Thanksgiving

How We Spent Our Thanksgiving Week – The End!

This is the last of the Thanksgiving week series. Links to the rest of the series;
Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5

So our trip to Maggie Valley has come to an end, and it’s time to head home to Daytona Beach. We will miss our time in the mountains and the amazing sights we saw.

Here are a few of the pictures I didn’t post on the other days in no particular order.

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Just to prove that I’m not the only terrible photographer in the family, Wifey managed to get this shot of me on Chimney Rock with my face in the shadow of a tree.

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Some random waterfall we passed on the road. We just stopped, rolled down the window took a picture and drove off. Because that’s what tourists do!

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The tasting menu at Sierra Nevada Brewery. 

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I’ll bet Louis XVI wished he had a chandelier of Sierra Nevada bottles like this one. 

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See? I told you Wifey kept taking pictures of my butt.

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Wifey waited for over 15 minutes for this guy to get off of Pulpit Rock. She finally gave up and just took the picture anyway.  Thanks, random guy!

We, or at least I was, somewhat spoiled by the light traffic we experienced during this vacation.  Even on our trips over to Asheville traffic was not bad at all. Of course, it is the off-season for Maggie Valley, but Asheville is a large enough city to have traffic year round.  Such was not the case on the trip home. Our basic route was I26 east to I95 south. Sounds simple enough.

In my Army years, we did two tours at Fort Bragg just outside of Fayetteville, NC, for a total of 6 years or so. During this time we made many trips up and down I95, to Miami and back, at all times of the year and over just about every holiday you can think of. We have never had the traffic problems we had on this trip.  From the I26/I95 interchange to the Georgia line (about 86 miles) took us over three hours.  I have never been so frustrated in traffic in my life. Regular readers of this blog know how much I hate traffic (you can catch my thoughts on the “Elon Musk Are You Listening?” post).  The only thing that kept me sane was Wifey® finding the RV Trader website and reading me the various RVs she found.  We want to find us an RV in the next two years so we can travel more.

I’d like to give some love to a couple of places we stopped at while were in Maggie Valley and Waynesville.

First, The Buttered Biscuit.  We ate breakfast there three times. Nothing spectacular, just good food, served with a smile from very friendly folks.  Ask for Oliva if you happen to stop in. Not sure if they’re in Maggie Valley or Waynesville, as they’re at the intersection of US19 and US276. Basically on the border of each town.  (And like most restaurants in the valley, they’re closed on Tuesday. The oddest thing to me.)

One of our favorite little shops is Seven Silver Seas. Located right on US19 in Maggie Valley.  They have lots of handmade, free trade gift items from around the world at very fair prices. But be warned, it is a very “fragrant” shop. I don’t know if they have incense burning or just a heavy-duty perfume spray, but it gave Wifey® a migraine the first day we stopped in.  The second stop was a quick in and out to avoid the fragrance problem.

I have posted reviews on almost every place we stopped, ate or otherwise visited on Trip Advisor, look for “BeachDaze58” for my reviews.

And since this is the end of this series, and I haven’t played a single video yet, I thought this one would be fitting.

Enjoy! And please leave me a comment. Maybe a suggestion of another place to visit.

Peace,
B

How We Spent Our Thanksgiving Week – Day 5

This is day 5 of our Thanksgiving week series. Links to the previous days;
Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4

Once again, the reference map. Are you getting tired of this map yet?

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Day 5, the last day of being a tourist. Today we’re headed to Chimney Rock. You can see it on the map just south-east of Asheville. We decided to take the interstate this time, just to make it an easier drive, I was getting a bit tired of the winding, steep mountain roads.

Chimney Rock is a state park. It’s open all year and there is a fee. They do offer a military discount (I didn’t ask for any other discounts since I’m retired military and didn’t need to).

If you get there early enough, you can drive to the upper parking area, but it’s not very big, so you usually get directed to a lower area and they have old school buses to shuttle you up and down.

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Chimney Rock from the upper parking area.

The climb up to the top is actually 499 stairs. There is an elevator but has been a state of “renovation” for almost two years.  So the stairs are the only option. They did a good design in building the stairs. About every 12 feet or so there is a wide landing where you can step the side, enjoy the view and catch your breath. You can end up playing “leapfrog” with folks, as you pass them on one landing, only to have them pass you on the next landing while you’re stopped.  The elevation change from the upper parking area to the top of the monolith is about 315 feet.

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Looking down on the staircase and two of the wide resting areas.

There are two paths to the top. One is the stairs, the other takes you through the “Crevice path” (just a wide path in a gap), and two features they call the “Subway” and the “Grotto”.  Both paths meet up just a little way up, so you’re still climbing stairs most of the way. We chose the stairs going up and the other route on the way down.

Up the path a bit is “Pulpit Rock”;

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Wifey on Pulpit Rock

There are great views of the surrounding area from here, including Lake Lure.

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Lake Lure to the south-east.

They claim it takes an average of 25 minutes to climb the stairs to the top. I know we were nowhere near that time. But we made it, and we didn’t die!

There are more steps that continue going up the mountain that connects to another trail that will eventually lead to the top of the mountain and Hickory Nut Falls.  We had no intention of going up that far.  We headed back down the stairs this time taking the path we didn’t take going up.

The Subway is just a low area that you, well at least I did, have to duck to get through.

 

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I had to duck to get through, Wifey could stand up inside.

We stopped about halfway down to have lunch.  One of the nice things about this park is that they let you bring in food.  And they’re also pet-friendly which is cool.  We enjoyed our light lunch (and the forgotten leftover desserts from Thanksgiving) and headed the rest of the way down to the upper parking area.

From there we took the Hickory Nut Falls Trail, which takes you to the bottom of the waterfall. The trail is only about three-quarters of mile long, but it’s not paved in any way. Since we were there in late fall the path was covered with many leaves. This made it quite easy to stumble over hidden rocks and tree roots. And with an already gimpy ankle, I found the going tough.

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At the end of the trail is the falls;

This area of the park was used to film scenes in the movie “The Last Of The Mohicans”. At 404 feet, this is the second highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River.

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Aint we just the cutest thing???

That was pretty much the extent of our touring on day 5, so we headed back to the cabin. We had dinner at Legends Sports Bar in Maggie Valley.  Some awesome burgers and more local craft beer were had.

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A parting view of Chimney Rock.

Tomorrow I’ll wrap everything up and some odds & ends, and of course a traffic rant.

Hope you enjoyed. Please leave a comment or two!

Peace,
B

How We Spent Our Thanksgiving Week – Day 4

This is part four of the Thanksgiving series. You can find the first three here:
Day 1, Day 2, Day 3

The reference map for you;

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Day four is Thanksgiving day. So it’s a laid-back, no rush day for us.  We made a simple breakfast in the cabin since we didn’t want to make anyone work for us, even if they were open anyway. Then settled in to watch some of the usual parades. We watched some of the Asheville parade, which reminded us of our local parades, and some of the big Macy’s parade.

We did have one trip planned for today.  Wifey® found a small waterfall we had missed on our trip south on US276 on day 1.  We had to stop at Moore Cove since Moore is Wifey’s® maiden name. It’s not a very big waterfall, so the trek up to the top was easy.

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Not named for Wifey’s family (as far as we know)

 

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A smaller waterfall, but still very pretty

On the way down, we took a couple of side paths to see how the stream, or river, whatever the falls flow into traverse the area. Took Wifey’s® picture at a big rock on the way down.

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It takes years of practice to get your subject to stand just right so her face is in the shadow of a tree. I suck as a photographer.

The river that flows from the falls must join with another water source, as it is, to me at least, at “river” size now. It’s not very deep, which most of these fast flowing bodies of water aren’t, and it moves quite fast.  This picture is under the bridge at the bottom of the falls area.  We were quite intrigued with the lawn jockey.  Who put it there and why, and where are the missing body parts?

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Mysterious lawn jockey, or at least what’s left of him

 

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US276 bridge, you can just see the lawn jockey under the bridge.

As that was all we had planned for the day, we went home to have, as Arlo Gutherie said; “A Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat.” (See Arlo’s “Alice’s Restaurant”).  We started off with some shrimp sautéed in white wine and garlic, with a little chipotle thrown in as well.  We had purchased the shrimp at a local grocery store several days before.  The sign said “Fresh Carolina Shrimp”.  We wondered where the shrimp were harvested, were they wild caught in the ocean and trucked in or farm raised? Unfortunately, the girl at the counter had no clue. But it didn’t matter we bought them anyway.

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Fresh Carolina Shrimp?

Unlike last years Thanksgiving (a cruise with only a few pieces of overcooked sliced turkey on the buffet), this year we made our own feast. We had a small turkey breast that we roasted, sweet potatoes, asparagus with mushrooms, garlic, onions, and bacon, and cheddar garlic biscuits. We also had our leftover chocolate bourbon pecan pie and banana pudding from Haywoods Smokehouse we didn’t eat from the night before for dessert.  But as usual, we forgot about dessert when we were done. (More on this with day 5).

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Thanksgiving feast for two

There was nothing left to do on this day. So after we cleaned up the kitchen, we just hung out at the cabin.

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Looking west off the deck towards the sunset.

So that’s all for day four.  A little bit of rest for us, because tomorrow we’re climbing Chimney Rock!

Stay tuned for day 5!  And please leave a comment. Let me know if you’re enjoying the series, or if want more information about any of the places we went.

Peace,
B

How We Spent Our Thanksgiving Week – Day 2

(This is part two of the Thanksgiving Week series, part one can be found here.)

Again, here is the map for your general reference;

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Day two started off, as all the days did, bright and clear with a morning temp in the low 30’s. This was the only morning we had frost on the car, so I guess it dropped lower overnight than other nights.

After a good breakfast in the cabin, we headed out west on US19 towards Cherokee. Neither Wifey® nor I had to been to Cherokee in many, many years. We knew that Harrah’s had built a casino there (yuk), so we expected changes. What we remembered of the town was gone. US19 and US441 used to be nothing but tourist traps. You could park on one end of the “mall” and walk all the way thru to the other end without ever having to leave a store and use the sidewalk. They were all connected.  Then cross the street and walk back thru those shops to where you parked. The biggest problem was, even though there were different “shops” in the “mall” everyone had the same junk.  And I do mean junk.  Made in China tomahawks, bows & arrows, blankets and “handcrafted” jewelry.

This time, while there were still a few of the shops around, the look of the town has greatly improved. You can tell it’s a tourist town, but it’s much prettier and better kept.  I’m sure the casino had a lot to do with that.

We didn’t take any pictures of the town (it’s just buildings after all), but we did visit the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. This was not the museum I remembered from my last trip sometime in the 70’s, but it was very moving all the same.

After a short video of the Cherokee creation myth (which was really cool), you went on a self-paced tour of the rest of the displays.

Just as I was as a teenager in the 70’s I was again struck by the inhumanity the white people subjected the Native Americans too. For the Cherokee, it’s called “The Trail of Tears”. I thought it was the proper time to visit the museum since November is Native American Heritage Month.

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Quote by Chief Tecumseh, a Native American Shawnee warrior and chief, who became the primary leader of a large, multi-tribal confederacy in the early years of the nineteenth century

And to relate to this on a somewhat personal level, this is Captain Hugh Montgomery, of the 77th Highlanders. The tartan (the green and blue cloth) is the tartan of the Black Watch.  The Black Watch is a military force mostly composed of and usually commanded by a Campbell.  This is also my family’s tartan, which I wear proudly to any Celtic event I attend. Of course, the painting shows his troops overcoming the local natives (the Lower Cherokee Towns) in 1760.   Events such as this and way too many others to list here, leave me ashamed of certain aspects of my WASP heritage. In reality, his troops were sorely defeated and had to withdraw to safety.

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Captain Montgomery

We spent quite some time in Cherokee, didn’t buy much, just checking out how much had changed since our last visit. It might be nice to note that the last time “we” were in the Smokies, we didn’t know each other. This was years before we met and married (and we’ve been married almost 36 years now)!

On the way back to the cabin, we stopped at yet another waterfall. This is Soco Falls. Located just west of Maggie Valley on US19.

 

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Soco Falls

While most of the waterfalls, and some of the trails, have steps, this waterfall was mostly just a path along the road.

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See that belly there? That’s what wings and good beer will get ya!

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For some reason, Wifey kept taking pictures of my butt.  But, this is only one you’ll have to see.

That was all the sightseeing we did on day two. We tried to go to the BooJum taproom on the way home, but for some reason, they, along with many other restaurants are closed on Tuesdays! We found this quite unusual. We stopped at a little market, the Sunburst cafe that actually had two local beers on draft.  A Highland Brewing Company “Gaelic Ale” that Wifey® enjoyed and an IPA I can’t remember the name of, that was good.  But obviously not very memorable.  We finished off the night we a few more brews and some tapas at Frogs Leap Public House in Waynesville. A very enoyable day.

Hope you enjoyed day two.  Day three is up next with a visit with the Elk and getting lost in Smokey Mountain National Park.

Please leave a comment (email address is required, just to prove you’re human). But not used in any way).

Peace,
B