USA 52, 30th October 2006
I had been hoping to see Duane Clark in the next few days. When I came to the US in 2002 we hoped to meet, but my route didn't pass by. Then I realised my Greyhound bus taking me on my first leg home, at the end of the trip, would stop for 10 minutes near his home in South Carolina. He was there in Greenville to say hi but I was not, I took the wrong bus. I am now close by but sadly he died 22nd October. I'll have to wait a while...................
But to continue my travels. I did eventually find out where I was. Pounding Mill VA. I found out when looked at my Walmart receipt........
There had been some heavy showers the previous day while I was coming here but during the night it rained heavily, all night long. I could hear it spattering on the roof. Nonetheless I went to have a look at Burke's Garden. This is a very high circular valley, about 10 miles diameter, the only road in climbs the side of a mountain then drops down into the valley on the other side. I am told it is very pretty and there are rare plants and animals to be found. Well, it was raining all day, sometimes heavily, sometimes not, but raining all the time. And there was low cloud. What bit I could see looked OK. The only animals I saw were cows, they are not terribly rare.
I had picked out another pretty road but I didn't see much of that either. I passed one camp site with a couple out in the pouring rain connecting power cables, hooking up the sewer and the water, rolling down the awning, setting up levelling blocks, putting lights on the picnic table under the awning. I didn't sit and watch them, but I had to come back the same way and they were still at it, this time, I think, trying to light the pilot light for the furnace. I don't do any of that, and although it's 18 years old my van does have auto ignition for the central air heating. Some of the advantages of travelling simply.
I'll not bore you again by saying exactly where I parked, but it was at Wytheville. The 3 museums in the town are closed at the weekends or I might have stopped to have a look round.
It stopped raining during the night, thank goodness, since after a brief excursion to look at a shot tower I went to join the Blue Ridge Parkway which runs for about 470 miles, following high ridges between Shenandoah National Park in the north and the Great Smoky Mountains in the south. I joined it at milepost 200 leaving just 270 miles to follow.
The next photo looked much better in a bigger size, so here it is
I drove a few miles off the Parkway to reach Boone. I don't know what goes on in this town, but there were huge traffic jams and long queues at traffic lights. The main set of lights was being manually controlled by a policeman, I shudder to think what the jams would have been like if the signals had been on the normal timer system. The traffic was so slow moving I was able to set up a wireless connection and download my emails - about 50 - while I was in the queue, without holding anyone up.
I don't think I'll tell you which car park I parked in for the night, I'll let you guess, but I will say that it was so windy during the night that my van was rocking about as well as well as making howling noises. Well, I suppose it would be the wind making the howling noises. At midnight I got fed up, and turned the van around so that it was facing into the wind. There were warnings on the radio for people driving the Blue Ridge Parkway, specifically the section I had just driven!
For about the first time in a Walmart car park I was able to connect to the internet. The management of the shopping mall had set it up as a free service to tenants and they allowed a free 24 hr membership to non tenants. Well, I'll not be around long enough for that period to represent a problem.
It's hard to tell in real life, never mind this photo, that all those distant hills are covered with trees and golden brown leaves.
As you can see, here I am still a little late for the best fall colours, probably almost a week after the colours were at their best. Many of the leaves had fallen, there were big areas of trees without leaves. Some areas looked like they'd already seen a frost.
That was just at the side of the road.
I took one final photo - of the day - before taking the short diversion to Asheville. Nice red berries.
Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway NC
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