Thursday, August 23, 2007

Evening Dinner and Theatre in Highlands, NC

Tonight was 'take a shower', put on some clean 'smart casual' attire and enjoy dining at one of the 40 eating experiences in Highlands. Al had obtained reservations for Paoletti's, where classic Italian fare awaits you. (Reservations are recommended due to the high volume of visitors to this area) Pat ordered a special preparation of Linguini with Alfredo Sauce which the waiter indicated there would be no problem whatsoever to provide. I'm glad she did, as that would definitely be something I would order in the future. Bill ordered another pasta with bits of veal and other little tidbits in a creamy tomato sauce . Al and I both had the mushroom crusted Halibut which was absolutely splendid! This was an eatery we will return to again and again.

After dinner, off to one of several theatres (no, not for movies - yes, actual plays) to see the play Secret Weapon. Four women presented moments in the lives of women in the white house. The viewers recieved insights into the lives of Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton and Jackie Kennedy-Onasis. A delightful evening, indeed!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dry Falls and Bust Your Butt Falls, Highlands, NC area

Dry Falls (3.5 miles from Highlands) and Bust Your Butt Falls

Today's 'auto' trip can be counted as one of the more spectacular, yet easier trecks. On highway 64 going south from Highlands to Franklin, there are two stops that can be combined to make a wonderful excursion. If you drive too far (which we did), you'll see the gold mining store. Stop, turn around and head back towards Highlands. Stop number one was 'Bust Your Butt Falls. Driving from Highlands, it would be 6 miles south on 64 on the left side of the road. This was actually about 1.5 miles south of Cliffside Lake Recreation entrance which we did not turn into; but, is definitely on a future jaunt. Note, roadside parking only at Bust Your Butt Falls. Here, dozens of huge granite rocks await your climbing skills. Hardy shoes are very much a requirement for all of these trails, leave your sandals at home. Brother Bill and Pat took the challenge and descended way down towards the falls. What a picture to see the powerful water cascading from on high and serving as a back drop to them as they cuddled on one of the granite boulders in the middle of the Cullasaja river. Al and I preferred to stay on the upper side and enjoy the view from on high.

About an hour later, we left the big granite rocks and drove to Dry Falls. This, however was one of the wettest areas we'd seen! (Better parking here) An easy 73 stone steps led down to a cascading falls that actually had the trail moving behind and past the falls. The views were so spectacular - here you can see the falls from literally all angles. Huge portions of the mountain hang high above our heads, green moss, jutting plants, cool moist air hovers around us. There is one section where you can stand almost inside a huge area that looks like a shallow cave. Watch out for drops of water falling off the upper ledges of the mountain above. This area was hard to leave - almost magical. So far, Dry Falls is one of the top 'must see' sites.
Back to the van. BEAR PAW prints noted on the back of the van doors!!!!! How did they get there? During the night perhaps, a bear wandered to the van and then meandered elsewhere as there was no food items available. The dusty print certainly looked to be that of a bear. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it! Keep in mind when up here, never leave food items out on the decks, etc. The END.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Rhododendron Trail, Highlands NC

Rhododendron Trail, Highlands, NC

A little jaunt to the Highlands Conservation Center turned into a work-out when we discovered a new trail! While taking the lliesurely path behind the Conservation building, we sauntered through a thicket of trees, bushes and luscious plants down to a small lake bejeweled with pink and white water lillies. Then, with a sense of wonder and adventure within us, we came to a section which appeared to be the end of this jaunt. However, across a little road, there was a small hiking sign stating: Rhododendron Trail. Should we take it, not knowing how far or how strenuous this was? The trails in Highlands are listed with reference to increasing order of length and difficulty. Since we had no clue, brother Bill decided he would go ahead and scout it out. Pat and I waited, and waited and waited for him to return. We called out "BILL" - no response. Soooooo, forward we started. The path was beautiful, but also it was necessary to be very aware of where our feet were positioned with each step. Some sections were about 12 to 18 inches wide with a very deep descent on the right side. Don't lose the grip, or down we go! We called out to Bill several times with no sound echoing back, so - forward we continued. A little fear crept in; but, we had crossed the line of no return. Finally, there was a small creek with a clear flowing stream. With some difficulty, we climbed over a large tree trunk and partially jumped, partially stumbled across the flowing water. 'Really did not get our shoes wet, thank goodness.

The sound of a road with cars became evident, then sunshine started creeping through the leaves. At last, civilization! On the road, shall we turn left or right???? Not a clue! Then a car passed by. Pat wildly waved her hands and got the driver's attention. He indicated which way to go. Soon, the sight of Bill was in the distance, 'twas a relief, indeed. Joined as a team once again, we trecked back to the Highlands Conservation Center. We traversed about 2.5 miles or so from door to door - a wonderfull work-out indeed! The trail itself was listed as two tenths of a mile IF we had turned around at the creek. Maybe, we should have checked with the Conservation Center BEFORE the treck. They provide information for all their trails. By the way, no bears were discovered on this journey!