We were blessed with a beautiful rainbow over our downtown in Waynesville, North Carolina today.
An early Winter snowstorm dumped more than ten inches of wet, heavy snow around our neighborhood. Many trees were damaged and there were plenty of power outages. It also was very pretty and eerily quiet.
We decided to take a trip to Helen, Georgia for an overnight stay mostly to stay at the Heidi Motel. The Heidi Motel is a cute motel which has a faux windmill. Of course, we needed to stay in the windmill portion. Our room was a Queen Windmill Suite Standard on the second level of the windmill.
A trip to Helen, Georgia would not be complete without a tour of Charlemagne's Kingdom. This sizeable model railroad layout depicts a German alpine area. There are 400 feet of track and a 22-foot mountain included in the layout and it is very well done. However, it could use a little sprucing up in a few areas and there were only a couple of trains running when we visited. Since we were staying next door at the Heidi Motel, we could visit the layout as many times as we wanted for free during our motel reservation. We definitely enjoyed our visit.
Weekends are the perfect time to do a little exploring. Just pick a place that sounds interesting and go. That is exactly what we did when we heard about the Model Trains Station in Taylors, South Carolina. The "station" is located in the Taylors Mill facility which is the old Southern Bleachery and Piedmont Print Works. It is a neat old building. The station has been open for one year and they are making progress. It is run entirely by volunteers so construction still has a ways to go before it will be done. But, multiple layouts in various gauges are operational. It is a great place to take the kids.
Living so close to Asheville, we must make at least one visit to the Biltmore Estate during the Christmas season. They have so many traditionally decorated trees throughout the self-guided tour area. You can't help but feel in the spirit of the season after visiting.
We stopped at Bold Rock in Mills River, North Carolina to do a cider flight and to grab a bit to eat. It's a nice place to enjoy the company of friends.
We were just driving around and decided to make a stop at Chimney Rock State Park. Even though it was very crowded, we were able to enjoy being outdoors and taking in all the beautiful scenery. Both Peg and I have a fear of heights but we survived just fine.
We had high hopes for the Sausage Fest at Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Fairview, North Carolina. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a letdown. We paid our $12 to enter but received very little for that payment. We thought we would be able to taste the different sausages that Hickory Nut Gap Farm has to offer but that wasn't the case. If you wanted to try any sausages you had to buy a meal. We were sad. There were a couple other vendors that had samples though. If you have kids it might be more enjoyable as there were activities for them to do on the farm. Sadly, we will not be returning to this festival.
While browsing through a tourist guide, we found an ad for Wyile Cider. We plugged in the coordinates in our trusty GPS ap and away we went. The cider house is a bit out of the way but the drive is pretty.
No visit to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is ever complete without a stop at The Island. We always visit here to do some shopping. Peg likes a couple of the stores for their selection of PEZ dispensers.
While traveling back home, we took some backroads to end up at Carver's Orchard. This is a great produce shop in Cosby, Tennessee where we picked up some goodies for the rest of ride home.
Okay, we are a bit weird. We decided to spend Halloween at The Inn at Christmas Place. The Inn at Christmas Place is like Christmas every day of the year. But we couldn't stay in just any room. We had the Santa Suite to ourselves! Christmas decorations were everywhere and creepy little elves watched our every move.
We took the chairlift up to Anakeesta in Gatlinburg, Tennesee to check out their progress. The park had been open just a little over a year when we visited.
We spent an enjoyable afternoon at Ciderfest in Asheville, North Carolina this afternoon. We were very glad that we purchased the VIT package. The Very Important Taster package gives you on-site parking and allows you to enter the festival an hour early. The lines get real long once the general public is allowed to enter.
We decided to spend a few extra dollars to see the Chihuly exhibit at Biltmore illuminated during the night. It was pretty but probably not worth the extra money.
Everything must come to an end but we saved the best until last. We said, "Au revoir!" to the Norwegian Dawn as we departed on to our final port of our New England and Canada cruise. The wait for a cab to the hotel took way longer than we expected even though we were one of the first to leave the ship. I felt sorry for the huge line that was forming behind us.
You absolutely must be up and watching as you sail through the Saguenay Fjord on your way to La Baie, Quebec. The New England and Canada cruise on the Norwegian Dawn gets you up close to the rocky cliffs of the fjord.
We only had one day at sea during our New England and Canada cruise aboard the Norwegian Dawn. It would be the roughest part of the trip. The winds were screaming at 33 knots and the 12-foot waves overnight had the smaller Dawn rocking. Very few people made it out on deck but I'm not normal so I took the time to explore topside a bit more.
Another day, another port. The great thing about taking inland cruises is the fact that you get to see so many sites other than the ocean. Our next stop during our New England and Canada cruise aboard the Norwegian Dawn was to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. The port was another industrial looking dock. They are actually in the process of expanding the cruise port since only one ship can actually dock there at a time. We were ship number two so once again we had to tender. Norwegian does a really good job at getting you to shore so there really isn't much of a wait.
One of the most laid-back ports of our cruise on the Norwegian Dawn was Sydney, Nova Scotia. We had no real plans; get off the ship and walk around. The approach to the dock was a pretty sail.
Good morning Halifax, Nova Scotia! This was our third port of call on our seven day New England and Canada cruise. I was happy to see all the action as we sailed into the port. Plenty of ships and trains to watch from the railing aboard the Norwegian Dawn.
Who's ready for some "lobstah?" A foggy morning greeted us at our second port of our New England and Canada cruise aboard the Norwegian Dawn. Our tender was delayed because it had to wait for a larger boat to guide it into the dock. There was no visual navigation since you could only see a few feet in the fog.
We left a little early for our New England and Canada Cruise aboard the Norwegian Dawn in order to outrun Hurricane Florence. This gave us an extra day to explore our first port of Boston without worrying about airline flights being canceled.
A recent trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway had me sweating bullets when the transmission of our Nissan Cube began to slip. The Parkway is not a good place to break down as there is no shoulder and few places to pull over. Cellphone coverage can be spotty as well. We survived but after doing some research I discovered that the Nissan CVTs are notoriously bad. Our little buddy was still under an extended warranty but we decided to say goodbye to it. We just had too many scheduled trips coming up to be dealing with trying to get it repaired. Great little car; until it wasn't.
We took a short drive over to Elevated Mountain Distilling Company in order to support the Women Of Waynesville (WOW). All the proceeds of the distillery tour were given to WOW that night. Dave Angel was our host for the tour. He told us all about Elevated's process and what makes them different. Good whiskey, an interesting tour, and hot dogs from the cart out front made for a fantastic evening.
We took a little side trip to go see the Marion Freight Depot. According to documents sent for historic district designation, the current freight depot was built in 1932 to replace a freight depot on the same spot. It is now used as a community meeting place. The original passenger station was demolished sometime around 1952 when an addition was added to the freight depot to serve the same function.
What a great place to hold a tractor show! The Christmas in July Tractor Show was held at the North River Farms in Mills River, North Carolina. Tractors for Tots really did a great job at this show with lots of things to see and do.
Another weekend, another parade. It seems like there is something happening almost every weekend in downtown Waynesville during the Summer. This Saturday morning we were treated to the Folkmoot Parade of Nations.
We took a drive to the WNC Ag Center for the 2018 Mountaineer Antique Auto Show. It's a nice little show with a car corral and swap meet. The grounds were a bit tore up this year as the Ag Center was in the middle of repaving. Still, we enjoyed walking around the cars and vendor tables.
Living in a small town has its perks. There is always something going on downtown. This morning we walked downtown to enjoy the youngsters parading down Main Street for the annual July 4th Children's Parade. The kids all seemed to be having fun and it was great to get out and be with our neighbors.
A bonus for us this year with our season passes to Biltmore Estate is the Chihuly Glass artwork that is displayed throughout the estate grounds. Colorful pieces combine with the beauty of the flowers and plants to create a wonderful experience.
We always try to make a stop at the Annual Antique Tractor & Engine Show put on by the Ole Smoky Antique Tractor & Engine Association. Hey, it's free and just up the road from us at the Haywood County Fairgrounds.
Thank goodness for hardcore hotrodders. The Kustom Kemps of America Maggie Valley Icons of Hotrodding Festival show had some bad Saturday morning weather. But, some really nice rides were on the show field despite the rain. While we didn't stay long, I enjoyed talking to everyone and looking at the amazing vehicles.
We took the time to explore the grounds of the NC Transportation Museum in Spencer, NC during the annual National Train Day Train Show. Several vintage locomotives were running the day that we were there including Southern Railway FP-3 #6133, Atlantic Coast Line E3 #501, and B&MH H-12-44 #1860.
I hitched a ride with my good friend, Jerry, to the North Carolina Transportation Museum. The American Truck Historical Society was having their annual truck show and we wanted to see what would show up.
We were off on another adventure for this warm Spring day. This road trip had us traveling to Winnsboro, South Carolina, and the South Carolina Railroad Museum to take a ride on a steam train.
We were in the neighborhood so we stopped at the old L & N Depot in Murphy, NC. It was raining pretty hard so we didn't explore much or stay very long. This is the end of the line for the Southern Railway's Murphy Branch.
We stopped by Blue Ridge, GA to do some shopping and grab lunch. While there, I had to take a few photos of the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway and other Patriot Rail equipment. Georgia Northeastern Railroad #8705 (GNRR), Columbia and Cowlitz Railroad #3810 (CLC), and the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway #7529 (BRSR) were all on the tracks nearby.
We are on the road again. This trip finds us traveling to Mineral Bluff, Georgia to the old Marietta and North Georgia Railway (M&NGR) Depot at 150 Railroad Avenue. The depot was built in 1887. The tracks have been owned by various railroads, including Atlantic, Knoxville, and Northern Railroad Construction Company in 1896, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad (L&N) in 1902, CSX Transportation (CSX) in 1986, and Georgia Northeastern Railroad in 1987 (GNRR). The Mineral Bluff Depot last saw freight action in the 1950's. After a renovation in 2007, it is now home to the Tri-State Model Railroaders.
The Bubba's Garage crew loves them some model trains. We all piled into the car and took a road trip to the World's Greatest Hobby on Tour in Charlotte, North Carolina. Being the stickler for being at a show right when it opens paid off for this show at the Park Expo and Conference Center. It got very crowded real fast.
It's January in Western North Carolina. It's unusually cold. So, what do you do? You go look at frozen waterfalls! It was only 6 degrees Fahrenheit when we left Bubba's Garage for a short road trip to Highlands, North Carolina to check out some frozen waterfalls. First up on US Route 64 was the 65-foot drop of the Dry Falls. Normally you can walk behind the falls but because there was so much ice the Forest Service had closed the trail for safety. We behaved ourselves, stayed behind the ropes and viewed the falls from the upper observation deck.