4-27-11 Wednesday (Lions & Turkeys)

So far this week:

The family we hired to help unload the moving truck upon our Charlotte arrival texted Jim a couple of photos of Jag’s lion cut.  As you may recall, we gave up Jag to them when the mover’s wife commented on how she’d like a cat like Jag.  Jag is a VERY loveable cat but got picked on by Dasher and Clea.  Jag deserved a single pet home and from what we hear is doing very well with the constant attention.  Jim and I always wanted to give him a lion cut but never did.  Here he is:



2008-11-05 UT JagAbove: Jag during our RVing trip while in Salt Lake City.

On Monday, my supervisor asked me to take my dart guns home.  He says there have been complaints for other supervisors.  I was told that while I was in Asheville, dart shooting may have gotten a little out of hand.  Oh well.  I gave them to co-worker Erinn who I knew had 2 boys that would probably enjoy them.  She sent me a Facebook photo with a caption, “Thanks Uncle One-T!!!”


I’m not sure if Erinn reads the blog but the photo really meant a lot.  What a perfect thank you!

In other news, I read that the PlayStation Network had been hacked and compromised.  Luckily I keep a password file via KeePass.   I had to see if my user name and password on the PS3 was the same for anything important like online banking.  What a pain.  It’s gonna take me a few days to change passwords every where.

I spent today (my day off) catching up with friends and family via phone calls.  A trip to BJ’s for some shopping.  Laundry (of course).  Food prep (crustless quiche).  Funny as I blog, I can’t figure out what took up most of my time today.  I only played a video game for just a little over an hour.  Hmmm, time flies.

Once Jim got home from work, we threw my amazingly delicious turkey meatloaf in to the oven and visited our future home site to see what’s going on.  Some framing on the ground, a portapotty and temporary electrical box has arrived.  Now speaking of turkey… as we drove home we spotted this.  Is it a turkey?


There it was in someone’s front yard.  A wild turkey?  I must brag and tell you that the street (Rocky River) our future community (Crab Orchard) entrance is on is beautiful.  A pond, this turkey thingy, rich green trees and grass.  Thick foliage.  Some old quaint looking homes.  It’s a curvy beautiful road.  I love the surroundings.

4-24-11 Sunday (Feasting In The Garden)

So far, it’s the best Easter weekend ever.  Let’s see if we can make today live up to yesterday.  We ate breakfast in the hotel lobby as typical.  We loaded up the car and checked out of the hotel.  Jim had mapped out a few RV parks in the area for our “inspection”.  There’s nothing wrong with where we’ve stayed a couple of times previously but there might be something better out there.  Maybe a more spectacular view?  In the end, they all seemed to have their pros/cons.  We’ll decided later for our June trip.

The long line of cars funneling onto the Biltmore estate was surely a bad sign.  Parking in an overflow type lot that we had never been to previously also alarmed us.  We figured no big deal since we didn’t plan to tour the house… just see the gardens.

The gardens were gorgeous.  This time the focus was on tulips (a prior visit was roses).  So nice.  We also walked to areas of the garden we hadn’t previously done such as Bass Pond.  It was a long walk but a beautiful day and we could certainly use the exercise.  We had to cool off in the breezy shaded areas from time to time.  Ahhhh, a breeze.  I have awesome pictures to share:

2011-04-24 001Above: A shot of the house.  I was trying to be photographically cool.

2011-04-24 002Above: Jim

2011-04-24 003Above: Gateway to the gardens.

2011-04-24 004Above: Under the grape vines.

2011-04-24 005Above: The house!

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Above/Below: The gorgeous tulips.

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Above: These had a strange name but had “Chinese Lantern” in parentheses.

2011-04-24 009Above: Nice orchids.

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2011-04-24 011Above: A view of the gardens from a trail to Bass Pond.

2011-04-24 012Above: Azaleas all over the place. (Azalea Garden)

2011-04-24 013Above: A cute stream.

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Above/Below: Bass Pond.

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We decided to stroll through the house.  Maybe they opened different rooms?  Maybe they were decorated for Easter?  The crowds weren’t bad especially since we walked through it like we owned the place.  This will probably be the last time we’ll be at the Biltmore estate since our annual passes expire shortly.  There were lots of flower arrangements throughout the rooms.  They were very nice.  We whizzed through it all pretty fast which was good since we were hungry.

It was getting late and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast.  We went back to the car and drove to another section of the estate called “Antler Hill” where they have the winery, shops and restaurants.  We parked, walked an eternity to a restaurant, looked at the menu and wasn’t interested in anything.  The price was high but doable.  Jim suggested several chain restaurants as alternatives.  I himmed and ha’d and thought, it’s late, we just walked here, etc, etc.  Then he added Olive Garden to the choices.  Since we toured various gardens, wasn’t it fitting to squeeze one more “garden” in?  I love Olive Garden.  You can hate, I don’t care.  I love their Pork Milanese with tortellini in a cream sauce.  Breadsticks with Alfredo sauce.  Endless salad.  Mmmmmm, I’m hungry again.  We ate so much I’m ashamed to admit.  I know, there we were in Asheville with so many unique dining choices and we chose that.  I know, I know, but normally we do unique stuff there.    It was a holiday, leave me alone…

It was 3pm already!  We wished we could take a nap.  We were full and tired.  Sun weary.  Just plain ole beat down.  We hit the road.  A 2 hour drive home.  We got home, unpacked, I did laundry and some blogging.    We didn’t even eat dinner.  Jim had cereal, I had popcorn.

What a fantastic weekend!

4-23-11 Saturday (Who Pooped In The Park?)

Somehow we managed to get up in time for our train ride.  I guess it helps that we scheduled a wake up call and set the alarm clock as a back up.  We started the day with breakfast in the hotel lobby.  Have I mentioned it was free?  Juice, eggs, biscuits, cereal, bagels, oatmeal and tons more.  Our favorite… self made waffles.  OK, enough about the food (for now). 

We departed early for an hour and a half ride to Bryson City which is where Great Smoky Mountain Railroad departs.  We were one of the first to arrive, got our tickets, seat assignments and beverage cups.  The beverage cups were part of the first class deal and designed to be souvenirs as well as pegged for free refills. 

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Our seat assignment was something like J3, J4.  I wondered about 1 & 2.  Were we sitting with strangers?  Turned out we were.  We boarded the train and took our assigned seats at a table with an older couple in the Silver Meteor.  We chit chatted.  The train itself wasn’t as “first class” as expected.  The chairs were parson’s type chairs.  The place seemed a little cramped.


2011-04-23 054Above: A photo our table companions took of us.

Sorry, I only have the websites stock photo of it.  The reason?  We moved?  The train wasn’t fully booked so the attendant announced that we could move.  We found out that the other train car was nicer, spacious and comfortable.  Off we went to the MacNeill.


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The sights were spectacular.  Most of the tracks followed along the Nantahala River.  The mini water falls from the rocks, the fauna, Lake Fontana’s beauty, all so wonderful.  Unfortunately most photos didn’t come out that well.  Apparently the glass made everything foggy in the photos yet we were able to see everything flawlessly.   See:

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As I mentioned on a prior post, this was some Easter Beagle – Peanuts event going on.  Here’s some staff that walked around through the cars:

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I wanted to ride in style with some wine:

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They didn’t have any Sweet Red or Moscato.   The server brought a couple of reds to try but we found them way too bitter.  We asked for a White Zinfandel but I “tolerated” it but Jim didn’t care for it… so I drank his too.

Meals came.  Mine was wrong.  It was supposed to be steak fajita but they brought chicken instead.  Had I known they’d have to remake mine I would have gladly settled for the chicken.  Jim finished his chicken salad before mine arrived.  It seemed to lack chicken salad…

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It was time for a 1.5 hour “layover”.  C’mon Jim:

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The layover was at the Nantahala Outdoor Center where lots of kayaking and white water rafting takes place.  We’ll be doing that in June by the way.  Yes, really.  Jim and his Groupons do keep us busy and entertained!

OK, here’s a bunch of photos of our layover:

2011-04-23 034Above: Our choo-choo!

2011-04-23 035Above: 3 butterflies.

2011-04-23 036Above: Some kayakers.  Not us though.

2011-04-23 037Above: Jim strikes a pose.

2011-04-23 038Above: Me and Jim.

2011-04-23 040Above: The end of the rapids, no one is permitted here.

Snoopy was at the outdoor center as well as on the train for the kids.

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On the way back, we swapped places with everyone on the other side of the train so that we could see the sights from the other side.  We ride the same track back to Bryson City.

Lots more sights.  Blah, blah:

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Above/Below: Lake Fontana.

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OK, now for some odd photos I snapped today.  The first to show you was while at a store at the outdoor center:

2011-04-23 039Above: The guy had kite string tied to his sunglasses.

As we walked around Bryson City:

2011-04-23 015Above: No explanation needed.

2011-04-23 047Above: Moo.  Taking the cows out for a ride through town?

2011-04-23 048Above: Golly gee, lets stay here.  They got them new fangled room phones.

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Above/Below: I hope the pay is damn good!  No appointments necessary?  That’s right, with our extended hours you can stop in any time on Wednesdays between 10am and 2pm.  Call ahead to make sure what time we take lunch.

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Above/Below: Creepy dolls in a window.

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2011-04-23 053Above: We bought some.  We have Kudzu all over NC and the train attendant spoke about it’s history.  He said the jelly was tasty.  Kudzu came from Japan and is used for many things.  If you are curious, click here and here.

2011-04-23 010Above: Cities or city’s?

2011-04-23 011Above: OK, not so odd but he’s cute and he’s mine.

It was a great trip today.  Now back to Asheville to freshen up and then go out for dinner.  We went back to the Cuban restaurant that had been closed Friday night.  We enjoyed Havana Restaurant.  Jim and I both had Palomilla Steak (Thinly Sliced Beef Loin seasoned with Garlic, Cumin, Salt, Pepper, a fresh squeeze of Lime and topped with Onion Rings.  All Entrees include a House Salad and served with Rice, Black Beans, Yucca, & Plantains)  For an appetizer we devoured yummy Empanadas (Deep Fried Pastry Shell filled with a choice of Cheese and Pork). 

We walked off our meals by touring the streets of Asheville.  We ended the evening with a visit to friend, April’s house.  We had never physically met her until tonight.  Jim has been Facebook friends with her for a long time!  In the past, the timing wasn’t right for us to meet up till now.  Hi April!