Monday, June 29, 2015

Appa (lay-shun) or Appa (latch-chian)???

Being a Canadian, I was taught that the pronunciation of Appalachian was the first one in my title, so when I first heard a North Carolinian pronounce it, the second way, it kind of surprised me that I had been saying this wrong all of my life.
Andrew was off to the XI International Rubus and Ribes Symposium in Asheville, North Carolina and I was able to join him and experience this beautiful little city tucked in among the Appalachian Mountains. The southern hospitality was evident from the moment we stepped off the plane in Charlotte from their charming accent to the slower pace at which they experience life. We arrived a day early to take advantage of cheaper flights, giving an opportunity to hike a piece of the Appalachian Trail (kind of a bucket list thing for me) and spent our first night at the Iron Horse Station in Hot Springs. The drive from Charlotte was rather slow as we wound our way through the many twisty roads after dark to reach our destination. However, after a good night's sleep, we ventured out on foot to a local diner and ate just enough to help us conquer our first hike. We began with Lover's Leap (not sure whether there is a story behind this name or not, but there were lots of vertical cliffs where one could leap if the motive was there). The temperature was low 90s with extreme humidity and with an elevation gain of 400 feet, we were really warm (hot) when we finished.

A painting on the wall of the little diner on our first morning, depicting some of the features of the Appalachian Trail.

Beginning of our first hike - very excited to see the Appalachian Trail sign. 

 The lower part of the trail on the French Broad River.

 Getting higher - same river.

The forest was dense with wild rhododendron bushes. The flowers would have been beautiful a few weeks earlier, but it was impressive to see so many in one place.

We had lunch at Nick & Nate's, highly recommended by a cleaning lady at the visitor's centre for Waynesville (which was closed for the day). We then headed out to tackle our second hike for the day - Max Patch Bald. It was rather confusing to actually get to the base parking lot, but after driving on gravel switchback roads in the extreme outback of North Carolina, we arrived. The drive there was very eye opening for me. I could picture the Hatfields and McCoys living here, making moonshine, eking out an existence on these properties just randomly tucked into the hillsides, with power lines hung precariously up the mountain. Very remote and, I would think, quite lonely. Max Patch proved to be well worth the effort to find it and we were rewarded with incredible 360 degree views at the top. The pictures I took do not do it justice, but the memory of being there is still fresh in my mind.

 At the 4,629 foot summit, views from the top of Max Patch Bald were astounding. 

 Standing on a survey marker with the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee in the background.

 My hiking partner following the white marked posts of the Appalachian Trail.

 And the real reason we were in North Carolina - Andrew touring the local blackberry farms.

Andrew spent one afternoon climbing very steep plantations of blackberries and raspberries while I shopped. :)

The next few photos are my perspective of Asheville. Lots of walking, browsing and enjoying the warm temperatures. Just a fantastic relaxing trip for me.

 Downtown Asheville is a prime example of a city trying to maintain it's history, but also giving the tourist plenty of local craft and artisan shops to browse in as well as a variety of cafes and restaurants to visit.

 A game of chess anyone? Permanent tables set up for the avid chess player.

 The Grove Arcade - inside a really unique shopping destination.

And outside The Grove Arcade - a beautiful structure built in the 1920s. You can read more about it here.

 And finally, a spectacular sunrise to send us on our way back to Canada. 

Very fond memories made in North Carolina and I will leave you with the greeting we heard most often while there ~ "Ya'll have a bless(ed) day, now." (said with that oh so charming southern drawl).

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

May Wanderings

Another getaway for Andrew and I happened in May. Hope you enjoy these photos and thoughts from our journey. We travelled to Bar Harbour, Maine celebrating 35 years of marriage with hiking on the agenda. We had never hiked in Acadia National Park and what a treat to experience that together. The weather was perfect and in two days managed 2 mountains.

 As we enter the US, a large field where they are clearing rocks to accommodate blueberry fields.

 Tacky Bar Harbour sidewalk art (and their ice-cream cones were $6.).

 A lit up moose on the top of a house (more tackiness).

 A lovely little garden to begin our first day.

 Beginning our first mountain on day 1 (Gorham Mountain).

Very rocky terrain.

Almost to the top with a beautiful panoramic view.

525 feet up - a 'feel good' accomplishment.

On the way back down - the scenery was stunning.

The road not taken - did not want to die on this trip.

 A light lunch in Northeast Harbour.

 Atop Cadillac Mountain - you must stick to the path, the drop off is a little steep.

 The tide was right and we walked across to Bar Island on the ocean floor - great way to end our busy day.

 Experiencing the much talked about sunrise on top of Cadillac Mountain, an early rise for day 2 at 4:30 am.

The popular carriage roads that run throughout Acadia National Park used for cycling, horseback riding and of course hiking.

 Day 2 and we took advantage of the fantastic weather to climb Acadia Mountain. This picture does not do justice to the steepness of this hike. 

 But we made it!!! Tough climb but the panoramic views were spectacular.
 Worth every sore muscle.

And to finish off our mini vacation - spent Mother's Day with 2 of my 5 wonderful daughters. Wish the other 3 could have been with us.