January 1, 2014
New Year’s Day enroute from Germantown, MD to Asheville, NC via Blue Ridge Parkway
We got up (relatively) early, packed up and headed in the direction of Luray Caverns in Luray, VA. Gillian’s family plays this game called “Touched You Last” in which you make sure you tag another family member when you say goodybe and say ‘touched you last’ then escape quickly before they can tag you back and say the same then run away and lock themselves in their bathroom (it’s happened). One time, the offenders pretended to leave, circled back, climbed up a gully, and tagged the unsuspecting family member before making a speedy escape!
On the way there we learned that Liam’s suggestion that we watch our speed was a good one. Word to the wise: speed limits are taken very seriously in Virginia, at least right at the border with Maryland nearby DC, with cops E’RYWHERE and apparent policing by plane too….. ummmm….don’t you guys have better ways to spend your time and money….like providing your citizens with health care? We were even told that parts of Virginia house people without running water…??? Anyways, overall impression of Virginia was: YOU SUCK. ALTHOUGH, we should note that the Starbucks employees, as always, were friendly and very kind!!
We arrived at the caverns markedly later than we expected and chose to continue on rather than stay for the hourlong tour so as to conserve as much daylight as possible to make it to Grandfather Mountain. I (Leah) got a smushed penny to add to my collection (I also added to my collection the day before at the natural history and air & space museums). Sidenote (this is Gillian writing) – Leah entertained a group of about 6 small children at the natural history museum with the penny smushing and then crushed their dreams when she took her penny and the kids’ parents ushered them off, penniless. Later, at the Air & Space Museum, she felt like a grown up child, when the kid behind her said, ‘mom, I want to make a penny!’ and then mum said to the kid, ‘Wait for the lady to finish.’ She sure loves a smushed penny.
So, after some uneventful driving, and numerous culinary disappointments (why are all the good places closed on New Years Day?), we decided to hop onto the Blue Ridge Parkway around Exit 114 (near Riner and Floyd, VA). We successfully found the entrance to the parkway, which we felt was a great accomplishment, and began the beautiful drive. It is a beautiful drive, the speed limit is ridic slow, and there are many beautiful lookouts and what appear to be hiking trails to enjoy. We realized a little ways into the parkway that we’d better hurry it up or we’d miss Grandfather Mtn, and low and behold, we did end up missing it, partly due to the fact that the parkway was closed from milepost 234, for reasons unknown to us, a fact that was only announced 4 miles prior. Heads up! Check out the national park service for the most up to date status of national park trails and closures. We have learned our lesson.
Having missed all of our intended sights for the day, we decided to head straight for Asheville and opted for brenner at IHOP, where Leah had never been. It was a most satisfying experience and our waitress was adorable. The NC accent is awesome! We stocked up on Sbux before leaving and once again had an amazing experience. We pulled up to the drive-through and the convo went a little something like…
Sbux dude: Hey, welcome to Starbucks, what can I get you?
Me: Ummmm…..just give us one second.
SD: Ok! One. Hi, so what can I get for you? Haha, JUST KIDDING! Let me know when you’re ready.
Us: Hahahahahaha, ok!
Then we got blonde roasts, which apparently aren’t brewed in the evening as we’ve gotten pour-overs every time we’ve been in the evening to have them, so because it took “so long” (sidenote, it didn’t), we got a coupon for a free drink! Starbucks, I want to hate your massive conglomerate-ism, but you make it so hard!
We finally made it to Asheville around 7pm. We found our hostel, Sweet Peas on Rankin St, very easily and were pleased to find it clean, cute, and a neat open concept idea. The linens and towels were all provided and we even got a lock for our locker and a sticker! The front desk dude was adorable, very helpful and friendly. We found out he was from Virginia….AFTER we had complained about what a terrible hellhole it was. HAHA! Luckily, he agreed and noted that that was he was here in NC. 🙂
Off to bed…another busy day tomorrow!