I didn't mean to go to Boone or Grandfather Mountain. I meant to go to Blowing Rock. My ultimate destination was Easley, SC to visit with Billy and JoAnn. I would not arrive until Monday, so I decided to set out on Saturday to allow for a detour. I had been reading about Blowing Rock in Blue Ridge Country magazine and knew it would be a place I would enjoy. Having decided on the spur of the moment to take this journey, I started calling at 9:30 Friday night for lodging on Saturday and Sunday. It is mid-October, and I am going to the mountains...with the rest of the world. My online search and a few phone calls resulted in a room at the Mountainaire Lodge in Blowing Rock for Sunday night but nothing for Saturday. I did, however, find a room in Boone on Saturday at the High Country Inn. Now I have an address in Boone, Blowing Rock and Easley. I printed directions to each destination and back home and am ready to hit the road.
I did not time the trip, but according to MapQuest I drove 259.6 miles in 4 hours and 9 minutes. I stopped once about 40 minutes from Boone. I had to. Kohl's gives you $10 to spend for every $50 you give them. But you have only a week to spend the money back to them. Today is my last day. I did not plan on stopping at Kohl's, but I could almost reach out and touch the store when I saw it. I had $110 to spend back. 2 sweaters, a zip up hoodie and a pair of jeans came to $105. Mission accomplished and it only took about 20 minutes.
Arriving at the Inn at 4:30 PM, I was very hungry. The young man at the front desk recommended Bandana's BBQ a few doors down so I went there before I even went to my room. Everything is slow cooked on the premises. The salmon, baked sweet potatoe and green beans were delicious. At 7:30 PM, I finally make my way to room 300. Nasty. A sleepless night.
Out at 7:30 the next morning, I settled for my most recent guilty pleasure, a McGriddle and coffee from McDonald's. I drove around for quite a long time exploring the countryside, ending up at Grandfather Mountain around Noon. The brochure says it is one of the most environmentally significant mountains the world and that the UN recognizes it as an International Biosphere Reserve. It is privately owned, but someone said it was just bought by the government. You can picnic and hike here and maybe see some of the 70 rare and endangered species if you look carefully.
From the highest swinging bridge in America, over a mile above sea level, you are rewarded by views of the southern Appalachians.
Leaving Grandfather Mountian, I explored the Banner Elk area (known for its Christmas Trees)...the town of Banner Elk, Sugar Mountain, Beech Mountain (both ski resorts) and Valle Crucis, a beautiful historic town best known for the original Mast General Store. Blowing Rock is next.