Joined: 26 Jul 2006
Location: Phoenix "Valley of the Sun", Arizona, USA
|Posted: Fri Jul 28, 2006 9:52 am Post subject: America's Favorite Drive, The Blue Ridge Parkway!...Ken Ramo
|Submitted by Ken Ramos...
If there is any place, at the moment, that I love to go; it is for a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Running from Georgia to Virginia, where it turns into the Skyline Drive, one can spend literially days exploring, photographing (macro ) and visiting the various sites along the parkway. I have no one favorite spot along the parkway, because all of them are favorites.
A forty five minute drive off of I-40 along US 221 North will take you to the top of Linville mountain. At the top about a mile past the Rock House Cafe, you will see the sign marking one of many entrances to the parkway. If one turns south on to the parkway from Linville mountain the first stop is the Linville Falls area. Here there are nature trails/hikes that will take you to a magnificent waterfall over 4,000,000 years old and is about 12 miles from where it orginially started, carving out what is now known as the Linville Gorge Wilderness area.
Driving on past the Linville Falls area the scenery is beautiful but not as beautiful as it is going to get about 9 miles farther down. As one approaches Grandfather Mountain the parkway opens up to some of the most breathtaking vistas that you can imagine here in North Carolina. The above photograph is that of the "Rough Ridge" area. Just around the bend in the parkway, there is a turnout with a rather large parking area. From the parking area one can hike to the top of Rough Ridge, the first set of rock outcroppings above the parkway, for an even more scenic view. The hike up Rough Ridge is mildly difficult, so if you are out of shape you will know it when you get to the top!
Here in my neck of the woods this is what brings about the most attention and discussion. This is the Linn Cove Viaduct. At 1,243 feet long, it is the most complicated concrete bridge ever built. Constructed from the top down, to protect the environment below, it is made up of 153, 50 ton precast segments that are glued and held in place by steel cables runnng through the bridge. It took 52 yrs. to complete at a cost of 10 million dollars and was completed in 1987. No roads were cut below the bridge, because of the endangered plant life below, so construction was done "on" the bridge as it was being constructed, if that makes sense. The only work done on the ground was in drilling the holes in the rock to anchor the bridge pylons. Another interesting thing here is that the bridge is built out over one of the worlds oldest mountains at an altitude of 4,100 feet and the bridge itself sits on rubber platforms with pivitol areas on each pylon, so that in the event of an earthquake the bridge will not collapse on its own, but sway with the ground movement. If you look closely at the bottom image (center) you can see where the rubber platforms are and in the center the cone shaped pivitol area. By the way, the bridge it tinted with iron oxide to blend in with the rock outcroppings!
For more information on the wonderful Blue Ridge Parkway go to www.blueridgeparkway.org[/b]