North Carolina

7th July - 11th August 2010

We were back in Western North Carolina, with five weeks to explore before we had to make another trip to the UK.    A tough job but we managed.    First we had to evict the large mouse which had taken up residence in Harvey-the-RV during our absence!    Then we had to restock on paper towels, toilet rolls and tea towels, as all our supplies of these items had been used by Mr Mouse to build nests throughout Harvey!

Our first trip away from our base at our friends' home in Little Switzerland was to an area known as the Wilson Creek Recreation Area.     It was ideal for two reasons, the first, of course, being great fishing opportunities.    The second plus for this visit was its close proximity to Little Switzerland.    However as we planned our journey we realised that to take the main roads to the area would make the trip considerably longer than if we took the 20 mile long back road shown on our road atlas through the mountains.    

View from Chris and Vivian's Dining Room when the fog lifts!

It'd be hard to get lost - Hmm.

Naively believing that this was a great plan we set off, after all we'd travelled many back roads in the States and always (OK nearly always) made it to the other end in Harvey.

On this occasion, the road turned out to be unsurfaced, although in relatively good condition, so we pressed on.    With two GPS gizmos and a road map we couldn't really get lost, or so we thought.    Over an hour into the mountains at our slow, gravel road speed, our road suddenly vanished from both GPS machines, according to which we were stuck off-road somewhere half way up a mountain.   However the road ahead of us continued and so did we, besides, there wasn't enough room to turn around!    

We decided it would have been hard to go wrong, the map didn't show any turnings before our destination.    This also turned out to be wishful thinking.   We encountered several forks in the road and now were running entirely on guesswork.    

Fortunately our noses led us to the desired destination and we set up camp in a beautiful and deserted campsite at Wilson Creek. Here we spent several days enjoying the local hiking trails, exploring by bike and seeking out fishing spots.

Just up the road from our campground we discovered an idyllic, deserted fishing spot, where we spent a lovely afternoon.    Phil managed to land four fish, each one a different species, which was quite surprising.

Another day and another fishing spot, Christine is rendered speechless not by Phil's fishing skills but by the proximity of a scary looking snake which slithers past her paddling feet and her phobia of such critters.   There may have been no words but there was, however, much wild gesticulating and some strange squeaking noises! 
We met up with Chris and Vivian in Little Switzerland again for a few days before heading off on our next excursion.   This time we re-visited the town of Cherokee, on the Cherokee Indian Reservation, at the southern edge of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Here the summer afternoon thunderstorm season was in full swing.  Luckily on the evening when we'd booked tickets to the outdoor theatre, we had perfect weather.   

We went to see "Unto these Hills", a play chronicling the traumatic history of the Cherokee native to this area, including the tragic "Trail of Tears".   The tribe were forcibly evicted from their lands and made to walk to new settlements in Oklahoma.   A trip which many didn't survive.

Between fishing trips we also fitted in a lovely hike in the Great Smoky Mountains, which lived up to their name.   The wet weather had brought plenty of mountain mist.   Hiking under the trees we managed to stay pretty dry.   

Making the most of a chair kindly left by someone half way up a steep hill on a walk with Zapper.

Lunch break hiking the Great Smoky Mountains

"Unto These Hills" - open air theatre

We headed back to Little Switzerland to help Chris and Vivian's summer house-sitters, John and JoAnn, settle in.  We then had time for one more adventure before our return to the UK.    This time we headed south from Little Switzerland to an area along the Davidson River, south of Asheville.

This turned out to be a spot very popular for recreation, with hiking trails, river tubing, fishing, waterfalls and even a "Sliding Rock", a smooth rock used as a giant waterslide by the intrepid.  It was also an area famed for being the Cradle of Forestry in the USA, where forest management in the US began.    

Harvey's new tyres get inspected.

Checking out Sliding Rock.

Cooling off at Moore Falls.

We spent an interesting half day at the Cradle of Forestry Visitor Centre, touring the historical homes of the first forestry trainees, visiting the old forestry railway and tree cutting machinery and the "Moon Tree", a tree grown from a seed which had been into space.    

The "Moon Tree"

Original Scary Forestry Machinery

From the locals we learned of a fishing area known as the "Golden Mile".    This extended one mile below the local fish hatchery and apparently we couldn't fail to land plenty of trout.    We spent several hours trying, during which time Phil made sure Christine was totally unaware of the snakes circling her ankles as she fished.    

Finally the fisherman reluctantly changed from using regular bug-like flies to something which more closely resembled fish food pellets, which he considered cheating.   However, the fish began to bite.    They were certainly well fed, no wonder they never ventured far from the hatchery! 

In Mid August we left Harvey-the-RV parked in Chris and Vivian's front garden for what we believed would be a month long trip back to the UK.    This time we set plenty of mousetraps, just in case Mr Mouse decided to make a come back!.

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