Old man of the mountains - Grandfather...

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Flag of United States  , North Carolina
Saturday, September 6, 2008

Well having camped in his shadow, we had to go and visit him!
All the brochures for the Blue Ridge parkway feature Grandfather Mt. even though he's actually just off the parkway. http://www.grandfather.com/ the attraction of course was the 'mile high swinging bridge'! You know us anything a little out of the ordinary, maybe a little bit scary and we're there. So with a picnic packed (you do know us!) we set off, it was a beautiful day and the drive up to the car park was wonderful, the views spectacular. You can really see why they are called the Blue Ridge! We parked Toad and did the last little bit of a climb via a short trail, which in itself was lovely, dappled shade and lots of roots and boulders. Despite having my walking boots in the car I still had my sandals on as the beginning of the trail just looked like a grassy path, but it did get tougher and I wished I'd been more sensible! However we did meet several other people who had equally unsuitable footwear, so I didn't feel so bad.

Our first view of the bridge was quite something, hanging high above us it looked fine - the various steel wires and bolts anchored into the surrounding rock were very reassuring. 

The fact that we were already 5000' or so above sea level meant of course that the bridge is indeed a mile high, with a drop of something like 800ft - bit of a cheat though really, don't you think? But it makes for good publicity! and 800' is still a fair drop! When we reached the top it wasn't very busy, this sign did put me off a little bit though and I waited until there was no one else on it - just to be sure.

 However this meant that as I gingerly edged my way onto it, it began to well...kind of squeak! No comments about weight thank you! High up here in the mountains it was very quiet except for the sound of the 'fittings' moving, bit scary really. Then of course Malc wanted me to stop for a photo when all I really wanted to do was focus on the other side and get there as steadily as possible,
I have to say I don't think I'd be any good at all with the kind of swinging bridge that you see on programmes like "I'm a celebrity get me out of here" because they really swing, this one barely moved, it just squeaked - perhaps I wasn't heavy enough to make it groan! Anyway I made it to the other side, Malc followed pausing of course to hang over the edge to take piccies, I thought he did very well 'cos he's not really keen on heights.
At the other side it was quite rocky ( I suppose that's to be expected really) anyway I didn't go right to the edge...remember the shoes, I sat on a 'comfy' rock, along with a couple of other ladies who had made the same decision, while Malc did that bit. Hardier souls who were obviously into 'extreme dog walking' enjoyed the whole experience.

We picnicked on the way down and called into the visitors' centre where there were good exhibitions and also a refuge running a rehabilitation program for animals and birds native to this area. The bears were particularly active and very entertaining - on that side of the fence!

Our next stop was another "feature" of the parkway, but this time actually part of it. The Linville viaduct, although just a viaduct was quite something when it was first constructed, making sure that the integrity of the natural surroundings were not compromised when  the road was built. All the shots of it in the brochures show it in the fall when the leaves make a wonderful display, but today we are a bit early for that.

I'm afraid to say Malc was rather unimpressed!
Our last stop of the day was to call at Moses H Cone's house, yes - "who on earth was he?" I can hear you say. Well as it happens he was one of the largest manufacturers of that great American invention - denim! So there you go! I bet everyone reading this has, or has owned something in denim at some time in their lives, so you see there is a connection to all of you!
Moses H. Cone - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia another philanthropist who enjoyed his wealth, but who also used it to benefit his fellow citizens. The house that he built as a 'getaway from it all' is now used as a craft centre for local artists and is a veritable treasure trove. Even the cupboards are used to display their wares, though it appears that not many of the 10,000 or so apple trees that he planted seem to have survived. 

So quite a packed day, but we got a real flavour of this part of the parkway and its surrounds, tomorrow we move on. We are not intent on 'doing' the parkway from one end to the other, though this is a popular pastime; we are heading to Gettysburg, one or perhaps the most influential spot in America's history. See you there...
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