From My Carolina Home

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Autumn Hike on Fryingpan Mountain

This weekend the colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway are finally reaching their peak, and are past peak in the highest elevations.  Friday was going to be clear and comfortable for hiking, so we thought it would be the perfect day to see the lookout tower on Fryingpan Mountain.  Driving up the Blue Ridge Parkway was a joy, a vacation in an afternoon with the gorgeous colors along the road.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

There is a small parking area at the entrance to the trail, maybe a half dozen cars can park there. The entrance is at mile 409.6 if you are in the area and want to see this amazing view.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

The trail is actually a gravel road, so much easier to hike than the ones over tree roots. But the challenge is the elevation, it goes fairly steep in some areas.  The good news is that the hike is only a mile and a half round trip.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Fryingpan Mountain got its name from nearby Fryingpan Gap. The story goes that the gap was named for a frying pan that was always hanging in a tree. Another story says the nearby stream was shaped like a fryingpan at the entrance to the gap.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Along the way, there are interesting forms in nature with moss covered rocks.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

The mountainside still had some pretty color even though a lot of the leaves have been blown away by recent storms and wind.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

We kept going up, enjoying the fresh air and the beautiful day.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Artistic forms abound in nature like this fallen tree.  The moss growth on it shows it has been here a while.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Clouds were rolling in, with the threat of a shower, as we came over a rise and could see the tower in the distance, with one more hill to climb. The tower was built in 1941 as a lookout tower to watch for forest fires, one of the first ones made of steel.  The parkway was under construction and there were a lot of towers built on peaks to monitor the new national forest preserve, but early ones were mostly made of wood and were torn down later.  About a third of the towers are still standing and open to the public, but the rest have either been torn down or had their stairs removed.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Arriving at the summit, we are at 5340 feet above sea level. There is a weather station here run by North Carolina State University. They have a website where you can check the weather anytime and it updates every hour. Click HERE to see what the weather is doing now.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

The United States Forest Service was formed in the early 1900s to help protect the public lands across the United States.  They built towers to scan the horizon for smoke, dispatching crews to anywhere there was smoke.  This tower is 70 feet high, but the observation deck at the top is locked. You can climb up to the landings for stunning views.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

The colors were more vibrant as the sun broke through the clouds.  Rangers staffed the station from the 1940s – 1990s to look for smoke from fires, both with naked eye and binoculars.  This had to be monitored constantly.  The development of cell phones and satellite surveillance with the ability to detect smoke have made the towers obsolete.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

This is the tallest tower in western NC so the views are stunning.  It hasn’t been in use since the 1990s, but is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Going up another level, this is Looking Glass Rock in the distance.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

I used the zoom lens to get a closer look at Looking Glass.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

There was a bit of haze in the distance, but if you look carefully, there are layers upon layers of mountains in the distance past the valley.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

As the sun broke though the clouds here and there, the colors started to shine.  It is so difficult to show in a picture the glory of what our eyes could see.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Every direction had color, 360-degree views.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

That is the Blue Ridge Parkway below, going around Mount Pisgah.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Another view of yet more mountains and color.  The high peak in the middle is Cold Mountain just 5 miles away as the hawk flies.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Looking down through the tower, the views continued to be beautiful.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

I wasn’t nervous about the height, that usually doesn’t bother me, until I began looking down.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

It is gorgeous, but those stairs are a bit unnerving going down.  All of a sudden the realization that these steps are steep, narrow, metal and see-though, is a little disconcerting.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Going back to the car was a lot easier, it was downhill the whole way.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Near the end, we heard a small stream and stopped once again to appreciate the beauty of nature.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Moss covered rocks, a small babbling stream, quiet beauty.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Driving back home, one more view from an overlook.  The beauty of the parkway was stunning, and I’ll have more on that next week.

Frying Pan Ranger Station Hike at From My Carolina Home

Is there autumn color where you are now?  or spring flowers for my southern hemisphere readers?

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Driving the Devil’s Whip

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day, warm and clear, the best time to take a car club drive.  This time the drive leader had us meet in Swannanoa for an event that was supposed to be two weeks ago, but was postponed.  We drove as a group from Swannanoa to Old Fort, and then formed up again to begin the winding, twisty and steep drive up into the mountains by a road locals call the Devil’s Whip. It is Hwy 80, going north from Hwy 70 out of Old Fort. This road is 12 miles with 160 curves, some switchbacks, and rising in elevation 2000 feet in those 12 miles.    There are huge signs telling trucks not to take this route, then this small one that says “steep winding road”, yeah, no kidding!!

Devil's Whip Drive at From My Carolina Home

But, taken carefully, it is a fun drive with a lot of gorgeous scenery, trees meeting overhead to form green arbors over the road, and flowers blooming.  Well, that’s what I thought was good about it, DH preferred the curvy road driving.  I did try to get more pictures, but you have to trust me that it was a beautiful road, but difficult to get a good picture while going around all those curves.

Devil's Whip Drive at From My Carolina Home

At the top, we turned left to enter the Blue Ridge Parkway east of Mount Mitchell. The parkway was busy, as usual for summer weekends, especially on clear days. Several tunnels are on the way to the peak of Mount Mitchell, where we were going to have a picnic lunch.

Devil's Whip Drive at From My Carolina Home

The higher elevations have rhododendrons blooming profusely along the road. I tried to get pictures of them, but few turned out, and even this one that is clear doesn’t show you the mass of blooms we were seeing.

Devil's Whip Drive at From My Carolina Home

Reaching the summit at Mt Mitchell, the guys were pretty happy with the drive. Three of our members brought their British motorcycles.

Devil's Whip Drive at From My Carolina Home

Just look at the mountain view past the cars!  The orange car on the left is a Tesla, all electric and quiet as a ghost.

Devil's Whip Drive at From My Carolina Home

Devil's Whip Drive at From My Carolina Home

The temperature on the top is often cool to cold, even in summer, but this day was nice. It was in the low 70s, and sunny, perfect for a picnic.

Devil's Whip Drive at From My Carolina Home

The views were clear too. Often it is so foggy up here that you cannot see these vistas.

Devil's Whip Drive at From My Carolina Home

I love seeing all the layers of smoky blue-grey that define the Blue Ridge mountains.  This elevation is in the parking lot, and you can walk to the highest point of 6,684 feet via a paved walkway.

Devil's Whip Drive at From My Carolina Home

Heading home, we enjoyed the parkway views.

Devil's Whip Drive at From My Carolina Home

I kept trying to get more rhododendron shots, the purple-pink color was so pretty.

Devil's Whip Drive at From My Carolina Home

There is nothing like a day on the Blue Ridge Parkway, it never disappoints.

What did you do for fun this weekend?


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Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway

We love driving the Blue Ridge Parkway, and these pictures are from a drive we did last July. There are a number of neat tunnels on the parkway, fun to honk the horn as we go through with our car club.  I haven’t shown the tunnels before, so now is a good time to show them, while I study.  The mountains are so gorgeous in summer, so green with many days of hazy blue over the distant peaks.

Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway ~ From My Carolina Home

Rocky bald areas accent those lush green hills.

Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway ~ From My Carolina Home

Most of the tunnels are stacked stone, with lovely green mountain laurel, rhododendrons and other green shrubs surrounding the openings.

Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway ~ From My Carolina Home

Inside, some are short enough to see light on the other side, while others will put you into pitch blackness for a bit. These are all west of Asheville, before you get to the high point.

Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway ~ From My Carolina Home

Coming out into the sunshine.

Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway ~ From My Carolina Home

And then a short drive to another tunnel.

Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway ~ From My Carolina Home

Sometimes as soon as you leave one tunnel, there is another one in sight.

Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway ~ From My Carolina Home

There are five or six of these fairly close together on the parkway going west.

Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway ~ From My Carolina Home

Stopping at one of the many overlooks, the view is just spectacular.

Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway ~ From My Carolina Home

Each overlook has beautiful views.  It is heaven to live in the mountains.

Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway ~ From My Carolina Home

DH sold his little British car, so we haven’t been out for a drive recently.  We are hosting a special kind of rally event Saturday, but we will be doing timing and scoring, so not driving.  We really need to go on a hike soon.  Do you have nice areas nearby for a day drive?

How about some shopping without having to drive anywhere?
New fabrics in my Etsy Store, Click HERE.
This week, new items in my eBay store, listings end Sunday!  Click HERE.
New pattern in my Craftsy Store, click HERE.
.


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First Drive of the Season

Warmer weather has come, and we eagerly anticipated the first drive of the season with our car club yesterday.  We weren’t the only ones, seems like a lot of members had cabin fever, and were glad to get the cars out. That is our blue TVR on the left.

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

We met up at a parking lot near the outlet mall, lining up all together.  Lots of people stopped by to see our impromptu British car show!

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

Setting out on the Blue Ridge Parkway near the Arboretum, we noticed the mountains haven’t greened up yet but at least the snow is gone. At least it is for now, there is snow in the forecast for this weekend.

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

Lovely views, even without the trees fully leafed out.

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

It was cool on the Parkway, but a light sweater was all that was needed.

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

The evergreens were pretty. I tried hard to get some shots of the beautiful flowering trees that dotted the landscape, but they came out too blurry.

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

We stopped at an overlook for a photo op.

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

The mountains are always beautiful.

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

Blue sky and evergreens, such a relaxing way to spend part of a weekend.

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

At the end of the drive was a fun lunch at a local burger place.  It was another car show as we all parked together.

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

On the way home, DH was indulgent with slowing down so I could get a few photos of the flowering trees. This is a cherry with white flowers.

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

And these are Bradford Pears, lots of them!

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

Golden forsythias are in bloom all over the place.

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

And my favorite, a weeping cherry. These get a hundred feet tall, with cascading flowers down the long fronds in pale pink. Gorgeous.  I really want to plant one of these on our property this year.

Blue Ridge Parkway drive March 2016 ~ From My Carolina Home

We do have one small upright cherry tree, and it began blooming this week.

Cherry field

Lovely white flowers with a tinge of pink, they are so pretty!

Cherry 3

More things are coming into bloom at our place, and I’ll share our garden soon.

What is blooming in your part of the world?

 


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Blue Ridge Parkway Progressive Drive

Saturday, the British Car Club got together for a fun drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We call it a Progressive Drive, and it is an idea I came up with a few years ago to mix up participants during a drive.  When everyone is in two-seater cars, it is hard to get a lot of conversation going, so we stop along the parkway, and the passengers change cars.  It gets different people together for 15 minutes or so at a time, so they can to get to know each other in a one-on-one conversation.  This time we met up on Brevard road in a shady parking lot.

From My Carolina Home - a car club drive

We had 17 cars participating, a great turnout!

From My Carolina Home - a car club drive

From My Carolina Home - a car club drive

Enjoying beautiful views along the parkway, our first stop was at Tanbark Ridge overlook, elevation 3175 ft.

From My Carolina Home - a car club drive

From My Carolina Home - a car club drive

Our car is the blue one.  DH couldn’t make it so I got to drive and enjoy the company of new people and old friends in the club.

From My Carolina Home - a car club drive

I asked my passenger to take some pictures with my camera as we went.

From My Carolina Home - a car club drive

From My Carolina Home - a car club drive

Thanks, Toni, you did a great job!

From My Carolina Home - a car club drive

From My Carolina Home - a car club drive

We stopped at Craggy Gardens, elevation 5500 ft, enjoying a rare perfectly clear day.  Many times this area is fogged in.  It certainly was windy, and the temperature was in the low 60s, pure heaven for a heat-hater like me.

From My Carolina Home - a car club drive

There is a beautiful view of the Asheville reservoir, near Black Mountain.

From My Carolina Home - a car club drive

We didn’t have time to do any hiking, but I did get a shot of the interesting stone wall behind the visitor center.  DH and I will go another time to hike up to the peak.

From My Carolina Home - a car club drive

Along the way, we got to go through a couple of tunnels, honking the horn is required, LOL!!

P1080723

Last stop, more cars and mountains.

From My Carolina Home - a car club drive

From My Carolina Home - a car club drive

From My Carolina Home - a car club drive

From My Carolina Home - a car club drive

We went to lunch after that, and headed home. Boy was it hot going back down into the French Broad River Valley! I am so ready for autumn!  How was your weekend?


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Hiking Graveyard Fields

Taking a break from everything is easy here, with the Blue Ridge Parkway just minutes away.  It took about 45 minutes to drive up to Graveyard Fields yesterday for a mind-clearing hike.  We are so lucky to live where a vacation set of mind is literally a short drive away.  We have wanted to hike in this area for some time, but it was always too crowded when we would come, so we would pass it by and hike elsewhere.

Graveyard Fields - 1

Yesterday morning was cool and clear, but the forecast was for heat, so we thought maybe a weekday morning would be better to try. There is a bit of mountain beauty that can be seen from the newly done parking area.

Graveyard Fields - 3

Graveyard Fields - 4

Graveyard fields is about pretty high elevation, so we knew it would stay cool longer in the day.

Graveyard Fields - marker

Here’s why it is called Graveyard Fields.

Graveyard Fields - exhibit

The redone paths were really nice, with paving at the first part, winding through an arbor tree path.

Graveyard Fields - 6 walking path

The rhododendrons were in bloom here, later in the year due to the cooler temps and shade. They were pure white, just lovely!

Graveyard Fields - 5

We reached the end of the paved path to find a wooden bridge over the stream.

Graveyard Fields - 7 bridge

Graveyard Fields - 8 stream

Beautiful, isn’t it?

Graveyard Fields - 9 rocks
Graveyard Fields - 11

Leaving that stream, we continued down a dirt path to one of the waterfalls.

Graveyard Fields - 12 path

This one is the lower falls.

Graveyard Fields - 13 waterfall

Graveyard Fields - 14

DH took a few really interesting pictures. I am trying to convince him to enter his photos in the state fair.

Graveyard Fields - 16

Graveyard Fields - 20

Graveyard Fields - 24

I won’t post every picture, LOL, we took so many!

Graveyard Fields - 26

We hiked up to the top of that waterfall, and DH took a few more photos from the top.

Graveyard Fields - 29

Coming out was tougher, as it was uphill the whole way.  Still, there were pretty little streams and small vignettes of leaves and plants.

Graveyard Fields - 32 forest stream

Graveyard Fields - leaves

We didn’t have time to go to the other waterfall, and it was getting hot, so we headed home. I’ll be spending the rest of the weekend sewing, I hope!

Do you have a spot to get away close to home?

 

Take Me Away Link Party


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Blue Ridge Drive July 2014

We did a drive with our car club yesterday.  The weather was just perfect, a beautiful sunny day in the 70s.  The recent rains had cleared the air and the views were spectacular off the Blue Ridge Parkway.   We met in a parking lot near the entrance to Pisgah Forest.

July2-14ProgDrive-1

July2-14ProgDrive-2

This was a Progressive Drive, a fun drive that has a lot of stops.  With each stop, the passengers change cars, so everyone gets some time with a lot of different members of the club.  It is a way to have some social interaction while enjoying a drive.

July2-14ProgDrive-14

We stopped at the highest point on the parkway for a couple of pictures.  I was pretty far back in the car line by this photo.  We had 14 cars participating in the drive.

July2-14ProgDrive-22

I just had to try to get a couple of pictures as we drove, the mountains were so gorgeous. We drove a total of 58 miles, so there were lots of beautiful views. This one is a bit blurry.

July2-14ProgDrive-10

This one came out better.

July2-14ProgDrive-7

We stopped and had a picnic lunch near Mount Pisgah. It was such a beautiful day, I don’t think anyone wanted to go home!

July2-14ProgDrive-36

There will be another drive in a couple of weeks to an Amish farm.  I’ll share that with you, too.