Wedding Festivities begin

Asheville Travel Blog

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Clouds drift in and out along the ridges of the Smokies

We left garish Gatlinburg for the beautiful drive across Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  We stopped at the Sugarlands Visitor Center for advice about the Blue Ridge Parkway, the slowest but most scenic way to Asheville.  We were a bit concerned as to how much time it would take us, so we decided to drive only a short portion of this famous road.

The drive through the national park is so peaceful (except for the bikers on "hogs".  Why do Harley-Davidson motorcycles have to make so much appalingly loud noise?).  Tree tunnels made poor Roada lose the satellites several times, but oh they are so gorgeous.

"Sam & Mira" visit Mingus Mill
  The road curves and bends - in one place it was a 360 degree turn to gain altitude - confused the hell out of poor Roada.  We stopped at the Morton Overlook.  At an altitude of 4,826 feet, the view was just breathtaking.  Misty clouds give the Great Smoky Mountains their name.  Today one could see the ethereal clouds drifting in and out.  As we passed through Newfound Gap, the highest place on the road at over 5,000 feet, the fog/clouds settled in and the views were socked in. 

We made a stop to see the Mingus Mill, a grist mill that still grinds corn for grits and wheat for flour.  Rather than the traditional water wheel, this mill uses a turbine.  It is extremely interesting, but not as dramatic as one with those big wheels one thinks of when it comes to seeing a grist mill.

Old Mingus Mill
  We took a short walk alongside the flume that feeds water to the turbine.  The area is in lush forest and the sound of the flowing water is very soothing.  Jag spotted some very beautiful mushrooms growing from the forest floor.  Colorful leaves lying on the ground made for a beautiful photograph.

Shortly after our visit to the mill we turned onto the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We were only able to travel about 20 miles of it.  The fog was not condusive to views for the many overlooks.  The road is in good shape and I can well imagine how marvelous this drive must be during the height of the fall leaf-color season.  We are just a few weeks too early for that.  After a picnic lunch of leftovers from last night's dinner, we continued on to Asheville.  We passed through a resort town named Maggie's Valley.

Mushrooms and leaves - Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  It is filled with tourist traps selling tee-shirts and gew gaws.  There must be some reason for this place and all I can think of is that it serves as a convenient place to sleep when visiting Great Smoky Mountains or the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It is not as garish as Gatlinburg or, especially, Pigeon Forge.  There was, however, one small restaurant called Country Vittles that looked inviting.  Some of the street names were also interesting.  One was called "Wet Weather Lane"!

When we arrived at our hotel in Asheville, we discovered that access from the Blue Ridge Parkway was right on the same road.  We probably could have continued on the drive, but we just did not know.  The hotel, Comfort Suites, is very comfortable.  The room is large with a king-sized bed, a sofa and chair and a nice bathroom.

The upper part of the flume at Mingus Grist Mill.
  It is not fancy, but it is very nice.  They serve a full hot breakfast in the morning and that was one of the things that made me decide to reserve it.  Also, and of some importance, it is about $100 less expensive than the hotel giving "special" rates for the wedding guests.

We attended the rehearsal dinner this evening at a terrific restaurant called Limones.  The food was outstanding.  It was so wonderful to see the happy couple and their parents.  My cousin, Irene, was rarely sitting still for long.  She was busy snapping photographs.  Aunt Marcia has become somewhat eccentric.  She takes pride in her age, which is now 92, and she tries to use it as an excuse for some not so perfect behavior.   She liked the napkin rings the restaurant uses.  She wanted to take one!!  When I told her she could not do that, she said: "I don't care!  I like it."  She was distracted when it was removed from the table, for which I heaved a great sigh of relief.  She keeps very busy and is enjoying her life and for that I give her a lot of credit. 

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Clouds drift in and out along the …
Clouds drift in and out along the…
Sam & Mira visit Mingus Mill
"Sam & Mira" visit Mingus Mill
Old Mingus Mill
Old Mingus Mill
Mushrooms and leaves - Great Smoky…
Mushrooms and leaves - Great Smok…
The upper part of the flume at Min…
The upper part of the flume at Mi…
Morton Overlook sign
Morton Overlook sign
photo by: vances