Vacation in the Mountains - My Family Travels

My journey began on July 4, 2007, when my grandparents and I headed down to North Carolina.  They decided that making a trip into the mountains to do some gem mining would be a great way to spend time with their only granddaughter.  For me it was a great opportunity to do something that interested me and maybe even a little photography. 

               We were in Boone, NC, by the end of the first day, and we stopped to watch the fireworks and refresh for the night.  In the morning we headed out on our search for gems but got sidetracked by the beautiful landscape.  The forested mountains were so beautiful that we just had to take pictures.  After spending a couple minutes taking pictures, we headed to our first mine, Gem Mountain in Spruce Pine, NC.  We chose a large five-gallon bucket of assorted rocks and began to sift through looking for gems.  After two hours of sifting, we took our collection of gems to be inspected by a gem cutter.  He revealed to us that we had found some stones good enough to yield cut gem stones.  We chose an emerald, a smoky quartz, and a large garnet (big enough to yield two faceted stones) to be cut. 

             Once we were done at Gem Mountain we went out to lunch and then headed to the next mine.  Our next stop was Emerald Village in Little Switzerland, NC.  With the purchase of another bucket, we “dug in” and found several more nice stones to add to our collection.

             After a full day of mining, we returned to Spruce Pine to spend the night at the Pinebridge Inn.  In 1982, this elementary school was turned into an inn and executive center.  The interior design remained in a school motif with each classroom being made into a guestroom complete with full bath.  There was still a principal’s office, nurse’s office, teachers’ lounge, library, and cafeteria.  Even student arm chairs could be seen outside some rooms for those who misbehaved. The gymnasium had been turned into a sports center complete with a pool.  It was an interesting use for a school building that was no longer needed.  On Friday morning we ate breakfast in the school’s cafeteria and then headed to Grandfather Mountain, the highest mountain in the Blue Ridge. 

            We traveled at 45 mph with the windows open and the sound of nature all around.  It was so relaxing.  On the way up the mountain, we stopped to visit the Animal Habitats and a Nature Museum and took many pictures.  At the top of Grandfather Mountain I got to walk across and take in the view from the Mile High Swinging Bridge!  With the sun shining, we returned to Boone by way of the Blue Ridge Parkway, enjoying the views and natural beauty of this place.  On Saturday morning we returned to the Blue Ridge Parkway for some final photography opportunities before heading back home to Ohio.  Here are some photos from our last day.

            In just four days I got to tour the beautiful mountain side, do some nature photography, and spend time with my family.  I really appreciate my grandparents for taking the time and giving me such an amazing experience in the mountains.  It is something I will not soon forget.  I still enjoy looking at my collection of gemstones, both the ones in the rough and those that were cut.

          Miriam Beard once said, “Certainly, travel is more than seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of the living.”

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