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Published: June 19th 2010
And so our state hopping continues! Heading further inland from South Carolina we soon found ourselves in North Carolina. The visitor centre gave us some useful information about where to go on our way to Asheville and, like fools, we listened to every word they said!
Our destination was Asheville because we had arranged to Couch Surf
there for a couple of nights. We had plenty of time to spare so we went onto the Pisgah National Forest where we got a nice view of some waterfalls and saw lots and lots of trees. There were so many trees that they kind of obstruct your view of anything else!! A little further up the road we had planned to drive along 30 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway to Asheville. Unfortunately for us, this section of the Parkway is closed after a rockfall. The visitors centre didn’t seem to know this but it has been closed for some time now!!
Anyway, we arrived in Asheville and found our way to a remote spot in the East of the city, well hidden in the mountainside woods, where our host, Rick, lives with his girlfriend Linda and lovely dogs Spencer and Bonnie.
It is an amazing house with an amazing view and we felt privileged to be staying there as welcome guests.
That evening we all went out to celebrate Linda’s son Ben’s birthday. About half an hour drive out of town a purpose-built mini town has been constructed complete with hotels, homes, shops, restaurants and a cinema. It’s incredible what can be achieved with a bit of land and, presumably, several hundred million dollars!! We went to a nice Italian restaurant and had a fun evening.
The next day we had a bit of a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway stopping first at its wonderful visitors' centre just outside Asheville. There we watched a film about the history of the Parkway and had a good browse of the exhibits. Then we drove about 20 miles to Craggy Gardens. We did a couple of short walks including the Craggy Gardens Pinnacle but the cloud was very low and spoiled the view somewhat. We also began a walk downhill through the forest but we got a bit bored of seeing nothing but trees and always knew that we had to walk back up the way we came. So we gave
A bit closer to Asheville we parked up alongside the road and walked up to the remains of Rattlesnake Lodge
but there wasn't much to see when we got there. Again it was a walk through the trees but this time the path was a little more defined and we had a destination to aim for.
Feeling weary we headed back to Rick's for a rest. Good job too as later he took us out into Asheville and we visited some of the brew pubs. There are 9 in all but 3 was enough for one evening. The beer was excellent and we really wished we could have stayed longer to visit some of the other pubs.
The next morning we had to say our goodbyes. After just 2 nights with Rick and Linda it was hard to go as they had been so kind to us. We drove South West on the Parkway and did a walk up Waterrock Knob which was a bit tougher than we had anticipated. At the top we met a load of bikers who were good fun to be with.
After lunch we drove the rest of the Parkway and
entered the Smoky Mountains National Park. Unfortunately some serious storms caught up with us and we cowered in their visitor centre for half an hour or so before deciding to push on into the forest. The drive would have been amazing in good weather but we could hardly see the views at all for the rain and low cloud. We couldn't dwell too long though as we were heading to Knoxville, Tennessee, to stay with friends. Our route there took us through the hideous town of Gatlinburg which is like a mountainside version of Orlando's International Drive. Further up the road was Pigeon Forge, birthplace of Dolly Parton and home to her theme park, Dollywood. We just passed through!!!!
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