 a.m.), brewed coffee while my daughter slept, and caught up on news, emails, blogs. She also woke up a little earlier than usual so we got dressed, packed up, and went to have breakfast.
Asheville is a town very popular with retirees so I wasn't surprised that we seemed to be the youngest guests in the breakfast room for most of the time we were there. The breakfast buffet was fine. I had my scrambled eggs, a bowl of cut up melon squares, a light yogurt and a cup of skim milk. I also had 1/2 a bagel. I kept the other half for a snack later on and also grabbed an orange from the fruit bowl for later on. Then we checked out.
It was cloudy when we left but soon enough it became sunny. Hooray! We first drove to the Folk Art Center, off the Blue Ridge Parkway, just outside Asheville, and spent about an hour visiting there. Sadly, they don't allow photographs, which made me sad because there were so many beautiful things that I would have wanted to photograph so I would remember one day to come back and buy them :) Alas, most everything I wanted was very expensive. I want to support good artists but right now my house isn't conducive to displaying expensive pieces of folk art. We enjoyed our visit, though. The downstairs is the store where you can purchase items from local folk artists, and the upstairs is a gallery where senior projects from students who attended the local folk art college and who graduated this year. Amazing works of art, really.
|It was so frustrating not being able to take any photos once inside!|
Mount Mitchell is the highest peak in the Eastern United States at 6,266 ft. Yep, the road to get up there was very steep, I had to use the 3rd gear and I still felt that if I took my foot off the gas pedal just a little bit, we would roll down the mountain backward! It was a little unnerving and yes, there were people biking to the top. Nutcases! They don't charge admission to the state park, probably because NC has state income tax.
We first stopped at the Welcome Center and got a map of the trails. It was cold there and we put on our jackets. Then we drove on another couple of miles up to the top and hiked the Balsam Trail, which was designated as an "easy" trail that was only 0.7 miles long. Uh, easy it was NOT. It was all uphill and there were many steps that were made with natural shaped stones that were a little hard to maneuver if you weren't a mountain goat. It was cold but it didn't rain and after just a short while, I got too hot for my jacket with all the exertion so I mostly walked in my short sleeves and it felt very nice. We didn't see much wildlife as far as flowers and fauna. Everything was very green though, and it was a very pretty trail. We passed a few groups of people who were hiking the opposite direction from us but it wasn't crowded.
|Still foggy down there, so we couldn't see much.|
|But my daughter insisted there were lakes in the distance so I zoomed in. She was right! Ah, to have excellent vision again!|
|As it was a nature trail, there were several helpful stations set up that talked about the flora and fauna|
that can be found here at Mount Mitchell and also in the area.
|We were so high up that the vegetation was much different from the other trails we had visited|
so far. A lot of the trees didn't have many leaves, which was natural seeing the amount of wind
and precipitation this altitude receives.
|We saw very few flowers and no wildlife up there. But there was moss a plenty!|
|Climbing back up! You definitely have to be in good shape to maneuver those trails.|
Another reason for me to lose weight, get healthier and baby my knees and feet!
|I loved the little pompoms of new growth!|
|She was turning around to ask me if I was alright and cautioned me to be careful on the rocks:)|
|There were lots of rocks and it didn't seem to bother the trees that grew just on top of them!|
|I kind of wondered whether the rock fell before the trail was built or if it just narrowly missed it!|
|Good grief, we're still going up!|
When we were done with the hike, we visited a small museum that talked about the history of Mount Mitchell, its geology, flora and fauna.
|We did see one of those but I was unable to take a picture of it.|
|The pretty view from our table.|
|A little closer...|
|So pretty! I enhanced the photo a bit to show the variety of the blues and greens in the picture. We loved the big clouds!|
At about halfway to Linville Falls, my daughter really had to pee but the thing is that very few of the overlooks have bathrooms. I had her check our guide and it just so happen that when she said "there should be a town called Little Switzerland coming up soon, we were just at the Little Switzerland exit so I took it and we found a small cafe/bakery place where she could use the bathroom and I bought a pastry to make up for the use of the bathroom. I chose a berry tart. I had half of it in the car because... well, I wanted to. I haven't been eating my exercise points (well, until yesterday!) and darn it, we're celebrating her graduation(s)! It was delicious. She didn't want any so I kept the other half for later on. I wish we had taken more time to visit Little Switzerland and take pictures, it looked very cute.
|Used bookstore one one side...|
|Pastries and coffee on the other. Wouldn't you just love having such a small business among the mountains?! I would. Well OK, maybe just read books, drink coffee and eat pastries!|
At Linville Falls, we decided to take the "moderate" hike to Erwins View, which was a 1.7 mile round trip hike. It was much busier there with many families and couples visiting, a lot of them with their dogs. But the trail was very wide and, even though it did have its challenges past the first half, it was a much easier trail than the "easy" trail we had taken earlier!
|This was almost like a walk in the park! It got a tiny bit more challenging later on, but it wasn't as bad as the other trails we had visited so far!|
|White mountain laurels|
|We had to walk under that tree. OK. I hope those roots hold up!|
|This was starting to get a little more challenging but nothing we couldn't handle! It was|
nice to be able to walk side by side for once, though.
|A hawk, I believe.|
The view from Erwins View was beautiful so it was worth it and we got some exercise to work off the cake and tart :)
|Ha, darn it, more stairs!|
|My daughter was excited to be able to take a picture of s snail... because we'd been so frustrated, missing out on pictures of chipmunks, turkeys, butterflies and birds!|
|Those little red berries grew on that ground cover plant that bordered the trail.|
|This isn't lint! This is a tiny, fuzzy moth or wasp of some kind!|
|Ah, the bathrooms and the parking lot are in view again!|
|Beautiful bright pink mountain laurels!|
As we drove into town, we saw the sign directing us to Blowing Rock so we decided to go visit it right away so we wouldn't have to do that tomorrow. It's a paying "attraction", and at $7 a person, not worth the money if you've just seen the views from the Blue Ridge Parkway for free, if you want my opinion. But we did see a cat that we tried to befriend, as we're missing our kitties, so that made it worth it as it was the first cat we've seen since we left home. But that cat didn't want anything to do with us :(
|We did think that the people who live here are very lucky, as are those in that house way up there...|
|because this is their view from their front door!|
My daughter started doing some work related to the "Preview" session that she is attending at UF later on this month, and I took a long time to plan tomorrow's trip. We're have a longer trip than today ahead of us but after checking a lot of sources and trying our various things that didn't work, I ended up scheduling only one stop on our trip, where we'll hike for a couple of miles. We'll only be on the Blue Ridge Parkway for about half the trip, and then we'll get off. We're driving to Salem, VA tomorrow, just outside of Roanoke.
After I planned the trip, I checked the news (terrorist attack averted in front of Notre Dame in Paris, so glad we ended up NOT going to France this summer), took a shower and then finally started reading my "Golden Prey" library book by John Sandford. I'm going to have to pay a fine when I return it and I hope that I'll be able to finish it by then. I haven't had time to read at all since I've been spending time every night planning the details of the trip for the next day.
Well, now I'm going back to reading for a bit. We both agreed that we had another good day today!