I try to find a picnic area of which there are many, to brew a pot of coffee and eat whatever I can scrounge up for breakfast.
I keep a watchful eye out for bears who might smell the coffee! I did see a young bear scamper across the road somewhere on the way, and have seen lots of female turkeys. Even at 35 mph you go by them pretty fast.
When I got on the BRP which has a 45 mph limit it seems like I am speeding. Actually you can't maintain anything over 25 because of the constant curves. Good thing I don't get carsick!
So I arrived in Asheville last night and found a motel in Black Mountain where I paid for two nights. I love this area and it seems more like home to me than anywhere I've ever lived. The people here are unlike any others, incredibly friendly and polite, and their accents just thrill me - soft and sweet as butter, smooth and lovely as silk. I made a trip to the store where I always bought my beer, and had to tell the guy at least three times I wanted ice! It isn't pronounced eye-ss, but a-sss! They still have the sign outside that says "Proud to be American Hillbilly Owned". I love it.
I also checked that the Huddle House is still in Black Mountain as I will have my breakfast there tomorrow - they have the best grits and gravy on the planet!
I drove back on the BRP about 20 miles or so to Craggy Gardens, and I actually climbed to the overlook on top, which is .7 mile one way. Thanks to Judy I had her walking stick or I would never have made it. Make it I did, though I was definitely the only old person on the trail. I stood aside and let people pass me on the uphill as well as downhill climb. I did that trail only a few years ago, kept up an actual pace and even made conversation with my companion. Those days have slipped away for sure.
I believe this first pic was taken at Bull Creek Valley. A sign says that the last buffalo seen in this locality was killed nearby in 1799 by Joseph Rice, an early settler. I didn't even know there were buffalo in this area at one time.
The road from whence I climbed:
If you click on the pictures they enlarge. This picture shows the Swannanoa Valley in the distance, with all its buildings and civilization. I used to live "up the mountain" from Swannanoa which is barely visible in the photo.
I returned to Black Mountain and drove over to Tomahawk Lake to eat my lunch, then walked around the lake for old time's sake. Here are my old friends, the "Seven Sisters". (Kind of confusing because there are many more peaks than seven.)
I'm not sure what happened to the hundreds of waterfowl that used to be in this little lake. There were even Mandarin ducks as well as other uusual kinds, but now there are just a few. It is certainly a lot easier to walk around the lake and there aren't hordes of birds rushing up to demand food.
I apologize for the number of photos. I even left out some narrative because I wanted to keep it within reasonable size, but I do want to catch up so that I don't need to cover so much time and territory in future posts. Tomorrow if the weather looks decent I will continue with the remaining 50 or so miles of the BRP; otherwise I will just go on to Cumberland Gap. Stay tuned!