Rocks I have known – Part I

View from Blowing Rock

View from Blowing Rock, Wikipeda

Grandma Lin wrote a post about rocks the other day, and unintentionally, perhaps, challenged her readers to do so ( a new kind of prompt).  This got me to thinking about rocks, and the more I thought…rocks big and small popped out of my memory bank.

After I thought about for a while, I realized rocks were so important that I would either write one long post that would put the reader to sleep over their conflakes or bedtime cocoa, or several shorter posts. I chose the latter because it hurts my knee to sit at my desk for a very long time. (It would take a long post to explain.)

The first rocks I can recall seeing were in North Carolina. Coming from the coastal areas of Texas or Georgia, where I lived until age 2 or 3, en route to grand parent homes in Norris Tennessee or further away in Wisconsin, and driving into the mountains (photo above) was a startling experience for a little flatlander. The view above is famous, taken from Blowing Rock NC, a major tourist destination.

 The shot is also very familiar to anyone who has seen the Daniel Day-Lewis film, Last of the Mohicans nineteen times (me).  Much of the film, shot in the mountains of North Carolina, mostly in the Mount Pisgah National Forest or at the Biltmore Estate, relied on the last vestiges of ‘primeval forest’ on the East Coast. The closing shots taken at or near Blowing Rock needed the requisite breeze to lift hair gracefully into the wind.

However, my memories of Blowing Rock and the mountains around western NC come from a later time when I was older. I recall fun family vacations: riding in my dad’s business partner’s pink Cadillac convertible, my mom and dad arguing about child rearing methods in the front seat, we three kids in the back seat fighting over space, my dad reaching around to smack one of us in the face, usually the one he could reach…me, and my bother puking all over the car.

My brother always got car sick. On one trip, he puked out the car window while the car was passing through Oconolufte (Cherokee Village). Mom carried ‘lemon drops for car sickness’ but they never worked, probably because our parents were chain smokers and the car reeked of stale smoke and ash. In between bouts of puking, Mom tried to divert us with the Burma Shave signs and signs, like “hidden curves” and “soft shoulders.”

Oconolufte River, NC

Oconolufte River, NC, notice the very young trees on the cut over banks

Dad, who was building a rock garden back home, stopped the car every so often to pick up a rock from the highway. Rock slides were fairly common in those days, so he wasn’t stealing them, just removing them from the tarmac where they could cause accidents.

Over the years Dad collected enough rocks to build a bank side garden in the ravine behind our house, as well as a beautiful rock outdoor fireplace and stairs set into the side of the hill.  He took some photos of his project, and I wish I had them, but they are mouldering in my wicked stepmother’s attic.

Mostly they were igneous rocks like quartz and granite, excavated with dynamite when the Blue Ridge Parkway was constructed by the Works Projects crews of the 1930s and later.

After he completed his degree in forestry at Michigan in 1940, Dad moved South to work with the CCC which planted zillions of trees along the Parkway, and restored land that had been ruined by years of poor farming habits.

I haven’t been up in the mountains for a couple of years, but it gladdens my heart to know that children and grandchildren are benefitting from the preservation of land by Gilded Age millionaires like Biltmore who donated the land that comprises the Pisgah National Forest, as well as the federal works projects of so

long ago.

This post linked to Nature Notes.

Grandfather mountain from the Blue Ridge Parkway

Grandfather mountain showing hanging rock from the Blue Ridge Parkway, Wikipedia

23 thoughts on “Rocks I have known – Part I

  1. Pingback: Nature Notes (#252)~ The pine stays green in winter… wisdom in hardship.~Norman Douglas | ~RAMBLING WOODS~

  2. Brought back memories … not the same mountains, we were out west, but the rest of the car trips was familiar. (It’s a wonder we all lsurvived …. no seatbelts, all that smoke …..)….. beautiful scenery there and we were privileged (husband and I) to drive some of that when we were RVing. Guess I need to rent that movie!


  3. I read you every morning just after 6. the tv shows the weather….inland 82, and I just got half way through my coffee. No rocks here just lingering nightmares.


  4. You covered some of my favorite rocky territory in this post. And thanks for the movie facts about Last of the Mohicans. I got a kick out of picturing you as a “little flatlander.”


  5. This is a lovely post Dianne and brought back to memory my own ‘rocks’. Every year we would go to a very stony beach called Slapton Sands in Devonshire (UK). My mom would love to collect rocks off the beach, usually smooth and round thanks to the ocean. I don’t think you can take them any more but back then we gathered quite a collection and mum made a rock garden. On each rock was written where they were chosen and the date. She placed them carefully and planted flowers around them. When i think of it now it brings a smile so thanks for that.


  6. My most memorable rock was and still is Stone Mt. I moved from Miami to Stone Mt.when I was five. The Mt. was just down the street from my Granddaddy’s house or through the woods at the back of his property. Later it had to be the rocks on the beaches in Maine ,shock to my feet as I was used to powdery sand in Florida.


      • Yes Sherman came thru on his way to Atlanta. When I lived there the black part of town was called Sherman Town. I remember the buildings behind the front street were rubble and my cousins and I would dig around in there,we found what I now know were mini balls. We thought they were funny marbles.


  7. Wow. You brought back a lot of memories. We lived in Winston-Salem, NC for many years and spent many a day in these very areas. Up in the Grandfather Mountain area is one place that is considered possibly the oldest exposed rock cropping in the world. When we lived in Charlottesville we traveled the Blue Ridge Parkway many times and it still brought awe each time.


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