Friday, December 26, 2014

Tree Peeking in Southwest VA and Southeast KY - October

We took a one day trip up US 23 into Virginia. Somewhere past Big Stone Gap we headed over into Kentucky.  The road cut below impressed Ben more than the trees.  

In Pikeville KY we searched on Virtual Tourist for a good restaurant and came up with a BBQ restaurant.  I had the "sliders" so I could try the beef, pork, and chicken.  All were pretty good. 

There were "Friends of Coal" signs and stickers everywhere!  We were there near the end of October and political signs were also on display.  We saw a few 
" United Mine Workers for Grimes" but very few.  Quite a number of signs for Mitch McConnell.

Nearly every business had the Friends of Coal sign somewhere in their advertising or on a window.

We did see a number of coal mines still operating and quite a number of trains operating filled with coal.  This was on a Saturday.

The trees were brightly colored but the sunshine was not out so the trees were not as brilliant as they could have been.

We continued back into Virginia from Pikeville through Grundy to Lebanon and back down US 11 and I 81 to Tri Cities.

Found this did not ever get written and posted when I posted the December trip.  Ben was going to write and give a good description of the geology but I see he forgot! 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Trip to Asheville NC

We drove across the mountains to Asheville NC to take in a few of the holiday sites.  There is a new light display at the Western NC Arboretum and Jane wanted to view a few of the Gingerbread Houses at the Grove Arcade.  Several years ago a visit to the Grove Park Inn had been fun but it was way more Gingerbread Houses than Ben wanted to see!

We drove the Honda since parking in downtown Asheville is a bit of a challenge – it is certainly different on interstate highways in a low Honda than in our Sprinter Van!  Sunshine and a clear day in the 40’s when we left Kingsport but after we crossed the crest of the mountains at Sam’s Gap the sunshine went away and we had a cloudy day in the 40’s.

We drove first to the Grove Arcade and found a place to eat lunch. We chose Carmel’s Restaurant and had good sandwiches.  

After lunch we wandered around the decorated space and looked at some of the Gingerbread Displays – most were from youth and children and seemed to be from all across the state on NC.  My favorite was this one representing the Three Little Pigs.

We also looked at items in several artist studios – some interesting ideas for future projects. We drove out to the Farmer’s Market and bought some apples.  We wanted to get more butternut squash but none of the fall vegetables were still available – just apples and oranges.

We found our hotel that we had selected near the Winter Lights Location and Ben had a short nap. About 5 PM we left for an early supper at Papa’s and Beer.  We happened upon this California Mexican Restaurant several years ago when they had just opened.  We really enjoyed it and since it was also in the Brevard Road area we thought we would try it again – and so did LOTS of other folks!  There were several birthday and office type events and we waited about 15 minutes for a table.  Can’t imagine what the wait will be later – this was 5 PM on a Monday – well it is Christmas week.  Ben had Pork in a Verde (Green) Sauce and Jane had a combination plate of shrimp and veggies in garlic sauce, a steak taco with chipotle sauce, and chicken enchilada.  All were excellent.

Then we headed out to the Arboretum for the Winter Lights event. A first year display of lights throughout a large part of the area where the plants are the highlight in the daytime. The light displays were designed by someone who had worked at Disney World and they were certainly beautiful. Our pictures do not do them justice as neither of us are accomplished nighttime photographers.

The parking lot was outstanding

This waterfall was in constant motion

Plastic Bottle filled with water - there were numerous ones in different colored lights inside

This "quilt" display rotated lights on and off - see the squares to rt are off

 About 8:00 it began a light rain and we had seen everything once and some displays  twice so we headed back to our hotel.  The one disappointment was the model train display – it was not lighted well so was hard to see – it was also outside and raining….at least I knew it was a model train display.  Some people thought it was a full size train that they were going to get to ride!

Fun evening, glad we went. It was well done but at $18 a person it is not something most families with many children could afford. Definitely worth the time, effort and money for a one time trip.

Return home was uneventful -