Sunday in the Blue Ridge Mountains

I chose these images for Sunday in My City, a photo forum that has folks posting pictures on Sunday of their cities. I usually post pictures of my town, Wilmington, NC. But I have so many photos of other places in North Carolina, that I decided to do something different.

These are some of my favorite pictures from our trip this year to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I fell in love with the funky, old, fifties-style signs that I saw everywhere.  I took so many pictures of just signs that, well, I had to do something with them. So, a photo collage!

If you click on the image, you can see a bigger version of it.

Here are some of the photos with a little bit of explanation.

This is typical of the road side stands that you will see in the North Carolina mountains. Pork rinds and boiled peanuts are popular items. Don’t knock ’em ’til you’ve tried ’em, y’all!

The purpose of our trip was to drive our new red corvette on the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap. On the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, Deals Gap is a popular and internationally famous destination for motorcyclists and sports car drivers. It is located along the 11-mile stretch of two-lane road known as “The Dragon” or the “Tail of the Dragon”, which has a stunning 318 curves!

This is a photo of the Tree of Shame, which is a collection of parts from motorcycles that have crashed on the ride, all nailed randomly to the large oak tree.

I couldn’t resist getting a close up of this part, left by a female rider. Please forgive the *ahem* very unladylike  language.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic drive of  469 miles connecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. It features stunning views, abundant hiking trails, picnic areas, campsites,  interpretative exhibits and many areas to pull off the road and take photos. Known as “Overlooks,” these areas often include a short hiking trail that allows you to get off the highway and explore the natural surrounding on foot.

It was at one of the overlooks that I wandered a bit back into the woods and discovered this cross. It appeared to be marking a grave, and the whole experience was a little creepy. Especially the name, Luther.

This photo was taken on the Cherohola  Skyway.  I apologize for the poor quality of this one, but it was hastily snapped through the window of the car. All the arrows in the signs caught my eye.

I’m thinking the Warrior Hotel hasn’t changed their sign since about 1962! And they have electric heat and air!

My husband thought it would be real funny to get a picture of me in front of this sign, y’all.  This isn’t just a great picture for Halloween. This is an actual overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I have no idea why it is named the Big Witch.

These signs made me hungry.

This sign, one of hundreds just like it, is what you see on the Tail of the Dragon. It is like driving on a roller coaster in your car.

We stopped at this little store for gas, and a bottle of water. Inside, they have absolutely everything. I would tell you where it is, but we were hopelessly lost. The man sitting on the porch found us to be very amusing.

Happy Halloween, y’all!

To participate in Sunday in My City, visit Unknown Mami and link up! Let’s visit and travel the world together.

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You Capture Autumn

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For my birthday in November, the year I turned 49, my sweet husband and I went to Asheville, North Carolina, which is right smack dab in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We stayed at this majestic place called The Grove Park Inn.

Built from granite boulders hewn from Sunset Mountain, The Grove Park Inn opened in 1913. At its opening dinner, William Jennings Bryan declared that it had been “built for the ages.” In the decades since it has become one of the South’s most famous and venerable resorts.

The hotel was the vision of E.W. Grove, a St. Louis entrepreneur who made his millions in the 1890s peddling an elixir called Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic. Modeled after the grand old railway hotels of the West, the Inn was built from a sketch made by Grove’s son-in-law, the enterprising Fred Seely (who would become its first general manager). It took a crew of 400 men only 12 months to build the majestic landmark, dragging hundreds of tons of boulders up the mountainside with the aid of teams of mules, ropes and pulleys, wagons and a lone steam shovel.
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This is a photo of us, standing in front of one of the massive fireplaces in the lobby. This lobby is known as The Great Hall — and for good reason. Measuring 120 feet across, the hall features 24-foot ceilings and two gigantic 14-foot stone fireplaces. It’s famous for the elevators cleverly hidden in the chimneys of the stone fireplaces (put there to conceal the noise of the machinery), which continue to transport guests to their rooms today.

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This is the other fireplace, decorated and ready for Christmas.

It’s hard to believe today but there was a time soon after WWII when the only thing that kept the Inn standing was the prohibitive cost of tearing it down. Fortunately, in 1955, the hotel caught the eye of Dallas businessman named Charles Sammons. Under the stewardship of Sammons, the Inn was fully restored and, in1973, it was named to the National Register of Historic Places.

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With the restoration the contemporary wings of the hotel were added, and beginning in 1998, a period of intensive renovation and expansion occurred, culminating in the creation of the resort’s $42 million Spa. This photo shows the back of the Inn, which features a dramatic waterfall above the Spa. The Spa, built into an underground rock cavern, is more than 43,000 square feet in size, and includes mineral pools with soothing underwater music and nearby waterfall pools. There is also exhilarating contrast pools, a lap pool, an inhalation room, sauna and a eucalyptus-infused steam room. You can sip herbal teas and savor refreshments in the lounge.

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Although The Grove Park Inn is a destination all unto itself, no trip to Asheville is ever complete without a tour of the Biltmore House and Estate. Said to be America’s only real castle, George and Edith Vanderbilt’s 250-room family home and country retreat is open for tours every day. You will see original art from masters such as Renoir, magnificent 16th-century tapestries, Napoleon’s chess set, a library with 10,000 volumes, a Banquet Hall with a 70-foot ceiling, 65 fireplaces, an indoor pool, bowling alley, and priceless antiques. Opened to friends on Christmas Eve 1895, this French Renaissance chateáu remains America’s largest privately owned home.

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But the main star of this trip is the mountains themselves. In November, the trees have lost most of their leaves, leaving the mountains barren, but perhaps even more beautiful.

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Y’all really ought to visit the lovely and talented Pseudonymous High School Teacher today.  Pseudo, as she’s affectionately referred to, lives in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. Anyhoo, she has started a great thing over at her place called Travel Tip Thursday – every Thursday she and anyone who chooses to participate will do a little “travelogue” about a place close to home.

I found a new photo blog to participate in on Thursdays! It’s called You Capture. Every week there is new theme. This week’s was “Red”

Click on the link here to read about how to play along. Then, do your best to visit the other participants’ site – everyone loves the traffic, the comments and the feedback (not just you!) Next week’s photo challenge is Still Life. I can’t wait to tackle that one!

Shadow Shot Sunday – Grape Vines

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This is a picture of me, at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. The vines growing up the trellises are grapes the are used to make the famous Biltmore Wines.

This is for Shadow Shot Sunday, a cool idea for a meme that has folks posting photos of shadows, and then linking back to Hey Harriet’s blog so everyone can visit each others pictures. (And leave comments – the blogger’s crack.)

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Scenic Sunday Mountains

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This is my fourth week of posting for Scenic Sunday, a photo meme of scenery, held every weekend.  It can be anything you feel is a scenic photo; landscapes, flowers, buildings, or whatever.To join, just post your best scenery shots and link back to Scenic Sunday. Then visit all the other photos and comment. You won’t believe all the beautiful and scenic photographs you’ll find.

These majestic mountains are what you’ll see on the  Blue Ridge Parkway, near Asheville, North Carolina. This shot was taken in November, a time when most of the trees are bare.

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Ruby Tuesday

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Ruby Tuesday is a photo sharing concept, or meme, if you will, y’all. Every Tuesday you post one of your own  photos that contains something red. It can be a whole lotta red, or a little bit of red. I liked the eclectic collection of pictures I saw over at  Work of the Poet, so I decided to play.

Now I’m really not very subtle, as a rule. I like things that are over the top. So I chose a whole lotta red for this weeks photo. This is me, in the little touristy gift shop at the Biltmore Estate, in  Asheville, NC, tryin’ on a red hat. I’m not a member of any red hat clubs, but you never know. I might need one someday, and I think this here one would be perfect. What do y’all think?

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Gargoyles or Grotesques?

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This is for Wordless Wednesday, Saturday’s Edition. But I just have to write a few words, y’all.

These creatures perch on top of the  majestic Biltmore House, in Asheville, NC, which was built in 1889. If you haven’t been there to see it, you really need to go. The estate’s owner, George Vanderbilt, worked with two of the most distinguished designers of the 19th century: architect Richard Morris Hunt (1828-1895) and landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903). The  four-story stone house  has more  than 11 million bricks, and a massive spiral staircase that rises four floors and contains an iron chandelier suspended from a single point, containing 72 electric light bulbs. Hunt modeled the architecture on the richly ornamented style of the French Renaissance.
The word ‘gargoyles’ is derived from an old French word gargouille, meaning throat. Technically an architect calls a waterspout on a building a gargoyle. If a stone carving does not carry water and has a face that resembles a creature, it is called a grotesque. Some believe that gargoyles and grotesques are inspired by the skeletal remains of prehistoric dinosaurs and other fossils.
It is said that gargoyles were created by medieval architects and stone carvers to ward off evil in an imperfect world.