Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Visit To Western North Carolina

In April of 2008 I visited a couple of my beast friends who moved (as I did) out of California last year. They set up housekeeping in Western NC and this blog is about my idyllic two week visit there.

Along with the info provided here at BlogSpot- I also have an ongoing newsy blog at http://www.ekaweeka.com/drew_dobbs
which is where I tend to write more bloggy-blog things more often.

Below is a composite panorama of their front yard, driveway and the view to the east down the private road (recommend clicking on this one to blow it up).

Now lets head down the road to Mars Hill, NC -

They live with three lovely dawgs, two of which are of the Aussie varietay.
The countryside around them is full of beautiful farm spreads and old barns, almost all are red, and many are tobacco-drying barns, such as this one at the foot of their driveway.
"If this was my barn, it'd be a party barn!"
Right on!

Papa is mowing the "lawn" way down there with his new super-mower.
Monty joins me on the hill to watch daddy work.
NC is full of blooming trees this time of year, many of them red and warm colors. Below a view up the 30-to-50 degree steep mountain behind their house.
Morning fog.
Garden beds. Waiting for the threat of frost to diminish...
A view to the west on a sunny morning. I could spend many hours just listening to the birds and sitting around in these kinda places.
The rear of the casa.
Yet another shot facing down the road, from up in the former goat paddock.
Beautiful tree in the front yard.

A view out from the front porch. I'd been looking forward to coming out to visit and playing songs while sitting on the front porch, since that's one of those things that I am very fond indeed of doing. When I'm not out standing in my field.
A firepit lurks just to our right, out of sight in the pic below.
In the front yard facing the toolshed.
An out-of-order pic/ some snow that fell when it turned cold the weekend before I left. We had expected it would snow when we camped up in the mountains that weekend but it didn't materialize until we got back.
A short tour of some of the house, for those who remember their last pad.
There is art all over the place.

Not pictured: the kegerator. A very important feature to me. I never strayed too far from it. It lives near the pass-through window out of the kitchen, also just out of shot on your right.

The music room. Another place to make noise.
I finally learned the story of the guitar bought in North Beach on this trip. It came from a tiny and funky store I liked. I wish my upright piano sounded as sweet as theirs.
Next some not-too-exciting road views grabbed while riding here and there. There was so much fantastic stuff that went by when we really got into the backcountry on our way to the Appalachian Trail that went by too fast, or I was swaying too much on the curving switchback-y road...

Here's Monty looking out at an old barn on that ride I mentioned where we really got into hillbilly territory.
Our first hiking destination, on a mountaintop (MAX PATCH) overlooking the Appalachian Trail. Once again a chance for me to be outstanding in my field.

Looks/smells like a good place for a roll...
Lunchtime. We used to hike and camp together in the high Sierras back in Cali so I'm forever comparing other trips to those days. Western North Carolina is just as lovely in so many ways, and there's plenty of it to explore, fer sure.

Kind of a nice day for a hike.
Now we head down onto the A.T.
At first somewhat bundled-up, as it was a bit tit nipply. But our layers come off as we progress around the loop.

A couple of typically lovely Renee-shot texture pics.

Pappy and I trudge along.
"...must ... survive..!"

In Asheville we saw one of the most bizarre 'plates ever-
Where'd they get that word-?
Along with sitting and drinking and playing music on front porches I also like sitting outdoors at cafes and bars a lot.
The dawggies liked this place, too.
Wilma the dawg is caught making a very silly face (middle).
A waitress arrives with dawggy treats! This place is awesome! The bloody marys in foreground were excellent, too. If I could remember the name-- (THE USUAL SUSPECTS - thanks Renee)I'd recommend it. It's in Asheville. About the best time I had in that burg.

A bit of the good moonshine and you loosen right up.
On our next trip we head up into this country.
Some local camp names, such as "Spivey" (!) Gotta love it.

Despite the threat of bad/wet/and cold weather- we head out to Pisgah and the gorge for some waterfalls and camping thrills.
The visitor's center where we met a charming older couple who had fig newtons. Renee got a nice tree ID book.
I should have bought a cloth patch! Why did I wait- thinking I'd be back later (they were closed later)? -Fool-!

Linville Gorge info.
As always--concerned with tonight's fire, I immediately cased the area for kindling and burnables.
Tents go up, and the first day's relaxin' begins. I think she's reading a Foxfire book. (Actually I just noticed a detail that tells me that this is the second day of campin'. Whatever.)
Ahhh, now this is totally some meal prep from the first day. We always eat and drink very well on trips. Note banjo and other cases in the foreground.
Monty the dawg offers assistance in meal making.
Lots of fine tree types out there. Good hard woods for burning, too. I appreciate that after many less-than-ideal woods gathered on past California trips.
Kitchen magic in effect.

Perhaps this was the night Wilma escaped and then snuffled around a tent, frightening it's occupants.
Why, there's a spooky animal now!
Sun finally peeks out on a rainy morning.
Pouring rain did not deter fine breakfast burritos and coffee. And it led to the construction later that day of the party teepee.
Ain't no joke.

This was a breathtaking view spot.

Back at the campsite- we resolve to not be caught cooking food in the rain again! After some discussion about possible tarp-plus-tree rigging strategies- we hit upon just making a free-standing party tent from available tent-pole-like trees lying in the area.
Darned handy it was, too.
Here's a view from inside it.
And the front. I could actually stand up full-length in it (5'10"), which I can never do in my tent.

Some of Michael's rope work, inside.
Wiley in one of her favorite attitudes.

Off to the river to see some'a them waterfalls.

Wiley contemplates curvy rock formations and fast water.

Perfect "navigation shot".
View upriver -
...and downriver.
Curious about how to get down to the river far below- we took a challenging, slippery and steep trail through jungle brush to get there. Tough, but fun!
I love to almost lose the trail. This doesn't convey the super-steepness at all, it'd be hard to in 2-D.

Lunch by the river. After picking the appropriate lunchtable-rocks.
Wiley learns about water. It's wet and fun.
Not a fetch-monster yet, give her time, she's young.

"...the river curves this-a-way, and then doubles back on itself this-a -way..."
Monty waiting for the stick.
Example of Renee's Law : Bigger Every Night.
Cozy in the party teepee.

"Bigger! More wood!"
Party lighting in the party tent, as per usual.
Damned spooky wild animals, again...
Wilma maintains constant vigilance against bears and critters.
One last excellent breakfast before we pack it up.
The skeleton of the party teepee revealed.

And onto a beautiful mountain-ridgetop road heading home.
We pull over for a look-see.

All too much fun. Looking forward to my next visit to my hillbilly friends.
Last picture: a plaque found in Black Mountain, NC.

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