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Friday, June 26, 2015

Stone Mountain, NC

From Virginia, we headed south of the border to Stone Mountain State Park in our home state of North Carolina. The campsites are less expensive in NC since we are residents with $23 for a site with electricity vs. $45 in Virginia. This campground was newer and had very open sites in a field with small trees planted. It made for a hot campsite on a sunny day.  When the trees grow up it will be much nicer. 

Before setting up camp we took a driving tour of the park. Local families were enjoying a waterfall and swimming hole.



Mountain Laurel blooms appeared where ever the sun penetrated the forest branches. 
Pleasant paths and cool streams within sight of the van

















































The trails more than made up for the sunny campground. We hiked a circle trail around, and over, the mountain. The first stop was at the edge of a granite cliff where a stream disappeared from sight.


 




















Climbing down 300 stairs we followed the water flowing down the granite outcropping to a pool at the base. Continuing in the valley there were mountain laurels here too. 














































As we came out in a clearing, we had the first view of the smooth mountain at a preserved farm called the Hutchinson Homestead. 


The trail then started climbing quickly and the Mountain Laurel were replaced by pines and our favorite low lying plant — blueberries!  



We were probably a week or two early for good berries, but there 
will be lots of snacks for hikers soon. 











After lots of switchbacks and over 300 stairs, we reached the summit and were treated to a beautiful view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Between the park and the Blue Ridge Parkway, there is wilderness as far as one can see. We appreciate the forethought of those that started the park system. 






















































They did keep a few of the structures for historical purposes. In addition to the homestead, there is a wooden Baptist Church that  was built in 1897. They still have services, but just in the summertime. 














After our hike, we rolled out the awning to keep the sun off in the afternoon, then rolled it up again as thunder and lighting lit up the evening sky.  Storms cleared by daybreak so we were very lucky with the weather. The trip home only took three hours and we stopped in a county park to make sandwiches. It was really nice to be able to cook all our meals in the van and be self-sufficient. 










Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Grayson Highlands, VA

Sugarlands Overlook
Ready to escape from the 100ยบ heat in Durham we packed up the camper van and headed north to Virginia and west into the mountains. Grayson Highlands State Park provided a welcome respite with cool air and great views. We stayed two nights and enjoyed hiking the Cabin Creek trail in search of waterfalls. The real treat was the Mountain Laurel blooming all along the sides of the stream.


The campsites were large and shaded. We will definitely be returning here.

Large, shaded campsites. Best ones are on the outside of the loops.






Mountain Laurel

One of Many Waterfalls


We Crossed One of Several Horseback Riding Trails




On the Cabin Creek Trail



Thursday, June 18, 2015

Barbershop Camping

Enjoy Yourself!
When we're home, Thursday night is a night for singing. Going to rehearsal last night I noticed there was a vintage blue and white trailer in the parking lot. We had a guest warming up with the other guys in the Heart of Carolina Chorus and his name is Josh. He and his dog have taken a year off to explore the country and visit with barbershop choruses along the way.  For more on Josh's quest, check out his website at http://www.joshsingsbarbershop.com

Though Josh was prepared to boondock in the nearest Walmart parking lot, one of our members extended the hospitality of his driveway and even provided a 30 amp plug.

If you are ever in Durham on a Thursday, feel free to stop in and visit with the Heart of Carolina Chorus. Check the website to see make sure we aren't off performing. http://heartofcarolinachorus.org



Some of the great guys of the Heart of Carolina Chorus singing with Josh (hand under chin)


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