Monday, June 16, 2014

Day 3 - North Carolina

On Wednesday, Bob and Kathy took us on an incredible guided tour through the mountains and towns surrounding Jefferson that lasted about 5 hours!  We can't thank them enough for their hospitality and generosity and the great time we had visiting with them.  It's easy to understand when Bob says, more than once,  that he doesn't care if he EVER leaves Jefferson, NC.  You can tell they both love where they are and truly appreciate the beauty around them.

The day started with a visit to  the Mount Jefferson State Natural Area.  Mount Jefferson is located in Ashe County in West Jefferson, NC and reaches an elevation 4,665 feet.  It rises more than 1600 feet above the surrounding towns and from it's peak you can actually see the peaks of the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia, and the peaks in Tennessee.  Breath Taking!

The forests of Mount Jefferson  are best described in the NC Division of Parks website as a "botanical paradise".    The picture below shows just a little of that, with the wild flowers, and we loved the tree that actually grew around a large rock. 

And the picture below better shows the elevation.  There is a very large rocky area that protrudes out from the side of the mountain, that you can actually walk on.  Scary - because there is no railing at all.  A nice shot of Kathy and Rich.......and those two pictures on the right show just how far down it is to the ground!  Rich was so surprised that I ( who has a terrible fear of heights) not only walked on the rocks, but got close enough to the edge to get a good picture!  This one really did take my breath away. 

 From here we traveled to the nearby town of Glendale Springs, NC to visit the historic Holy Trinity Church of the Fresco built in this small town in 1901.   Buon fresco is the art of painting on wet plaster.  The paint is absorbed into the plaster and actually becomes part of the wall.   It is a type of art mastered by painters in Italy.  Ben Long, a native of NC, apprenticed in Italy and mastered this art, and sometime around 1972 offered to paint the Last Supper as a gift to the church.  Other paintings and sculptures can be see in the basement.  The first picture shows the outside and inside of the church ( you can see the aging of the church benches).  And outside is a large area where baptisms are performed.  

Below is the inside of the church and the basement that displays this beautiful artwork.

From here we drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic road that runs through the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, and connects to the Sky Line Drive in the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.   The parkway runs for over 469 miles, and offers scenic views, hiking and cycling.  No - we did not drive the 469 miles - just  a short trip where I was able to capture a few pictures.

The pictures below were taken on the Blue Ridge Parkway......and the other two were taken in Laurel Springs, NC, where we stopped for lunch before heading back to the cabins.  Freeborn's Eatery and Lodging is located right near one of the exits off the Blue Ridge Parkway, and is a favorite stop for bikers traveling through the area.  Friendly place to stop and very good food.  Across from the restaurant was this little white building that said Jail and Wedding Chapel!  Love it!

Bob and Karen showed us around the town of Jefferson and then we headed for home.  It was a very fun day, and a very educational day.  So glad we decided to stop here.  Definitely a place we will always remember.

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