First, a disclaimer and an apology. Most of the photos in the previous post were borrowed from various sites on the web. I usually acknowledge such borrowings, but when I wrote the Winchester entry, I forgot.
I apologize to anyone who follows this blog for not entering anything in the past couple of weeks. I’ve been as sick as a dawg (southern spelling) with a bad head cold. We’ve been seeing sights and taking pictures, but by the end of the day I haven’t felt like writing. But all is now well.
Upon leaving Winchester, we headed south through the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and the Blue Ridge Mountains. I don’t have any pictures of the Shenandoah Valley because we were driving through it in one day and didn’t stop to take pictures. This image is another beautiful valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains. After taking this picture we decided to head down the mountain we were on without the use of our GPS. So I thought the road to the left looked more interesting than the road to the right, and since it was paved, we went that way. It didn’t take us long to ask each other “do you think this is a one-way road?” It was narrow (we were in the truck without the trailer), steep and twisty, and it didn’t look like there would be room for two vehicles to pass. I started to wonder that, if it was one-way, did I miss a “DO NOT ENTER” sign at the top of the road and it was one-way the other way. But soon I noticed those big yellow warning signs about sharp turns were facing us, so I figured we were okay. I started to relax after a couple of miles, and we were on a fairly straight stretch of road when a car came up the hill toward us. That’s when I realized it wasn’t one-way after all. No problem there, it was a small car.
Then, just as we were approaching the last turn at the bottom of the hill, a pickup towing a stock trailer swung around the curve toward us, but I was able to swerve just enough to let him get by without taking an unplanned shortcut down the side of the mountain. I guess local knowledge is helpful when driving along back country roads.
The autumn colors in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains are spectacular, and The Great Smoky Mountain National Park was quite crowded with leaf peepers, including us.
It’s a good thing the Smokies are a mixed forest because the blight that’s killing thousands of acres of conifers in the Rockies is taking a toll in the southern Appalachians as well. There are apparently a couple of different diseases doing the damage, and it hasn’t gotten a lot of attention in the media, but north America is losing an awful lot of spruce, fir and pines. I guess the Christmas tree farms are able to control the diseases with sprays, but the wild forests are being decimated.
On a happier note, We’re currently in Asheville, NC after spending a few days in Pigeon Forge, TN, Dolly Parton’s home town, and home to Dollywood. Penny and I went through there about 30 years ago and Pigeon Forge was an intersection with a gas station and café. Now, it’s a mini Las Vegas, without the casinos. Dollywood has turned this tiny mountain town into a major tourist town reminiscent of the Jersey shore, just without the ocean. There are miles of hotels, attractions, amusements, tee shirt shops, restaurants and music venues. I’ll admit, we went to Dolly’s Dixie Stampede last night and had a great time (there were horses, after all) even though we had to eat the whole roasted chicken, baked potato and barbeque pork with our hands.
Pigeon Forge and nearby Gatlinburg, TN were absolutely jammed with tourists, and we were there during the week, not on a weekend. The shows were sold out, the stores mobbed, the traffic jammed. Maybe the economy is doing a bit better than the pundits would have us think.