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:
Here’s a couple shots from their website showing what’s in store once our beautiful warm summer weather decides to arrive (and stay).
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.
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.
Here’s another panoram of the luxurious mountain laurel.
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…
So I guess I’ll save my story of walking around naked in the dark with a gun for another time.
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. 🙂
Weekly Photo Challenge: Together
As most of you know, I have a new ‘son’ – Mr. Mojo Risin. He was unusually nervous on the way to get groomed for the first time today. Although the little man was afraid, he trusted his new Mommy implicitly. In fact, everything seemed more than okay – as long as we were Together.
Weekly Photo Challenge: Through
This picture was taken while perched behind a window during our 2012 New Year’s vacation at the beach. I like how the ocean is visible through a single pane of the vase, but becomes very opaque through both panes.
Sights of Spring
I’ve missed all you guys and my little steam release of a blog here. For a over a week now I’ve been sick with the crud, which literally made it’s debut one full day after bragging about how well I’ve been for over a year. If you’d like for the crud to come pay you a visit, all you have to do is brag about your long tenure of being without. This little rule also applies to speeding tickets. You’re welcome.
In lieu of jotting down anything and everything boring in my life at the moment, thought I’d share a few sights of Spring as seen through my own eyes. Hope you all are having a beautiful start to the Spring season and staying healthy and happy!
The early bird got the worm
I’ve had my eye on the big tree right outside my work for almost a month now, since history has taught me it’s the first to bloom. It wasn’t until yesterday morning that I noticed it was now nearing blossom stage… the buds are no more.
Silly me. I blinked and missed it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Well, actually it came by way of the 5 o’clock news this evening.
There’s a strangeness that no one can quite put their finger on. In a suburb right outside of my lovely town, a little girl was photographed. By a stranger. Playing in the snow. Zipped up tight to her nose in fluffy coatings and wintry garb. That’s right folks, a picture was taken.
Let me say first, I’m not trying to make light of any sort of potentially dangerous situation, particularly that which involves a child. But I’ve gotta say, there are some things with this ‘story’ that just don’t jive well with me.
The story as told by an 8-year old girl starts with her playing down the street from her house, and looking up to see a man taking a snapshot of ‘her’. She ran home to tell her mother. Mom is then broadcast all over the evening news rolling her eyes and saying “the thought of a sick, perverted man having a picture of my daughter infuriates me”. Every. Ten. Minutes. Well yeah lady, I have a daughter. That particular thought would infuriate me too.
Let’s say for the sake of argument – there was this man going down the road with his wife driving (the little girl reported he was in the passenger seat – with no description of the driver) who decided to take a few rare southern snow pics, like I had the urge to do my own self today. The little girl (or other children) just happened to be in the general vicinity of where the camera was faced. Hell, it’s happened to me many times – I’ve just never been ‘accused’ of anything. But then again… I’m female. Hey, somebody had to say it…
Through many years of photography, I of course have my own photo library. Rather than a subject who happens to be laced, zipped and velcroed all the way up to their nostrils in the dead of winter – I’m quite sure a few of mine are on a public beach (Gasp**) in bathing suits! Certainly they weren’t the intended subjects of the frame – but what if they had been? This is what it’s come to. Yes, this. Here and now.
I must give credit to my Dad and his eagle-eye on this subject, as it was he who called and brought me up to speed on the said situation-at-hand. Yes, it’s pretty bad when you can’t be your normal self anymore. To be forced to avoid situations we’ve not only been accustomed to all our lives but have been raised to admire, respect and enjoy. Now we have to worry about staring a little too long, if at all… whether anything we say might be perceived as a prelude to an abduction… not to mention the subjects that might happen to be in the general vicinity of our cameras… need I even go on? And if you don’t worry about it… well you’d better worry about it. I don’t wish to downplay the possibility of a legitimate threat on this particular story. What I wish to up-play is the fact that we can’t snapshot a timeless moment anymore, without the fear of consequences.
Because this is where we are.
But Bon, where on earth is this irony you speak of? You really mucked this title up – wayyy off!!
Here we go, folks. In between sessions of Mom rolling her eyes and speaking of Joe Pedophile staring at photos of her little girl – a lighter, more airy segment flashed up where us viewers got the chance to see submitted photos of the snow aired on tonight’s edition of the local news. How sweet and funny they were, too – most submitted anonymously. Anything from snowmen, to sledding, to children playing, to pets playing, to…. hey BACK UP just a minute. Did you just say children playing????
IMHO the persons behind each of these two segments had to be on two different wavelengths, in two different buildings. In two different cities. With no communication tools. Ahem, you get my drift. Speaking of drifts…
Just be careful where and what you point those cameras at.
As I gaze out at the ocean this morning waiting for the sun to rise (wish I were there…gotta love those webcams) I once again find myself analyzing me. Go away, overanalyzer. I force my thoughts elsewhere, as the analyzer diligently struggles to return.
Thought you all might enjoy a few snaps of the sunrise over the sunrise over the Atlantic this morning, taken off the South Carolina Coastline. Live webcam can be found here, and the snapshots I took below are courtesy of.
Real beauty comes from within.
The world always looks brighter from behind a smile. So smile! Besides, the sunshine is good for your teeth.
The spaces between your fingers were created so that another’s could fill them in.
I love deadlines. I especially like the whooshing sound they make as they go flying by.
Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and then beat you with their experience.
Although rare – once in a while, in the middle of an ordinary life… love gives us a fairy tale.