Up and Down

Another day without having planned any activities in advance. That is, I had planned a visit to the Caldwell Historic Museum, mostly to visit their reading room, but I gave up on that - or rather in the end I postponed it to the next day, but at first I only postponed it for a couple of hours, because I realized that the museum didn’t open until 10 am and it was only 9.15, when I got there. So I decided to just drive around for an hour or so, and then return when the place had opened. Before I left the museum's small parking lot, however, I called John Hawkins, the former director of the museum, whom I had met on a couple of occasions, and we agreed that we should have lunch together on Thursday at a restaurant where we also previously had eaten. The restaurant was closed on my last visit to Lenoir, but now it had reopened with new owners (and a new name), and John said it was a good place. Then I took off. My first goal was the small settlement, Moravian Falls, located just south of Wilkesboro, and not least the waterfall from which the settlement got its name. The last time I had been there, it was summer, and there was not much water in creek, but now it was spring, and I wanted to see if there was more water that time of the year. It turned out to be the case, even though there was not quite as much water as when I visited the place some years ago in November.


View from Mount Jefferson


Now it was after 10, so I could return to the museum, but when I got back and entered, nobody was there. I could hear a woman's voice from one of the back offices, apparently busy on the phone, so I just walked around looking at the exhibitions, not least the photographs from old Caldwell County. When there was no more I wanted to see, and the lady was still speaking on the phone, I gave up my waiting and decided to come back the next day. Instead, I decided to go north-west; actually to the northwesternmost county of North Carolina, Ashe County. Before I got that far, however, I stopped at the cemetery at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church on the western outskirts of Wilkesboro, just off US 421. The day before, one of my local acquaintances had posted a notice on Facebook about a Passion play taking place in the church during Easter in which she was participating. In 2018, she had played one of the parts, Celia Scott, in the outdoor performance Tom Dooley - A Wilkes County Legend, and I had commented on her posting asking if she knew that the real Celia Scott was actually buried in the cemetery there. She admitted that she didn’t known and I had promised to post a picture of the grave. I was a little cocky when I promised it, because in 2015 I was looking for the stone for 45 minutes in a temperature of 40 F, only in my shorts and T-shirt without finding it (I only learned about the temperature when I got back to the car and looked at the thermometer; the previous days it had swung between 70 and 85 degrees, thus the way I was dressed). Well, but the reason why I was cocky was, that by using Tim and his mobile internet access I had actually found the grave in 2016 and now I felt that I had a good idea of ​​where it was. It just didn't! Where I was certain that it should be, it wasn't. Unfortunately, a woman who was placing flowers on another grave could not help either. So I had to find the picture on the web myself, and then locate the location of the grave from the things that were in the background of the picture, and after about a quarter of an hour, I actually managed to find it and get the d….. picture. Back in the car, I hurried to get it posted on Facebook, so Kimberly could see that I was right. I am sure that if I ever have to find the grave again, I will once more have forgotten where it is, and with the typically long straight rows of fairly uniform stones that characterize American cemeteries, it is not that easy.


After the visit to the cemetery, I set my course for Ashe County. In the town of West Jefferson, I had an excellent lunch in 2017, but that was not why I wanted to go there. I wanted to see if I could get to the top of Mount Jefferson from where there should be a great view of the surrounding landscape or so I'd heard. I therefore headed west on US 421 and later and later north on US 221. The latter is on this stretch (as well as elsewhere) a relatively narrow, two-lane, very winding road. It also turned out that there was road work on a large part of the road, because the road was being expanded to four lanes, which delayed me a lot, but I was not in a hurry. On the way up there, I visited the county seat, which is just called Jefferson. I found without difficulty the road leading up on the mountain, which is 4,665 feet high, or at least the top is 4,665 feet above sea level. In fact, the top is only approximately 1,600 feet above the towns down in the valley. It is possible to take a small road to a parking lot not so far from the top, from where an unpaved path leads the rest of the way up to the top, where there is a radio antenna. I parked the car, armed myself with a bottle of water, and walked to the summit. Something had definitely happened since my last walk on a mountain, but either this path was not as steep or I was in better shape than on my visit to Hanging Rock State Park two years earlier, see the article Against Stupidity... from 2017; maybe a combination of both. The view from the top was great, although it was limited some by a light haze, but I got some pictures of Jefferson as well as West Jefferson in addition to the surrounding landscape before returning to the car. The name Mount Jefferson is relatively new by the way. Previously, the mountain was known by the today not politically correct name “Nigger Mountain”. A story tells that the name originated from the fact that slaves, who escaped from slave owners in northwestern North Carolina, hid on the mountain as they were heading north. Whether the story is true, I am not able to determine. Another story tells that the mountain has its name from the black granite that much of the mountain consists of. Later, the mountain was renamed Negro Mountain, but as this word was no longer appropriate either, it was renamed once more, this time to Mount Jefferson from the county seat.


Blowing Rock


Leaving the mountain I decided to head back to my B&B. I set my course for Boone as from here you can take US 321  back to Lenoir, so I did. There are a lot of x21's in this area and they all connects in Boone. Such three-digit US Highways are usually so-called spurs from a highway with a two-digit number, in this case US Route 21, which strangely does not come anywhere near Boone. All three mentioned spurs are considerably longer than the highway they are spurring off from. US 21 is thus about 395 miles while US 421, the longest of the three, is more than 900 miles - but I got send on a spur here – pun intended. When I reached Blowing Rock I decided to make a short stop here to revisit the rock that Tim and I visited in 2014. The entrance fee had increased a whole dollar to $ 7, but on the other hand I had turned 62 so I got $ 1 in senior discount. Even six dollars is actually a bit on the top, because there is not much to see, except from the rock, where the wind always blows up from the valley. However, I visited the rock and enjoyed the views from there, although it was difficult to get any photos without children, as there were many around that day - and they all climbed the rock, so that their parents could take pictures of them, or they themselves could take selfies. On the way out of the area, you have to go through the gift shop and I took the opportunity to buy a small thing for my granddaughter. On the way out of Blowing Rock you pass the Eastern Continental Divide, so here I stopped and photographed the signpost. All water falling east of this fictional line ends up in the Atlantic Ocean. All the water that falls west of the divide also ends up in the Atlantic, but through the Gulf of Mexico.


In the article, From 20 to 85, I told how my petrol consumption had increased as I climbed the Blue Ridge Mountains, from a typical average of 38 miles per gallon to only 17 miles per gallon. Also on the way from Blowing Rock to Lenoir, it changed, not least on the first part of the trip, where it goes pretty much downhill. The highest number the petrol consumption meter could show was 99 miles per gallon, and it was quite constant on that for much of the trip down from the mountains, and overall, the consumption was 58, from I left Blowing Rock until I was back at my B&B. When I got back, I discovered that I had lost my keys along the way, which did contain both the key to the front door and the room key, but luckily Rose didn’t scold me, but just gave me a new set of keys. I relaxed in the room a few hours before I went for supper, and this time I took the car and drove to a Ruby Tuesdays where I have eaten many times before. After dinner, I returned to The Irish Rose, where I chatted for a couple of hours with Rose, her neighbor, who is a midwife and her accountant who was doing the books.


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