Wednesday’s Ode #17

  
I absolutely love Highlands, NC! At over 4,000 feet in elevation, it is the second highest town on the East Coast, and it is simply a wonderful little town. If you’ve ever visited Gatlinburg, Tn, we always say Highlands is everything Gatlinburg should be…without all the Tshirt shops and commercializations. It is simply beautiful, and if you’ve never been, I encourage you to make a trip! It is a definite favorite for me and my husband, as we spent our first and second honeymoons here, and due to the cooler temperature year-round, we come here at least 4-6 times a year, if not a good many more. 

  
It’s not a big city. It’s a quaint little mountain town with a little bit of “high society” living. They’ve got wonderful accommodations, restaurants and shops. One of my favorites is The Old Edwards Inn; the character of this place is incredible. They have a library, in which, you can actually find a book to sit and enjoy, high vaulted ceilings and even a hidden butler pantry where the staff may come to serve the guests. Their restaurant, Madison’s, has some of the best shrimp and grits I’ve ever put in my mouth…and being a Southern girl, that’s quite a bit! They have inside seating, a wine garden with outside seating, and even a rooftop terrace where you can choose to have your meal.   Now just imagine: a lovely rooftop terrace, with beautiful shutters, table settings and cushioned seating, overlooking the little town, and a gentle summer breeze blowing in the “heat” of summer with ceiling fans gently rolling. The temperature gauge rising no more than about 70-72 degrees, because you’re at such a high elevation! The waiter brings you a pleasant cheese and cracker tray for an appetizer, “just right” sweet Southern tea, mini biscuits and cornbread made fresh daily, and your meal consists of fish and chips and the best shrimp and grits you’ve ever tasted. They even serve the shrimp and grits in a mini iron crock; so, they stay warm throughout the duration of the meal. It is a fine Southern meal to remember! 😉

  
   Doesn’t that look just awesome?! …It tastes even better!!

For dessert, you’ll want to walk down the street to Kilwin’s, where you can choose homemade fudge and chocolates, or you can choose from a mass variety of Mayfield ice cream. The pralines and chocolate dipped Nutter Butters, PB cups and Oreos are some of my family’s faves; however, my personal favorite is the turtle caramel apple! They take a Granny Smith Apple, dip it in caramel, roll it in pecans and, then, drizzle it with chocolate, and they will slice it right there for you; so, you don’t have to try to bite into that monstrosity! It is divine!!  If you’d like a wonderful cup of coffee with your dessert, you can also find it there; however, I prefer a cup of Buck’s Coffee, preferably a cup of white chocolate mocha, just across the street. Outside Kilwin’s is a brick patio with lots of umbrella tables and chairs where you can enjoy your coffee and yummy desserts, and on Friday and Saturday evenings, often times, they will have a live bluegrass, country (or other Southern genre) band playing. It’s simply a delightful ending for a great day. 

These things have just got to be in heaven! 

Now, if you’d like to work off some of those delicious calories you’ve added to your waistline during your stay, they have a ton of shops for you to find any number of items, and they have a numerous amount of hikes for you to explore. You can stop by the Highland Hiker and pick up a local booklet of all the Day Hikes Of Highlands, and explore till your heart is content. You can check the local weather and head out for a delightful, cool climat-ed, adventure. 

We, personally, love Dry Falls, Glenn Falls, Sunset Rock and Whiteside Mountain. Dry Falls had recently had a remodeling of the parking lot and walkway, and it’s an incredibly easy walk to a beautiful waterfall which you can walk behind. When it has had a lot of recent waterfall, the roar can be so loud that you can barely hear each other talk while standing behind it. Glenn Falls is a little bit longer of a hiker but definitely an easy one. Many people who go to this one say they’ve always ended up at the bottom of the falls, but haven’t ever been to the top. Upon starting out, there is a sign to the falls on the left, and to another location on the right. Choose the left; then, a little bit further down the trail, there is a fork in the road where you must choose the right side path in order to get to the top of the falls. The left path takes you to the bottom. We always choose the top of the falls, because we like to put out feet in the water, but please, please be careful here! There are no boundaries once you cross over the overlook area. You can get as close to the edge as you’d like, and if you have adventurous boys like mine, your mother’s heart can very easily suffer about three heart attacks during your enjoyment of the view and the cool waters!! 

 …WAY too close, JGrizz!!

If you are visiting the area with your significant other, Sunset Rock is a must! You drive to it, and walk just a tiny path that opens up to an incredible sheer-faced rock that overlooks the town of Highlands. The view from here at sunset definitely earns its name! If you’d prefer to just drive to the many water falls, you can pick up a map, head out and literally drive under Bridal Falls and drive around to see many others. Just beware of the very curvy, and often, very narrow highway you must travel to see these. You might want to have a designated driver who doesn’t want to sightsee and drive! Haha. 

If you’d prefer a bit longer hike, Whiteside  Mountain is a great choice. We hiked here during our honeymoon week and saw our first Peregrine Falcon face to face. The little snapshot camera I had (these were the days before iPhones and digitals!) didn’t really do it justice, but he was about 3-4 feet from us and just seemed to sit there and simile for the camera. The hike is pleasant, and the views are simply breathtaking! 

If you are on the East Coast and have never been to Highlands, it is well worth the trip!! It is a beautiful town that is surrounded with breathtaking sights, and the weather, especially in the summertime, is a very welcome delight! If shopping, hiking and sightseeing is your kind of thing, this is definitely a must-see!

Advertisements

Wednesday’s Ode #15

  
I love the Great Smoky Mountains and Cades Cove! The beauty of these places cannot be compared to any other. The Smoky Mountains National Park has a gorgeous landscape, and I love driving through it during each season to see the beauty of the land. 

This is one place where you truly can experience every season. In the Spring, there is an assortment of greens sprinkled across the hills. The birds, deer and smaller wildlife are bright with life and, seemingly, excited that winter is now passed. The summers can get hot, yet, not as hot as other places. The days are comfortably warm with the evenings still becoming a bit cool, especially in the higher elevations. 

Fall is probably my most favorite time, as the colors can almost be found nowhere else. No matter where you go in The Smokies during the fall, the foliage is just simply gorgeous. This is proven by the plethora of tourists who make yearly visits to the mountains during the month of October. That is probably the only thing I don’t really appreciate about fall months in The Smokies. 

  
The wildlife is definitely something to see in the Smoky Mountains National Park. You can just take a drive or a nice hike, and it is possible to see deer, bear and even elk. Upon driving into the park from Cherokee, NC, you will often see elk in a pasture off the side of the road. If you drive into Cades Cove, especially at dusk, you will see herd of deer, and many times, you will have to wait in a line of traffic because of a “bear jam.” If you are in search of some wildlife, The Smokies are a fun adventure!

There are so many hikes to take that I would not be able to mention them all. I will mention a few of my personal favorites, Abrahm’s Falls, Ramsey Cascades, the Chimneys, Gregory’s Bald, Newfoundland Gap, Clingman’s Dome and the Cat Stairs. If you’re looking for an overnight hiking trip, you can hike to Mount LeConte and take a snooze break at the LeConte Lodge. This is definitely not your five-star hotel. You will not find your high speed internet, modern accommodations or the swimming pool, but it is a warm meal, hot shower and bedding for the weary travelers. To show you how remote this inn is, the food and supplies needed for this inn are not transported there by car. They are packed in on llamas!! I, personally, have never stayed there, but my dad says it’s a pretty neat experience, and it’s definitely a warm welcome after s long day’s hike. 

  
If you visit the East Coast and the  Appalachain Mountain Range areas, The Smoky Mountain National Park is a must to place on your itenarary. You can stay close in Gatlinburg, Sevierville, Pigeon Forge or Townsend, and many cabins and other accommodations have “mountain view” rooms. There’s plenty of other things to do in the area, as well, but that might be another blog for another day. If you have never been to The Smokies, I encourage you to make the trip. It will be well worth it!