Oregon Trail Day Three

With an eye on getting to Salt Lake City before rush hour, I was out of Cheyenne early. There was a stop downtown to see the Capitol and the decorative boots that are clustered in the historic district.

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Wyoming is a lovely state. There are snow-capped mountains and landscapes that resemble an old Western. I was very excited when I saw a herd of antelope and little prairie dogs crossing the highway.

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To allow for a break, I decided to enjoy lunch in Rock Springs. After a nice lunch in a local brewpub, I took a walk around the historical district. It was a charming place with friendly folks.

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I still had a couple of hours in WY. The sweeping vistas are stunning but the rigors of the drive were catching up to me. At some point, I felt myself getting grumpy again. Thankfully the Utah welcome center offered a welcome break from the road. I took advantage of the walking trails; it felt so good to stretch my aching legs.

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It was back to the car and then off to Salt Lake City. I was not prepared for the intensity of the traffic. I was so relieved to pull into the hotel parking lot.

I vegged for a while and then took off toward Temple Square. The whole complex is stunning. The gardens are immaculate. The austere buildings are surrounded by statues depicting key moments in Mormon history. There are also fountains and green spaces that lend themselves to contemplation.
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The guys are reading about pushcart pioneers who didn’t have money for a horse.

Afterwards, I decided to make my way to the statehouse which is perched atop the highest hill in town. At this point, my water was gone. I now understand why everyone had a gallon jug of water and not just a small bottle.

After nearly puking on the way up the hill, I made it to the top and really enjoyed exploring the Capitol complex.

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Utah is the “Beehive State.” Benny took issue with the fact that bees were seen as the model of industriousness but he didn’t want to upset the natives so he kept those thoughts to himself.

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After a walk down the hill, which was almost as brutal as the walk up the hill, we had dinner at Crown Burger. The mushroom swiss burger was excellent. The fries were tasty but I did not enjoy the local fry sauce which seemed to be a spiced mix of mayo and ketchup.

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We returned to the hotel and slept well after this action-packed day. It was really a blessing to see and do so much.

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Jump Off Rock

Located just outside Hendersonville in Laurel Park, Jump Off Rock is touted as a place to enjoy views of western North Carolina’s sweeping mountain vistas.

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Legend states that a mourning Native American maiden jumped from the rock to her death after her true love was killed in battle. Some believe that her ghost is visible on moonlit evenings.

Mr. McB and I took a side trip to Laurel Park during the summer. The drive from Hendersonville to Jump Off Rock is a curvy one. Mr. McB is prone to motion sickness and had close his eyes to ward off nausea.

There is ample, easily-accessible parking at the site. We walked toward the rock and were expecting to be blown away by the view. As you can see from the photo below, it is a nice view but not quite what we were expecting. The leafy trees near the rock obstructed the view. The photo below is one of the better shots I got that day.

jump off rock viewWe wanted to take a walk around the park but found that the trails were not clearly marked. They also involved uneven, rocky stairs that just seemed like an accident waiting to happen.

It wasn’t a total bust. The park did have crisp, fresh mountain air. This little fellow was enjoying the afternoon on the rocks and provided some entertainment.

lizard at jump off rock

I can’t give Jump Off Rock rave reviews but it’s free and has some positive points. If you want to visit, learn more here. 

Pisgah National Forest or That One Weekend When It Didn’t Rain

Our summer was frustratingly wet. It rained for weeks on end. We broke all sorts of records. I refused to give into the weather and wore knee-high rain boots and carried an umbrella whilst grilling Mr. McB’s birthday dinner on July 4.

Something happened on the first weekend of August. The sun broke through the clouds and there was nary a drop of precipitation. We jumped in the car and drove toward Brevard, North Carolina and Pisgah National Forest.

The drive was leisurely and scenic with just some minor curves.

Our first stop in the park was Looking Glass Falls. There were many cars parked along the road. For the most part, people were considerate. Those driving by went slowly and were mindful of people trying to reenter the road and pedestrians.

Pisgah National FOrest Looking Glass FallsThis was our first look at the falls from the roadway. You then start the steep staircase down to the water.

 FOrest Looking Glass Falls crowdAs I mentioned, this was the first sunny weekend in a month. The park was a bit crowded.

 FOrest Looking Glass FallsThere were a number of swimmers and waders making their way into the crisp, clear water. On a return trip, I will come prepared with a towel and sandals.

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 FOrest waterAfter our time at the falls, we explored the park a bit more. This creek widened out and lead to a calmer swimming hole.

picnic spot at pisgah national forestThis picnic area was very popular. There were hammocks, grills, and lots of family togetherness. The smells from the grills set our tummies to rumbling but we did a little more exploring before heading out of the park.

Pisgah National ForestMr. McB and I were the only ones around on this path.

Pisgah National ForestLog bridge spanning the creek

pisgahlogsWe were famished when we left the park. Knowing my preference for local eats, we headed toward Brevard to find lunch. Finding lunch late on a Sunday afternoon is not an easy feat. Many restaurants were closing just as we arrived. Just when we were ready to declare defeat and drive back toward the chain restaurants, we spotted Rocky’s Grill and Soda. Rocky’s began its life as Varner’s Drug Store and Soda Fountain in 1942.

Stepping in, it’s easy to image that not much has changed in the last 70 years. The menu is very retro but the sandwiches have modern touches that really make this more than just a novelty restaurant.

rocky's grilled cheese with baconMr. McB’s grilled cheese was stuffed with smoky strips of real bacon.

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pisgahchicken My chicken salad sandwich was delicious thanks to a hint of tarragon. The sandwiches also came with delicious green tomato pickles. There is a bit of a tomato-ey flavor and somehow it works with the bread and butter style spices.

If you want to recreate our trip, I recommend coming prepared to get in the water. I would also advise you to pack a picnic or at least some substantial snacks, especially if you plan to swim. MOST IMPORTANTLY, bring your own toilet paper. The park provides bathrooms but does not offer TP.