“In my mind I’m going to Carolina”
James Taylor

How yall doin?

Ger and I just returned from Asheville North Carolina. This is Thomas Wolfe country. Thomas Wolfe is arguably the greatest American author, certainly, of the twentieth century. We stayed next door to the home where Thomas grew up.
Gerry has long desired a Southern cultural experience. I have wanted to return to North Carolina ever since 1992 when we saw the epic romantic adventure, “The Last of the Mohicans,” starring Daniel Day Lewis and Madeleine Stowe at the movie theatre. It was filmed in Western North Carolina and the scenery left me breathless.
We were not disappointed. Asheville is down home, full of southern charm and eclectic. The Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains, and Pigsah National Forrest were a brilliant spectacle of peak fall colors. After thirteen years of fall color and season change deprivation while living in the Sonoran desert, we received a strong “fix”.
North Carolina is also of course, “Tarheel” and “Blue Devil” country. It boasts many fine Universities.
We enjoyed First class accommodations on our Phoenix to Houston leg of the journey. First Class now means no meals, pillows or blankets as America West has cut to the bone to stay alive. First Class turned into “Some Gas” when the gentleman resembling Dr. Dolittle, sitting behind us snored loudly and made some other loud, interesting sounds while sleeping. When he was awake he vociferously complained about not being served a meal.
We flew into Knoxville Tennessee on a Continental Regional flight out of Houston. There were a couple of guys named Clem and Jethro on board and they may have been “hill people”. There were no barefoot beauties.
The Knoxville airport has been renovated and is quite nice. It may be the only airport that provides rocking chairs to sit and watch the planes.
Knoxville is home to the University of Tennessee Volunteers and Lady Vols. The football team had just beaten “Bama” and the atmosphere was quite festive. The Vols won the National Championship in 98, led by the legendary Payton Manning. The Lady Vols have long been a collegiate basketball powerhouse with many National Championships to their credit. We toured the campus and enjoyed an excellent anthropology museum that featured the early Cherokee Indian Nation.
On our drive to Asheville, we passed by “Dollywood” without stopping. This was done over my objections. Maybe next time.

Highlights of this trip included:

-Hanging out at the shops, galleries and theatres in Asheville
-Hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
-Walking the elegant Biltmore Estate and winery
-Slamming down Highlander Gaelic Pale Ale at the “Mellow Mushroom”
-Touring Cowpens National Battlefield in South Carolina
-Hiking the Mountains to Sea trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway
-Climbing Chimney Rock and walking the Cliff trail to some of the locations used to film the Last of the Mohicans
-Enjoying a relaxing, therapeutic soak in a Hot Springs located in Pigsah National Forrest

This was a high quality trip. I rate it a 9.9. North Carolina is absolutely beautiful and a great fall destination..

El Lobo’s “All come to look for America” lifetime lists/milestones:

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is US National Park number 40 visited. Fouteen left to complete. Cowpens is number 151 of the US National parks, monuments, historic sites, battlefields, memorials, rivers, seashores etc. There are over 370 in our National Park System. I hope to see them all. This country is awesome!! Go see America!!!
South Carolina is state number forty nine. Only Arkansas is left to complete. This may be considered a cheap check mark as we only spent half a day in South Carolina.. To legitimize this entry we plan on spending a week in Charleston next year. El Lobo’s standards are high. You cannot just pass through or touch down on a state and be awarded a check mark. You have to spend quality time, and cover some ground. You must experience the culture and feel the texture. You must interact with the locals.
El Lobo has spent more than two months in each of twenty of our great states and would love to cover more territory.

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