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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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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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Highlands Botanical Graden, Van Hook Glade, Cliffside Lake, & Whiteside Mountain 7/13-15/18

Spent a wonderful cool overcast weekend hiking and camping near home, but a world away at Van Hook Glade in Nantahala National Forest, just outside Highlands, NC.

On the way to Van Hook, we stopped to visit the Highlands Botanical Garden, we’d heard so much about. It’s was absolutely gorgeous! We hiked around the lake, through the bog, and into a fairy forest on the Lake Loop and Coker Rhododendron Trails. The water lilies were blooming, which was just icing on everything else that was in full bloom throughout. A must when in Highlands. Glad we stopped.

We arrived at Van Hook at dinner time to our favorite large wooded site, #19. We were warned by the campground host of a very active 350lb bear. We, fortunately and unfortunately, didn’t cross paths during our visit, although the trash at the dumpster was strewn Sunday morning.

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Family, Family, & More Family June 6th-July 7th, 2018

June 6-10th, my dad, Uncle Fred, Aunt Wannelle, Cousin Joe, his wife, Kimmie, and their three precious babies, Lilli, Isaac, and Micah came to visit. We had a ball! They loved being here and Wiley and I loved sharing it with all of them. In our neighborhood, we played in the river and hiked to the falls. We went to the Bear Tracks Gem Mine, which was a huge hit with the children and adults alike. Friday night we had a ball with a picnic dinner, playground fun, and music at Groovin’ on the Green at the Village Green in Cashiers. Saturday, we all drove up to Highlands for the Motoring Festival, which is what brought my dad and uncle to visit from Memphis and Jacksonville in the first place. We saw the cars and walked around in town a little bit. Afterward, we had a fabulous visit to Dry Falls, followed by a picnic lunch and swimming at Cliffside Lake Recreation Area. We crammed in a ton of fun, but still had so much we didn’t get to. Can’t wait for them to return. Already making plans. Dad says he wants to see Fall here. He’s shooting for October. It is one of my favorite times in the mountains for sure. Hurry back, Family!

June 16-23rd, Wiley’s dad, Wiley Sr, stepmom, Jolene, his sister, Debbie, her husband, Jamey, their three grown children, Sarah, Clay, and Haley, Wiley’s stepbrother, Mark, Wiley, and I spent a HOT week on Pawleys Island, SC for our annual Wimberly family beach trip. Us mountain folk had a hard time with the heat, but survived. It was nice spending time with family, particularly with Debbie and her family, who live in Indiana, so we only see them twice a year. We ate a bunch of seafood, took lots of long walks on the beach early in the morning and early evening, made our annual visits to my beloved Brookgreen Gardens and Huntington Beach State Park, and drank several frozen drinks, out of necessity;) We were grateful to witness Haley battle a large stingray and bring it in on the shore early one morning. It was no small feat, quite an accomplishment. It was so cool to be a part of her big catch. We did not succumb to the heat, but were oh, so grateful to return to our cool mountains after a week in the heat. Sometimes you have to leave home and return in order to appreciate, why you love it so and what makes it home. Ahhhh, mountains. Definitely, a mountain girl!

July 3-7th, my older brother, Dick, his son, Harrison, my younger brother, Ben, his wife, Lyndsy, and their three boys, Abe, Henry, and Gideon converged on the mountains from Atlanta and NJ. Ben and company arrived first and made haste to get down to the river to swim and play in the falls. This was their first visit to Sapphire. They fell instantly in love. Dick and Harry arrived just in time for a quick dinner followed by the fabulous neighborhood professional fireworks show. It was quite a welcome for my family. Thanks, Burlingame! We hiked to Rockhouse Falls and Double Fern Falls, followed by a picnic lunch and river/falls play at Miller Falls, all in our neighborhood. Dick and Harry headed back to Atlanta for work. I was so glad they were able to come, even for just a short time. The boys loved all the rocks and stones they mined for at Bear Tracks Gem Mine. Always a favorite of our guests. We spent an afternoon at Fairfield Lake in Sapphire Valley, which was a huge hit. Everyone loved the sandy beach, swimming dock, and breathtaking view of Bald Rock. Will definitely take them back there next time. We got babysitters and took Ben and Lyndsy out for a belated Anniversary dinner at the Greystone Inn at Lake Toxaway. It was a lovely dinner followed by drinks at the fire pit overlooking the lake. it was the perfect kid-free evening. Their last full day here, it rained, so we made alternate plans. We went to Joccasee Gorges Visitors Center, followed by swimming at the indoor pool at Sapphire Valley Rec. Center. We did not let the rain dampen our fun. After swimming, it had cleared up enough for us to head to Cashiers for Groovin’ on the Green. We had a picnic dinner, the boys played football with the herd of boys, we enjoyed the music, there was even some dancing. Unfortunately, the rain returned, so Wiley and I headed home. The wild bunch stayed, rain and all. Cashiers even did their belated fireworks display in the rain. So glad my crew got to enjoy it. It was a fun-filled week with tons of activity. Again, we just scratched the surface of things to do in our area. They’ll have to come back for more adventures.

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Linville Falls-Blue Ridge Parkway, Catawba Falls 6/1-3/18

We spent the weekend at one of our favorite places to camp, Linville Falls on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever been. It is truly unplugged. We had no cell service or internet all weekend. It was just what Wiley needed after a stressful few months of work.

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Sapphire, Asheville, Brevard, Asheville, Sapphire, & Summerville, SC 5/25-28/18

Really? You ask yourself upon reading the title of this post. Yes, really. This is the story of my life, except for the new addition of Summerville, this go around. Busy Memorial Day weekend, lots of driving and rain, but lots of fun! After driving back and forth to Brevard all week, taking care of a dear friend, who had retinal surgery, I drove my car to Asheville Friday to get a jump on moving Miles out of the dorm before Saturday’s pick up after graduation. Upon arrival, Miles insisted we drive across town to Moe’s to eat. Afterward, we packed up his room and I headed back towards Brevard to meet Wiley and the puppies in Happy at Hollywood. We boondocked at Hollywood for the night to enjoy White Squirrel Festival in downtown Brevard with Holly, her children, and her sister, Kristi. We ate dinner from the Oskar Blues Chub Wagon and listened to some great music outdoors on Main St. It was a lovely evening with only a few sprinkles, thank goodness.

Saturday, we met Holly & Co. at Mayberry’s in Brevard for breakfast. We sat outside with the puppies, which was nice. Mayberry’s is our breakfast/brunch spot downtown. They have these insane waffle or pancake breakfast sandwiches with eggs, cheese, and sausage or bacon. Once every 6mos, we’d treat ourselves to one, but now we are on a gluten free/low FODMAP diet for Wiley’s IBS, so we got a yummy scramble bowl without the evil cheese, mushroom, or onion. We are adapting.

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Greenville, Rained Out Camping Bee Weekend, Another Staycation in Sapphire…5/17-20/18

We boondocked in the in-laws driveway in Greenville Thursday night after going to a belated Mother’s Day dinner with Wiley Sr, Jolene, and Wiley III at Portofinos, a Wimberly family favorite. Our plans for the weekend were to take Bee camping at Curtis Creek Campground in Pisgah National Forest in Old Fort, NC, to hike from the campground, and to visit Catawba Falls nearby on the way in or out. Sadly, with an entire weekend of rain forecasted, we opted to pick Bee up and bring her home to Sapphire. She was more than happy with that, so excited about coming to the mountains she loves to explore and play with all her toys at Mimi (me) and Pop’s (Wiley).

With breaks in the rain Friday and Saturday, we made the most of our time with Bee, exploring in the neighborhood and nearby areas. We got rained on, but that didn’t dampen our spirits or our sense of adventure. Friday early evening, during a brief pause in the rain, we drove the golf cart down to Miller Park to check out the river and falls flow from all the rain. We could not go past the bottom step at the falls, because the water was so high. Bee was disappointed that we could not swim and play, but it was too rough. Told her we’d try again over the next couple of days.

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Mother’s Day Weekend Mountain Staycation 5/11-13/18

We were supposed to spend 5/11-13 at Thunder Rock Campground in Copperhill, TN 1.8 miles from the Ocoee Whitewater Center. We had been looking forward to exploring this area that we had only ever driven through in the past. There was to be good hiking right from the campground. Sadly, upon hearing the 90 degree weather forecast for the weekend, we cancelled, deciding to stay home, where it was going to be in the 70’s. We do not like to run the A/C in Happy, because of the noise. We prefer staying where it’s cool at higher elevations, where we can have the widows open to enjoy fresh air, not have noisy A/C. That being said, when you’re lucky enough to live in the Sapphire, NC, staying home is not a bad thing, but instead a chance to explore our own area, where we have only scratched the surface since moving here in summer 2016, because we are always traveling.

Saturday, we did a fabulous hike with our fur babies. We discovered a treasure hidden in plain sight, only 5min from home. Just South of Gorges State Park, there is a trailhead at Brewer Rd and Hwy 281 that takes you to a series of 10+ waterfalls on the Thompson River, which drops into Lake Jocassee.

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Black Rock Mountain State Park, GA 5/4-6/18

What a perfect spring camping weekend at Black Rock Mountain, Georgia’s highest elevation State Park. Only a little over an hour from Sapphire, but a new adventure for us. We fell in love with it! It’s absolutely gorgeous!

Took a short hike from the campground to Ada-HI Falls & Norma Campbell Cove. Did the tougher (elevation wise) 3mi Tennessee Rock Trail from the CG, then drove to do the Black Rock Lake Loop on our way out Sunday. Wiley loved making a canjo on Saturday morning at the Ranger led activity. The staff was super nice!

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Brevard 4/27-29/18

Took a 30 minute trek down the mountain to Brevard for the weekend. Friday was a beautiful night for my HMH jewelry’s Brevard premiere at the Color Wheel Gallery’s Grand Opening and Artist Reception. We had a great turn out, funky tunes, and delectable food. Thank you, HMH friend, Joy for the lovely pictures of the evening!

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