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Author: Subject: I go on vacation---

World Class Peach

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  posted on 6/25/2019 at 12:08 AM
And this place dies?

Oh well. went to Chattanooga for my 45th wedding anniversary. Went to Rock City, haven't been there in a while (35 years), and finally went to Ruby Falls.
Loved Rock City, got there early in the morning and was able to take time walking through and got lots of photos. (Bought 4 slabs of fudge when we left.)
Ruby Falls, eh. The Falls were gorgeous with the colored lights and all. The tour was terrible. Too large a group (35 people) walking through a passage barely wide enough to for one person to walk through upright. No time to stop for pictures since you have to try to meld into the wall while a returning tour group goes by and the tour guide tries to make up time by running ahead. Couldn't hear her most of the time since she was so far ahead and usually around a bend in the tunnel. Also, wet floors and a bad back do not make me run through a tunnel where you have to duck rock overhangs.
Best thing beside Rock City, found a really great place to eat. The Public House in downtown was fantastic.

A week later, went to Ashville, NC. Traveled through the mountains (to get there I guess you have to), stayed at an older motel on Tunnel St. that had three mountains just across the street, and they were covered in mist.
Gorgeous view.
Went to Grandfather Mountain (Fletch would be proud), a place I haven't been to since Davy Crockett was on TV. Which explained why I just had to go wrestle the chained bear back then. Fortunately an uncle tackled me before I got to her. Her name was Mildred, by the way. Hey, don't judge, I was 6 years old.
Stopped at the first overlook and got photos of the twin peaks while we talked to the volunteer guides.
Turned around and the clouds were coming over the peaks, down the valley, and eventually came down the road and surrounded us in a nice fog.
Left there and went to the "Split Rock" and "Spinx Rock", got photos of those while the fog was swirling around.
Went to the animal encounters and saw the eagles, elk, otters, but didn't see the cougar or bear.
Then, we decided it was time for the big event. We went to the "Mile High Swinging Bridge". The road up there is several tight hairpin turns with a steep grade. And it was foggy. And no guardrails. And I'm driving a full sized pick-up truck. And you hope you don't meet a car coming down, around the hairpin turn, in a thick fog, and you can't see the edge because of the fog. Got to the top, wife said "can i open my eyes now?"
I looked at her, while gripping the steering wheel tightly, and asked in a very clenched teeth way, "You didn't hear me when I asked you to make sure we had space on the pavement so we wouldn't go tumbling down the side of this mile high mountain?" I guess she didn't.
Made it to the parking area, you couldn't see one end from the other for the fog. Got on the elevator to the bridge.
Found out the bridge doesn't swing as much as it used to, it's now metal, not wood, and you can't see between the slats. bummer. I wanted it to swing 4 feet side to side and buck up and down like it used to.
Oh well, can't have it all.
It was fairly clear before we went on the bridge, but the clouds rolled in and made for a pleasant enough fog to help make it a fantasy land. Angie started across the bridge and was happily exclaiming that she had her head in the clouds, and bouncing the bridge. When she reached the slat in the middle that gave the elevation 5, 280 Ft. Altitude, she again was bouncing up and down like a little kid, excited about being a mile high, with her head in the clouds.
Next best thing that day, found an eating place called Tupelo Honey Cafe.

It's now a little after 1 AM so I'll post more about the trip tomorrow.


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World Class Peach

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  posted on 6/25/2019 at 10:40 AM
That same day, we left Grandfather Mountain and tried to find Little Switzerland, thinking it should be something like Helen, Ga.
followed directions from "Nasty Lady", our GPS unit, and found ourselves on some back roads that looked like they were formerly cow paths around every fold and gully through several ridge lines. Never got over 30 mph since you went turn to turn in the length of the truck, and had many sharp rocks sticking out over the road about the height of the truck cab. The compass in the dash display had us going south, west, east, north, back to south and so on for about two hours as we went around hills, through switchbacks, up and down in elevation.
At one point I looked to the left and was surprised to see Grandfather Mountain across the valley.
We came around one blind curve and had to stop very quickly as a patrol car was parked across the road behind
a sawhorse with a flashing light and a Road Closed sign on it.

Turns out, an 18 wheeler-YES, an 18 wheeler, had not been able to negotiate a curve, and had overturned across the highway.
No way could you turn a VW Beetle around on the road, much less my truck.
The officer said that since I was driving a truck, I should be able to negotiate the road on the left and wouldn't have to try and turn around go back about 30 miles to a road that would get around the wreck and to Little
The road on the left would take us to Little Switzerland if we take a right hand turn at the end of the road, just make sure you turn right at the STOP sign and go under the overpass. I found out why he said "make sure at the STOP sign".
Did I mention that the "road on the left" is a gravel track, very steep, was not as wide as the highway, and it had been raining?
OK, no problem. Just like the roads I learned to drive on.
Drove down the hills on the gravel track, through washouts deeper than most speed bumps are high(water still running in them), ruts on the right hand side that made the truck lean heavily, and places that the gravel had been washed away. Then it became apparent why the office had emphasized to turn at the STOP sign.
We came to places where the question was "Are we still on the road?" It looked like a truck path across a pasture, nothing like a state road. looking in the rear view mirror I saw the driver of the Range Rover behind me get out and check out if we really were still on the road.
I pressed on and went up the hill and the road eventually turned back to gravel, and a few hundred feet later to pavement.
A few minutes later we found the stop sign and turned right, went under the overpass, got back on the highway and arrived at Little Switzerland. A gift shop, a cafe, and a hotel. That was it.

When we told nasty lady we wanted to get back to the hotel, turns out the directions would take us back to the road we went to Grandfather Mountain (four lane divided highway) in a couple of miles. Why she thought we wanted to go round robin over the hills I'll never know, but now you know why we call her nasty lady.

The treat for that day: Found a great barbecue place called okie Dokie outside of Ashville.

Finish up the trip narrative tomorrow. Tales of death and natural disaster along the Great Smokies Byway.


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Sublime Peach

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  posted on 7/2/2019 at 11:19 AM
Quite a saga - that second post reads like the stock beginning of many a horror film.

World Class Peach

Posts: 5529
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Registered: 4/18/2002
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  posted on 7/14/2019 at 02:07 PM
Quite a saga - that second post reads like the stock beginning of many a horror film.

Yeah, I'm glad I made the correct turn and didn't wind up in Bumfart, West Virginia, or someplace worst.

Part Three: The Final Act

So we got up the next morning and prepared to depart the hotel and head back to Georgia. Ate breakfast, loaded up the truck and fired up the GPS (aka Nasty Lady). Angie was surprised that it was only around 60 miles to where she wanted to eat lunch (Dillard House in Dillard, Ga.). I convinced her that we could go the Blue Ridge Parkway and it would get us to Cherokee just about at lunchtime.
With a speed limit of 35 mph, woodland creatures and hikers crossing the road, and people stopping to take pictures of said creatures, not to mention I figured we would come across someone who thought it would be a good idea to try and get a closeup of the mama bear and her cubs, well, what was left of them anyway.
Got on the Parkway and stopped in at one of the many museums and ranger stations to look around and remembered that I had never been to Chimney Rock. Side Trip.
Drove down the road and followed the signs. highway went from 6 lane to 4 lane to twisty up and down 2 lane. Sometimes the road was comprised of switchbacks with very sharp turns, sometimes just a continuation of turns going up and down. Some places I thought I might have to get out and find the road since the road went down so steep around the turn you couldn't see it over the hood of the truck. Glad I wasn't driving at night.
The Mustang convertible in front of me was from Florida and obviously was not used to driving in the mountains.
he stayed on the brakes so much I would swear his front rotors were glowing red, and no it wasn't just the caliper painted red. I thought it was a good thing I brought along my cable pull and an extra 100 ft. of heavy duty line if he went through one of the guardrails, which were few and far between. Fortunately he made it ok.
The road leveled out as we got into the valley and rode along the river, the falls, and rapids. Came to the entrance and went up. Again, very narrow switchback roads (laid out in the 1930s for Model T cars) took us to the parking area where a helpful attendant got us to the parking barriers VERY SLOWLY. " Stop when I hold up both hands, but pull up only as I curl my finger."
When i got out and looked, I told my wife to remind me to ONLY PUT THE TRUCK IN REVERSE when we come back. I then showed her that the front end was pretty much over a loooong straight down drop and the only thing between us and doing a nose dive was a concrete barrier like you see in store parking lots.
Walked up to the visitor area and i reminded myself about my camera, and binoculars. Went back to the truck and retrieved them. There is a tunnel in the mountain that takes you up to the base of Chimney Rock. Long, dark, damp, and very cool. You come out in another gift shop (surprise) and go out to the staircase to get up to the top of Chimney Rock. The steps aren't as steep as a ladder, but it definitely isn't like a staircase in a government building. I stopped several times to let folks go by me (steep stairs are bad on my back) and got to the top.
Such a gorgeous view. The lake below, the various mountain ridges all around, the rapids in the river, the hawks flying overhead, and the good breeze. Not hard enough to blow your hat off, but a really rewarding feeling. Had to spend a while to soak it in until I started feeling the sun rather than the breeze. Only one little scraggly pine on top of the Rock, and a group of older ladies were enjoying the shade. Go back down the steps and find that for me it is harder going down that up since my back will sometimes make me swivel to keep my balance when a small spasm hits.
Went down to the gift shop, bought some bottled water and sat at a table under a pine tree.
Several families with kids came through and some wanted to be held up to see through the "ViewScope" mounted close by. I did my good deed of the day and let them use my binoculars. Showed them how they could look through the spindles of the fence and get a good view down the valley. The parents enjoyed not having to hold up the kids and waste a quarter while the kids figured out hot use the thing. They also got to sit in the shade while this was going on.
Left the top and going down, someone was trying to make one of the curves pulling a travel trailer. Took a while, and about a 50 point turn to negotiate it. Hopefully a lot of people got down before he got to the really, really, I mean really sharp switchback just before the last turn.
got out of the park and headed back toward Ashville. Nasty lady took us through Apple Valley and onto 26.
Got down the road pretty good until we got on the Great Smokey's Parkway. A few mile onto the road, everything came to a complete stop. Four lanes of freeway suddenly stood still. Waited a few minutes with the truck in park, and decided to turn it off. The guy behind me went to an 18 wheeler and asked if the driver knew what was going on. He said a tree had fallen across the road and hit a car. A few minutes later he let us know that rescue had arrived and was trying to clear the road. More than an hour later we began to move and a few miles later we crossed where the tree had fallen from the top of a cut, across all lanes, and hit the car.
Leos were there still filling out reports, and we saw a tow truck with a car covered with a tarp on the back.
Continued on the parkway to Silva, NC and got onto 441 headed south. Went through the rest of the mountains and into the hills around Tallulah Gap down to Dillard, Ga and ate a late lunch at the Dillard House.
Rest of the trip was just heading home, except for the traffic jam that started where 958 joins 85, around 285, 675, and 75 almost to the Griffin exit. Three hours to get that far.
Next morning we get up late and watch the news, found out the reason the tarp was on the car. The tree had crushed the car killing the couple inside.

How was your vacation?


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