Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September

Whoosh! And just like that September is history. Another month in the books.....Here's a quick update on my month.

Travel
Travel this month was to the Brunswick Islands of North Carolina, Southport and Wilmington. (New blog post up about this trip) I had never been to this area except for Wilmington so it was a new place to visit for me. I loved Southport and the beaches. The whole area has a laid-back, small town feel. People were very friendly and the weather was perfect. Granted, it was shoulder seasons so the crowds were fewer and the locals were probably more receptive to the few tourists that were there. Anyways, if you get a chance, go visit - you'll be glad you did!

A September sunset in Southport


Eats
I'm not a big seafood lover but I heard that all the seafood in Southport was fantastic. My favorite eats for the month was the fried pickles I had at The Blind Tiger in Charleston. A cool, little locals pub, they have some great nighly specials. We were there on a weekday and Mr. UR got the special - pulled pork tacos - but being a fried pickles aficionado, I decided that would have to be our appetizer.Our server said that they have the best fried pickles in Charleston - and yep, I'm a believer!





Read
I read three books this month - well, actually I attempted to read three books but read only two. I am a big John Grisham fan and I finally got my hands on a copy of Gray Mountain, which I loved. I love the new heroine  - and the storyline also. I also read Liane Moriarty's The Husband's Secret. Also a winner in my book. A real page turner for me. And I attempted to read Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll. It's gotten rave reviews so I'm not quite sure what happened but I just couldn't get into this book. Sometimes that happens. I felt way too old for this book - or it was too young for me. Either way - life is too short to struggle reading a book you just can' get into!

Hope y'all had a great month of September and here's to October!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hey Baby, Let's Go To Vegas

Las Vegas. Sin City. Home of the Rat Pack. The Hangover. Showgirls and Gamblers. Hustlers and Hawkers. What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas. Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties.Or Stag and Hen parties, if you will. Smoke and Mirrors.Some of my family visits there every year. And some of my family actually lives there (unfortunately, they were out of town for our visit)  I hadn't been there in over 20 years. And the city had changed -it had grown by leaps and bounds. The last time I was there I learned I wasn't a gambler. And for me, Vegas...um, not so much. I do love it's setting in the desert though.  So why was I even there? We were meeting my oldest in southwestern Utah and Las Vegas was the least expensive (and closest) city to fly into. So to Las Vegas we went.

We visited some National Parks and some state parks. Then we had a day left to walk the strip and see some of that Vegas magic. That's all we did - walk the strip and people watch.  So enough blabbing- here are some images from our day there. If you are a Vegas aficionado, then hopefully these photos will spur some memories and hold you over until you're next trip. Maybe you've never been so here's a sneak peek preview. Either way, I hope you enjoy them!










































Which one is your favorite photo? How about you - do you dream of your next trip to Las Vegas? 














Once again, I'm linking up with fellow travel bloggers for Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, Friday Postcards at Walking On Travels, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute and Weekend Wanderlust at A Brit and A Southerner.  Please visit them for some fantastic travel inspiration!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A coupla Virginia wineries

We spent the better part of a day driving Shenandoah National Park's colorful Skyline Drive ( You can read about that drive Here).But after being in the car for that long, it was time to get outside. My friend Jo found a few wineries for us to visit and we enjoyed both even though they were entirely different.





Our first stop was at Sharp Rock Vineyards. Located in Sperryville, Virginia and overlooking Old Rag Mountain, Sharp Rock is a rustic and beautiful vineyard.It's a small winery that crafts 12 wines from grapes grown at the vineyard and hand bottles them. Not only is it a vineyard, it is also a bed and breakfast. There is a cottage and a carriage house to stay in which includes a complimentary wine tasting and bottle of wine. We didn't take advantage of that offer, but we did each have a glass of wine. And enjoy the incredible view of Old Rag Mountain.





 You can do a wine tasting, purchase a glass or bottle of wine and also purchase some snacks in the wine shop.Quiet, peaceful, rustic, beautiful.- I really enjoyed our time here at Sharp Rock. It would be a beautiful site for a wedding - which they hold here also.









The second winery that we visited was DuCard Vineyards. We almost didn't visit here - we were using our GPS and the directions led us down several gravel roads. We were sure that it couldn't be so far out in the middle of nowhere. We almost turned around but gave ourselves a few minutes until we did. But the directions were right! Surprisingly to me, it was crowded! Everyone else found it too. (the actual address is in Etlan, Virginia)










Located on the eastern edge of Shenandoah National Park and also with a view of Old Rag Mountain, DuCard describes the vineyard as "a hobby gone wild." In fall, they are open seven days per week and on weekends (including Friday) the rest of the year. There is a fee for tastings, light food is available and the winery is dog friendly. They also have a Barrel Room Food and Wine Program during spring and summer. You can find out more Here

As with Sharp Rock, we didn't do a tasting but purchased a glass of wine. There is seating indoors or outdoors on the back deck - with an incredible view.







Yep, that''s the view! And if the view and a glass of wine wasn't enough to enjoy the afternoon, DuCard had a band from France to provide entertainment for their visitors.





Quirky - and fun - unique - pretty much unlike any band I've ever seen or heard. They definitely got the crowd into it ( By the way, DuCard has music on the patio every Saturday afternoon in September with no cover charge)






A really fun day. A beautiful afternoon. In fact, I think I could get used to this - how about doing this every Saturday afternoon? I'm pretty sure I could!













I'm linking up with Weekend Wanderlust at A Brit and A Southerner, Friday Travel Postcards at Walking On Travels Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute,The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond and Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The North Shore

We started our drive of Lake Superior, The North Shore to be exact, in Duluth with the goal of reaching Bluefin Bay Resort in Tofte, Minnesota by check-in time to enjoy as much time at the resort as possible. We rolled out of Duluth after breakfast and our first stop was to actually see and feel the lake.(And in case you're wondering, yep, it was very cold!)







The picture of Lake Superior in my mind was rough water with whitecaps and huge waves - most likely it came from the song by Gordon Lightfoot, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.  If you're familiar with the song, which is about a real life shipwreck on Lake Superior in 1975, you know there is a line about " the gales of November came early." But there was hardly a ripple on the lake that day. (and I couldn't get that song out of my head for days!)



The first town we came to was Two Harbors, Minnesota.It's a very bustling town in the summer with typical fast food chains and a little downtown with some mom and pop places, too. We stopped at an incredibly friendly little visitors center to get the lay of the land. They suggested we go down to the lake and check out a park. Next to the park was this Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast. We already had plans for the night but it looks like a very cool place to stay!



Saw some wildlife!




When I was doing research on the drive, I ran across Betty's Pies. I knew that was right up my alley! So Mr. UR obliged my desire for dessert and we stopped. Holy Crowds Batman! No place to park and a very long wait. I decided on take-out - and cherry as my flavor of pie- which only took about 10 minutes. But if you want a home-style meal and you're at the North Shore, try Betty's. Just know that you should be prepared for a wait - even on a summer weekday afternoon.



Now it was time for lunch - and dessert - so we took our picnic lunch to a state park pull-off called Flood Bay Beach and ate overlooking the lake. (By the way, I was too full for pie so I had it later)  This was our view at lunch. (That's Superior Shores Resort - find more info Here)











One of the main attractions on the North Shore is Gooseberry Falls State Park. It includes an upper, middle and lower falls with a short walk to an overview of the falls. You can also wade in the water if the water isn't flowing too fast(. The park also includes some of Lake Superior's shoreline which we didn't visit)







The main attraction of Lake Superior's North Shore is Split Rock Lighthouse. Started in 1905 and completed in 1910, this lighthouse is one of Minnesota's most well-known landmarks. A National Historic Landmark, it's housed in Split Rock State Park. We drove into the state park and perused the visitor center. We didn't visit the actual lighthouse as it was a separate $9 fee per person in addition to the state park fee. We did get good views of it, however, from a pull-off before you get to the state park. Very beautiful and I'm sure in autumn it's spectacular.







Shortly after that we reached The Norwegian Riviera and Bluefin Bay Resort. (Read more about our stay there, here) In all, I think it took us about 3 hours to drive The North Shore including stops. A very enjoyable drive! If you haven't been to the world's largest freshwater lake, put it on your travel list. Very friendly people, beautiful scenery and some history thrown in - you can't go wrong!



Travel Tips for The North Shore:

- For a wealth of general information, go to www.northshorevistor.com
- Be prepared for traffic and construction in summertime. There can be delays.
- Watch out for wildlife. We only saw deer but when we arrived at Bluefin Bay, we were able to see an owl that had been hit by a car and was in rehabilitation. The rescue worker explained that animals were hurt every year on the roads.
- There are many resorts along The North Shore. Some are all-inclusive and others include lots of extras - ours had s'mores by the fire every night and kayaking included - so save some time at your hotel to do the activities provided.
- We stopped in Tofte. You can continue on this All-American Road all the way to the international border with Canada at Grand Portage. Just remember to bring your passport if you are heading into Canada.
- Enjoy!














I'm linking up with Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, Friday Postcards at Walking On Travels, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute and Weekend Wanderlust at A Brit and A Southerner! Go give them a look-see!