While we were in Blowing Rock several weekends ago we made the obligatory stop at Woodlands Barbecue, 8304 Valley Boulevard (Highway 321 bypass), Blowing Rock, North Carolina, known locally as "The Woodlands." It was the Saturday before Memorial Day, and the place was packed, so we had a 15-20 minute wait. We had barbecue, but I ordered a plate of jerk wings as an appetizer. Jerk seasoning has become popular in Blowing Rock.
Frazier poses with his nieces.
We lounged at a picnic table outside while we waited.
As you can see from the numerous cookers, they're serious about their barbecue at the Woodlands.
Highway 321 from Tennessee to North Carolina and back is a very curvy road, and we stopped at Cardens Bluff campground on Watauga Lake to give everyone a break from the road on the way back from our trip to Blowing Rock. The campground was packed. It is a beautiful place to camp, and Watauga Lake is very clear and cold. There are many places to fish, and there are also a shooting range and a marina (including restaurant) nearby.
I wandered around the campground a bit and spotted a few wildflowers. Meadow-Parsnip is pictured above, and squawroot is pictured below. I also saw some Smooth Solomon's Seal and some more False Solomon's Seal.
Granddaddy Ogle was a consummate Southern gentleman, but he didn't care much for having his picture taken. Rest easy dads and granddads on this Fathers Day, duty calls again as our Monday morning approaches.
Well, maybe not a long time ago, this morning in fact, we visited the Knoxville Zoo, where a group of cosplayers were decked out in Star Wars attire allowed themselves to be photographed with zoo patrons. Here, Sherry and Sarah pose with Darth Vader, who must have been hot in the 80 degree heat, but then, I suppose he was much warmer after Obi Wan cut his legs off on the lava planet Mustafar.
Sarah and I were taken into custody by a stormtrooper, but we managed to escape.
I felt a little sorry for the snowtrooper, who seemed rather out of place on a hot day.
We ran into this Tusken Raider and Jawa again later in the morning. Unfortunately, there were no Banthas on display at the zoo today.
Sherry and Sarah pose in the butterfly enclosure.
While Sarah and the other kid with her were in the plastic bubble, this prairie dog jumped up behind them. All of the adults outside tried to get their attention so they could see it, but we were unsuccessful.
We got to see zookeepers working with one of the elephants, which was enjoyable and interesting.
Sarah poses with a zebra in the background.
This jeep chassis makes for a good photo op every time.
We got up close and personal with this baboon. He climbed up into a hammock and hung upside down near the glass for us.
This was kind of sad. This little chimp had an injured left hand, and she was cradling it. A zookeeper said they were giving her pain medication.
The meerkats, as usual, were quite entertaining. After we left the zoo, we had pizza and onion rings at Pizza Palace, which has been in business on Magnolia Avenue in Knoxville for 51 years. Sarah and I ate there during her fall break in 2010, but Sherry had never been. I asked one of the ladies who works there about the history of the restaurant, and she explained that the Peroulas brothers ran Pizza Palace, the Louis Inn (a competitor to the Original Louis Drive-In, which is still in operation on Broadway in North Knoxville) and Pero's, a steakhouse in West Knoxville that was one of my dad's favorite restaurants when I was a lad. I just learned that there is a new Pero's on the Hill in Rocky Hill, which we will have to try.
For supper last Friday, we dined at Canyons of the Blue Ridge, 8960 Highway 321, in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. When Mom and Ron lived in Blowing Rock, this building housed the Emporium, and the feel of the establishment remains much the same. The place is known for its beautiful mountain views, and we got to watch the sun set on a clear and windy evening. I shared the Maui Chicken with Sherry, and sneaked a few of Sarah's fries.
Mom and I drove back to Canyons' parking lot Sunday morning when I took her on a short auto tour of Blowing Rock before we headed back to Tennessee. The weather was cloudy, but you can see Grandfather Mountain on the right side of this photograph.
The small, pointy peak you see in the middle of this photograph is Table Rock. Mom, my stepfather Ron, and my friend Tracey and I set off one day in Ron's Cadillac to drive to Table Rock. This was long before I acquired the good sense to take a map and/or my North Carolina Gazetteer on such a journey. Ron wasn't a map kind of guy. We drove in the wilderness on gravel and dirt roads for hours, and the refrain of the trip was "It looks like we're getting closer, but it still doesn't look like you can get there from here."
At one point we were nearly out of gas and clearly spotted the highway from the gravel road we were on. Thrilled, we headed in the direction of the highway, but were obstructed by a locked gate across the road just yards from where it connected to the highway. Fortunately, we found another route to the highway and a nearby gas station, and we finally made our way to Table Rock.
If you want to spend a lot of money on food, Blowing Rock is the place to do it. Canyons, in the spirit of the Emporium, is more oriented to locals and college kids from Boone. The food is good and reasonably priced, and we found our server both friendly and prompt. It is a great place to wind down with a sandwich and watch the sun set behind the mountains.
Sarah and I went to the library yesterday morning to check out some books for her to read after Adventure Club and some audiobooks for the car and for my morning ride on my exercise bike. We weren't able to check out all of our selections using my card, so Sarah applied for and received her first library card. She's been doing a lot of reading, so she deserves one.