Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Biltmore-Asheville, NC

It was a gloomy Monday but everyone had high spirits for an exciting 2 day trip from Etowah to Asheville.  But wait, there is a rock-slide on I 40 that should take us straight to the Biltmore House.  Ah, our fearless driver, Larry, knows all the roads in the area and can take us anyway we needed to arrive at our destination.  BTW, his GPS partner is Martha.

We hit the road driving south on 411 but not before I'm given the assignment of counting to make sure everyone is on board, gee, there are 19 of us, how hard can this be?  Now mind you we are a group of "seniors" from North Etowah Baptist Church but the liveliest bunch of people and folks who know how to laugh and have a good time.  But I digress, The chosen route is to go Hwy 64 over to Copper Hill TN, through Murphey NC, Waynesville NC and then over the Blue Ridge Parkway to Asheville, NC.

We stopped for a bit in Copper Hill for a short breakfast stop at Hardee's, then on to our next stop of Mast General Store in Waynesville NC.   Ah, but not before I count, yep, 19 of us we didn't leave anyone eating biscuits so on we go.

Now I mentioned earlier how everyone loved to have fun and laugh on this trip, didn't I.  Okay, then, take a close look at this face, looks perfectly innocent, right?  Looks like he would love to have a great time and laugh, right?  This perfectly innocent, smiling face belongs to Darewin.  Seems Mr Darewin has taken it upon himself to be the practical joker of the bus!  Yep, he got me so now I'm having to think of something to do to get him back.

See I'm the new kid on the bus so it's time for my initiation.  Darewin is in the back of the bus, we had been on a curvy road and I'm sitting on the front aisle seat.  All of a sudden, all I hear is someone coming from behind saying how the curves were making him sick and that he... (spew alert here) all of a sudden I hear a sneeze, feel something wet in my hair and ear and on my shirt.  OOH, I just froze.  First thing in my mind was I have this guys puke all over me, what am I going to do and sure hope he doesn't have anything contagious!  And my poor sister, Wanda, the nurturer, couldn't decide what she needed to do; take care of her baby sister or help Darewin who was "sick."  Tom on the seat behind us said it was more fun to watch Wanda's reaction than the other things going on.

Well, if you haven't figured it out by now, Darewin had water in his hand and when he made the sneezing sound, he threw water on me, yep, water.  Of course the whole bus, 18 of them, was in on it and they just cracked up and for the rest of the trip we were reminded of the practical joke.  Pay backs are tough, though.  When Darewin leasts expects it, his payback will be tough.

We arrive at Waynesville NC and my sisters and I have to pose for a shot with the local art.  This is a quaint little southern town and one of it's claim to fame is the Mast General Store. 

Barrels of candy

Now it's on to the Blue Ridge Parkway and I'm sure you can see how it got it's name. 

There was a forest fire on the parkway but we never heard/saw anything on the news so I guess it didn't get too out of control.  Probably made for a good sunset though.  OMG the road is blocked with another rock slide so we have to get off the Parkway.  Oh yes, Martha chose a terrific little road, Hwy 151.  It had many kiss your booty curves and put us out in Hominy NC.  The sign said not for big vehicles but that didn't bother Larry, we just went on anyway.  Thanks for getting us safely down the mountain, Larry and Martha.

It wasn't too much farther to our hotel and we had a good sign waiting to welcome us.  Not only did they put the sign up here but they had a nice welcoming snack of cookies and hot chocolate.  It was welcomed because by this time, it's cold and rainy.

Here is a good shot of the group partaking of the goodies before some of the ladies head out shopping.  Now I ask you, do you think I was with the group of shoppers...NOT!   My loyal readers know that is just not my think.  But it is sister Shirley's thing.  She didn't go, I should have known she wasn't feeling too well. 

 Meet Brenda and Gary.  These folks moved into Etowah when I was a teenager and she was the leader of the Young Women Association (YWAs) at our church.  She had a profound impact on my life.  She helped me write a speech for competition and gave me tips on presenting as a public speaker.  I know that as an adult I have drawn on her advice more than once.  She was cool back then and she is still cool.  Thanks to you Brenda.

Here are Bobby and Willa.  They were (read She) the planners of this trip and it was a good trip as are all of Willa planned trips.  This couple travel with DS Shirley and BIL Doug.  They have fun wherever they go.

You have already met Larry, our driver.  Here is Judy, his better half.  Since we had rain and fog, it was tough driving for Larry and by the time we got back to Etowah I'm sure Larry was a little stressed.  Larry and Judy went to Pigeon Forge with the group to celebrate DS Wanda and BIL Don this year.

 Here is the group of 19.  I was DS Wanda's roommate.  Don't we all look like a fun group of people out to have a good time.  Great fellowship. 

Well, maybe except for that Darewin person.  I'm still thinking of payback.  If you read this Darewin, you never know when or how but you will get paid back.  VEG (very evil grin)

Oh, I almost left out this great shot!  DS Shirley and BIL Doug goofing around and posing for the camera.

It's off to the Biltmore.  The pix I have here are the only ones I could take.  No pix could be taken inside.  It was beautiful.  That Vanderbilt guy was way before his time.  If you haven't been, I recommend it.  This was the first I had seen it decorated for Christmas.  DS Wanda and I got the headphones for the audio tour and it was just like being back in that era to hear the narriation and different sounds.  Guess you can tell some of these shots were taken through the screens looking inside out.

Saved the best for last.  Here are us girls having a good trip with each other.  A good time was had by all.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving in So Georgia

Okay, okay, I've been shamed enough to say here I am and Thanksgiving was a wonderful day with family.  Jerry came down to visit, I cooked (don't faint) and then Taylor and Jerry decorated the tree and house.  My goodness it looks festive.

Here we are around the table (my self timer works great!) Taylor, Jerry, Me and Jonathan.  Notice the new color in the kitchen.  Yep, new paint!  Guess who??

Since Jonathan wasn't too mobile (notice the walker) I set him at the table and put him to work making coleslaw.

Jerry was in a festive mood.  He had to decorate the top of his head before he could get in the mood.  I think it looks cute.  It was a great day having other family in the house.

Taylor is hiding out in the tree.  Actually she was behind the tree making sure all the limbs were attached firmly.

Now she is up on the ledge putting up the UT Santas and other decorations.  Mama's ceramic tree works perfectly up there.  They put lights and everything up there. 

Everyone is in the act.  I have been giving Taylor Barbie ornaments since she arrived in this world in 1996.  They make a striking decoration on the tree, however, they are a pain to put up and take down.  They have kept the original boxes.  They make for a beautiful Barbie tree.

The efects of the lights at night.  I'm glad that I got to be around with family at Thanksgiving.  No telling where I'll spend next Thanksgiving.  This one was special.

I've been here abou three weeks.  Jonathan had hip surgery and is doing quite well.  His surgery was to delay him in getting a hip replacement.  He has to be on crutches/walker for another three weeks.  They had to shave the femur so much that if he breaks it, there will be no question as to whether he will have to have a replacement sooner.  He is being really good and doing everything he is supposed to do.  He went back to work this week.  Dr Woo said he had the hip of a 60 yo and won't know for about three months whether it did what the Doc wanted.  Keep your prayers coming.

I've managed to clean the house while I've been here and taken Taylor to swim.  It's been nice doing brix & stix stuff but remind me if I ever get a hankering to clean, paint, wash windows, that I'm CRAZY!  LOL

While I've been here I ran by A Big Wheel Park to check out my site for January.  I walked around and checked the place out.  I'm gonna like where I'll be.  But, I measured Jonathan's driveway and guess what?  Yep Somewhere will fit so...

It's been fun but time for me to move on.  I head to Orlando on Sunday then back to New Johnsonville for a while.  I've got a great project to work on when I get to Theda's house and then head to East TN for Christmas.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Somewhere get's a bath

With a little coaxing (payolla) my great nephew Josh came over to get the top of Somewhere washed.  See I don't necessarily like getting on top of Somewhere so I asked Josh to help me out.  He did and she looks so much better.  I'm sure you can see the differences on the awning of how much it needed washing.

Of course if you do the top, it runs off down the sides so Ms Somewhere got a complete cleaning and he does great on tires.  Now we are ready to go!  Ha, we have been ready to go.  I'll be going but Somewhere will stay in Etowah until Christmas Day and then we will head south.
I read my friend, Margie's blog, this morning.  She is basking in the sunshine in Orlando soaking up the sun.  Good for you, girl!  I'll be down there soon.  LOL  Not particularily liking these cold morning when the propane kicks on with the thermostat set at 58 degrees.  Of course when I get up I turn on the little electric heater but Sedona and I don't like it really, really cold inside.

Heading to the Biltmore House tomorrow in Ashville NC.  I'm going with my sister's and their church group and it will be interesting to see the route we are going to take since the tunnel is closed on I 40 caused by a rock slide.  I'm sure our driver, Larry, will have a good route planned.

Buck Bald Mountain

You read that right!  What better to do on a beautiful afternoon and evening but travel up the back roads to the Tellico area.  My nephew, Jerry, Mark and I took off, actually it was a practice "date" with Jerry and I asked Mark to come along. 

We stopped at the Tellico Beach for a big burger, fries and a soft drink.  We took our dinner and stopped along the Tellico river and ate.   You can see the ducks (look closely) marching along side the river and next to the picnic tables looking for someone to give them some snacks.

The river sounded so peaceful.  It reminded me of going out on the pontoon boat on a really stressful day at the office and just sitting there listening to the water take my stress away.  Jerry took my camera down to the shore line and took a movie so I'll always have the sound of the water to take with me.

Sun was getting close to setting so we had to hurry to make our destination so we had to leave the Tellico (Tellliquah) area but I'll definitely be back to renew.  So what was the hurry?  Jerry told me about the top of this mountain where we could get a 360 degree of the countryside, where we could see the sunset and moon rise at the same time.  Now I'm very partial to sunsets so I was ready to go but I didn't see how it could be my memories of Key West's sunsets or the sunsets from the airport mesa in Sedona AZ but I was willing because, did I mention how much I love sunsets?

Here we go about 20 minutes from Tellico, nearer Coker Creek TN, off Hwy 68, up and up we climb.  There is the sign, Buck Bald Mountain in the Cherokee National Forest.  One lane well maintained gravel, rock road.  We headed up about 30 mph, Jerry assured me we could come down much slower, well pass one car on the way up, over to the side so we can both get by, yep wider than it looked.  Whew!

Jerry said, "are you ready?"  We rounded the switchback curve and OMG, there before us was the handiwork of our God!  Laid out before us was sure enough, a 360 degree view of NC, GA and TN.  This site used to be the home of a fire tower (far tar) and it was obvious a perfect spot for that.

I revert back to the first feeling I had when I viewed the Grand Canyon.  AZ doesn't have anything on TN.  My goodness it was beautiful. and it does take your breath away.  I'm devoting large size pictures so you can get a 2 dimensional feeling of the awesomeness.  We discussed our friends Mike & Michelle from Canada and know this will definitely be a place we will visit when they come to town.

I changed the settings on my new camera to sunsets and wow, the color and detail was much better.  There happened to be a forest fireon the mountain across from us and I'm sure that added to the vibrant colors of the sunset.

If you can see  the V cut in the two mountains, that's where the Hiawassee River cuts through the mountains, Etowah is just to the right over that mountain.  Oh my, guess that's the difference in girls and boys, when I was growing up I never knew this place existed, whereas Jerry just ran the roads and didn't think twice about taking off on a forest road.  He has other places to show me so I'm gonna make the most of it.  We also have plans to take Taylor to some of these places when we are back in July.

We decided  to have our own fire and Jerry likes my firestarters made with toilet paper rolls, dryer lint and candle wax.  They work really well.  Jerry had taken some wood and we just sat on top of the world enjoying the stars, views, talking about life & "stuff" and being in the moment.

The heat from the fire is just right as it's a little chilly up so high.  We should have taken marshmallows or hot dogs and cooked out supper up here.

Jerry had it all planned.  Here I am with a glass of wine, quilt wrapped around me to keep me warm and a hoodie.  What more could one ask for?  I'd say if your a practicing dating, this has all the right elements.  I sure would take this over Olive Garden any day of the week!  LOL

Had to try my hand at a little artsy photography!  It looks like this glass is floating on water rather than a picnic table.  I thought it turned out pretty good.  Jerry said I should have tried it in black & white.  I'l try doing that in Picasa one day.  I like all the different colors though.

Wanted to use my self timer but forgot how to set my back fill light setting on my camera.  Then I remembered coming off the mountain that I had to flip my flash up for it to work.  Oh well, still nice shot of Jerry, me and Mark and then one of Jerry and Mark with a wine glass between them.  BTW the wine was from Savannah Shores winery in Etowah, so we were keeping it local!
The stars looked so close where we were, when we got back we tried to find the same ones and they looked so far away.  It was good to be alone on top of the world. 

Then, I heard a car, actually a truck.  I said, "that truck sound awfully close."  Then we realized we were not going to be along any more.  You have never seen three people move so fast.  Jerry took the cooler and poured the ice on the fire coals to put them out, Mark and I picked up the chairs and were off to the truck.  Of course it was pitch black up here by then, my phone was in the car and I couldn't see so Jerry pulled his phone out and gave me the light to see down the steps.  By the time we got to the car the big old "red neck" truck pulled into the parking area.  We were ready to jump in the truck and lock the doors.  The truck had dark tinted windows but I'd say it was a couple coming up to park.  On our way down we passed another "red neck" truck coming up.

So, it was time to go for us and I'll have to say my "date" would be one I would go back on anytime.  Everything was perfect.  Thanks, Jerry.