North Carolina with the New Camera

Madison County Courthouse

Laura is out of town for awhile traveling with her mother. Saturday morning I dropped her off at GSP for an early flight, then headed out to try out the new camera. My plan was to head up into the North Carolina mountains for a bit and see what I could see. I have to confess, it was quite a bit of a learning curve.

Friday night I charged up the batteries and got familiar with the menu and controls. The temptation is to start with an absolutely perfect shot – something worthy of such a fine instrument. Didn’t happen. I shot one of the cats, and shot him poorly. So much for breaking the ice.

When the time came the next morning I felt ready for a cursory outing. From the airport I drove north on Highway 14, pausing in Landrum to get some shots of the sunrise through the fog. Here’s the shot I was after…

Landrum Sunrise 2 Continue reading “North Carolina with the New Camera”

The Road to Nowhere

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad-121

After our trip on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad I had one last adventure I wanted to undertake. I had read about the “Road to Nowhere” which starts in Bryson City, and I wanted to find it. Turns out that it was easier to find than I thought, so we were able to explore it.

First a bit of history…

In 1943 the Tennessee Valley Authority began work on the Fontana Dam. 1,300 families were displaced by inundation of the the rising Little Tennessee River. In part to appease the displaced families, the TVA promised to build the 32 mile long North Shore Road so that the families had access to the 28 cemeteries on the north side of the lake.

By 1969 only six miles of the North Shore Road had been completed, including a bridge over Nolan Creek and a tunnel through what’s now known as Tunnel Ridge. An environmental study indicated major damage to the fragile Appalachian cove ecosystem if construction continued, so it was halted – completely. Pavement ends just on the other side of the bridge. Continue reading “The Road to Nowhere”

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad-28

It had all the promise of a beautiful, cool fall weekend, and Laura and I decided to take advantage of it. Saturday afternoon we drove up to Cullowhee, North Carolina to savor a delicious victory as Furman beat Western North Carolina 47-21 in football. We stayed overnight in Bryson City, and that Sunday we were able to do something both of us had wanted to try for quite awhile – take a ride on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

I had booked our tickets as soon as we decided on a plan of action for the weekend. It was a good thing I did, too, as CNN featured the railroad as its #2 leaf-viewing attraction on its website. We were also just beating the peak fall foliage crowds, so there were tickets to be had. There are several travel options, ranging from first class down to mere mortal. Even though it was supposed to be chilly, we decided on the open-air car, which was described as follows on their website:

The Open Air Gondola is perfect for those photographers craving that perfect scenic shot! Plenty of space to see the great outdoors! Created from retired baggage and flatbed cars, these open cars feature long padded outward-facing seats, perfect for the panoramic views. A great car for capturing the scents and sounds of nature!

More on that choice in a bit… Continue reading “Great Smoky Mountains Railroad”

Upstream on the Green River

Summer’s almost over.  Since this was one of my last free Fridays, Alan and I decided to do a bit of paddling.  This time we decided to head up to North Carolina and do some paddling on Lake Adger, which is just north of Columbus.  It turned out to be a great trip, and an excellent paddling venue.

Lake Adger is fed by the Green River.  I’ve run the whitewater sections upstream from the lake many, many times, but had never really visited the lake.  I read another trip report about the lake, and it convinced me that this might be a good option for a flatwater paddle.  The lake has limits on boat motor size, and there are no jet skis or other fast boats on the lake.  Sounded good.

The Lake Adger Marina is the only public access I could find for the 500 acre lake.  Google Maps put it about 45 miles from my house as the crow flies, but driving time was about an hour and a half.  There’s no easy way to get there from here, and the route takes you through mostly two-lane roads through Greer, Tryon, and Columbus.  We did eventually get there right at about 11:00 and found a nicely maintained marina with loads of parking and a boat ramp.  We were the only ones there this morning. Continue reading “Upstream on the Green River”

Tupelo Honey Cafe

Karen B had said that we absolutely had to try Tupelo Honey Cafe for breakfast while we were in Asheville. She also warned that it was very popular, and that we needed to get there by 9:00 if we hoped to get seated. We arrived in time to get a couple of seats at the … Continue reading Tupelo Honey Cafe

Hanging Out in Asheville

Wall Street, Asheville

After our tour of Biltmore on Saturday, the plan was to hang out in Asheville and do some window-shopping Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Karen and Herman had given us a list of their favorite places in Asheville, and we wanted to check out a few of them.

Asheville always strikes me as a city of opposites, but not necessarily bad ones. You have the opulence of Biltmore and Grove Park, combined with a funky hippy vibe and alternative lifestyle mecca. That’s born out by the businesses downtown, where eclectic music venues and interesting restaurants sit side-by-side with lawyers’ offices and high-end retail shops and art galleries.

This particular Saturday evening lots of people were out enjoying the milder weather. We walked through several blocks of downtown, and most of the restaurants were busy. On one street there was a long line of young adults waiting to get into some club – I’m guessing a favorite band was playing there. Other places were just about as crowded. Continue reading “Hanging Out in Asheville”

Mela Indian

After a day touring Biltmore we were hungry, and specifically we were in the mood for something ethnic. A quick check of Google Maps showed an Indian restaurant within walking distance of our hotel in Asheville, so we decided to give it a shot. Our walk took us onto Lexington Avenue and into a very … Continue reading Mela Indian

Touring Biltmore

Laura and I needed a weekend away together. We’ve done a good bit of traveling lately, but it’s either been for business or to see family. However, we didn’t want to drive too far. We decided to head up to Asheville for the weekend and visit the Biltmore Estate.

I’ve only been to Biltmore twice, and the last time was well over ten years ago, so I was stoked. After work Friday we drove on up and spent the night downtown. That means that we were in town early, so we were able to head over to the Estate as soon as it opened.

Laura had talked to Karen B and had gotten some good tips about what we needed to see. She said that we really needed to do the Roof Tour. When we got there we didn’t see that as one of the tours. However, we did find out that the Architect’s Tour had replaced the roof tour, and we got the last two slots available that day. We also paid for the general audio tour. The whole deal was quite pricey, but we really wanted to see as much as we could. Continue reading “Touring Biltmore”

Skyuka Road

Skyuka Road

Tryon Mountain looms large over travelers on I-26. I knew there was a road to the top somewhere, and a bit of research revealed it to be Skyuka Mountain Road. I decided to take one of my days of spring break to go exploring and see if I could find it. That, I did, and the day turned out to be a trek through the North Carolina mountains, through Tryon, Lake Lure, Chimney Rock, Black Mountain, and Asheville.

I started out with a straightforward drive to Tryon – no stops at Campbell Covered Bridge or any of the other interesting points along the way. When I got to Tryon I noticed an antiquarian bookstore on the main street, and had to pull in. There were lots of theological texts, so I wondered if there were any hymnals. The proprietor soon came out, and I discovered that this is the same bookstore that I used to visit down at Stony Point near Greenwood. Continue reading “Skyuka Road”

A Surprise Photo Trek

A couple of weeks ago Houston celebrated his 60th birthday. We wanted to hold a surprise birthday party for him, and he provided us the perfect opportunity this weekend. Houston suggested that he come up to visit, and we could head out for one of our photo treks. What he didn’t realize was that while … Continue reading A Surprise Photo Trek