Posts Tagged With: mountains

Who the heck is Zebulon B. Vance?

TEDDY’s RATING: 

I asked that question every time I visited Asheville, North Carolina. On the way to Well Bred Bakery in Weaverville, I always saw the signs to “Vance Birthplace.” But I never took the time to actually go there until my last trip. And I have to say, Zebulon B. Vance’s birthplace is an interesting historic site.

If you’re a native to North Carolina, you probably know who Zeb is. The third of eight children, Zebulon Vance practiced law in Asheville and at age 24 was elected to his first public office. His mountain upbringing helped him achieve success. He was a man of the people, promoting basic human rights, and was “a champion of local self-government and individual liberty.”

He was a well-known political leader during the Civil War and after. He was elected governor of North Carolina three times and was also a three-term senator for the state. He was known as the “War Governor of the South,” helping out soldiers and their families during the difficult years of the Civil War.

The birthplace site, in the Reems Creek Valley near Weaverville and off the Blue Ridge Parkway, is a collection of buildings furnished with household items representative of the period of 1795 through 1840 when the Vance family lived there.

        

The Vance family home has five rooms, an unusually large size for the time period. Also on site are a corn crib, springhouse, smokehouse, loom house, slave house and tool shed. The visitor’s center has exhibits about the famous Vance family and a short film about the life of Zebulon. Throughout the year, there are special events at the site where costumed interpreters demonstrate life of the early settlers in the Blue Ridge Mountains during the Zebulon Vance’s time.

        

        

What I found most interesting about the site was how you really felt transported back in time to the late 1700s when the Vances lived in the log home.  We had a guide take us through the house and explain what life was like at that time. The guide was very, very knowledgeable about the time period and the site itself. You could almost picture the family by the hearth, women sewing, men chatting, children playing.

The Vance Birthplace historic pioneer farmstead is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 9am-5pm. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.

Dates of Visit:  May 2012

http://www.nchistoricsites.org/vance/vance.htm

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:  http://ilovebritishtv.com

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North Carolina’s Fabulous Falls

TEDDY’s RATING: 

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

www.visitwaterfalls.com

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:  http://ilovebritishtv.com

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Getting away from it all at Abner’s Cabin

TEDDY’s RATING: 

If you’re looking for somewhere to get away from it all on your next trip to the Asheville, North Carolina area, Abner’s Cabin is a nice little place to stay.

This quaint, cozy cabin was built in the 1920s by Abner Gwaltney. At the time, it was only a one bedroom cabin with no running water and an outhouse. It may still be rustic on the outside, but inside, after renovations, there are two bedrooms, a full kitchen (with running water), a living room and yes, a full bathroom.

      

Even though Abner’s Cabin is off the beaten path, tucked away in the quiet hills near Weaverville, North Carolina, it’s still very close to all there is to see and do in the Asheville area. And less than a 10 minute drive to downtown Asheville. So, it’s a great central location for your Western North Carolina vacation.

      

There are a few things about Abner’s Cabin that kept it from getting a higher rating from Teddy. The cabin had been closed up for some months, so it smelled a bit musty. Even airing it out for a while didn’t help much. When we first arrived, there was static on the phone line and the internet didn’t work. (An internet connection is listed in the amenities section on their web page.) There are limited electrical outlets in each room. There are some minor repairs that need to be done on the interior: the ceiling is cracked in one of the bedrooms, the bathroom tiles and linoleum are discolored and the front screen door is coming apart which let in a lot of bugs.

On the positive side — the landscaping around the property is very nice. One of the beds has a pillow top mattress, so it was very comfortable. And the owners, who are very friendly, provide some food in the fridge (milk, eggs, cereal, coffee) in case you arrive too late to do any shopping. The owners have also stocked the cabin with plenty of brochures about the area and easy to read maps. And Abner’s Cabin is very affordable. We shopped around and you couldn’t get a two bedroom cabin of this size for the price. It was less than $100 a day (plus tax) if you stay  seven nights. And there are no extra fees, unless you bring a pet.

Overall, our stay was pleasant. I think I might look at some other places in the area for our next visit, but Abner’s Cabin was still very comfortable.

Dates of Visit: May 3-10, 2012

http://www.vrbo.com/144742

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:  http://ilovebritishtv.com

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Horseback Riding in North Carolina

TEDDY’s RATING: 

I hadn’t really been horseback riding for a while, maybe 15 years or more, but I had been wanting to try it again. What better place than in the rolling hills of North Carolina, outside of Asheville, at Sandy Bottom Trail Rides.

This family owned business is just north of Asheville, North Carolina, near Marshall. They offer 1 hour, 2 hour, 3 hour and 4 hour scenic trail rides, the longest ones stopping at their 200 year old Little Pine Garnet Gem Mine where you can explore the mine and keep any gems you may find.

We took the one hour ride, since we hadn’t been on horses in a long time. I wasn’t sure how much we could endure. Horseback riding can be very tiring and sometimes painful if you haven’t done it a lot.

Based on your horsemanship, or lack of it, they pair you with a horse that matches your abilities. Our horses were Lady and Ginger, both very calm. Our guide was named Hank and there were 5 people in our group.

Some online reviews of Sandy Bottom complained that on the longer rides you rode for the same amount of time as the shorter rides and spent more time at the Gem Mine, not really riding for 3 or 4 hours. So, if you’re looking for more “horse time” then maybe Sandy Bottom isn’t right for you.

One hour was plenty of time for me. I was happy with the peaceful ride through the countryside. The landscape was beautiful and we had wonderful weather that day, just perfect.

I also like the fact that Sandy Bottom is very flexible and accommodating for all skill levels and age ranges. You don’t have to feel intimidated or afraid of the animals.

If you prefer not to ride on horseback, but would still like to enjoy the panoramic views, you can take a horse-drawn buggy or wagon ride.

2012 per person pricing is as follows:

Horseback rides:
1 hour: $40
2 hour: $70
3 hour: $90
However, Sandy Bottom is running a special for this spring/summer with $5 off the above rates.

Buggy/wagon rides:
1 hour: $40
2 hour: $70
3 hour: $90

Dates of Visit:  May 2008

http://www.sandybottomtrailrides.net/

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:  http://ilovebritishtv.com

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North Carolina ROCKS!

TEDDY’s RATING: 

The Blue Ridge Mountains may not be as huge and dramatic as the Rocky Mountains, but I still like them more. Maybe it’s because in springtime they’re covered with beautiful emerald foliage and in the autumn they are a fireworks display of red, gold and bronze. And maybe it’s because the mountain ranges are so close to one of my favorite places, Asheville, North Carolina.

There are hundreds of places to hike and bike, picnic and nature watch throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains and along the Blue Ridge Parkway. I’ve chosen three places I’ve visited in the area to showcase here: Chimney Rock, Grandfather Mountain and Mount Mitchell.

CHIMNEY ROCK

Chimney Rock State Park is about 25 miles southeast of Asheville and located near Lake Lure. The centerpiece of the park is, of course, Chimney Rock, the base of which rises to an elevation of 2,280 feet. Climb to the top of Chimney Rock, another 315 feet, and you can see for 75 miles. In spring, summer or fall, it’s a lovely sight.

There are several trails throughout the park, some easy walks, some very challenging. I always opt for the easy-going trail to the base of Hickory Nut Falls, one of the highest waterfalls east of the Mississippi.  It may be one of  the easiest of the trails, but it’s still a bit of a walk. However, deep into the forest it’s so quiet and relaxing. You really feel like you’ve escaped from the stress of your every day world.

If you’re an experienced hiker, take the challenging Skyline trail to the top of the falls, 404 feet above the base. While on this trail, you can see several unusual rock formations like the Opera Box, Devil’s Head and the Exclamation Point, which is at the very top of the Skyline trail, another 200 feet above Chimney Rock itself. Several scenes from the 1992 movie version of “The Last of the Mohicans” with Daniel Day-Lewis were shot in and around Chimney Rock State Park.

GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN

Grandfather Mountain is one of the highest peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountains with an elevation of 5,946 feet. It’s 70 miles from Asheville. The first time I ventured from Asheville to Grandfather Mountain the roads were extremely fogged in. I wasn’t able to make it up there until my next visit to North Carolina the following year.

The highlight of your journey to Grandfather Mountain is the Mile-High Swinging Bridge, which is a mile above sea level and affords 360 degree views, on a clear day, of up to 100 miles. Built in 1952, this 228 foot steel structure is America’s highest suspension footbridge.

Grandfather Mountain State Park has 11 hiking and nature trails. You can take a leisurely stroll through the forest or choose to explore the more rugged terrain through Grandfather Mountain’s backcountry climbing ladders and cables up the cliff faces

The park is home to 73 rare and endangered animals, many of which you can observe in their natural settings in one of the seven environmental habitats. Cougars, white-tailed deer, river otters, black bears and golden eagles are housed here. These habitats are not like ordinary zoo cages. Instead of being artificially created, they were built around the animals’ native habitats. You get a great up-close view of these animals, seeing how they live in the wild. Now, in the wild, black bears don’t normally wave at you for nibbles of food, but these do. They were very entertaining.

Grandfather Mountain has also been featured in a film, Tom Hanks’ 1994 movie “Forest Gump.”

MOUNT MITCHELL

Mount Mitchell is part of the Black Mountains and is the highest point east of the Rockies at 6,684 feet. Just 35 miles northeast of Asheville, Mount Mitchell is reached via an incredible scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Mount Mitchell State Park was the first state park in North Carolina, established in 1915 and named after Elisha Mitchell who was the first one to determine the mountain’s height. At the summit, which is  fogged in most days, lies an observation platform and a memorial to Mitchell. In addition to Mount Mitchell, there are several other peaks in the area over 6,000 feet above sea level including Mount Hallback, Mount Craig, Big Tom and Balsam Cone. With 8 miles of hiking trails throughout the park, you can truly get back to nature here.

So if you love the mountains, which I do, and you live on the east coast, which I do, you can have a wonderful mountain adventure without having to travel all the way across the country.

Hike the Blue Ridge Mountains because North Carolina ROCKS!

Dates of Visits:  2001-2006

http://www.chimneyrockpark.com/

http://www.grandfather.com/

http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/momi/main.php

Categories: North Carolina, Play | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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