Friday, August 17, 2012

No one fell off the (aka: and this would be why the GPS said NOT to use Route 221)

So, last night was a ridiculous night.  Air set at 68 degrees.  When the fan was off, we sweat.  When it was on we froze.  So, we didn't sleep very well.  But, we plugged along anyway.

After getting ready, we went down to breakfast.  There were people EVERYWHERE.  I guess that's how you can tell if it's a good breakfast- if it looks like an IHOP on a Saturday morning.  Once we finished breakfast, we headed out to Grandfather Mountain State Park.  We took the Blue Ridge Parkway to get there.

The first stop on the parkway promised directions.  So, we stopped at the Moses Cone Flattop Mannor.  It was a beautiful old mansion filled with amazing crafts from local artisans.  I bought some presents/souvenirs.   And we took pictures of some of the beautiful paths which were built originally for carriages.  The house gave tours as well, but we missed them because it wasn't the right time. So, we moved on after getting directions.

Next stop on the parkway was the Julian Price Memorial Park.  It was a lovely lake overlook with beautiful views.  We took some pictures of the lake view and then drove on to Grandfather Mountain.

When we got to Grandfather Mtn, they gave us an audio CD to pop into the CD player so that we could listen to a tour on the way up the mountain.  It gave some really interesting information about the mountain and the park.

The first place we stopped was the half-moon overlook.  We were really high up (elevation 5946 feet) and we were only 1/2 way up!  We took some beautiful pictures here and then got back in the car and headed to the Sphinx and Split rocks.  They were awesome (did you know they're actually older than the mountain - being an ancient river-rock?  Neither did I.)

It started to rain, but we walked the connected animal park and saw deer, an otter, and a few chipmunks.  I went ahead to the museum while Betsy and Leilani went to see the bears.  At this gift shop, Leilani got a coon-skin cap.  It's hilarious.  She thinks it's very cool and reminds her of James "Bobo" Fay from Finding Bigfoot's Kentucky episode.  We had a snack here, because it was already after 1pm.

Next stop was the top.  YIKES.  It was drizzly and really windy.  The wind howled under the swinging bridge.  And if this is the new and improved un-swinging bridge, then I'm glad I never saw the rickety piece of crap that it used to be.  Holy Crap!  This think DID swing.  And, as if it's not bad enough that I'm freezing do death and hanging on for dear life, watching every step as I got closer and closer to the other side, they just HAD to put on the place with the greatest distance from the ground exactly HOW far you'd fall if you decided that you couldn't make it to the other side.  Over a mile.  I however, (both ways) didn't read exactly how far down that was (it was more than a mile) because I was pushing people out of my way (practically) so that I could get inside shelter where it was safe and warmer.  Needless to say, it was not my favorite area.
Don't be fooled...these are terrified faces!

So, after that we strolled down the mountain and went to Linville (the other side of the mountain) using Rt. 221.  There was a General Store Betsy wanted to go to.  It wasn't all that interesting, so we left; turned around, and went up the mountain again.  Lol.

And that's when the fun began.  (Betsy's driving)  Betsy: "This Route 221 should go back to Blowing Rock.  It says it's only 19 miles.  What do you think?  Should we bypass the Blue Ridge Parkway?" This was a huge mistake.  Yes, it was 19 miles of curvy, narrow, not as well paved, road that took us probably 45 minutes to get to Blowing Rock.  By the time that she arrived in Blowing Rock's downtown area, her knuckles were devoid of blood as she pried them off the steering wheel.  (gosh, I wish I had a picture of that!)

Leilani's Tea (after 3 minutes)
Betsy's Tea (after 3 min)
Once we decided that downtown Blowing Rock was too crowded, we decided to stop by the Tanger Outlets.  (insert laughing here) We didn't stop here either.  Instead we roamed the parking lot looking for plates from out of state to add to our list that we started in yesterday's highway game.  Besty says she was still in shock from 221.  So, she was in no state to do anything.  And I didn't want to upset any mental balance issues she might have been having, by suggesting we stop for anything.  No, really...we just didn't find anything interesting aside from the license plates.  Sad, isn't it?

My tea (after 3 min)
By the time we finished trolling the parking lot, we were starving.  It was 4 pm after all.  So we had some awesome Beef Brisket BBQ at The Woodlands Barbeque. Leilani ate 5 huge Chicken fingers (surprise).  That is very conveniently located next to the place we're staying.  That's very, very handy since we were all exhausted.  So after the BBQ, we came back to the room to put together the scrapbooks, write the blog, and listen to Leilani having a nervous breakdown trying to entertain us.

I've been told that Betsy only won 1 game of UNO tonight against Leilani.  They think they might have played 4 total (nervous breakdown averted).  So, my card sharp is getting better.  And we got some postcards to post in the morning's mail.  Hopefully they'll make it home before we do.  But that's doubtful.  And I'm really not sure what Leilani wrote on those cards, so if you get one - please be understanding.

More tomorrow, when we visit Linville Falls (and hopefully not fall) and Little Switzerland.  Also, check out the rest of my pictures on Flickr.

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