Tag Archives: Craggy Gardens

Breathing

I just returned from my trip to the mountains of Western North Carolina. We camped out on our land in our little blue teardrop trailer and we spent a lot of time with my sister and brother-in-law, who have an adorable cottage just over the ridge from our land. We could only escape from the Florida heat for about five days, but they were delightful days.

I think everyone in our party would agree that the best day was the one we spent on the Blue Ridge Parkway. My sister packed a picnic lunch in a real picnic basket. She actually made the bread for the sandwiches. There was even a checked tablecloth that used to belong to our mother. It was a perfect picnic and we went up to the Parkway to find a perfect place to enjoy it.

Our first stop was Mt. Mitchell. Mt. Mitchell is the tallest peak in the eastern United States and we never go to North Carolina without making the climb to the summit. A sign at the visitor center told us not to worry about the bugs, that they might look like ticks, but they were harmless weevils. We wondered if we would see any of these weevils, but we couldn’t miss them. The observation tower at the top of Mt. Mitchell was crawling with them. They were on the benches and on the railings and all over the signs that pointed out the various other mountains you can see from Mt. Mitchell.

Two weevils.  I don't know which is the lesser.

Two weevils. I don’t know which is the lesser.


Some days, all you can see from the top of Mt. Mitchell is fog, but this was not one of those days.
We could see forever.

We could see forever.


We spent some time admiring this view and then we went back to the Parkway and drove to the Craggy Gardens Picnic Area, which was a perfectly beautiful spot for an outdoor meal. We found a table in the shade and enjoyed sandwiches, chips and fresh fruit. My sister brought hot water in a Thermos so we could have coffee and tea with our meal.
A Perfect Picnic

A Perfect Picnic


We lingered over lunch and then we put our picnic things in the car and headed for the trail to Craggy Flats. We had been to Craggy Flats before but we had always used the shorter trail from the visitor’s center. This trail was a bit more challenging, so we took our time and rested here and there along the way. The view at the top was definitely worth the hike.
Worth the Hike

Worth the Hike


We also enjoyed the long grass, the tiny wildflowers and the gnarled trees, which were so climbable even we older folks could not resist.
Tree

Tree


No, I did not do any painting while I was up there, but I sure did some wonderful breathing.

Healing Time

My husband and I had been planning for weeks to spend out fortieth wedding anniversary in North Carolina, but then he had a heart attack and we were afraid his doctor would not let him travel. We asked about it at his follow-up appointment in early June and were delighted when the doctor said it would be all right, as long as my husband was careful rebuilding his strength and didn’t try to do too much.

We had to rule out camping on our land, but we did not have to rule out North Carolina. We spent a few days, including our June fifteenth anniversary, at a hotel in Asheville. Then we spent two days at my sister’s cottage near Burnsville. Her cottage is just over the ridge from our land, so we were able to visit and check on our overgrown bench and fire pit. We also planted a new Japanese Iris, which we had bought at the tailgate market in Asheville.

The market was a feast for the eyes. I was wishing I could just set up an easel and paint for hours, right in the middle of it. There were buckets full of sunflowers.

Sunflowers

Sunflowers


There were baskets of colorful squash.
Squash

Squash


There were pies.
Pies

Pies


And there were irresistible irises.
Iris

Iris


We went straight from this market in Asheville to the smaller one in Burnsville and then we took our new iris to our land to plant it. It joined a red hot poker we planted last year and a Korean Lilac we planted a few years ago. We were pleased to see that the older plants had survived and were doing well. We spent some time relaxing on my sister’s front porch before we drove back to Asheville.
Getting Ready to Plant

Getting Ready to Plant


Relaxing With This View

Relaxing With This View


Asheville is lovely and we enjoyed our time there but we wouldn’t go all the way to North Carolina and not visit the Blue Ridge Parkway. One day, we went to Mt. Mitchell with my sister and her family. Another day, we went to Craggy Gardens. Mt. Mitchell is my husband’s favorite spot on (or near) the Parkway. Craggy Gardens is mine. On a normal trip, we would hike the trail to Craggy Pinnacle but my husband did not feel up to the climb, so we took the Craggy Flats trail instead. It’s less challenging but no less beautiful.
Craggy Flats

Craggy Flats


All of my favorite scenery is in Western North Carolina and I dream of spending long days in those mountains once I learn to paint landscapes. Those are the landscapes I most want to paint, but it’s hard to find time to paint on a six-day visit. We strolled the streets of Asheville, visiting boutiques and galleries and my husband’s favorite pub, The Thirsty Monk. We enjoyed delicious meals at restaurants like Katmandu Cafe and The Noodle Shop (helpful hint: if you go to Asheville, DO NOT waste your time eating at a chain restaurant. Choose a local restaurant. You won’t regret it). We scouted plant nurseries with my sister and played whist after dinner in her cottage.

It was a lovely, restful, healing vacation, but I was afraid I would not find time to paint at all. Then, on our last day in North Carolina, we bought an old-fashioned lilac. When we took it to our land to plant it, I took my acrylic paints. I was determined to paint something before I had to come back to Florida.

I painted our new iris.

Iris Painting

Iris Painting


I had to do it quickly – there was still supper and whist planned for the evening – so it’s a small, simple painting, but it sure made me happy to do it. I didn’t carry all my paints to North Carolina for no reason. I painted!