4th of July – Part 2

Fireworks, watermelon and wine …. Good 4th of July in Asheville.  While driving around Asheville, I noticed signs for the Blue Ridge Parkway.  After watching the fireworks, I logged on to learn more about the Blue Ridge Parkway while trying one of the bottles of wine.

“The Blue Ridge Parkway is more than a road – it’s a beautiful journey that entices visitors to explore a 469-mile gateway to America’s rich cultural heritage including Cherokee traditions, music, crafts, agriculture and nature. ”

Wine wasn’t worth a 2nd glass.  Down the drain it went.

But the Blue Ridge Parkway!  Suddenly my next day’s route was planned.  More watermelon and I was ready for bed.

Rise and shine and I was off ….. I did stop at the local supermarket for a ice chest, ice and water!  The front desk staff at my hotel were super — they had so many places for me to see, my head was swimming.  I opted to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway to Brevard because there’s a beautiful waterfall near Brevard.

Oh my, I was not prepared for the drive.

Blue Ridge Parkway Welcome
The Valley
Chestnut Cove sign

 

Early Morning at Chestnut Cove

Having been in Wyoming in late May where I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, I was unprepared for the similar feeling of overwhelmed I had while driving the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The western US with its rugged, sharp peaks is masculine while the eastern US has verdant round rolling mountains, feminine in my mind.  There’s no way to compare the 2 sides just like it’s impossible to compare man to woman.

 

 

 

Cradle of Forestry Overlook

Guess I didn’t get a photo when I reached 6000 foot elevation.  Probably because at that point I realized that I was 1) climbing higher and higher on a mountain road and 2) driving along the tops of the mountains.   eek …..

About the time, my nerves started getting the best of me, I exited to head down (yup, approximately 34 miles downhill on winding roads) to Brevard, on the hunt for the water falls.

I was relieved to head down from the Parkway but at some point during the 34-miles, I realized I had no reception on either phone  and no one knew where I was.  DOH!   Maybe I didn’t need to continue at 45 mph.

Aha, the falls!

Looking Glass Waterfall

Looking Glass Waterfall

Looking Glass Waterfalls

It was a nice refreshing stop along the way to Brevard — a short hike around the falls, in the woods.  After seeing the falls, I didn’t need to go to Brevard … except I had to pee.

Peeing played a big part in my trip.  There were a lot of unplanned stops to take care of that basic need.  I wish I could say I only peed in toilets … but no.  There were several moments I had to pull off the road and head into the woods.  Oh well.

Back on the road again.  Turns out the best way to get to Great Smoky Mountains National Park was to go back on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Deep breath and my big girl pants and I was climbing up again.

 

Appalachian Trail

Loved this!  It was a very rewarding 4 mile hike just before I crossed over to Tennessee.

NC-TN State Line

Weird observation: North Carolina has barriers on the Parkway, Tennessee does not.

 

 

 

1st Blogging Conference

Omigosh!   Returned home today from Blog Her Food 2012 — my 1st food blogging conference.  Well, my first blogging conference ever!  What an amazing experience to meet/chat/socialize with hundreds of people who are passionate about food!  (note to self: business cards

And I had a beautiful room at the Renaissance Hotel as well as a delicious meal (and mediocre wine but you can’t win ’em all), a short walking distance from the event hotel.

 

Ohhh … king bed was heaven
View from door

My only gripe is about the coffeemaker — no cups just Styrofoam cups? Oh and why no light switch to enter the bedroom???

I met great folks — Heather, United States of Motherhood, Megan, the Gluten Free Vegan, and the irrepressibly Jan, Heckerty especially stood out and of course, meeting Ree Drummond aka the Pioneer Woman was a special highlight.  She is as friendly and gracious in person as she seems on her blog and TV.  Yes there was a pic taken and no I’m not showing posting on my blog.  YES, we love cowboys!  AND THE FOOD ….. No more needs to be said.

Wish I had taken pics of the sweet potato crabcakes instead

Even better was the enormous focus on learning.  Finally I am starting to understand how social media is re-shaping our society and how businesses sell products/find customers.  More importantly I see that blogging can be a business or a hobby.  Knowing which one it is and keeping that front and center is critical.

I have a voice (for those who know me, you can insert “loud” voice) and am clear as to who I am as a ‘brand.’  It’s the technical stuff I need to learn — improve my photography skills, network with other bloggers, learn how to use all aspects of social media (woohoo Instagram and Pinterest I now know how to use!).

It’s exciting and frightening to stretch my comfort zone and develop new skills.  It doesn’t hurt that I’m going to new cities for conferences … wheeeeeeee, travel’s always fun.

To my new friends from BlogHer Food 2012 — see you in Austin 2013.