June 27, 2011

6/22/11 – Blue Ridge Parkway

We decided to go back to the Blue Ridge Parkway, starting from the same place we started from on Monday but going north this time.  We drove back through Maggie Valley to Hwy. 19.  The weather was a little owly.  
This highway was built along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains by the CCC.  I think there are 27 tunnels along the 469 mile route that goes from Shenandoah NP in Virginia to Great Smoky Mountains NP in North Carolina.  Roads are a little narrow, and the tunnels are definitely low!  Some of the overlooks don’t have views anymore because the trees have grown up and block them.  For Pete’s sake, it’s been more than 50 years!

No view from this overlook!
We stopped at the Waterrock Knob Visitors Center to get a stamp for the Passport book.  By the time we left, it was just starting to rain.  Down through a quick storm, then the sun came out and the road started steaming.    
In this part of the country, they talk about “balds”, which are chunks of mountaintops that only have grasses or shrubs growing on them.  They're peculiar to the Appalachians, and apparently no one knows why they don't have trees like other hills around them.  It's a mountain mystery...  
Rough Butt Bald
At the highest point on the Parkway (6,053’), some folks we’d been leapfrogging with from viewpoint to viewpoint took our picture.

The mountains were really blue--but the sky wasn’t!  It was full of gathering clouds that were getting darker by the minute.
We had lunch at the Haywood-Jackson Overlook, watching the clouds build and blacken.  There was a funny-looking bug on the picnic table, so I took his picture before I shooed him away. 
 It was raining really hard when we turned back for home.   Sure is different weather than we have in Puget Sound!

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