Sunday, April 4, 2010

2010 03 31 Waterfall Hunting – Mid-Tennessee to North Carolina

We really hated to leave Defeated Creek COE after only 2 days but knowing we had to be in to South Carolina by Easter weekend , we packed up on Tuesday and headed east on I-40.
The I-40 rock slide required a significant detour so we decided to call it a day on the west side of the Smokies at Baileyton, TN and the Baileyton RV Park. Again, this was an easy access overnight RV park just off of I-81. Nothing fancy but with pull thru and wifi it was fine for an overnight.

It was obvious that there were plenty of snowbirds finding this a good overnight on their trip back north as well since we were joined by many more motorhomes before dusk.
Ken scoped out the next day’s travels and happened across a recent RVparkreviews that indicated my next selected park was now under new management and seemed to be having problems. In particular, there was mention of dogs running free which always scares me when I’m trying to walk two leashed dogs. We decided to see how the day went and be ready to change our overnight destination.

On Wednesday morning, we continued the detour up I-81, then back down I-26. We stopped at the North Carolina Visitor’s Center to make inquiries on potential campgrounds farther down I-26.

With both the Blue Ridge Parkway and I-40 closed, the routes in to the Smokies were limited. The guide at the visitor’s center suggested we consider staying in Saluda and then making a circle out of there in to the Pigsah Forest and some of the quaint nearby mountain towns.
We found a campground in Saluda, Orchard Lake Resort, that had decent Woodall’s ratings and was also Passport America with the discount for the first night of the stay. While we didn’t have internet and access to to do any further vetting, we decided to give it a shot. (I’ve since figured out how to make my Kindle work on!!)

It’s not likely we’ll go in to another campsite selection so blind. This campground was a much more ‘adventurous’ drive from the highway than we’d anticipated on steep and winding roads. With the RV continuing to struggle with surging, due to bad fuel from the winter, tackling this uphill climb was not one of Ken’s more enjoyable RV driving experiences.

The park itself gave a poor first impression with a large area of permanents at the front. However, after the long drive in, we really had no interest in turning around and looking for someplace else. But, contrary to first impressions, the park turned out to be quite comfortable.

There was a little golf area in front of our site and a lake with kayaks, canoes, paddleboats, a dock and a small beach. There was a soccer field, basketball hoop, volleyball court, horseshoe pits, and the list goes on. They had a variety of DVD’s at the office that could borrowed on your honor. Once you paid for the site, everything else was free so for a family it really would be a nice stop.

In fact, as we were walking the dogs two families drove in that were simply visiting for the day, paying for a day-pass to use the facilities. We wouldn’t have known this except when they saw the dogs they stopped, the kids jumped out and started yelling, ‘Shiba Inus, Shiba Inus!!” They said that they’d just bought a Shiba puppy and pulled him out of a crate in the back seat.

This is Rage.

Rage is a 12-week-old AKC Shiba Inu. You might notice that his fur looks a bit scruffy. That’s because by the time I went back to get the camera, Rage had already jumped in the lake. The family was really anxious to hear all the particulars we’ve learned over 2 decades of raising Shibas and were obviously head-over-heals in love with their new little furkid.

Back at our campsite, we had a lovely view over the lake to watch the cows crazing on the hill beyond. We hadn’t considered that cows were something new to Ditka and Sox. They seemed totally perplexed by these huge dumb animals who seemed to care less about their barking to try to get them to move off.

On Thursday, we opened up the jeep, secured the pups in the back and took off in search of waterfalls.

The town of Saluda itself was a beautiful site…the picture postcard mountain village.

We didn’t take time to enjoy the shops but did make use of their post office to mail of quarterly estimated income taxes…unfortunately, there’s no retiring from that duty it appears!
We had taken our sons on a Smokey Mountains trip many years ago and visited many waterfalls at that time. So, this time we went toward the Pigsah Forest on routes we’d yet to explore.
Just outside Saluda on a country road we found this lovely little Pearson Falls.

We drove through the neat downtown area of Flat Rock and then on to Hendersonville where we stopped for lunch at a café called the Living Room that had a really unique interior, sort of like eating in grandma’s living room. The food was good. The downtown area of Hendersonville looked very intriguing with lots of neat little shops. We didn’t linger long though because we had the dogs in the back of the jeep.

The Pigsah Forest was originally part of the vast Vanderbilt estate. Our drive was especially pretty since the streams beside the road were really sparkly in the sunshine. There’s something really intoxicating about the smell of pine mountain forest in the springtime, definitely not replicatable by commercial air fresheners!!

The primary falls we searched out was Looking Glass Falls.

I really had to hold on to Sox when she saw boys swimming as she was intent on jumping in herself.

The other waterfall on this route through Pigsah Forest was Sliding Rock. This falls is aptly named since, if it’s warm enough and you are adventurous enough, you can slide down the falls. Let’s just say it was too cold yet for Ken and I too take the plunge although there were several kids willing to brave the frigid snowmelt.

Sox definitely wanted to slide

Ditka as well.

It was a really lovely day that we finished back at the RV, enjoying a late happy hour and some pork loin on the grill. We both had a difficult time keeping our eyes open after a day in the refreshing mountain air.

Next, it’s off to Dreher Island State Park, South Carolina, for our Easter weekend.

Hugs, C

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