Friday, September 6, 2019

Road Trip - Day Four

It was nice to not have to get up early and zip off somewhere. Our sleeping arrangements (one king bed) worked out just fine although we did get moved to a room with two beds for the second night.

One thing we tried or it just happened was to eat in some of the local (non-chain) restaurants. We had a great breakfast at the local cafe just down the street.

Then we were off on a mountain adventure. We went to Grandfather Mountain State Park. Grandfather Mountain used to be owned privately, but when the owner and family died off, the property was sold to the state where it became a State Park in 2009 run by the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation. It's the highest peak on the eastern escarpment of the Blue Ridge Mountains at 5,946 feet  (or 1,812 M).

 Because it's so confusing, here's a quick geography lesson. The east coast mountain range is called the Appalachian Mountains. Within that mountain range are various chains, one of them being the Blue Ridge Mountains which is where we are now. And of course, within the mountain range are specific mountains.

It's a twisty road to get to the top. We opted to not drive all the way to the top, but take a .4 mile hike to the top from one of the parking lots. Oh, boy - this was NOT a genteel path - this was a relatively rugged path which mostly consisted of rocks that you stepped from one to the other. At some points, it was fairly steep while there were gentle slopes. It was a great little hike.

We arrived at the top to be awarded a spectacular view. There's a suspension bridge which we all danced across. OK - we didn't dance. It's the highest suspension bridge above sea level - 5,280 feet or one mile. Although that is the elevation of the bridge (relative to sea level),  the actual distance to the bottom of the gully was about 80 feet. Some people were sitting on the ridge on the other side of the bridge so we went over to chat with them. The suspension bridge isn't really a suspension bridge any longer. It's fairly well tied down with steel cables and larger sections of steel for the floor of the bridge. They have had winds of 124 MPH on the bridge. The original one was almost destroyed by high winds.

The people we saw were employees of the Stewardship Foundation and their job was to watch for migrating hawks. Now that's a cool job. We could see two golf courses below us carved out of the forest and quite a few houses as well. A few of the places were HUGE. And then there was the albatross of this area - a HUGE and I mean HUGE condo complex perched on a hill across from the mountain.

The previous day as we took pictures of the mountain, I spotted something "square" along the top of the mountains. What the heck is that? A power plant? No - that would have been this condo project. It was built in the 70s and wasn't supposed to be so large but that was in the days when people turned a blind eye to this kind of thing. It's awful.

There was a small museum so I popped up to see that which consisted of pictures of the history of the Mountain. A small gift shop was also at the top where we picked up a couple of small things. Some of the boulders along the way were HUGE - I mean HUGE and the whole rock formation thing is amazing.

The top of the mountain was also the trailhead for some additional hiking, but we weren't equipped for that kind of hiking. I'd love to come back - actually, I'd love to do some hiking on the Appalachian Trail. Just for the fun of it.

We didn't stop at the animal sanctuary or the restaurant on the Mountain but decided to head back to Blowing Rock. It was about 1:30 at this time and the group was getting cranky because of not eating. We decided to eat at a small brewhouse. Hmm - there was a wait because the kitchen couldn't handle the people fast enough. They had a large area to wait in the lobby so I got us glasses of water and some beer. Seriously - no waitress would offer us water. There were nice cushions on the benches so I decided to stretch out. Guess what - we had a table very quickly.

There was table space when I went into the bar to get the beer and water, so why they didn't seat us then was beyond me. The food was decent but the special of the day was grilled cheese and while it came with tomatoes and bacon, there seemed to be very little cheese on it. Oh well - it was food and that's all that counts.

We were off to visit the Mountain Thread Company which was our original destination when the trip planning began. This was the one thing that we were NOT allowed to drop off the agenda. I met the owner at Quiltcon in Nashville. Katherine was my swap partner in the "make a mini, make a friend" swap. She made me the bicycle quilt and I made her a quilt of the Blue Ridge Mountains. After looking at the real things - I love the quilt I made for her. I also love the one she made for me!

Mountain Thread Company is a small quilt shop in a building filled with artisans. I know there are tons of these small towns throughout Canada and the US, but this one seriously reminds me of Salt Spring Island. Anyway - we had a blast visiting with Katherine and her specialty is coiled rope baskets. Her shop was filled with pre-made baskets in all sizes and shapes and colors.

We got an awesome demo and I love her industrial zigzag sewing machine which made basket making a breeze. Now we all want a machine like that. However, a regular sewing machine works just fine.

You can watch her videos on Youtube.

After that, we walked back to the motel and several of the group stayed to chill out for the remainder of the afternoon. Shelly and I went back to check out some of the other small stores. I wanted some more backyard art. I had seen some things earlier in the day but they turned out to be wood and wood just doesn't last. I wanted metal. I ended up purchasing a small sunflower for $10.

There's a store here - not even sure what they sold, but they started a prayer tree some time ago. There are 13,000 + prayers on the tree. The store had a fire, but none of the prayers were destroyed. I left a prayer for my friend Teresa. It's her funeral today and I won't be there to say goodbye. It's amazing to see this place - you can check out this link.

The couple we had met the previous night had recommended a restaurant in Boone which is a larger town close by. So the ladies wanted to check it out. OK - I'm not a complainer (most times), but this restaurant was weird. The service was good, but the soup that two of our group ordered was cold when it arrived. One sent it back to be reheated and seriously it took almost 15 minutes before it came back. The menu was a tad confusing and the salad bar turned out to be a one-time thing. Even though it stated on the salad bar that if you returned you needed a clean plate according to North Carolina state law. Oh and let's not forget the dirty plate that arrived on our table in place of a clean one.

It was just a weird place and this couple looked to have somewhat high standards so we were quite taken aback. Next time - do our own thing - do NOT take recommendations from strangers!!!

Back to Blowing Rock where we stopped at the ice cream place. This is the same ice cream chain that we stopped at in Chicago. This time we had ice cream instead of just window shopping and I bought some fudge to take home. I walked back to the motel while the others drove in the car.

It was a 14,000 step day yesterday. We've been trying to figure out why Ronda gets so many more steps than we do. While she was close to 10,000 (or whatever number it was) at lunchtime, the rest of us were at a significantly less number. We figured out that her stride is relatively short compared to us so for the same distance, she takes a lot more steps. We checked her stride length in her profile and it was even longer than ours. Hmm - that's sketchy - so we nixed the stride length. She will always have more steps than us because of her shorter steps, but hopefully, the mileage will be more in sync with us.

Thankfully our rooms were now close to each other as we were back and forth for the remainder of the evening as we sorted out who owed whom money and made a valiant attempt to pack the van of stuff that we were not going to need for the remainder of the trip.

And it's hilarious to see each other's rooms. Shelly and I are neatniks. We got things sorted out and packed and into the van. We don't turn on the TV. Shelly's only "fault" is that she likes the temperature cool. I'm OK with that. However the TV was on in the other room and OK - so we did watch some of the tennis matches last night. They had a lot more stuff to pack. We are paired up just fine!!!!

I also got my second item at the Walmart that I couldn't get the day before. I have one more thing on my list and hopefully, since we have some time to kill this morning, I can try another store to see if they have it.

On that note, we're going to be starting back home later today. We do have one more thing on the agenda today.

Have a great day!!!!


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