For our second day on the Blue Ridge Parkway, we had a target to meet…
You see, with Asher’s birthday coming up on June 4th, I had felt led to make a hotel reservation for the night of June 3rd, so that everything would go smoothly and we would be ready to celebrate the next morning. So, I found a hotel in Linville Falls called the Parkview Lodge, and called them up to see if they had any availability for Friday night…
And then I knew that the Lord was providing this hotel, because they had a room available with 2 queen beds and 1 twin! Asher would get to sleep in his own bed on his birthday night! Oh, it was sooooooo funny to see his face light up, and hear the excitement in his voice: “I won’t have to sleep with Vivi’s toes in my back, or wake up in the middle of the night to try to find the covers!” Hahahaha! And then, of course, I reminded him of how much he loves his sweet sister 🙂
So, we began our day with our same simple plans – stop at the Visitor Centers for Junior Ranger, stop at anything else that seemed beautiful or interesting, and end up around dinnertime in Linville Falls, North Carolina.
Day 2 was a cultural kind of day…At the Blue Ridge Music Center, we learned about Appalachian musical traditions, the history of the music, the origin of the instruments, the craftsmanship…We played some music, sang some songs, and were back on our way.
A sandwich-and-soda lunch, with a little light shopping, hit the spot at the Northwest Trading Post & Gift Shop, and then it was off to the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park.
The Cone home, in all its white-colonnaded splendor, was established in the early 1900s as a country escape for a wealthy businessman, complete with carriage-house, extensive forests, stocked lakes, and a huge apple orchard.
The mansion now houses The Parkway Craftshop, which is filled with handmade crafts from wood-turning to lace-tatting to glass-blowing, sculptures and paintings and textiles, and demonstrations – today, a gentlemen was bending Shaker boxes. So, there was shopping and browsing as the kids sat on the porch and worked on their Junior Ranger worksheets.
The view’s not bad, if you like that sort of thing!
And inside, I was captivated by these little painted-seed crafts…
(2 magnets and 1 hairpin)
So much so that I was willing to pay a pretty hefty premium to take a few home! I was captivated because, the moment I looked at them, I could see a picture of my perspective of living off of the land. So you have your home, and you have your kitchen garden, the land that is meant to feed your family. And it’s a fair amount of work, preparing and sowing and tending and harvesting and putting up…And there’s a fair amount of satisfaction in eating from what you’ve put your own time and effort and labor into…But more than that, as you’re growing, as you’re harvesting, as you’re preparing, there is love and beauty! As you bring in the squash, and slice it, and scoop out the seeds for roasting, you set a few aside for something beautiful! As you tend the roses, which you grow for the hips, and you trim back the blossoms, you set the petals aside for something beautiful! And then, as you’ve set away your food for the winter, and there’s a little bit of a breather, you bring out the things that you’ve set aside, and create something of beauty for your family, for your friends, in honor of the Lord who gives and grows and nourishes and provides…And for that inspiration, I was willing to pay a premium and tuck these little seed-crafts away for that bright future!
(Incidentally, in my mind’s version, we will be keeping bees, and my little hand-dyed seeds will be fastened into beeswax centers – can’t wait to see how they turn out!)
And now we were really getting into the blooming forest, as rhododendrons and mountain laurel became ever-more-splendid beneath the canopy!
We stopped at Brinegar Cabin, where a homesteading family lived a life very much like we would like to live someday, lol! Their hand-built house, smokehouse, root cellar, springhouse and farm are preserved in the original layout, where they raised their food and livestock, wove linsey-woolsey cloth from wool and flax, made shoes, and gathered herbs to sell in town. Mr. Brinegar passed away in the 1920s, and the land was taken over by the park. Mrs. Brinegar was permitted to stay, but left to live with family in the 1930s, when the crowds became too much for her! Can you imagine going about your daily life, making breakfast, and looking up to see a pack of tourists looking in your window and wandering around your farm?!
And then, just like that, after a whirl of a day, of colors and crafts and inspiration and reflection, there we were at Linville Falls, ready for a short hike to a cool waterfall!
The trail was damp and shaded and lovely, punctuated with a ring-necked snake and a salamander…
And soon we spilled out onto the upper falls, or what I would call…
The Lord’s idea of a great swimming hole!
Of course, there’s no swimming now for safety reasons, but there’s plenty of viewing enjoyment!
The upper falls channel into a great, thundering chute, which roars down into the iconic Linville Falls, below.
But the view from the top was good enough for us!
And now we were at our day’s end, at the lovely little Parkview Lodge in the town of Linville Falls…I wondered what the Lord had lined up for us, and as always, He did not disappoint! A sweet little one-story building stretched out among flowerbeds with towering trees behind…Adirondacks and rocking chairs lined the porch in front of each room, and as we pulled into our space, a sweet couple sitting outside of the room next-door to us welcomed us and struck up a conversation. We chatted as we unloaded and looked around…The room was large, old-fashioned, but clean, and there was the promised twin bed that Asher had been longing for! Outside was a lawn where the kids could run and play, and a fire-ring that looked very inviting. We made plans with our neighbors to meet up after dinner, as long as it was okay with the hotel-owners, to sit around the fire and chat.
So, the kiddos played and I unpacked. After so many one-nights on the road, I was happy to do a thorough unload-and-reorganize. Plus, I dug out Asher’s birthday presents and wrapped them. It was a pretty nice line-up, with some surprises, and some things he was probably expecting. There was a Spooner Board, which is kind of a little curved skateboard with no wheels, meant for use on sand or snow or grassy hills, which you can use for sliding, spinning, tilting, and jumping. There was a set of three large water-blasters, each of which hooked up to a one-liter plastic bottle for lots of super-soaking fun – these had been greatly-admired and were probably expected. There was a cube of pyrite, which Asher had noticed in an Asheville gem shop, and which I had secretly tucked away for his birthday. And there was a little set of gem-and-mineral playing cards, which we had secretly grabbed in a Blue Ridge Parkway Visitors Center. All wrapped in newspapers that I had picked up along our travels, haha!
When all was settled, we wandered down the porch to the Guest Check-in, where we met with the couple who owned the hotel. And here, this sweet little hotel experience took on a whole new level of delight! The common area included the front desk and breakfast area, and then a sitting area with armchairs, wood stove, farm-table and stools, and gift shop. Part of the gift shop included a wine selection, and as we chatted, the owners also mentioned that they had some beer, “over there, in the cooler.” What they meant was, “over there, in a full-size walk-in cooler – just open that door and step inside and browse along the couple dozen different craft beers that we keep stocked!” I couldn’t believe it! So we grabbed some beers and pulled stools up to the table, and chatted with this couple and their friend. The kids played games and petted the dogs and drifted in and out of the conversation. The owners had purchased this hotel years back, and then raised their family there – three girls, now grown and beginning to set out and start families of their own…And Asher chimes in, “So, do you guys love the Lord?” Oh, wonderful boy! And happily, all three said “Yes, yes we do!”, and were delighted to have been asked. After a long visit, we said goodnight and headed back to our room, where kids were tucked in, and we proceeded to enjoy a fireside chat with our neighbors, who traded travel-stories and asked lots of questions about our journey with Lord – where we’d been, where we thought we were headed…And as I tucked in around midnight, having sang “Happy Birthday!” to Asher while he slept, I thanked the Lord for His gifts for our family this day, as I could see His special provision for the comfort and enjoyment of our family, and especially His very special gift for Asher for his big day!