Sunday, July 12, 2009

Blue Ridge Bliss

Paul and I had an opportunity for the first time in almost ten years to get away together for a long weekend as a couple... without kids in tow! Mirian was invited to go to Florida with family and she accepted, much to our surprise and pride- she is really growing in confidence and spreading her wings. We found family and friends willing to watch over Robert, too. The entire happening came together within less than a day, and with things going smoothly now on the farm with our new farm manager in place, we snatched the opportunity (carpe diem!).

One of Paul's favorite places to go (and now also mine) is in an area south of the Smokey Mountains, near where the states of North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia meet. He rides his motorcycle there for a week every year for BMW's Georgia Mountain Rally, and knows the area well.

Driving through the mountains with the top down on the Mini-Cooper was so relaxing and the weather was cool and fresh. Paul was excited for me to drive the Mini on a special stretch of Rt. 129 at Deal's Gap, NC, nicknamed The Tail of the Dragon. It's a mecca for motorcycles and sports cars, as there are literally 319 curves over 11 miles of public road! It was an absolute blast in the well-handling Mini, and we kept the top down even after it started raining lightly. I've got an official dragon sticker to prove that we did it!
We drove the Dragon again on our way home, check out the video! (I was unable to splice the parts together elegantly with music this time, but got a huge kick out of Paul's camera work- don't worry, we didn't really crash!)
Then it was off to the Biltmore, "America's Largest Home", in Asheville, NC. I've been reading my nephew Zach's blog as he travels through Germany and others set in England, and see some pretty spectacular places that way. The Biltmore has got to be as close to a castle as we have in the U.S.! Photos aren't allowed inside, but suffice for me to say that it is beautiful and fascinating in every way.
The gardens and winery were probably my favorite parts of the visit, and we could have spent a lot more time at either. The grounds are breathtaking in their use of native and ornamental plantings, and I look forward to seeing more on horseback in the future since it's possible to take your own horse to ride over the 8,000 acres of the estate.
Then we hopped on to the Blue Ridge Parkway and drove to a special area that Paul had picked out for us to stay, Little Switzerland. The inn's setting was gorgeous and serene with a great mountain view, and we enjoyed our evening there. We did more driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway the next day. Any part of this drive is a must-see. The Parkway is in total nearly 500 miles of beautiful winding roads of mountains and farms, with absolutely no commercial signs or businesses of any sort allowed within sight of the road. What a break for the eyes and the soul in our image-driven society of commercialism! We especially enjoyed the waterfalls that are plentiful in North Carolina, and all were highlighted by the thick carpet of rhododendrons and other flowers in bloom.
The photo below was taken at Linville Gorge, which was just spectacular.
This photo is of Whitewater Falls, the highest waterfall East of the Rockies! My photos don't really do them justice.
We spent our final evening in Highlands, NC near the Georgia state line, and felt lucky to get a walk-in rate for half-price at a beautiful hotel! The economy is affecting even the most high-end areas, though it was pretty nice to not think of that at all for a few days. The final photo below was taken at Bridal Veil Falls, just outside of Highlands.
This trip was an early anniversary celebration of our 20 years of marriage. Thanks, honey, I couldn't be luckier to have found such a great husband, travel partner, father, and friend. Can't wait to see what adventures the next 20 years brings!
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1 comment:

Dianne MacDonald said...

Sounds like you had a great time. That's such a beautiful part of the country. I think we are going back to Snowbird Mountain in Oct. (We have to drive the Dragon's Tail to get there.)