The above are my two favorite photos taken this morning. Again what I was trying for was to portray the layers of the Blue Ridge Mountains from close to far away. Not nearly perfect but approaching it better than previous. Click on each to have them come up larger on you photo viewer; better to see the detail.
Well now, the drive for today, Wednesday, May 17. Completed the last part of the drive down the Parkway from Mile Marker 385 to 469. So that’s it. Drove every foot of the entire 469 miles. Been there, done that.
What transpired. As it turns out Day 4 on the BRP, these 86 miles from Asheville to Cherokee is my favorite of the four days here. Going at speed for virtually all of it, the drive was although challenging, easy and perfectly enjoyable, mile after mile. Comparatively the vistas from the overlooks were many in number and most were spectacular. So for those of you who want to drive the Parkway, even a part of it, be sure to see this part of the four ‘sections’. Decidedly the best of them.
From the outset I’m in the good stuff. This next photo from Walnut Cove. From here I’m reminded the Betty liked the Asheville area, the mountains. Note the homes in the side of the mountain. Such a deal. I can see living here. Asheville is big enough with an 80,000 population but small enough not to be a big city with miles and miles of urban sprawl. Asheville has many attractions including ‘mountain culture’. There’s the Folk Art Center here and the River Art District. Asheville has been home to famous artists, writers, musicians, and architects. There’s hiking and biking here, fishing and of course enjoying the Blue Ridge Mountains.
From the Wash Creek Valley Overlook, I get a glimpse of what I think is the best ‘photo op’ of the trip. What makes it even better is that I’ve got John Denver singing For Baby For Bobbie. My emotions are all of a sudden up there in the sky. Here’s the photos, the last one with the lens zoomed.
But just down the road is the same vista, and it’s from here that I take decidedly the best photo of the day. It’s the one at the start of this post, shown below again. Again not perfect. Early in the day would be best, when the sun’s angle is more horizontal. I’ll have to when in the Smokies tomorrow, make it a point to get out earlier. As it happens, today I’m out earlier than the first three days.
These next are not bad. From the Big Ridge Overlook.
Another outlook. They’re coming now, fast and furious. There’s a huge rock formation strangely out of place, zoomed in the third photo.
East Fork. Pretty good.
Oddity. With just a few scattered clouds today, this is strange. A cloud shadow moving along the landscape, making an isolated dark spot in the midst of green.
And what I’ve been longing to see. Not seen yet but I know it’s coming up as I’ve seen it noted in a BRP brochure. I remember the high point on the roadway through the Smokies but don’t remember this one. I think it’s because I’ve not been on this part before. It’s the highest point on the BRP roadway. This is a very popular spot. I’ll show you the vista from here in a moment but first I’ve got to talk with the peeps here. First is David. He’s the proud owner of a Valkyrie with customized pipes that have a distinctive ‘mating call’. I’m immediately pulled into his presence. David (last names never mentioned here) is a pleasure to talk to, authoritative and knowledgeable about riding a bike (you ride a bike, unlike a car which you drive). I tell him I too once owned a Valkyrie, red and white; he knows what year it was. These Valkyries at 1500cc’s are powerful bikes. I tell him how riding along in second or third and punching it, how I was thrown back. He relates that in this mountain ups and downs, how Harleys labor while his is really almost resting. Now we’re grooving.
David and his fellow bikers are from Texas; they’re far from home. He’s originally from southern Indiana on the Ohio River, his ancestors landing here after floating down the river, arriving from Bavaria. He tells me of putting this bike down and sustaining broken ribs and a skinned hand. And he advises that biking should only be done at age 40 or so, after it’s been determined that family will be taken care of if and when a crash results in a major disability or heaven forbid, a fatality. David says by way of experience it’s not if an accident will occur, it’s when. Masterful advice David. Smart man, this biker is. By the way, I tell David that I sold that my Valkyre before the worst happened.
Now I ask if I can pose on his bike. He obliges. Now we’re BFFs.
Right, there you go David. You’ve now been memorialized. I tell him to see me on the blog. Cheers fella, you are the man! Pleasure to meet you. See you on the road.
David and I shake hands and I’m gravitated to the big group of bikers, these from Alabama. They’re getting photographed for posterity at the big sign marking this spot. I love talking with bikers and I break in with a comment and ask to pose with one of the southern belles. Here we are. So much fun. Thanks for that.
Oh yea. The view from this outlook. Here it is, from the vantage point to the vista. Not too shabby.
Now the back side of this high point. It’s downhill from here, not figuratively but literally. Ten miles of it. No accelerator needed, just braking to keep it under 60mph. And not the wheel brakes but the engine braking. Sixth gear and a lot of fifth do it quite nicely. Down, 4,000 feet in elevation.
A Corvette pulls out of an outlook behind me. This is the very same muscle car I passed two days ago, maroon in color. And now I not willfully or to prove something, again demonstrate that naturally, I go faster the him. With ease. The thing is with his muscle, wheelbase and width, he could have me for lunch. It’s not that my small car is more nimble. Or his powerful machine is more capable. The difference really amounts to this: personal courage. I’m comfortable at going 60. He may want to, but can’t. He doesn’t have the courage. I outpace him slowly enough and pull further ahead until in a jiffy he’s gone. Take that, Mr. Vette. Hah!
After all that downhill, another ten miles of uphill and then a final ten miles of downhill to the last overlook and getting off this Parkway, this national treasure. I’m through the town of Cherokee and into Dillsboro in no time. It’s hardly 1pm.
And now another high point and that’s this Best Western Plus River Escape. I’ve stayed here before and would certainly like to return again. Five stars. Kind of expensive; an indulgence perhaps but at the moment, worth every penny. I’m charmed.
Tomorrow the Smokies. Short on distance across compared to the BRP, but long on views and vistas. Stay tuned.