The Blue Ridge contains the highest mountains in eastern North America. About 125 peaks exceed 5,000 feet (1,500 m) in elevation The highest peak in the Blue Ridge (and in the entire Appalachian chain) is Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina at 6,684 feet (2,037 m). There are 39 peaks in North Carolina and Tennessee higher than 6,000 feet (1,800 m); by comparison, only New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington rises above 6,000 feet (1,800 m) in the northern portion of the Appalachian chain.
The Blue Ridge Parkway runs 469 miles (755 km) along crests of the Southern Appalachians and links two national parks: Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains. In many places along the parkway, there are metamorphic rocks (gneiss) with folded bands of light-and dark-colored minerals, which sometimes resemble a marble pound cake.
Arriving at our destination, the 18-Hole Scenic Golf course overlooking The Rock at Jocassee surrounded by the Blue Ride mountains, the first thing you see is the equestrian center. Guests abound atop trail horses, exploring the scenery and many nearby waterfalls.
Along with golf, there are tennis courts, fishing, boating and hiking, a swimming pool (open Memorial Day to Labor Day) and just good old plain fresh air and beautiful scenery plus skiing in the winter.
In our two-story 2-bedroom unit equipped with all modern conveniences and a fireplace, we found a pamphlet entitled “A Homeowner’s Guide Living with Bears”. [Ummm. Okay.] Natural Resources officials say the number of black bears in South Carolina has gotten so large that the animals are boldly looking for food in residential areas. Black bears can get up to 600 pounds. [Mouth open on that one.] If one does approach you, the booklet tells you the ‘thing to do’ is make yourself look as large as you can possibly can by waving your arms. It’s difficult to look ‘that big’ if you are only 5’2″, so I looked over my shoulder a lot. The locals told us that they haven’t seen a bear in the resort area for over 12 years, and we didn’t see one either. The guys were disappointed somewhat.
Cell phones do not work in these elevated areas, so bring a phone card. Also, the Wi-Fi works in the club house, but not in the rooms. This was disappointing at first, but the blood pressure drop and serenity feeling overlooked the loss almost immediately. Accommodations are immaculate.
The restaurant at the Club House was better than anything locally (within 10 miles) and we dined there every night on fresh caught trout, crab cakes roasted stuff chicken, and wonderfully fresh garden salads, all cooked in gourmet style. Veggies, ice cream and bread were all fresh and delicious. We enjoyed visiting with the chef, and owners each night after dinner and they gave us many insights as what to see and where to go.
It was unanimously agreed among our group that the locals in neighboring (10 miles or less) local towns were the friendliest people we’ve ever met. Down-to-earth, congenial, happy, and helpful, from the waitresses to the owners to the other guests. This is a Mayberry, NC-like town seen on the Andy Griffith Show. We visited homegrown honeybee stores, the largest flea market ever on Wednesdays, and Greenville, the third largest city in the state of SC, is only 20 miles away – one half hour – if you have to have city.
We took a couple of day trips: one to Biltmore, American’s Largest Home in Asheville, NC – about an hour and a half ride – 70 miles away. You can spend the whole day there and have lunch at their extraordinary buffet amidst an outside garden. And wine tasted at the Biltmore winery.
We also visited the Cherokee Reservation’s Harrah’s Casino – about a two and a half hour ride from the resort. No one won anything, but it was a hoot.