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In Search Of Autumn

This week Linda and I went in search of Autumn. New to the convenience of reaching North Carolina’s High Country, and elevations higher than the Old Dominion, we headed to the Blue Ridge Parkway to lap up the sights between mile-post 335 and 382, at the Folk Art Center on the outskirts of Asheville.

Well into October, the areas around Charlotte are almost completely void of any change in leaf color. Yes, as with the Washington, D.C. area, it has been hot and dry, but at least some cooling has taken place. Still, nothing that says fall. So we ventured higher entering the “BRP” just north of Little Switzerland where we would have lunch. Offering incredible views, we instead see incredible fog. Actually, I find mountain fog mesmerizing, but our hope was it would eventually give way to dabbled sunlight along our path and epic mountain views. Our wish came true, but even at elevations of 5,000 feet, no true signs of Autumn. No fiery hues of yellows, oranges or reds.

In and out of the fog on the BRP

In and out of the fog on the BRP

Mt. Mitchell summit and the road below.

Mt. Mitchell summit and the road below.

Mile-post 355 brings travelers to Mt. Mitchell State Park. Sort of a park within the park, Mt. Mitchell’s elevation of 6,684 holds the distinction of making it the highest point east of the Mississippi River. Surely signs of Autumn will be found up there! Well, maybe a 20% showing of color, but mostly still green. This ascent should have delivered the mother-load of Autumn brilliance, but no. Don’t get me wrong, it was epic and a place you should visit. But where the heck is Autumn. Politics aside, we are experiencing climate change. Maybe it is or is not man-made and it will change back, but the warm temps are tricking the trees, I think.

The views are spectacular!

The views are spectacular!

Still, I look for the art in everything if possible and they don’t call this road the BLUE Ridge Parkway for nothing. I call it a gift. I’m always amazed at all of us who travel the world from the east without first traveling this 469-mile road. I meet people from all over the world here. We walked along the path to Mt. Mitchell’s summit with a young family from Germany. Who by the way, has the Swiss Alps in their backyard and they were here on vacation. At one overlook our car was part of a six in a row SUV line-up, with license plates from Massachusetts, New Jersey, Florida, Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina.

Love a good view!

Love a good view!

Near Craggy Gardens.

Near Craggy Gardens.

Continuing south you’ll find views from Walker Knob at mile-post 360, and just a few miles after, Glassmine Falls, an 800 foot falls you can see from our distant overlook. My guess is this is much more dramatic in the spring, as also would be the case as we passed through Craggy Gardens in the Great Craggy Mountains, found just a few miles past Glassmine Falls. Covered with purple rhododendron from mid-to-late June, the area offers trails throughout its beauty. Finally, we made our way towards the artsy Asheville, North Carolina. The Folk Arts Center found at mile-post 382 is home to the Southern Highland Craft Guild. Right on the Parkway, the facility is filled to the brim with artisan works from associated guild members residing in mountain counties even up in the Northern Virginia area.

Linda in front of the Asheville Fine Arts Theater

Linda in front of the Asheville Fine Arts Theater

Our favorite sculpture at Greenwood Gallery

Our favorite sculpture at Greenwood Gallery

Inside The Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Asheville

Inside The Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Asheville

Peace and serenity can be found along this road that allows stress to escape into the sky. While the BRP makes its way around the southern perimeter of Asheville and continues another 80 miles or so to its end, for us it was time to take in the town and then head on back north. Asheville is a story within itself. Home to the Biltmore Estate, with its 250 rooms covering 175,000 square feet and set on 8,000 acres, it’s the largest home in America. The Biltmore offers beautiful gardens and timeless views. Artsy Asheville offers fun art galleries like the Blue Spiral and Grove Village Gallery, part of the famous Grove Park Inn. The world is filled with inspiration, but trust me when I say, much of it is so close you can touch it. Come and enjoy it!

Live an artful life,
Tom

 

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