Pisgah National Forest or That One Weekend When It Didn’t Rain

Our summer was frustratingly wet. It rained for weeks on end. We broke all sorts of records. I refused to give into the weather and wore knee-high rain boots and carried an umbrella whilst grilling Mr. McB’s birthday dinner on July 4.

Something happened on the first weekend of August. The sun broke through the clouds and there was nary a drop of precipitation. We jumped in the car and drove toward Brevard, North Carolina and Pisgah National Forest.

The drive was leisurely and scenic with just some minor curves.

Our first stop in the park was Looking Glass Falls. There were many cars parked along the road. For the most part, people were considerate. Those driving by went slowly and were mindful of people trying to reenter the road and pedestrians.

Pisgah National FOrest Looking Glass FallsThis was our first look at the falls from the roadway. You then start the steep staircase down to the water.

 FOrest Looking Glass Falls crowdAs I mentioned, this was the first sunny weekend in a month. The park was a bit crowded.

 FOrest Looking Glass FallsThere were a number of swimmers and waders making their way into the crisp, clear water. On a return trip, I will come prepared with a towel and sandals.

pisgahus

 FOrest waterAfter our time at the falls, we explored the park a bit more. This creek widened out and lead to a calmer swimming hole.

picnic spot at pisgah national forestThis picnic area was very popular. There were hammocks, grills, and lots of family togetherness. The smells from the grills set our tummies to rumbling but we did a little more exploring before heading out of the park.

Pisgah National ForestMr. McB and I were the only ones around on this path.

Pisgah National ForestLog bridge spanning the creek

pisgahlogsWe were famished when we left the park. Knowing my preference for local eats, we headed toward Brevard to find lunch. Finding lunch late on a Sunday afternoon is not an easy feat. Many restaurants were closing just as we arrived. Just when we were ready to declare defeat and drive back toward the chain restaurants, we spotted Rocky’s Grill and Soda. Rocky’s began its life as Varner’s Drug Store and Soda Fountain in 1942.

Stepping in, it’s easy to image that not much has changed in the last 70 years. The menu is very retro but the sandwiches have modern touches that really make this more than just a novelty restaurant.

rocky's grilled cheese with baconMr. McB’s grilled cheese was stuffed with smoky strips of real bacon.

pisgahsammy

pisgahchicken My chicken salad sandwich was delicious thanks to a hint of tarragon. The sandwiches also came with delicious green tomato pickles. There is a bit of a tomato-ey flavor and somehow it works with the bread and butter style spices.

If you want to recreate our trip, I recommend coming prepared to get in the water. I would also advise you to pack a picnic or at least some substantial snacks, especially if you plan to swim. MOST IMPORTANTLY, bring your own toilet paper. The park provides bathrooms but does not offer TP.

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Traveling Thursday – Skip the Lines

Everyone wants to maximize their time on vacation. One way to make the most of that precious time is buying tickets for popular attractions in advance. In today’s connected world, you can buy tickets to many of the world’s most popular sites from the comfort of your home.

When searching, try to find the attraction’s official ticketing outlet instead of going through a third-party site. For example, there are many sites that resell tickets to the Uffizi but the official site is the best place to purchase tickets. The same is true for the Colosseum. 

In this piece, Rick Steves has even more advice about advance ticket purchases and avoiding long lines.

Buying advance tickets to museums and attractions in the US is just as easy and effective when it comes to making the most of your vacation time.

Sometimes it is worth an even larger fee to avoid the lines and have a guaranteed spot. For example, the Big Shot VIP passes for Preservation Hall run more than twice the normal admission yet you can avoid the lines and you are guaranteed a seat. If your time in New Orleans is limited, this extra money can easily give you an extra hour and it means that you have a seat for the show.

Before you next trip, do a little research and see what your pre-booking options might be.

More Furman photos

This isn’t the first time I’ve shared photos from a trip to Furman. This really is one of the loveliest campuses that I have ever visited. I’m thankful that it is just a short drive away.

These photos were taken on various visits during the summer.

 

Soft purple grains dot these tufts of long green grasssoftpurple

 

“I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden
This cabin is a replica of the one Thoreau lived in while writing Walden. Seeing this helps put his work into perspective. It also explains why he spent so much time in nature as staying inside this tiny cabin would drive me mad. Perhaps he paid so much attention to those ants to avoid going home.

replica of the walden cabin
Shi Center for Sustainabilityshi center for sustainability

Turtles fighting for bits of breadfood fight

The ducks are out for a swim before darkness falls.lake at furman

In the summer, the Japanese garden is a gorgeous, lush  green.pathbylake
Sun sets on the rose garden

furman rose garden

This former Buddhist temple became part of Furman’s campus in 2008.retreat

Good night…

sunset

 

 

Traveling Thursday – What’s In Port

While the cruise line’s packaged excursions are always an option, more travelers are considering touring on their own. I highly recommend What’s In Port if you are looking to add some independent exploration to your next cruise itinerary.

The website can help you determine the distance between the port and the attractions that most travelers want to see. It also provides links to maps and recommendations for the best methods of transportation for accessing these sites. With more than 1,200 ports represented, it’s a great resource.

Time to bloom again

DSC_0277This orchid was a gift from a wonderful friend who vastly over-estimated my ability to care for plant life. I tried so hard to be a good orchid owner and yet the delicate blooms did not have the sunlight, water, or attention needed. The plant is still alive but it is missing much of its beauty.

Sadly, this orchid could be an illustration for my creative spirit. When I had time for photography, this blog, and crafty projects, my creativity flourished. I felt vital, serene, and attuned to the universe. Now, I feel like part of me has been stripped away. I’ve let other things take up the space that I need to devote to me. It is a mistake that I make far too often for my own comfort.

I intend to fix that.

Inspired by sweet my friend, Mr. McB and even our engineering students, I want to create again. I want to document the things that make this life worth living. I need these things to make myself happy. I want my blossoms back and I am determined to see that it happens.