Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip 2017

Day One: Driving to North Carolina

This afternoon, after I taught my Tuesday classes, I headed north on I-85 for Morganton, North Carolina, where I am (in my room at the Sleep Inn) as I type this. I'll go to sleep soon, hopefully sleep well and for a long time, and then get up tomorrow, partake of the free hot breakfast at this hotel, and then drive to Linville Falls to get on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I'll spend all of tomorrow driving and exploring and enjoying the mountains and as many visitors centers as I can find and maybe even some good barbecue.

I left Lawrenceville at about 1:30 and made it to South Carolina about an hour later, stopping, as I do whenever I get the chance, at the Welcome Center:



My favorite thing about a good Welcome Center is the remarkable supply of brochures for various attractions:



This wall-size map of the state shows where I was at the time (You Are HERE, it says up near the north-west corner of the state):



From there I drove to Greenville, where I went to one of the coolest Barnes & Nobles I've ever been in:





I bought The Wind in the Willows (which I already have, it being one of my favorite books, but which I needed a good paperback copy of) and Siddhartha (which I read more than twenty years ago but would like to read again), and then had either lunch or supper, I'm not sure which, at Panera:



The French onion soup was fantastic!

I drove for a while longer on I-85, then I-26, and at some point I stopped for gas and took this picture of the Blue Ridge Mountains from a distance:



I'm not sure exactly when I crossed into North Carolina; I was on a local road by then, and there was no Welcome Center to visit. I made it here to my hotel in Morganton around around 8:30, settled in, did some grading (unfortunately I do have work to do, but fortunately the WiFi here works very well), and then sorted through the pictures I took this afternoon. After I publish this, I'm going to bed.

 Wednesday, October 4 
Day Two: The Blue Ridge Parkway

This morning I got up earlier that I probably should have (since I ended up not going to bed until midnight last night, a mistake that creating this post is about to cause me to repeat), read for a few minutes, called home to check on everybody, then went down to the lobby for the "hot breakfast" the hotel claimed to have.



The "hot" part, disappointingly, was the waffles and the pre-packaged microwaveable Jimmy Dean sausage biscuits in the refrigerator above the yogurt. Still, it was an acceptable breakfast, but I am glad I was not there on one of the days that prompted management to post this sign:



After I checked out of the hotel, I drove about an hour north to Linville Falls, went to the Visitor's Center, and then got on the Blue Ridge Parkway and drove for the next eight hours, with lots of stops to see sights and take pictures of them (and also one stop for lunch at a Subway). Here, in chronological order, are fifteen pictures I took this afternoon and evening:






























(The circle in the picture above that looks like the sun is actually the moon.)


 Thursday, October 5 
Day Three: Coming Home

This morning I woke up at about 6:30 and couldn't get back to sleep, so I got dressed and went forth to check out the breakfast at this hotel, the Quality Inn in Sylva, North Carolina. This time, the "hot" breakfast promised by the hotel's Web site turned out not to be a lie: they had biscuits and sausage links and scrambled eggs, all very good, and one of those hotel waffle makers. It was a satisfying breakfast.

I puttered around the hotel for another couple of hours, reading, napping a little bit, before I checked out and headed home. The drive back to Loganville was mostly uneventful; I made a couple of stops but didn't take any pictures or see anything exciting. I didn't even buy any books, though I did stop at the Barnes and Noble at the Mall of Georgia. I made it home at about 3:45, just as Anna was getting back from picking up the girls from school. It was wonderful to see them all again!

Friday, September 29, 2017

More Napping

Still not feeling well, Elyse crawled into our bed to take a nap with Jupiter.



(The cats have enjoyed having her home today.)

Elyse on Skates

Elyse and her mommy went to the school skating night at Sparkles last night, and Anna sent me this picture:



Unfortunately, Elyse got sick on the way home with what we think is a stomach bug and won't be going to school today.

Update:

It's 11:45, and Elyse and Tessie are sleeping on the sofa. "My Little Pony" is still playing on the TV, as it has been for about five hours now, but I'm not going to stop it...I kind of enjoy it.



Another update:

Elyse woke up a little after noon, crying and saying her throat hurts. Poor little bear! That's better than throwing up, though, which is what she did several times throughout the night last night.

One final update:

She went back to sleep at about 12:25. I hope she sleeps a good long time; she really needs the rest.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Charging Along



Yesterday Anna forgot to plug in her Leaf (for the first time ever), so today we swapped cars... but I don't think that I can make it home on the remaining charge. So here I am at Walgreens, charging the car, eating a Mounds bar, drinking Dr Pepper, and blogging about it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Stone Mountain

This afternoon on my way home from meeting Pearl for lunch at Lenox I stopped at Stone Mountain to go for a short walk, and I took these pictures:





Tuesday, September 19, 2017

First Eggnog of the Season

For me, at least, the holiday season has begun.



(Yes, I know it's still technically summer. I'm okay with drinking eggnog when it's still technically summer, though I do appreciate the fact that all Kroger had was the autumnal-seeming Pumpkin Eggnog.)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Miscellaneous Recent Pictures

Here, in no particular order (except mostly chronological, actually), are some pictures I've taken with my cell phone recently, starting with these lizards (either Chinese water dragons or bearded lizards; I don't remember which) at PetSmart:


A rock I saw at Vines Gardens:


Me, at Vines Gardens:


The girls painting at Granny and Pa's house, on the day we went to celebrate Granny's birthday:




Jessica, a little lost in the maze at Vines Gardens:


Me and Jessica at Vines Gardens, with a painted rock in the tree behinds us:


A tree that blew over in our neighborhood during the storm last Monday (September 11th):


I can't really represent this in a picture, but today, Thursday, September 14th, is the first day the girls have gone to school this week. The hurricane that wrecked large parts of Florida over the weekend and blew through Georgia as a tropical storm on Monday did enough damage in our area, including lots of power outages, to cause Gwinnett County schools to be closed for three days. Anna is home today again, since Rockdale County schools are still closed.

Our house and yard suffered no damage during the storm, and our electricity only blinked out for a few seconds at a time three or four times on Monday.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Family Portrait: Happy Birthday, Granny!


We made this picture in the middle of July, but we've been saving it to give to my mother (or "Granny," as the girls call her, but they also know she's my mother) for her birthday.

Though Mom's birthday is actually tomorrow as I type this, we went to Mom and Dad's house for supper last night to celebrate Mom's birthday and we gave her a framed print of this picture, so now I'm posting it here.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

It's not directly related, but it seems relevant to post here this selfie that Jessica and Elyse took just a few days ago:


Sunday, September 3, 2017

To the Great Smoky Mountains and Back

Elyse learned about the Blue Ridge Mountains last week in school, and came home talking very excitedly about them. We decided a great thing to do this Labor Day weekend would be to drive up and let her see them firsthand!

We set out Saturday morning a little after 8:00, and, remarkably for us, drove for two hours without a single stop. We did have to take a little break around 10:30 to visit the restrooms and stretch our legs, and also (it turns out) buy a Scooby-Doo DVD and a couple of other things at the Walmart in Clayton, GA (where, incredibly enough, ninety miles from home, I ran into a former student of mine, a guy named Dennis, who's close to my age; he also lives her in Loganville, but also owns a home up there in Clayton. The phrase "small world" didn't get to be a cliche for no reason.)

After our stint at Walmart, we drove straight for another forty-five miles to our first planned stop, the Haywood Smokehouse, where Anna and Jessica and I had had lunch two years ago:


Elyse was not so happy to be there; she didn't like the smoky smell or the decor or the surroundings or the idea of having barbecue or the wait, but Anna and Jessica dressed up their forks and did a good job of distracting her with a Utensil Dance:


Unfortunately, Elyse didn't like the grilled cheese sandwich or the macaroni and cheese we ordered for her, but she did have a good time walking around Dillsboro and taking pictures after lunch:


Here's the picture she took while I was taking the picture above:


And here's a picture she took of her sister:


Elyse really wants our next house to have a balcony, so she was really attracted to this house:


We bought some chocolate (of a remarkably mundane variety, given their offerings) here:


Here are some of the pictures Elyse took in the Dillsboro Chocolate Factory:





Then we drove north for another hour, while Elyse read her Nancy Drew book in the car:


We made a brief detour to go through the McDonald's drive through in Cherokee to get Elyse some fries and hash browns (yes, two types of fried potatoes), and then we entered the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and stopped at the Ocanaluftee Visitor Center:






The chickens that roam the Mountain Farm Museum are clearly not pets, as pets are not permitted:






From this point, we drove north up Newfound Gap Road, all the way to Newfound Gap and the Tennessee state line; sadly, however, I don't have any pictures, because it was raining, and visibility was pretty poor. We turned around after we went through the first tunnel and returned to Cherokee, where it was not raining.

Elyse had become convinced at some point that this trip would not be complete until she got to pan for gold and gems at one of the many roadside mining places that you pass when you drive up into the mountains. We told her that doing so was just for fun and the experience of it, and that the chances of actually discovering anything valuable at such places was pretty slim; she seemed to accept that, but wanted to do it anyway. So, to help make up for the disappointment of the rainy mountain drive, we did:



Both girls enjoyed it, and it was an interesting experience, worth the ten dollars we paid. (We also got to keep the green bucket and the plastic shovel our load of dirt came in.) We didn't bother showing our finds to the assayers, however; the adventure of panning and getting our hands all muddy was reward enough.

Our hotel for the night was way back in Clayton, so from there we went south on 441, with only a short stop at the K-Mart in Franklin, NC, for some Advil. This is how Elyse amused herself while Mommy made her purchase:


Finally, after answering "Are we almost there?" about a hundred times, we arrived at the Quality Inn & Suites in Clayton, had some supper (leftovers from Haywood for Anna and me, McDonald's for the girls), and then the girls went swimming:


Here's the view from our hotel looking north up US 441:


And this is looking south:


The next morning we went to the lobby just after 7:00 (the beginning of breakfast time) to partake of the free hot breakfast (which was among the things that helped us decide on this hotel):


We checked out a little before 11:00 this morning, and made a spontaneous stop at Goats on the Roof just a few miles down the road in Tiger, GA:

(That's a real goat up there on the roof, a black one, blocking the word Goats on the sign.)




We looked around for a while, stuffed ourselves with ice cream (no, not before lunch--instead of lunch), then went another ten miles down the road to Tallulah Point Overlook:





After this we came pretty much straight home, then spent the rest of the day watching TV and trying to get over the post-vacation blues, which are just as real even when the vacation is only thirty hours long.