Monday, October 17, 2011
#24 - Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Fall
Thursday we drove for three hours and ended up around the Nantahala National Forest, where we spent the night at at friend's lovely mountain home and ate a very very overpriced and sub-par three course dinner. We both took naps before going to dinner. That was probably the loveliest part of the day. Friday morning we got up bright and early and hit the highway. 7.5 hours later we had made our way here....to Monticello.
I am a BIG history geek and love all things related to the Revolutionary War. I was born on the 4th of July after all; it might be inevitable. Monticello, if you've never visited, is simply beautiful. It is easy to see why Jefferson chose this plot of land for building his unique home. You can see mountains off one side and a beautiful valley of rolling Virginia hills off the other. The tour we took was short and informative (my favorite kind) and we had plenty of time to explore the grounds on our own. I had no idea Jefferson was buried here - and his descendants are still being buried here in the present day.
After visiting Monticello we headed to Charlottesville to eat dinner and spend the night. We booked a hotel last-minute (we had originally intended to camp out) and paid WAY more than we wanted to after calling a dozen different hotels for availability. Turns out UVA had their Homecoming game the following day...whaddya know. Being in a college town the night before a football game is always a fun experience though (especially in the South) and we loved the people-watching.
Saturday morning we were up early again to hit the main attraction - the Blue Ridge Parkway! I was seriously giddy. I kept squealing for the first hour we were on it. But was very different than I expected...I thought it would meander through quaint towns along the way south...but it truly is just a scenic parkway. No gas stations, no quaint towns, just scenic overlooks (every hundred yards) and rest stops. The scenery in Virginia was truly breathtaking - you've got George Washington National Forest (aka mountains) to your left and the Shenandoah Valley (aka rolling hills with mountains beyond them) to your right. Oh yeah and leaves at peak color. Gorgeous.
3 hours into our drive Saturday morning we realized we had barely driven 120 miles. This was going to take a lot longer than I anticipated. At this rate, we wouldn't make it to Asheville until well after dark. So a little after lunch time, we broke away from the parkway and took a local highway that paralleled the parkway for the next hundred miles. It was still slow going, but we passed through some quaint towns and were able to get gas and some provisions before jumping back on the parkway around Boone, NC. From Boone to Asheville the parkway scenery is absolutely STUNNING. Grandfather Mountain, Linville Falls and all the other landmarks in that area were breathtaking. I think my mouth was open the whole time. I highly recommend a weekend trip to Asheville just to drive the mileage in and around that area. Stunning I tell you.
We spent the evening in Asheville at a super swanky hotel - got massages in the morning! - and had a nice breakfast with the local hippies and protesters in Downtown Asheville Sunday. I'm still trying to understand exactly what the Occupy Asheville movement is all about.
This will be our only real vacation prior to Number 3's arrival...and it was such a relaxing time; no whining toddlers, no cooking, no dishes, no laundry, did I mention no whining toddlers? No crying babies either. :) It was wonderful. Thank you to Aunt Anna and Aunt Allie for the gift of watching the kiddos!!