Today we will be riding the North Carolina stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The day is overcast and the weathermen are calling for showers but hopefully not too hard or too long. We know that there are not many places to stop for gas so that was our first chore for the morning so we headed to the town proper of Fancy Gap on our way to the entrance of the parkway.
It was wonderful driving down the road and seeing the mist rising from the mountains at from the Lump Overlook at an elevation of 3465 feet. Looking at these vistas is just so beautiful that at times it takes my breath away and brings tears to my eyes. I just never get tired of being surrounded by nature’s beauty. Beauty I might add that for years I missed by riding in a car. You know how it is you’re riding down the road and you want to change the music on the radio, or you’re reading a book, or it’s time for a snack. So many distractions that you miss the very sights you came to see. Well, I have been guilty of that many times myself.
It indeed started to rain so had to stop at the Northwest Trading Co. to put our rain suits on. We ran into a Canadian couple from Ontario that we had met the day before doing the same. Fortunately the rain was at times very gentle and other times just a drizzle so was not uncomfortable at all. The rain did not diminish our views of forested mountains and wildflowers along the road. In the springtime you drive down these roads and they are resplendent with purple rhododendron.
Somewhere after Doughton Park and Linville Falls we were driving along and as usual I was looking one way and Randy another. We were just coming to an overlook when I heard Randy say, “Bear!” into the helmet’s microphone. By the time I turned and pressed the start button on my camera all I could see was the bottom half of the bear and with his hind legs leaping into the forest and running up the hill. Randy was so excited because he had seen it cross the road. I wondered why we were slowing down I thought perhaps he was getting ready to pull into the overlook. He thought the bear was a cub and slowed down thinking the mother would not be too far behind. A bear sighting it was for Randy a banner day indeed.
Today we encountered several stoppages as work was being done to the road, sides of the road were being mowed and damaged tree limbs were being cut down. But not a problem as each stoppage was very short in duration.
Famous Louise’s is actually listed on the national register of historic places by the United States Department of the Interior. Very impressive I thought. We went in and were told to sit where we wished. I found a really nice corner table for two with a window view of the road. Just a nice quiet place for Randy and I be together I liked that.
It was only just twelve and already the restaurant was pretty full. While we were there people kept coming. As soon as one car would vacate a parking space another would take its place. Now that was a good sign. The menu was filled with many sandwich selections like Hickory smoked barbeque and Meatloaf on toast, homemade pimento cheese, burgers, country ham and many others. I walked around the restaurant for just a moment to see what other patrons were ordering to get a feel for what was popular as many other people here looked like they were regulars.
As I walked around I noticed that most people were ordering from the ‘Entrée’ part of the menu. This included selections such as catfish, BBQ plate, Mountain Trout, Meatloaf and others. These entrees were served with French fries, coleslaw, rolls or hushpuppies or three vegetables and all at a cost of between $6.95 and 11.95. What a deal!!
Randy ordered the BBQ plate with fries, hushpuppies, coleslaw and a biscuit. He really enjoyed the barbeque and said it was really good. I decided to order a hamburger I just knew it would be good here and it was. They also had a kid’s menu as well as an extensive side order menu.
While we were eating I saw Randy concentrating really hard on something that was going on outside so decided to investigate. There was a group of four motorcycles that came to the crossroads. One bike, the white one, went to the right the other three went to the left. The white one pulled into the restaurant’s parking lot and was feverishly waving for the others to follow. The three came to a halt and just sat there for what seemed to be a long time. Eventually the white bike turned and went up the hill to talk to the leader of the three. It didn’t go well because eventually the white bike left and went back to the right and down the hill.
The three bikes pulled into the parking lot of the post office and conferred on what to do next. Two female riders went in two different directions with maps in hand I suppose to get directions from someone local. A half an hour went by and eventually they all mounted up and went down the same road the white bike had originally said that they should. I hope they met up somewhere with no hard feelings.
We hopped back onto the parkway and continued on our journey. We stopped at Craggy Gardens to take a break and to enjoy the view. I went in to talk to the park rangers and was told we were sitting at roughly an elevation of 5500 feet. Randy had been trying for the past two days to get us a reservation at the Mt. Pisgah Lodge but to no avail so we decided to go to Asheville for the night instead.
We found a really nice home for the evening and asked the desk clerk if he could recommend a good restaurant for dinner. The only places to eat close to the motel were Burger King and Wendy’s. I was not going there even if it meant not eating for the evening. He pointed us down the road about a quarter-mile to a Mexican restaurant that he said was really good. Quarter-mile wasn’t so bad so off we went.
The restaurant, Cocula Mexican Restaurant was very nice. Good service, great menu the food was delicious and the prices were reasonable. We could not have been happier. During dinner we discussed the next day’s ride. The temperature was getting hotter and we could feel home getting closer so Randy decided it was time to hit the Interstate.
So, tomorrow we hop onto Interstate 95 and head for Hardeeville, South Carolina.