Wednesday, October 9, 2013

You Can Drive on the Parkway

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!


Anonymous said...

North Carolina is so beautiful! I love seeing these photos.

wildcatwoods said...

Went to Mount Mitchell too a few days ago. Much of the lower mountains were still green as you say. I was very surprised how few people were on the BRP on a Sunday. Nice that Mt Mitchell is a state park so will remain open. Your husband got some great pics!

Carolina Mts

Busy Bee Suz said...

LOL@ your last line.
We ARE making a quick trip to Asheville! We hope to see a bit of color as we've never been there this early in the fall! Actually, I'm just thrilled to leave the humidity for a few days. :)

Vicki Lane said...

I think I'll take a drive soon -- I tend to forget about this beautiful road, not so very far from where I live.

Ms. A said...

Sure wish I was there!

KB said...

Wow. I've never been there but it looks glorious. Our mountain towns are suffering too. First the floods and now the shutdown. Terrible.

But the leaves are still gorgeous.

NanaNor's said...

Hi there, I love the photos; I haven't driven in that area but oh it is beautiful. Have a great afternoon and evening.
Hugs, Noreen

Tara said...

stunningly beautiful. I drove part of it when I was there. The colors are magnificent in the fall.

KGMom said...

The BRP is a place I have yet to see. My husband recalls when his family took a vacation and drove along the BRP.
By any chance, do any of the tunnels come from the same era as the Pennsylvania Turnpike? Those tunnels were originally cut for railroad lines. They were then repurposed when the turnpike was designed.

troutbirder said...

Oh my. This is bad news. I been talking up a fall trip to the BRP but my city bred and radiated for uterine cancer treated wife won't like this....:(

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Thanks for sharing this natural beauty. We so enjoyed our trip along parts of the BRP over a year ago and have talked of a return. Sadly, it won't be this year because of some upcoming family affairs in New England. It is such a shame about the business hurting from the shutdown. It is the same here on the VA eastern shore with the Chincoteague NWR closed at the best time of the year to visit.

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.

Donna - The tunnels are not old railroad tunnels. They were cut through the mountains when the BRP was built. Much of the work was done by the Works Progress Adminstration and Civilian Conservation Corps. The work began in 1935 and the engineering is amazing for the period.