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North Carolina Mountains - Beautiful Vistas & Great Retreats!

Discussion in 'Travel Stories' started by giradman, Jul 26, 2013.

  1. giradman
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    giradman iPad Guru

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    Hello All - I've been posting a few of my recent NC mountain travels in the 'Photo Thread' - several of the mods suggested that I visit this forum - so I'll repeat several recent posts on visits to the NC mountains this spring and just a week ago - NOW, I have plenty of other trips to post in this region of the USA (mountains & coast and Virginia & the Carolinas). Below quoted is a trip we did in the spring:

    Susan & I just returned from a short mountain trip concentrating on a 50+ mile stretch on the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) around the 334 milepost marker (Switzerland Inn is located there, our lodging & eating place - food much better than expected!). We have travelled the BRP for more than 40 yrs and likely have been on the entire 469 miles multiple times, but have not been to this particular stretch in 20+ years!


    First day headed south on the parkway and visited Craggy Pinnacle at 5892 ft. for a spectacular panoramic view (first 2pics below); the rhododendrons were in bloom (next 2 pics w/ Susan coming up the climb to the top of the pinnacle). Next was Mt. Mitchell @ 6694 ft. - highest mountain east of the Mississippi River; now keep in mind that the Appalachians are old & worn down, probably first forming about a half billion years ago - estimated that their original heights were similar to the Rockies w/ a LOT of volcanic activity (about the time of Pangea coming together).


    Second day headed north toward Linville Gorge & Falls w/ spectacular overlooks & vistas in both directions. The Falls consist of upper twin small ones and a higher single lower falls (featured prominently in the film 'The Last of the Mohicans'); there's a spectacular basin where the waters from the upper falls swirls around rock formations (created by a much more dramatic river eons ago); the Gorge is nicknamed the 'Grand Canyon of North Carolina' w/ the river 1400 ft. below; the tree-lined mountains hide the majestic size of this gorge (pics below). Dave :)




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  2. giradman
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    giradman iPad Guru

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    Most recent trip - returned about a week or so ago - our 43rd anniversary - we do plan to return there (about a 4 hr drive from home for us):

    Susan & I just returned from a trip to the southwestern mountains of North Carolina - stayed at the Snowbird Mountain Lodge in the Nantahala National Forest (a Cherokee word meaning 'Land of the Noonday Sun') - the mountains are different here than along the Blue Ridge Parkway - almost 'piled up' and touching the sky w/ individual trees more easily recognized. We had a small suite w/ a private deck that had a hot tub - was like living in a tree house - package comes w/ breakfast, superb dinners, & a bag lunch (the main activity is hiking & sight seeing). The trip was in celebration of our 43rd wedding anniversary - YIKES! :)


    Some pics below: First - morning scene from our deck w/ the 'smoke' rising (these are the Snowbird Mtns) and close to the Great Smoky Mountains (just bordering Fontana Lake); Second - same mountains from the main lodge building.


    Third - just another view of the Snowbird Mountains from near the lodge building; fourth - half mile hike to 'Sunrise Point' and an observation deck w/ spectacular views of the same mountains.


    Fifth - opposite direction from 'Sunrise Point' showing a portion of Lake Santeetlah near the town of Robbinsville; last - sun setting over the mountains from our deck - our second visit here and plan to return - Dave :)


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  3. skimonkey
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    skimonkey Administrator Staff Member

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    Great pics of North Carolina, Dave! Never been, but have been to South Carolina which was a real treat! :)

    Skimonkey ~~ sent from my iPad MINI using iPF
  4. AQ_OC
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    Very nice! I need to drive this section myself. Soon. :)

    Are there any cities that mark this stretch or is it all of the NC section of the range?
  5. giradman
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    giradman iPad Guru

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    Hi Carol - same pics as in the posts elsewhere, BUT I do plan to periodically update the thread w/ other pics of the NC mountains! Dave

    Hi AQ_OC​ - not sure where you are located (does the SC mean South Carolina?). If so, then you probably have been on the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP), but for those not familiar w/ the scenic road - the BRP was started in 1936 under the Roosevelt administration as part of the Depression recovery, and not finished until 1987 when the Linn Cove Viaduct was opened going around the base of Grandfather Mountain - the parkway is 496 miles in length and starts in Virginia near Charlottesville (at the southern terminus of the Skyline Drive - another scenic but much shorter highway), and ends in Cherokee, NC. There are plenty of spots to leave the road - smaller towns in Virginia (need to start a VA mountain thread!) w/ the largest being Roanoke; similar in NC w/ Asheville being the biggest attraction as a city.

    The Linville Cove Viaduct & Grandfather Mountain are just south of Blowing Rock, NC (near Boone) - we visit Blowing Rock about twice a year (just a 90 minute drive of us) - the LC Viaduct is the first pic - an engineering marvel (there is a visitor's center and a trail walk underneath the structure); Grandfather Mtn was private for many decades but was recently donated to the state of NC (except for the concessions) - famous for the spectacular views (a clear day is a MUST!) and the 'Mile High Swinging Bridge' - the 2nd & 3rd pics (years ago when I took my brother he was afraid to cross - not really that scary, BUT it will swing if windy). A small nature area is present on the property - last pic of one of the black bears. Dave :) P.S. the viaduct pic is not mine, although I've attempted over many years to obtain a similar one!

    LinnCoveFall_Web.jpgGMtn_03.jpgGMtn_04_Web.jpgGMtn_05.jpg
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  6. Richard Brown
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    Richard Brown Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Your photos are great Dave.

    I must add N Carolina to my list of places to holiday in. I'm looking forward to seeing more of your travel photos and reading your posts.


    Now, I'm going to move your thread to the Travel tales sub forum. This forum and the other continental forums are for posts about technical questions and issues re iPads, accessories and connectivity in those continents.

    Regards

    Richard Brown
    A member of the iPF moderators' team.
  7. giradman
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    giradman iPad Guru

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    Hi Richard - glad that you enjoyed the pics of my 'locale' - the NC Piedmont is a great place to live - go east to the ocean, west to the mountains, north to Virginia, and south to South Carolina w/ Charleston and the surrounding environs - glad that I moved here back in 1971. Dave :)
  8. giradman
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    giradman iPad Guru

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    Well, let me add another great trip to western NC & the mountain area, i.e. Asheville (just 2 1/2 hr drive for us) - the Blue Ridge Parkway is nearby, plus there are many other attractions, probably the most important being the Biltmore House (see pic below), which was built by George W. Vanderbilt (of course related to the famous Cornelius of railroad/steamboat fame - WHAT a fortune) in the 1890s - house architect was Richard Morris Hunt & landscape architect was ​Frederick Law Olmsted (better known for designing Central Park in NYC); now on the property is the Inn @ Biltmore Estate, i.e. a hotel on the property w/ a fabulous restaurant - and near the Biltmore Winery (the most visited winery in the USA!) - if you stay @ the Inn, the winery is a short walk or a shuttle bus trip; the bus will also take you to the house where many different tours are available - if you are in the area, this is a MUST stop!

    Just some pics below:

    First Pic the fabulous Biltmore House; second pic the back of the Inn on the property (we've stayed there many times - not cheap BUT worth a visit!); third image, a view from our room w/ the Biltmore House in the far background; fourth image, another view from a hotel room w/ the NC mountains; and finally, Susan & I on a horse carriage ride (some LARGE magnificent Belgian horses - we're about 5 1/2 ft. tall) - JUST to suggest that if you ever are in this area, please visit Asheville & the Biltmore House - Dave :)

    Biltmore-Estate.jpgBiltmore1.jpgBiltmore6_12No1.jpgBiltmore6_12No2.jpgBiltmore2.jpg
  9. skimonkey
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    Lovely pics, Dave! The Biltmore house is quite impressive!
  10. Richard Brown
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    Thank you for those pictures and reminiscences Dave.

    The area looks fantastic.

    Sent from my iPad using iPF
  11. giradman
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    giradman iPad Guru

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    Susan & I just returned from likely our last NC mountain trip of this year - went to Blowing Rock which is just a 90 minute drive from our home (w/ the last third of the trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway, discussed in some of my previous posts) - we go there once or twice a year, just a nice quick get-away w/ some excellent restaurants & shopping. And a recommended visit to anymore traveling in the area - close to Boone, NC and just 20 miles or so north of the Linville area & Grandfather Mountain (also discussed in a previous post or so).

    The lodging in the area is quite variable from small inns and motels to larger accommodations - we nearly always stay at the Chetola Resort - there is a small 'hotel' inn w/ an indoor pool, pub, restaurant, and exercise room, BUT we prefer renting a condo w/ one or two bedrooms - huge place and a lot of options. Below is a pic of the small Chetola Lake (boat rentals available & fishing permitted) and the lodge - some of the condos are seem on the horizon, but again there are dozens and dozens of separate buildings w/ different mountain & woodsy views. Also shown are some of the many flowers around the lodge and the property. If you plan to visit this area w/ friends or a family, then I would encourage a condo rental here or in the vicinity. Dave :)

    ChetolaResort.JPG ChetolaFlowers3.JPG ChetolaFlowers1.JPG ChetolaFlowers2.JPG
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  12. giradman
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    giradman iPad Guru

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    Blowing Rock - Part II - in addition to the small town, the Blue Ridge Parkway is close w/ several access points, but nearby is the Moses Cone Memorial Park, a 3,500 acre property consisting the the Mansion, Bass Lake, and surrounding forest and mountain trials, now part of the National Park Service. Moses H. Cone (1857-1908) was a textile magnate who started Cone Mills in Greensboro, NC (40 minutes east of us) (brief history of his life and contributions in the link, if interested).

    Below - first pic of the mansion and second view from the house veranda of the mountains and Bass Lake - then the third image from the Bass Lake trail (an easy nearly 1 mile walk) showing the mansion high on a mountain. We've walked around this lake many times - wildlife includes Canadian geese (often w/ goslings depending on the time of the year), ducks, deer (saw a doe in the water a year ago), and this time a blue heron (day was overcast so not a great pic but check out the story and another image HERE) - fishing is permitted in the lake - there are plenty of trails & other lakes (Trout & Price) in the vicinity - from Bass Lake, a 2+ mile hike up to the house (which we've never done!). I'll see what other pics from previous trips there might be on my computer? Dave :)



    MosesConeA.jpg MosesCone2B.jpg MosesConeC.JPG BlueHeron.JPG
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  13. Czevski
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    Czevski iPad Addict

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    Thank you for these posts. I've mostly seen the Tennessee side of the Smokies, but have traveled over the mountains to SC and NC and am happy to know of more mountain vacation spots.
  14. giradman
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    giradman iPad Guru

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    The Smokies is a large national park - we've been to the TN part several times and have crossed between the states - plenty to do on either side; hope that you'll get a chance to spend some time in the NC locales in my posts - cheers! Dave :)
  15. Czevski
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    We just traveled part of the Blue Ridge Parkway. My pictures are not like yours - but we enjoyed the fall and pre-winter views.


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  16. giradman
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    giradman iPad Guru

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    Hi Czevski - thanks for posting the pics of the Parkway - believe that the 'fall' colors are peaking about now - BTW, which part(s) did you visit? Dave :)
  17. Richard Brown
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    Richard Brown Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Czevski and Giradman, those are great photos and a nice sharing of your experiences.

    Thanks

    Richard

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    Last edited: Oct 28, 2013
  18. giradman
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    giradman iPad Guru

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    Ashe County, NC - Christmas Trees!

    Well, I've not posted here about a NC mountain locale in nearly 3 months! Last year, we did a long weekend trip to Ashe County, NC which is the most northwestern county of the state bordering on Virginia to the north and Tennessee to the west; Jefferson & West Jefferson are the major towns in the county. North Carolina is second behind Oregon in the production of Christmas trees and Ashe County leads the state in number of trees produced (largely Frasier firs) - so driving through the county, acres of these trees are are seen resembling vineyards almost; occasionally trees are on both sides of the country roads giving a 'tunnel effect' - pic below (left) is one I took from a road w/ a small mountain in the background and trees bottom left; the second pic is from the web but nicely juxtaposing the mountains and the Christmas trees.

    We stayed at the River House Inn & Restaurant which is owned by Gayle Winston, a remarkable woman (now 80+ y/o) who is an Ashe County native but has done so many other things in her life (the link will provide the history) - the Inn part consists of conversion of old farm buildings into rental units (we stayed @ the Chicken House) or new construction on the property - 3rd & 4th pics are the inside of the Chicken House & outside of the Inn where the restaurant is located - Winston is a gourmet cook who has been featured in national magazines and the two meals we ate there were marvelous. Also the property is on the north fork of the famous New River. Too be continued…..


    AsheCTrees.jpg Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 3.06.42 PM.png

    RiverHouse.jpg chickenhouseOld.jpg
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  19. skimonkey
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    Great pics giradman and czevski! Love the fall color and the mountains!

    Giradman-that room looked quite nice to stay in!

    Did both of you do any hiking while there?
  20. giradman
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    Ashe County, NC - Christmas Trees! (continued)

    Ashe County is also famous for the frescoes (info HERE) painted by Benjamin F. Long IV - first two pics below by me of two of these frescoes (located in churches) - fresco painting is rarely done these days (i.e. painting in wet plaster - think of Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper).

    West Jefferson is a quaint mountain town (pic bottom left) w/ parking on the street - there are a variety of art stores, gift shops, and places that sell mountain related arts & crafts - wonderful to stroll around, look at the mountains, and smell the fresh air! A great cheese factory is located in the town and the last pic below is Susan coming out of their store w/ a bag containing an assortment of delicious cheeses.

    So for those passing through where Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina come together, spend a little time in Ashe County - Dave :)


    Fresco2.jpg Fresco1.jpg

    Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 3.35.34 PM.png AsheCheese1.jpg

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