by Bob Allen
WAKE FOREST — We finally got around to doing something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time — take a week-long fall vacation in the mountains to try and capture photo images in all of its peak fall splendor.
But as you may well know, sometimes it can be mighty difficult to predict the best week. There are many things that play into the colors changing at a certain time — rain or the lack of it, unusual dry, hot spells and when colder temperatures arrive.
Mavis and I, along with photography friends Larry and Carole Adler, decided on last week from Monday through Friday.
We wanted to miss the crowded weekends. When I heard of the tropical storm Karen developing in the Gulf of Mexico, we became concerned. We certainly didn’t want to cope with driving in a Hurricane.
I watched the storm’s progress carefully and from all reports it looked like we weren’t in for any eminent danger, except that we might hit some rain on Monday.
Luckily there was none as we packed my car to almost its peak and we left about 10 a.m. The Adlers left an hour earlier.
Everything was smooth sailing along I-85 and then on I-40 until we arrived at about Graham and rain started, and within minutes it started to downpour.
Traffic slowed to about 40 miles per hour with many cars using their four-way flashers, others pulled to the side and stopped. The only vehicles which passed us were tractors and trailers. The visibility was horrible as the heavy rain combined with vehicle spray caused our vision to be as bad or worse than any I had ever experienced in my near million miles of driving.
I then remembered how my sunglasses had helped my vision in another instance like this, and they really helped me see through the heavy spray and fog-like conditions.
Soon, as the rain lightened and we were close to Burlington, we saw at least three wrecks where cars had either skidded off the highway and crashed, or the other way around.
It was nearly lunch time and we were close to a Cracker Barrel restaurant and we thought it would be a good time to eat lunch and also get some much needed rest and relaxation after that extremely tense highway ordeal.
We continued until we stopped at the nearly new, exceptionally modern rest area just before North Wilkesboro.
At this time of year it offered us some colorful trees and shrubbery to photograph.
After a long stay there and shooting all the “good stuff,” it was an interesting drive on the smooth four-lane U.S. 421 and up the steep mountain past the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Deep Gap and then into bustling Boone, home of Appalachian State University.
This is where we parted from U.S. 421 and took State Road 105 to the spread out Foscoe Community and our small 10-unit Hidden Valley Motel in the shadow of Grandfather Mountain, where we had reservations for four nights.
We found the Adlers had already checked into their room and tried out an afternoon snooze.
Carole had learned about this marvelous small family operated motel from talking to someone at the Boone Chamber of Commerce who thought this would be a fine match for our needs. Oh, was she ever right!
We loved it — and we were impressed by the owners, Jim and Maxine Harrison, who have operated it for 22 years.
They were from Savannah, Georgia and used to vacation in our mountains to get cooled off in the summers. They found this motel, bought it and remodeled it.
They just installed new mattresses and beautiful quilt covers two years ago. Jim is handy with woodworking, and has a great shop where he made beautiful pine frames.
Maxine has a green thumb and has a massive flower garden at the entrance.
Oh, yes! If you like antique cars, you will enjoy seeing Jim’s collection of two Packards — a cream color ’38 and a black ’42 parked where everyone can see them under a storage shed along with his Farmall tractor.
See next week’s column about scouting around to make fall images in beautiful weather all week.
—Bob Allen, publisher emeritus of The Wake Weekly, welcomes and encourages your comments or suggestions at 919-556-3059 or [email protected]