Big Country Climbing (and sitting)

Published: July 25th 2008
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On July 18th 2008 I got in my car and drove away. Again. But this time its a little different. I'm flying solo this time. And I have quite a bit more experience at this sort of thing than from the last time I drove across North America. This is the beginning of USA Roadtrip, take 2. 4 weeks, 4 distinct locations (and bits and bobs inbetween). And all by myself.

After an easy 8 hour drive, I arrived in Elk Park, North Carolina. First destination was the mountains of North Carolina to do a little rockclimbing. Over the next 4 days became a lesson not so much in climbing but in living in the moment. My friend Evan greeted me in the tiny little town and took me to his house outside of town. Evan lives with his folks in what can only be described as a hippy-haven on the side of a forest-covered hill. The small house pet-filled house is perched on the side of the hill, surrounded by trees. They have a huge garden, blueberries, bee-hives, mushrooms, and a bubbling brook running next to the property. It was a little piece of heaven (except for maybe from
Barbed WireBarbed WireBarbed Wire

A cow field off the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC
the hours of 6am to 8 am everyday when the whole house erupted in a stampede of people and animals going about their morning routines)

The very first night I was there Evan and I drove to a beautiful spot and in the darkness looked out over a valley lit by the nearly-full moon. We sat and talked and looked at the lights of towns in the distance for hours. That experienced set the precedent for the remainder of the 4 days I spent there. We climbed a little, went to the drive-in, went to a party, but mostly we just sat in beautiful places and enjoyed being where we were. (To be fair, I climbed my first outdoor lead, and Evan acended his first 5.12 sport climb, so we did have a little excitement). We sat by waterfalls, and by mountain streams, drove scenic mountain roads, and watched a thunderstorm rolling over the hills from a graveyard perched at the top of a hill. This part of North Carolina shocked me with it's beauty. It was a peaceful 4 days.

After saying goodbye to Evan and family, I spent the day hiking near the Blue Ridge Parkway
The Cow Field AgainThe Cow Field AgainThe Cow Field Again

Pretty countryside near the Blue Ridhe Parkway
and then drove a few hours south to Charlotte where I stayed with my aunt and uncle for 2 nights before making the gruelling 16-hr drive to Michigan, where I sit now. I am happy to be here, and about to have an adventure with another friend. But after hours of Detroit-area traffic, and this disgusting $6 fancy-coffee-shop chai, I can't help but wish I was still in the cool, green mountains of Appalachia.

Next installment will be Sailing on the Great Lakes.

Additional photos below
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View from Flat TopView from Flat Top
View from Flat Top

Blue Ridge Parkway, NC
Blue RidgeBlue Ridge
Blue Ridge


They look like the day-lilies that grow in MD, but upside down

The nicest cat in the world? Definitely. On Evan's porch
Billy Grahm Parkway?  REALLY?Billy Grahm Parkway?  REALLY?
Billy Grahm Parkway? REALLY?

This is what happens in the Bible Belt

Can't help but make fun of these goobers. Couldn't think of something more useful to do than walk down the parkway with plastic signs on your back?

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