Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Blue Ridge Mountains...

It's no secret I love to drive. Given enough time, I would rather drive anywhere than take a plane. There's just something about being on the road which breathes a little extra life into these aging veins of mine.

Now, I've driven cross country three times. I've driven from San Diego to Portland, Florida to New York and countless shorter trips in between. I just dig the road. And, if I'm lucky enough to be on the road with my camera, all the better.

Such was the case recently when I hit the Blue Ridge Mountains. I was staying with friends in Moneta, Virginia, which is really only a stone's throw away from the Blue Ridge Parkway.


The entrance to one of the 25 major junctions along the parkway...

The Blue Ridge Parkway stretches for 469 miles, from Rockfish Gap, Virginia on the northern end and Swain County, North Carolina on the southern end. The entire parkway has a speed limit of 45 mph but, trust me, you don't really want to go any faster than that. First, it's dangerous, especially at night. There are no street lamps, but there is plenty of wildlife. The last thing you want to do is hit a bear at 65 mph at three in the morning.

More importantly, though, you don't want to miss all there is to see. The Blue Ridge Parkway is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful thoroughfares in the entire country, if not the world. Take your time and see it. Don't be afraid to pull off and kill an hour or two.

A quiet stretch of asphalt along the Blue Ridge Parkway...

There is no shortage of amazing photo ops along the parkway. One, Mabry Mill, is touted as being the most photographed site on the parkway. Over a quarter of a million people visit the site every year.


Mabry Mill, at milepost 176.2 in Floyd Country, Virginia, is visited by hundreds of thousands of people annually, and is one of the most photographed sites along the entire parkway...

There's also an excellent restaurant at Mabry Mill. Just be careful when you order. "Give me a good ol' southern breakfast" clearly means different things to different people!


And this was before the four thick slices of toast arrived...


If you're like me, you love finding old, dilapidated barns and buildings to photograph. There are plenty to be found...

There are often many dead bugs along the Blue Ridge Parkway, as well. You rarely have to go far to find them...

I'm not entirely sure what this is, but it sure was colorful...

I believe this qualifies as an actual "babbling brook"...

One of the rustic displays at Mabry Mill...

The lookout tower at Groundhog Hill at mile post 188.8. At 3,030 feet above sea level, you get a stunning 360° view...

Another rustic display at Mabry Mill...

Remember the old "Andy Griffith Show"? It was set in the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina. Well, my friends, Mayberry isn't entirely fictional. No, not at all. Mayberry, Virginia (they actually lost the "RFD" designation in 1922) lies along the parkway near the town of Meadows of Dan. The general store there boasts everything you might expect to find in a general store, including photos and autographs of some of the television show's cast.

Interestingly, though, the television show never found its way to Mayberry, Virginia. In the television show, Mayberry is loosely based on the town of Mt. Airy, North Carolina.







Some interior and exterior views of the Mayberry General Store, established in 1892...

Of course, there's simply no way to express just how truly beautiful the Blue Ridge Parkway is. You simply need to experience it for yourself. And while, at less than 500 miles, it's certainly possible to drive the entire length in a day, I'd recommend breaking it up over a long weekend so you can truly take in and appreciate everything you'll see along the way. The short amount of time I spent on the Blue Ridge Parkway has earned a full-length run a spot that's rather high on my bucket list.




So, if you're so inclined, grab your camera and an overnight bag and venture off onto one of the most pristine roadways to be found anywhere.

You can thank me later...


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