Travel Update

As you can tell, it has been over a week since I’ve been able to post. I thought that since our campground here in Stone Mountain, Georgia had Wi-Fi that we would actually be able to access the Internet. The connection has been worse than dial-up and isn’t even available half of the time. So, here I am posting from my phone.

After our stop to check-out the Flea Market in Belton, we went on to Columbia, SC. It was a nice place. The campground was right in the middle of town. We had a great dinner at the Hunter-Gatherer Brewery near the USC campus and then saw the A-Team movie (which was pretty good.)

We spent the rest of our time in Columbia complaining about how hot it was! One day had a high temperature hotter than Fort Worth. That is when you know you should be going home.

The reason we stopped in Columbia was to visit the Congaree National Park. They have some of the biggest trees around. I’ve got some cool pictures which hopefully I will be able to post before we get home.

Stone Mountain has been our first really busy tourist stop. We went into Atlanta every day. We also got to have dinner with my godmother Molly and her husband John. They were wonderful hosts and we had a really lovely evening.

More about all of our activities in Atlanta later . . .

Today we head out to our last stop before starting the drive home – Cloudland State Park in Nothern Georgia. We will be there a couple of nights and then home on the 4th of July.


Hickory Nut Falls

The other highlight of Chimney Rock State Park is Hickory Nut Falls.  It only takes about a .75-mile of a moderate hike to get to the falls but it was worth it.  The falls are over 400-feet tall.  There wasn’t a lot of water flow but it was a pretty and a lot of people were playing in the water.

We enjoyed our sandwiches while we watched all the people come and go.

We will be driving to our next stop in South Carolina on Thursday.  The rest of our trip is all planned.  We don’t usually book more than one stop in advance but with the fourth of July coming up we thought we better make a little effort to figure out where we would be for the holiday.  It turns out that we are going to be home – we are scheduled to get in on the 4th.

Our next way point is near Belton, SC so we can visit the South’s Largest and supposedly the World’s Best Flea Market – Anderson Jockey Lot and Farmers Market.

Chimney Rock State Park

I am still feeling a bit under the weather with a nagging cough so we decided to extend our stay here at the Best Private Campground we have ever visited – Mama Gertie’s.  This place is really wonderful.  Right now, we are sitting out under the awning with a light rainfall listening to a small babbling brook.  This place just has a great feel to it.  One of the staff came and picked up our propane tank and filled it yesterday – no need for Alan to drag it out to the filling station.  That is just one of the great things about Mama Gertie’s . . . I may just have to write a whole post of the topic of what makes a Great Private Campground.

Today, I finally felt up to a bit of hiking so we drove out a very narrow and curving road to Chimney Rock State Park.  Chimney Rock itself is 315 feet tall but you can take an elevator most of the way to the top.  Of course, the elevator lets you out right in the middle of the Gift Shop.

After you hang out on Chimney Rock, you can hike up another 150′ to Exclamation Point and look down on Chimney Rock.  They said the visibility was about 40 miles. That is Lake Lure.

Along the way, there is Devil’s Head:

It was a pretty day but there wasn’t much of any breeze at the very top.

More on our visit to Chimney Rock State Park tomorrow.

Why Asheville reminds me of Austin . . .

  1. Both Asheville and Austin get a lot of tourists but you don’t feel like you are in a tourist haven (no kitschy tourist shops with t-shirts and fudge,etc.)
  2. Both towns have a lot of historical and/or architectural significance.
  3. They both have more going on downtown than just office buildings and people go there at night.
  4. Both Asheville and Austin appear to have a lower-than-average BMI.
  5. Asheville and Austin both have a good number of breweries.
  6. You see a lot of girls wearing skirts with boots in the summer in both towns.
  7. While on the subject of girls . . . Asheville has the Blue Ridge Rollergirls and Austin has the Lonestar Rollergirls
  8. We saw sidewalk performers in Asheville and Austin.
  9. Austin has bats under the bridge and Asheville has the Bat Cave.
  10. They both begin with A.


Yesterday, we finally got to the one place that we had planned to visit on this trip – the Biltmore.  We figured there wasn’t any way we could go to North Carolina and say we didn’t visit “America’s Largest Home” when we were in Asheville.

It is a little pricey with a bit of a Disneyland feel to it.  We spent $100 for both of us and an extra $10 each for the audio tour.  I didn’t originally pay for the audio tour when we booked on-line but it seems to me that the recordings add a lot to what you get out of a museum or other exhibit.

We didn’t have any problems booking our preferred time to tour the house only a day in advance.  Yet, it was still a bit crowded but not oppressive.  By the way, there is no air conditioning, so I suspect it can be stifling hot on occasion.

It was an interesting tour of the house and the audio tour was very well done with all kinds of back stories about the Vanderbilt family.  We also took time to walk through the winery and have some ice cream.

The other thing that came out of our trip to the Biltmore was a name for this trip.  It isn’t final yet but we are tentatively calling this Beaches and Biltmore.  Alan thought we might want to work-in “Blast-Off” since we took the time to go to Florida for the Atlantis launch.  We may end up with a final name of something like Blast-Off, Beaches and Biltmore or maybe Beaches, Blast-Off and Biltmore.  Alan doesn’t like to force a name for our trips – he says the right name will surface at some point before we get home.

It’s a BIG Iron!

While we were walking around downtown Asheville on Saturday evening, we stumbled on this giant Sad Iron:

They call it a Flat Iron and it is located in front of the Flatiron Building.  In 2009, an alleged drunk driver ran into the sculpture and knocked it off its base. I found out about the accident when trying to learn more about the sculpture.  The only thing I know is that it was created by Reed Todd.

The Iron is on the Asheville Urban Trail which is just a fancy name for a walking tour.

Linn Cove Viaduct

One of the places we stopped at on the Blue Ridge Parkway was the Visitor Center at the Linn Cove Viaduct.  The Viaduct is just a fancy name for a bridge but it is a very cool bridge!

The Linn Cove Viaduct was the last part of the Parkway to be finished in 1983.  It is made from 153 pre-cast 50-ton concrete segments that were placed from either end of the existing structure.  They didn’t build any new access roads to construct the Viaduct.  It is 1,243 feet long.

There is a short trail down from the Visitor Center where you can see the Viaduct up close.  Here Alan is paying homage to this amazing engineering feat!

Actually, he is just swatting flies away from his head but the bridge is very impressive.

Here is a nice photo that somebody else took of the Viaduct that I got from Wikipedia: