The Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina is a must see. And as of this year, it turned 75 years old. Happy birthday BRP! Thanks for being awesome.
This is the first American highway built solely for recreational purposes, and began as a way to employ Americans during the Great Depression. How cool is that? They even have these funky, vintage signs to indicate where you are. The highway begins in Virginia and links Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
For our adventure, we started off heading north towards Virginia. The day was clear and crisp, but within 30 minutes of winding roads and beautiful overlooks, this is what we found ourselves in the midst of:
It was much lovelier at lower altitude. I was really excited to go “leaf-peeping” (that term still makes me laugh) but we were too early. Peak leaf season in North Carolina begins in the middle of October, and we were there the first weekend in October. Boo. There were a few sprinklings of garnet and orange, but the landscape was still mostly green. I cannot imagine how gorgeous it would be to drive the BRP during leaf season!
There are heaps of hiking and biking trails along the road, so we would just drive until we saw somewhere we wanted to hike and parked the car. There are a variety of trails, from beginner to advanced, so it just depends on what you are looking for. It’s VERY chilly in NC by this time so be sure to bundle up.
We had a lazy breakfast the next morning at Tupelo Honey Cafe. Go here go here go here! And be prepared to wait as everyone in town knows it’s the place to be. Very charming and local farm-focused. I was very indulgent and had a mimosa AND Irish coffee. Hey, it was vacation.
As we head back to the car, our mood darkens a bit as we see a parking ticket on our car. Sigh. What a thorn in our perfect weekend. But…what is this? Upon further inspection, we see that NO fee is due. No fee?!??! What is this place, heaven???
From there we head on over to Liberty Bikes for a more intense mountain experience. This is a great place with tons of bikes to rent for the day or by the hour, and you can also rent racks for your car so hauling them around isn’t a problem. The shop has plenty of info on trails and the employees can tell you anything you need to know. We grabbed a couple of maps and were off.
We initially headed down the Intermediate trail only to discover that within minutes we had wound up on some advanced trail. It was intense. And amazing. Considering that fact that we come from very flat terrain and don’t get to experience mountains on a regular basis. Tumbling and bouncing along tiny trails, over rocks and tree roots, riding along bubbling streams and ducking under tree limbs. I was so jealous of the natives who get to do this kind of stuff every weekend.
Right, on to mussel night at Bouchon, which was fab.
Heading through the airport the next day, we were starving and looking for a quick bite. It was with complete dismay that Wendy’s had not yet opened. I was devastated. Why Wendy? Why?