Blue Ridge Parkway Carolina Blue and Virginia Green

Mabry Mill, one of the popular tourist spots on the Blue Ridge

Golly b'goshes, its been many a year since I have ridden my bicycle on the Blue Ridge parkway. Not surprising--- that was my very first bicycle tour across the USA, back in 1980. I spent four months crossing the USA and Canada, raveling south down the western spine of the Rockies, and now returning north up the eastern spine of the Appalachians. The Blue Ridge parkway was an obvious route selection, and I was not disappointed. The surfaces were excellent, the people friendly, and the scenery outstanding. Not that it was that easy for me...I got hit by two hurricanes between The Parkway and its companion Skyline Drive. Hurricane David and Hurricane Frederick made for windy and, unfortunately, foggy conditions. But then again, they don't call the Great Smoky mountains the 'smokies' for nothing. This is the park Ronald Reagan no doubt had in mind when he suggested trees cause pollution. The blue haze does in fact come from the trees. These forests and mountains, with their great age, spanning so many climate regions, and high humidity, show some of the greatest diversity of plant life in the world. The animal life isn't too bad either. Where else can ya find bears, coons, rednecks, and scholars [from the research Triangle in eastern Carolina] all in the same camping site? I hooked up with a harley rider on his way up the highway for a few days. He would get to the sites well before I did, and reserve a spot. In the hours it took me to get over the many hills and dales on this road (it's the blue RIDGE parkway, don't forget) he would go hiking and visit the many museums and re-constructed homesteads and attractions en route.

Of course the parkway boasts its fair share of natural wonders as well. It is inevitable that such a humid region would abound with a marvel of plants. I was there in the early autumn, so I was too early for the fall colors that came within a few weeks. Many suggest the best time to do the parkway is in the Spring, when the rhododendrons bloom en masse. Of course there are many streams, ponds and waterfalls, such as here at Linville Falls. Usually the camping grounds-close enough together for a cyclist to easily reach from one to the next from day to day-are close to these many natural features as well.

It is a quick and steep descent from the lofty reaches of the Parkway to the piedmont and plains to the east. A series of small towns and cities cling to the base of the mountains, drawn there first by the hydroelectric power and now thriving on the scenery and quiet, relaxed pace of life that is widespread in this region. No one on the Parkway ever seemed to be in a rush to get anywhere...Given all that there is to see and enjoy, its probably best not to rush.

I have other photos of the Blue Ridge parkway which, when I find them amidst the mess my apartment (and life....!) has become, I will scan in soon enough. 1