Travel

Conference Time

Last week I had the great pleasure of attending the KnowBe4 conference in Orlando. (Official hashtag: #KB4Con18). This was without a doubt the best tech conference I have ever attended. Not only were there absolutely dynamic speakers, all attendees were treated to the best food!  I’m talking some of the healthiest stuff I have ever seen at any conference.

I’ve mentioned KnowBe4 before. This is the vendor we use at the city to train, test and generally harass our end-users (OK, maybe not harass). (KnowBe4 website) With just a small part of their product, I can train my co-workers on the latest ways the “bad guys” try to use social engineering to do well, bad stuff. I will admit that I enjoy sending out simulated phish emails. Why? Because it shows me where are weak links are. And this gives me the means to do targeted training to make our city network, and by association everyone’s home PC/Network, that much more secure. I don’t do it to shame someone or hold it over anyone’s head. Since I have been an instructor of some sort for very many years, I use this primarily as a training tool. But on to the conference itself.

Other than the hour plus, each way, drive on I4 (A.K.A. the devil’s highway), and being in Orlando (way too big and crazy for me), everything else went beautifully. The folks at KnowBe4 went above and beyond in this, their first ever conference.

The opening keynote speaker was Kevin Mitnick, or as he likes to call himself “The World’s Most Famous Hacker”, a title he lives up to. If you don’t know who he is, take a moment to read his Wikipedia page, even if it a bit light on his history. Kevin gave us many demonstrations of current hacks, all of which arrive via an inconspicuous email. And all of which are very nasty. But the one hack that scared me the most was when he showed how Google’s two-factor authentication (2FA) could be hacked. Google has always been one of the toughest to crack since they stay on the cutting edge of all technologies. As a big user of many Google services, this is troublesome.

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Me and Kevin Mitnick

The keynote speaker for the next day was Frank Abangale. I have to admit that I did not recognize his name. But once I heard his story I knew how he was. Here is his Wikipedia page for you to educate yourself. Frank is considered one of the foremost experts on imposters and forgery. Steven Spielberg made a movie “Catch Me If You Can” starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank and Tom Hanks as FBI Agent Carl Hanratty. I have not seen this movie, but I see it available on Amazon Prime so I will correct that error very soon. And if I caught his reference, he was also the inspiration for the TV show “White Collar”.  His family story and subsequent talk on how to keep safe with online financial sources was very eye-opening.

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Myself and Frank Abangale

Another fantastic speaker was Roger A. Grimes (he wants you to know he is not related to the Canadian political figure with the same name), the best-selling author of several tech books. KnowBe4 even included a copy of his “A Data-Driven Computer Security Defense” in the big ol’ backpack they gave every attendee. The big takeaway from his two talks was the point that you have to determine what your biggest exploitable problem is, and fix that first. Common sense, which as we all know, is always in short supply.

One thing that I really was happy to see was the inclusion of women speakers. KnowBe4 has several women in executive roles throughout the company, and that makes me very happy. Since I have two granddaughters, one of which is very interested in the sciences, I fully support women (and really anybody) in STEM (Science – Technology – Engineering – Mathematics). One of the first questions Wifey® asked me was if there were women presenters. I was so very happy to say yes!

There was one thing missing though. No vendor room. Every other conference I’ve been to there is always a room for vendors. Not only can one make some great contacts with products and services that one doesn’t know about, vendors always have cool swag (freebie gifts). I’ll have to check with my manager, but I think a conference is how we found out about KnowBe4. It may not have been in the vendor area, it may have been word of mouth from another attendee (word of mouth is ALWAYS the best advertisement).

Sorry, this is such a broad overview, but I could write about ten pages if I covered the entire 3 days. All I can say is “I’m ready for KB4Con19!”

Peace,
B

Twitter  FaceBook

I Call Shenanigans

Floriduh is supposed to be “The Sunshine State”.  Not this week.  And I really need it to be. I have a PC Security conference in Orlando starting this evening and running through Friday evening. To save my employer a bit of money, I picked a cheaper (by half price) hotel, just down the street from the hotel where the conference will be held. The plan was to park my truck and walk back and forth. I did this for two reasons, one, I don’t want to have to pay the parking fees at both hotels, and second, the walk will replace at least some of the missed elliptical time.  Not to mention, I doubt an Uber driver will want to pick up that short of a trip (0.3 miles according to Google Maps).

But no… There is a big low-pressure system off our west coast and big high-pressure system off the east coast. And between the two of them, we got nothing but rain.  As one of the weather guys on a local channel posted:

 

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Thanks to Brian Shields of WFTV for the image (and no I didn’t ask permission)

 

So I guess I’ll be paying double parking fees…

Sheesh!

Peace,
B

Twitter  FaceBook

Bike Week ’18

Today the 77th annual Daytona Beach Bike Week starts. Originally this event was nothing more than a small dirt bike race. It has now ballooned into a 10-day event (I hesitate to call it a festival) that floods our local streets with upwards of 250,000 motorcycle “enthusiasts”.  We get everything from the rich doctors and lawyers riding their $100,000 custom bikes (which only come out of the garage for this event – they’re not even ridden into town, the bikes are usually in a toy-hauler to protect them from the elements – or they just rent them), to some very serious biker types (not exactly Hell’s Angels or Outlaws, or at least if they are gang members they’re smart enough to remove their colors before coming into town). Usually, the majority of the bikers are your everyday rider that goes out on weekends and when the weather is nice kind of folks.

But that doesn’t make them your regular tourist. Remember, Daytona is tourist income based town. We have four major events every year that keep the revenue up. Two bike events, and two NASCAR race events. Everybody that I know that works in the hospitality or food industry (both of my sons, one ex-daughter-in-law, and one current girlfriend) will tell you that they’d rather have bikers over race fans any day.

Race fans, which will number in the 75,000 to 100,000 range depending on which race week we’re talking about, don’t seem to understand that a small town like Daytona cannot handle that many people at the same time. Our restaurants will have waiting times of two hours or more, run out of certain high demand items (i.e. snow crabs), and just generally be a miserable place to be. Us locals tend to stay at home during these times.

Bikers, on the other hand, have no problem waiting for a place to eat. They just go grab a beer a hang out in the parking lots when there’s no room anywhere else. Most restaurants will have one or more “Beer Tubs” in the parking lot with pretty girls in short shorts and crop tops selling beer (usually at the same price as usual – quantity is king).

When we first came to Daytona (1997), most the bike week festivities took place just a mile or two up the street from our apartment. So other than the Harley’s gunning up and down the road outside the windows making it impossible to listen to the TV, it was no big deal to walk up to the “party area” have some fun and walk home.

But then Daytona did it’s usual (got greedy and/or stupid). They had already driven the Spring Break TV shows away, we still do get some college kids, but not like it used to be when MTV would be here every year. Now they set their sights on Bike Week. Daytona Harley Davidson (the area where everything happened just up the road from us) used to rent the big grassy area across from the Harley shop really cheap. I’ve heard anything from $1000 to as cheap as $1, so I don’t know for sure. But I do know that city raised the “rent” to $10,000. So, the guy that owned the Harley dealership closed that shop and moved north to an unincorporated area of the county. He built a huge complex. Not only his new Harley Shop but a hotel, restaurants, a truck shop, even a motorcycle mechanic school. The area is called Destination Daytona (even though it’s not within the city limits). There is also a nice covered open-air concert pavilion.

One other area that the bikers still go is Main Street. Yes, Daytona really has a Main Street, although it’s only on the beachside, once you cross the bridge it’s Fairview Ave. The city engineers loved to play with street names back in the day. This place gets packed. It’s lined with bars and clubs on both sides. You’ll see every type of motorcycle you can think of parked along the road, all nice and neatly backed in. The crowds are worse than Disney on the 4th of July (and I’ve been to Disney on the 4th, it’s freaking crazy).  About every 100 feet you’ll find a “Beer Tub” as I describe above, except the prices are a bit higher on Main Street.

And the people! You’ll see so much leather you think the Village People are performing. Men and women in chaps (and there’s no telling what some of the women are or aren’t wearing under the chaps). Leather jackets or vests all over the place. It’s a bit scary to see what appears to be a gynecologist or a real estate broker wearing all leather, drinking a Mich Ultra, while talking to the tax accountant, also wearing leather chaps, a leather vest with a very clean Harley patch (only worn once a year) and also drinking a Mich Ultra, probably raspberry flavored. While their rented Harley’s sit out at the curb. Best patch I’ve ever seen during a bike week event said: “$10,000 and 10,000 miles doesn’t make you a biker!”

Standing right next to them will be the Euro bikers. We get many from Europe that come over for this event. They will have the BMWs and Triumphs parked out front. They are easy to recognize, as they will be considerably younger, and have the Kevlar padded road suits instead of leather. Oh, they’ll be drinking Grolsch or Stella Artois (which I think is Belgium for Budweiser).

The official website for the event is: http://officialbikeweek.com/ (Not real original is it?). Sometimes a location will have a webcam streaming, so look for those if you’d like.

And in case you’re wondering, no I do not ride. Like most things in life, I’m simply a voyeur. I’ve only been on a motorcycle once in my entire life when I was about 8.  Just doesn’t appeal to me, nor do jet skis, four-wheelers or any of that ilk.  Oh well.

And I’m not complaining about the events or the bikers. I thoroughly enjoy bike week. The weather is usually beautiful (but, it does tend to rain the first weekend – very odd that’s it’s always that one weekend). I get to see some beautiful bikes as I go to and from work and sometimes so very attractive ladies on those bikes. I no longer attend any of the free concerts or other events, but we do not hesitate to go out for dinner during bike week like we do on race weeks. The bikers are much more fun.

“I’d rather laugh with the sinners than  cry with the saints. The sinners are much more fun.” ~ Billy Joel – Only The Good Die Young

Peace,
B

P.S. If you do a Google Image search for “Daytona Bike Week” you *may* want to turn “safe search” on depending on who may be looking over your shoulder (children/boss/small furry animals/etc…). You’ve been warned.

Send Lawyers, Guns, And Money

(With apologies to Warren Zevon)

I have to admit that I don’t agree with Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part 2, Act IV, Scene 2;

“The first thing we do is kill all the lawyers”

I know several lawyers and even accountants that don’t deserve such a fate.  Although many do. I think Dante had a level reserved just for those of that profession.

However, (yes another traffic rant is coming), there would be a special place in Hell, if I believed that such a place existed, for idiots that will never use a turn signal, jerks who think that using a turn signal automagically gives them right of way, and especially the asshats that refuse to drive the speed limit no matter in which lane they are blocking traffic.

‘Nuff said…

Peace,
B

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 3

This is part three of the Thanksgiving Week series, click on the links for Day 1 and Day 2.

As usual, here is the reference map;

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Wednesday, Day 3. Our itinerary for today will take us into the Cataloochee Valley, one the remote parts of The Great Smokey Mountains National Park to see if we could find some Elk. We had picked up a small tri-fold brochure from the visitor’s center in Maggie Valley on Monday.  The basic map (as pictured below) doesn’t give you much detail.

elk map

As you can see, all it does it point you in the basic direction of where Elk sightings are frequent. Since we didn’t see any Elk on the western trip to Cherokee, which is supposed to be a popular place, we went north. The brochure was clear in that once you entered the park (there is a sign), the road becomes a “ten-mile narrow gravel mountain road”. Since it was day three I was getting a little more comfortable driving the winding mountain passages. The gravel part would be new, although the road to the cabin was gravel and winding, it was not ten miles long.

So we entered the park and sure enough, the road turned to gravel. It was not too terrible a drive, in fact, it was much smoother than the road up to the cabin. But then it probably isn’t driven as often either.

I joked with Wifey® that we’re going to go around a bend and a big ol’ Elk would be blocking the way.

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Told you so

There were many bulls, cows, and even young elk all over the place. I would estimate that there were a total of 30 elk spread out over two fields. We had missed the rutting (or mating) season by just a few weeks, so there wasn’t much activity going on. Basically, they just looked at us like “What are you guys doing here this time of year?”

We followed the basic map and saw a couple of old homes, (the Caldwell House and the Palmer House), a school, and a chapel (the Palmer Chapel).  Most were from the 1890’s or so. Nothing exciting, so no pictures were taken.

So we decided to head out to our next destination, Waterrock Knob. This is located on the Blue Ridge Parkway not all that far from Waynesville or Maggie Valley.

And then the fun started.

Since the “map” didn’t really give us any info such as street names or mile markers, or even an arrow for which way to turn, we basically got lost. Wifey® has a much better sense of direction than I do, so when we came to the first unmarked intersection, she said to turn left.  And being the good husband that I am, I turned left. All was well until we came to a “T” intersection with absolutely no markers of any kind. We had no idea where we were or even which way we were going.  GPS never found a signal, and although the compass on my phone could tell us which direction we were headed, with all the twists and turns, it basically just kept spinning. Again she says to turn left. Who am I to argue? We then proceeded to drive up and over ridges, around switchbacks – you get the idea – for about 45 minutes, not seeing any structures, people, cars, just maybe the occasional chipmunk, when suddenly we hit paved road again. Of course, we still don’t have a clue as to where we are. We come up to a four-way intersection and I stop dead in the middle of it despite the “No Stopping In The Roadway” signs posted about every 10 feet in all directions.

We look up the mountain and we can see I-40 about 100 feet above us. I know if we can figure out how to get on I-40 we’ll find our way to either Asheville or Knoxville. Again “Turn left” (are you starting to see a pattern here?).  Low and behold, the left turn became an entrance to I-40!  Wifey® is a genius!

We get up on I-40 and as we come around a big bend there is a sign I didn’t expect to see; “Welcome To North Carolina”! Wait a minute! I thought we were in North Carolina! I guess somewhere during our 45-minute sightseeing excursion we crossed the line into Tennessee.  We laughed ourselves breathless!

We finally found the Parkway and made it to Waterrock Knob. It has a nice overlook, with picnic benches at the parking area, and a path to the top of the knob.

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Note the elevation

We sat at one of the picnic tables and had a quick-lunch we had prepared for the day. The view from this overlook is amazing.

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On a clear day, the mountains of  Tennessee are visible from this spot. I wouldn’t be surprised if we had driven over some of those mountains while we were lost.

Our goal here was to take the path to the top of the knob. You saw in the picture our current elevation is 5820 feet above sea level. The top of the knob is 6292 feet above sea level. The path goes up 472 feet in elevation in a short half a mile distance. That makes it (at least to us flat landers) a rather steep climb. We made it halfway to the viewing platform and called it quits. At that elevation, I could not get enough oxygen into my lungs (I have COPD) to continue.  But – hey we gave it a shot, right?

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This is as far as we made it. But at least we’re alive!

So we made it back down the parkway to Maggie Valley. We made a quick stop at the Elevated Mountain Distillery for a tour and some samples. They are a relatively new establishment in town, and very friendly. We picked up several bottles of their products as well. We then headed to Waynesville and to the BooJum taphouse that was closed the day before.  Had a couple (well actually 4 each…) of very nice brews of theirs. I bought a pint glass to bring home (which I dropped and broke while packing the car the day we left). I’ve emailed BooJum to see how I can replace it (pint glasses are not for sale on their website), but haven’t heard back from them. So if anybody is in the area and wants to pick one up for me I’ll reimburse you for everything, glass, taxes, and shipping.  Just leave a comment!

 

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A rather poor shot of the tap menu at BooJum

 

We finished the night at Haywood’s Smokehouse. This is a “don’t miss” eatery if you like Texas-style smoked BBQ.  It’s quite difficult to find, as it’s a restored house in the middle of a residential area.  But well worth the trouble.

For tomorrow, we have TurkeyDay and another waterfall to visit. Hope you’re keeping up with me!

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.

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Peace,
B