North Carolina Arboretum www.ncarboretum.org Here we were, wandering a few mere miles of the total 469 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, when the sign appeared……. North Carolina Arboretum.And, what a find it was! The North Carolina Arboretum is a 434 acre arboretum and botanical garden in the Pisgah National Forest, southwest of Asheville near the Blue Ridge Parkway, at 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way (and, how fitting!!).F.L. Olmsted’s gardens at the nearby Biltmore Estate can make a trip to Asheville a special gardens “two-fer”! With kids and grandkids in tow, we were delighted with 65 acres of cultivated gardens (enough to get the “wiggles out” of the munchkins!), though we left the hiking and biking trails untouched. Our biggest treat was the 100+ Bonsai Collection! The Bonsai Exhibition Garden is a world renowned garden that hosts up to 50 bonsai specimen at a time, including plants native to the Blue Ridge regions. Check out the website links and photos. And if you need help to plan your N.C. mountains adventures, let me know. I’d love to be your tour guide! Judy White
Cape Lookout Park At the end of Harkers Island, which is the end of North Carolina's eastern border, is the Cape Lookout National Seashore Park Service. It's there where one can see and hear the PBS film "Ribbon of Sand" about Cape Lookout through the words of Rachel Carson as interpreted by Meryl Streep. This alone can be an ethereal experience. However, it's not until you're on the small ferry boat, gliding through the shallows, weaving around the chartreuse grasses, avoiding shoals, and are mesmerized by the grazing wild horses on Shackleford Banks (remnants of a Spanish shipwreck centuries ago) and the black and white diamond shapes of the Cape Lookout lighthouse. The single strip of white sands, held together by wild sea oats, are ever changing with tides, Nor'easters, and hurricanes. On one side, you can hear the gentle roar of ocean waves crashing on the beach; while the Back Sound water on the other side quietly laps on shore. Walk either beaches; climb the lighthouse; smell the salt air; embrace the breeze. The ethereal will become real and you will never forget.
The Driftless Region Cato and Bob spent a couple of days last year traveling this region. They said it was spectacular!! A particular not to be missed was the Driftless Cafe in Viroqua. It's one of the original farm to table cafes and was fabulous. (Please see Jan’s article under Conservation Tab for more details on the area)