My wife wanted to get out of the house and I thought it would be a great day to get on the Blue Ridge Parkway, our kids were visiting friends for the night and we were itching to get on the road. The weather wasn't bad at all at our house, but we knew we may run into rain along the way. We eventually hit a small burst of rain first near Roan Mountain on our way to the Linville, NC junction to the Blue Ridge Parkway. That rain did not last long at all and once my wife and I reached the junction we decided to head left towards Roanoke, VA. This section of the Parkway has a lot of fields, some overlooks and some cabins, towers and Mabry Mill. We hadn't been along this section of the Blue Ridge Parkway in a long time and thought it would be a nice change of pace. Usually we go from Linville, NC to Cherokee, NC, mainly for the vast views and terrific hiking trails.
Shortly after getting on the Blue Ridge Parkway I saw an entrance to the Mountains to Sea Trail and wanted to go spend a little time along that small part of the trail. There was an overlook nearby, so I parked there so Jody could enjoy the view and I could go explore for a little bit. The trail was as beautiful as ever as the wind blew the tall grass around. The trail was a bright and vibrant green and could only imagine that the thru hikers along this section must of been enjoying it immensely. I hated to leave the trail, but Jody was waiting on me and we wanted to work our way up to Mabry Mill.
We stopped at a few overlooks shortly after, you could see the clouds rolling in. Most of the overlooks were missing signs, probably to get repainted as many of them were in poor shape. The views offered up some really nice Appalachian landscapes with some beautiful farms. My wife and I then came across Cumberland Knob, we had never been here before. Cumberland Knob is a beautiful place for pic-nicks and has plenty of tables and grilles, they even have some really nice restrooms. Cumberland Knob was the first visitors center along the Blue Ridge Parkway and to be honest, I can't figure out why they stopped having one here. You could peak in through the windows, it looked like no one had been here in 30 years. An old Parkway map was under glass along the counter and an old fireplace was stoned up on the front porch. This place really needs to be restored, especially for the history. This would also be a terrific place for weddings.
After our stop at Cumberland Knob the rain started to pour down on us, but would let up here and there and at mile marker 208 I came across an open field full of cattle and an old abandoned home. I really liked the rolling hills here and was something really different to see along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Rain started to settle in on top of us as we finally started to pull into Mabry Mill, we had came a long way to get here and I wasn't going to let a little rain keep me from getting a shot of the mill. To my surprise I noticed the rhododendron in bloom and was very excited about getting a shot of the mill with it in it. I threw on my Peak Design rain cover (I love this thing) and headed down toward the mill. I spent about half an hour working my way around the mill and Jody and myself had the entire place to ourselves (that never happens). I was really excited about my Spring shot of the mill, I had been wanting a nice shot here for some time and finally had one I really liked.
Jody and I started back down the Parkway, we were ready to work our way home. Shortly after the rain began to let up and just before we got off at a junction I pulled off to another overlook. The moon was just peaking out of the clouds and everything had a blue hue. On the other side of the Parkway the sun was beginning to be enveloped by the storm. That was my last shots of the evening and we packed everything up and started to make our way home. After making our way through some beautiful back country roads we hit I-81 near Roanoke, VA. Eventually we made it to our favorite exit to stop and get gas and rest, exit 70 in Wytheville, VA. We went to Wendy's (that was a mistake) and then to Sheets. We went in to use the restrooms and pay for gas. I tired to sneak some cookies from my wife, but as we were walking out she noticed I had bought a two pack and wanted one. I really thought I would get away with it, I really wanted that other cookie. After get caught and loosing a cookie we started back home and made it there around 12:30 a.m., it was great trip and we both enjoyed it. Rain and all!
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