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David & Caroline Visit Sapphire 11/10-11/18

We did not travel the second week in November, because we had our friends, David and Caroline from Greenville and Waynesville come visit us in Sapphire. We had all been together at LEAF Festival in October and planned to get together for some hiking and fun. Glad we made it happen so soon. It was great sharing our mountains with them. They arrived Saturday evening. We had dinner at home, followed by chatting around the fire, then an intense game of Rummikub, in which Wiley took all three rounds. I usually win, so I am guessing he was actually trying this time, because his techie friend was here, so yeah. I am competitive and don’t like to think he usually doesn’t care enough to play his hardest and just let’s me win…Anyhow, it was a lovely evening.

Sunday morning, I made bacon & egg muffins, which were a hit, then we were ready for the trail. It was 36 degrees, so we bundled up, loaded up the puppies, and headed to nearby Panthertown to hike the moderate 2mi. out-and-back Greenland Creek Trail. I highly recommend this one for children and inexperienced hikers. We were surprised the Cold Mountain parking area was as full as it was given the weather. Lots of cold weather committed hikers out there. We hiked through the typically muddy waterfull rhododendron forest to the giant boulders and fabulous Greenland Creek (or Holly) Falls. We took some pics, had a snack, then I wanted to attempt to go to the top of the falls, where I’d seen people in the past. We clawed our way up the steep dense left side of the waterfall, but did not find an easy access to the top of the falls, so we just kept going along the creek, past a beautiful cascade, until the trail petered out. When its warmer and we can be in shorts and river sandals, not worried about getting wet in the icy waters, I’ll return and make my way to the top. It’s a mission now. We hiked back on the Greenland Creek Trail until we reached the Mac’s Gap Trail. We decided to take this alternate route back to the parking lot, since we’d always taken the same in and out, and wanted to try another trail. It was definitely drier through the forest and away from the water, not a bad option if you want to see varied scenery. Greenland Creek is definitely one of my favorite local hikes and a great one to share with visitors. There’s a lot of bang for your buck, following the water most of the way, then the awesome boulder playground and gorgeous waterfall payoff at the end. If you haven’t been, get there!

After our hike, we’d worked up an appetite. We returned home to the curried chicken salad, I’d made. Our ethnic food loving friends were big fans. I was thrilled to find out Caroline has been a pomegranate fan since childhood, like me. She was overjoyed by the perfect pomegranate, I had for lunch and the pomegranate cutting hack, I shared with her. It’s the little things. After our late lunch, Caroline and David headed home. They were such wonderful, easy guests. We told them to come back anytime. Fun sharing our mountain wonderland with people, who enjoy it as much as we do.

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Roan Mountain State Park & Carvers Gap 11/2-4/18

We had been wanting to return to Roan Mountain State Park since our last visit in August of 2017, but were unable to reserve a spot all spring or summer. November was later than we would typically go mountain camping, but it’s Roan Mountain and when you can get a spot there, you go. So, we went. We had a hard time getting out of town due to systems issues, Wiley was having to manage for work. We left Sapphire just in time to catch a take your breath away Maxfield Parrish sunset over the Ingles in Brevard. While Wiley worked in Happy, I went in the grocery to get our weekend’s provisions. Stocked up, we hit the road again, making it as far as the TN line before we had to stop again for Wiley to put out some more fires at work. We went ahead and ate dinner while stopped at the TN Welcome Center near Erwin, TN. We did not arrive at Roan until 9:30 Friday night, which is unusual for us. We typically arrive for a weekend of camping in time to at least do a short hike, but with daylight savings and work crises, that was not the case. Wiley was none too happy, plus, to add insult to injury, the scenic more wooded and private campground loops, where we had camped last time, were closed for the season, so we were, basically, in a field type parking lot campground loop, which is not at all the type of camping we are used to and it was cold to boot. Wiley wanted to know, why I had brought him there at that time of year, and said to make note to not do it again…

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Transylvania County Farmers Market/HalloweenFest, Caesars Head, Greenville, Keowee Toxaway 10/27-29/18

We packed a lot in to this couple of days, but what a perfect fall weekend! We were going to camp at Hollywood on Friday night, but the weather was rainy and cold, so we stayed in Sapphire at home by the fire. We got up bright and early Saturday morning, packed up Happy, grabbed the puppies, and headed down the mountain to Brevard for the Farmers Market and HalloweenFest. Where better to celebrate Halloween than Transylvania County?!! We walked around the Farmers Market, shared a Great Harvest triple berry bar while listening to some great bluegrass, then walked over to Quotations for chai, coffee, and a breakfast sandwich. So many fabulous costumes passed on their way to the parade, as we sat outside enjoying our breakfast and beverages. We ran into Brevard and Cashiers friends at the festival, which was fun. We really do love Brevard and all the time we spend in our “big city” down the mountain. It is a wonderful small town with such a vibrant spirit and great sense of community. It is like going back in time. Reminds me of my years on Nantucket. Special place.

We left Brevard and drove towards Greenville via Caesars Head. We stopped by the Connestee Falls “Park” for the first time. We were disappointed that it was merely an overlook with no park or trails to access the area. The falls are part of the Conesstee Falls neighborhood, which has the most fabulous extensive trail system, but is not open to the public. We are fortunate to have hiked there with friends that live there. We were blown away by the trails and the beauty there. It rivaled any state park, we’ve visited.


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LEAF Festival, Black Mountain, NC 10/18-21/18

“I want to live in a music festival forever”. I attended Black Mountain Music Festival as a college student in 1993 with my then boyfriend, Rusty and our tribe of Deadheads from Spartanburg, SC, where I was a senior in college. It was my introduction to the music festival experience, so foreign and wondrous for this sheltered, girl’s prep school, then women’s college, conservatively raised, Memphis girl. We were at the festival to attend the wedding of our friends, getting married there that weekend. We camped, saw great live music, and hiked to the mountaintop for a true hippy wedding, priestess, flower head wreath, and all. For me the festival was a revelation. It would influence me in so many ways, altering my future choices and rituals in ways I only now realize, 25 yrs later. The festival morphed from hippy free for all, Black Mountain Music Festival, to non-profit, Woodstock for families, Lake Eden Arts Festival (LEAF) in 1995. After returning from 2yrs, teaching in Dallas, in Spring of 1996, I attended LEAF with dear friend and fellow Spartanburg Day School teacher, Daingerfield Ashton, his daughter, Rachel, and teacher friend, Chuck Kayser. After having been away for a couple of years then returning, it felt like coming home. I was elated to be there and share it with my people. I was hooked! I have now attended both spring and fall LEAF, missing only a few here and there for over two and a half decades. My children, Ashe and Miles, now 18 and 20, have grown up at LEAF. They have festival friends, that they have made over the years, that they see twice a year at the festival and pick right up, as though they have never been apart. Miles is spending his 18th birthday Nov. 17th at a show at the Orange Peel with his lifelong LEAF friend, Cooper. Despite Ashe and Miles’ fairly traditional upbringing in conservative Greenville, SC, they have been exposed to the open minded, multi-cultural, arts rich world of LEAF since they were born. I am so grateful to have been able to give them this education and for them to be a part of this fabulous community, that is LEAF.

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Greenville Meetings, Blue Ridge, GA Fun, & Standing Indian Hiking 10/12-14/18

Got dash puppy, will travel! Pippa has taken to riding in the dash cubby in Happy, lately. She hyper focuses for hours, hunting the leaves in the hood or caught in the wipers or imaginary critters when there are no leaves. It’s really funny! We drove down the mountain to Greenville, Thursday evening to spend the night in Julianne’s driveway, so Wiley could wake up to be there first thing Friday morning for company meetings. After work on Friday, we were to head to my longtime friend, Suzanne’s in the mountains of Blue Ridge, GA for the weekend. We woke Friday morning, ate in the van, then parked in Wiley’s company parking lot. I stayed in the van and hung out with the puppies in the morning while Wiley was in meetings. My friend, Kathy, who was also going to Suzanne’s, came to get me at lunchtime, so I could ride with her to Blue Ridge. Wiley and the puppies would come later. Kathy and I had a fun road trip. It ended up being an hour longer than normal due to Kathy missing a turn, but we were so busy chatting, we didn’t mind. I was thrilled to arrive and see Suzanne. It had been six months, which was too long.

Wiley arrived just in time for a big Blue Ridge dinner at Suzanne’s. It was a house full of friends and relations, totaling 11 people. Suzanne had cooked chili and cornbread, I made a big salad, and Suzanne’s mom baked a to die for coconut custard pie. I cooked a lamb shank for Wiley, as he’s doing the Low FODMAPs diet. Typically, I eat what Wiley eats since it’s just the two of us, but I was on vacation, so splurged and ate chili. We sat around the table and talked for hours. It was a really fun evening. Continue reading Greenville Meetings, Blue Ridge, GA Fun, & Standing Indian Hiking 10/12-14/18

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Freaky Friday & Wiley Sr.’s Surprise 80th Birthday Weekend Greenville 10/5-7/18

We drove to Greenville in separate vehicles, because we had family coming in for the big 80th birthday celebration and were going to be playing tour guides for the weekend. Sadly, the puppies had to go to the kennel in Cashiers, because the temps were going to be in the 90’s in Greenville, we had to entertain visiting family, and we had the party to attend. Poor puppies. It is a good thing we had Happy and the SUV and that we were in Greenville, because while I was waiting in the carpool line at Bee’s school in my SUV, the “check engine” light came on. I got Bee then headed to meet Wiley at the mechanic’s shop. We dropped off my car, which we would now be without for the weekend, piled in Happy, and headed to Paris Mtn. State Park for a little nature and hiking with Bee. We were on the way to Paris Mtn when we drove by Greenville Tech and saw the sign “Freaky Friday TODAY”. We made an obvious choice to turn into Tech and get our freak on. Bee was over the moon. She had an absolute blast at the fall carnival, complete with fun house, carnival rides, games, silly string, face painting, laser tag, etc. Bee won prizes, made friends, giggled with glee chasing us with silly string, was the only girl at laser tag, and loved me riding with her on the conference bike. We even entered the hula hooping contest. It was so special to share Freaky Friday with her, as I had done with my children and Wiley with his son. Bee is the 4th generation of Wiley’s family to attend Freaky Friday. Wiley’s late mother and Wiley Sr. used to volunteer when Wiley was a student at Sara Collins Elementary. What wonderful timing, right place, right time. It was hot, but so much fun!

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Mt. Pisgah Campground, Frying Pan Fire Tower, Graveyard Fields, BRPW 9/28-30/18

Still not ready to camp at the lower elevations due to continued warm weather in the southeast, we once again headed up to one of our go to nearby campgrounds, Mt. Pisgah Campground on the Blue Ridge Parkway for the weekend. I knew it was a little early for fall color, but hoped there would be some. There was hardly any. Since returning home, I have read that we our 5 days behind normal color schedule, so we were way early. The lack of color did not put much, if any of a dampener on our weekend. We had a fabulous time!

Friday, we arrived early evening. We did not like the space, #A10, we had reserved online, but thankfully, there were plenty of open sites, so we moved to #B5, which was a great spot with a very private campfire/picnic area. After getting set up, we hiked from the campground over to the Pisgah Inn. The view was enshrouded in clouds when we walked up, but broke up a little bit and gave a us a hazy peak with the sun trying to break through right above looking Glass Rock before we left. Even in the clouds and haze, the backside of the Pisgah Inn, with it’s view and setting, is one of my favorite places on earth. I could sit there in those rocking chairs and stare out at the layers and layers of mountains for hours.

Continue reading Mt. Pisgah Campground, Frying Pan Fire Tower, Graveyard Fields, BRPW 9/28-30/18

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Doughton Park, Blue Ridge Parkway 8/31-9/3/18


With the children back at school, it’s open travel season. Whoo-hoo!!! We hit the road to explore farther than we had ever been on the Parkway in NC. We have camped at Peaks of Otter and Meadows of Dan on the Parkway in Virginia, but took other routes to get there. As we entered the Doughton Park Recreation Area, we loved the split rail fencing and ridge top meadows on either side of the Parkway. Just before the campground, captivated, we had to stop at the Alligator Back Overlook to view the spectacular pre-sunset sky, lit up with gorgeous light on the clouds and an amazing view. It was quite a welcome and a good indicator of what was to come that weekend.

We drove into the small RV section of the Doughton Campground, MP 239 to our assigned campsite #A14, but decided it was the least desirable on the loop, not wooded and on top of the neighbors. We spoke with the ranger then chose a better wooded, more private spot #A4, just thrilled that Labor Day weekend there were any available. We have found much success getting non-reservable available campsites at the Parkway campgrounds, which is great. Sadly, the entire campground was made to suffer one travel trailer running their generator all hours permitted…We had gotten there at dark, so decided to stay the night then evaluate our other options in the morning. After our morning hike the following day, the generator was at full tilt, disturbing the peace and serenity, we had gone there to enjoy. We hiked over to the Doughton Van/Tent Campground across the Parkway. Thankfully, we were able to get a perfect wooded site that Happy just barely fit in. Site #B20 had an amazing dropped campfire/picnic area on a creek below the parking pad. It was just what we were looking for. Great move to the quiet tent area.

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Ashe’s big move to the Big Easy! 8/19-25/18


I left without Happy, Wiley, Nigel and Pippa to hit the road with my daughter, Ashe bound for NOLA on her new adventure, transferring to Tulane. It was an unforgettable mother-daughter road trip and week, getting her settled in her new city. It was HOT, but we were so busy having fun and enjoying the time together, I almost, almost, didn’t notice the oppressive, soul crushing HEAT.

On Saturday, we returned from dropping Miles off at Asheville School, camping at Rocky Bluff, and hiking at Max Patch. Ashe and I had planned to leave for New Orleans on Monday and drive straight through. She was no where near ready to go when I returned home…By Sunday morning, I had decided that driving straight through was not what I wanted to do. I got Ashe up and we whirled into action trying to wrap up the packing, so we could leave that afternoon to drive to Auburn, the half way point to spend the night. We got all packed and loaded then hit the road before 3:00. I had talked about camping at Chewacla State Park in Auburn, but that didn’t jive with Ashe’s road trip plan. We ended up getting a room at Tru hotel right across the road from Chewacla. It was right around $100, so nice and new. I had never stayed at this brand, but can tell you it is a carbon copy of Aloft. We were pleased with our find. I was so happy with the decision to break up the trip. Good call!


Drove through torrential ran most of both days. I did almost all the driving, due to the conditions. By the time we drove into New Orleans, the clouds parted and the sun shone down on us. It was a lovely welcome to Ashe’s new city. We drove to her new address and were so thrilled to see in person for the first time her new home. What incredible good fortune. She’s a lucky girl. Here’s the wonderful cosmic story: In June, upon mentioning to a tennis friend of mine here in the mountains (coincidentally, also a Memphis girl), that Ashe was transferring to Tulane, my friend told me that her best friend lives in NOLA, spends the summer up here too, and we needed to meet when she arrives for the summer. I then happened to mention that I was stressed, because Ashe was still overseas, backpacking around Europe for a month before returning to London for her internship for the rest of the summer and had just heard from Tulane that there was no on-campus housing available for transfer students. Ashe had asked me to help find her housing, since she was not able to call anyone or in a position to deal with it. My friend said, you’re not going to believe this, but my NOLA friend, has a pool/guest house. She isn’t here yet, because her tenant just moved out and she is having the carpet replaced then headed up to the mountains. She then sent me the friend’s contact info. The two of us talked and just like that, Ashe had her own little house, less than a mile from campus. When Ashe returned from overseas, the four of us got together for dinner here in the mountains. Ashe and her new landlord, hit it off smashingly well. I felt a lot better, knowing there would be a mom, I now knew, right there and Ashe would be safe behind their gate in their backyard. So grateful for the miraculous way this all came together. Simply, meant to be.

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Asheville School Move-in, Rocky Bluff Campground, & Max Patch 8/17-18/18

The morning we left to take Miles back to school, we got the call confirming his mono test was positive. What a way to start senior year…

One of the perks of being a senior at Asheville School is move-in day a day early and senior banquet prior to the underclassman arriving. We got Miles moved in and all settled, said our goodbyes, then made a snap decision to head up to Hot Springs to camp at Rocky Bluff in order to hike Max Patch on the AT at the NC/TN border, a longtime bucket list hike, the following day. Ashe was home packing for her big move to NOLA and Tulane. I would be leaving Wiley and the puppies that coming week to take go with Ashe to get moved in and acclimated to her new city. Rather than going to hang with the hippies for two nights at Darkstar Orchestra at Pisgah Brewing Company in Black Mtn, as planned, we decided a quiet couple of days camping and hiking together was in order, after all the craziness of traveling with the family then getting both kids ready for school. We blew off Dark Star and drove up the mountain from Asheville to Hot Springs. We had never been to this area of WNC before. Hot Springs was tiny and cute. We just drove on through, eager to get to the campground to see if we could get a campsite, if we couldn’t, we were just going to go to Darkstar.

We arrived at Rocky Bluff in Pisgah National Forest and were thrilled there was availability. The campground was a little rough with what looked like a few folks living there permanently, but it was ok. I am not adding it to my list of favorite campgrounds, but was torn, because the immediate area is gorgeous and the hiking from the campground was wonderful. Upon arrival, we hiked from our campsite on the lush 1.2 mi. Spring Creek Nature Trail through a hardwood-pine forest, rhododendron, wildflowers, mushrooms galore, and along the cascading mountain stream known for its trout fishing. Once part of the Brook’s farm an old house foundation, rock fences and a cemetery remain. Half way through our hike, the sky opened up and poured on us. We raced back to Happy. We were drenched and had to hang all our clothes up to dry in the van. Nigel and Pippa were not happy…To add insult to injury, it thundered and lightninged throughout the night, which terrifies them. Poor puppies had a rough night.

Continue reading Asheville School Move-in, Rocky Bluff Campground, & Max Patch 8/17-18/18