A Change of Pace

In Gallivan's Travels on March 21, 2019 at 6:55 pm

If you’re not going to just zip on by the country on the interstates, it’s a good idea to leave time to see some of the sights up close.
On day four of our trip, we left our friends behind in black Mountain and headed west again toward Asheville, a pretty little town in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Our first stop was one of necessity, however, not exploration. The kitchen water pump had sprung a leak, wh8ch I had not been able to seal with either of the sticky things I slathered on it when I got it as dry as possible. So, I a day earlier I had called a place I found online, called RV Service, and they were able to get me an appointment at 9:00 in the morning, with a promise that they had the part I needed.
One of the nicest things about traveling this way is that you get to meet local people who have no agenda except to help you with whatever they can. Jay and Mary and their young mechanic sent us across the street to find some coffee and a little breakfast, and had the part replace and everything set to go in less than forty-five minutes. Nice people, good work, and a cheerful, positive attitude.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is an amazing stretch of two-lane road running north to south through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Near Ashville there is a visitor center and folk arts and crafts museum called the Blue Ridge Folk Art Center. Now we are great admirers of folk artists, so we decided to head over for a look. This meant two things: that we were getting aways off track, and we would probably be spending the night in or near Asheville, a not impressive bit of driving since Black Mountain. Neither was a problem. We now had a full week to get to Austin and could afford some extra time for side trips.
The Parkway is incredible. I have driven some white-knuckle main roads through the mountains, but the part of the Blue Ridge we drove that day north from I40, meandered through the mountains gently. The ups, downs and grand curves were well maintained, easy to drive, and beautiful to see. The speed limit is only thirty-five miles-per-hour, so you can take your time without holding anyone up.
The Center houses some of the most incredible pieces fiber art, quilting, wood working, kaleidoscopes, painting, sculpture, jewelry, and just about every craft you can imagine. We were in the land of bluegrass music, so the references to banjos and dulcimers and fiddles and guitars were everywhere. There was also a store where the artists sold some of their creations, and it was all we could do not to buy things we couldn’t afford, couldn’t carry in Gallivan, and had no place to put when we get home. But we did buy wonderful book of color photos and discussions of contemporary quilting. There’s always room for another book or two.
After a brief nap in the parking lot, we headed south through the parkway, then off onto route 191 to the Lake Powhatan National Recreation Area and Campground. My senior pass (I have what’s called a Geezer Pass, because I got it several years ago before the price and the benefits changed) got us half-price for a basic campsite, a shower in the morning and refills for our water jugs.
The pump worked perfectly.
On day five, we took our time getting up, had a light breakfast, and headed for Knoxville, two hours down the road. The Big Ears arts and music festival is just beginning in Knoxville, if you’re in the are, but we only had plans to spend a day exploring downtown. We parked at the corner of the Old Town and walked over to Market Square for lunch. Tupelo Honey serves an excellent fried chicken and outstanding southern-style biscuits. Then it was around the corner to Coffee and Chocolate for some dark chocolate espresso beans and a chocolate chip cookie. Did I mention chocolate? We like chocolate. And coffee.
We then walked down to World’s Fair Park. I had not remembered that Knoxville had a World’s Fair sometime in the 80s, but except for a single pavilion, a signature structure called the Sphere, which is a tower topped by a gold-colored geodesic ball there is really not all that much to remind you. Gay street, however, is a blend of the arts and food and shops that will perfectly envelope the Big Ears.
It was getting late for us to get to our campsite for the night. So we headed north of I275 to Raccoon Valley and the Escapees RV Park, where you have to be member to stay awhile, but people passing through can spend one night for a pittance.
We had again not travelled very far, but far enough. Tomorrow we will head another two hours or so down the road to Nashville, looking to spend at least a day looking for some good music and new adventures.

  1. Sounds idyllic, I’m envious


  2. I just love reading your short stories. Sounds so wonderful and looking forward to day 6 and so on. Karen


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