Friday, June 4, 2010

Blue Ridge Parkway--Life in the Slow Lane

June 4, 2010
484 miles
Savannah to Roanoke

How Dick got everything packed in the car for this summer adventure is a trick worthy of The Great Houdini. We have a large suitcase just for boots and shoes, one for outerwear and specialized sports attire (our biking clothes, tennis togs, birding vests and such), and another just for Dick's camera equipment. Each of us has a suitcase and a computer bag, plus another little bag or two for extras that didn't fit in our suitcases. There is a food box; a geocaching tote bag; a cooler; and a big box with of our field guides (birds, butterflies and wildflowers), travel guides, maps and notes. And, our bicycles are on the rack in back.

We were on the road by 9 this morning, and cruising along the Blue Ridge Parkway by mid-afternoon. No mountain view pictures today—haze and humidity and pop-up showers made those mountains so blue that they hardly contrasted with the grey blue sky. Our attempts to find panoramic views were further foiled by the Park Service's apparent desire to let their scenic overlooks revert to their natural state. Over half of the overlooks no longer look over anything but trees.

We stopped along the Parkway at Orelena Pucket's little log cabin, where she lived to be 102. None of her 24 children survived past infancy, but, ironically, after age 50 she became a midwife and delivered over 1,000 babies. She delivered her last baby in 1939, shortly before she died.

Another of our favorite stops was at Mabry Mill, probably the most photographed site along the Parkway. Ed Mabry operated the combination grist and saw mill from 1910 until 1935. In tourist season Park Service employees run the mill and do demonstrations of blacksmithing and other typical activities performed there during its heyday, but we are just a little early for the season (although we are late for the rhododendrons).

We saw several turkeys, including a mother turkey and her chick crossing the road. It was the first time we have seen a turkey chick—it actually flew to catch up with its mom rushing for cover in the tall roadside grass.

We dallied so long that we didn't make it to Staunton, our original destination for today. Which means we are off to a great start, allowing the joys of the journey deter us from racing to the finish line. We are loving life in the slow lane once again.

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