Monthly Archives: September 2012

North Carolina’s Fabulous Falls


The word “Transylvania” usually conjures up images of vampires and Count Dracula. In North Carolina, Transylvania is a county in the western tip of the state. It’s home to over 250 waterfalls. Most of these waterfalls are accessible to the public because they are found in three of the state’s forests and parks: Pisgah National Forest, DuPont State Forest and Gorges State Park.

I have only had a chance to visit a very small number of waterfalls in North Carolina: Looking Glass Falls and Sliding Rock in Transylvania County and Hickory Nut Falls near Chimney Rock.



Looking Glass falls is “the most photographed waterfall in the US.” Yeah, I took a lot of pictures of it myself.



Sliding Rock is a popular attraction in the summertime. You actually can slide down this slick rock to the pool at the bottom. In early May, it was too cold to go in.


Hickory Nut Falls is one of the highest waterfalls east of the Mississippi. It’s not part of the Transylvania County group of waterfalls, but rather part of Chimney Rock State Park.

I look forward to exploring more of these fabulous falls in the future: Moore Cove, Cove Creek, Courthouse, Toxaway, Connestee, Whitewater, Bridal Veil, Hooker and Triple Falls just to name a few.

So, when you think about Transylvania, think about North Carolina’s waterfalls rather than Dracula!

Dates of Visit:  May 2012

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Happy 30th Anniversary, EPCOT


I’ve posted before that my favorite of the four Walt Disney World theme parks is EPCOT. There are lots of reasons, but mostly because you can travel around the world, visiting 11 countries all in one day. When EPCOT first opened 30 years ago, I never thought I’d still be visiting the park today, having just as much fun there as I did the very first time I went.

Back in 1982, before EPCOT even opened, you could take the monorail from the Magic Kingdom to EPCOT’s construction site to get a sneak peak of what was to come. At that time, it was the largest construction project on the face of the Earth. Back then, the park gave out a full color artist’s rendering book with artwork depicting each pavilion and attraction. I still have that book and have included photos from it here.



It’s very cool to look at it and see how the park turned out. It’s pretty much as the Imagineers envisioned. Although, some attractions never made it past the “coming soon” stage like World Showcase pavilions for Israel, Africa and Spain. (Africa is represented by a refreshment station, but is of course a huge part of Animal Kingdom now.)

EPCOT is an acronym for “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.” Although it’s not called that anymore, it describes Walt Disney’s original vision for the site that is now the entire Walt Disney World Resort. He envisioned a community of the future, even before the Magic Kingdom was built. But after his death, the company decided to take another direction and give EPCOT a feeling more like a World’s Fair.

So, here we are approaching October 1, 2012, when EPCOT will celebrate its 30th anniversary. I do admit that some of the attractions are a bit outdated, but they are refurbishing and reimagining new attractions all the time and I’m sure will continue to do so.

Card Walker, the CEO of Walt Disney World at the time of EPCOT’s opening, said at the park’s dedication, “May EPCOT Center entertain, inform, inspire and above all, may it instill a new sense of belief and pride in man’s ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere in the world.”

I hope EPCOT has done that at least a little bit. To me, it’s more than a theme park. It’s an opportunity to learn about different cultures through the people, the music, the food; to look at the future and see something positive. Okay, that may sound corny. But for sure, I always have a fun time when I visit EPCOT.

Happy Anniversary!

Dates of Visit:  Various from 1982 until present

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The Buckhorn Exchange – Are you Game?


Vegetarians, and serious animal lovers, beware. The Buckhorn Exchange is for meat-eaters only. But if you are a meat-eater, or a big fan of taxidermy, this is a place you must try.

Henry Zeitz opened the place in 1893, making it Denver’s oldest restaurant. Back then, Zeitz catered to the cattlemen, railroad builders, miners, businessmen and gamblers who came through the state of Colorado in its early days. The Buckhorn Exchange is also the owner of liquor license Number One from the State of Colorado.

Zeitz was a scout for the famous Buffalo Bill Cody and it is said that Zeitz shot a man for hitting one of his waitresses. During his years riding with Cody, Zeitz met Chief Sitting Bull who nicknamed him “Shorty Scout” because he was so small. This colorful history permeates the Buckhorn Exchange.

Every inch of wall space is used to display 575 stuffed animals including elk, moose, sheep, deer, buffalo, beavers, raccoons, rabbits, all kinds of birds and even a zebra, a two-headed calf and a jackalope. The bar upstairs is decorated with beer steins, along with 125 guns, pistols and rifles.

This National Historic Landmark serves up prime grade beef steaks, prime rib, elk, buffalo, pork ribs, salmon, lamb and quail. And if some of those meats aren’t exotic enough for you, why not try the alligator tail, rattlesnake, ostrich or yak? At the time, I wasn’t ambitious or brave enough to try something that exotic. I ordered the pot roast, which was great.

Be prepared to drop a bit of money at the Buckhorn. It’s an expensive place. But if you’re interested in trying something new, different, and very, very meaty, rustle up a meal at the Buckhorn Exchange.

Dates of Visit:  April 2008

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“Taste the Love” at Luella’s Bar-B-Que


There used to be a really great barbecue restaurant in Asheville called The Fiddlin’ Pig. At least, I thought it was great. Good food, good service and live music every night. Well, unfortunately, The Fiddlin’ Pig went out of business. So, on my last trip to Asheville, I was looking for a new place for barbecue. I found it at Luella’s.

The place is named after founder Jeff Miller’s grandmother as well as his daughter, nicknamed Elly. “Grandma Lue” cooked for all the family gatherings and handed down her love for good cooking to Jeff. His interest in food, along with his family background and the desire to create an authentic barbecue taste, prompted Jeff to open a restaurant.

To compliment the smoked pork, beef, chicken and turkey — and that’s how Jeff looks at sauces, as complimentary, not overpowering – are five distinct sauces: Hot Flash, Smoked Jalapeno, Lusty Mustard, Scooter’s Vinegar and the most popular, Sweet Pisgah. (The last two are homemade and gluten-free.)

Their top seller is the chopped pork sandwich with macaroni & cheese. I had the chopped pork sandwich and topped it with the Sweet Pisgah sauce. Instead of the mac & cheese, I had a side salad with homemade blue cheese dressing. The meal included hush puppies, which were great. That’s what I loved the most about The Fiddlin’ Pig, their hush puppies, sweet and crunchy, and soft in the middle. I’m glad Luella’s has great ones, too.

This made-from-scratch barbecue brings in customers of all types from retirees to students to business professionals. The building used to house a pizza joint which was a popular hangout for students from the University of North Carolina. So when Jeff remodeled the place, he kept that in mind, creating an atmosphere that pleases everyone.

Asheville is known as a beer town and six local microbrews are featured at Luella’s. I’m not a beer drinker, so I tried the Ultimate Luella’s Strawberry Lemonade with fresh strawberries, Absolut Citron, lemon and ginger ale. Quite refreshing and delicious.

Portions are a good size, service is very good and prices are competitive. And sometimes they have live bluegrass music. If the parking lot is full, which it always is at Luella’s, then you know it’s got to be good.

Dates of Visit:  May 2012

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Rockin’ the Cradle of Forestry


I live in a beach state — Florida. And even though I love living in Florida, I really do like the mountains more than the beach. That’s why I like to go to the mountains at least once a year. And my favorite mountains are in the Asheville, North Carolina area.

High in the Mount Pisgah National Forest, about 40 miles from Asheville, is the Cradle of Forestry, the birthplace of forest conservation. It was established over 100 years ago during the construction of the nearby Biltmore Estate. This is where the first school of forestry, the Biltmore Forest School, was established by Dr. Carl Schenck, chief forester for George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate.

It is here that students learned how trees can be harvested while still preserving the forest as a whole. Carl Schenck was so passionate about the forest he said, “Woods are sanctuaries. Send the kids to the woods. They are better for them than any classroom built of brick.”

There are two paved trails that wind through the property, transporting you back in time to the early years of the forestry school. Take the Biltmore Campus Trail to see the seven restored historic buildings on the site: a schoolhouse, a blacksmith’s shop, commissary and several student quarters and lodges. The Forest Festival Trail includes a seedling nursery, saw mill and a 1915 logging locomotive. Weavers, toy makers, quilters, basket makers and wood carvers often appear on site Thursdays through Sundays.



In the Forest Discovery Center you can explore hands-on exhibits or ride the fire fighter helicopter simulator. The only disappointment on my visit to the Cradle of Forestry, and what unfortunately lowers Teddy’s rating, was the movie in the main theater of the Discovery Center. Don’t waste your time seeing There’s Magic in the Cradle. It’ll be 30 minutes of your life you’ll never get back.

My advice – immediately ask to see the OLD movie. They’ll play the old movie by request. I sure wish I had known about that option earlier in my day. I was expecting to see a film about the history of the area, no such luck.

I work in the video production business, so I have at least some knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. This doesn’t work. The concept for the story was just bizarre and wasn’t at all what I expected. I can’t even begin to describe it because it just didn’t make much sense. And honestly, it doesn’t deserve as much space as I’m giving it here in this post!

I really wanted to know why this film was produced and playing at the Cradle of Forestry, so when I got a chance I did some research. Come to find out, the film was produced for another purpose and renamed There’s Magic in the Cradle. Don’t be fooled by the good review on Internet Movie Database. I’m sure it was written by those involved in the making of this piece of…um, garbage. I just hope that they’ve stopped running it and have gone back to only showing the original 18-minute movie about the history of forestry in America.

Dates of Visit: May 2012

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