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The sun glistens off of my skin as I stand out among tall trees, blue skies, and the magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains. Above me in the trees I see different arrays of birds in every shape and color. Their songs are melodious as they chirp and sing to their little heart’s content. There is nothing around me but God’s great creation the fabulous fields, the remarkable rivers, and the picturesque plants. The wind breezes by me as it gently blows in my hair. The sweet scent of honeysuckles that are at the edge of the immense woods, tint the air beneath my nose. Butterflies and bees fly around aimlessly in the cool crisp air as I sit here in the middle of this astonishing creation. This is my home, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
It’s a great getaway from the life of the city. It sure is nothing like it. There are tall, rolling hills instead of skyscrapers, long country roads instead of six lane super-highways, and serenity the best quality of them all. Nothing compares to the life of good ol’ Carroll County, Virginia. There is nothing that the city can do to take my mind off of that spectacular place. It will always be known in my heart as my home. Although I thought that I’d never hear myself say this, I really do miss the peace and quiet of my home back in the foothills. The big city life is just too much hustle and bustle for me. I’d rather just sit out on the front porch of my house and gaze at the wondrous beauty that God has laid before me.
Rising in great rows of emerald green and sapphire blue, the mountains form grand peaks, each resembling a mound of settling sands found in the bottom of an hourglass, they bow graciously, in witness to the testimony of time. Mountain summits, lush valleys, ragging white waters, pristine lakes, hidden waterfalls, wildflowers, hard wood forests, and wildlife are the essence of the Blue Ridge province.
The magic of these mountains is all around....from our majestic mountain peaks soaring over 4000 feet, to the crystal clear waters of Lake Blue Ridge, the Toccoa River or the babbling trout streams, to the clean mountain air, abundant wildlife and the mountain people with their warm Southern hospitality. The magic of these mountains really captivate my spirit.
These natural wonders have a majestic appeal, captivating the mind with their presence. These mountains changed from a Native American culture to a Pioneer culture, becoming populated by the descendants of Northern Europeans, especially the Scots, thus the name the Highlands. The Pioneers brought with them old world culture and traditions that melded into a mountain culture, unique to this Appalachian Mountain region.
In the later part of the 0th century, a new influx of people has migrated into this region. Tourism awakened the outer world with tales of the beauty and wonders. For nearly two hundred years, the mountain culture has held dominance over this region, and unfortunately this way of life is disappearing. People from across the country and around the world are reclaiming these mountains at a rate never seen before. Today we see a new breed of visitors who have decided to stay, retirees, families escaping the cities and entrepreneurs ready to service the growing communities.
Visitors may enjoy many things along the huge span of the Blue Ridge. Attractions and activities found along these mountains may include cabin rentals, bed & breakfasts, resorts, marinas, fly fishing, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, restaurants, art galleries, antique shops, real estate, log homes, events & festivals, and much, much more.
There are so many things to do while in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but the thing I like to do most of all is nothing. Yes, I said nothing. There is nothing more relaxing than a nice day out in the yard just sitting and doing…well…absolutely nothing. That is the whole wonder of life in the mountains. There is actually time and a place to sit around and just contemplate. Enjoy the birds in the trees, the picturesque landscape, and the joy that you get just looking at the world around you.
Another thing I don’t have to worry too much about back home is the crime. There is such a big difference in the crime rate here in Richmond and the crime rate back home in Carroll County. It’s a place where everyone is not afraid to leave their car doors unlocked, especially in their own driveways, or even they’re houses unlocked while they walk to the nearest produce stand for some of the local home grown apples, peaches, corn, and other foods indigenous to the area. I absolutely love the feeling of security. One really doesn’t have to worry about getting mugged on the street after dark or anything.
Another great thing about the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains is the Blue Ridge Parkway. I live only about ten minutes from this long beautiful stretch of road. It scales through Virginia on its way out into the great unknown. Time passes slowly through the ancient hills and smoky hollows of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The thin seam that separates yesterday from today becomes obscure as you travel this winding mountain road known as the Blue Ridge Parkway. Invisible walls exist along the ancient trails and dusty side roads. Boundaries, when passed through, may thrust you into other dimensions - suspended somewhere in time. This is a place of final retreat. The last stand of legends and myths, and forgotten memories that’s energy remains floating with the mist.
The Blue Ridge Parkway extends 46 miles along the crests of the Southern Appalachians and links two eastern national parks--Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains, crossing the North Carolina and Virginia state line at mile 16.. The 174 party that surveyed the boundary included Peter Jefferson; father of Thomas The parkway follows the Appalachian Mountain chain and provides seemingly endless views of many parallel ranges connected by cross ranges and scattered hills. From Shenandoah National Park the parkway follows the Blue Ridge, eastern rampart of the Appalachians, for 55 miles. Then, for the remaining 114 miles, it skirts the southern end of the massive Black Mountains, named for the dark green spruce and fir that cover them, weaves through the Craggies, the Pisgahs, the Balsams, and ends in the Great Smokies.
Trees, trees, trees are nearly everywhere. And come fall, many of them burst into color. Dogwood, sourwood, and blackgum turn deep red in late September. Tulip-trees and hickories turn bright yellow, sassafras a vivid orange, and red maples add their multi-colored brilliance. Finally various oaks put on a dash of russet and maroon. Evergreen trees include Virginia pine, white pine, hemlock, spruce and fir.
Flowering shrubs put on a springtime snow that rivals the display of trees in fall. Because of the range in elevation from 64 to 6,047 feet, peak blooming occurs at different times and places--somewhat earlier in Virginia than North Carolina. Flame azalea is at its best south of Roanoke to Rocky Knob about mid-May and in the high mountains west of Asheville about mid-June. Mountain laurel blooms along Otter Creek in mid-May and elsewhere on the parkway in the first two weeks of June. Dense thickets of catawba rhododendron turn purple north of Peaks of Otter to Onion Mountain and along the bluffs of Doughton Park the first week of June and in Craggy Gardens and through the Balsams after mid-June. Various wildflowers begin to bloom in April and continue into fall.
Wildlife is also a delight to see along the parkway. When the sun is high, groundhogs sit erect and chipmunks and squirrels chitter and chatter. At night, skunks, bobcats, foxes, opossums, and raccoons may be seen along the roadsides. Whitetail deer and black bears are present but seldom seen Look for them in the early morning or evening. More than 100 bird species can be seen during the spring migration season.
The stories of the independent mountain people are told at many overlooks and facilities along the parkway, including Humpback Rocks, Peaks of Otter, Mabry Mill, Brinegar Cabin, Northwest Trading Post, and the Parkway Craft Center at Moses Cone Memorial Park. In the Asheville area, be sure to stop at the Folk Art Center for craft demonstrations and for general parkway information and trip planning.
This is what I look forward to each time I come home. It’s also one of the many reasons why it’s so hard to come back every time. The majestic beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, especially in Carroll County, Virginia is really a splendor among all others. Sometimes I even wonder why I left such a spectacular area in the first place.
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