To each his own. To me my own.

Travel

Up High Again

This past weekend we packed our bags and headed up to Blowing Rock in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains for an overnight trip. Normally being a day trip, it amazes me the intense coordination and planning it takes for us to ‘get away’ for just one night. The house sitter for our baby boy Mojo, food and drink shopping for said house sitter, coordinating the alarm system, etc. Of course, it does help knowing the house sitter is non other than my baby girl and her robust boyfriend. So at least there’s no huge guesswork on food choices there.

We stayed in this same place March of last year, a week after Keith proposed – so this return trip was very special to us. Originally built in 1874, the adorable hotel is called The Hemlock Inn. Today, the original inn has been completely refurbished with additional rooms having been added. Each of the beautifully decorated historic rooms offer individual rustic mountain settings complete with hardwood floors and antique decor. Each room having it’s own unique decor, we opt to stay in a different room each time. This was our room last weekend:

Room_4

Here’s a couple shots from their website showing what’s in store once our beautiful warm summer weather decides to arrive (and stay).

OutsideSeating

Garden

Knowing the shops on Main Street so well, I was surprised we’d never been in the Six Pence Pub. Then I remembered neither of us are bar people, never have been! But since this place came highly recommended, we decided to pop in after we were checked and settled in our room. It did not disappoint. Though I didn’t get them in the picture, I’ll have to admit the fried pickles here are probably the best I’ve ever had.

sixpencepub

Of course the trip would not have been complete without a leisurely drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway before we left on Sunday. It’s my dream to someday drive the entire Parkway from start to finish. We always gravitate to ‘our’ overlook… Big Bear overlook. This overlook has 360º scenic views and is very near Price Lake. It was disappointing to see that someone had stolen the rustic sign that’s resided there since we started coming – I guess this tells me it’s not just ‘our’ favorite overlook.

bigbearoverlook

Here’s another panoram of the luxurious mountain laurel.

mountainlaurel

As usual, I found a t-shirt in a local store that I just couldn’t leave without. This shirt might as well have come preprinted with my name on it…

tee

So I guess I’ll save my story of walking around naked in the dark with a gun for another time.

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A couple months in the life…

My, how I’ve missed my little weblog. The last time I posted, Keith had hit a deer with his truck. He thankfully escaped injury to his self, but his truck (and the deer) was a hot mess.

What I failed to mention was the very next day was to be our 5th annual New Years beach trip. I was honestly ready to cancel any out of town plans at this point, but he seemed intent on going and rented an SUV so that we could still accommodate Mojo. Our first full day there, a small tornado touched down and ripped the roof smack off our condo. I was sitting on the couch against the wall and actually felt myself being lifted when it hit. Soon after, we discovered a large piece of the roof missed hitting our rental car by mere feet. Although it doesn’t show the extent of the damage from everything that fell (roof lights, concrete bags, etc.) here’s a photo of the aftermath.

photo (1)

Parts of the roof are visible on top of the adjacent restaurant and under the palms on the asphalt. Keith had just walked Mojo in this same area 10 minutes prior to it happening. What is it they say again about those silver linings?

Aside from a lot of cleanup noise including chainsaws, a crane and lots of workerbees – the rest of the trip was awesome. One of my favorite memories would be our farewell balloons. We each assigned a few private hells from our past, then sent them out to sea forever. The picture’s pretty poor, but believe me when I say it’s very therapeutic to watch these babies go until you can’t see them anymore. Then they’re just… gone.

photo (2)

I so enjoy watching the souls of the surfers… had to share this shot.

photo (4)

Flash forward to now. Other than a few sushi dinners, a winter storm, watching my fellow southerners make national news with their stupid driving, a dog that wouldn’t allow us to build a snowman, an extreme gum-popper at work, a few dozen Twilight movie reruns, a couple nice unplanned car repairs and vet visits, and a sick husband diagnosed with pneumonia at the urgent care today – life has been pretty typical since the first of the year. Aside from the temporary pneumonia bit, we’re still on our honeymoon and we don’t see that ending anytime in the near future. 😀 But I’ve definitely got my nurse Bon hat on, the poor guy.

photo (3)

Have I mentioned I’m stoked for full-time flip-flop wear again?


Truck = 0 Deer = 0 Keith = 100

Two days ago on Christmas night, I had a disturbing dream. I was driving Keith’s truck with my mother in the passenger seat. It was very dark. As dreams often have their way, time passed and it became more and more difficult to see. Finally, I became all but blinded and was forced to pull over. We pulled off the road and sat in the dark, not knowing what to do or where to go next.

The dream ended as quickly as it began. I told both Keith and my mother about it and described how vivid it was. It’s a horrible feeling to realize (even in a dream) that you no longer have control of a moving vehicle.

That next morning on my way to work, I discovered the heat in my car had decided to fly south for the winter. Last night Keith asked me to drive his truck in today so he could look into the reason why. Although I’ve driven his truck many times, I told him this time I’d rather just drive my car in since that dream was still so fresh in my head. He said he understood, and if I’d like, he would drive me in and pick me up since he really wanted to fix my heat. So that’s what we did.

When my cell phone rang here at work, I knew that he hadn’t had enough time to make it home yet. I noticed the voice on the other end didn’t coincide with that of my deep-voiced husband with a mild manner and gentle demeanor. I immediately knew something was wrong when

‘Oh my God baby, I just hit a deer!! My truck is f****d!! Destroyed the whole front end – oh my God!!’ Insert a few more expletives in there, just use your imagination.

TruckvsDeer

Both lights busted, chrome grill GONE, bumper and fenders all hanging, the radiator was even busted so he had to get it towed.

Though shook up, Keith says he’s okay. Far as the truck goes, he’s right – it’s f****d. So is the deer. But the truck can be fixed. That’s the thing about material things, they can be replaced – my sweet man cannot. Later on this morning, I told him I was so sorry it happened to him with his new truck. His response: ‘I’m just glad it happened to me and not to you.’ If at this moment I had to paint a mental picture of what love looks like, his response is what I would envision.

The past few months, there have been a few local fatalities involving deer colliding with vehicles. These things can kill you, I know this.

I’m so very thankful that my husband is okay.


The Legend of the Blowing Rock

Last weekend we took a day-trip back up to the town of Blowing Rock, NC. With the majestic Blue Ridge Mountain scenic views, the town shops and our favorite barbecue restaurant, it tops our list of favorites. We had never actually been on the Blowing Rock, so we paid admission to see what it was all about.

I admired this little bird who chose to sit atop the Blowing Rock.

This little girl beside me looked lonely. 🙂

I’ve always loved a good legend. Something about them always connects me back to my childhood, where things could instantly turn magical and mystical. This, to me, is one of those tales that takes me back to that time.

It is said that a Chickasaw chieftan, fearful of a white man’s admiration for his lovely daughter, journeyed far from the plains to bring her to The Blowing Rock and the care of a squaw mother. One day the maiden, daydreaming on the craggy cliff, spied a Cherokee brave wandering in the wilderness far below and playfully shot an arrow in his direction. The flirtation worked because soon he appeared before her wigwam, courted her with songs of his land and they became lovers, wandering the pathless woodlands and along the crystal streams.

One day a strange reddening of the sky brought the brave and the maiden to The Blowing Rock. To him it was a sign of trouble commanding his return to his tribe in the plains. With the maiden’s entreaties not to leave her, the brave, torn by conflict of duty and heart, leaped from The Rock into the wilderness far below. The grief-stricken maiden prayed daily to the Great Spirit until one evening with a reddening sky, a gust of wind blew her lover back onto The Rock and into her arms. From that day a perpetual wind has blown up onto The Rock from the valley below. For people of other days, at least, this was explanation enough for The Blowing Rock’s mysterious winds causing even the snow to fall upside down.

I’ve got my own handsome Cherokee brave. 🙂

The Blowing Rock website


A View from Mount Mitchell

Those who know me are well aware of my continuing quest to kick acrophobia out the window once and for all. Thought I’d share a few pictures of our road-trip yesterday up to Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak of the Appalachian Mountains and the highest point in the eastern United States. This is the highest up I’ve ever been. For those of you who’ve been much higher and think this is a simply a walk in the park – humor me. I’m terrified this high up (mainly during the drive up and down), but for some reason the mountains keep calling me back. It’s so beautiful and peaceful here, even if it does scare me to death.


Blue Lagoon, here I come…

I am uber-happy to report that soon, I’ll be able to strike a few to several items off my bucket list. The more I think about it, I could quite possibly kill off numbers 2, 5, 8, 11, 13 with one stone. Later this year, I’ll be going on my inaugural first cruise with my babygirl. Look out, high seas, you’d best be on your guard for these two…

Ahoy!! Thar’d be danger up ahead, matey

Our planning commences in the wake of the Costa Concordia tragedy (which reminds me of the Titanic in so many regards, minus the idiocy). I admit it makes me a little nervous, but for whatever reason I’m able to excuse human error better than mechanical failure. I know, it should probably be the exact opposite – but that’s just me. (So what’s that word normal mean again??)

I cannot wait to bask in that beautiful clear blue water and all it’s glory. I know I’ll be so totally enthralled with it’s beauty that I’ll be searching for a way back at least yearly until my time here is up. The balcony room we’re getting is going to be fabulous, and worth the extra cash.

We got together this weekend and studied the excursions. There are SO many choices of things to do while docked – and it’s already become apparent that traveling my maiden voyage with a seasoned cruiser will serve to my advantage. There’s so much I don’t know, and I’m trying to retain all this new information as I go along. Right now it’s a toss-up between the stingrays and the dolphins (the dolphins are ex-pen-sive). Zip-lining is another thing we’re considering – and the snorkeling is a definite. Heck, the excursions themselves are pretty expensive. But hey… I’m gonna do a self-toot of my own horn here by reminding myself I’m worth it. I’ve waited almost 44 years to see water that  blue and I’m jumping all over this jewel of an opportunity! Whoo-hoo!!

Maybe Keith will land that job in the Bahamas and we can stop to visit him on the way back from St. Thomas… 🙂


Making New Waves…

In searching for the post I wrote about last New Year’s beach trip, I found I never wrote one. This surprised me since it was such a beautiful time and the weather was so mild. I guess this is old news now, but at least it’ll get posted in the year 2011. Oh, well.

Each year we go to the coast to bring in and celebrate the New Year. It’s become customary for us to do this, and I like traditions. We stay somewhere different every time, and have found the winter season a good time to familiarize ourselves with the different hotels in the area. The hotel choices can even be a bit more exclusive in the winter because of the rates. The lodging possibilities really are endless.

Glow-bracelets and necklaces are a must for New Years Eve at the beach, because you’ve got to be able to see each other. 🙂 After that, they’re assigned a proper resting place on the terrace.

In addition to the firework show at Broadway on New Years Eve, the fireworks are also plentiful on the beach. You don’t even have to buy any, just sit back and enjoy the ones that others bought. 🙂

On our most recent trip we visited the Aquarium, I’d wanted to go for years now. We instantly fell in love with it, and when it came time to leave almost couldn’t pry ourselves out of the large ‘tunnel’ area where you’re able to walk under the sharks and other marine life. It was like being ‘at one’ with these amazing animals. We talked about how awesome it would be to spend the night in there – the pictures really don’t do justice.

Oh, yeah. I could definitely handle spending the night in this thing.

In looking back over my photos, I was disappointed that I’d not gotten pictures of the thing I fell in love with most there (aside from the sharks) – the stingrays. There were many different kinds, and they seemed to really enjoy seeing the people and showing off for us. The ones I loved the most looked like they actually had a ‘head’. They seemed the most entertaining, and even appeared to be smiling for us. I’ll definitely get some shots of them if we go back to the Aquarium this year.

Just leave it to Keith to find the hidden entrances…

There’s enough people here still during the New Year’s holiday to keep things interesting… but it’s still not crowded. I do think this coast at New Year’s thing is catching on, though. If the sea is your thing, being here for the holiday is magical and enchanting – dare I say, almost dreamlike. It’s definitely a different state of mind, and makes a great start to a brand New Year.

Only a fine line between sea and sky. Almost resembles a tidal wave…


Mountain View

We finally made the trip up to Asheville this weekend to visit Biltmore Estate, the largest private residence in America. The mansion itself boggled my mind. It’s still hard for me to come to grips with the sheer magnitude of this place – especially coming from the era in which it was built. Once we cleared the forest and the estate came into full view, that was it – I was officially mesmerized.

The Biltmore House

Photography is only permitted outside of the house, otherwise I would have some fabulous pictures to share. To me the tour was eerily amazing. I use the word eerie because as I walked through this huge mansion, it’s almost like I could still feel the presence of the Vanderbilts who lived here. I couldn’t help but place myself back in that time, when everything seemed so much simpler – although this most brilliant architecture is anything but simple. I found myself wondering what a normal day consisted of for Mrs. Vanderbilt – what she did after she woke, what she ate for lunch, what she did during the day in that big house, what rooms were her favorites. As I walked through the lush gardens, I imagined her there admiring the beautiful roses. I thought of the grief she must have felt when her husband died unexpectedly leaving her with a young daughter. Walking through the basement in the servants quarters, I imagined the young servants and what their lives might have been like. As we continued to climb stairs, gaining story after story, the long hallways brought to mind their only daughter Cornelia and how it must have been to grow up in a house like this. An image formed of the little girl running down one of the many long hallways and bounding into the endless amount of rooms. I wondered if she’d ever gotten lost in there. These ‘thoughts’ still run rampant in my head – I now realize a visit here lingers with you long after you’ve left the estate.

Partial view of the garden

After touring the house and gardens, we ventured over to the village and winery, and even happened upon a Tiffany Lamp gallery. I was very happy for the opportunity to see all these gorgeous lamps in person. It reminded me of an art gallery because everyone was so silent except for whispers. Again, cameras weren’t allowed in there because they want you to visit in person. My mom has wanted one of these lamps for so long, I’d love to be the person to get her one someday.

Since the leaves are so beautiful this time of year, we decided to drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway for a leisurely ride over to Grandfather Mountain. The weather couldn’t have been better, and the scenic views were breathtaking – it was a lot to take in.

View from Blue Ridge Parkway
Taken from ‘our’ Thunder Hill Overlook

We’ve taken tons of pictures at the above overlook. I like it best because it comes complete with views on both sides – across the road is a beautiful field with a tremendous view of it’s own. It would be a great spot to picnic.

Another overlook on the Parkway
A favorite spot at Price Lake.

I love the mountains. I learn something new every time I visit – but this particular trip will probably hold the record for a long time to come.


Roadtrip

I love spontaneous roadtrips. With us they usually end up in the mountains, and I’ve grown to love the area a lot. Yesterday we set out early to Maggie Valley/Cherokee, NC. This is the location of mine and Keith’s very first trip together over two years ago, and I was surprised to see how much I remembered about it! Maybe my old memory isn’t as bad as I thought it was. Keith has Cherokee roots from his mother’s side of the family, and even looks the part. He could probably put on a headdress and pass very well.

We mostly walked both towns and perused the shops,, and ended up in Waynesville to eat dinner. Thought I’d share some photos of my favorite findings of the day – I hope everyone has a enjoyable and safe Labor Day Weekend!

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Falling Chips

My mother and her husband finally got out of town for a couple of days. She’s had a rough Summer with her brother passing away recently from a terminal illness, add to that the fact they haven’t been anywhere in years. Everyone deserves a vacation every now and then, and it’s been way too long for them.

Our family has this unique ability of finding humor in our own self, and Mom is no exception. The kind of laughter I heard from her yesterday was priceless, it’s the kind of laughter I haven’t heard in a long time. Mammaw was terrific at it too, and Mom is definitely a chip off the ole’ block! She was laughing so hard I couldn’t even understand her (no alcohol involved). Of course she couldn’t leave her husband out of the ‘roast’, so he got included too. 🙂

The complicated directions they were given to their room in the casino hotel made me think of the Griswold’s Vegas Vacation. There’s my sick sense of humor – I usually think of a movie to compare things to. Now, if Mom comes home with Wayne Newton on her arm I’m gonna have to give her a lecture.


The Sands SkyPark

Learning about new structural masterpieces never cease to amaze and intrigue me. I’ve written about the Burj Dubai, the Grand Canyon Skywalk and the Swiss AlspiX – I really enjoy writing about these ‘wonders’ because a) it forces me to learn more about them by exploring the facts, and b) it’s not likely I’ll ever get to visit them in person. I find it ironic that all these places have one thing in common – extreme height. With heights being my main hang-up, it’s probably fair to say it’s the biggest source of my intrigue.

The top SkyPark of Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore made it’s official debut on June 24, 2010. The cantilever is positioned atop three 57-story sloping towers which are connected at level 23, and stretches longer lengthwise than the Eiffel Tower is tall. This structure houses a hotel, casino, restaurants, stores, art gallery, pool, ice skating rink, gardens, and much more all rolled up into one tropical oasis. The top SkyPark can accommodate roughly 3,900 people, and is one of the largest art commissions ever completed as part of an integrated architectural process.

Ah, the marvels of engineering. I’ll let the pictures, courtesy Marina Bay Sands Hotel Singapore, have the final word.

http://www.marinabaysands.com/

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Name That Place

Since the ole’ anniversary’s over with now, guess I can spill the beans about what I got Keith. Pack up the kids – we’re goin’ to Biltmore! (just kidding about the kid part.)

Yep, I said we.

This was my present to him, two tickets to The Biltmore House. I suppose it might sound a little self-serving (or a lot, depending on who you are)… but just what do you get a guy who’s got everything (including me)? 😀

I pondered what to get him for months. Here’s the lowdown on said conversation(s) with myself.

Me: Electronics? Guys always like electronics…

Inner Self: He’s already got everything. Besides, I’d need at least two grand or more to impress him in that area.

Me: Clothing? Maybe some fall wear?

Inner Self: I’ve gotten him apparel as a filler for every occasion for two years. He’s gotta be so sick of it by now.

Me: Jewelry?

Inner Self: C’mon Bon, really? What, a nice necklace (already has)… a bracelet (won’t wear one)… a watch (has five or more)… hey how ’bout a ring?? (Smacks self in forehead) Now what kind of an impression would that lead to? Talk about self-serving…

Enter ‘trip’ thoughts.

Me: Beach?

Inner Self: We were planning that anyway. 

Que the Biltmore House. We’d talked about going there but had never made any final plans. Not only is it expensive – but devoting one lone day to seeing everything just isn’t going to cut it. At least eight full hours are needed there, maybe more for the winery and gardens – and it’s about a 2 1/2-hour trip one way. So an overnight stay would definitely be in order.

Neither of us have ever been before – I’d never have considered it if he had. Two native Carolinians who’ve never been to Biltmore usually make for interesting conversations with some of the older locals. Whenever we feel like pushing it a step further so as to to appear sheltered, we’ll throw in the fact that neither of us have ever been to Charleston, either.

The poor babes, they really do need to get out more. These places have been around since the arc.

It’s probably the closest we’ll ever come to being in a castle. I’m ready to be mesmerized and enchanted…

http://biltmore.com/


Bucket Lists

We’ve all heard about them. Famous people have written them; a Hollywood movie was even filmed about them. Just for the fun of it, I started out to write my own. Something that just wasn’t meant to happen today.

Whenever I hear of a bucket list, I always think about my precious grandma. She didn’t have a list that we knew of, at least not a written one. But everyone who knew Mammaw was well aware of the one thing she wanted to do before she kicked the bucket (her words). She wanted to travel out west in an RV – through the big state of Texas right on into Arizona. Just her, us, and the open road. She had a deep passion for growing cactus, and all the varying species she grew here in North Carolina thrived. One day she had hoped to stand beside those big cactuses in Arizona.

On Christmas Day one year, her son got her what he thought to be the most hilarious gag gift. He brought her outside to find a surprise toy Winnebago ‘parked’ in the driveway behind her little Toyota Corolla. Ill-timed? Probably. I’ll be the first to admit that my Mammaw was the Queen of jokes and pranks – but I never will forget that twinge of disappointment she attempted to hide behind those deep brown eyes that day.

Through the years, she dearly loved the other toy replicas that were given to her as interim gifts. On a table in her living room, she proudly displayed her 2ft. wide intricate wood-carved covered wagon. It ended up surrounded with some of her authentic cactus and given a complete family, which she dressed up in era-appropriate western garb and bonnets.

She really yearned for that trip, but never got it. Looking back now, I’d do anything to have made that trip happen for her.

If Mammaw had had a bucket list, I know this trip would have appeared at the top. Not that writing your wants down necessarily makes them happen. I’ll go a step further to say the trip would’ve been the only thing on her list…


A Little Town Called Urbanna

Ever have a place you’ve visited just stick with you – certain sights and events bringing the place fresh back into focus? As I crossed the sunrise-laden bridge this morning, I was reminded again of a visit a couple of years ago to a little portside town in Virginia – to a little town called Urbanna.

I think about this place every time I see a sunrise. I think about it every time I pass over the river on the way to work. I think about it most every time I lay my eyes on a boat. Sometimes I consider this a burden and wish it to be lifted from me; to regain the ability of forming my own thoughts and memories from such sights. It doesn’t seem meant to be, though – and this morning was no exception.

Urbanna is located on Virginia’s middle peninsula on the Rappahannock River, which eventually spills into the beautiful and majestic Chesapeake Bay. This historic town was originally established as a port for the shipment of tobacco to England. The old tobacco warehouse built in 1766 is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and serves today as the Visitors Center. This warehouse is located on Virginia Street, which ironically enough is one of my favorite streets there.

The town itself is as friendly as the day is long, and the locals seem to go out of their way to please you. They are proud of their towns history and the fact that aside from the annual Oyster Festival which attracts 70,000 each November, Urbanna is still able to maintain that hometown feel. As you walk through town, it’s almost as though nothing at all has changed since the fifties. The in-town drugstore still has a fully-operational diner inside, complete with swivel-seat barstools. Even the streets seem to want to tell you their story as you stroll down them.

X marks my approximate anchor location on Urbanna Creek. ©Google Images

I learned being rocked to sleep by the waves is one of my most favorite things, as well as waking up the next morning to the sunrise over the water. I ended up adapting to that little sailboat so quickly it about made my own head spin. Within a day I’d perfected my way around atop and below the boat – finding out exactly what I could hang onto and what I couldn’t, and what I could swing from and what I couldn’t. 🙂

I was sad to learn of the vineyard I visited closing down in 2010, White Fences Winery and Vineyards. What a nice drive over the bridge where you can see the Rappahannock River merging with the Chesapeake Bay. Unlike some local wineries, White Fences had acres and acres of vineyards to walk. The massive greenery would hold your imagination captive for as long as you would allow it.

The town slogan, as it appears on main page of their very well-put-together website:
“Turn off the main road. Or cruise up the Rappahannock River from the Chesapeake Bay. To the slightly off the beaten track tidewater town of Urbanna,Virginia. Home of Virginia’s official oyster festival, more boats than folks and laid back innkeepers, shopkeepers, chefs and townspeople who’ll help you shuck your stress and slip into an island state of mind.”

Yep… in this case, I’d say the city slogan fits quite well.

In the distance where the sun is hitting, Rappahannock River dances with Chesapeake Bay

Official website of Urbanna, VA


The Town of Blowing Rock

It’s one of my favorite places. Basically, I love everything associated with the majestic Blue Ridge mountains – the Parkway, the scenic overlooks, the endless trails to choose from, the attractions like Linville Falls and Taverns, Chimney and Blowing Rocks. And I adore all the little towns in between.

They apparently received some more of the white stuff up there on Saturday. We saw a few small piles of snow scattered on the sides of the road as well as leftover brime. It was a perfectly weathered day to walk the town of Blowing Rock, with the afternoon high reaching about 65º. We hit all our favorite shops like Poppy’s and The Last Straw, and even bought a couple of things. Keith bought a couple of the led wax candles, that actually have timers on them! I thought it was so neat that we’ll never have to touch them except to replace the batteries. I bought something I’ve had my eye on now for over a year… those little battery illuminated willow branches that compliment a large vase arrangement.

It’s nice to walk up and down the streets of a quaint little town while holding hands, never being in a hurry. I always find myself wishing we could stay longer. Of course, the trip wouldn’t have been complete without a trip to Kilwin’s for some homemade fudge. Like I really needed another couple pounds! Oh well, maybe I can spread it out a little so that it doesn’t accumulate all at once…

Visit the Town of Blowing Rock online


Happenings

The weekend is over, and back to reality we go. I probably haven’t gotten this much rest over a weekend since, well – ever. I forecasted exactly this type of weekend for ole’ Bon, and it’s truly been appreciated.

Saturday night we braved the crowds at Christmastown, USA – aka McAdenville, North Carolina. People come from out of state to see the former little ‘mill-town’ that has been decorating for 55 years now. There’s a certain way visitors need to enter in order not to sit in 2-hour or more traffic – the likes of which our hearts literally broke looking at on the way out. Since so many people do come from abroad, the interstate (I-85) is jammed up way past the Lowell-McAdenville exit. The most efficient route is to turn left from (I-485) Wilkinson Blvd. exit, and enter the Christmas lights to the right.

My favorite house… especially since Christ still Rules.

Later that night, we made our New Year reservations at the beach again. I can only describe last year as magical, and I can’t imagine anything less this year. Fluorescent armbands/headbands and adult beverages shall adorn the balcony, errr beach, whichever mother nature chooses to allow. It’s an awesome hotel, the rates being SO affordable out of season – and only 2 blocks from a very cool pier. I have a genuine feeling that it’s gonna be awesome, no matter what the weather holds.

I decorated a couple of trees at work Friday. Yeah, they’re only about a foot tall each, but they serve the purpose. Gotta usher in the ole’ Christmas spirit to the office one way or the other!

Hope everyone has a happy, warm and blessed week. 🙂


Reflections

Although my body might be back in the piedmont, my heart and soul is still at the beach.
Figured I’d share a few pictures of where most of me still resides…
of where a large piece of me will likely always reside.

Sunrise on our last day there. The ocean was so calm on this morning,
so different from all the strong waves and currents earlier in the weekend.

I love this picture. Before I slightly enhanced the lighting of it,
this could’ve been either the sun or the moon that lit up the ocean.

K and his newfound little buddies.
They seemed to adore him (almost) as much as I do.
Their colors were so rich and true… couldn’t quite capture it on camera.

The sunshine making water diamonds on the beautiful Atlantic.
Yes, my mindset is most definitely still here.

♥ My Heart. ♥
K helped me gather shells for this little work of art.

Out on Second Avenue Pier.
I could literally camp out at the end of a pier and sleep all night.
We’re taking the poles with us next time!!

Hope everyone has a wonderfully long and blessed weekend.

 


Miles away from Ordinary

Sitting in front of the Atlantic ocean writing a blog has just now become one of my favorite things to do. My love is beside me, as well as a cooler full of cold beers… and waves are crashing so rhythmically that it’s a sound finer than that of any music I’ve ever heard.

I stole the idea from Perpetually Peeved to keep track of blog ideas via the ‘notes’ app on my iPhone. Works pretty well… although mine are far less interesting than hers. Here’s what I have so far, in raw form:

• People wading around in the cold ocean, and swimming in the unheated pool.
• Old couple walking the dog with the ball in his mouth the whole time.
• Beautiful bright spinning star that changes colors (Sirius).
• ‘Beetlejuice’ star that is constantly red, part of the constellation ‘Orion’ the Hunter.
• Waiting for a prettier shell to come along.

There’s more that packed this already jumbled head but I’m still trying to get the hang of jotting things down before I forget! It’s not fun maneuvering a blog around via a phone, so I’ll end this with an attempt to load a picture.

Blessings to all for a wonderful weekend!!


Flip flops

It’s gonna be that ‘great kind of weekend’. Got a room reserved waiting for us at the beach, just need to get down there. Only flip flops shall adorn these feet this weekend, as I’m not taking any other kind of shoes. Well, maybe I will take some tennies – but as a last of the season rebellion I’ll strive hard not to wear them.

Hope everyone has a beautiful and blessed weekend…


Our Viaduct

Everyone probably knows by now about my acrophobia (fear of heights) as well as my contradictory fascination with extreme-height architectural feats. I’ve written of the Grand Canyon Skywalk, the Alpspix and the Burj Dubai. I’ve heard of viaducts in my life, but I wasn’t aware that’s what the one along the Blue Ridge Parkway on Grandfather Mountain was called. Appropriately named, I think. So what’s a viaduct? Here’s the official info from the visitor’s center:

“A viaduct is a long bridge with a series of spans supported on piers. The Linn Cove Viaduct is 1243 feet long and 35 feet wide. The “S” curve roadbed rests upon seven vertical piers that are spaced about 180 feet apart. The roadbed is made up of 153 precast concrete sections held in place with wire cables and epoxy glue. No two sections are exactly the same and only one section (#93) is straight and square. Each section weighs nearly 100,000 pounds. Linn Cove Viaduct is the first in this country to incorporate progressive placement of sections. What this means is that the bridge is built upon itself. Workmen, materials and machines move back and forth on the completed bridge to place each successive section. Little or no damage is caused to the landscape over which the viaduct is being constructed.”

Ground was broken on the Blue Ridge Parkway on September 11, 1935, and all but 7.5 miles of it’s 469 were constructed by 1967. The parkway was completed in September of 1987. This final section below, around a rugged and rocky perimeter side of Grandfather Mountain, accounted for the twenty-year gap.

There was much controversy and debate over this ‘missing link’ as state and private officials argued over the environmental impact. How would they build a road at an elevation of 4,100 feet without damaging one of the world’s oldest mountains? Finally, NPS landscape architects and FHA engineers agreed the road should be elevated and/or bridged to eliminate the need for massive excavation. The result? The most complicated concrete bridge ever built – the Linn Cove Viaduct. The only trees that were even cut for the construction of this section were those directly beneath the roadway.

The Linn Cove Viaduct Visitor Centre is located at Milepost 304.4, right after you cross the viaduct itself. You really have to look for it because it’s not clearly marked.The area has restrooms and a trail to Linn Cove Viaduct, of which we partook. The trail is less than a mile round trip and is moderate, starting out as an accessible paved trail at the visitor center and leading to a beautiful view of the viaduct from underneath – then finally giving hikers access to the Tanawha Trail. You can continue up the remaining dirt trail and climb by huge boulders for another 1/3 mile to get some views of the surrounding areas – but this personally scares the heck out of me and you won’t catch me doing it. As I watched Keith climb onto a huge boulder, I admit I had to turn my head and got more than a bit upset. The dropoffs are straight down and at that height, well – I shudder to think of the accidents that may have occurred there by persons striving to get a ‘better view’.

I have to say though, the views from this viaduct are the best I’ve ever seen from any of the North Carolina mountains.