Lake Powhatan Campground to Bear Creek RV Park, Asheville, NC
Thursday, June 1, 2006 … 8 Camper Miles – Total 1,266
Hot and muggy, t’showers in the evening
In the morning we met our next door neighbors, a young couple named Graham and Jill, from the Richmond area who gave us some insight on places to camp and visit in the area.
We decided on a couple of lay days so we looked over alternative campsites nearer town and settled on Bear Creek Campground. It was a bit expensive compared to what we were used to but it was close to the city and shopping and was equipped with WIFI (included in price). There we set up “camp”, nestled in this cozy little triangle bounded by I-40, I-240 and NC-191, surrounded by immense motor coaches and fifth-wheel trailers in a site where the free WIFI didn’t quite reach. It was a hot day, so the air conditioner drowned out most of the traffic noise and Bill actually got quite a bit of writing done.
Sandy explored the area by car and got a much-needed pedicure after all our heavy-duty hiking! She also found a great buy on a couple of novels for Bill. Between writing bouts, Bill met our next door neighbors, a group of Hungarian and Bulgarian acrobatic performers with the Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus who were spread across three sites adjacent to ours. The circus was playing in Asheville this week so they were able to stay put for a few days. They were four months into a 20 month total tour. They were pretty amused by our Tin Tent.
Bear Creek RV Park
Friday, June 2, 2006 … 0 Camper Miles – Total 1,266
Heavy rain on-and-off most of the day and night.
Sandy started to do the laundry at the campground but the dryer was slow so we went into a laundromat in town. Bill wrote and watched the clothes in the laundromat while Sandy did a bit more exploration of the area. Back at the campsite, Bill finished and posted web site updates. Sandy checked out the nearby shopping mall and found a couple of amazing clothing buys.
That evening we went downtown to explore the city but a light rain curtailed our exploration. So, we moved dinner up the schedule and stopped at a restaurant named Early Girl Eatery. The place is right downtown on Wall St. overlooking Battery Park. We recommend it very highly. The food was excellent and the prices reasonable. Bill just loved his eastern NC style pulled pork barbeque (vinegar, hot sauce and spices, hold the catsup) with spicy sweet potato fries and slaw while Sandy raved about her wild salmon dinner.
Afterwards, we drove to Kitchen & Company on the east side of town where we finally found a tiny, one-cup coffee maker for Sandy to replace the French press that broke on our first day of the trip.
Bear Creek RV Park to Mt. Pisgah,Blue Ridge Parkway, NC
Saturday, June 3, 2006 … 40 Camper Miles – Total 1,306
Bright Sun am w/ cooler temps.
We bid farewell to Bear Creek about 11:00 and headed for Mt Pisgah via Lowes, Staples & Ingles Supermarket. A couple of hours later we set up camp in Mt Pisgah. This was a lovely campground with beautiful, wooded sites.
We quickly decided to hike to one of the nearby overlooks, Fry Pan fire tower. Near the summit we were passed by a mountain biker. We again saw him at the top of the spindly, old fire tower. It turns out that he lives in one of the three or four homes in Talmadge, PA, near Lancaster! He’s working for the season at the restaurant at Mt. Pisgah Inn.
That evening we availed ourselves of the evening’s ranger presentation entitled Beneficial Bats. We learned more than we probably needed to know about bat dung and the worker conditions when mining bat guano for gunpowder ingredients!
Mt. Pisgah to Mile High Campground, Maggie Valley, NC
Sunday, June 4, 2006 … 50 Camper Miles – Total 1,356
Cool am, warm & sunny later, then heavy rain and chilly.
Having heard good things about the Mt. Pisgah Inn restaurant from our Talmadge acquaintance, we decided to try the place for breakfast … delicious and the view was spectacular. While there, Sandy checked out the room rates and they’re quite reasonable, $89 for a deluxe room, and the views are the same as at the restaurant. And, it is close to Asheville!
Afterwards, we hiked the trail up to Mt. Pisgah, proper. At the summit, we met a couple, Pat & Lloyd Clark, from Ashville. He has a sailing background and they’d done lots of camping in a small Airstream. We had tons of things in common and our conversation went a mile a minute. It was disappointing to have to leave them. They did turn us on to a local knowledge trail at mile-mark 417 to so-called Skinny Dip Falls. It was a nice little hike and, apparently, very popular since there was quite a crowd at the falls. There were several falls and associated plunge pools suitable for swimming. No one was skinny dipping it being a crowded Sunday afternoon, but we can easily imagine how the place got its name.
Back on the road, it began to pour as we approached the southern end of the Parkway and we sat out the storm and accompanying fog at Waterrock Knob Visitor Center. When the rain stopped and the fog cleared, we resumed our trip to the day’s destination, Mile High Campground. It’s a private campground just off the side road to Balsam Mountain near mile post 456. The place is literally a mile high (elev 5,400 ft). The sites are primitive but they do have a hot shower. The real draw, though, is the spectacular views from the campsites. The edge of our site “fell off the world” and we had an open view across spectacular mountains, as nice as any overlook on the Parkway.
After setting up, we drove to Maggie Valley … a tourist strip of motels, restaurants and gift shops …. not our style. But, they had cell phone coverage and we stopped in a motel parking lot so Sandy could make some calls while Bill latched on to the “free wireless” internet access advertised on the motel billboard to do e-mail and update MS Money.
For dinner we had Mile High Chicken Stew … yeah, another one of those secret family recipes … chicken, chicken broth, carrots, broccoli, onion, tomatoes, thyme and Tai rice sticks. It was very chilly and hot soup hit the spot.
Mile High Campground
Monday, June 5, 2006 … 0 Camper Miles – Total 1,356
Awoke to temps in low 40s but sunny. Chilly, windy day
This morning we awoke to 40 degree temperatures! We decided to walk at Balsam Creek Campground, actually inside the Great Smokies National Park. We did a short part of Flat Creek Trail just past the creek and back. It was a pretty walk but not too interesting. After the hike we returned to Mile High for showers. We actually would have taken showers earlier, but it was a COLD morning and the showers were WELL ventilated. It was a good thing that we waited until later in the day!
That afternoon we drove through Maggie Valley to Waynesville. This was a very nice place with a prosperous downtown. Sandy’s hiking boots have been giving her trouble. They fit great and were very comfortable but the soles were delaminating at the foam layer between the outer sole and the insole. A visit to a local shoe repair guy convinced us that the soles were un-repairable and would have to be completely replaced with the manufacturer’s original molded soles. That wasn’t going to happen soon, so we stopped in the local Mast General Store and found a new pair for her. Top money for top drawer boots … hope they last!
We had lunch at the Patio Grille and explored a few of the area’s many lovely shops. They weren’t selling anything we needed or could store in the camper, though, so we got off cheap … except for the boots!
We stopped at a grocery store for supplies and returned to the campground for a dinner of burgers and salad. Afterwards, we walked around, stopping to talk with the resident campground hosts and some of the other campers. Our neighbors came over to look over the Aliner. The little wonder never fails to draw a crowd. Temperatures were dropping rapidly as we went to bed, so we slept with the furnace on.