North Carolina, Blue Ridge Mountains

31st May - 11th June 2008

Realising that, in the USA, being a hundred miles away means that you're right in the neighbourhood (or perhaps the neighborhood!), we couldn't head through North Carolina without making the slight eastwards detour to Little Switzerland to the welcoming campsite for Harvey in Chris and Vivian's front garden.   After all, it was several long weeks since we'd last seen our buddies in the Bahamas.


Kitchen staff at work.

After our kitchen rebuilding holiday in Little Switzerland the previous year, we were also keen to see the final results, which were impressive.    

However, Vivian was fretting about how to clean the huge expanse of black granite worktops and we took advice from home-decorating guru Janine in Annapolis, rushed to Wal-Mart for the correct type of cleaning cloths and Vivian set to work like a whirling dervish!     We complained that the surfaces were so shiny we needed shades to prepare dinner but no excuses were accepted and we undertook our normal chef duties!


Chris and Vivian had three priorities during our visit, the first being to get themselves fit for their upcoming tour of Europe, the second to slim down Zapper and Shelly their dogs and the third to show their visitors some of the local area which we hadn't visited before.    

These objectives were easily combined with the idea of taking a hike, every other day, at some part of the Blue Ridge Parkway new to us, whilst dragging along Chris, Vivian, eager Shelly and reluctant Zapper.   The first venue was Crabtree Falls and only on arriving in the car park did we realise we'd hiked here before but nevertheless enjoyed a scenic and tiring walk around the waterfall.

Crabtree Falls

Our next hike was at beautiful Linville Falls.    After we'd visited several great viewpoints together, Chris and Vivian sent us to the final viewpoint alone, with Shelly for encouragement.    On our return trip we encountered a huge number of school children, who as they passed by in small groups debated how the dog they had just passed (Zapper) had beaten to this point of the walk, which was great entertainment.   Finally we'd put them out of their misery pointing out that it was in fact the sister dog they were seeing.

Linville Falls

On completing our hike and returning to the car, we came across of true piece of Americana nearby!   Seems cutesy trailers were the latest fashion amongst bikers.

Our third trip took us to Grandfather Mountain.   A spot which, although somewhat theme-parked and expensive, contained an interesting collection of native wildlife, rescued after being shot.    The bears were enjoying a nap in the shade and didn't look too menacing but the cougar was wide awake and alert.   We hoped we wouldn't meet either in the wild on our travels.   On our ascent, we did encounter a real live grandfather or two though!

What was that advice about sleeping bears???

Another great American Icon

As soon as we spotted the visiting busloads of school children entering the cafeteria for lunch, we quickly drove up to the summit of the mountain, to the "Mile-High" Suspension Footbridge to the peak of the mountain.   We were eager not to share the bridge with school children intent on making it rock.   Chris told us however that on his previous visits on windier days, the bridge would swing alarmingly without human assistance.

Scary Cougar

Wild Grandfather on the mountain!

Our alternate days hiking schedule not only gave our legs time to recover it also permitted us to work on the list of chores our buddies had ready for us, to fit in numerous trips to nearby Wal-Mart (sometimes multiple trips in one day) and Asheville.   The visit was in danger of being named the Wal-Mart Week.

One of our chores was to assist in installation and assembly of the new treadmill, part of the new exercise regime.

After it took four of us to drag the monster machine into the house and then took half a day to assemble (then disassemble and reassemble AFTER reading the instructions), we decided we'd already had enough exercise for that day.  We opted out of giving the treadmill its first trial run.  We left that to Vivian whilst  Chris pondered whether the dogs could be trained to use the treadmill to generate electricity for the boat!

Another assigned task for Christine was to re-structure Chris and Vivian's website and transfer it to a new host. It proved pretty complicated, transferring the data from the current location, where the subscription had expired. Finally, using only three laptop computers at one time, the project was a success.   All that was left undone at the end of our visit was operator training for Vivian and Chris to update it themselves.     

"Could I at least use just one computer?" asks Christopher


We ran out of time as Vivian had to head to Canada and Chris to South Carolina, leaving us home alone. We waited another day for the express delivery of our Florida Drivers Licenses.     Nothing much happened, just a severe thunderstorm which knocked out the TV signal, made the electric supply go off and on and flooded the basement, it was time to leave!

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