Hot and bothered

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Flag of United States  , North Carolina
Sunday, August 31, 2008

Our next big hop takes us well away from all that storm stuff and to the beginning of the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is the real reason we have taken this route. We have traveled the east coast twice before - once at the start of our travels in Nov 06 when we shot down the coast trying to outrun the winter and for a second time last month when we did it in 2 days. We are determined to take it slow this time and enjoy the scenery of the mountains.  We deliberately chose a route that kept us off the freeways as much as possible and we found a great spot for lunch at Tallulah Falls along the way.

However the last 20 or so miles into Bryson City took us along an extremely windy route. The gradient wasn't too bad, but the tight bends were fairly hairy - Malc really enjoyed it until in the last mile he realized that the brakes had 'bound on' and seemed ceased. It must have been the intense heat, in the 90's and those bends. He had been driving carefully, mindful of not using the brakes too much; in fact I didn't think he used them enough!! We seemed to spend a lot of the time very close to the verge on my side!! And an equal amount of time very close to the centre line on this narrow road. Our RV site 'Ridge Top RV Park' there was a clue in the name wasn't there? - was at the top of a steep windy hill, just what we needed in our predicament. When we got to the site, the hubs were too hot to touch all we could do was wait til they cooled a bit and hope the brakes released. Anticipating the worst Malc went to find a garage capable of repairing Bree, should we need it. Here we were, fairly remote, on Labor Day week end, good timing eh? Everywhere closed until Tuesday. We had planned to stay here over one of the busiest week ends of the year, now we had to wait it out. Thankfully though, someone was watching over us, after a lot of creaking as the everything cooled down, Malc gingerly pulled Bree forwards and backwards just a little bit and the brakes had freed...phew a huge sigh of relief J
Next morning we caught the early Great Smoky Railway train for a trip through the "Smokies" it was a misty start to the day, but that only made the mountains seem smokier!

We opted for the open car so we could see as much as possible; it wasn't quite the Gold Leaf service of the Rocky Mountaineer but a pleasant ride just the same. Over 300 passengers were on the train for the journey which took about 4 hours and when we arrived back in Bryson City there were another 450 waiting for the afternoon journey - see I said it was a busy week end! We trundled past Fontana Lake, a man made lake controlled by the Tennessee Valley water Authority. The low levels indicating the drought that this region has had, they at least were thankful for the dowsing that Fay gave them.

We passed through the Nantahala Gorge, where there is an outdoor adventure centre; did I say it was a holiday week end?

Our train ticket also gave us entry to the model train museum and although we're not fans we did go in, trains worth $4200+ ...expensive hobby this!

Later in the evening we returned to the station platform, now transformed into a stage to listen to a local band. Blue Grass music is one of the strengths of the mountains, but we were struck also by the close community here in Bryson City, the audience was mostly residents and their enthusiasm was infectious. Mind you it's almost impossible to keep your feet still once the banjo starts! 

 As it turns out Reel Thyme, the band, have a rising star in their midst and he's still only 15! he was an amazing lad.
We bought their CD, it will remind us of an entertaining evening.
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