Category Archives: Fall

An Idyllic Mountain Vacation Setting

Recently my family and I took a much-needed trip to the mountains. As on most vacations, we never know what our accommodations are going to be like as I reserve lodging spots sight unseen. It is a little easier with the use of the internet. However, as each owner makes their own rental sound simply amazing and breathtakingly appealing, it can be somewhat misleading and we never quite know what we are going to get until we arrive at each vacation destination. At a certain price point, we can be pretty assured that it will be acceptable. However, one never really knows what awaits. Will we be out in the sticks, miles away from town and unable to find grocery stores, restaurants and shopping? Will everyone be happy with their designated bed and/or room? We have rented houses in the past through real estate rental management companies and have recently discovered vacation rentals by owner. Most often, we have been happy.  One time, our house was up a very steep hill that left us all scared to make the ascent each time we would go to and from our rental property. We have been far away from civilization and were exhausted each time we had to find a grocery store to gather our supplies for the weekend. We have had rustic quarters where someone had to sleep on a cot, a sleeper sofa or worse, on the floor.  We have stayed in what we refer to as “the elf house” that was literally so small that we could barely turn around. We had to make up the couch/bed and push aside the kitchen table each day in order to have a spot to sit down or eat.

The story that tops them all is when we stayed at a “resort” in West Virginia. I use the term lightly as this is how it was advertised. Little did we know that it had been a former women’s prison in the early part of the 20th century.  We stayed in a room that had been the infirmary. The bathroom had no updates and I got an uneasy feeling about the sanitary condition of a place that must have treated contagious diseases and all sorts of ailments. Even worse, the twin beds in the room seemed like they were original to the prison.  We could barely sleep with imaginations of what prisoners had stayed in the room before us. However, what was unnerving were the eerie sounds in the building and particularly in the floor above us throughout the night. Upon closer examination the following day, we discovered that there were still cells and bars on the windows in the upper rooms. It was a space that was rented out each Halloween as a haunted house. It was equipped with a coffin, skeletal figures and other ghoulish apparitions. We could not leave that vacation spot quick enough.

We have been on the other end of the spectrum  when we knew we had spent too much for our rental and the space was so too nice that we couldn’t really relax for fear that we would mess something up and would forfeit a rental deposit. One time our children marvelled at the sight of a refrigerator in an upscale hotel room.  They took treats out of the refrigerator all through the first day of our stay before we realized it. Of course they did not know that those candy bars and sodas were not free and were attached to our already expensive bill at then end of our vacation.

I guess this is part of what makes vacationing an adventure.  Our family always has a ball together. We laugh at each other until we almost cry. It is a much-needed break from our hectic life and we love times that we spend together.

This year’s fall mountain trip offered us one of the best accommodations yet.

We scheduled to stay in a house in a lake community that was built in the 1920’s. From the pictures, I could tell that it had a nice front porch with a view of the lake.  There were plenty of bedrooms and bathrooms for everyone.  It sounded nice enough and since it was in an area where we had never stayed before, we decided to take the risk. It was not far from town, so we figured there would be plenty to do if our house was not quite to our liking and we wanted to venture out.

We arrived in two cars. My mother, son and I arrived earlier in the day. My husband and daughter arrived later that night. We found the house to be better than we had imagined.  It was old but charming because it reminded us of a grandparents’ house. It was furnished in craftsman style with oak wooden floors and moldings.Wallpaper from another era was still on bedroom walls. The bathrooms were not modern.  We found cast iron tubs  in two baths upstairs. There were quilts and rocking chairs throughout the house.  The lack of updates added to the appeal by taking us back to a simpler time. There was only one television in the lower downstairs bedroom. We discovered that we were actually relieved to do without modern technology. It was good to be coerced to unplug for the weekend. We played card games, communicated a lot with one another and  found interesting reading material amongst the many bookshelves throughout the house.

The community was private and quiet.  There were walking trails around the lake.   Canada geese waddled by the lake’s edge. Other water birds could be seen floating  in the distance.  Among them were ducks, swans and loons. These birds were delightful to watch even though they made quite a racket and disturbed our sleep by their constant honking throughout the night.

My daughter took the opportunity to go for a run each morning and made it all the way around the lake.  She explored the neighborhood and brought us back to see a cross at the top of the tallest hill and a bridge that crossed the lake at its narrowest point. There was a feeding area for the swans and a couple of gardens that were maintained by residents throughout the year.

The weather was balmy the first day. My son and I took the opportunity to sit out on the porch and read for a while.  It was good that we did for it rained the next day and turned colder.  We had no choice but to take an indoor shopping excursion and a car tour of the area. The night before we left, the temperature dipped into the 30s. It caught us by surprise forcing us to bundle up as we packed to leave. We started to see snow flurries on our departure and even heavier snow fell along the mountain roads as we travelled home. None of us cared because we had a wonderful time and fond memories of out trip to the mountains.

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The Love Tree

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I enjoyed a walk in the woods near my house today as it was unseasonably warm outside.  The backdrop of cascading yellow leaves was a beautiful sight to behold. Our property is surrounded by maples and tulip trees whose leaves turn to gorgeous shades of gold in the fall. I  kicked the leaves to make a rustling sound as I walked. I spied acorns and pinecones peering through the leaf piles.  Just beyond the creek that runs beside our property, I discovered a tree that was amazing in a different way  besides its leaf color.It is extraordinary because it has a very distinct shape in a knothole.  The hole goes clear through the tree which is in a state of decay although it still has leaves and signs of life. The fact that it is still standing is a testament to the image it portrays. I have named it the “Love Tree” for there is a perfect heart shape permanently imbedded  in its bark.  I am reminded of a poem called Trees by Joyce Kilmer.

imag0115imag0114-1A line in the poem states “Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.” I might also add  “His love was shown to me through a tree.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Alas, the common hickory nut

100_2867I was out raking leaves in my yard the other day and thought I had discovered a treasure.  There were gobs and gobs of nuts falling from shells that had landed on the ground.  I must have missed them last year or perhaps squirrels got them before I noticed them.  When I inspected them more closely, I found some that were cracked open enough to reveal inner nutmeats. They looked alot like pecans and smelled like walnuts.  I began envisioning all the delicious pies that I could bake for Thanksgiving and Christmas. My mouth began to water. I quickly collected as many as my little bucket could hold.

My neighbor passed by while taking a walk. I asked her if she could identify the mystery nuts.  At first she also thought the nuts could be an edible type but she suspected they were more likely hickory nuts. She suggested I Google them.  I learned that in fact I had hickory nuts.  There are some common and uncommon types. My tree was of the more common variety with a plain bark instead of a scaly kind. Unfortunately, the nuts from the common tree have a bitter taste.  The hickory nut also is about the most difficult nut to crack. There are some practical uses for the nuts. They can be used to add flavor to meats by smoking them under meats on an open grill. Some people have cooked the nuts to create hickory milk. Making the milk is a labor-intensive process. It takes a long time cooking the nuts in water until the meats fall out of their shells. The meats and shells must be strained out of the liquid. Only then can the milk be used to flavor dishes with the hickory flavor.

After I finished my research on the hickory nut the excitement over my discovery began to subside. I realized that using the nuts for anything other than decoration was improbable.  Store bought nuts for pie use suddenly seemed pretty appealing.  The common hickory nut is a disappointment for human consumption……but the squirrels still love them!

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Amazed At God’s Beauty All Around

It has been a glorious autumn day here in South Carolina. I took photos of the spectacular color of trees in my yard and neighborhood. The yellow, gold and red leaves were particularly stunning against azure blue skies.  All I can say is God’s handiwork is amazing.   Nothing on earth can compare to the beauty that He creates.

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Sneak Peak Of Winter

Our family went away to the mountains this weekend.  We were expecting to see some beautiful fall color but got an unexpected treat.  When we got to our in-laws’ house in Hendersonville, NC we were greeted with three inches of snow on the ground.  It was like a winter wonderland.  What a rare treat! The kids did not expect to be able to frolic and have snowball fights on the first of November, the earliest on record forFlat Rock 3Flat Rock2 IMG_5983Flat Rock 1 our area.  We schlepped about downtown after a scrumptuous meal. We visited some quaint shops.  We felt like we were in a scene from Star’s Hollow on the Gilmore Girls.  That was just the therapy we needed away from our busy lives, even if it was for only one day.

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A Taste of Fall

One of my family’s favorite fall activites is to visit a local apple orchard and bring home a sample of their cider and donuts. Those of you who live near us are very familiar with this place. Here are a few photos we took at the orchard and at a nearby antiques shop where I get a lot of artistic inspiration.102_2750 (2)102_2749 (2) 102_2743 (2)102_2738

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