In 2016, we decided to take our road-tripping to Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina with the sole intent to drive the length of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Winding through the central and southern Appalachian Mountains the Parkway runs for 469 miles from Staunton, Virginia to Cherokee, North Carolina. It has everything a photographer could ask for. From stunning landscapes, and forested-mountain views, and teeming with wildlife, it offers something for everyone.
One of the most photographed locations in the U.S. and the most on the parkway is Mabry Mill. Visited by several hundred thousand visitors each year, it is easy to see why it’s found its way to so many postcards and calendars. The gristmill started grinding corn in 1908 and is still in operation today. Be sure and stop at the café and try the pancakes made from stone ground buckwheat. They are delicious!
Along the parkway, we saw tons of wildlife. Our favorite and most inspiring animal would have to be the Black Bear. We saw six just on our first day of the trip! We couldn’t believe it, they were everywhere. On the second day, we had the moment. The one that makes the entire trip worthwhile and stays with you long after it’s gone. It was a mother black bear with her two cubs. She was sitting on the side of the road in a small grassy area sunning herself as her twins explored the grassy area. We slowly pulled over and pulled out our cameras. She didn’t seem to mind us being there at all. She completely ignored us clicking away, it was perfect. Eventually, she and her cubs crossed the road and disappeared into the thick forest. We just sat there for a minute and looked at each other knowing that we had just been allowed to share a very special moment with an amazing animal. Something magical that only nature can provide. Over the next couple of days, we saw a lot more black bears. None compared to those ten to fifteen minutes we spent with Mama Bear.
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Until next time, keep the sun behind you and the birds in view