Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Happy All-Hallows Eve!

I love Halloween. Well, I love the idea behind Halloween. I don't love the commercial holiday it has become. Where every one buys store-bought costumes and decorations and where trick-or-treating at the mall has become the norm rather than walking the streets of your neighborhood. And where it's not dark still because of stupid day light savings.

I know there are lots out there who talk about how evil the holiday is to them. Well, to me, it's more about imagination. Dressing up as something you aren't, commiserating with your friends and neighbors and just letting go and having fun.

Anyways. I'll still give out candy if any kids make it to my door. And I hope they do. So everyone - let your inner kid out because it's time to play - to be child-like. You've got lots of other days to be serious and Halloween isn't the day for it.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Ok, I just watched Donnie Darko. I have one request. Would someone pleasae be kind enough to tell me what the heck I just saw? Seriously. I have NO idea what I just saw. I even have the more recent director's cut which I understand is a little easier to understand. Now I have to go into Blockbuster and get the set so I can see the second disk just to know what the heck I saw.

That's it, Laszlo is on restriction from the queue on our Blockbuster account. And that bunny costume --- I'm just creeped out.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Vacation Remix

I was going through the 250 pictures we have from vacation - and the videos which I am still trying to work on Blogger, and thought I'd share a few pictures.

This picture was taken right outside of Fred's General Mercantile on Beech Mountain. This place has every thing a person could want up on a mountain. From hiking boots, wine and beer to the NY Times and overalls. They really did it up for Fall. Heck, there were pumpkins everywhere up there - but they don't spoil in 90 degree heat like they do in Florida.

This is Joe standing on the Appalachian Trail. He had just finished a book about a man who had walked all 2160 miles and he though it would be cool to walk down off the path to Clingman's Dome to stand on the trail - and relieve himself. Not everyone can say they went to the bathroom on the Appalachian Trail.

In the lower left hand corner you can see Karen staring up at some rock formations in the Linville Caverns. Caves are really cool - literally - it's like 52 all year round. Just remember, if you are claustrophobic, this tour is not for you. I'm not generally, but at one point in the tour when they shove the entire group in this narrow hallway so you are standing over the lake with no bottom, I wanted to yell "get me out of here!"

The third picture is Joe, Karen and Laura at one of the lookouts off the Blue Ridge Parkway. I was glad we stopped at this one. You have to take this little path that leads you down to this overlook. There are not many words for it other than stunning.
And that's the problem with the Blue Ridge Parkway, all you see to all sides is stunning and you could take a picture at every turn.

Finally this is a shot on our final day, it was about 32 degrees at the time, and it's the house we spent the week at. Laszlo's locking the door. Even though he's in short sleeves, it's 32 degrees at that point. What a great place though. I miss waking up every morning and rushing to look out the windows to see what the view has in store. Everyone needs a little wonder in their life. We don't have lots of it anymore. And that's one of the best parts about traveling - it's all the stopping along the way and seeing things you never have before. I can't wait to travel again. I'm thinking Montana.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I'm Bacckk

It's been a hectic week at work. The CEO of the company I worked for suddenly and very unexpectedly died while I was on vacation. So when I came back on Monday there was a flurry of activity surrounding a memorial service the next day. And plus just trying to find my way out of the e-mail that accumulated over a week.

I am ready for the weekend! And it starts tonight by watching my favorite college football team - the USF Bulls take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Now all you haters, get over it, they are #2 for the moment. Why can't you be happy for them? Yes, I am talking to you Gator fans who think they are better than everyone else.

Any how. Sister-who-recently-returned and her hubby are coming over so I'd better get ready.

And once again --> GO BULLS!

Friday, October 12, 2007

So Very High - And Cold

Laszlo Next to the Mile-High Bridge -Freezing!

Sign by Mile-High Bridge

Ok. So today was cold. There are no other words I can use except to say that it is cold. And of course it was the day that we choose to go to Grandfather Mountain, home of the mile-high bridge. The temperature shown on the weather station inthe gift shop showed 42 - and that doesn't include the wind-chill - with winds gusting to more than 40 miles per hour. Walking across the swinging bridge was a challenge, the wind burned any skin that happened to be exposed.

But, we had a great time. The fall foliage is lovely. The peak of the leaves up here at Beech Mountain and also at Grandfather is about to happen. And there is lots of harvest and Halloween decorations around.

Anyways, tonight is the last night and I have an audience behind me. Greg, Karen, Laura and Joe are all sitting on the bed behind me chatting away. Next to me there is a glass of wine. So I am officially relaxed and enjoying vacation. Too bad it's ending. But I have been privaleged to spend the time with my sisters and their husbands.

Next - back to Florida, where I hear Fall has arrived.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Up another mountain or two, and then some

Laszlo at the falls

In front of The Biltmore

Greetings from chilly Beech Mountain. Where this morning we woke to a temperature of 30 degrees. In the sun the weather was glorious, in the shade we shivered in the cold wind.

We've been keeping very busy. Yesterday we took a trip down the road to the Linville Caverns and Linville Falls. Both very cool. The caverns are 52 all year round and more than 2,000 feet below the ground. Without a light source you are in complete darkness - which is freaky when the demonstrate this.

And then to the falls. We hiked up a mountain again to see some more lovely scenery. It would have been better if Laura didn't wake up with a cold the day before and by yesterday it had progressed to a nasty bug. She earned the nickname one-lung Laura because she said that's what it felt like for her to climb to the falls.

Today, we went South to the Biltmore estate. Whew. That place is huge. And that's only the house. That doesn't include the grounds, which we thought we drove around and saw a lot, really we didn't, only a fraction. I am awed that the amount of land and home-space was for one family. But the weather was lovely. We walked the grounds, Joe and Greg entertained themselves by rolling down the back lawn, and we went to the winery and tasted some yummy wines.

We all agree that there's no need for a gym up here. Mother Nature is your gym. If I walked up and down mountains daily, my butt would be MUCH thinner.

Tomorrow there's one more mountain to conquer, Grandfather Mountain. We plan to take a picnic lunch and enjoy the cool weather and some of us plan to cross the mile-high swinging bridge, not including Joe. He said there's no way he's doing that. But that's OK.

Off to a late dinner. Greg's crock pot beef stew smells yummy!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A Two Hour Drive??!

A rest stop on the Blueridge Parkway

A rest stop for us on the climb to Clingman's Dome

The trees that are dying

We decided to take a drive down the road to the Smokey Mountain National Park. According to Mapquest it would take about 2-hours. Well, after driving down the lovely Blue Ridge Parkway (which my poor sister Karen was close to hurling more than once from the curvy road), a sidetrack to the west of Ashville, through the Cherokee Reservation and finally into the park it was 1:30 in the afternoon. We left about 9.

So we had to make the best of our time in the park. So we found a lovely set of picnic tables where we dined on the best peanut butter and for those who partake in the jelly sandwiches. We planned our attack. We would make our way towards Clingman's Dome, the highest point in the park. According to the parks literature we picked up, we would make a "steep" 1/2-mile walk to an observation tower where we could see 360 views of the surrounding mountains.

Wow, steep was being kind. I told Laszlo that it was the longest 1/2-mile walk I've ever done. Comments from the group on the way up:

I surrender! I'm a flat lander. - Laura

Oh my God, we're not even half way there. - Sarah

If the woman with the walking cast can do this, I better be able to. -Laura

I don't want to walk back down, it's too hard. - Karen

What was really sad was all the dead and dying trees. How sobering. The majority of the ferns growing on the mountains are being killed by insects "accidentally" brought from Europe. And the trees not dying from that are being finished off by the acid rain. And to read that the view is obscured 80 percent in the Summer from pollution was scary. And all of this happened within 100 years.

So we left the park in search of gas and a quicker way home. We went north through Gatlinberg and around the park on a quick moving highway. We got home at 10. We cut off more than and hour off our time. Thank goodness for the 16-bean soup waiting for us in the crock pot. All we wanted to do was eat a little and fall into bed.

Today the gents are off playing a round of golf and the ladies are sitting around the house relaxing. Which we are fine with. We think we might venture down to town later, with hopes that the gentleman on the way back up can pick us up.

No matter what though, vacation is good for the mind and the soul. I can get used to this. Although I'm happy NOT to be in the car right now.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Welcome to the Beech

Yesterday we arrived in Beech Mountain, N.C. for a week of R&R. My husband and my two sisters and their husbands are sharing a home. We are very high up to say the least. Over 5,000 feet. But it is lovely. The weather is nice about 80 or so in the sunshine and in the shade cooler. In the evenings into the low to mid-50s at this point. And at the end of the week it is supposed to cool down significantly.

The picture above is the view from my bedroom at 7:45 this morning. It was one of the few days recently I woke up and said to myself, I need to go out and see what the view is! And it was fantastic. I hope to see the sunrise one of these days.

We hiked two trails today, climbed up the the very top of the mountain to watch the sunset and just finished a fantastic dinner. Tomorrow we are off to Smokey Mountian National Park.

I am relaxed (and no it's not the wine from dinner). Vacation feels good.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Welcome home Laura and Greg K.C., Welcome Home!

So this evening husband and mom and dad spend the evening lugging sister Laura and brother-in-law Greg's stuff into a new apartment over in Seminole - about 10 minutes from my house. This is a huge improvement since they used to live four hours away in Jacksonville. Greg recently graduated college and now is the proud owner of a new job.

We are all very excited to have them home, they've been gone for more than six years. There will be much fun to be had. Although part of our hearts are still in J-Ville as sister Karen and bro-in-law Joe live there. Just another reason for a road trip to North Florida.

But as for Laura and Greg, in the words of the guy from Extreme Home Makeover -

Welcome Home Laura and Greg K.C., welcome home!