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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Moses H. Cone Mansion along the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC

The Mansion thanks to Larry
One of my favorite places to travel and cache is the Blue Ridge Parkway. There is so much to see along the parkway, which runs from southern North Carolina to northern Virginia. Every chance we get we head up to the parkway. During winter months you have to check ahead to see which portions are open as winter weather closes stretches at higher elevations.

Twice during the last year I had the chance to visit the Moses H. Cone Mansion along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Moses Cone became famous in the late 1800's as he and his brothers, all wealthy men, invested in the textile industry and providing means of employment for thousands of North Carolina residence. As a summer get away he built the mansion, known as Flat Top Manor, along what is now the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Walking the trails thanks to Christina Dulude

From the lake thanks to T.Cowart
On our first trip during cold weather we found the part of the parkway near Blowing Rock, NC open. We had driven up from Greensboro, NC along highway 421 to intersect with the Blue Ridge Parkway just east of Boone, NC. We were able to travel southwest along the parkway, stopping to pick up geocaches along the way. Since geocaches cannot be placed on parkway land, most caches are just off the parkway. As we traveled along we found ourselves stopping to take in the marvelous views from the many overlooks along the route. What beauty!

One of my favorite caches was THE Blowing Rock Rest Area Cache (GC3R7RK), which is the closest cache to the mansion. The first time I came to the mansion I was with sumajhuarmi. The rest area was closed so I had to pull off the road and walk into the rest area. The cache was back in the rhododendron in an area free of muggles. It was an easy regular-size cache.  I walked a little further to catch a glimpse of the mansion from a distance but went no further. I knew then I wanted to come back to see the mansion when it was opened. We continued on our trip and spent the day in Blowing Rock.

Later in the year, during the warmer months, I came with three colleagues on a pastor's retreat to the Valle Crucis area. We stopped at the mansion on our way and spent about an hour. The mansion now houses the Parkway Craft Center. There are all kinds of wood and weaved crafts and much more to browse through and purchase. While I didn't get to tour the mansion (I don't know when that is possible) it was fun to walk around the grounds and take in the view. There is a beautiful lake at the bottom of the mountain the mansion overlooks. At times during the year there are carriage rides through the area. There is a walking trail that cuts underneath the Blue Ridge Parkway that's worth a walk and a little exercise while you are here.

The Parkway has some nice caches. If you have the time you'll want to cruise the parkway and grab these while taking in the beauty of the place. Stop in at the mansion too!
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