It was barely over a week after we returned from Maine when it was time for me to “hit the road” again.  This time my trip took me south – to northeast GA – above Atlanta and not far from the SC border to my good friend Claire and Terry’s.  Terry is a minister on a Methodist “circuit” – serving two churches, and Claire and I were scheduled to play a “summer concert” at one of them.  We’ll play a Christmas concert at the other one in December.

I drove down on August 7th, arriving on the 8th.  We decided to take two days before getting down to work on our concert and go to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I think it’s hot up here on Long Island?  I’m sorely mistaken as to what “hot” really means when experiencing what they call “summer” in Georgia.  It was so oppressive and “heavy” that when we’d go outside, it felt as if the air could knock you down!  However, the climate in the mountains on the “Parkway” is often 20 degrees cooler, and a few days there sounded like heaven.  At least we’d feel “refreshed” once we got back and had to go to work on preparing music.  At least the air conditioning in their house was a godsend.

So – off we went “to the mountains” – cameras in hand.  And – even though I managed to catch a cold / cough, I took close to 600 pictures in our two days there.  Yeah – I think I went overboard, and I went into “overwhelm” mode trying to decide which pictures were the ones to save to Flickr.  I narrowed it down to just a bit more than 200 pictures.  Now I’m again in overwhelm mode trying to choose the best ones to post here!  It is true that the more you post, the less likely that people will bother to look at them all, so it is imperative to be selective.

It’s hard because I loved the trip and my emotions are all wrapped up in each photo.  I am SO in love with the mountains.  It’s odd for me to say living as I do on two US east coast barrier islands:  Long Island and Hilton Head Island!  The ocean is what brings people to islands, and is what Ray loves.  I have learned to love the ocean from him – – but my heart will always be in the mountains.  As a child, we vacationed in the foothills of the White Mountains where they jut over into Maine – as have been posted in my last two entries (“Kezar Lake Maine:  A little slice of heaven and “Kezar Lake is vacationland!”).  Each year while there, we’d choose one mountain to climb.  I’m not much into that anymore (with my knees as they are) — but my memories of those family hikes, and the lovely views, remain.  My favorite views are of mountains — and I also much prefer a mountainous climate.  It’s usually cooler, crisper, and less humid.

Without further ado – here are photos – topically, rather than chroologically organized….

WILDFLOWERS – they are everywhere!

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1.  White Snakeroot

2.  Green Headed Coneflower – Echinacea

3.  Umbrella Leaf

4.  Touch-Me-Not

5.  (still unsure what this is)

6.  Bull Thistle

7.  Filmy Angelica

8.  Wild Blackberries

I have to admit — I do not know what any of these flowers actually are — except for the thistle in the one vertical picture, and the one which looks like blueberries are NOT blueberries!  Claire and Terry know a few, and often availed themselves of a wildflower book they kept in the car.  However, the names rolled off my brain like water off a dam  😦  If Claire gets here — I hope that she’ll share whatever she knows and I’ll update the blog!  I just concentrated on marveling at their beauty – not plant names!

EDIT!!  Claire has checked these flowers out and has helped me with some of the identifications and have posted what I know here.  I’ll add to it if I figure out any more of them.

We stayed overnight at the Cliff Dweller’s Inn – – a hotel in Blowing Rock, NC that’s built into the side of a hill.  It’s such a friendly, family owned place – – not an impersonal chain.  Even though the decor is “dated”, the rooms are spacious and clean, and the price is right, not to mention that they also have wifi *g*.  What more could you ask?  When we arrived at the motel for the night, there was a sign on the door that they had “stepped out” for 15 minutes, so we had some time to kill – and what better thing to do than take pictures of the flowers planted right there.  Again, I do not know what the flowers are:

CLIFF DWELLER’S INN

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The 7th picture is the reflection of the motel on the window of the motel’s office.  The last picture are the motel’s units that are on a higher level than our room was.

On our second day we spent some time at the “Linn Cove Viaduct”, which was the last section of the Blue Ridge Parkway which was completed in September of 1987.  It was tricky construction, and quite an engineering feat, as it was built literally on the side of the mountain.  The idea was to make this roadway environmentally friendly to the area.  It’s as if the road is “meant” to be there, and is not some ugly structure that seems out of place in the surrounding beauty.  It was also built so that nearby Grandfather Mountain would not be marred by any road construction.  The Viaduct was constructed with 153 precast fifty-ton concrete segments with only one of them being “straight”.  They were not cast on parkway property, but constructed elsewhere and brought in.  One other tidbit of information:  They are held together *in part* by EPOXY GLUE.  Dear God, I didn’t need to know that!  It had best be VERY STRONG epoxy!  :-0

There is a pathway which takes you underneath that roadway where you can see how it was constructed, and I took many photos.  It was incredibly interesting….

LINN COVE VIADUCT

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VISTAS – so many of them – hard to choose!

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1.  On one view – the clouds were dancing in the valley — making it look rather misty and ethereal
2.  The air continued to be unstable, making for some really pretty cloud cover
3.  Wildflowers at one vista — gorgeous.  I have close-ups of these
4.  Looking glass rock

BUTTERFLIES

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click the 1st picture to see the butterfly larger in my flickr account!  Also, the second flowwer is a Coneflower – Echinacea, and the last flowers are green headed coneflowers – Echinacea.

We were going to eat dinner at the Mt. Pisgah Inn, but because we had eaten lunch too late, we weren’t hungry, so decided to have dinner later once off the parkway and on our way home.  But — at the time we arrived, the late day sunlight was wonderful, and the Inn has wonderful views, so we stopped anyway…

MT. PISGAH INN

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1.  The tree is Pyracantha Mohave – “Firethorn”

2.  The berries are from that tree

And – – I guess that is the photo overview of our two day trip.  There was so much more — like pictures coming out of tunnels, rock cliffs on the edge of the roadway, tiny water falls, and one picture of a fall leaf — a harbinger of fall to come!  However, this is long enough.  I’ll leave you with a picture of the three of us — taken by a kind stranger who offered to snap it of us:

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Me, Claire, Terry

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