2015 Trip Six, The Great Smoky Mountains, Oct. 22 and 23

Flat Rock, NC Oct. 22

Who knew? Not us. Even with our travel planning in advance of each trip, we did not know that there were two pieces of the Berlin Wall in Spartanburg, SC. A local travel brochure mentioned it; evidently Menzel, the German manufacturer of textile manufacturing equipment, set up their U.S. operations in Spartanburg. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, they were able to obtain two portions of the wall in remembrance of the hardships endured and the American support of the Germans.

Two sections of the Berlin Wall in Spartanburg SC

Two sections of the Berlin Wall in Spartanburg SC

We found it fairly easily. We actually got directions from two Spartanburg police officers who were having breakfast with us at our B and B. The sections are about 12 feet high and maybe 3 feet wide. One has Reagan’s statement: “Gorbachev take this wall down”. The other has Kennedy’s statement: Ich bin ein Berliner”. Very moving.

Putting Spartanburg behind us, we returned to North Carolina. Chris had found a tidbit about a tall waterfall where the journey to find the waterfall was a big piece of the reward. Well, I’ll tell you; it was certainly a journey, not so sure about the reward.

While the road was paved, once again it was VERY steep, curvy, and narrow. One third of the way up, the road was completely blocked by Asplundh tree trimming equipment with no ability by the crew to forecast when we could continue the journey. The crew directed us to a road through a private housing community that was similarly steep, narrow, and curvy. Eventually we found the waterfall (not overly impressive) with no space to pull over so Chris snapped a quick photo and we continued up to the top of the mountain–and, of course, back down again.

A third stop was going to be an equestrian center in Tyron but we could not find it so we gave up and headed for Flat Rock. Our primary goal in Flat Rock was to see the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site. Now some of you, my daughters possibly included, could not tell you who Carl Sandburg was. So I will summarize. Sandburg (1878-1967) was a writer, poet, historian, and collector of American folk songs. He won the Pulitzer Prize three times, once for his history of Lincoln and twice for poetry. Sandburg spent years working odd jobs around the country and is credited for understanding the pulse of the everyday American.

A view of Connemara from the lake

A view of Connemara from the lake

Sandburg and his wife Lillian moved to this estate, called Connemara, in Flat Rock in 1945 where he was 65. He completed one-third of his work after age 65 while living here at Flat Rock. Lillian was a force in her own right. Even though she was a college graduate and a teacher, she gave up those occupations to support Carl’s writing. However, she picked up raising goats, and at the estate, she was a prized goat breeder. She had nationally acknowledged champion goats and people frequently visited her, not knowing her husband was a Pulitzer Prize winning writer. Lillian would have the new-born goats bottle fed so they would relate well to their human handlers. (Note well Heimel family.

Some of the 17,000 books, note the slips of paper marking research items

Some of the 17,000 books, note the slips of paper marking research items

A docent gave us a tour of the home which is implementing an air handling system to protect the 17,000 books left when Sandburg died. Lillian offered the home to the National Park Service after his death, with all of the furniture, books, etc. Much of the furniture had been removed but we did see some of the books, with slips of paper still in them indicating specific research items Sandburg was working on at his death.

Goats at Connemara, descendants of the ones Lillian bred

Goats at Connemara, descendants of the ones Lillian bred

The site is situated on a lake, halfway up a mountain and still has goats in the original farm buildings. There is a system of trails and we spent time hiking up the mountainside before heading for dinner.

The town is also home to the Flat Rock Playhouse, a well-known theater. We did take in a performance of “Pump Boys and Dinettes”. It was nominated in 1982 for a Tony Award as Best Musical. The story revolves around four guys working in a gas station in North Carolina and two gals working in the coffee shop next door. We were not impressed but the rest of the theater seemed to be.

Our lodging tonight was with Evergreeners here and we have had a delightful time.

Oct. 23

Today continued the great weather and another day outdoors. We headed out to Dupont State Forest where we watched hordes of tripodders (people toting tripods to take pictures). The outdoors were also in view.

High Falls from above

High Falls from above

High Falls from below

High Falls in Dupont State Forest NC from below

Dupont is southwest of Flat Rock. Our hike was 1.5 hours and included a covered bridge, High Falls, and Triple Falls. The forest is a popular destination and all of the trails were busy. The hike to High Falls started out on smooth gravel paths and, for the most part, remained relatively smooth, although not level. High Falls is viewable from above and below. The trail continues on to Triple Falls and then back through the forest. None of the trails offered any long distance views. The parking lot, which was busy when we arrived, was jammed and cars were parking in both directions on the access road when we left.

Triple Falls in Dupont State Forest NC

Triple Falls in Dupont State Forest NC

Dupont Forest is tied to the Dupont Company of Wilmington Delaware. Dupont had a plant in the woods that manufactured silicon chips and later, Xray film. The plant was here due to clean air and water which was needed in the manufacturing process. The plant was eventually closed and most of the land went to the state. Dupont still retains a portion of the land where the Xray plastic had been landfilled. The plastic has been dug up and shipped to China to make into carpet. When the site is finally certified as being clean, it is hoped the remaining land will be added to the park.

We were going to drive down a few miles and have lunch at a small mountain cafe and then return for a second hike. No dice, the cafe parking lot was overflowing. We changed our plans and drove to the town of Brevard, home to a college and an annual music festival. Lunch was at the Hob Nob where we had a good Southern lunch of pulled pork, corn bread, collard greens, and mashed sweet potatoes.

Pisgah National Forest was our afternoon destination. We had been through here a week ago as we left Franklin and headed to Asheville. The forest is large though, and we took a hike in a portion of the forest that was new to us. It was still part of the Vanderbilt estate of the early 1900s.

Looking Glass falls along the road in Pisgah National Forest NC

Looking Glass falls along the road in Pisgah National Forest NC

After a quick stop at a roadside waterfall, we headed over to the state trout hatchery. The hatchery land includes an education center and trails. Another waterfall was our destination. The primary path was well maintined, although with tree roots, rocks and plenty of hills. Mountain bikers shared the trail with hikers.

Hidden Falls in Pisgah National Forest NC

Hidden Falls in Pisgah National Forest NC

The waterfall is off the maintained trail, along a path that hikers wear down but which the state does not maintain. We scrambled among the wet rocks, climbed over trees blocking the trail, and even followed the smooshed leaves marking this secondary trail. But we made it to the falls and were able to make our way back in just over an hour.

We did not wait around to check to see if a family made it back. We passed them on the way out to the falls, and the two young boys were willing to turn around then. As we came back and had just about reached the point where the secondary trail meets the primary trail, they were starting down. We warned them of the difficult nature and the mother, who was carrying an infant, thought she just might stop there.

It was 4 pm by then and dinner in Hendesonville was our goal. Thomas Wolfe is the author of “Look Homeward Angel” and Chris says we have seen the play. I do not recall it. Anyway, there is a statue in a cemetery here of the angel mentioned in the story and we drove by and viewed it.

The pizza dinner was great and we made it to the restaurant in downtown Hendersonville to eat before the rush arrived. We even had enough time to walk the downntown streets and have a dish of locally made ice cream.

Ed and Chris Oct. 23 11pm

Categories: road trip, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “2015 Trip Six, The Great Smoky Mountains, Oct. 22 and 23

  1. Joyce

    We saw Pump Boys and Dinettes in Atlanta (long time back!) and really enjoyed it. The audience was very participative as I recall. Still have the CD. Glad you’ve enjoyed great weather.

  2. Jude

    Your pictures are exquisite.

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