What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast – Day Two)

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Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn Waynesville, NC

Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn
Waynesville, NC

I realized while writing my post on the Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn that there was just too much for one post. I hope you’ll indulge me in my need to expand on this great location and all there is to do in the area.

Wonderful King-size Bed Library Suite Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Wonderful King-size Bed
Library Suite
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

First, let me tell you more about the Library Suite. It’s a huge, beautiful room on the first floor directly adjacent to the formal dining room. Meals are served in the common room, but this, more formal room, can be used for special occasions.

Bedroom Fireplace Library Suite Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Bedroom Fireplace
Library Suite
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

As I mentioned before, the bed was huge. It’s also extremely comfortable. The pillows were some of the best I’d ever slept on. There’s a large fireplace in the bedroom portion of the suite. It’s just comfortable – not at all stuffy. The paneling in both the bedroom and the bath is gorgeous.

Magnificent Jetted Tub/Shower/Dressing Area Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Magnificent Jetted Tub/Shower/Dressing Area
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

In the bathroom there is a mammoth, jetted tub and a huge, stand-alone shower. Even the ceiling is beautifully paneled. Another fireplace can warm the bathroom. This is, easily, the most beautiful room I’ve ever slept in – anywhere in the world.

Bathroom FIreplace Library Suite Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Bathroom FIreplace
Library Suite
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

We woke up to a less rainy day on Wednesday, August 21. Why do I mention the date? You’ll see. We were excited because we had on definite site we had planned to see in the Waynesville area.

Common Room Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Common Room
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Breakfast at Andon Reid was superb! It was nice sitting with people from all over the country (and world – we met a couple from Belgium). The food was thoughtfully prepared and just the right amount to start the day well without feeling overstuffed. I want to make special mention of one of the “starters.” It was a banana split! Now, bananas and I usually have a love/hate relationship. I love them, my tummy hates them. This however was a banana with fruit and flavored yogurts instead of ice cream. Delicious! The best part…my tummy didn’t grumble even once.

Wheels Through Time (Photo from Internet)

Wheels Through Time
(Photo from Internet)

Right after breakfast we jumped in the car and headed to Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley. After watching several episodes of “What’s in the Barn?” we were anxious to see this fascinating museum full of one-of-a-kind and very rare motorcycles. We don’t ride, but are both very interested in history and this place quickly turned into a must on our “bucket lists.”

Wheels Through Time Maggie Valley, NC

Wheels Through Time
Maggie Valley, NC
(Photo from Internet)

After a short drive to Maggie Valley, the museum was easily found on Victory Lane. Funny…no cars in the lot. Even funnier, there was a car coming out and someone was closing a gate behind it. We pulled in and a very sweet lady came over and asked if she could help us. We told her we were going to the museum. She got a surprised yet confused look on her face and said, “But the museum is CLOSED on Wednesdays. It always has been. Tuesdays and Wednesdays.”

After we got the car turned around, we sat and tried to figure out what in the world we were going to do next. Neither of us is interested in going to casinos. (There is a very large casino run by Harrah’s in Cherokee.) We really hadn’t brought proper hiking shoes to do any long-distance walking and the weather was still “iffy.”

Having a “smart” phone can be a very good thing. I just checked with Trip Advisor as to what was available in the area, and up popped gem mining! We had done some gem mining (with nice results) near Spruce Pine, NC several years ago. No there wasn’t anything worth thousands of dollars, but there were some really nice, cut-worthy stones. The main thing was that it was a LOT of fun! Off to Smoky Mountain Gold and Ruby Mine.

sm_pic_aboutus

Smoky Mountain Gold & Ruby Mine
(Photo from Website)

We walked up to the flume (water rushing down a table set up so that you can wash the dirt off your rocks to see if there’s anything worthwhile). Being the only customers there, the employees were happy to see us (it was getting close to the end of summer tourist season and well before leaf-peeper season). What a nice group of friendly, helpful fellas! We stayed for a couple of hours and washed lots of rocks. Yes, there were some gemstones, but I don’t know if any were really worth much. There were some “silver quartz” and some citrine. The citrine has nice color, so maybe, some-day we’ll see if it’s worth cutting. There is a shop attached where they can tell you what you found and if it’s worth cutting, but – unlike the mine in Spruce Pine where the cost of cutting two stones is included in the price – they charge to cut the stones. The store also has jewelry and polished stones for sale. For us though, the “hunt” is the fun part.

Gem Hunting Rocky Mountain Gold & Ruby Mine Cherokee, NC (Photo from Website)

Gem Hunting
Rocky Mountain Gold & Ruby Mine
Cherokee, NC
(Photo from Website)

We headed back to Waynesville and walked around town some more. I was starting to get rather melancholy as I knew our visit was coming to a close. I know I will go back to Waynesville frequently (and maybe move there someday if we’re lucky). I just hate to leave.

Walk Down to Fire-Pit Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Walk Down to Fire-Pit
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Back at Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast, we told Mark about the fun we had gem mining, and that Wheels Through Time is closed on Wednesdays. He told us that he wished we had asked, because he knew that the museum was closed and he could have saved us a trip. Yep, we should have asked, but Jim and I found our own fun. At least now, there is a definite destination for our next trip.

Sitting by the Fire Pit Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Sitting by the Fire Pit
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

As the evening was falling, we walked out to the fire-pit to spend a little more time looking at Eagle’s Nest Mountain. The bats started flying (no, not all that close to us) as the sun slipped away. The sky put on one heck of a beautiful display for my last night there. I took photo after photo, trying to capture the memory. One by one, the lights in homes on the mountain came on. It was a beautiful sight!

The Sky Blazes Over Eagle's Nest Mountain From Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

The Sky Blazes
Over Eagle’s Nest Mountain
From Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

 

Night Begins to Fall On Eagle's Nest Mountain From Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Night Begins to Fall
On Eagle’s Nest Mountain
From Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

 

The Sky Begins to Blaze Over Eagle’s Nest Mountain From Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Finally, was time to go inside. Clouds still obscured the stars, so I didn’t get to see one of the sights I had really been looking forward to. Just so you know, in Waynesville, the sky on a clear night is magnificent. Usually, one can see the Milky Way, satellites moving across the sky, planets, and shooting stars. Not this time.

 

After another fabulous breakfast on Thursday, we packed up the car and started our trip home. Mark and Kari made us feel so welcome. I know that the next time Waynesville is on our agenda, we’ll absolutely head for Andon Reid Bed and Breakfast Inn.

 

Up Next: What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (Rocky Top?)

 

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What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast – Day One)

 

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Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

The Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn is in beautiful Waynesville, North Carolina. If you’ve been following my blog, you know how important Waynesville is to me. Sadly, we no longer have any close family in the area, and (as you might remember) our family’s home on top of Eagle’s Nest Mountain burned to the ground in late 1980. That left us with a question as to where we would stay for our Waynesville portion of our summer vacation. Luckily, I found the Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn on Travelocity. What a terrific find!

Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn Waynesville, NC

Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn
Waynesville, NC

Mark and Kari Barbar purchased the Inn in November of 2012. The home was built in 1902, and had been transformed into a bed and breakfast several years ago. What Mark and Kari have done is absolutely remarkable. They have somehow maintained the true feel of “coming home” and made all their guests feel like family.

Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn Carriage House

Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn
Carriage House

From the moment we drove up, I knew we’d made the right choice. The house is absolutely lovely, and the new carriage house (which used to be a dilapidated garage) is gorgeous. We parked our car in their ample (but tree-shaded) parking lot and started walking up to the house. I had to stop dead in my tracks. There, out the back of the house, in all its glory, was Eagle’s Nest Mountain. “My” mountain is the view. I had to suppress a huge lump in my throat.

Parking Area Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn Waynesville, NC

Parking Area
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn
Waynesville, NC

Eagle’s Nest Mountain
From Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn
Waynesville, NC

Our first “greeting” came from the neighborhood kitty. She had been curled up on the ample porch and sauntered down for the obligatory petting. I’m told that Kitty is not on the payroll, but perhaps she should be.

Back Porch Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn Waynesville, NC

Back Porch
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn
Waynesville, NC

Kari (who works her “regular” job from home) jumped up and came out to greet us. Mark usually is the first person to meet new guests, but he was busy mowing the ample lawn during a break in the drizzle that seemed to accompany us throughout our stay in North Carolina. She brought us in through the door to the common room which was breathtaking. The room is comfy with a whole wall of windows facing the mountain, and a beautiful fireplace. I could just imagine how nice it would be to curl up in one of the oversized chairs in front of the fire on a cold, winter day.

Fireplace & Huge Windows
Common Room
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Mark hurried in and apologized for not greeting us (which was totally understandable as he had been busy wrangling the lawn mower on the steeply sloping front yard). He showed us to our room – the Library Suite which is breathtaking!

Mark then showed us around the rest of the Inn. It has been so tastefully restored and cared for. All of the rooms are well-appointed and inviting. The basement has been turned into a game and fitness room. There are all kinds of fitness equipment, a pool table, dartboard, other games, and the only television in the house. I would imagine that this room would be a great place to spend time. It would be especially great if the weather was stormy and preclusive of being out and about.

While the Barbars were traveling in Asia, Mark learned some wonderful needlework skills which are on display in a particularly intricate piece in the stairway. He is a former school teacher and principal. He always knew that he wanted to be an innkeeper, and he is excellent in this role. Kari is still working, but they make a great team.

 

The Carriage House
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn
Waynesville, NC

We then got a tour of the carriage house which Mark painstakingly renovated into a gorgeous, comfortable hideaway. It has all the charm of the main building, but has many modern conveniences like remote-controlled blinds. I can imagine that this would be the choice for honeymooners as it is totally separate from the main house, but has access to all the amenities. It absolutely amazed us that all the renovations had taken place in less than 9 months.

Common Room
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

We headed back in to the main house and set about getting settled in our room. I can’t forget to tell you that Mark also bakes! In the common room were some delicious lemon bars for the guests, as well as full candy dishes and a small refrigerator stocked with sodas and water. No nicety was overlooked (including welcome chocolates on the bed).

Wonderful King-size Bed Library Suite Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Wonderful King-size Bed
Library Suite
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

After getting settled, we headed back out to the common room to enjoy our lemon bars and water. Another two couples were there enjoying putting a puzzle together. They had not known each other before arriving at the Andon Reid, but seemed to be old friends. The place just seems to foster friendly mingling.

Common Room Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn (Note the puzzle on near table)

Common Room
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn
(Note the puzzle on near table)

Available to all guests was a basket full of restaurant menus, and a table holding brochures from local attractions and maps of the area. Mark showed us some wonderful options for drives and told us how to find local waterfalls and beautiful vistas. We can’t wait to get back to Waynesville to take advantage of (hopefully) better weather to take these hikes. We took Mark up on his offer to call for reservations at The Sweet Onion which he highly recommended. If you read my earlier post on Waynesville, you know that we agreed!

Eagle's Nest Mountain Awaits My Return

Eagle’s Nest Mountain Awaits My Return

We decided that we had plenty of time to take a drive before dinner, and Eagle’s Nest Mountain was calling. Off we went up the mountain. I don’t think I could ever get tired of being on that mountain. I know that it has many old stories about unusual happenings on it (which I discussed in an earlier post), but it’s always felt like home to me.

 

Evening Falls Over Eagle's Nest Mountain (As Seen From Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn)

Evening Falls Over Eagle’s Nest Mountain
(As Seen From Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn)

After our drive and fantastic dinner, we came back to the Inn to plan our tomorrow. It was still rather wet and soggy outside, but the porches that surround the inn are expansive and perfectly furnished to sit and relax. I did manage to take lots and lots of photos of the mountain as night descended. It was a perfectly wonderful way to end a very happy day.

 

Up Next: What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast – Day Two)

 

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What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (Folk Art Center & The Grove Park Inn)

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After enjoying a sumptuous breakfast at Oakland Cottage, we were off to explore Asheville. Our first stop was the Allanstand Craft Shop at the Folk Art Center (Milepost 382 Blue Ridge Parkway).

Folk Art Center - Blue Ridge Parkway (courtesy HCPress.com)

Folk Art Center – Blue Ridge Parkway
(courtesy HCPress.com)

It was raining (as usual) when we arrived, so I didn’t get to take photos of the outside. Once, inside, photos were forbidden, so I won’t be able to share with you. I do understand why no photos are allowed as there could be some who would profit at the expense of the artisans who display and sell their goods here. The photo below is from their website (http://www.southernhighlandguild.org/pages/guild-shops/allanstand-craft-shop.php).

Folk Art Center/Allanstand Craft Shop (Courtesy Southern Highland Guild website)

Folk Art Center/Allanstand Craft Shop
(Courtesy Southern Highland Guild website)

I was particularly excited by the stained glass art there. Unfortunately, it was priced appropriately for the work and that was beyond my pocketbook. As a dabbler in the medium, I was thrilled to see such innovation, and it gave me renewed interest in seeing what I could do with the ideas I got from the work in the shop.

 

Other crafts included beautiful pottery, unique glasswork, jewelry, needle arts, woodworking/carving, and painting among many others. So many talented individuals make up the Guild. The volunteers who man the shop are so nice and welcoming. I really recommend a visit to the Folk Art Center if you are on the Parkway, or to any of the other locations (see the website for locations and hours). We’ve been in four of the shops and each one is unique and carries art from the 200+ guild members.

Grove Park Inn Asheville, NC

Grove Park Inn
Asheville, NC

From the Folk Art Center, we were off to explore The Grove Park Inn. This is a destination I’d been wanting to experience for a long time. As I mentioned in earlier posts, I’ve been in the Asheville area many, many times over the years; however, never had I been to The Grove Park Inn. Our friends, Eric and Gloria, confirmed that this was a destination that must be experienced.

 

I was always fascinated by the story of the Grove Park Inn. There seems to be so many tie-ins with my own, personal history. No, I’m certainly not related to Edwin Grove or his son-in-law, Fred Seely, but their lives were lived in and around many of the same locations as mine.

 

Grove was born, and began his pharmaceutical fortune in Tennessee until doctors told him to seek the fresh air of Asheville. He also was a real estate developer in Atlanta (my home for over 20 years). He purchased the land on which the Grove Park sits around the same time as George Vanderbilt was building his famous mansion.

 

Fred Seely was a pharmaceutical pioneer whom Grove met in Detroit (my current home area). Seely married Grove’s daughter, and the two men planned and built the Inn which opened in 1913. Today, it is part of the Omni hotel system, but it maintains its timeless elegance and incomparable position overlooking Asheville.

Enjoying the Rockers Grove Park Inn

Enjoying the Rockers
Grove Park Inn

One of the nice touches is the presence of the many rocking chairs in front of the Inn. It’s a nice place to wait for your car – or to just sit and wait for the rest of your party to arrive.  

Giant Brass & Art Glass Lamps Outside Grove Park Inn

Giant Brass & Art Glass Lamps
Outside Grove Park Inn

While sitting and rocking, one can enjoy the massive brass and art-glass lamps, the pretty flowers, and the cute bear & butterfly statue.

Adorable Bear & Butterfly Statue

Adorable Bear & Butterfly Statue

I enjoyed making “rock pictures.” I think the one below looks like a bear. Do you see it?

Do You See a Bear?

Do You See a Bear?

The Arts and Crafts movement is beautifully on display in the Grove Park. Everywhere we looked, there were masterpieces of stone, glass, wooden furniture, and space. The fireplaces on either end of the lobby are massive! I believe they are every bit as big as the one in the Biltmore. A six-foot-plus tall man can stand in the opening and still be dwarfed. The stacked rocks are magnificent. I could imagine how cozy it must be to sit in a comfy chair in front of one of these fireplaces when winter is raging outside.

One of the MASSIVE Fireplaces in the Lobby Grove Park Inn

One of the MASSIVE Fireplaces in the Lobby
Grove Park Inn

All of the fixtures and furnishings are kept completely true to the period in which the structure was built. As beautiful as the interior is, it doesn’t detract, even slightly, from the amazing view. 

Two of the Beautiful Arts & Crafts Style Lamps Lobby - Grove Park Inn

Two of the Beautiful Arts & Crafts Style Lamps
Lobby – Grove Park Inn

We were there on a gray, rainy day, and even that couldn’t spoil the enjoyment of the Inn.

IMG_20130818_135352_924

View from Sunset Terrace Grove Park Inn

View from Sunset Terrace
Grove Park Inn

We had lunch on the Sunset Terrace. We had their “famous” Lobster Cobb Salad. Honestly, it was a very nice salad, but the lobster was limited and the price was outrageous. Of course, the view, the service and the ambience are what you are paying for, so the experience was worth the price – once.

"Famous" Lobster Cobb Salad Grove Park Inn

“Famous” Lobster Cobb Salad
Grove Park Inn

We also had dessert. (Oh, come on! We’re on vacation!) I ordered the chocolate cake with the cherry in-between the layers. It came with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. I’m sure that this is normally very, very good, but mine was pretty dry. I took most of it back to the B&B. On the other hand, Jim had the butterscotch pudding (in a Mason jar – isn’t that novel) with caramel topping. He finished every last spoonful.

Chocolate & Cherry Cake Grove Park Inn

Chocolate & Cherry Cake
Grove Park Inn

Butterscotch Pudding with Caramel Grove Park Inn

Butterscotch Pudding with Caramel
Grove Park Inn

There are all kinds of terrific shops in the Grove Park. There are also conservatories, a grotto pool, and so many other sites that we didn’t even get a chance to see. We’ve decided that, some day, we will have to book a stay at the Grove Park so that we can experience it all.

SO Much More to See Grove Park Inn

SO Much More to See
Grove Park Inn

Up Next: What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (Waynesville: A Journey “Home”)

 

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What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (The Oakland Cottage B&B)

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Oakland Cottage Asheville, NC

Oakland Cottage
Asheville, NC

The Oakland Cottage in Asheville, North Carolina is where we stayed for our first three nights of our vacation. It is managed and run by Jim and Mary. We were greeted warmly – like old friends. I knew immediately that we were going to enjoy our stay. The Oakland Cottage was built in the same timeframe as Biltmore House. It is said that one of the architects from Biltmore designed Oakland Cottage. I really appreciated all the craftsman-style architectural details and the beautiful antique appointments.

Lobby and Hall Toward Rooms

Lobby and Hall Toward Rooms

The building was used as a tuberculosis sanitarium for African Americans during the 1940s. Although there have been some changes to layout (our room was probably partially a porch in earlier years), the amazing floors and woodwork are all original. Today, Oakland Cottage is a lovely, accommodating B&B that I would gladly visit again and again.

 

Our Room was the Garden Room (Room 5). It’s a spacious room with a huge, king-sized bed. There is also a daybed/trundle. The bathroom sports a jetted tub with a great shower.

Garden Room (#5) Oakland Cottage

Garden Room (#5)
Oakland Cottage

Dressing Area Room #5 – Oakland Cottage

Through the sliding door is a small balcony with a small table and two chairs that overlooks the garden.

View of Garden From Room #5 - Oakland Cottage

View of Garden
From Room #5 – Oakland Cottage

Pretty Visitor to The Garden
Oakland Cottage

As I mentioned in an earlier post (and which will probably be a recurring theme), it rained much of the time while we vacationed. I have to say that the rain actually was welcomed in our room as we could open the sliding door a crack and listen to the rain fall through the night. So very soothing and restful. Another huge bonus was being awakened by the singing of a Carolina Wren (how very appropriate, I thought). I have to say, too, that the bed was amazing. It was so comfortable and the pillows…well, they were the best ever. I must remember to ask where those can be purchased.

 

Open the Slider & Listen to the Rain/Birds

Open the Slider & Listen to the Rain/Birds

Prior to breakfast, we all gathered in the appropriately-named “Gathering Room” for coffee or tea which was served from a beautiful antique table. This was also where we met several of the other guests who were visiting at the same time. Every one of us seemed to be thoroughly enjoying ourselves, and I didn’t hear a single complaint.

The Gathering Room Oakland Cottage

The Gathering Room
Oakland Cottage

Coffee Before Breakfast Oakland Cottage

Coffee Before Breakfast
Oakland Cottage

Coffee/Tea Station Oakland Cottage

Having our dear friends, Gloria and Eric, with us was wonderful. We had so much to catch up on. We continued our conversation over an excellent breakfast served buffet style in the comfortable dining room. I must say that the food was very, very good and exactly what we needed to get our day of discovering Asheville started.

 

Breakfast Buffet Table

Breakfast Buffet Table

 

Breakfasting Area

Breakfasting Area

The front porch is another favorite spot. What a comfortable place it is to unwind after a day of exploring, or just sit, read and relax. 

Relaxing on the Front Porch Oakland Cottage

Relaxing on the Front Porch
Oakland Cottage

If you have an opportunity to visit Asheville, North Carolina, I highly recommend that you plan to stay at the Oakland Cottage. It’s convenient, unusually well-priced, and so comfortable, you may not want to leave. I know that we will be back.

 

Up Next: The Folk Art Center & The Grove Park Inn

 

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What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (The Drive to Asheville, North Carolina – Day 1)

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Our vacation started very early on Saturday morning, August 17. Before anyone worries, our pups were home with their very favorite baby-sitter (and my bestest friend), Chris. They were spoiled totally rotten. More about that in upcoming posts.

 

Even though it was rainy (actually throughout almost the entire vacation), our drive went very well. I’m blessed to have a husband who can drive long distances without complaining. We made only a few stops on the way down (the usual – gas, a Coke, grab a bite, etc.) I have to give props to XM radio. There’s something very comforting about driving 500 miles with the same radio station playing. It sure makes the trip go quicker.

 

IMG_20130817_150105_099

Heading into MY Mountains!

Rainy Weather - but Still Mountains

Rainy Weather – but Still Mountains

Gray, but Beautiful

Gray, but Beautiful

Here are the first views we got of “my” mountains (the Smokies) heading east on I-40.

 

My heart really jumped up to see that sight. I guess it will always be in those mountains.

 

When we lived in Atlanta, we made several trips to the Asheville area and had visited Biltmore House at least four times. Funny thing, though, we’d never spent any time at all in Asheville. After seeing several travel shows featuring Asheville, we were anxious to see what we’d missed all those years.

 

A special treat awaited us in Asheville. Our dear friends, Eric and Gloria, from Sharps Chapel, Tennessee (where we own some property) planned to meet us and spend a couple of days with us. We were thrilled that they were able to join us for several reasons, but mostly because we hadn’t seen them in several years and we so enjoy their company. Eric grew up in North Carolina and had spent quite a bit of time with his grandmother who lived in Asheville. Eric and Gloria have, through the years, spent time in Asheville and know it quite well. They became our “unofficial” tour guides.

 

Jim with Eric & Gloria

Jim with Eric & Gloria

Did I mention that it was rainy during our trip? Luckily, the rain held off long enough for us to grab dinner at Peck’s Tavern. Peck’s is probably a terrific place to go to meet friends for drinks and it undoubtedly rocks when a big game is on the many televisions. We were all very hungry so we opted for an outside table (with BIG umbrella) rather than the anticipated long wait for a table inside. One hint here…Go to Peck’s for beer, cocktails and fun, but try someplace else for dinner. While it wasn’t awful, there are so many other restaurants in the Asheville area…

 

The bluegrass gathering that had been planned for the neighboring venue was cancelled due to the weather. That was one of the reasons we had decided that Peck’s would be a good choice. We were sorry to lose out on the music, but it did give us several free hours in downtown Asheville.

 

Asheville reminds me very much of European cities I’ve visited. Even in inclement weather, everyone is walking. It’s a really tough place to drive (narrow streets, odd layout, etc.), but there are several parking structures around the center of town. If you’re going to Asheville, park and do what the locals do. Get out and walk. It’s a very easy-walking town. There are lots of shops and sights to see and many options to stop for a beer, a drink, or a meal.

 

Another thing that was clearly evident is that Asheville is a very, VERY, dog-friendly town. Many of the local restaurants (including Peck’s Tavern) have outdoor seating in which your canine family members are welcome. There are even many stores which will allow you to bring your well-behaved buddy inside with you. Gotta love that!

 

After walking around for a while, we decided that dessert was definitely in order. We saw Posana Café, and were charmed by the European look and feel. We stepped inside and decided to have our dessert at their pretty bar. In some places we’ve been in the past, bar staff haven’t been too happy to have patrons who don’t mainly order cocktails. This was absolutely not the case at Posana Café. Our bartender was really terrific. She was uber-welcoming and put in our orders without batting an eye. What desserts those were!! Eric opted for the crème brulee, Jim went for the peach “pie,” and both Gloria and I chose the Chocolate Pot de Crème. Oh, my! Those chocolate desserts were amazing! I decided I really needed a bourbon with my chocolate. (After all, what goes better with chocolate? Can’t think of a thing.)

At Posana Cafe

At Posana Cafe

 

We walked around a little more until the rain started back. That sent us scurrying to our car and back to the B&B. It had been a long day, but a really good one. After checking in to see how the dogs were doing, we fell asleep to the sound of rain. Ahhhhh! I was “home” in North Carolina again, and it felt wonderful!

 

Up Next: Oakland Cottage B&B

 

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WIDMSV – The Kipling House

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WIDMSV? What I Did on My Summer Vacation!

This is the last of the posts on our Summer Vacation. It seems, somehow, appropriate as we’ve just passed Labor Day, schools are open, and football has kicked off. This is also the only post that completely focuses on one place – The Kipling House.

http://www.kiplinghouse.com/ 

Why would I do a whole post on one, particular Bed and Breakfast? Because it’s a great place to stay and an even better story!

 

First off, let me tell you where The Kipling House is located. It’s in Gladstone, Michigan. Gladstone? Like the old, English Prime Minister? Yep! Exactly! The town is named after the former Prime Minister. It’s very near to Escanaba, Michigan but it’s also closer to Seney National Wildlife Refuge (a place we’d hoped to be able to bird, but with the terrible fires this year we decided to delay). There really is much more history to the area of Kipling and Gladstone. I encourage you to go to the website and read the history – especially if Michigan history and/or trains are of interest to you.

Old image of The Kipling House
from their website

 

The Kipling House was built in the late 1800s, and has had many functions over the ensuing years. Now, it’s a comfortable, classy, bed and breakfast run by some of the nicest, most welcoming innkeepers you could ever meet.

Meghan & Bob
(from their website)

Meghan and Robert Micheau are a young couple who had a dream. The dream was to raise their family in the Escanaba/Gladstone area where Robert grew up and where Robert’s family still lives. Meghan is from the Hartland, Michigan area.

 

Meghan went to school in Hartland, Michigan and then went on to Oakland Community College (OCC). At first, she thought she would become a nurse; however, she found nursing just wasn’t what she wanted to do. OCC offered courses in culinary arts, so she gave that a try. Sure enough, Meghan found her passion (so much so that she was baking and decorating all kinds of pastries and using her parents as “testers.”) While she knew she didn’t want to work in the restaurant business (and I can certainly understand her feelings having been in that industry, myself, for several years), she felt that perhaps a bed and breakfast where her ‘calling.’

 

While visiting Robert’s parents (prior to their marriage), Robert and Meghan went for a bike ride. During their ride, Robert (oh, so casually) asked Meghan if she thought she could live in the area. Without missing a beat, she glibly replied that maybe so if he bought her the beautiful bed and breakfast they were passing. It just so happens, that this was The Kipling House.

 

Fast forward a short while and, as if ordained, The Kipling House came up for sale. The owners actually let Robert and Meghan run the Inn for a year prior to selling it to them so they could see what was involved in being innkeepers. The Micheaus did all the work and paid all the bills from the income of the inn. Sure enough, they were naturals, and the inn came under new ownership.

 

That brings us up to 2010. Here is a young couple running their inn – coming up to the Memorial Day holiday – with a very pregnant Meghan. As frequently happens, as soon as the inn filled to capacity, the baby made it known that it was time for him to enter the world. I can only imagine the scenario with Meghan in labor, Robert worrying about his wife, his baby on the way, AND an inn full of guests. Thank heavens, both mothers were there to help.

 

Apparently, the transition was pretty seamless and Meghan and Robert were able to bring home their beautiful, healthy, baby boy and miss very little time from their inn-keeping duties.

The Kipling House today

When we visited in July, The Kipling House was a warm, inviting place that felt as though we were staying with friends. We staying in the “Governor’s Room.” It was a pleasant, large room with adjoining bath.

The Governor’s Room

 

Governor’s Room Bath

The Kipling Cottage is a great place for couples! The downstairs is a sitting room with small kitchenette, while the loft is the sleeping area. It’s separate from the main house and would work for a small family, also. One might want to have a few provisions in the kitchenette for dinner or lunch, but you would never want to miss out on Meghan’s amazing breakfasts or desserts. Oh! Did I mention that Meghan makes dessert and puts on the table in the foyer for everyone who would like some after dinner? We were lucky enough to get rhubarb pie! They grow the rhubarb right in the back yard.

I must make mention of the gazebo! The minute I saw it, with the gardens and fountain around it, I knew it would be a fabulous place for a wedding. Anyone considering nuptuals?

The Kipling House Gazebo

Now, let me tell you about breakfast! The first day, we had pfannenkuchen which is a light, Scandinavian-style pancake with loads of butter, a lovely fruit salad, home-made (naturally) scones and bacon. There was enough food to prepare for a day of birding and then some. The second day, we had a slice of tremendous quiche, fruit, sausage and cinnamon rolls. Everything was delicious! The guests are able to name what time they would like their breakfast, so sometimes you sit – family style – with other guests. That’s a great way to meet new people and share stories. It’s so wonderful that a couple with such talent find their niche.

Meghan Micheau
(hostess extraordinaire)

One last little nicety that I must mention is afternoon snacks! After spending the day birding on the Stonington Peninsula, imagine our pleasure to walk into the foyer at The Kipling House to find a basket full of snack treats and cold, bottled water. Perfect! Such a nice touch, and one that is rare to find.

 

Finally, I have to tell you that I fell completely in love while visiting The Kipling House. I fell in love with a two-year-old, adorable boy named Bobby! This young chap has a bright smile and the sunniest, friendliest disposition one could hope for. Bobby, it seems, was born to be around guests just like his parents. He’s gregarious (which is remarkable for any child of two) and well-behaved. When I asked him if I could take his photo, he grinned up at me and said, “Yes!”

 

Once I took the first photo, he said, “Take another!” I happily obliged.

 

Then he chimed up, ”Take another!”

 

I think he would have happily sat there and posed for me all day. Sadly, though, it was time for us to take our leave. At that stage, I could have happily packed Bobby up in the car with us and brought him back over the bridge. I just don’t think his parents would have let us, though.

 

So, my friends, if you are ever planning to visit the Escanaba area, you really must stay at The Kipling House. Let me be very clear, here. I am not receiving any kind of remuneration or benefit for recommending the inn. I just love to share excellent places and activities with you. I know that we’ll be back when we plan to spend a few days birding in Seney. Besides, I just can’t wait to see that little boy again!

 

Up Next: “A Public Service”

 

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What I Did on My Summer Vacation – Big Bay: Birding and “Made for the Movies”

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Our first, true vacation day. Yesterday counted, of course, but it was so much driving and getting into vacation “mode,” that it wasn’t very relaxing. To me, Sunday really started our vacation. Time to get out and do as we pleased.

Lake Superior Coastline

 

A note, here, about the weather. July 2012 was one for the record books for Michigan. The LP (Lower Peninsula) had highs that topped the 100 degree mark on multiple occasions. This is highly irregular! Michigan just isn’t supposed to have Phoenix weather (hot and incredibly dry). I have to tell you, the UP (Upper Peninsula) wasn’t spared record heat either!

Rose Room
(Our Room)

 

We awoke in our air-conditioned room at the Blueberry Ridge B&B. I mention the air-conditioning due to the fact that a/c is not all that common in the UP. Generally, they don’t need it. The other thing waiting for us just after we awoke was a serenade (piano and singing) from our hostess, Daphne. Did I mention she’s unique? “Morning Has Broken” has a whole new meaning to me, now.

 

Breakfast was delightful! Coffee was brewed and waiting. Daphne made gingered, fresh fruit for starters and I had fresh rhubarb (grown in her own yard) juice. Delicious stuffed, French toast rounded out the meal. One thing to take into consideration is that there was no protein served with breakfast. Although we would have preferred there to be some sausage, ham, or bacon, the meal was really good and plentiful. Once we were almost as stuffed as the French toast, we headed out for a day of birding, and exploring the Marquette area.

“A Birder’s Guide to Michigan”

 

Armed with (our good friend) Allen Chartier’s book A Birder’s Guide to Michigan, we headed off to look for our two, “target” birds for the UP – the Boreal Chickadee and Gray Jay. We headed west from Marquette to bird along the AAA logging road. I was totally amazed at this area. It’s gorgeous, wooded, and the gravel road was in excellent condition. (I’m guessing I can thank the drought for the good condition of the road.) There was, however, a surprising amount of truck traffic for a Sunday. I think it was probably construction traffic as this area seems to be an up-and-coming area for hunting cabins.

Male Scarlet Tanager

 

While we found lots of birds (including, but not limited to, Scarlet Tanager, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Pine Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo, and both Hermit and Wood Thrush). No Gray Jays and no confirmable Boreal Chickadees. (We did have one pretty fair-sized mixed flock of warblers fly through in which I glimpsed a bird that may have been the illusive chickadee, but I didn’t hear it or get a good enough look to confirm it.) RATS!

 

There is also a nature area that appears to be brand new. It’s the Thomas Rock Scenic Overlook. I found out that it’s newly refurbished and used to be called “Gobbler’s Knob.” It’s very close to the AAA logging road. There are actually port-a-potties in the parking area there, and there’s a terrific and comfortable trail, with brand new railings and benches, that circle up to the lookout and back down through the woods. While we were there, we added Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Pileated Woodpecker, and Swainson’s Thrush to our birding list.

 

Thunder Bay Inn
(with thanks for sending the photos!)

By this time, it’s starting to get really hot. It’s past noon and we’d had enough tramping around in the dirt and getting bit by biting flies (mostly me). We decided to head for a place we’d heard lots about that was in nearby Big Bay – Thunder Bay Inn (www.thunderbayinn.net). The hotel was where traveling Ford executives visiting the Big Bay automotive plant stayed. A bar area was built onto the Inn in the late 1950s as they filmed the movie “Anatomy of a Murder” – starring Jimmy Stewart – there. The actual murder took place in Big Bay, so it was natural that they would want to do a lot of the filming on location. The actual bar in which the murder took place was very dark and impossible to film in, so they built a “made for movies” bar onto the Inn. It remains exactly as it was when the filming wrapped up. There’s lots of movie memorabilia available to read and enjoy, as well. The topper – the food was very good (I had a burger, and Jim a fish sandwich), the beer was very cold, and the server was very nice. We’re very glad we made the choice to go to Thunder Bay Inn for lunch. They are also known for their Friday fish-fry and prime rib Saturdays. We’re looking forward to trying both the next time we’re in the area.

Just Like In “Anatomy of a Murder”
(photo provided by Thunder Bay Inn)

  

Thunder Bay Inn – Lounge
Just as it was in the Movie

Up Next: Big Bay – A B&B in a Lighthouse; Gwinn – Up North Lodge

 

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