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This morning I left Murphy and headed toward Franklin, an area known for its precious stones.  I pulled off near a park area to look at the map and to walk the dogs along an asphalt path by the river.  Lucky for me a small cache was planted nearby, so I logged it and continued on.

With Flash

After the walk, I visited Franklin’s small downtown area including a free gem museum that was in the back of a jewelry store.  The museum had quite a display – all sorts of stones, crystals, gems, moon

Without Flash

rocks, petrified wood, dinosaur teeth, arrowheads, and more.  One display case even contained a black light that when turned on, showed the fluorescence in minerals.  I took one picture with a flash and one without.  I really enjoyed the exhibits.

By the time I finished browsing the museum and store, it was nearly noon.  I went for lunch at the only restaurant on the square.  The variety of choices was immense, which sometimes makes me nervous – fish, sandwiches, pasta, salad, appetizers.  I opted for baked brie with raspberry, brown sugar, and almonds…not bad.  It certainly wasn’t the best I have ever had, but then again, it is hard to mess up brie!

After my morning in town (needed a change in the routine for a little bit), I headed to waterfall country as some like to call it.  My first stop was at Dry Falls, so named because visitors may walk behind the falls and remain dry.  As such, I had to be rather patient in order to get a picture of the natural beauty without a random person behind the cascading water.  After about 18 shots, I believe I was finally successful.

Upon returning to VANilla, Scout reminded me that it was about time for another hike…I think they were feeling a bit slighted from my morning activities that excluded them.  We drove to just east of the Highlands where a two-mile loop trail took us to the top of Whiteside Mountain, a sheer 2000-foot wall of white granite.  Reader’s Digest advises that the mountain contains graffiti written in old Spanish thought to be cut in the 1540s when DeSoto clambered through the area.  I had hoped to see the graffiti, but maybe it was on the vertical, granite face for the climbers to see.  Whiteside Mountain is considered by many climbers to be the biggest, baddest cliff on the East Coast.  It appears the weather, windy and misty, was not inviting enough for any climbers today.

We left Whiteside and continued on 64, a road so curvy in spots that Gina (my GPS) would announce for me to turn left or right while remaining on the same path.  The mountainous highway offered spectaculars views.  Occasionally I snuck a peak, and at one point I finally pulled onto the shoulder of the road as I thought the vista was simply breathtaking.  Shortly thereafter, I arrived at Whitewater Falls, southeast of Cashiers.

Whitewater Falls is part of the Nantahala National Forest and is one of the highest waterfalls on the East Coast at 411 feet.  The half mile walk from the parking lot to the falls still provided picturesque scenes of fall color.  The viewing platform for the falls was quite a distance from the falls, but frankly, I wouldn’t have been able to fit the entire waterfall in the photo if I were any closer.

Upon reaching Brevard, home of the Brevard Music Center, I turned north onto Forest Heritage Scenic Byway to embrace my last waterfall landscape of the day…Looking Glass Falls in Pisgah National Forest.  The falls was named for nearby Looking Glass Rock that shines like a mirror when the sun reflects off its damp face.  Today was mostly overcast, so I didn’t experience any gleaming!

As night falls, I hope to find a sports bar in Waynesville for a beer and Monday Night Football.  Perhaps I’ll make an effort to meet someone too.  Beyond a handful of hello’s a day, I have been somewhat remiss in making acquaintance with anyone new. ETB

http://www.notablenotecards.com, http://www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards

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