Day 70 of a Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways
This morning I left Murphy and headed toward Franklin, an area known for its precious stones. I pulled off near a park area to review 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 through the North Carolina countryside.
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 featuring all sorts of stones, crystals, gems, moon 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. I ordered 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, I headed southeast through the North Carolina countryside to waterfall country as some like to call it. My first stop was in Nantahala National Forest 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 this natural beauty without a random person behind the cascading water. After about 18 shots, I was finally successful.
Upon returning to VANilla, Scout reminded me that it time for another hike. The dogs were feeling 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 windy, misty weather was not inviting to climbers today.
We left Whiteside Mountain 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 afforded spectaculars views of the North Carolina countryside. Occasionally I snuck a peak, and at one point I finally pulled onto the shoulder of the road as I felt 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 cascade, but I wouldn’t have been able to fit the entire waterfall in the photo otherwise.
Looking Glass Falls
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 in Pisgah National Forest. Looking Glass 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!
Upon reaching Waynesville, I went in search of a beer and Monday Night Football. Who knew it would be so hard. After driving around Waynesville and the vicinity for half an hour stopping at a few places on both my GPS and “Around Me” app to find them closed or virtually vacant, I finally happened upon O’Malley’s for a beer and Monday Night Football.
The game was horrendous, but the fried portabella mushrooms were fantastic. For you Dallasites, they could compete with Snuffer’s. I was planning on getting a chicken sandwich, but they had turned off the grill and only kept the fryers hot. As I was nursing my draught beer, Mark took a seat beside me. He was ex-navy, ex-volunteer firefighter, ex-electrician, and current courier.
While he was fighting a fire in New Smyrna Beach, Florida where he was originally from, the roof collapsed and essentially crushed his knees. It took him four years to walk without a limp! After a day of passing hellos, I finally broke out of my shell to meet someone. My daily goal to get over my shyness has remained a challenge! ETB
Map of My Road Trip Across the USA
For a summary about my road trip across the USA, click HERE. For the interactive map, see the below link.
Other Articles About North Carolina You May Like
- Day 69 – North Carolina Countryside
- Day 71 – Blue Ridge Parkway (North Carolina)
- Day 72 – Blue Ridge Parkway (North Carolina Part 2)
- Day 73 – North Carolina’s Outer Banks
- Day 74 – North Carolina’s Outer Banks Part 2
Check out the photographic note cards and key chains at my shop. Each card has a travel story associated with it. 20% of proceeds are donated to charity.