Across Georgia into Asheville, NC

Trip Start Mar 14, 2006
Trip End Mar 15, 2007

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Monday, May 8, 2006

Up the I-95 into the middle of South Carolina (Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places - the palmetto state - the tree which represents a heroic defense of the palmetto-log fort on Sullivan's Island against the attack of the British fleet on June 28, 1776) then onto I-26 and into North Carolina. It was terribly hot and humid. I can see why the trees grow sooooo high - the humidity supports this well - they are absolutely huge.

The wind blew itself into a really nasty thunderstorm with hail between Columbia and Greenville. The rain came down in torrents. Traffic needed to slow down but for the most part didn't. Trucks particularly just sped on past. Eventually the weather got so bad there were tree branches falling on the road - then they had to slow down. It was all just a bit scary.

Once the storm passed though the scenery turned lovely and green (if a big foggy) as I made my way into North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Mountains area which was the region I was staying in Asheville, NC. Along the way I stopped off at the tourist information site between Spartanburg, NC and Polk, VA, I picked up a lot of information about Civil War sites.

I found most helpful a newspaper sort of thing called "Guide to Virginia's Civil War: battlefields and sites". This seems to be published about 3 times a year. This edition contains information by region, a calendar of events, driving tours and web notes. Once I figured out what region I was in (and there were maps) I could figure out - mostly, where to go and what to see. First however, I wanted to see a bit of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

This highway follows the Appalachian Mountain chain. It is a beautiful driving experience and I nipped in and out of it for the next few days. It provides marvelous views of many parallel ranges and scattered hills. As the brochure says, "The Parkway wends its way across 469 miles across narrow ridges flanked by scenic valleys, along pastoral mountain plateaus and through some of the highest mountains of the eastern United States." Other highlights include wildlife, trees in bloom (in season), flowers and flowering shrubs, diverse history and culture of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. These are described at many overlooks and facilities along the way.

It would be a wonderful route to explore as long as one recognizes that some of the common conveniences (hookups, showers, gas on the parkway itself - need to go off it to gas up, etc) are often not available (though restrooms, potable water, fire ring and picnic table are), the fact that most campgrounds are not usually filled is a great invitation to stay. Also speed limit is only 45 MPH so - take your time and enjoy. I did.

After all the rain and excitement, I was very glad to get to my very nice Comfort Inn Suites (with wifi) in Biltmore, near Asheville. I dined at the Stone Ridge Tavern and can recommend it for the beer, service and atmosphere.
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