The Mountains Are Calling

And we must go!  We last left you at Creekside in Edinburg, VA.  That was our short trip and one night stay after leaving College Park, MD.  Next stop Claytor Lake State Park also in Virginia, and a lovely park at that.

Claytor Lake

Ahhhh a pretty peaceful spot and we snagged a good site.  Virginia lets you pick from what is available when you arrive.  Helps with the remorse we sometimes feel when we reserve and pick a site unseen in Florida and some other states.  This almost felt like a nice private spot in the middle of the woods, except the dumpster was right around the corner.  On the bright side,  trash was super convenient.

Virginia is 2 for 2 with state park campgrounds that are clean, well-kept and have great amenities.  A little pricier than some states, but well worth it in our opinion.  We stayed two nights and honestly would have stayed longer, but they were booked over the weekend.

Not only was this on a big, beautiful lake, it was cool enough to sit around our fire bowl.  We hadn’t done that yet this entire trip what with the Saharan-like temps.

Jackson always approves of places with water, of course getting him to drink some is not always easy.  Didn’t crop that lake shot you see, so you can see his traveling water bowl and the separate water bottle we carried along.  Somehow the water in the actual water bowl container does not meet with his approval.

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2020 Olympics – Gymnasts Watch Out!

One of the walking trails had fitness stations put in place as part of an Eagle Scout project.  Pat tried a few of them out and we thought about the Olympics since they were in full swing at this point in our journey.

Blue Ridge Mountains

We bid Virginia farewell and made our way to Asheville, NC.  We’ve been here before and loved it, but hadn’t camped here.  This was a bit of an impromptu spot so we would be closer to spend time with good friends Ann & Steve.  They weren’t too far away in South Carolina and were gracious enough to make the drive up to spend 2 days with us.

Getting there was a grand drive, at least for me.  Pat has to watch the road especially on those mountain grades.  Jackson decided he needed to watch too, especially when the engine noises changed to get us up the mountain – sorta like a dump truck having a baby.  It was a wonderful view approaching the Blue Ridge Mountains.  And no, Jackson does not really drive the RV, but he supervises very closely when he is not completely crashed out.

Max Patch

A few years ago we clipped an article out of our Daytona Beach paper that listed 5 free things to do in Asheville, NC.  We hung on to it in the hopes that we’d get to do the Max Patch hike one day.  It was amazing and I highly recommend it if you are ever in the Asheville area.  It’s about 40 miles West of there off I-40.  They said in the article that the last part of the drive is on a gravel road.  What they didn’t say was you get off the interstate and maybe 100 yards later, the gravel begins.  If not for Max Patch, I think it would be the exit to nowhere.  I drove Bitsy 6 miles up that windy, steep, little bit muddy road to the parking spot.  The last mile is a steep hike up to the huge flower patch at the top with a 360 degree view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Stunning!  It is a 4600 foot elevation and the Appalachian Trail intersects the Max Patch trail.

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Squinty me at the top.  It actually rained on us as we ascended the trail, but the sun broke out once we reached the top.  Our campground host told us the rain clouds are what you need to really see all the blues in the mountains.  You’ll get no argument here and I love a little angry sky from time to time.  Lots of fab pictures of this outing so indulge me please.

Met a great dog at the top.  Mason was tired and a leaner.  You people with big dogs know just what I mean.  Pat surveys the view of the Appalachian Trail and the Max Patch trail in view.

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Max Patch Flowers

The bees were down to a dull roar and loving all the flowers at the top.

Mama Gertie’s Campground

This is the view from the top of our campground in Swannanoa, just East of Asheville.  We didn’t have spots at the top with this view, but worked on our cardio walking up each day.

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Sunset at Mama Gertie’s Campground

And at sunset, truly gorgeous.  Stubborn dog insisted on one more hike up the campground road or we would have missed this view.

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The rest of the sunset shots.  I just had to put them all in.

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Jackson is all ready for an R-I-D-E in the C-A-R.  We have to spell or he gets excited too soon.  You can see the mud on the side from our Max Patch jaunt.  A view at our Mama Gertie’s site.

The Urban Trail

I mentioned we had visitors during our Asheville stay.  Steven and Ann indulged us and went along on our trek in downtown Asheville.  This is a great town with lots of architecture and history, and I had no idea!  The Urban Trail is superb and has 30 stops along the way with either sculptures or plaques.  We learned about the town’s most famous author, Thomas Wolfe, who wrote “Look Homeward, Angel”.  It apparently has 250 characters which were closely matched to people he knew in town growing up and most of which were not cast in a good light.  Think I might have to read this one.

Also saw an indoor mall which was the vision of a man named Grove.  Magnificent building that houses lots of cool shops and was his vision before the Great Depression.  A man ahead of his time.

The art deco city hall put the Federal building right new door to shame and the Basilica of St. Lawrence boasts “North America’s largest freestanding elliptical dome, unsupported by wood or steel”.

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Basilica of St. Lawrence

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Under the dome

Of course we had to have a little fun with the sculptures.  Pat took my picture with Ann at an Urban Trail favorite stop.  The giant flat iron is a replica of one used at a local laundry and reflects the nearby Flat Iron Building.

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I did not take a picture of the building, but picture a tall slice of cake with two streets running along both sides of the slice.  That is what it looked like.

If you are in town and need to balance the nature walks, this one is fun and can take 2-4 hours depending on how long you stop along the way.  It took us 4 hours since we went inside the Basilica, stopped for a great Mediterranean lunch, tasted olive oils at a cool shop and bought a homemade oatmeal cream pie & bag of coffee at a cafe.  (Said grounds, but is really coffee beans – guess I need a coffee grinder for my birthday!)

Just a few more architectural shots.  Turns out I really like gargoyles.  Loved the ones at the top of a downtown building.  I believe the one on the right is named Ben.

Last but not least.  If you have a favorite pinball or arcade game from your childhood, you need to go to the Asheville Pinball Museum.  For a flat $13 fee, you can play all the games all day!  Or for free you can look around and reminisce.  They had a cool Captain Fantastic pinball game – yep – Elton in platform shoes with all the bells and whistles.  The back room houses everything from Dig Dug, Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga and Tempest (Pat’s personal fav).  They had Qbert, but I remember falling off every single time.  This was also an extra stop for us and not on the trail, but a bonus!

On The Way

We went to church in Swannanoa during our 4-day stay and were treated to an excellent homily as well as a double rainbow as we left.

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Father Matt said we are all “on the way” and we should keep that in mind and be patient with each other since that way is different for all of us.  We needed to hear just that!  So, I’ll leave you with that rainbow, wish you easy travels, and see you on the way.

 

 

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