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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Blue Ridge Parkway & Pumpkin Patch

October is peak fall foliage in the North Carolina mountains, so I took full advantage of the lovely weather today and went sight seeing. I packed a picnic lunch, filled the gas tank, picked up a friend, and buckled my toddler and her friend into their carseats to head west to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We picked up the Parkway off 421 between Wilkesboro and Boone and headed north. The leaves are mostly green still in Greensboro, but the closer we got to the mountains, the more they changed to beautiful vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow.

We had our two 2-year-olds with us, and the scenic overlooks and stopping areas along the Parkway allowed plenty of opportunities for them to burn their energy and for us to snap some photos. Our first stop was a photo opp at Elk Mountain Overlook where the kids even found a wooly worm to examine.

Next up was E.B. Jeffress Park where the kids played in the fallen leaves, and we thought about the short hike to the cascades (and ultimately decided against it since we had the kids with us).

From there, we did some "drive by shooting" and snapped pictures along the way. We had to stop near a farm so the kids could examine the cattle - and the cattle were equally intrigued by our kids.

We stopped again at the Blue Ridge Music Center near the NC/VA border. The kids enjoyed listening to some live mountain music, and we enjoyed wandering through the Roots of American Music exhibit.

Once we hit US-52 in Virginia, we decided it was time to head back to Greensboro. However, a small, handwritten sign as we were getting off the parkway caught our eye - "Pick your own pumpkin - follow signs!" The signs led us through Fancy Gap, VA and to Blue Ridge Pumpkins. We pulled up to the farm, and were immediately greeted by one of the family members who owns the farm, who said we were welcome to choose any pumpkins from their 5 acre farm. Pumpkins were $8/each or 3/$20 - no matter the size! We wandered through the patch, cut our three chosen pumpkins from the vines, and set them on the path for one of the farmers to pick up and drive back to our car. The kids were able to get their faces painted while we drank apple cider and hot chocolate, and the farmers even allowed the kids to sit on a pony. They also had a hay ride available, and a maze for the kids to explore. I can't even express how impressed we were by this pumpkin patch - the staff, the affordability, and the overall friendliness. It will definitely be part of our fall Parkway tradition! This last stop on our day trip was definitely our favorite.

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