Bears, Bridges, and the Blue Ridge Parkway
Another great day of new adventures!! Started the morning in the usual way, hitting the snooze button a couple of times, a fresh cup of French press coffee, and hastily packing up the camper to head out on the road. It was a pretty typical start except for the 150 pound black bear that ran through the campsite as we were just pulling out. I heard what sounded like a Great Dane running in the camp, with its claws scratching the pavement, but to my surprise there was the bear!! After that moment of excitement, we were on our way to South Carolina!
The first stop on our trip was to Grandfather Mountain to cross the mile high swinging bridge. As we arrived, with camper in tow, a gentleman promptly came from the office to inform me that we wouldn't be able to drive up with the trailer and I would have to park it at the bottom. He was quick and courteous in finding a spot to safely drop off the camper. After unhooking, we were on our way to the top!
Just a fare warning… It took us a little longer to get to the main gate of Grandfather Mountain, mainly due to having to pull the travel trailer and maneuvering down teeny-tiny roads. It was actually on one of our many detours that we found the Winding Stairs Road, which was actually used during the Civil War to bring soldier from the low lands, to the mountains.
At 5282 ft above sea level (80 ft above the gorge) and with winds peaking at 35-40mph, this bridge is not for the faint of heart! We decided to take the 0.4 mile hike from the Black Rock parking lot to the bridge as opposed to driving all the way to the foot of the bridge. It was an easy hike that I would highly recommend. The State Park has done a phenomenal job making the bridge accessible to all people! The elevator, ramps, and other access points make this a very handi-capable friendly site.
As a souvenir for visiting the mountain, everyone is given a CD, used as a guided tour as you travel up the mountain. It is only fitting that our car, the jeep, did not have a CD player… GO FIGURE! Plan B… I whipped out the computer and used that as our guided tour while driving.
After a lightning fast hookup and raiding the fridge and pantry for snacks, we were back on the road... sort of. Though our parking spot was safe from traffic and we were able to do what we wanted to do, we weren't able to turn around safely. So we just drove the only way we could, forward! After 30 minutes of winding switchbacks and hairpin turns, I'd say I passed the master driver course of RVs.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is really fun to drive even with the added weight of the camper. I'm surprised that there haven't been more motorcycles and guys in two seater sports cars, but I'm glad to not be in their way, too.
As we made our way south, I saw a sign for Sierra Nevada Brewery and decided to make an impromptu stop on our journey. A gorgeous, state of the art brewery with a self guided tour and an enormous tap room and restaurant. We enjoyed a sampler of Hop Hunter IPA, Audition Orange Ale, Kb-156 Red Saison, and the Keller Pils. Their pretzel and beer cheese was amazing and we actually had cheese left over! That never happens!
The wings were perfect and paired very well with the Audition Orange Ale. Headed from there we ran into some more rain and some less windy roads.
Arrived at Table Rock State Park to find that the headquarters address is not the one for trailers and RVs. We headed over to the West gate and spoke with the very friendly young lady at the guest shop and was able to secure an awesome pull through. We also discovered a bunch of activities here such as horse shoes, hiking trails, fishing, and paddle boats. At $25 a night with electric and water hookup at each site and a double sided dump station on the way out, it's a great spot. We were happy also to find that they allow fires but unfortunately we got rained out again...
Tomorrow holds some new adventures as we get ready for Congaree National Park.