Saturday, January 6, 2018

Little River Canyon National Preserve in Alabama

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One of my dreams and ambitions is to visit all 50 states and so this year, I’ve started chipping away at making my way across the United States. I’ve visited Illionois, Alabama, Mississipi, and Louisiana this year and in summer I’ll be going to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delware. And so, to begin the new quest, Christmas week, my roommate and I began our “Grand Road Trip” to the southern states. We traveled from North Carolina all the way to Louisana with Alabama and Mississippi as our main stops. The total time to travel from North Carolina to Louisana without stops is 13 hours.

One of our main stops was Little River Canyon National Preserve which is located on the top of Lookout Mountain near Fort Payne, Alabama. We took the scenic drive which has 9 different stops along the way. The first entry point is at the 45-foot waterfall. We were blessed to get to go at a time when the water flow was strong. Nature never ceases to amaze me as I witness the creativity and artistry of our great God.

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Part of the joys of a road trip is being able to stop at the drop of a hat. Being able to pause to take it all the sights and sounds is part of the experience. We found this very prounced rock appropriately called “Mushroom Rock.” There were rocks on each side with a road between them. The mark of humanity was on the rocks as people had left their signatures and symbols.

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Eberhart Point is the last overlook on the scenic drive and what a way to conclude such a journey. What depth this canyon has and how insufficient the picture is to capture the picturesque nature of this place. According to online records, the “Grand Canyon of the East” is 12 miles long and as much as 600 feet deep. the park protects a grand total of 14,000 acres.

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This is a whitewater river at the park that ranges from a classs III to a Class V.

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A far off view of the Little River Falls.

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Before going, check out their visitor center and their gift shop. They have the parks history and more details.

Website: https://www.nps.gov/liri/index.htm

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Christmas at the Biltmore Estate

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It’s been a dream in the making. A wait of 5 + years to see the largest privately owned house in the United States. And with that, welcome to the Biltmore Estate. A house of 250 rooms with 35 bedrooms for family and guests and 43 bathrooms. Construction began in 1889 and continued into 1896. It was opened up to family and friends on Christmas Eve 1895. I can just imagine the remarks of awe and wonder at such a luxurious home. No expense was spared with such an intensive display of wealth. The construction of the main house required 1,000 workers and 60 stonemasons. Vanderbilt went overseas to bring home furnishings such as tapestries, hundreds of carpets, linins, and other decorative objects.

http://www.biltmore.com/

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Upon entering, your first stop will be the Winter Garden. I highly recommend the audio tour which will walk you through the Biltmore, describing the history and background of the various rooms, kitchens, dining halls, and other areas.

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The banquet hall is the largest room in the house. It measures 42 feet wide and 72 feet long, with 70-foot barrel-vaulted ceilings. My visit was at the end of October and already Christmas was in the air. Ladders were in place to hang garland and ornaments. The tree in the banquet hall is a 35-ft. live Fraser fir. In addition to this large tree, more than 100 Christmas trees are placed around the mansion with the largest tree being 55 ft. out in the front of the estate.

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This additional dining area is elaborate with the upholstery and decor.

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The Salon

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The music room

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The library which demonstrates Mr. Vanderbilt’s deep appreciation and love for books.

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The Tapestry Gallery

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Christmas trees! Two out ofover a  hundred.

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Imagine being able to walk out on your porch each day to see this view.


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View down the stair well from the third floor.

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Bowling Alley

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The pool which is empty due to a leak.

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The gymnasium.

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There are three kitchens with this being the main one.

Outdoors at the Biltmore Estate

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The gardens and Conservatory are another highlight of the estate. The Conservatory was compleeted in 1895 and features a variety of exotic plants. The Conservatory hosts small ceremonies and receptions of 10 – 75 guests. It is a romantic setting for weddings, but be prepared as the estimated cost for 100 guest is between $44,612 and $45,665.

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I hope you enjoyed these photos from my tour of Biltmore and will get to visit for yourself one day. By booking in advance, you could get a discount so check out their tickets online.

http://www.biltmore.com/visit/plan-your-visit/special-offers

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Camping in Grandfather Mountain


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There I stood, at the edge of the cliff daring to look out into the wilderness with thousands of feet from where we were to the ground. The air was chilly, but with the frequent movement it was almost nonexistent or at least it seemed so. I just wanted to take it all in. It was like all the stress and anxiety was washed away and there I was feeling God’s presence in the most miraculous way. It had taken climbing steep hills and over large boulders to reach the top, but worth every step. And then as we looked out into the distance, a cloud was encircling the moutain. You could see the breeze pushing it around.

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Foscoe point

Grandfather Mountain State Park is known for the South’s most severe weather and most challenging terrain, but eight of us convened out on this trip with at least 35 pounds on our back and some around 45. We were courageous. The adventure seeker outers. It was my first time camping in a tent. I cherish the times my grandparents would take us camping in their airstream, but there is something way different when sleeping in a tent, cooking food on a small propane stove, filtering your own water from a stream, and the other little various things that we take for granted in city life. Camping takes us back to our roots. How we used to live before all the fancy appliances.

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Picture to the left is us filtering our water and photo to the right is how we cooked our food on a portable propane tank cooker.

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Conclusion to day one was experiencing a sunset at Grandfather mountain. The oranges and pinks lit up the sky and as the light grew dimmer, the stars grew brighter. Stars beyond our ability to comprehend with the distance and multitude of them all. What looked to be a satellite slowly went across the sky and then as we looked across the horizon, not only did we see the stars clearly, but also small lights coming from the city below.

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The next day was even more adventurous. We found this trail and thought that this couldn’t possibly be a trail with the dangerous nature of it, but sure enough it was and as you can see the blue streak on the rock declared that it was. So despite the strenousness of the trail, half our group ventured forward into the unknown up what was quite a steep mountain. It was most assuredly worth it and though we didn’t have time to reach the swinging bridge, we shared the views and splendor of reaching the peak. It was an adventure of a life time and though the views and sites of a trip are astounding, the people you share it with is even more part of the memorability of the journey.

“Life is a journey, not a destination.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, September 8, 2017

Fireman Museum in New Bern


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The conditions were perfect. The weather was dry and the firemen were all on their way to Raleigh for the Eastern North Carolina State Championship Football Game. And then it happened. The largest lumber company in 1922 caught fire on December 1, but that wasn’t enough. The fire began to leap to other destinations because the 70 mile per hour winds. People within the city were recruited to help. Within an hour a fire started in the chimney of a small house on Kilmarnock Street. The fire of New Bern was devestating. About 1/3 of the city was destroyed, over 3,000 were left homless and 40 city block were destroyed.

This is just the beginning of the history shared at the Firemen’s Museum, a museum established in 1955.

https://firemensmuseum.com/


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There were two rivaling firefighting companies that ended up being housed in the same building. Our story begins on May 14, 1885. On May 14, 1845 the New Bern Fire Department started the Atlantic Hook & Ladder Company. As the Civil War commenced in 1861, the company soon became inactive because so many members were serving in the Confederate Army. When the need for an active firefighting company again arose, the New Bern Steam Fire Engine company No. 1 was started up. As life returned to normal, the focus shifted. The focus for the firefighting companies was getting the biggest, the best, and the fastest equipment.

As you see above, the steam fire engine was all the rage in the later 1800’s. In 1879, The Atlantic Hook & Ladder Company received a new Silsby steam fire engine. In an attempt to out do the other, in 1884 the New Bern Steam Fire Engine Company No. 1 traded in their Amoskeag steam engine for the new “Button Steam Fire Engine.” There name was soon changed to the “Button Company.” The companies continued to compete with each other thorughout the state. The Button Company acheived the world record for running quick steam at 1 minute 46 seconds.

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No, this is not a horse pulled fire hose, but a human pulled one!


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This demonstrates how the hoses were hung up so they can dry.

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The helmets were different than todays in that they were made with leather. You can only imagine how much that would cost today if they were still made in that fashion.

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This is a very interesting piece used in the incident of a fire. Our guide explained that in a central location of a fire, there would be someone that would signal the alarm system which would be connected to the system at the fire station. They would go to that area and then be directed from there to the more specific location.

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Fred was among the most faithful and loyal of the fire horses. He lived for 25 years doing a great service for the Atlantic Hook & Ladder Company for 17 years. Mr. John Taylor and Fred the horse were a team working together to combat fires. Fred was keen with his senses as he had the ability to recognize tones of fire alarms and then reach those locations on this own. He was no stranger to adversity, but when his well loved owner died in 1925 of a heart attack, Fred passed away soon after. The dedication of Fred to his owner was very admirable and just another piece of history that visitors will experience at the Fireman’s Museum in New Bern, North Carolina.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Tips for Visiting Navy Pier & Lake Shore View in Chicago

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Going to Downtown Chicago three times during my stay in Illonois, made the trip feel like three trips rolled into one. I’m a more nature minded kind of girl, but big cities fascinate me. For the final visit to Chicago before flying on home, I got the best of both worlds. Seeing Lake Michigan was like a huge bonus. It wasn’t on my radar, so when I realized we were going to get to go along the famous lake shore coast line, I was very happy.

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The Greatest Challenge…

Hands down is parking and so if you haven’t opted for the public transit, then check out https://en.parkopedia.com/. Each time you park it can cost about $22 for just a couple hours and once you go through, even if you make a mistake, you’ve got to pay the price. I speak from experience. The lady though was kind enough to refund us, but don’t risk it! Do a search on your location and see which places are cheapest. If you’re planning to go to Navy Pier, the Lakefront Trail is a popular and well-known route. Just be prepared for lots of foot traffic, but it is worth it for the views.

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A beautiful view of Navy Pier. Now, for the story and some words of wisdom. So, I found this nice little restaurant in the indoor eating area. I asked the cashier for advice about what to do. The insider info is that it is a tourist trap, but in my opinion, it is all in your perspective. We ended up just having to pay for the parking and for lunch which was well deserved anyway (the lunch that is). I was in it for the views, so in this case, it turned out okay.

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Since the cheapest boat tour is about $40 a person (and way up from there), I chose to just get my picture in front of it. I saved a lot! The one behind me must have been over $100. I’m just guesstimating.

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Another beautiful view. Lake Michigan is the third largest of the Great Lakes when measured by the water surface. Another fact is that it is the only great lake that is entirely in the United Staes. The water covers 22,300 square miles touching the four states of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan (of course), and Wisconsin.

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