Azalea Trip 2006
Friday, June 16
trip from McLean at about 9:00 AM and drove via I-66 to I-81 toward Roanoke.
Decided to stay in Marion, VA, that night and would meet up with George
McLellan and Ken and Sandra McDonald. Tijs Huisman and I traveled part of
the Blue Ridge Parkway from Roanoke to Mabry Mill, and left via I-77 to get to
Marion. Unknowingly, I passed George on the road and we both pulled
up to the Best Western about the same time.
Tijs and I saw some R. catawbiense, R. maximum, and Kalmia along the
Parkway. We picked up missing
supplies at the Walmart and Ingleside grocery store and ate dinner at the motel
which had great food. The next
morning, we had an excellent hot breakfast buffet at the hotel before leaving
for Mt. Rogers.
Best Western Marion
1424 N Main St.
Marion, VA 24354
drove toward Mount Rogers (highest point in Virginia) and parked at the Massie
Gap Parking area in the Grayson Highlands State Park.
The entrance fee was usually $2.00 per car but they charged only $0.10
per person because they were celebrating the anniversary of the state park. We hiked various trails admiring Kalmia, R. catawbiense, and
R. calendulaceum, and apparently hit the catawbiense at its peak. Lots of color variation along the Rhododendron Trail and
Rhododendron Gap. We enjoyed seeing
the wild horses, too. It was a long
day and very tiring, but we left in late afternoon and drove to Elizabethton, TN.
We checked into the Americourt Hotel for three nights, ate dinner at the Mayflower
Seafood Restaurant (fried Alaskan White Fish), and called it a day.
Americourt Hotel Elizabethton
1515 Highway US 19 East Bypass
Elizabethton, TN 37643
got up early and drove out 19E past the town of Roan Mountain toward Spruce Pine,
and eventually took a right onto Roaring Creek Rd.
We drove all the way to the end where there is a gate for the forest
service road, parked the cars, and started the hike. He hiked up to the Overmountain Victory Shelter, and then
joined up to the Appalachian Trail for the hike out to Big Yellow Mountain.
Parts of the trail were very steep, but the views were magnificent and
the Giant Cow Parsley was in peak bloom. We
finally took the spur to Yellow Mountain, just prior to Hump Mountain, and saw
the calendulaceum at the edge of the open meadow.
The trip out took 3 hours to get to Big Yellow, and about 2 hours to
return. Parts were steep but the views were spectacular.
We got back to Elizabethton in time to take a short hike out to Engine
Gap to see the calendulaceum. We
ate dinner at the Applebee’s Restaurant adjacent to Walmart, and returned from
the restaurant about 11:00 PM.
rose early and started on our hike into the Roan Highlands, leaving about
7:30 AM. The forecast was for rain
to move in between 12:00 – 2:00 PM, so we wanted to get out and back before
the storms arrived. We parked at
Carver's Gap and hiked past Engine Gap, to Jane Bald, and directly out to Grassy
Ridge Bald for a snack. We did make
a few stops for rest, and got back off the mountain by 2:30 PM… in the rain.
We drove back toward Elizabethton, and ate a late lunch at the McDonalds
at the intersection of 19E and Rt. 321 / Rt. 67.
We had hoped to see J. Jackson’s nursery between Boone, NC, and
Mountain City, TN, in the afternoon. Unfortuinately,my cell phone couldn’t access anything so we
decided to go back to the motel. We
ate dinner again at Applebees in Elizabethton since the meal the previous night
was great and the “up-scale” restaurant in town was closed on Mondays.
drove from Elizabethton toward Johnson City and then I-26 east toward Asheville,
NC. We stopped at the NC Welcome
Center to get maps and books, and continued south to get onto the Blue Ridge
Parkway. We ate lunch at the Mount
Pisgah Inn, and made several stops along the way including Graveyard Fields
where we hiked to the waterfall, and Grassy Mine Ridge Overlook where we
photographed calendulaceum. We had reservations in Franklin, NC, at the Microtel Inns and
Suites. We ate a modest dinner at
the Prime Steak and Buffet in Franklin. Menu:
Senior Citizen’s Special (Mon-Thurs):
All-you-can-eat Sirloin Steak, Salad Bar, assorted meats and hot foods (fried
chicken, ribs, fish, vegetables), cold foods (fruit, potato salad, cottage
cheese, etc.), rolls, ice tea, and the dessert bar, (assorted ice creams,
cookies, cakes, etc.). Price was
$9.50 including tax.
Franklin, NC - Tuesday Night
Inns and Suites
Prime Steak & Buffet
Carolina Mountain Dr. (Right off of
Palmer onto Park, and then right on Carolina)
June 21 – Check out of the hotel after breakfast at Huddle
House, and then onto Wayah Bald to see the R. calendulaceum and R.
arborescens. We intend to spend the
night in Townsend, TN, at the Valley View Lodge (formerly a Best Western), and
use that hotel as a base for both Wednesday and Thursday nights.
Best Western Valley View Lodge
7726 E Lamar Alexander Parkway
Townsend, TN 37882
June 22 – Hike up to Gregory Bald. We
left the motel promptly at 6:00 AM and arrived at the trail head by 7:15 AM.
It took me about 4 hours to climb the mountain, so I got up there at
about 11:15 AM. It was a long day, and one of the hottest on record.
The azaleas were in peak condition, and we enjoyed the beautiful flowers
and sunny weather. We met Andy Whipple from Indiana, and toured all the familiar
plants. We left the mountain by
2:00 PM and got down the mountain by 5:30 PM.
Everyone was tired, but after a shower we went out to dinner.
Friday, June 23 –
Visited Don Shadow’s Nursery and he gave us a private tour of plants and
animals. George McLellan filled his
truck with assorted trees and plants.
254 Shadow Nursery Road
Winchester, TN 37398
spent the night at a quality Inn north of Knoxville for the evening and had
dinner at a Cracker Barrel Restaurant.
drove to Sevierville, TN, to visit Vivian Abney and her East Fork Nursery.
Tijs bought many plants, as did Don, George, and Brent. George, Don, and
Tijs then headed up I-81 to Mountain City, TN, to see J. Jackson and Lindy
Johnson who have a small native azalea nursery.
They had wonderful plants and a superb Bed and Breakfast that can sleep 6
to 8 people.
Bethel Church Road
Jackson and Lindy Johnson
843 Wallace Road
Trade, TN 37691
and Tijs spent the night in Roanoke, and headed home the next day.
Quality Inn, Roanoke Tanglewood:
3816 Franklin RD SW
Roanoke, VA 24014