An old joke asks, "Why do we drive on the parkway and park on the driveway?" Well you can still drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP). The amenities are closed, but the BRP itself is open. Well, except for a couple of areas in which repairs have been delayed by the government shutdown.
No matter how often we drive on the BRP, it is exhilarating every single time. The scenery changes with each rise in elevation, each one more spectacular than the next. A drive to Mt. Mitchell last week proved that some color is coming, although many areas are still green.
[Photographs taken by my husband.]
Morning fog is a given. Driving above it is beautiful.
In summer, this area of Craggy is ablaze with color from the rhododendron in profusion.
As the elevation increases, so does the color.
Looking back at one of the many tunnels cut through the mountains.
My parents took us on the BRP several times a year when I was a little girl. I was fascinated by the beauty and thrilled with the tunnels. Every now and then my dad would give in to our pleas and honk the horn inside a long tunnel. What an adventure.
As an adult I am still amazed at the sights along the BRP. The lack of bathroom facilities may limit some travelers. But us mountain folk know to take paper and plastic bags, walk behind the shrubbery and pee in the woods. After all, we are accustomed to lack of facilities on the trails. I must admit I get a chuckle every time I see a car parked along the side with someone standing guard. I know that there is another behind the bushes out of sight.
The loss of revenue for towns and communities along the BRP is staggering and will only increase if the shutdown continues into peak leaf season. So if you live within range, plan a trip to one of those towns. Stay there overnight. Spend some money dining and shopping and then drive on the BRP. Just don't forget your paper and plastic bags. Oh, and make sure you can recognize poison ivy!