Boone, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock and Beech Mountain.

April 22 – 24, 2016.

We jumped in the car this morning and headed along the Blue Ridge Parkway for a three day excursion to Boone, a college town a little more than an hour away.  There is so much to see in that direction we wanted to take our time.  Since we drove on the Parkway a couple of weeks ago the leaves have begun to explode and our path was flanked by a corridor with a multitude of greens, reds, oranges and chartreuse.

I had to photograph this old pic when we were at Blowing Rock.

This is Grandfather Mountain:

I guess if you look at it for a few seconds, yes, it resembles a reclined snoring Grandfather’s profile, open-mouthed after a hefty Sunday dinner, crashed on the sofa.

The irises here are in full bloom now and the Peonies are about to pop open.

Doug says that back in Maine the daffodils are beginning to bloom in our garden but here, the season here is clearly 4 – 6 weeks ahead of our season in Maine.

Boone (yes, it’s the home of Daniel Boone); is a vibrant, mountain college town, very artsy and getting there is a reward in itself, a lovely peaceful drive along The Blue Ridge Parkway via Tennessee.  This is the charming Visitor’s Center in Tennessee.  We like to stop at these places to gather info and walk Zuma.

On a hike just off the Parkway, we saw lots of wildflowers beaming humbly from between rocky crevices:

The town of Boone is really charming, a bustling main street with a mountain backdrop.  We spent a few hours exploring the interesting shops, an artistic collection of old and new with lots of pottery and paintings, consignment and antique shops and restaurants that offer both casual and fine dining.
Research Queen that I am, I found out from the literature I snagged at the Visitor Center that BLOWING ROCK is a cool place to check out so we toured Boone and delightful shops full of enticing artwork and the next day went to Blowing Rock.
I was reading a lot about Blowing Rock and I found this on line:
It is said that a Chickasaw chieftan, fearful of a white man’s admiration for his lovely daughter, journeyed far from the plains to bring her to The Blowing Rock and the care of a squaw mother. One day the maiden, daydreaming on the craggy cliff, spied a Cherokee brave wandering in the wilderness far below and playfully shot an arrow in his direction. The flirtation worked because soon he appeared before her wigwam, courted her with songs of his land and they became lovers, wandering the pathless woodlands and along the crystal streams.
One day a strange reddening of the sky brought the brave and the maiden to The Blowing Rock. To him it was a sign of trouble commanding his return to his tribe in the plains. With the maiden’s entreaties not to leave her, the brave, torn by conflict of duty and heart, leaped from The Rock into the wilderness far below. The grief-stricken maiden prayed daily to the Great Spirit until one evening with a reddening sky, a gust of wind blew her lover back onto The Rock and into her arms. From that day a perpetual wind has blown up onto The Rock from the valley below. For people of other days, at least, this was explanation enough for The Blowing Rock’s mysterious winds causing even the snow to fall upside down.

I do have to say, for the seven dollar entrance fee per person, Blowing Rock is a pretty cool experience.  It was far from snowing upside down but it was breezy and yes, my hair did blow up off my head.  The views are definitely mind-blowing.

Speaking of hair-dos, Doug’s hair stayed put but that’s another story.  Doug has the BEST HAIR EVER (think Kenny Rogers or better still, Anderson Cooper); so, about ten days ago we were at WEDGE and there is this really super cool hair salon in the facility. And several of the guy stylists are outish and gay and I thought this would be a great experience for Doug to have a haircut at a salon instead of his regular barber (nothing against his barber who does a fabulous job but I thought it would be fun for Doug to do the salon thing, you know fancy conditioner and all).  So, I convinced Doug (after one beer) that he needed to get his hair cut there.  He immediately walked over and made an appointment.  Research Queen checked Trip Advisor and, to our horror, I discovered that Doug was going to be clipped by a woman with horrific reviews. Like, aaah. Apparently she had made some horrible mistakes, cutting three months of hair growth off a bride-to-be, plunking herself in a chair and bursting into tears in front of another client and requesting her boss repair her mistakes. OMG. What have I done?!

I explained to Doug that he may be shorn like a sheep.  He even joked about her carving her initial into the back of his head.  I was nervous.  Doug was not in the least bit concerned.  He coolly strolled to his appointment the following morning.  Brave soul that he is. I had a lot of fun teasing him the night before about what a horror show it could turn into but he wasn’t falling for my sick sense of humor. When he emerged, it looked fine, just DIFFERENT but he said once he washed it he was going to be okay with it.  Then, after a couple of days, he got back to Maine and booked in with his regular barber who shook his head and pointed out the errors in the cut.  It’s all fixed now.  I really like this view!

On one of our excursions we drove up Beech Mountain aw we heard Fred’s General Mercantile is a fun stop.  It is!  It’s been there since 1979 and, judging by the extensive variety and amount of stock, Fred’s is obviously thriving. We were surprised to find a whole town up there (elevation 5,506′)!  It is a popular ski area and Fred’s has a little of everything:
On our drive home we stopped in Little Switzerland and had a salad at the cafe:
and then drove more of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  This is the beautiful Linville Parkway.  It’s a bit of a scary  exhilarating drive but looking out over the mountains, it’s all worth it.
We admired how the road was built so as not to disturb the mountainside:
At these higher elevations the leaves have not yet opened up, but the panoramic views are still nothing short of spectacular.  We all had a great weekend!

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