Share the journey — read the Blue Ridge Parkway Ride blog series.
I’m cozied up on a lovely soft bed with a down blanket, I’ve just had a delicious dinner followed by hot cocoa and there are mountains outside my window. I can’t see them but I have the curtain open anyway because I like knowing they’re there. I’ve decided I was supposed to live in the mountains.
So to catch up, last night my dad and I hung out in our ramshackle little pieced-together cabin in the woods at Miracle Farm B&B. It looked like something some kids might put together for a clubhouse with a leftover garden shed and chicken coop, decorated with the stuff your weird aunt Ethel collected before she got sent up state and the things your hippie neighbors left behind when they packed up to walk across the country.
With no tv or other distractions, we played cards after I wrote up a long blog (that I posted tonight when we got back to the wired world). I thumped my dad soundly at poker — he seemed surprised when I took hand after hand with flushes, straights and four of a kind. I’ve always been lucky at poker. Then he beat me at blackjack so we called it even.
Breakfast was delivered in a basket at 8:30 this morning — we were waiting a bit impatiently as we’d been packed and ready to go for some time. The daylight coming in the curtainless windows woke me early. I enjoyed a berry-loaded scone though, and some fruit and juice, leaving my mushroom-laden breakfast tart (I’m allergic to mushrooms) in the compost heap. This was among the more, umm, unique places I’ve stayed. The guest book was full of rave reviews — my best guess is they’re from urban dwellers who’ve never stayed in the country. I’m no stranger to derelict mountain houses and didn’t find a lot of charm in the lodging, though I appreciate what they’re trying to do with using what they have.
Anyway, we hopped on the bike shortly after nine and headed south on the parkway out of Floyd. Our plan was to visit Grandfather Mountain before checking into our rooms at the Inn at Yonahlossee, but we took our time on the 130-mile drive and didn’t come into Boone until after 3 so we’ve moved that until tomorrow.
We stopped at any number of overlooks on the way down, each one with ever more grand sweeping views, and chatted with some more bikers. Today we met three Harley riders from the UP of Michigan and listened to their riding stories in their fantastic “yooper” accents. They’d ridden in every state. I enjoyed hearing the guys and my dad share stories and consult their map, giving advice on great rides. Bikers meet no strangers.
We stopped for lunch at a coffee shop — one of the very few dining facilities we’ve seen on the parkway. Some more bikers, Harleys again, pulled in not long after us and of course made a beeline for the chaps-wearing diners to chat. One of them is writing a book on the top 20 overlooks on the parkway and pointed us to one we didn’t know about. We checked it out after lunch and were glad he told us about it. Besides the now-expected dramatic vista, we saw a teeny cabin waaaay below. (It’s at milepost 241 in case you want to see for yourself). The cabin (Basin Creek Homestead) was one of an isolated community destroyed by flooding in 1916. The cabin in one of the few that survived.
We stopped a few more times after lunch, and good thing — the sunshine, pine-scented air and roar of the wind were lulling me almost to sleep. Stopping to stretch and take pictures woke me up. We made it into Boone where I wanted to visit Mast General Store. A review on RoadFood.com claimed
Note that there are several Mast General Stores in the North Carolina Mountains, including ones in Hendersonville, Waynesville, Asheville, and Boone – all of them located in historical buildings. The one in Valle Crucis is the original and most colorful, but the one in Boone features a turn-of-the-century soda fountain, staffed by soda jerks who know how to squirt a vanilla Coke
Guess what? You can’t always believe what you read on the internet. I looked forward all day to that vanilla coke, but there was no soda fountain to be found in the store, and the employee I asked was baffled that I’d even heard such a thing. Ah well.
By now it was raining so we wandered through an antique store across the street. I picked Brian up an antique railroad tie — a nod to his job, and a good souvenir for this area. The lady at the store said she thought it may have come from the Tweetsie Railroad. We couldn’t stay in the antique store all day, so we donned our rain gear and headed towards our inn. I realized for the umpteenth time on this trip that it’s a whole lot different travelling on a motorcycle. We came up a road and had to turn left onto a busy road. Well that’s ok, but it was raining and we sat on a steep hill. I willingly followed instructions to “sit really still” as my dad balanced the bike with one foot on the slippery hill.
I was so, so happy to check into our lovely rooms at the inn. After our “rustic” lodging last night and a grimy roadside Day’s Inn the night before, this mountain lodge with spacious rooms, huge cushy beds and a powerful shower feels like the lap of luxury. It’s not quite the tourist season yet so we got a good rate. If you’re in the Boone or Blowing Rock area of N.C., I highly recommend it.
We met a local couple for dinner — I know Ann from the Slow Travel boards, and she kindly asked us to join her and her husband for dinner, and picked us up! We ate at Bistro Roca & Antlers Bar in Blowing Rock. I’ll food blog it later, so I’ll save the details, but I’ll say that I tried grits for the first time (with my grouper and fresh grilled asparagus), and did I ever like them! After dinner Ann and her husband showed us around town and drove us past some breathtaking views. I really must win the lottery so I can move into a house overlooking these mountains.