Sunday, October 20, 2013

Carolina Continued (PG)

The reason we decided to visit Boone, North Carolina, was for Rob to have an opportunity to paraglide. A paragliding friend of ours told us about the area and gave us the name and number for the local guru, Bubba Goodman, who is a great guy by the way. Rob had spoken with Bubba a couple of times after our arrival here but the weather wasn't cooperating. Starting with the afternoon we drove part of the Blue Ridge Parkway we had rain. Finally, on Friday, the weather cleared and we took a drive to see if we could find from where the local pilots fly. We found out pretty quickly that we had no clue how to find it and just as we were driving back down the mountain, Bubba called. The winds looked to be coming from a favorable direction and he and another friend were on their way to fly. We met Bubba and his friends, Petr and Paula, who are from Germany, and drove on up the mountain. 

"If you drive up this road," Bubba said with a quick tilt of his head toward the leaf covered dirt track, "you might get shot." A moment later, he said "And if you drive up that road," indicating toward another, "you might get shot." 

Uh… alrighty then. Sure glad we weren't dumb enough to try to drive up any unknown side roads.

After being well jostled by traversing a very rocky backroad, where a four-wheel drive vehicle is an obvious requirement, we arrived at the launch to a beautiful view—the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains as far as the eye could see. As the afternoon wore on, one could clearly see how the Blue Ridge Mountains got their name.

Bubba and Rob were able to launch and both got a good flight in, but Petr missed the last good cycle. The breeze kept switching direction every few seconds, which can be a recipe for disaster when attempting to propel yourself off the side of a mountain. Est il pas?

Paula drove us back down the mountain in Bubba's Suburban, as she has done many times before, and met up with the guys at the landing zone situated in the front (huge) yard of a very amenable homeowner, Willy. It's not often you find an owner willing to allow pilots to land on their property because of the fear of potential lawsuits. Unless you end up with a witless idiot (family members included), lawsuits in this sport should be nil. You normally cannot fly without being a member of USHPA (United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association), and when you join, you are required to sign documents meant to make you understand that you alone are responsible for the risk taken when participating in such a sport and that you can severely injure or kill yourself, and that you promise not to take action against another party for your own choices. Makes sense to me, and I know this because I signed the documents myself when I became a USHPA member when I took lessons with Rob. No, I'm not a pilot. Wasn't my cup of tea. I photograph the pilots instead.

Rob had a good flight, but he said it got cold up above launch. Hmmm, I asked him before he flew where his jacket was…

We were hoping to see Petr and Paula again at the Valle Crucis Country Fair the following day. We never did run into them, probably because we arrived later in the afternoon. We stopped first for brunch at a restaurant in Boone called Melanie's Food Fantasy. A place where all the tables and chairs are mismatched, some of which are the retro variety from the late '50s; and the coffee mugs are purchased at yard sales. It's always a surprise which cup you'll get when you're coffee's delivered. The food was very tasty and they didn't overfeed you. Rob had eggs benedict and I had the pumpkin stuffed french toast. They pride themselves on supporting the local farmers and businesses and even had a chalkboard stating from whose farm the eggs came, or the beef, vegetables, and even the coffee. It is a relatively small restaurant with patio seating, and they have a bustling business, indeed. Delish!

We weren't planning to go to the fair, but Paula told me that it was a juried event, all vendors had to be approved and their crafts were to be handmade and relatively local in origin. (We met one vendor who hailed from Alabama). Knowing that I wouldn't be seeing the same old stuff found at every festival and fair, I decided I wanted to see these folks' art. We saw wonderful photographs, watercolors, hand knitted hats, scarves, gloves, capes and sweaters; graceful, polished wooden floor lamps with handmade paper shades, lathe-turned, wooden bowls, marquetry boxes and vessels; lots of pottery, stained glass, jewelry, handbags, children's clothes; and the food—jams, jellies, fruit butters, pickles, pies and cakes, and fresh pressed apple cider. Yum. We also enjoyed the music.

Tomorrow we leave the Boone area for Asheville, North Carolina. I'm looking forward to exploring that town. Apparently, it is very artisanal, whether food or paintings or crafts. I'll let you know.

In the meantime, you know, check out the photos.

A rainy morning by the campground.

This calf was very curious about me.

Taken at the landing zone before going up the mountain.

There were still a few wildflowers around up at launch.

Just a hint of the view in the background.

Could you imagine living up here?

Petr and Paula in the foreground. Rob and Bubba setting up their wings.

Rob and Bubba.

Bubba starting his launch.

Bubba in flight.
Rob's launch.

Rob in flight. Love the clouds.

Rob in a fly by.

Looking southwest.

Great clouds, but I took this photo for the rainbow.

A lone daisy in the middle of the road.

Blue Ridge Mountains looking northwest.

Blue Ridge Mountain just five minutes later.

From left to right: Petr, Willy, Bubba, Paula and Rob

On the way to Valle Crucis.

At Mast's General Store. An area icon.

Doh! I didn't get the banjo player in the shot!

Nah, I ain't goin' nowhere. Jes hangin' 'round.

This sweet-faced alpaca gladly gives up it's wool to keep you warm.

You drink the cider, the pigs eat the leftovers.

A lot of good musicians in these here parts.

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