Posts Tagged With: outdoors

Pure Naples: Into the Sunset

Teddy on Sunset Cruise

TEDDY’s RATING: 

One of the great things about Florida is that you can watch the sun rise in the east over the ocean in the morning and then drive a few hours across the state to watch the sun set in the west over the Gulf of Mexico.

While in Naples, Florida earlier this year, we took a wonderful sunset cruise on Pure Naples’ Double Sunshine.

Sunset cruise          Sunset cruise

Departing out of Naples’ historic Tin City, this 90 minutes, fully-narrated tour sailed out through Naples Bay into the Gulf of Mexico. Throughout the cruise, the tour guide pointed out all the stately homes in the area. Now, the tour has been criticized by some because the narration is mostly about the huge, luxurious homes that are along the bay, but that’s what Naples is all about, luxury. I found some of the back stories about the houses quite interesting. And our tour guide was very entertaining and knowledgeable.

Sunset cruise          Sunset cruise

Sunset cruise          Sunset cruise

The cruise culminated with the lovely sunset over the ocean. When there are more clouds in the sky, the sunsets are even more gorgeous, but this one was beautiful nonetheless.

Sunset cruise         Sunset cruise

In addition to the sunset cruise, Pure Naples also offers several other types of tours: Dolphin watching, sightseeing and kid’s scavenger hunt cruises.

Tours depart daily at different hours. Check their website for times and tour pricing. Bathrooms and cash refreshments are available on board.

Dates of Visit: January 2013

http://www.purenaples.com/

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

Categories: Florida, Play | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Porkie’s Original BBQ – It’s Smokin’

Exterior

TEDDY’s RATING: 

There’s a lot of competition out there when it comes to barbecue restaurants. You’ve got your major chains like Smoky Bones and Sonny’s and the up and comers like 4 Rivers. So how does a small, single location survive? Well, Porkie’s Original BBQ in Apopka, Florida must be doing something right because they’re still open and thriving.

InteriorThey seem to distinguish themselves from the Big Guys by using oak and hickory wood and slow smoking their meats on their 20-foot BBQ pit. They also have 6 sauces, all original recipes and made from scratch. Owners Steve and Mike started Porkie’s back in 2002 after traveling the southern states in search of the “perfect BBQ flavor.” That flavor is getting rave review from locals. They’ve been voted “Best BBQ” in Central Florida. (However, I don’t know where that title comes from!)  And apparently comedian Dennis Miller is a huge fan of the place and recorded a radio commercial for Porkie’s.   That’s totally awesome!

The menu includes pork, chicken and beef which can be served pulled, sliced, chopped or chipped. You can get platters, combos or “samiches.” Side dishes include baked beans, potato salad, collard greens, green beans, garlic toast, macaroni & cheese and dirty taters. I had the Pig Dip, thickly sliced smoked pork on Cuban bread and served with au jus. It was good, Pig Dipas were the dirty taters which are cubed red potatoes sautéed in onion and garlic. And supposedly their Monster Ribeye Samich is something worth trying.

Sometimes Porkie’s features some experimental dishes using very unusual meats like bison and beaver. When I visited, they had samples of bison chili. (I don’t like chili, so it wasn’t for me.)

Another thing that makes Porkie’s unique is that every Thursday night they host a local biker’s night. This weekly event sometimes draws several hundred bikers to the restaurant.

Porkie’s Original BBQ is a casual, family friendly restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating. It’s open Mondays through Saturdays for lunch and dinner. Catering is available.

Dates of Visit:  January 2013

http://www.porkiesapopka.com/

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

Categories: Eat, Florida | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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

Categories: North Carolina, Play | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

Categories: North Carolina, Play | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Rockin’ the Cradle of Forestry

TEDDY’s RATING: 

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

http://www.cradleofforestry.com/site/

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

Categories: North Carolina, Play | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Get Back to Nature at the North Carolina Arboretum

TEDDY’s RATING: 

Describing the North Carolina Arboretum in words is not an easy task. So, I’ll just let my pictures tell you all about it. I will include a few words, though.

The North Carolina Arboretum, just south of downtown Asheville, is a 434-acre public garden near the Blue Ridge Parkway.

      

      

There are 65 acres of lush cultivated gardens, 10 miles of hiking and biking trails, ever changing indoor and outdoor exhibits, a fabulous Bonsai collection, and the incredible quilt garden (which was being replanted on our last visit, but was beautiful in 2009).

      

The Arboretum is open daily, weather permitting, except for December 25th. There is no per person admission fee, but they have a parking fee of $8.00 per vehicle. Visit the first Tuesday of the month and parking is free.

      

      

You can grab a light bite at The Savory Thyme Café Tuesdays through Sundays. And if you’re looking for a location for your “green” wedding, the North Carolina Arboretum is the perfect place.

      

It’s a beautiful way to spend a quiet day getting back to nature. I recommend it.

Dates of Visit:  May 2009, May 2012

http://www.ncarboretum.org/

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

Categories: North Carolina, Play | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Giddy Up to the Apopka Food Truck Roundup

TEDDY’s RATING: 

Rustle up some tasty vittles at the Apopka Food Truck Roundup!

The food truck craze has really exploded all across the country. You can sample all types of food in one place. Kind of like a traveling food court. I’ve even toyed with the idea of opening up one myself. Teddy’s Tantalizing Treats?  Hmmm.

Anyway, the Apopka Food Truck Roundup takes place the first Thursday of every month at Kit Land Nelson Park in downtown Apopka, Florida from 5:30pm to 9pm. This food truck event has been so successful that in August they’ll be celebrating their 1st birthday.

Several of the food trucks are regulars at the Roundup and others take turns making an appearance. Here are the trucks that were there when we went:

Burger Culture, Sunset Ice, TJ’s Seafood Shack, The Crooked Spoon, Monsta Lobsta, Yum Yum Cupcakes, Brisket Bus, Jimmy’s Meatballs, Kerri Out, Fat Tortillas, Korean BBQ Taco Box, Big Wheel Truck, The Crepe Company, Shipyard Brewing.

       

Each of them has their own Facebook page and you can follow them on Twitter so you know where to find them each day or weekend. Some have website, some even do catering.

Here’s the food that we tried:

The Crooked Spoon: Macaroni & Cheese, with bacon, yellow and red peppers, fresh basil and crumb topping.
The Brisket Bus: Pulled brisket sandwich with cole slaw.
TJ’s Seafood Shack: Fish & Chips.
The Crepe Company: Red, White and Blue Crepe (strawberries, blueberries, whipped cream).
Sunset Ice: Banana and strawberry Italian ice.

And we rounded off the meal with half a dozen cupcakes from Yum Yum Cupcakes: Root Beer Boom Boom, Orange Cream Dream, The Ballad of Churro, Peanut Butter Choco-Rama, Red Velvet and Lady Bird (gluten-free hummingbird cake).

Everything was very good, especially the cupcakes. Of the six, there wasn’t one that I didn’t like, but my favorites were Root Beer Boom Boom and Peanut Butter Choco-Rama.

I do have to say that the prices were a bit steep ($8.50 for the mac and cheese, $13.00 for the six cupcakes), but you’re paying for the experience. And it was a fun experience. There was live jazz music. The city sets up tables and chairs, which a lot of other food truck sites don’t do. We got there early before there were any long lines. Food is made fresh to order, so you should be prepared to wait. And even though most trucks take credit cards, it’s faster if you have cash.

So, why not lasso a great meal at the next Apopka Food Truck Roundup? But get there early, before the stampede!!

Dates of Visit:  July 5, 2012

http://www.facebook.com/ApopkaFoodTruckRoundUp

http://www.apopka.net/

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

Categories: Eat | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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

Categories: North Carolina, Sleep | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Categories: North Carolina, Play | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.