|Strike a pose. Don't fall down go boom.|
Up well before dawn, back home at just about bedtime. Another annual outing to the Blue Ridge Parkway for a full day of it in the area. The restaurant at Mabry Mill has gotta serve the best breakfasts in the south; today's choice was sweet potato pancakes with bacon and some damn fine coffee. Five stars. From there, out to Meadow Creek Trail and then to Rock Castle Gorge, where Kimberly and I went hiking almost two years ago. Today, I was on a mission. On New Year's Day 2012, I found a geocache out in the gorge and left a travel bug — a trackable item whose purpose is to move from cache to cache and travel as far as possible — but unknown to me at the time, the cache had been archived by its owner, who had moved and could no longer maintain it. Well, since that day, the travel bug has been sitting there, unmoved and unmoving, because the cache is no longer listed at geocaching.com. Knowing the container — a nice ammo box — was likely still out there, I decided to rescue that travel bug so I could get it back in circulation. Happily, I managed to do this thing, which I expect will make the travel bug owner, whoever that is, very happy. All along the trail, we found dozens of little rock towers, some of them quite intricate, that Mother Nature, surely, on some of her less busy days, had seen fit to erect.
|The Blue Ridge Parkway up there — way up there — as seen from the Meadow Creek Trail|
The gorge hike was a good three miles-plus, so then it was wine time. This we found at Villa Appalaccia, one of the best wineries in the region, which we've visited a couple of times previously. This weekend is the single busiest weekend on the Blue Ridge Parkway, since the fall foliage is at its peak, so there was a big crowd. We managed a pleasant picnic lunch in a secluded corner of the grounds — where we found ourselves literally surrounded by woolly bear caterpillars. Never seen so many in a single place, but as they are completely inoffensive little critters, we were not displeased by their company.
Surprisingly, the only disappointing aspect of our trip was visiting the winery at Chateau Morrisette, which is typically a superlative experience. Today, it was so busy — and they were woefully unprepared for the crowd — we spent several hours just to get what amounted to a pretty unsatisfactory wine tasting. To their credit, they gave it to us gratis for our wait, but that only partially mitigated our dismay, since our visit is traditionally a highly anticipated experience. Had we had an ounce of sense in our respective brains, Kimberly and I would have just wandered over to the restaurant and had a glass of wine at the bar... but no. Flukes do happen, though, so we've certainly not been put off future visits. I do hope they have the foresight to better prepare for a day when they have to know that most of the world is going to darken their doorstep.
Eventually, we made our way back toward home, but the evening was hardly over. Tonight was the "Tour de Haunt" caching event at the Castle of Horror in Reidsville, which I had never previously visited. Initially, we figured we'd just hang out with some other cachers for a bit and then head home, but after seeing some of the sights at the site, we decided to go on in and do the full tour. Am I ever glad we did — it proved to be a most enjoyable haunted attraction. It's a bit too adult-oriented for kids, I think, and by entering, you give them license to make contact with you. It puts a little extra edge on the experience, and because it's a bit smaller than some of the other local Halloween haunts, they give it more of a personal touch. I was impressed, and both Kimberly and I had a great time at the place. Hats off to Christopher Hall, a.k.a. Ranger Fox — or "Safari Joe," as he was dubbed by some of the roving ghouls — for masterminding the event.
I reckon some of the same will be on our calendar next October. Hope so, anyway.
Click images to enlarge.
|A couple of the many fun rock castles in Rock Castle Gorge. I can't imagine how many millions|
of years it took Mother Nature to create these incredible formations....
|One of the Woolly Bears that came round to see us at lunchtime|
|A sample of the goodies at Villa Appalaccia|