Drive Down the Blue Ridge Parkway

A father-daughter duo takes on the mountains and mansions along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina.

In nearby Blowing Rock, gently lilting music lures me across the town's too-cute Main Street toThe Dulcimer Shop. I bypass the wooden instruments for the patented Dulci-can, a one-string gizmo with a tin can at the end. My lame rendition of "Where Is Thumbkin?" wins the owner's smile of approval.

No local musicians get more love than Sons of Ralph, a bluegrass-Cajun-rock band. At the start of the trip, Dad and I caught the band's gig atJack of the Woodpub, in Asheville, and got a CD autographed by Ralph Lewis, 81, vocalist, mandolin­player, and father of two band members. The songs have made a fitting soundtrack. As we head back to Asheville, our meandering adventure drawing to a close, we join the chorus: "I want to travel from town to town, I'll never settle and as long as I live, honey, you know I'm the ramblin' kind."

Tweetsie Railroad
300 Tweetsie Railroad Ln., Blowing Rock, 800/526-5740,, $27, open May 1 to Nov. 2, 2009

The Dulcimer Shop
1098 Main St., Blowing Rock, 828/295-3616,

The launching-off point for this trip is a two-hour drive from the closest major airport, in Winston-Salem, N.C. It's handier to fly into Asheville Regional Airport, serviced by Continental, Delta, Northwest, and U.S. Airways. Roads in the area are beyond curvy, so distances take much longer than you might anticipate when looking at the map.


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