Once again we found ourselves hanging out with friends at the Jackson County Green Energy Park. Cole Johnson patiently assisted everyone in the group in a variety of glass pumpkins and paperweights. It is always a fun time and you get to keep a great piece of art. We will be back, of course!
We stopped by the Shelton House in Waynesville, North Carolina for their Christmas gathering. The house was open for tours and we got to say hello to the head elf himself. We enjoyed some cookies and cider as well. It was a good way to kill half an hour.
We took a Saturday road trip for something a bit different. We ended up in Simpsonville, South Carolina for the "It's TICA Time" cat show held at the Simpsonville Activity and Senior Center. Everyone was pleasant and the cats on display were beautiful. We spent a couple of hours wandering from ring to ring to watch the judging. There were a few vendors selling cat related crafts and items and we ended up buying a couple of toys for the shop cats. Cats and kittens were also available for adoption from the local rescue league. It was a good morning out.
We had so much fun taking a class at the Jackson County Green Energy Park that we decided to do it again. We gathered up some friends and made arrangements with Cole Johnson to have him teach us to make glass blown pumpkins. Each pumpkin took a little over twenty minutes to make. We picked our colors and away we went.
We were looking for someplace to stay during our trip to the Strasburg Rail Road and decided on staying once again at the Red Caboose Motel. I miss the days when all the cabooses were actually red. Now, they are painted to the actual railroad colors from which they came. The caboose we stayed in, unit 30, was in pretty bad shape. The steps were rotted, the doors paper thin, rust on the bathroom metal surfaces, the caboose had an extreme lean, and just a general run down appearance. We did get an "apology" flyer at check-in stating that the motel was in the process of being renovated and it did appear as some of the cabooses had been freshly painted. At least our room was clean.
We signed up with Lerro Productions to do a photo shoot on the Strasburg Rail Road during the Norfolk and Western Railway Reunion of Steam. This event brought the N&W J Class 611 (4-8-4) and N&W M Class #475 (4-8-0) together for the first time since the 1950's. This Saturday afternoon shoot was very difficult as the Strasburg Rail Road was running their regular train, Great Western #90, and the tracks had to be cleared every 30 minutes as it passed. The area was also packed with site-seers and railfans as well. Lerro didn't do a great job on this outing organizing. However, we did enjoy ourselves and that's what really counts.
On our recent road trip to Strasburg, Pennsylvania, we had some time to kill. So, we stopped at the Choo Choo Barn. The "Barn" is a delightful little display of O-gauge model railroads. The animations are well done and there is plenty of detail in all the scenes. However after traveling to many different layouts around the country, it seems a bit on the small size. Several of the animations weren't functioning the day we visited which further tempered our enjoyment of the attraction. We still enjoyed our short visit.
It had been some time since we had visited a fair. So, we hopped in the car for a road trip to the Mountain State Fair on its opening weekend in Fletcher, North Carolina. We aren't carnival ride people so about half of what was available we weren't interested in. But, everything else kept us occupied for several hours. There were shows, and animals, and vehicles, and stuff for sale, and of course lots of food! What else could you want in a fair? We had a good time and we said we will have to go again. Hopefully it won't take as long to get back for the next time.
After a very long wait, our kitties are finally home! Princess Gumdrop and Princess Jujube are sisters and were both born on May 6, 2019. They are adorable British Shorthair kittens. Gumdrop's color is blue while Jujube is lilac. We brought them home from Charlotte, North Carolina. Let the sleepless nights commence!
One of the things that everyone wants to do when visiting us is to try the Gatlinburg SkyBridge with its glass floor. So when my sister Terry and her friend Lisa came down for the weekend we piled into the car and headed off to the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park to walk the bridge. We all rode the steep SkyLift to the peaks. Once at the top, and with a little peer pressure, Peg was able to walk all the way across the suspension bridge this time!
No visit to the Waynesville, North Carolina area would be complete without a trip to the Elevated Mountain Distilling Company for some moonshine/whiskey. This fine establishment is located just a short drive away in Maggie Valley. For a small fee, you can enjoy a tasting of all their products. I took my sister Terry and her friend Lisa while they were visiting. They were troopers and threw back a few samples. Lisa even gave Willie Elkson a ride!
For something a bit different, we decided to take a private glass making class taught by our neighbor, Cole Johnson, at the Jackson County Green Energy Park in Dillsboro, North Carolina. Cole patiently walked us through all the steps needed to produce our very own paperweights. We were able to choose our color combinations and used different techniques to create our on unique items. It was a fun experience and not very difficult since we had the help of a very talented teacher and glass artisan. Thanks, Cole!
Every couple of years we make the trek to Cleveland, Ohio for PEZamania! We hang out with friends, eat good food, play games, and Peg picks up a few items to add to her ever growing PEZ collection. This year we stayed closer to our budget but she was still able to snag a 50's Blue Full Body Spaceman Robot PEZ dispenser for a decent price. There are always good deals to be made at PEZamania.
We took a short drive from Cleveland, Ohio to Middlefield to check out the Corner Field Railroad Museum. It is basically in the middle of nowhere but it was worth the trip. Over 4,500 feet of track make this toy train layout quite impressive. While the train layout is only about half completed, there are still more than enough details to keep you occupied for some time. It is well worth the small admission fee to be able to admire all the hard work that went into building this delightful O-gauge train layout.
A summer road trip would not be complete without a stop to the world's largest something or another. We plugged in the GPS coordinates and headed into downtown Sugarcreek, Ohio. I present to you the 24-foor-tall, "World's Largest Cuckoo Clock!" It was originally built in 1972 and then moved to its current location in 2012.
The Age of Steam Roundhouse in Sugarcreek, Ohio is simply fantastic! This museum sits on 34 acres of land adjacent to the Ohio Central Railroad System. The sale of OCRS in December of 2008 to Genesee and Wyoming provided the financing needed for Jerry Jacobson, its former owner, to build the 18 stall brick roundhouse. The roundhouse is the first full-sized working roundhouse to be built in the US since 1951 and it is beautiful.
If you offer a decent train layout at your establishment you will definitely peek our interest. The folks at EnterTRAINment Junction do more than that with their massive G-scale layout that occupies over 25,000 square feet in their building. We made a six hour road trip to West Chester, Ohio just outside Cincinnati to enjoy this fun filled establishment! The first section we visited was the "Train Journey."
We finally made it to the North Carolina Transportation Museum's Fire Truck Festival after trying to get there for the last three years. Peg, myself, and our good friend Jerry got up at the crack of dawn to make the two and a half hour roadtrip to Spencer, NC. The festival didn't disappoint so it was worth a little missed sleep. Over 100 fire fighting vehicles, both vintage and modern, were on the grounds of the museum, including a North Carolina Forest Service helicopter that buzzed the museum before landing.
We found a nice little antique car museum tucked away in the Grovewood Village in Asheville, North Carolina. It was established in 1966 by Harry Blomberg, of Harry's on the Hill fame, and is now located in a 1923 building once used by the Biltmore Industries' weaving shop. About two dozen vehicles can be seen including a rare '57 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham and a '22 American LaFrance fire truck. It's a nice stop and the admission is free.
We drove over to the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park just to experience the new SkyBridge. Now considering Peg and I are both scared of heights, this was a bit of a thrilling adventure. The suspension bridge is the longest in the United States at 680 feet. At its center, swinging 140' from the ground, are three glass panels. Whew! To get to the bridge you have to first take the SkyLift.
ScaleTrains.com held a wonderful open house at their warehouse and a private train ride on the Tennessee Valley Railroad called the Hiwassee River Rail Adventure. It started with a tour of their warehouse and the ability to purchase items at very low prices. Then, it was a delicious catered barbecue lunch.
What a fantastic garden railroad the Biltmore Estate has created. The Biltmore Gardens Railway is made up of over 800 feet of G-Gauge track. The model trains run at different levels. Bridges and buildings are all made of natural items such as bark and twigs. It is absolutely stunning!
The Kustom Kemps of America (KKoA) held their second Icons of Hotrodding Festival at the Maggie Valley Festival grounds in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. My buddy and I spent a couple hours on Friday afternoon looking over the hotrods and kustoms that were on the festival grounds. There were many beautiful rides to see. The show would bring over 200 vehicles from 8 states to gather for a fantastic two days. KKoA's festival in Maggie Valley is getting better each year.
We always enjoy walking around the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds when the Southeast Mini Truckin' Nationals rolls into town. The Festival Grounds are a great place to have any show. Parking for spectators can be a bit tight but we arrived early and found a spot. Mini truckers from all over drove Fords, Chevys, Toyotas, and many other truck makes. Many of these laid-out trucks had wild paint jobs, which always makes me smile.
We finally were able to catch the wisteria in bloom at the Biltmore Estate. The azaleas and various other flowers and shrubs in bloom during late April made for a pleasant morning stroll through the gardens.
We saw a sign near the Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) for an Observation Area so we thought we would check it out. If you follow Wright Brothers Way, towards the end on the right-hand side you will see a little pavilion on top of a hill. There is a graveled parking area with a picnic table, a bench, and a trash can. It isn't a clear line of sight to the runways because of trees but you can watch the planes coming and going.
The Depot Street Parking Lot in Asheville, North Carolina is a nice free public lot where you can sit and watch trains at the far end of the Norfolk Southern Asheville West yard limit.
I'm a baker. I can cook but I do much better at baking. Each year I try to make it to the Asheville Bread Festival for inspiration and to try the fantastic assortment of breads that the local bakeries have to offer. We absolutely LOVE this festival, which is now held at the New Belgium Brewery. Go hungry and come home happy!
Biltmore never ceases to amaze us with new offerings. We toured the estate once again to experience "A Vanderbilt House Party." The entire house had new displays featuring reproduction clothing and jewelry from the Vanderbilt's own wardrobe. We sure do get our money's worth with our annual pass.
We took a side trip on our way home from Atlanta to check out the Southeastern Railroad Museum in Duluth, Georgia. This nice little museum is the official transportation museum of Georgia. It has trains, buses, taxis, fire engines, and a bunch of other transportation-related items. You can just wander around the yard, take a ride on the full-sized train or miniature train, or even railfan the adjacent Norfolk Southern line.
We piled into the Jeep for a road trip to the Atlanta Model Train Show at the Cobb Galleria Centre. It's a nice show but a little on the small side. Oh, and parking sucks! We spent less than an hour looking around but did manage to pick up a few tools and supplies. With this show being so far away and just being okay, we will probably skip it in the future.
Peg spent her bonus money this year on getting new engineered wood flooring for the first floor. We had Cook's Carpet and Flooring of Waynesville rip out the old ugly laminate flooring and replace it with Palmetto Road's "Keowee". It's a hand-scrapped birch in three different widths. It took the crew two days to finish but they did a very nice job. We will keep them in mind when we decide to upgrade other parts of the house.
Once again, we attended the WNC Model Train Show held at the WNC Agricultural Center. This is always a great show and usually has something for everyone. There is both train stuff to see and to purchase.
We hopped in the car and set off for the Southern Spring Home and Garden Show in Charlotte, North Carolina. Unfortunately, the show was more "Home" than "Garden" and we didn't stay long. We did a little shopping and enjoyed the Q&A seminar with Laura LeBoutillier of Garden Answer. It is an okay show if you are looking for home renovation ideas but skip it for the gardens.