Day 74: Cantaloupe Smoothies


time of year

We love the town of Sparta, NC. It’s quite small, with a very local, not at all touristy feel. The area around it is a beautiful mix of rolling, rural farmland and mountain peaks.

We walked around the downtown intending to visit Becca’s Backwoods Bean Cafe. They have what they call a Farmer’s Pantry featuring locally grown and produced foods, coffee, baked goods, arts and crafts and more. Unfortunately it was closed so we had to settle for coffee from the gas station. It’s about 38F with 12 mph winds, we’re going to need some help staying warm today.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is less than 10 minutes from town. It’s got quite a different feel than some of the more western stretches that we’re more familiar with, fields and traditional fencing mixed in with more mountainy feeling areas. It’s interesting to see homes and farms so close along either side. We stopped at Little Glade Mill Pond, which looks like a great place for a picnic, and quite a few of the overlooks. A lot of them have little nuggets of information about the history of the area. Brinegar Cabin was a great stop where we learned that the original owners lived off the land on their farmstead for nearly 60 years. Their 3 children still come by often to visit their former home.

The Doughten Recreation Area is along the Blue Ridge Parkway in this area. We pulled in to check it out. It’s got beautiful views, the hikes including the Mountain-to-Sea trail and a very cool, rustic looking lodge with one heck of a view.

Hungry, we Tex-Mex Riverside Cafe, Latin Food, Sparta, NC for lunch. The way this restaurant is set up, if you’re getting takeout you you can wait at a small bar by the kitchen and watch your food being made. It felt a lot like we were sitting at a local Latin family’s kitchen while they make lunch. It was some of the best Latin food we’ve ever had and felt very authentically homemade. I’d especially recommend the cantaloupe smoothie – I’ve never had anything like it anywhere else and it was delicious!


Time to go back to the hotel to eat and have a nap. Neither of us slept well last night. I don’t know why, it’s a quiet, peaceful hotel and the bed is very comfortable.

Back to Stone Mountain to see Widows Creek Falls (0.2 miles total out and back). There is a small parking area at the trailhead. This is a beautiful waterfall with a deep pool and a sliding rock into another pool at the bottom. We were the only people there to enjoy it.

Yesterday we didn’t have time to stop and explore the historic homestead at the base of Stone Mountain so today we parked in the lower parking lot and hiked back to it (maybe a mile?) so that we could climb around the rocks at the base of the mountain and see the homestead. There are plaques with information about the history of the area and the homestead.


difficulty: 3

We wanted one more chance to see the sunset in the mountains so we took the Blue Ridge Parkway to try to find a great place to watch the sun set. This part of the parkway is very quiet this time of year. We’ve seen a handful of cars in overlooks but haven’t seen any actually driving on it either times we were on it today. The sunset was not exactly vibrant but it was a real treat seeing the town lights twinkling below on the way back and there were lots of deer grazing along the road.

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