Because there is not such thing as relaxing, we decided to attempt a short term quest: Travel the entire distance of the Blue Ridge Parkway in one season. The parkway is 469 miles of scenic roads from Smokey Mountain NP to Shenandoah NP. We've driven the entire length before, while traveling north to south in a car. We've also caught it in bits and pieces, mostly in North Carolina, on previous trips East.
This time we would be a little different. We like to stop and explore areas while we drive and knew we couldn't cover the entire route in two days like before. This time would take about a week - if the rain held off. We did the Parkway in spurts, adding in a few side trips we enjoyed in the past along the way. While most of our photos are of the Parkway and views from the Parkway, a few pictures from our side trips are also included.
The parkway itself is a marvel of thoughtful planning. The 45 mph speed limit along most of the route slows the explorer down so that they can enjoy the retreat from congestion and bustle. The sweeping road and vegetation along the roadside create an oasis for driving and a relaxing experience while anticipating what might be around the next corner. The scenic views and overlooks give the adventurer majestic vistas that allow the mind to rest and wonder at the same time. Without too much interruption, here are some of the sights from our 469 (really 467) mile journey on America's Favorite Drive.
As mentioned earlier, the Parkway itself is beautiful.
One of our drives (near Mt Mitchell) took us high in the clouds, We had to stop at one point because the clouds grew so think it was difficult to drive - we were looking at a wall of white. We were tired anyway, so we took a short nap in a roadside turnout and gave the clouds time to clear. Afterwards we continued our journey home.
We drove past some roadside waterfalls on our journeys and did a few short hikes to see others. What is it about moving water that is so captivating?
Upper Linnville Falls (we couldn't get a good shot of the lower falls and didn't walk to the very bottom.)
Looking Glass Falls in Transylvania County, NC.
This falls went under the parkway and continued on the other side of the road. There are many of these and they are always fun to find.
Two streams merge by the road near Old Fort, NC.
We caught a few views of animals, but didn't really stay anyplace long enough to wait for fur or fowl. We saw many roadside deer - especially during our evening drives.
Off the parkway, this young cow was tasting the offerings from the other side of the fence. Her neck was stretched as far as it would go and we wondered at first if she was caught in the fence. She was quite annoyed by our stopping to photo her grazing and quickly pulled back under the fence and ran away. This look says it all. Uh, mind your own business two leggers!
We stopped at a few roadside attractions. The park service has many exhibits and displays set up along the parkway. While some were closed because it was early in the season, we did stop and walk through several.
This old mill exhibit is one of the most photographed scenes along the parkway. You can certainly see why.
Old Railroad (reconstructed) used to transport lumber and other goods through the mountains. There was also a waterfall here. We found a picnic table and had a picnic lunch in this quiet setting.
The overlooks takes you from immediate to distant. These kinds of views can be seen from the road much of the time, but there are also many pullouts where you can stop and enjoy them for a while.
Over the course of about a week, we enjoyed the entire parkway except a small part where a bridge was being resurfaced. Unfortunately, this was the Linn Cove Viaduct, a beautiful bridge around Grandfather Mountain.
It was a good week and a half. We loved our drives. A few days we stayed home and worked. We discovered an issue with our fresh water system while in Crossville, TN. We had a slow leak somewhere near our water hatch, but couldn't immediately find the reason.
After a few days of watching and testing a few things, we realized it was our water pump, again. The pump is in the forward part of the trailer, but the leak was aft. It seems the back flow check valve inside the pump failed and when connected to city water, our fresh water tank was being filled beyond capacity and coming out the overflow vent (in the water hatch in the rear.) All systems continued to work just fine, but when there is a water leak in an RV you want to find the source quickly. Interesting thing about our water pump. After living in our RV for seven years, our old water pump failed last June. We bought a new one last spring and installed it in Colorado Springs. In November, the new one failed. We replaced it in Bellville, TX. This is our third new water pump (different failures) and we are still within the 1 year manufacture's warranty. Let's see if this one lasts more than six months.