Blue Ridge Parkway

I spent last weekend at Harrison's and we had intentions of going hiking with Sailor. Rain was threatening all Friday and Saturday morning, so we opted instead to leave Sailor at his house and drive a ways down the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The Parkway is a national parkway running 469 miles from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the Shenandoah National Park through 29 North Carolina and Virginia counties. I have mostly been on the Parkway towards Asheville, so I was excited to explore some of the sights up near Boone. Harrison and I didn't really have a plan (I navigated from his house to the Parkway via a map, and I'm a little surprised we're not still lost somewhere in the NC mountains), but just wanted to take our time and enjoy our day together.

We got on the Parkway where it intersects with NC 18 and headed south. We stopped at a few overlooks, and even though it was cloudy, we still had some incredible views! As we wound through the mountains, we took our time and pondered how people who on the Parkway considering it closes at some points during the winter. If anyone knows, please tell us because we couldn't figure it out! The mountain laurel is starting to bloom, so that gave an extra element of "wow, that is so pretty" to our drive. 

We passed a field of what we thought looked like yaks, so I made Harrison turn around so I could put my camera to use! They turned out to be Scottish Highland cattle, a hardy breed known for tender meat. They were really cool- and the babies were precious! I'm still working on convincing Harrison to buy a couple (; (Side note- one of my favorite things about the Parkway, and the mountains in general, are the locust-wood fence posts!)

We stopped at the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park which includes the 1901 estate of the prosperous textile entrepreneur. The manor is now home to a craft center featuring handmade goods from local artists. The estate has miles of trails and we saw plenty of bikers, runners, dogs, and horseback riders! Harrison enjoyed reminiscing about rolling down the hill in front of the house as a kid. A few miles after, we came across Price Lake which looked like a lovely spot to go kayaking! There were tons of people enjoying the afternoon on the water and fishing. There was even a man stand-up paddle boarding!

We were getting hungry and trying to figure out where to go, but we ultimately decided on going to Grandfather Mountain to go across the Mile High Swinging Bridge! I had never been, and the price is a bit steep ($20 per person), but it includes a lot of other things, so we decided to pull the trigger. We went up the mountain first and quickly realized that they didn't lie to us about the wind. I was afraid of being blown off the mountain! Apparently, though highly debated, the highest wind speed on Earth was recorded at the top of Grandfather Mountain. The bridge itself is 80 feet above the gorge below it, but sits at 1 mile above sea level. I'm terrified of heights, but I didn't have too much of a problem crossing the bridge! After the short hike to the highest elevation I've ever been at (outside of an airplane), we made our way back down the mountain. One of the curves was ran by Forrest Gump in the movie (Tom Hanks actually filmed it himself, as opposed to his brother as his "run double"), so that was a neat tidbit to learn. They also have animal habitats (we saw a bear playing in her pool) and a museum that we looked through. 

After Grandfather Mountain, we headed to Boone and had a (very) late lunch at Lost Province Brewing Co. Downtown Boone is full of little spots, but we picked a good one! They have a "fancy" spin on pub/American food and really good beers. We had a buffalo chicken pizza and shared a flight of beer samples, which was the perfect amount for the afternoon.

We headed back relatively early, and thankfully so, because we ended up with a flat tire about 5 minutes from Harrison's house! Our adventures never have a dull moment!

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