I found out from a friend in Columbia, South Carolina that The Carolina Cup is this Saturday in the nearby city of Camden. It’s a horse racing event with a reputationfor being the classiest classless party around because of all the college students that descend upon the tailgate area known as College Park. Not wanting to lose time, I decided to spend Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday exploring North Carolina – specifically the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
I took I-77 due north through Charlotte and hopped on the Blue Ridge Parkway just south of Sparta, NC.
The area was completely socked in with low hanging clouds.
The fog let up every once in a while, but the bad parts were bad, 30-40 ft visibility, much worse than I saw in north Florida. After a few slow hours squinting over the steering wheel, the fog cover became patchy, and there were stretches of good visibility through the Pisgah National Forrest. The Parkway has pullouts strategically placed along the road to overlook the valleys and mountain gap below. I stopped at a west facing pullout late in the day to slow down a minute and watch the clouds drag by.
“They pool in the minor valleys that run perpendicular to the main range. The windward sides of those ridges are swept clean, and the leeward sides harbor clouds like troops dug into a trench. They are slowly drawn out from cover, drafted upwards, and torn into wispy tendrils, only to be replaced by reinforcements from below.
People come and go. We step out of our cars and spill heated air upwards, radio noise outwards, and food crumbs to the asphalt. I do the same thing. Park, hop out – engine running, snag a few pictures, and retreat and move on. There’s no shame in it. At least we’re out here to begin with, but at the same time I have to remind myself to slow down to soak it in. Thinking about it – my whole trip could be pessimistically described as a superficial taste testing of the states. But at least I’m out here, I reassure myself, if nothing else.”