October, 2013

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Rainbow, Thurtleback and Drift Falls

Still waiting for my driver license, I decided to leave for three days and discover some new places South-West from Fletcher, not far away from South Carolina border.

The first day, Justin et Heather joined me to share the boondocking spot I found and we went together discovering the Dawson Falls.
1. Dirt road heading to Dawson Falls
2. VLV at sunrise, before the clouds arrived…
3. Dawson Falls with a very poor light…
4. Boondocking with Justin’s Ambo in afternoon light
The next day, after a nice mountain bike ride with Justin, Heather and one of their friend, I continued alone. VivaLaVida had his first real 4WD time : two forest roads with very steep portions! Average speed : 2:30 to drive about 6 miles in 4WD and low range of course. Definitely uncrowed roads since I had to cut and remove three times dead trees Fallen accross the road.
The first road took me to three nice waterfalls on the Horspasture River I discovered in upstream order… The light wasn’t really great but with patience, I managed to get some sun rays on each of them πŸ˜‰
5 & 6. On the road, the Toxaway Falls
7. Saw cutting to allow VivaLaVida to go
Axle crossing…
9. Rainbow Falls
10. Some hundreds of yards above, the Thurtleback Falls…
11. Finally, at the top of the ravine, the Drift Falls
12. Mushrooms on the single…
Then I wanted to go to the Mill Creek Falls Janet & Jonathan adviced me. So I continued the road but was stopped after two miles by a closed gate at the border between North Carolina and South Carolina! After a perilous turn (it was tight and the ravine was very steep…), I go back and stoped boondocking on the banks of the Horsepasture River, sure nobody would bother me there during the night… πŸ˜‰
13. Nice boondocking spot in side of Horsepasture River
14. Camp fire…
To be continued in a next update… πŸ˜€

Mechanical hazard…

Well, you will have to wait a bit for the next images of the beautiful nature here … The bad news is that the code “Low turbo boost” did not come from the actuator replaced a few days ago. Friday morning, the code came again followed by an ugly noise and a lot of white/blue smoke coming out of exhaust. Power boost to zero, I tried to drag to the workshop Chris… A two-hour dismantling later, I discovered that the turbo shaft was shared throughout, never seen taht before!
No other choice than to order a new turbo … Two hours thirty later, after reassembly, VivalaVida is again roadworthy. Insight into the cramped engine compartment which makes interventions sometimes difficult…
Only hope that I will be quiet now with the mechanics for a while…

Northern Appalachians

It seems that I’m legal again in the US! At least, I hope so. πŸ˜‰ I had to drive to Charlotte International Airport and then got the explaination.probably to get me a better rate on my flight ticket, the traval agency booked a return flight which was registered in the custom computer system. Then my I-94 form was automatically canceled on the date of returne flight..!
Happy to have my I-94 number again, I went to the DMV again but they cannot find the number in the system, neither on Wednesday. I finally went once more on Thursday and asked them to call immigration services. They were only doing a wrong manipulation on the computer..!
Finally, I got my NC driver licence after havinf to do three tests : signs recognition, computer test adn driving test. But I have now a temporary autorisation to drive and will get the license itself next week. Then I should be able to register VivaLaVida, finally..!
Here are some pictures of my back trip from Grandfather Mountain.
1) A camp South of Lineville Falls,
2) & 3) Sunrise on the Linville River Gorge
4) Even in remote areas, I can see chruches…
5) This picture is espacially for Isa Belle who will recognize herself… πŸ˜‰ just to show the size of some leaves.
6) et 7) Frome the single trail in the Linville River Gorge, nice colors in morning light…
8) The sun reaches the Upper Linville Falls
9) After 3 hours hike, I reached the Linville Falls, The biggest waterfall of North Carolina.
10) Colors Under my foots…
11) preparing wood for the camp fire…
12) & 13) New day : downhill to the gorgious Lower Falls of l’Upper Creek…
14) In the Upper Creek to the upper falls…
15) Here they are!
16) Details…
17) Sighting on the trail to a new camp…
18) Not much flower at this time of the year anymore, but I found this one in the forest…
19) Ready for the camp fire…
Have a good weekend all! πŸ˜‰

Grandfather Mountain

Nothing to do before next monday to regularise my situation, I decided to head North in the Appalachian.
I slept near a small lake under Grandfather Mountain and enjoyed a gorgious sunrise.

1) Grandfather Mountain late afternnon. The night will be rainy and cool…
2) early Wake up, no cloud in the sky. I Wake up to enjoy the sunrise on the small lake.
3) The sun arrives…
4) … and brings colors with him!
5) Contrejour…
6) some hundreds yards further, what a spectacular sighting…
7) …Still Grandfather Mountain in the back.
8) At this altitude – about 3’600 feets high – leaves trees are everywhere.
9) VivaLaVida continues to head North on nice forest roads…
10) Clouds arrive but sightings are still awesome…
11) The spot I wanted to see is closed because of the shutdown. Never mind, I drive back, stopping sometimes to take pictures… πŸ˜‰
12) Back to the Grandfather Mountain late afternoon when the rain comes back. I still did a hike in that wild area…
13) dawn is coming, time for me to go back to VivaLaVida and find a place to sleep…
I wish a good wwek to all of you ! πŸ˜€

Pearson’s Waterfall & Saluda general store

This update will maybe be the last one if I’m explused! πŸ˜€ In fact, I discoverd that the custom officer didn’t “open” my visa at my arrival. Then, I’m only allowed to stay 90 days before to have to leave. i then tryed to contact the Custom & Border security office but it’s closed due to the shutdown ! I finally sent an online form to apply for an opening/renewing of I-94 form, hoping I won’t be explused…

Has it rains today, I publish some pictures. Comming back from Charlotte, i stopped at the Pearson’s Falls, a nice waterfall near small historic town of Saluda.

On the trail to Pearson’s Falls…
Pearson’s Falls.
A tunnel on the road to Saluda, note very much higher that VivaLaVida ! There was only about two inches over the roof rack…
In Saluda, i discovered this nice General Store which exists since more than hundred years.

Back of the shop…
See you later, if all goes well, with new pictures of fall colors… πŸ˜‰

Mechanical aside…

Last weekend, I went to Charlotte to see a 500 miles NASCAR race on Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was the only night 500 miles race of NASCAR Sprint championship this year with almost 180’000 people coming !

The speedway about 1:30 before start. People start to arrive.
Half an hour before start, ths show is going on with concert, people walking on cable, , stunt show and driver presentation.
Starting grid…
…flight in formation.
“Drivers, start your engine !”
The noise of 48 race cars of about 850 hp each starting all together is just incredible, more than thunder!!
start of the race…
Red brake rotors at entry of the pit lane…

During caution, all cars run into the pit lane to refuel and change tires.
impressive work of the teams
Supporters have radio headsets to hear what the official speaker says!
The turns at about 180 MPH..!
In the infield, it’s campground!
Fianally, after 3:30, it’s a Ford which won that time…
A great experience to see such a race once…

I splept on the parking lot (a field near the speedway) to avoid jams caused by so many people leaving the place at the same time…
I promise that the next update will be more quiet… πŸ˜‰

Black Balsam Knob & waterfalls

Still waiting on insurance for VivaLaVida, I enjoyed the nice and cool weather to discover other spots of Appalachian. Some nice waterfalls first.

Looking Glass Falls, easy access Under the Blue Ridge Parkway…
The evening coming, I started looking for a place to spend the night that I found at Gloucester Gap, below Looking Glass Rock. Little mishap when I got up after blowing on my campfire to start it, I lost balance, probably helped by a small pressure drop, and falled backwards, knocking my head down! I got up with a big bump on my head and a broken headlamp, not realizing immediately what had happened… But I was lucky not to fall on one of the large boulders surrounding my campfire …
Next morning, I went to discover some other waterfalls. More remote is Courthouse Falls is nestled in a ravine that the sun doesn’t reach this season. This place gave me an impression of hidden oasis…
The Dill Falls race down a cliff of about hundred feet in two steps. An hour and a half small dirt forest roads lead to it. The light was not the best one but the place was remote and really wild.
Janet and Jonathan (remember, the couple met last Friday) had advices me the Black Balsam Knob, a summit of the Appalachian with awesome view. Early afternoon, I got there, hoping that it might be the sunset I didn’t have at Max Patch. After an hour drive, I left VivaLaVida on the terminal parking lot at approx. 1,500 meters elevation and took the direction of the ridge trail where I discovered a wonderful vegetation, kind of scrub made ​​of brambles, umbelliferae, blueberries (too late for the berries) and flowers, with small trees with bright red berries. Except at Max Patch, this is the only place without forest, with beautiful fall colors taking place. It extends only the last 600 feets elevation or so, below the forest is everywhere. I really enjoyed these colors throughout my almost five hours walk.
Sun decending to horizon, colors get warmer, light brighter. Moisture lifted by the sun during the day starts to condense, forming cumulus drawn by the well-established wind. Promise of the photogenic sunset?
Despite the cold wind starting to erode the only polarshirt brought with me, I was waiting for the sun drops below the clouds and then, just at the lower limit of the lowering clouds, I was invited for some minutes of incredible light, almost an end of the world light! It was gorgious, really ..!
Mesmerized by the show, I stayed still twenty minutes while the sun disappeared just to watch the changing colors…
The descent was somewhat scabrous on a steep trail without headlamp in a very dark forest as night fell. But I found VivalaVida safely after 45 minutes of descent, a little frozen by the 42Β°F ambient. I slept there in a dense fog. The opportunity to launch the diesel stove cooking some zucchini in small owk I purchased. Warming and delicious.
Today, it is downg to the plain – still waiting for the insurance of VivalaVida and to post this little update from a Starbucks Coffee with a good double shot espresso!
Have all a nice end of the week! πŸ˜‰

North Mills River and Max Patch

Three day getaway before returning to Fletcher to finally try to achieve insure VivalaVida in my name. Nearly four weeks of endless steps and still nothing!

So to change my mind, I started with two days to North Mills River in a “primitive campground” spread along a “dirt road” forest on the banks of the Mills River. I took the opportunity to make two great moutainbike rides, one with Jonathan and Janet, a couple who came in a nearby location in an ambulance transformed into camper.
Primitive campground ai North Mills River
Good european breakfast πŸ˜€
The Mills River in the morning
Dirt road…
Saturday evening, I wanted to meet a part of the team met on the 4×4 weekend 4×4 in Hot Springs. Nice evening in a Live Music pub with a few glasses of cider. Sunday, I went up to Max Patch, a summit of the Appalachian which has the distinction of being peeled. No one really knows why, a fire destroyed the trees from top hundred years ago and since the forest has not recolonized. There is thus a meadow surrounded by forest that make me think to the ArdΓ¨che, chestnut less. While the sunset seemed promising, bad weather announced Monday arrived two hours early, ruining my wait on the summit anyway nicer and windy…
“General Store” on the road to Max Patch
The trail- a very small part of the Appalachian Trail – near the summit…
… opens over a large meadow…
… with gorgious 360 sighting
They are some very rares plants in North America there
A family joined me at the top to fly kites
Foggy end of day…
The trees begin to change color at this altitude. My descent into the forest was colorful …
Cross your fingers that I finally get my insurance and I can get me started… πŸ˜‰

Blue Ridge Parkway

Last week-end I discovered the Blue Ridge Parkway North of Asheville, still in North Carolina. Here are some pictures…

Start of the day at Powhadan Lake where I slept Friday evening
Nice forest river on the trail
The “Blue Ridge Parkway” is a beautiful sightseeing road all long the Appalachianss. I drove to Mount Mitchell which is the higest mountain of Est America (about 6’500 feets high).
Typical light of dawn…

The “Crabtree Falls”
Short stop at “Little Switzerland”… πŸ˜‰
I got a tasty expresso in a nice bokkstore cafe.
Sunday afternoon atLinville Falls, unfortunately with a poor light. I have to go back there another time…
A short ray of light on the way back…

So, that’s all for today… πŸ˜€