Cemetery in a Christmas Tree Farm

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My friend has been researching her family history and visiting the graves of her ancestors. Her recent search led her to some coordinates which pointed to an old cemetery plot that was located in the mountains in the middle of what is now a Christmas tree farm. It sounded like an adventure waiting to happen, so one Sunday morning, my friend, her sister and I piled in the car, made quick stop at Trader Joe’s for some road trip snacks,  and we set off in hopes of finding this hidden cemetery.

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The coordinates took us down the interstate away from the city, and then through some twisting curvy country roads that got smaller and smaller, until we found ourselves way up in the Blue Ridge mountains. We are very much city folk so we began to freak out a bit as our travels took us more and more into the middle of nowhere; into some region of the state that none of us even knew existed.

We eventually turned down a gravel road just wide enough for one car, and followed it to the very end. According to the coordinates the cemetery was just through the woods ahead of us!  The only problem was the big fence surrounding the woods and all the no trespassing signs. There a were a few houses close by and we were concerned someone may call the cops at the sight of a strange car parked on the side of the road. After contemplating trying to find a more secretive way in, we decided just to leave a note and a flower on the windshield explaining why we were there, and then we jumped the fenced and started our trek through the woods.

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We climbed up a giant hill and then came to a barbed wire fence. Just beyond the fence we could see the Christmas Tree farm, with little trees for as far as the eye could see. There was some talk of turning back at the sight of the barbed fence, but the coordinates showed that the cemetery was very close so we crawled carefully through the barbs and continued one.

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We found ourselves on the very top of a large hill filled with little future Christmas trees and an incredible view. The country is simultaneously beautiful and terrifying at the same time.

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As we walked through the row of little trees I glanced to the side, and there I saw what appeared to be headstones! It was the little cemetery!  We could hardly believe we actually found it. And so quickly! My friends laid flowers on their distant relatives graves, and we tried to imagine what it had been like when they lived and worked on this land.

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This was such a peaceful spot.

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On our way back down to the car, we spotted these animal bones!  As we were checking them out, we saw a woman walking down the gravel road, on the phone, staring into the woods towards us!  We were afraid she was calling the police! But then she didn’t seem like she had seen us and began walking away.  We stayed hidden and waited for her to walk further back down the road before climbing over the fence. I didn’t think we would be in huge trouble, but my worst fear when I saw her was that we would have to awkwardly climb back over the fence while she angrily stared us down and I would die of awkwardness. Luckily that didn’t happen and we made it back to the car without being spotted.

Visiting this little cemetery in the Christmas tree farm was definitely quite an adventure. We were all so excited that we were able to find it, and make it in and out without any problems. We travled back down the mountain, ate some pizza at some biker stop right off the Blue Ridge Parkway and discussed the days next adventure..

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A Drive Through a Cloud


These are some more photos from a day on the Blue Ridge Parkway last year when when we drove through a storm cloud.


The Blue Ridge mountains are tall enough that when the storm clouds descend, the mountain tops become engulfed in the cloud.

As we drove along, a storm rolled in and began to settle above us. It wasn’t long before it completely surrounded us!


The sight was amazing, but there was no room to safely pull over and snap pictures. So I stuck my camera out the car window as we cruised along through the mist. 
My camera has been though a lot.


The storm was fast moving, so it never blinded us completely. But there were a few scary moments where we could hardly see!



Something silly happened while the storm was approaching.. My hair started standing up!!  The electricity in the air maybe? It was strange. 


We almost didn’t drive up to the mountains this day because of the impending storm, but I am so glad we did!  

Clouds Above Craggy Gardens

Last October we took a trip to the Blue Ridge mountains and I never posted the last of the photos.

Way way up, along the Blue Ridge Parkway‘s winding roads, tucked away between the tall mountain peaks, is a place called Craggy Gardens.


On the crest that connects the craggy domes, Clouds fly swiftly across, often obscuring the road.


A quiet little visitors center sits on the ledge, overlooking the valley. The perfect spot to watch the storms pass by. 



As the storm moves on, little cloud tufts rise up from the trees to join the large formations up above and then drift away. Leaving the blue sky to return.







The best time to visit Craggy Gardens is after a storm. 

See the rest of the photos here!

Little Switzerland Book Store

 
Last fall on our trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains in search of a waterfall, we first stopped and checked out the town of Little Switzerland, named because the huge sweeping mountains reminded the first settlers of the Swiss Alps. We stopped here once a few years ago to get lunch and just loved what a cute little town it was, so we were excited to come back. 
 
 
This area is known for one of the curviest mountain roads in the state: the Diamondback! Although I kept getting confused and wanting to call it the Devil’s Tailbone for some crazy reason. We took a loop around the Diamondback and it was a lot of fun, but scary to go around a tight curve and then find yourself just couple feet from a 1000 foot drop off the edge of the mountain!
This time we discovered a new shop we didn’t visit on our first trip, and it was the cutest little café and book store.
The store was guarded by this little pup!
 
I loved this place instantly when I walked in and saw the walls were completely covered with all the books you can imagine.
 
It was tough to decide what kind of treat to get, but we went with this coconut chocolate bar, and ate it on the front porch while we dreamed about what kinds of cool books we might find inside.
 
I just loved all the dark nooks and crannies, stuffed to the ceiling with books. The house just seemed to keep on going and going. Each corner led to a new little roomed filled with more dusty pages, waiting to be flipped though. It seemed like the kind of place you could get lost in for hours. But a good kind of lost. 
 
We climbed the stairs and found ourselves suddenly in a sunny little art gallery.
 
Then we headed down the stairs to the basement..
 
Where we were greeted with mannequin parts and  a cool reservoir to catch mountain water. I’m not sure we were meant to go down there.
 

It really was such a neat little store and I’m glad we found it. Little Switzerland is definitely worth checking out if you ever find yourself in the area!

The Forgotten Clearing

During our trip to the mountains last fall, after we checked out the waterfall, we kept walking down the trail to see where it led. Eventually we came across this intriguing path and couldn’t resist checking it out!

The path led to this picturesque clearing, nestled in the valley of the enormous blue ridge mountains.  Far away from anything else

An old forgotten barn stood towards the edge of the clearing, almost completely engulfed in thorn bushes. 



The thorns weren’t going to stop us though, we wanted to see what was inside!

We braved the thorns and made our way towards the side of the building where we saw  some boards had rotted away, making a nice little entrance.


There wasn’t a lot to see, but one side of the barn was completely gone, showing a nice view down the mountainside.
On the oppsite side of the clearing there was a lone chimney. The house it once belonged to must have burnt down.

It was very strange to imagine a house once standing here.




It sure was a pretty area, and we were glad to have stumbled upon it!

To The Falls!

When planning our little day trip up to the the Blue Ridge Parkway, I wanted to make sure 
we went on a good hike; one we hadn’t been on before and preferably involving a waterfall.

A quick google search told me there was a nice little walk to some falls right in the town of Little Switzerland, which was our first stop on our Blue Ridge adventure. The falls were on somebody’s property, but they didn’t mind visitors, and since it wasn’t a tourist attraction, there wasn’t anybody else on the trail!

A little while down the path and we reached the falls! It wasn’t quite what we expected, we thought the path would lead to the falls, not past it. We could have probably climbed down to get to them, but after the two weeks of rain that has just bombarded us, it looked a bit too muddy. 

So we decided to continue on down the path and see what else we could discover.

There was a nice break in the rain, and the sun shined through the tree canopies, turning everything a bright, lush, golden green.


It was especially pretty since the trees were just beginning to change color.


We walked and walked until we discovered an abandoned plot of land where a house once stood. After that we walked and walked some more, and then realized we were going to have a long and hard walk back if we didn’t turn around soon.

On our way back we stopped to admire the pretty stream and I spotted what I thought was a little plastic toy, but on closer inspection…

It was a cute little red newt!

He was very friendly and didn’t mind hanging out.

I just wanted to put him in my pocket and take him home. 

We had so much fun on our hike!  I definitely want to go back and do it again some day.

Adventures in the Clouds

A few weeks ago we took a trip up the to blue ridge parkway as the trees were just beginning to change colors. We took a nice long hike and then started to head over to craggy gardens, our favorite spot on the blue ridge. But as we drove along, a storm began to roll in!

We watched as the clouds began to engulf the mountains.
(Can you spot the waterfall??!)

A thick blanket of clouds began to rest among the tree tops.





Soon enough, we were inside the cloud!


It was a little unsettling to look over the ledge and see nothing but white, when I knew that there was a 1000 foot drop hidden beneath the fog.

Eventually we made it to craggy gardens, which is the perfect place to watch storms pass over the mountains.

It was such a neat experience to be as high as the storm clouds themselves! I want to go back to the mountains on a stormy day again.

Craggy Gardens in The Fall

We took a trip to our favorite place in the blue ridge, Craggy Gardens, to see the changing colors.
At Craggy Gardens there is a little pinnacle you can climb up for a 360 degree view of the mountains range.  It’s amazing and we never get tired of seeing it.



This lake looks like such a dreamy place. 

It’s so cool to see how they sliced into the side of the mountain to put in the road.

As we were driving, there was a traffic jam due to this little dog wandering down the road. We ended up right behind him and I felt like we were in some sort of strange parade. He got rescued so it all ended up okay!


Do you take any scenic drives in the fall?

The Sunset From Pilot Mountain and Other Fun Stories

Since we recently discovered how cool Pilot Mountain is, we decided it would be neat to go up there to watch the sunset one night. It ended up being the prettiest sunset I have ever seen!

Standing on the main observatory is boring, plus it wasn’t facing the right way to see the sun. So we walked down a path that said “rock climbers only” and it led down to this area right on the edge of the mountain where we had the perfect view of the sunset.

(Hi Mom!)



In the distance you can see the Blue Ridge mountains, and it was really fun to zoom in on them.



I love how each ridge is a different shade.




 You can see mist rising up!



I took a whole bunch of panoramas! (I’m a little obsessed with them lately)


I messed up the horizon but I actually kind of like it!




Steven took this vertical one, I had never thought to do that before!


The main reason I really wanted to get up to pilot mountain was to see the fair. You can see  the mountain from the ferris wheel so I figured you could at least see the ferris wheel from the mountain. I was expecting to be able to see it so well, like it would be this huge bubble of light. But it wasn’t. 

This is all I saw

I searched and searched and finally saw a tiiiny pink light, so I used my 300 mm lens to zoom in.
(Is that what I think it is?!!)


I zoomed into the picture as far as I could without it getting pixelated and sure enough! There’s the ferris wheel!  I was so excited!  I LOVE seeing things from far away.. 

It was an awesome evening!



Funny story:

I was uploading my photos a couple days after this and as they were uploading I realized I didn’t see my mountain photos. I had been deleting older photos the day before so I just knew I had accidentally deleted these. I was SO mad at myself!  Fast forward three hours and I had downloaded about six different un-delete programs in hopes of finding my 250 lost photos. Most of the programs couldn’t find them, but one did!  But it was gonna cost me 40 bucks to get them back because the software wasn’t free. I was about to give up but then I decided to give one of the free programs another shot, and it found them!  I was soooo happy and proud of myself!  But that was short lived because as soon as I placed my memory card back in the camera I realized that I hadn’t deleted them after all… They just got placed in a weird folder and I didn’t see them. Which explains why the programs had such a hard time detecting them, because they were never actually deleted! But on the bright side, at least now I know how to get back photos should I actually accidentally delete them in the future! And on the even brighter side at least I realized that before I decided to spend 40 dollars on them! 

These photos now have a special place in my heart.  A rather annoying place.


Pilot Mountain

For our anniversary we took a trip to Pilot Mountain.  This mountain is only a 20 minute ride up the interstate from us, yet I hadn’t been to it since I was 12!
 We stood on the lookout balcony which is on the small ridge to the left, and then we hiked around the big pinnacle. The last time I had hiked around the pinnacle was when I was about four, and I fell off the path and started siding down the steep side of the mountain! My Dad jumped down after me and saved me. I still have the vivid memory of us sliding down the side of the mountain together before he pulled us both back up.

I’m happy to say I made it around this time without nearly falling to my death!

In the hazy distance you can see the outline of my city, I thought this was too cool!!

You can just barely make out the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance.
It was a really fun little trip, we will definitely have to visit this place more often!