The Beauty Around Us

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Posts from the ‘North Carolina’ category

Virginia and North Carolina Vacation: Day 9 – Maggie Valley NC to Wytheville VA

We awakened at 6:00 am on Sunday, August 28. I surfed Facebook for a short time, checked email and did Bing searches.  Facebook, checking email and Bing searches in addition to reading a couple digital newspapers are my usual morning routine. We showered and got dressed.  We ate breakfast – oatmeal in a bowl and coffee/tea.  I ate a banana too.  We finished packing and then relaxed, as we do not have to leave Maggie Valley until 9:00 am.  In the past we have left by 6:00 am, one of the first to leave.  We are meeting Bob’s brother, John, and our sister-in-law Dorothy at 12:00 pm at Cracker Barrel in Statesville NC.  John and Dorothy flew from Hawaii to North Carolina on August 24 to visit with a friend, who is going into hospice care in Charlotte.  Google maps says that we are a little over a 2-hour drive from Cracker Barrel.  We will allow 3 hours for the 2-hour drive. 

We left A Holiday Motel at 9:00 am, en route Statesville NC.  We were among the few to leave last.

We met John and Dorothy at Cracker Barrel 11:45 am.  Shortly before their arrival, I checked us in for lunch.  A 25-minute wait turned into a 35-minute wait.  Dorothy ordered pot roast; I ordered meatloaf; and Bob and John ordered Barrel Cheeseburgers.  Our lunches were good, as was the conversation. The last time the four of us had been together was in Hawaii in September 2018. There was a lot to catch up on. The conversation continued, after lunch, outside on the porch. It was SO good to see Dorothy and John. We only wish our getting together was under better circumstances.

We ate lunch at Cracker Barrel with John and Dorothy.

We departed Cracker Barrel at 2:30 pm en route Wytheville.  We arrived at Comfort Suites Wytheville shortly before 5:00 pm.

We ate dinner at a nearby Subway.   We ordered two different six inch subs, potato chips and beverage.  We were back at the hotel by 6:30 pm.  I changed into PJs.  I was in bed by 8:30 pm.

Virginia and North Carolina Vacation: Day 8

How do you record what you want to write, as the narrative part of a blog post? I keep a digital diary, which is helpful especially when days or weeks or even years have passed before preparing a blog post. I use Day One for my journaling.

I accidentally deleted my diary entry for Day 8 (Saturday, August 27), as I was copying the entry to paste it into this blog post. I have no idea how the deletion happened. Two weeks have passed since August 27. I will try to remember as much as I can about this day. The photographs that I took that day went a long way to jogging my memory.

I do recall that we decided not to do any sightseeing, to stay instead at A Holiday Motel.

We ate breakfast in our room.

“Slammer” (Jerry) arrived mid-morning and mingled among friends and sharing Butterscotch Schnapps.  He shared butterscotch schnapps with anyone who wanted a taste.

Sandy, Jerry and Jim
Jerry and Susan
Katie and Jim, Jerry, Bob K and Mark
A Toast
Jerry, “Kudzu”, Bob K, Tim and Bob

Late morning Jim and Sandy and four other friends went for a short motorcycle ride.

Jim and Sandy, ready to ride

At some point Bob and I walked to a nearby ice cream shop.  It is an ice cream shop that we had been to prior to COVID.  When we walked in, I thought that I was in the wrong place.  It didn’t look at all familiar.  All seating had been removed.  I think the ice cream display counter was in the same place, but modernized with a huge mirror behind it.  I remember barrels of candy.  The candy was now in display cases all over the shop.  We ordered ice cream and ate it outside on the porch. I had a banana split; Bob had an ice cream sundae. I couldn’t finish the banana split, so Bob had some of that too. The ice cream was lunch for us 🙂

We stopped at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds fountain on our way back to A Holiday Motel. 

Pretty Flowers at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds Fountain
Maggie Valley Festival Grounds Fountain Selfie
Bob took this picture of me at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds Fountain.

When we returned to A Holiday Motel, I found that the girls had gone to the Purple Store and that “Flip” (Brandon) and Renata had arrived from Greenville SC with their 1-year-old son Kingston.

Kingston is the youngest person who attended SEVROC 2022 this year.

Several friends went to dinner at Guayabito’s Mexican Restaurant across the street.  We would have joined our friends, but we had leftovers from yesterday’s Sagebrush Steakhouse dinner.  We ate those leftovers for dinner.

This was our last night in Maggie Valley and the end of SEVROC 2022.  We packed and slowly made our rounds to say goodbye to everyone.  As we made our rounds, there were lots of hugs and handshakes and the words “so happy to see you” and “see you next year” exchanged. It sure was good to see so many of our friends, all of whom we hadn’t seen since 2018 or earlier.

Virginia and North Carolina Vacation: Day 7

Friday, August 26, was the third day of SEVROC.

We got up around 7:00 am and ate breakfast in our room.

After breakfast I sat outside our room, enjoying the crisp air of the morning. I also watched fog rolling over the mountains.

At 8:42 am a heavy fog was still rolling over the mountains.

At 9:00 am a few of our friends left A Holiday Motel to ride up The Rattler (NC 209) to Hot Springs.

They are off, with “Skid” in the lead.
Skid’s blog post will provide details and photographs of the ride.

At 9:30 am Bob and I left en route the Fred W Symmes Chapel. We traveled via Interstate or highway most of the way and arrived at 11:12 am.

The Fred W Symmes Chapel is located in Cleveland, South Carolina. The chapel is also known as “Pretty Place” because of its amazing view.

The Fred W Symmes Chapel
As I walked into the open-air sanctuary, I was filled with awe.
Such an incredible place to visit!
What a breathtaking view!

We left the chapel around 11:30 am and began the second part of our sightseeing journey. We visited several waterfalls, as well as a visitor center for the Pisgah National Forest.

Connestee Falls Park is located about 6 miles from Brevard NC, along U.S. Route 276. We took a very short stroll from the right rear of the parking lot to the viewing area for two waterfalls: Connestee Falls and Baston Creek Falls. There is a Connestee Falls that is a gated community. You need to drive past the gated community to Connestee Falls Park. There is a realtor’s office next to the park. I tell you this because EVERY SINGLE TIME we have visited Connestee Falls and Baston Creek Falls, we have turned into the gated community and were turned away!

This wheelchair accessible trail leads to an overlook of the Connestee and Batson Falls.
The viewing platform sits on top of Connestee Falls.
Panoramic view of Connestee Falls and Batson Falls
I zoomed in to capture this picture of Batson Falls.
This video shows the Connestee Falls, as it drops to the bottom of its hill and joins Batson Falls, as it drops to the bottom of its hill.

From Connestee Falls Park we drove to another waterfall. Located a short distance from Brevard along Route 276 is Looking Glass Falls. It had started to rain, as we approached Looking Glass Falls. As a result, we didn’t hike down the trail to lower viewing platforms. We viewed the falls from the top viewing platform only.

Looking Glass Falls is 60 feet tall.

From Looking Glass Falls we backtracked a short distance and visited the National Forest Visitor Center Pisgah Ranger Division.  It was pouring rain; glad we didn’t have to park far from the building! I obtained a National Park Service passport cancellation stamp for Pisgah National Forest and looked at the exhibits.

This is a replica of the entrance gate that once stood at the entrance to Pisgah National Forest.
This is the only bear that we saw, while on vacation.

The rain stopped, as we drove through Brevard.

Our next stop was at another waterfall.

Shortly before reaching Highlands is Lake Sequoyah Dam Falls. 

Sequoyah Falls flow over a man made dam. 

Our next stop was at Bridal Falls. At one time it was possible to drive under the falls. The road under the falls has been closed the past few times, when we visited.

There wasn’t much water falling at Bridal Falls.

By the way this was our first visit in the summer in this part of the United States. In the past we have visited in May. Waterfalls have significantly more water flow in May.

Our last sightseeing stop was at Dry Falls.

Bob took this picture of me,
as we hiked down the stairs to the base of Dry Falls.
Dry Falls is 75 feet tall.
Dry Falls earned its name because you
can take a trail to walk behind the falls
and not get wet (well, not too wet).
Bob took this picture of me, when I was behind the falls.
I kept as close to the rock wall, as possible,
without hitting my head.
I stayed mostly dry.

Well, I stayed mostly dry behind the falls. It started to rain again on our hike back up the stairs. We both got fairly wet!

At 3:16 pm we began our drive back to A Holiday Motel. Wouldn’t you know the sun came out a few minutes’ drive past Dry Falls?

We ate dinner at the Sagebrush Steakhouse in Waynesville and made it back to A Holiday Motel around 6:00 pm.

Tonight was the “hotel room crawl” at A Holiday Motel.  It had been a long day. We called it a night at 9:00 pm, without participating in the crawl.

Today’s Map

Virginia and North Carolina Vacation: Day 6

Thursday, August 25, was Day 2 of SEVROC 2022.

We got up around 6:00 am.  A group of eight of us ate another good breakfast at Pop’s Place. 

After breakfast Bob and I went for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We stopped at several overlooks.

Our first stop was at was Waterrock Knob Overlook. The Parkway’s highest visitor center is located here. The visitor center was closed at the time that we were there. Waterrock Knob Overlook is known for its beautiful long-range views of several major mountain chains in the Appalachians. Waterrock Knob is uniquely suited for viewing sunrises and sunsets. 

Waterrock Knob Overlook
Looking East
Waterrock Knob Overlook
Looking West
Milepost 451.2 – Elevation 5820 ft

Our next two stops were at the View Wesner Bald Overlook and Woodfin Cascades.

View Wesner Bald Overlook
Milepost 448.1 – Elevation 4914 ft.
The Woodfin Cascades can be seen
at the Woodfin Cascades Overlook.
Milepost 446.0 – Elevation 4345 ft.

To see Woodfin Cascades, park at the overlook and cross to the other side of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Our next four stops were at The Orchards Overlook, Rabb Knob Overlook, Richard Balsam Overlook and Casey Fork Overlook.

The Orchards Overlook
Milepost 444.6 – Elevation 3810 ft.
Rabb Knob Overlook
Milepost 441.9 – Elevation 3725 ft.
Richard Balsam Overlook
The highest elevation along the Blue Ridge Parkway
Milepost 431.0 – Elevation 6053 ft.
Caney Fork Overlook
Milepost 428.0 – Elevation 5650 ft.

A lone flower caught my eye.

A Wildflower at Caney Fork Overlook

We left the Blue Ridge Parkway at NC 215. We drove North on NC 215. We stopped at two waterfalls.

This Unnamed Waterfall was alongside the roadway,
approximately 1.5 miles after turning onto NC 215.
There is a small pull-off on the right side of the road.
Sunburst Falls is located about 3 miles
from the first waterfall.

I captured video of all three waterfalls.

I used Apple’s iMovie to create a short movie of the three waterfalls.

We returned to A Holiday Motel around 12:30 pm. 

Several VROC friends rolled in, while we were sightseeing.
Moonshine was being passed around.

I believe this is the most colorful label I have ever seen on a bottle of moonshine. Anyone who wanted to taste moonshine was welcome to a sip. I didn’t sip.

We ate dinner at Haywood Smokehouse in Waynesville.  Bob ordered a brisket platter, and I ordered a pulled pork platter.

We ate at Haywood Smokehouse.

We filled the party tent.  I think there were 35 of us.  The food and service were excellent.  

Today’s map

Virginia and North Carolina Vacation: Day 5

Wednesday, August 24, was the first day of SEVROC 2022.  This event ran through Sunday morning.  We last attended SEVROC in May 2018.  We attended SEVROC in other years as well: May 2008, May 2014, May 2015, and May 2017.

We got up around 6:30 am. We ate breakfast in.  We each had a Jimmy Dean Scrambles and orange juice.  I ate oatmeal in a cup as well.  Bob had a banana.

Shortly before 9:00 am “Skid” (Jim) and Sandy, the Texas gals (Debbie, Vickie and Kay) and “Pappy” (Jeff) left for a motorcycle ride.

Please check out Skid’s blog post to see to where this group of six rode.

At 9:15 am Bob and I left en route Newfound Gap, via Cherokee and US 441.  We stopped at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, where I obtained a National Park Service passport cancellation stamp for both the Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. The cancellation stamp is a rubber ink stamp that records the name of the national park and date of your visit. We would be driving on the BRP on our way back to Maggie Valley.

Our next stop was at Mingus Mill, located about 1/2 mile north of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center.

This grist mill was built in 1886 and uses a water-powered turbine instead of a water wheel to power all of the machinery in the building.
A miller was on site to demonstrate the grinding of corn into cornmeal.

 We arrived at our destination, Newfound Gap, at 10:52 am.

Looking down on Newfound Gap Road from the Newfound Gap Parking Lot
Rockefeller Memorial is at Newfound Gap.

To thank the Rockefeller family for its assistance in establishing Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a memorial was built for Newfound Gap.  President Theodore Roosevelt dedicated Great Smoky Mountains National Park on September 2, 1940 at this spot.

Do you see the trail leading to the right side of the memorial? That trail is the Appalachian Trail.

The Appalachian Trail at Newfound Gap

When at Newfound Gap, one can stand both in North Carolina and Tennessee.

Bob is standing on the
North Carolina – Tennessee State Line

We turned around at Newfound Gap, leaving at 11:15 am, and drove back to Maggie Valley, via Newfound Gap Road (NC Route 441) and via the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We stopped at a couple overlooks on our way back down Newfound Gap Road (NC Route 441).

Deep Creek Valley Overlook #2
Charles A Webb Overlook
Clingmans Dome is visible (barely) on top of mountain partially in clouds.

On the Blue Ridge Parkway we drove through FIVE tunnels and stopped at several overlooks.  

View Thomas Divide Overlook
Elev 3735 ft.
Big Witch Overlook
Elev 4160 ft
Bunches Bald Overlook
Elev 4925 ft.
Plott Balsam Overlook
Elev 5020 ft.

Leaving the Blue Ridge Parkway, we drove through Maggie Valley and fueled up at Exxon in Waynesville.  We drove across the road to Walmart, where Bob purchased a pair of reading glasses.  He forgot to pack his reading glasses.

We returned to A Holiday Motel and ate a tuna salad kit and a chicken salad kit for lunch.  Both salad kits include crackers on which to spread the meat salad.

We sat outside our room and chatted with “MT” (Tim).

Bob and Tim chatting

“Skid” and company, who left for a ride this morning, returned to A Holiday Motel around 3:30 pm. Again, if you would like to know where the group of six rode, please check out Skid’s blog post.

While the eight of us were sightseeing, more of our friends arrived at A Holiday Motel.

“Ice Cream” arrived with his wife Sharon, as did “Butch” with his wife Theresa. Here is “Ice Cream” with Vickie,Kay, Theresa and Sandy.
“Joker” arrived and is seen here
with “Skid” and Sandy.
“Cargo” arrived and is seen here with the Texas gals and Sandy.

Around 5:30 pm twelve of us left for dinner at BearWaters Brewing Company in Maggie Valley, not far from A Holiday Motel. 

We ate dinner at BearWaters Brewing Company.

The food was good, as was the service. 

I took this video, after dinner as we were leaving. The video shows the creek that ran alongside the restaurant, as well as the outside seating that we occupied.
“Blondy” (Donna) arrived at A Holiday Motel, while we were at dinner.
Theresa and Sandy are shown here with Donna.
Sunset at A Holiday Motel
The end to a wonderful day!

Today’s map, excluding side trip to Waynesville.

Virginia and North Carolina Vacation: Day 4

We got up around 6:00 am the morning of Tuesday, August 23.

At 8:00 am we met “Skid” (Jim) and Sandy and Brandon, and we walked the short distance to Pop’s Place.  “MT” (Tim) joined us.  We all ordered eggs with varied sides. Breakfast was excellent, as has always been the case whenever we eat at Pop’s Place.

Breakfast at Pop’s Place
“Skid” and Pop

Soon after breakfast, “Skid” and Bob left to go golfing at Lake Junaluska Golf Course.  They had a tee time of 10:00 am, but left early to stop at Walmart.  Jim wanted to buy a shirt with a collar.

“Skid” at the first tee
Bob and “Skid” used a golf cart to make their way around the golf course.

Bob said this was the very first time he has ever golfed on a mountain. This was the first time that he and “Skid” golfed together too. They hope to golf together again someday in the future.

At 10:00 am Sandy and I went shopping.  We first stopped at Market Square, where we noticed a 50% off sale at one of the shops.  The merchandise was still overpriced at 50% off.  We, then, drove to Walmart and picked up groceries and a couple clothing items.  We saw the Texas gals (Debbie, Vickie and Kay) and Brandon’s friend, Garrett, at Walmart.  We returned to A Holiday Motel and put away our purchases.  Then, we sat on porch and relaxed.

Bob and “Skid” returned to A Holiday Motel around 2:00 pm, after 18 holes of golf.

Soon after Bob and “Skid” returned from golf, the four of us went to Cherokee intending to get ice cream at Dairy Queen.  Dairy Queen’s dining room was closed due to no air conditioning.  The drive-through was open, but we chose not to get ice cream at the drive-through.  We went to Wendy’s Restaurant, intending to get Frostys.  Wendy’s Restaurant dining room was closed, with only the drive-through available for service.  We ended up going to Old Fashioned Ice Cream Shop.  Bob, “Skid” and I ordered ice cream sundaes; Sandy ordered two scoops of ice cream. 

“Skid” and Sandy enjoying their ice cream selections.

Immediately after we left the ice cream shop, they turned off the OPEN sign and flipped a sign to CLOSED.

When we returned to A Holiday Motel, we saw that another friend had arrived.

“Pappy” (Jeff) arrived
while we were getting ice cream.

I believe the last time that we saw “Pappy” was in May 2017 at a Meet & Greet dinner for SEVROC 2017.

We spent time visiting with our VROC friends on the porch, as usual. Also, we watched for the two mountain goats that live across from A Holiday Motel way, way up the mountain.

Two Mountain Goats

Tonight’s dinner was my leftover spaghetti. There was enough spaghetti leftover for the two of us.

Virginia and North Carolina Vacation: Day 3 – Waynesboro VA to Maggie Valley NC

We got up around 5:00 am on the morning of Monday August 22. We showered and got dressed.  We went down for breakfast shortly after 6:00 am.  Breakfast was a little different in that, instead of scrambled eggs and bacon, a hot egg in a bagel was offered. I wish I had passed on the egg in a bagel and got a waffle instead.  I especially had this thought, as I watched several people open the warming dish and close it, without taking out an egg in a bagel.  I added orange juice and tropical fruit in a cup and tea to my breakfast choices.  

We checked out of Best Western at 7:25 am, en route Maggie Valley NC. We followed Interstate until Buchanan VA, at which time we decided to “avoid highways”. Even though it is slower avoiding highways, the drive is more relaxing and scenic.  As we drove through Buchanan, we recognized the swinging bridge over the James River.  We walked across the swinging bridge in April 2014.

Our “avoid highways” travel took us through Independence VA, where we stopped briefly at Powerhouse Falls.

Powerhouse Falls (or Peach Bottom Falls)
View from Powerhouse Road

Powerhouse Falls is the site of early power houses servicing the Town of Independence.

Powerhouse Falls is a picturesque site.
A mill used to operate on the site. The rock columns that held the water wheel are still there.

We stopped for lunch at Wendy’s Restaurant in West Jefferson NC.

We decided to return to interstate travel north of Asheville NC to save 30 minutes from our “avoid highways” route.  We were getting tired of being in the car.  We were ready to be in Maggie Valley!

We arrived at A Holiday Motel around 4:30 pm.  Rob checked us in and gave us Room 11.  “Skid” and Sandy are in the room next to us, Room 12.  The room on our opposite side is a storage room. Arriving before us were “Skid” (Jim) and Sandy, “MT” (Tim), Brandon and Garrett. The Texas gals (Debbie, Vickie and Kay) arrived soon after our arrival.

We ate dinner at Cafe Italiano Restaurant and Pizzeria, which was a short walk from A Holiday Motel. We were a group of eight — “Skid” (Jim) and Sandy, “MT” (Tim), the Texas gals (Debbie, Vickie and Kay) and Bob and me. I ordered spaghetti and meatballs; Bob ordered cheese ravioli with a meatball. Bob finished his meal; I didn’t. I took back to A Holiday Motel what I didn’t eat. Both meals were delicious.

When we returned to the hotel, we kicked back and socialized.

Sandy, Bob, Kay, Brandon, Garret, Debbie, Vickie, “Skid” and “MT”

This is why we are in Maggie Valley.  We have made lots of friends, who are like family, via the Vulcan Riders Owners Club (VROC).  We enjoy seeing our friends whenever we can.  We are gathering for the Southeast VROC motorcycle rally.  More friends will arrive tomorrow and through the week.

Today’s map

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