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.
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.
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.
On this day four years ago, Keith and I went on our first date. For this reason, we’ve always celebrated it as our anniversary.
I remember I didn’t want him coming directly to the door of my third-floor apartment. I think this was a combined reasoning of not wanting to add to his stress level of a first date along with if I didn’t want a second date, the exact location of my apartment would be kept secret.
Wearing high heels while descending wooden-slat steps could prove to be a recipe for disaster for any woman, especially an accident-prone one like myself. I was certain I wouldn’t make it down without a catastrophic fall. I didn’t, though. As I rounded the sidewalk and the parking lot came into view, so did this tall, dark and handsome man – flashing a grin while leaning back ever so cool-like on the hood of his Volvo. Four years later, I can still see it as clearly as I did that evening. If memory ever eludes me when I get older, I pray for this one memory to remain because it is seriously that precious to me.
We went to dinner at a restaurant called The Grid Iron, which is still open today. Through the course of the meal, the conversation seemed almost too easy, if that makes any sense. He talked about his job as an elevator installer and came across as just a kind soul in general. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was spot-on in that analysis.
To bide a little time before the movie started, he asked if I’d like to ride around his town of Gastonia for a bit. I found him to be an excellent tour guide, narrating this and that, gingerly pointing out an establishment or two he’d installed elevators in.
I’d never seen a Harry Potter movie, actually don’t think I’ve seen another one since. But Harry Potter it was that night, and looking back it was probably the best choice by far. After the movie, he drove me back to my apartment in Lake Wylie. Because of a few losers I’d been out with prior to Keith, I decided I didn’t care much to kiss goodnight on the first date, and so I held fast to that. I reached over the seat, hugged him and told him I’d had a good time. That was it – our first kiss didn’t actually happen until another week later on our second date.
The rest is history. He got the car door for me that night, and he still gets it for me today. He still sings Josh Turner songs to me in that deep sexy voice and it still makes my stomach flutter. His tour-guide antics still entertain me, especially when we’re up in the North Carolina mountains where he’s spent so many years working.
And so inspired a little tribute to you, baby. Happy Anniversary to my precious tour guide…
I went to see the new Nicholas Sparks movie Safe Haven over the weekend. There’s something about Sparks’ books and movies that have always drawn me to them – I’m fairly certain the ever-hopeless romantic in me would be the biggest reason. I also love being able to closely relate with the locality he incorporates into his stories. Sparks is from New Bern, NC and he always chooses a place within close proximity to his hometown for the story’s local. Safe Haven was filmed in the coastal town of Southport, NC – a town that’s dear to my heart. We used to vacation at the beach right up from Southport, and even rode the same ferry they took in the movie when we visited the Southport Aquarium.
Although a little slow… it was a good movie. I have this terrible knack of comparing all of Sparks’ story lines with The Notebook, which set the bar at an unprecedented height for any subsequently written stories.
Back in 2008 when I began my journey to build a new life, I adorned the theater on three separate occasions to see Nights in Rodanthe. My girlfriends teased me relentlessly for this – but that movie was (and still is) mesmerizing to me. I related so closely with it for several reasons; the middle age of the characters, the setting of the beautiful Outer Banks beach with the horses, and the fact that, from time to time, love can in fact resurface it’s pretty little head for a second chance. To this day, Nights in Rodanthe still remains one of my favorites. I even followed the real-life story of the house (Serendipity) being relocated to a safer location to avoid erosion from the ocean a few years back. I’d wished for the opportunity to visit it in person before that happened.
Two steps forward, three steps back, as they say. There is an absolute downside of being a romantic at heart. Combine said trait with a Pisces nature and a breakup and (BAM!) it can quite literally be a recipe for disaster. I know I need to get my head out of the clouds for a moment and realize there is nothing perfect out there – nor are there any fairytales, as much as I’d love to believe there are. I guess if I had to sum total it all in a nutshell… hope is what I derive from these stories.
And I’m always up for a little bit of that.
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.
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.
When I was a kid, my Mom used to point out the sand on the side of the road to indicate we were getting close to the beach. I must’ve worn the question “Mommy, how much longer ’til we’re there?” into the ground. She finally found a way to divert my attention from that irritating question every
ten minute s – to pay attention for my own self to my own surroundings. Another great lesson in life by a great Mom.
Now when I’m on the way to the beach, I still pay attention to how the red dirt slowly evolves into beautiful white sand. Except now, I also appreciate the beauty of it. It serves two purposes.
Sometimes it takes patience while you’re waiting on the dirt to evolve into white sand. As my dear uncle used to say, ‘such is life’.
Ever felt like you’ve bonded with an animal of the wild? I tend to bond with many of the seagulls, at least I like to think so. This little girl seemed ever-accommodating – a trait I see as both admirable and disturbing. I named her Bon.
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.
I got a good belly-laugh from an email I received tonight. I checked it out, and like the other good ones I found that different versions have circulated for years. Snopes does report that it seems to have originated with the below Australian version, around the time of the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. Regardless of the origin or authenticity of it, it’s funny stuff!
It’s my dream to perhaps one day visit Australia. It’d be a long trip, so better start savin’ my money now…
Below are some of the tourist inquiries that were asked of the Sydney Olympic Committee via their website, and the replies back.
Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia ? I have never seen it rain on TV, how do the plants grow? (UK)
A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around and watch them die.
Q: Will I be able to see kangaroos in the street? (USA)
A: Depends how much you’ve been drinking.
Q: I want to walk from Perth to Sydney – can I follow the railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it’s only three thousand miles, take lots of water.
Q: Which direction should I drive – Perth to Darwin or Darwin to Perth – to avoid driving with the sun in my eyes? (Germany)
A: Excellent question, considering that the Olympics are being held in Sydney.
Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Australia ? (USA)
A: A-Fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe.
Aus-tra-lia is that big island in the middle of the Pacific which does not… oh,
forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Kings Cross. Come naked.
Q: Which direction is North in Australia ? (USA)
A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we’ll send the rest of the directions.
Q: Can I bring cutlery into Australia ? (UK)
A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do…
Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys’ Choir schedule? (USA)
A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is… oh,
forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Kings Cross, immediately after the hippo races. Come naked.
Q: Can I wear high heels in Australia ? (UK)
A: You are a British politician, right?
Q: Are there supermarkets in Sydney and is milk available all year round? (Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of vegan hunter/gatherers. Milk is illegal.
Q: Please send a list of all doctors in Australia who can dispense rattlesnake serum. (USA)
A: Rattlesnakes live in A-meri-ca which is where YOU come from.
All Australian snakes are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled and make
Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Australia, but I forget its name. It’s a kind of bear and lives in trees. (USA)
A: It’s called a Drop Bear. They are so called because they drop out of Gum trees and eat the brains of anyone walking underneath them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.
Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Can you tell me where I can sell it in Australia ? (USA)
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.
Q: Do you celebrate Christmas in Australia ? (France)
A: Only at Christmas.
Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? (USA)
A: Yes, but you’ll have to learn it first.
At long last, we’re making a little trip down to the coast. Sure it’s no 7-day caribbean cruise like my daughter just came back from, but it totally works for me. It’ll be nice to get away, even for a few nights! Forecast is calling for cooler temps with possible showers, but it’s all good since we’re not currently in the path of a hurricane. Hoo – wahh.
Last night Keith mentioned taking a couple of rods with us so we could go pier fishing – something I’ve wanted to do for years. Being a fishie myself, I’ll of course throw back any fishies that I’m lucky enough to snag. ‘Cause that’s how I roll.
All this led me to some serious thinking.
Common Sense Beach Thoughts, by Bon:
- It’s September, so don’t wade too far out in the ocean if you favor the concept of a complete pair of legs.
- While enjoying a leisurely stroll on the beach, keep a sharp eye out for those huge wooden structures called piers. Avoid any and all contact between them and the top of your head.
- Relish the memories of previous parasailing events and resist the urge, however strong, to do it again. Your luck on not having yet become just another accident statistic is bound to run out sometime.
- Do not opt to eat at Taco Bell immediately prior to taking a dolphin watch cruise on the ocean.
- Never wait until mid-September to decide you’d like to add ‘just one more bathing suit’ to your collection. All that’s left in that area of the store is chirping crickets.
Now… if I can just figure out where to score one of these fins and an invisible push-up bra
I’ll be set. The hair extension part is easy.
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!
This morning I drove past my favorite bull in the misty morning field, and noticed a little calf with exactly the same coloring he has. I just had to smile. The slightest hint of autumn air whisked past me – I’d recognize this transition even if I weren’t conscious of the coming season change. I don’t mind autumn, really I don’t – I think of it as an end-of-summer reward at it’s best. At last, we will have bearable temperatures, cool nights, and gorgeous colors everywhere. I can even go hiking again. I’m just not fond of what comes next – bare trees, blustery cold mornings of devoting an extra fifteen minutes to defrost the car, the careful layering of our clothing to keep warm. I sleep about twice as much in the winter, hibernating like a bear. A cute little mama bear, that is.
Lucky for us, we have the current friendly neighborhood hurricane season to take our minds off those imminent winter days and nights! Oh, yay. Katia looks to be the next big boy coming our way. Incidentally, my daughter sails off from Tampa on Sunday for a seven-day cruise. She’ll be hitting some optimal ports – Cozumel, Belize, Isla Roatan Honduras and Grand Caymen. Tonight we’re taking her out to dinner bon-voyage style at our favorite Japanese hibachi restaurant. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit nervous about the weather for her. I know it’s to be expected, though…
Because that’s how September rolls.
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.
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.
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.
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…
If any of you out there would like to do this – I’d love to read yours!!
‘Every man dies. Not every man really lives.’ ~William Ross
- Cage-diving with great white sharks. Though I prefer great whites off the coast of South Africa – any shark over 12 ft. in any ocean will do. Second choice of sharks would be bulls or tigers.
- Swim in a clear blue sea. This could be anywhere from the Caribbean to the Keys. As long as it’s clear and blue.
- Experience what it’s like to be proposed to.
- Write a book. One that gets published – even better.
- Zip-line somewhere in or near a tropical setting.
- Witness a media shower.
- Wear a wedding dress.
- Swim with dolphins. Not just coexist in the water together – I want to touch them, let them pull me around, and give them kisses.
- Own my own boat. Not a yacht or anything – just one that could tote 8-10 people around comfortably.
- Learn to Salsa Dance… well.
- Learn to surf. Five full seconds atop a wave would make me uber-happy.
- Have Gary LeVox and the band of Rascal Flatts sing live to me.
- Get my passport. When I finally win that trip around the world I’d like to be able to actually go, after all.
- Go sailing. Real sailing. On a real moving sailboat.
- Get a tattoo of a butterfly. And I can stop at one. At least I think I can.
- Possess a concealed carry permit. Along with my piece.
- Revisit my birthplace, Muenchweiler, Germany.
(Footnote: I have no qualms about combo-packaging numbers 11, 8, 5, 2 and 1.)
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 while back I posted a vid of one of my current song faves – Jason Aldean’s “Dirt Road Anthem”. I just noticed today they removed the embedding ability for musical copyright issues. While searching for a replacement, I ran across a GEM of a piece that I just had to share…
It’s not the entire song, but enough for you to form an opinion whether or not you like it. My props go out to them for the entire arrangement – that’s really a truck they’re in, too. Wish it was longer, but I still think these guys deserve a viral on youtube. Check out 1 minute 14 seconds of AWESOME.
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.
As much as I’ve been up and around the area, I’ve never been to the very top of Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina. Positioned 5,946 feet up in the clouds, it’s height is impressive even when compared to that of Mt. Mitchell which stands at 6,684 feet – the highest peak in the eastern United States. Grandfather Mountain is definitely the highest point I’ve ever been in my life, and likely ever will be again. It’s surely high enough for me.
As we drove on past our favorite little town of Blowing Rock, NC we decided to visit the top of this infamous mountain. I learned a good bit about it, including the fact that Grandfather has more plant diversity contained in it’s area than in all of Europe. It’s landscaping and inhabitants are largely protected, which is always great to see. The admission fee included entrance to everything except the highland games. Nature museum, gift shop and restaurant, animal habitats, many impressive cliff points, walking trails, and never to be last – the mile-high swinging bridge.
I’ve worked feverishly for years to try and rid myself of this dreaded fear of heights, also known as Acrophobia. Countless trips to mountains, numerous rides on the Intimidator coaster (tallest and fastest in the Southeast), a couple of paragliding adventures over the Atlantic… but nothing could have prepared me for the entirely
helpless panicked feeling of being out on that bridge.
I wanted to be able to snap a pic or two out on there, but I had to keep
walking moving. My legs felt like jelly, I was shaking uncontrollably, and my chest felt as though I had entered into cardiac arrest. I couldn’t disappoint Keith, I knew how badly he wanted to walk it – but I simply cannot explain how terrified I was.
To say the drive up to the highest point/swinging bridge was treacherous was an understatement. Several complete u-turn points paved the way up the last several hundred feet, with nothing but sheer drop-off below. Each car literally had to stop and think first about what they were doing. Except for the pavement quality, it seriously reminded me of that tv show ‘Most Dangerous Roads’ usually found in third-world countries. And I thought the trip up was bad until I realized we had to come back down.
Another tidbit of info I learned: Remember when Forrest Gump ran across America? A portion of his trek was filmed while running up Grandfather Mountain (a curve now appropriately named “Forrest Gump Curve”. Ironically, I came home and the movie was on tv last night… one of these snapshots is of Forrest running around that particular curve on my tv.
I guess the height thing is one phobia I’m just going to have to live with. As far as ever conquering it, I can’t say I haven’t tried!