Getting “Social” in Lexington

Getting “Social” in Lexington

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Most of y’all know that I’m a born Kentuckian. I like to say that I was inoculated at birth with a love of horses and bourbon. I think that may be a requisite vaccination for all newborns in the Commonwealth, at least it appears that way. All I can tell you is that I have loved horses as long as I can remember, and acquiring a taste for brown, corn liquor came mighty easy.

Every year for my birthday, if at all possible, I sweet-talk my dear husband into a trip to the Bluegrass. That’s not a difficult task as he spent many, many summers in the state visiting his grandmother. Some of his happiest times were spent in my birth-state.

Earlier this year, we had visited and completed the Bourbon Trail (which I will write about in an upcoming blog), so this time it was totally about visiting horses, eating and drinking excellent food and bourbon, and visiting Wallins Creek (where Jim spent his summers) to take photos and gather information for his upcoming model train layout. (Can you see that there will be many different posts on all kinds of subjects in the offing?)

2016-04-01-20-13-39

Sunset in the Bluegrass

Our base of operations was Lexington. I never tire of Lexington. The area around Lexington is some of the most beautiful country anywhere in the world. Yes, I may be more than a bit biased, but I have been lucky to travel quite a bit and this is where I choose to come as often as humanly possible. Lexington is surrounded by farms housing the finest thoroughbred horses in the world and the very best distilleries are within a very short drive.

We arrived on my birthday, so we had made dinner reservations at Tonys of Lexington. We had lots of time before our reservation, so we wanted to enjoy a bourbon (or two) in a local bourbon bar. We’d heard about Bluegrass Tavern (with their 450 bourbons), and decided that we’d join the locals and see what 450 different bourbons even looked like. We arrived around 4:30 p.m., but they were inexplicably closed. Hmmm! What to do? Then we turned around and found Parlay Social on the corner right behind us. We decided to go in and cool off and see if they could fill the bourbon bill. (August is more than a little warm in Kentucky.)

“Social” is a great name for this place. We were greeted and made to feel right at home by the cutest bartender. Her name is Kristin, and she’s as nice, social, and informative as she is sweet. We had landed in just the exact right place to try out some bourbons that are, quite frankly, impossible to get in Michigan bars or restaurants.

parlay-social-kristin

Kristin – Bartender Extraordinaire – Parlay Social (Check the bottle in foreground!)

Kristin handed us a list of all the options available and it just about made my head swim. There weren’t 450 listed, but there were enough fine options that we didn’t feel as though we missed a thing. They had options to try one or two ounces of some of the best and most sought-after bourbons in the world. Prices (as you can see) were anywhere from $5 all the way up to $112 for one single ounce of liquor. Extravagant? Darn tootin’! It was my birthday, though, so we decided to taste some of them. We shared, so each ounce became half-ounces each. (Wouldn’t want y’all to think we overdid it or anything!)

parlay-social-side-1

Side #1 – Parlay Social Bourbon List

Our favorites were Eagle Rare 17-year and Pappy Van Winkle 15-year. I have to say, that if I had to choose one bourbon to drink (and cost was no factor) it would be the Pappy 15-year. It was, without a doubt, the best, most palatable, smoothest sipping bourbon I’ve ever had. Lord knows if the 20- and 23-year are any better, because we sure don’t. One day, I plan to save up so I can find out; but the leap between the 10-year (Old RIP Van Winkle) and the 15-year (Pappy Van Winkle) was like jumping to light speed in the Millennium Falcon.

parlay-social-side-2

Side #2 – Parlay Social Bourbon List

As we were tasting some of these beautiful, brown liquors, the shift manager, Oliver, came out to see how we were doing. Again, we were made to feel right at home. Both he and Kristin gave us some suggestions as to places to visit in Lexington. When we told them we had reservations at Tonys, they both nodded and told us we would really enjoy our meals. In a later post, I’ll tell you more about Tonys and the wonderful dinner we enjoyed.

parlay-social-oliver

Oliver – Shift Manager at Parlay Social

We actually went back to Parlay Social a couple of afternoons later to tell them what a wonderful meal we’d had, and to try out a couple more bourbons. It was like visiting with old friends. Funny, I know that they get all kinds of visitors and regulars on a daily basis, but we were remembered. That goes a very long way in making one feel welcome.

parlay-social-back

Back bar at Parlay Social – Check out just SOME of the Bourbons

It’s a given that we will be back to Lexington in the very near future. It’s also a given that we will be visiting Parlay Social again, too.

 

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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 (Waynesville: A Journey “Home”)

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In my “Prologue” to this group of posts I wrote about Waynesville, North Carolina. As I read that post again, I realized I’d poured my heart into it and wouldn’t change a word. Here is that text again.

My aunt grew up in Waynesville, North Carolina. I had listened to her talk about her home town for so many years, I felt like I knew it, too. Years later, my parents were offered the opportunity to purchase land on Eagle’s Nest Mountain in Waynesville. A neighbor was involved in a partnership to development a portion of the mountain and offered my parents the chance to get in on the ground-floor at the pre-development prices. They jumped at the chance. I’ll never forget driving up Eagle’s Nest for the first time to choose our lots. I immediately fell in love with the mountain and knew I’d come “home.”

“Waynesville has, ever since, been a magical place for me. Even after our home on Eagle’s Nest burned to the ground in late 1980, Waynesville has held a very special place in my heart. Memories of spending happy times with family (immediate and extended) are part of the reason for this; however, there is just something about the town, and the people who live there, that makes me feel warm and welcome.

Beautiful Waynesville, NC (Eagles' Nest Mountain in the Background)

Beautiful Waynesville, NC
(Eagles’ Nest Mountain in the Background)

Waynesville is the county-seat of Haywood County. The courthouse is right on Main Street.

Haywood County Courthouse Waynesville, NC

Haywood County Courthouse
Waynesville, NC

Main Street has changed quite a lot since we had our home in Waynesville. Most of the storefronts are still the same, but the change is in what’s inside. I was afraid that I would find the loss of the stores I used to visit hard to accept. I was wrong. Main Street, now, has some beautiful stores with artisan-quality goods. There are galleries of all kinds. Some world-class artists now call Waynesville home. There are also restaurants, chocolate shops, and clothing stores. Several real estate agents have offices on Main, as well as several attorneys’ offices.

Banjo & Wash-tub Base Main Street @ Miller Waynesville, NC

Banjo & Wash-tub Base
Main Street @ Miller
Waynesville, NC

Main Street Waynesville, NC

Main Street
Waynesville, NC

Looking Down Main Street Waynesville, NC

Looking Down Main Street Waynesville, NC

Mast General Store (one of several in North Carolina) is also on Main. Mast has a little of everything – clothing, shoes, housewares, furnishings, food, and the largest selection of old-time candy found anywhere.

Mast General Store Main Street Waynesville, NC

Mast General Store
Main Street
Waynesville, NC

I think the biggest surprise for me was that there are now three active breweries in Waynesville! We visited Tipping Point Tavern, but there are also Headwaters Brewing and Frog’s Leap Public House. Those two we will check out on our next visit.

Tipping Point Tavern Waynesville, NC

Tipping Point Tavern
Waynesville, NC

Tipping Point Tavern was a fun place to visit. Their in-house brews are quite good. We tried both the “Hiking Viking” (my Northeast High School friends will certainly understand this) and the “Chunky Girl Amber.” They also have an IPA called “Punch in the Face IPA.” We found the brews quite hoppy, so we can imagine what the IPA must be. Next time…

We had both a lunch and a dinner at Tipping Point Tavern. Lunch was quite enjoyable. The food was quite good – can’t say “great” with regard to sandwiches and beer, but very good. We started with the beer-battered jalapeno poppers which were hot from the fryer and had very good flavor. I had the Tavern Reuben and really enjoyed it. Jim had Fish Tacos. I must say, you really shouldn’t be leaving Tipping Point hungry! They don’t skimp on portions!

Dinner was something of a different story. We had planned to go to The Bourbon Barrel, but they weren’t interested in seating us – even though there were many open tables. I guess that’s a place for locals only. Out-of-towners need not darken their doors. So… we ended up back at Tipping Point Tavern. Yes, the portions were huge (especially the Pulled Pork Burrito)! What was really off-putting was the noise level. We were there on a Wednesday night, so we didn’t expect the crush of people or the noise. Obviously, this is the place for the younger crowd to meet for drinks after work. If we’d been there just for a beer or cocktails (and had been several years younger), we probably would have had a wonderful time. For dinner, well it was rather hard to enjoy ourselves. If you go, it’s probably wise to stick to lunch, or go for their terrific beer and after-work party.

Now for the best meal of our entire trip. It was at The Sweet Onion restaurant on Miller Street. This restaurant would be at home in any large city in the U.S, but it’s nestled in beautiful, downtown Waynesville, NC.

Sweet Onion

Sweet Onion
Waynesville, NC

We had been told by the innkeepers at our bed & breakfast (Andon-Reid) – complete review in a dedicated post coming – that reservations were strongly suggested, so they made them for us. This lovely restaurant was bustling and after our experience, I understand why. The service was superb. We were warmly welcomed and shown to a comfortable table next to the window. Our server took our beverage order and gave us a couple of minutes to take-in the menu. What a menu! It was incredibly hard to decide.

We settled on splitting the crab cake appetizer. This was chock-full of lump crab loosely bound and served with a terrific lemon-basil aioli. Our entrees were amazing. Jim had the Blackberry BBQ Short Ribs. He proclaimed that they were the best he’d ever had. They were fall-off-the bone tender and the sauce was incredible. I had the Shrimp & Grits. Now, these are no ordinary shrimp and grits! The white cheddar grits were topped with huge, perfectly-cooked shrimp and big pieces of bacon. On top of all that lusciousness, there was a delicate, yet flavorful, lobster cream sauce. Heavenly! I even got one of my all-time favorite sides with this entrée. Marinated Cucumber and Tomato Salad is one of the food items I most closely associate with my Aunt Jean (who grew up in Waynesville). To have this on the menu, and on my plate, brought me nostalgically home with her.

Dessert wasn’t necessary; but, then again, we were on vacation. We decided to splurge on splitting an amazing crème brulee. It was absolutely perfect. It was creamy and soul-satisfying, yet light enough to leave us comfortable. All in all, one of the best meals either of us had ever had.

If you are going to be in Waynesville for any length of time, I highly recommend you make plans to have at least one dinner at Sweet Onion. You won’t be sorry.

 

Up Next: What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (Eagle’s Nest Mountain)

 

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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.

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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 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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Hodgpodge

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

 

I know that I’ve been away awhile. No, I didn’t drink too many Hot Bourbon Balls. Work can be very cyclical, and this has been our heaviest season. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get back to a more “normal” blogging schedule.

 

Christmas

The Tree is Up!

Our Tree

We had a nice, quiet Christmas day. That is, until we started getting ready for the family dinner. I got a little smarter this year (amazing, huh?) and started cooking and preparing several days in advance. Our meal was like the title of this post – a hodgepodge. Although there were a few dishes that nodded to our present area (Michigan – land of ice and snow), most of the menu had a distinctly southern bent.

Our Christmas Village

Our Christmas Village

We had Turduckhen (yes, they actually can stuff a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey). We had both Cajun rice and cornbread stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes (real potatoes), squash casserole (thanks to my sister-in-law, Deb), cranberry/pineapple/walnut salad, crescents, and pecan pie. While it was a lot of work and I was really bushed by the time it was over, dinner was a great success. Do you like my “tablescape?”

Christmas Table

Christmas Table

 

Some Sad News

Sydney with Her Dad & His Dad

Sydney with Her Dad & His Dad

Sadly, our girl, Sydney, has been diagnosed with DM (Degenerative Myelopathy). Without getting real technical, it’s a condition in which dogs (mainly seen in German Shepherd Dogs) lose the use of their hind quarters. There is no cure.

Sydney in Her Prime

Sydney in Her Prime

At present, we are doing our best to keep Sydney up and active as much as possible. We are using some holistic herbs and vitamins that have helped others who have had this diagnosis for their dogs. It’s not a “fix,” but if it can keep Syd up and moving longer, we’ll try it. There’s absolutely nothing in it that could possibly hurt her, so we’re hopeful that it will help her to be happy and mobile longer.

 

The GREAT News!

Nitro & His Girl

Nitro & His Girl

Now that I’ve given you the sad news, I want to update you on Nitro. He’s a happy boy. He and his girl, Tehya, are best friends. It’s like he’s been meant for her and Nichole his whole life. It’s just sad that he had to go through so much bad to get to his forever home.

Nitro's Put on Weight

Nitro’s Put on Weight

If you haven’t been following Nitro’s story on my blog (newcomer? WELCOME!), you can page back through my posts and find his amazing, miraculous story. Nitro also has a page on Facebook “Nitro’s Journey Home.” It’s a truly unique story – one with a happy ending.

Doesn't He Look Great

Doesn’t He Look Great

Nitro and Nichole went to his new vet a short time ago. They already knew his story and were very much looking forward to meeting this stalwart animal who had been through so much only to find his purpose with two ladies who love him. His weight was up to within only about 10 or 15 pounds from where it should be. His bloodwork came back with all normal levels. He was a perfect gentleman and allowed everyone to fuss over him to their hearts’ content. He even got his PAWdicure without protest. His demeanor, after the years of a neglect, completely amazes me.

He's Still a Frisbee Dog

He’s Still a Frisbee Dog

Wanna Play?

Wanna Play?

Not Takin' it Away!

Not Takin’ it Away!

Here are photos of Nitro with his new Frisbee. If you look back at earlier Nitro posts, you’ll see that Nitro used to be a fabulous Frisbee player. He obviously never lost his love of playing with the flying disk. He’s not capable of the running as fast, nor jumping high, but he can still play. Most importantly, he enjoys the activity.

Happy New Year

 

It’s hard to believe that it’s 2013.

 

This is a “major” year for me. I can’t believe that this much time has gone under my bridge. In retrospect, I’m happy to say that my regrets are few (cue Frank Sinatra and “My Way). I’ve filled a little of my “bucket list,” but there are so many more things I want to see and do. I guess I’m going to have to live as long as my wonderful, great-aunt, Ruth, who lived to be 104.

I hope you will come along with me as I post them on my blog! Until then…

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

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Looking forward to “seeing” you here on Colmel’s Blog!

WIDMSV – Eagle River Inn; Brockway Mountain Drive; Visiting an Old Friend’s Family

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

 

WIDMSV? What I Did on My Summer Vacation!

 

We reached the upper parts of the Keweenaw Peninsula expecting cooler weather. Unfortunately, the ‘weather gods’ didn’t get the memo. It was in the mid-90s! Again, it’s not SUPPOSED to be that hot in the Keweenaw. For the most part, they don’t have air-conditioning. They usually don’t need it. Phew!

Eagle River Inn (Beach side)
Photo from their Website

Representative Room
Eagle River Inn

We checked into our room at the Eagle River Inn (which was so clean and newly refurbished, we could still smell the fresh paint). The Eagle River Inn has been a labor of love for Mike and Marc (the proprietors). They have spent every penny they could come up with on fixing up this wonderful inn which is only steps away from one of the prettiest, most accessible beaches in the Keweenaw. Their attention to detail is amazing. They have turned this location into a comfortable, friendly, destination inn that we will look forward to visiting over and over again.

One of our “neighbors”

 

Did I mention that the Eagle River Inn is DOG FRIENDLY??!!!! They are! I believe that the future of inn-keeping is in pet-friendly accommodations. More and more, people consider their pets integral parts of the family. The idea of leaving a family member behind in a kennel or alone at home is troubling. A key to enjoying a family vacation is for the WHOLE family to enjoy the time together. I really have to commend The Eagle River Inn for being so forward thinking.

 

It was far more comfortable driving in the car – with air-conditioning –so we decided that the Brockway Mountain Drive sounded like a good idea. The drive is a beautifully scenic road that runs from just north of Eagle River up to Copper Harbor. The views winding up the road are just beautiful. There are views of Lake Superior

 

Inland lakes

 

 Valleys

 

 Rock outcroppings

 

I have read that there were plan to put a cell tower on Brockway Mountain. (Okay, y’all, this wouldn’t be considered a “mountain” in the south – well, except maybe Florida. In Michigan, however, this is surely a “mountain” as the glaciers really scraped most of the state flat.) It is the highest point around and I understand the need for communications, but I certainly hope that they figure something else out that won’t mar the beauty of this amazingly pristine area.

 

Wild Berry
(World’s Best Ice Cream!)

As we reached the end of the road, we found ourselves just a little ways from the Wild Berry. I had found out that one of my high school classmates had grown up in Copper Harbor, Michigan. She and her family (the Nousiainens) had owned and run the Wild Berry Ice Cream store. Her brother, George (who had been a few years ahead of us in school), had moved back to Copper Harbor and was still running the store.

 

ICE CREAM!!!!! What a marvelous idea! It was especially welcome in this heat. We would have loved to visit more with George and his wife, but we weren’t the only ones thinking that ice cream sounded like a good idea. The place was packed! We did, however, get the opportunity to treat ourselves to sundaes made with local fruit and some of the best, smoothest, most delicious ice cream I’ve ever eaten. (In retrospect, I wonder if the ice cream was really as fabulous as I remember or if it was just because it was so very welcome.)

Thimbleberry

 

I opted for thimbleberry. A thimbleberry is related to raspberries. It’s a delicious, tart fruit with LOTS (and I do mean to capitalize that) of seeds! It’s absolutely delicious, but the pips… I tend to think they’re worth dealing with.

 

Bilberry

Jim opted for bilberry. Bilberries are related to what we call blueberries. In fact, in Europe, these are what they know as blueberries. This special variety only grows in the Keweenaw and especially in the wilds around Copper Harbor. Bilberry is known to be good for maintaining healthy blood-sugar levels and the leaves make a tea that is good for blood pressure. I guess that means that Jim was eating “health food.” Yeah, uh huh…

 

All I can tell you is that we both thoroughly enjoyed our sundaes, and it was great to be able to visit with family of an old friend. We immediately made plans to come back the next day for more camaraderie and, of course, more ice cream.

 

By the time we finished our ice cream and said good-bye, we were getting pretty worn out. It had been a very long day starting with birding (and getting eaten alive) in the morning and lots of driving in the middle. We decided to head back to the Eagle River Inn, grab some dinner, and try to get some sleep.

 

The road that we took back south followed the shoreline of Lake Superior. What a gorgeous place this is! We stopped at a couple of outlooks along the way. At one, there was a couple who were tossing a ‘duck’ out into the Lake for their chocolate lab to fetch. We enjoyed watching the dog swim out again and again (obviously enjoying his game), retrieving his prize, and returning it to his people.

 

We wanted to make certain that we got back to Fitzgerald’s (the superb restaurant at the Eagle River Inn) for our dinner reservation. The special was smoked prime rib! They have a huge smoker in the parking lot of the Inn. It smelled so wonderful when we left that we wanted to be sure not to miss out.

Fitzgerald’s
(Photo from their Website)

We were rewarded handsomely! That was one of the finest meals we’ve had in a while. The meat was smoked to perfection and the accompaniments were excellent. Jim had a smoked-fish appetizer. I tried it, but I decided that I’d save the room for dinner. I did, however, have a nice ‘Bookers.’ I must make a special note of the tremendous variety of whiskies that Fitzgerald’s stocks. Whether it’s bourbon or scotch whiskey that float your boat, they probably have your brand – or a brand that you’ve been wanting to try. They also have an excellent selection of whiskies from other parts of the world (Canadian, Irish, even Japanese).

Sunset at
The Eagle River Inn

 

After eating a huge meal, and the long day, we were ready for a good night’s sleep. This was the first time it really occurred to me that we were much further north. At 11:00 p.m., it was still light (and still HOT)! After snapping several photos of the amazing sunset and a late lakes’ freighter, I finally drifted off to sleep. Tomorrow is the Fourth of July! I figured I wouldn’t be getting much sleep at all then.

Lakes Freighter

 

Up Next: The Fourth of July – Keweenaw Style

 

Would you like to subscribe to my blog? (Oh, yes, it’s free!) Hopefully, you have already clicked on the title and are now directly in my blog page. If you have not gotten to the blog page, click on the title of the Posting and it will take you to the blog. That’s okay, we’ll wait! At the top of the blog, you should see a button with “Follow” next to it. If you click that button, a checkmark should show up. At that point, you should be subscribed. (WordPress is one of the easiest blogs to work with, and I’m still frequently befuddled with how it works!)

 

Looking forward to “seeing” you here on Colmel’s Blog!