Who are we

We are a family of 3 who took a break from our routine. All born in England, we have lived in Scotland since 2002 but from February to the end of July 2011 we were on the road in North America for 6 months. We are Mark (also known as Dad), Rachel (also known as Mum... and a whole bunch of other names... my usual at-home blog is here) and Heather (10/11 years of age during the trip).

Saturday, 23 April 2011

The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia... and North Carolina...

Last time we checked in we had just left Washington D.C. and were worn out by capital city activities. Since then we have been in very different country - real country - with the mountains all around and the wind in our hair (an awful lot of wind in some cases - see North Carolina, further down...).

It started on Monday morning when we woke up in Fredericksburg, Virginia. It is Civil War country (you can't move round the place without falling over a battlefield... or at the very least a battlefield restaurant or gift shop...) and we went into the town (or city... I suppose it's a city) and walked around. It's a pretty little place with a big old river and bonny high street and it was warm (really warm) so we even joined the locals and other visitors and ate our lunch outside.

Then we drove across country (via places like Wilderness and Orange – Civil War battlefields aplenty) to Charlottesville, VA. This little city (anything bigger than a teacup seems to be a city here) is even prettier than Fredericksburg (sorry F-burg) but we had to get further south by nightfall so all we had time for there was a drink-break in one of the outdoor caf├ęs, a wander round the centre, a few photos. Speaking of photos – here are the ones of that section of our Virginia days:

Virginia Towns

After Charlottesville we moved slightly west and joined the Blue Ridge Parkway – a lovely road that takes you right up high into the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was evening by the time we got there which meant great views and a sunset… but it also meant we got to the hotel too late for anything other than a sandwich (never mind – could do with missing a few more meals…). Photos in this slideshow are of that drive south, the views from the place we stayed the next morning (Peaks of Otter) plus some of the views from the Parkway south of Roanoke (a day later) as we made our way towards North Carolina, stopping at a place called Meadows of Dan for a sandwich and a nosey about. There’s an alpaca farm up in the Blue Ridge Mountains too you know – pictures included. Who doesn't love an alpaca?

Virginia Blue Ridge Parkway

And so into North Carolina. There was a detour on the Parkway for roadworks so we went through the country alongside for a little while. It seems to be the Xmas tree farm capital of the world down there! Plus the giant crucifixes on the hill started appearing about then (is that connected?). We headed for a place called Blowing Rock, a friendly little hotel, a ‘British pub’ for dinner (well, you have to sometimes…) and then the next morning went to see the Blowing Rock itself (read about it here – well worth a visit just don’t spend time giving yourself a fancy hairdo first) and then drove south (stopping at Old Fort for lunch). Pictures of this section of our North Carolina days here:

North Carolina, Blue Ridge Parkway

Lastly this time, we read in the guide books that Asheville, NC was a great place to visit so we decided to call in there on our way out of the state and stay the night. And how right the books were! Asheville is a gorgeous little city… all beautiful art deco buildings and groovy shops and bars and interesting characters on every corner (many of them walking dogs, some of them playing music). We met a famous dog and her owner (see said dog on TV here), ate ice-cream in an old Woolworths-turned-arts centre, took a 'comedy' bus tour (hence some of the unusual photos), looked at the city from the rooftop bar of one its most distinctive buildings (the Flatiron – like in New York… only without all the crowds and traffic). Photos of this part of the trip are below:

Asheville, North Carolina

And now we're in Tennessee... but more on that later...


The Bug said...

Oh I'm all homesick now! I loved working in Asheville (although I didn't love my job - I was a paralegal for an attorney). And Mike & I did the battlefield tour thing a number of times. I think we went camping near Fredericksburg.

I love how H's hair matches the alpaca :)

Too bad you didn't have time to "do" the Biltmore house - although I understand it's quite pricey these days.

Carolina Linthead said...

Oh, that was a walk down memory lane! So glad you enjoyed this bit of your trip, especially your stops in Blowing Rock and Asheville. I am rather fond of the Blue Ridge Mountains...my family has lived within sight of them for 250 years!

hope said...

The Blue Ridge Parkway is well worth the time! I remember going to Cherokee (to see Native Americans, there wasn't a casino there then) and at one point 3 state lines touch, so you can literally stand in 3 states at the same time. :)

Yep, "h" matching an alpaca means she probably wanted to take it home.

Keep having fun...and taking us along. Much more fun than the 350 eggs I hid today at work for 4-6 year olds to find. :)

Titus said...

The actual, actual Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia?!
So much to see, and so absolutely... alien. It's a country with so much shared history, and culture, and yet just seems so foreign. And big. Loved the Meadows of Dan - utterly biblical. Talking of which - Billy Graham Freeway! To where, one wonders?
Loved the silver bullet caravan.
And Asheville looks really groovy! Cockroach on the street I maybe get, but the nun on the bus? And brilliant dogwash idea!
Ah, it's like a holiday coming here.

And the Boston Overlook? I couldn't see much except for the sign...

Rachel Fox said...

There are only so many museum-type visits that the little one can take, Dana, so we decided to give that one a miss. Loved the city though. Glad you two are keeping us right on this bit of the journey!

The Easter Bunny is going to be a bit late for h this year, Hope... We could have done with one of those eggs (too hot to keep anything like that in the car now... baking in Nashville yesterday).

BG Freeway goes into Asheville, T. He is from North Carolina so I read. And speaking of biblical... I think we may have driven along the actual bible belt they talk about in Tennessee yesterday. Alright for you believers - I thought we might possibly be the only atheists in the county at one point.

And as for the sign, yes, the Blue Ridge Mountains is just knob after knob. No really.


Rachel Fenton said...

"Peaks of Otter" ! Made my day worthwhile just reading that!

Rachel Fox said...

Apparently there are otters in the lake there but we didn't see them.