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Doughton Park, Blue Ridge Parkway 8/31-9/3/18

 

With the children back at school, it’s open travel season. Whoo-hoo!!! We hit the road to explore farther than we had ever been on the Parkway in NC. We have camped at Peaks of Otter and Meadows of Dan on the Parkway in Virginia, but took other routes to get there. As we entered the Doughton Park Recreation Area, we loved the split rail fencing and ridge top meadows on either side of the Parkway. Just before the campground, captivated, we had to stop at the Alligator Back Overlook to view the spectacular pre-sunset sky, lit up with gorgeous light on the clouds and an amazing view. It was quite a welcome and a good indicator of what was to come that weekend.

We drove into the small RV section of the Doughton Campground, MP 239 to our assigned campsite #A14, but decided it was the least desirable on the loop, not wooded and on top of the neighbors. We spoke with the ranger then chose a better wooded, more private spot #A4, just thrilled that Labor Day weekend there were any available. We have found much success getting non-reservable available campsites at the Parkway campgrounds, which is great. Sadly, the entire campground was made to suffer one travel trailer running their generator all hours permitted…We had gotten there at dark, so decided to stay the night then evaluate our other options in the morning. After our morning hike the following day, the generator was at full tilt, disturbing the peace and serenity, we had gone there to enjoy. We hiked over to the Doughton Van/Tent Campground across the Parkway. Thankfully, we were able to get a perfect wooded site that Happy just barely fit in. Site #B20 had an amazing dropped campfire/picnic area on a creek below the parking pad. It was just what we were looking for. Great move to the quiet tent area.

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Ashe’s big move to the Big Easy! 8/19-25/18

 

I left without Happy, Wiley, Nigel and Pippa to hit the road with my daughter, Ashe bound for NOLA on her new adventure, transferring to Tulane. It was an unforgettable mother-daughter road trip and week, getting her settled in her new city. It was HOT, but we were so busy having fun and enjoying the time together, I almost, almost, didn’t notice the oppressive, soul crushing HEAT.

On Saturday, we returned from dropping Miles off at Asheville School, camping at Rocky Bluff, and hiking at Max Patch. Ashe and I had planned to leave for New Orleans on Monday and drive straight through. She was no where near ready to go when I returned home…By Sunday morning, I had decided that driving straight through was not what I wanted to do. I got Ashe up and we whirled into action trying to wrap up the packing, so we could leave that afternoon to drive to Auburn, the half way point to spend the night. We got all packed and loaded then hit the road before 3:00. I had talked about camping at Chewacla State Park in Auburn, but that didn’t jive with Ashe’s road trip plan. We ended up getting a room at Tru hotel right across the road from Chewacla. It was right around $100, so nice and new. I had never stayed at this brand, but can tell you it is a carbon copy of Aloft. We were pleased with our find. I was so happy with the decision to break up the trip. Good call!

 

Drove through torrential ran most of both days. I did almost all the driving, due to the conditions. By the time we drove into New Orleans, the clouds parted and the sun shone down on us. It was a lovely welcome to Ashe’s new city. We drove to her new address and were so thrilled to see in person for the first time her new home. What incredible good fortune. She’s a lucky girl. Here’s the wonderful cosmic story: In June, upon mentioning to a tennis friend of mine here in the mountains (coincidentally, also a Memphis girl), that Ashe was transferring to Tulane, my friend told me that her best friend lives in NOLA, spends the summer up here too, and we needed to meet when she arrives for the summer. I then happened to mention that I was stressed, because Ashe was still overseas, backpacking around Europe for a month before returning to London for her internship for the rest of the summer and had just heard from Tulane that there was no on-campus housing available for transfer students. Ashe had asked me to help find her housing, since she was not able to call anyone or in a position to deal with it. My friend said, you’re not going to believe this, but my NOLA friend, has a pool/guest house. She isn’t here yet, because her tenant just moved out and she is having the carpet replaced then headed up to the mountains. She then sent me the friend’s contact info. The two of us talked and just like that, Ashe had her own little house, less than a mile from campus. When Ashe returned from overseas, the four of us got together for dinner here in the mountains. Ashe and her new landlord, hit it off smashingly well. I felt a lot better, knowing there would be a mom, I now knew, right there and Ashe would be safe behind their gate in their backyard. So grateful for the miraculous way this all came together. Simply, meant to be.

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Asheville School Move-in, Rocky Bluff Campground, & Max Patch 8/17-18/18

The morning we left to take Miles back to school, we got the call confirming his mono test was positive. What a way to start senior year…

One of the perks of being a senior at Asheville School is move-in day a day early and senior banquet prior to the underclassman arriving. We got Miles moved in and all settled, said our goodbyes, then made a snap decision to head up to Hot Springs to camp at Rocky Bluff in order to hike Max Patch on the AT at the NC/TN border, a longtime bucket list hike, the following day. Ashe was home packing for her big move to NOLA and Tulane. I would be leaving Wiley and the puppies that coming week to take go with Ashe to get moved in and acclimated to her new city. Rather than going to hang with the hippies for two nights at Darkstar Orchestra at Pisgah Brewing Company in Black Mtn, as planned, we decided a quiet couple of days camping and hiking together was in order, after all the craziness of traveling with the family then getting both kids ready for school. We blew off Dark Star and drove up the mountain from Asheville to Hot Springs. We had never been to this area of WNC before. Hot Springs was tiny and cute. We just drove on through, eager to get to the campground to see if we could get a campsite, if we couldn’t, we were just going to go to Darkstar.

We arrived at Rocky Bluff in Pisgah National Forest and were thrilled there was availability. The campground was a little rough with what looked like a few folks living there permanently, but it was ok. I am not adding it to my list of favorite campgrounds, but was torn, because the immediate area is gorgeous and the hiking from the campground was wonderful. Upon arrival, we hiked from our campsite on the lush 1.2 mi. Spring Creek Nature Trail through a hardwood-pine forest, rhododendron, wildflowers, mushrooms galore, and along the cascading mountain stream known for its trout fishing. Once part of the Brook’s farm an old house foundation, rock fences and a cemetery remain. Half way through our hike, the sky opened up and poured on us. We raced back to Happy. We were drenched and had to hang all our clothes up to dry in the van. Nigel and Pippa were not happy…To add insult to injury, it thundered and lightninged throughout the night, which terrifies them. Poor puppies had a rough night.

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