July 3, 2021 Hickory to Newland, NC

We were on the road by 9:30 with 121 miles to go on I-75 most of the way. This was all new road for us, never having been this way before. There was a little less traffic for a Saturday morning.

We had clear skies and 72 degrees. There were no more palms trees as we headed toward the Blue Ridge Mountains and our friends, Nancy and Nick’s home in Newland, NC. We crossed the border into North Carolina just south of Charlotte and took the beltway around town.

As we continued north, we got our first glimpse of the mountains.

We found the road to the turnoff for the campground without any problem, but the road to the campground was narrow and began descending into the valley.

We came upon this sign along the way. It wasn’t very welcoming, but we continued on.

At the end of the road was a locked gate where we had to enter the gate code that we were given.

We pulled into Indian Springs Campground around 11:30. After checking in, we pulled into site #20, the last empty site in the place.

We had packed an overnight bag and Auggie’s things ahead of time and threw them into the Jeep so we could save some time after we arrived. After plugging the bus into electricity and turning on the AC, we were ready to roll. The plan was to leave the bus in the campground and stay at our friend’s house for 2 nights. It was an hour drive from the campground. We took I-40 to Highway 181 which wound its way up and down and over the mountains. Along the drive, we stopped at Brown Mountain Overlook.

From there, we could see the Linville Gorge to the east and Table Rock Mountain to the west.

Highway 181 parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway for a short way.

Our hour drive to Newland was on a winding road which took us to Linville Land Harbor where they lived.

At the beautiful entrance to the community there was a lake and as we continued on, we passed a golf course and other buildings which housed the other amenities that the community had to offer. The community had many subdivisions of homes throughout the hillside. Their subdivision was Laurel Hills and upon entering there, we began looking for Ivy Road and #18.

Their beautiful home sits nestled in the woods on a hillside.

We arrived shortly after 1:00 and after a tour of their fabulous home and the grounds, we got settled in.

We had a lot to catch up on. They took us on a tour of the community in their 4-wheel drive Gator.

They wanted to show us the first home they lived in and their new piece of property farther up the hill where they plan to build their new home. The drive took us across the trout stream and yes, they do catch trout there.

We took a short cut across the golf course and got a tour of the homes in the subdivision. After our tour, we returned to the house and sat out on the deck enjoying the view of the surrounding woods, the many variety of birds that came to feed at the bird feeders, and even a doe that came close to the house.

We were visited by squirrels and chipmunks that drove Auggie crazy, but he and Peanut, their Yorkie. enjoyed wandering freely through their woods looking for critters. We didn’t worry because they were fenced in and couldn’t go far. The chipmunks were living near the waterfall in the backyard.

At 4:30, we left to make a visit to Grandfather Mountain. Our reservation was for 5:00 because there was limited parking and they controlled how many cars went to the top at a time.

When we arrived, there was a line to go up, but Nancy had gotten tickets ahead of time and had a season pass, so we got right in.

We took a slow drive up to the top, making a few stops along the way at the overlooks to take in the views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the valley below. It’s easy to see how they got their name.

We passed Split Rock and Sphinx Rock–2 giant boulders 600 million years old.

It was a pretty clear day so we could see way off in the distance.

One view was better than the last as we climbed higher up the mountain.

We had to wait in line a short time near the top. Since there was limited parking at the top, we had to wait for cars to come down before they let more cars go up.

At the top, we noticed a marked change in temperature and more wind. It was chilly. We walked to the base of the Mile High Swinging Bridge and got a look at it from below.

You could walk across the bridge and climb up to the top of the rock on the other side like these people were doing.

Nick and I decided to walk up to the bridge while Nancy and Bob waited below. Bob is not too keen on heights.

A lot of people were not dressed for the weather, but I was glad I had put on pants and a warmer fleece. I got a closer look at the bridge and decided to walk at least partway across it.

Nick and I walked to the middle of the bridge so I could see the gorge below. It was breathtaking, but the wind made me a little nervous.

From there, we walked back to the gift shop to meet Nancy and Bob. Nancy and I took our picture together with the famous bear, Mildred. Mildred was found as a cub and was a protected resident of the mountain.

Part of the movie, Forrest Gump, where he ran up the mountain, was filmed here and signs marked the spot.

We stopped in the Visitor’s Center on our drive down and took a walk through the “zoo” area where we saw elk, bald eagles, otters, and the bear enclosure, but there was no sign of the bears.

This is a picture that hung in the Visitor’s Center. We enjoyed our time at Grandfather Mountain and all the great views we saw and then headed home. After dinner, we enjoyed time out on the deck around the firepit after Nancy and I walked Auggie and Peanut. Darkness fell and fireworks began going off nearby, a few at a time, and then a full-blown fireworks show began. We watched it from the deck through the trees. We headed inside as the night air got chilly and we called it a night. What a great first day in North Carolina!

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