Monday, January 30, 2012

Hiking Rainbow Road Trail, Montreat

Trail head

It was a warm day hovering in the low 60's - great and unusual for January so my husband and I took off for a easy 50 minute hike in Montreat.  Or so we thought! The town is home to Montreat College and they have many trails available to the public on their grounds.  We headed up Lookout Road and found the parking lot on the right.  This trail began off the lower parking lot - Lookout Trail which is longer and termed strenuous begins from the upper lot.

Rainbow Road

The Rainbow Road Trail is marked well with red diamonds on trees.  We hike often and enjoy being outdoors but had not hiked much in the past few months. We headed up on a a easy grade walking through rhododendrons on the north facing slopes.  We were a bit suspicious since we were going up in elevation.  After walking 30 minutes, my husband suggested heading back down the way we came.  Since the hike was supposed to take 50 minutes I figured we were more than half way done so I voted to keep going....the trail kept getting narrower and steeper.  By now it had begun to cool off and rain lightly.  I had my camera tucked in my fleece jacket for protection.

Lots of fallen trees over the trail

The view as we went higher.

We met a couple on mountain bikes and they had stopped to ponder which way to go down. I guess she wanted a gradual incline.  They suggested a trail down for us that was the more gradual of the two choices.  I guess they went the other way since we never met up with them.  The trail was still ascending but it at least looked like we were going back in the direction we came from.  We reached yet another intersection of trails , completely at a loss as to which one to take even after looking at the map.  We chose one and after walking it a bit  looked around  - both of us realized we had been there before!  By now we were tired, hungry, getting wet and 50 minutes had long since passed.

Our rescuers

Looking up the above the trail.

Thankfully a young couple with two dogs were coming up the trail so we asked them for our bearings.  Turns out we had taken the wrong turn and were going back down the way we came up - another hour out of our way.  They told us to follow them and they would show us the way.  We hated to hold them up.  My husband's knee was bothering him so it was slow walking back up even with his walking stick. This sweet couple walked slowly and kept checking on us as we followed them.  When we go to the next trail intersection, they had waited for us to make sure we took the correct turn.  They even went a little bit on this trail to point us off to another left turn.  Bless them or we would still b there going around in circles!

Finally heading back down!

I have found that the young people in the mountains are very respectful of their elders and this certainly proves my case.  They went well out of their way to make sure we found our way out.  The rain began in earnest again and we had a steep descent but not too difficult. I was never so glad to see the car.  And this was marked an easy trail! Next time we will stick to the under 30 minute easy hikes until we know them well ourselves.

The end is near.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pre Season Blooms

Our winter so far has been extremely mild warm and rainy with temps in the 50s and 60s even.  Our early spring flowers are way ahead of schedule peeking up through the dead leaves bringing tiny bursts of color in an otherwise bleak landscape.

The snowdrops usually come up in mid February with dafs following soon after.  The phlox is very early since we don't see this until the daffodils are blooming!  And here we are still in January!!


For more flowers all over the world do visit Today's Flowers

Monday, January 23, 2012

Grove Arcade, Asheville

The Grove Arcade encompasses a full city block.

One of my favorite places to visit in Asheville is the Grove Arcade.  Whenever we have company, I will take them on a tour of this beautiful and historic building.  A dream of Edwin Wiley Grove, the creator of the Grove Park Inn, the Neo-Gothic style Grove Arcade was finished in 1929, two years after its creator passed away.  At 269,000 square feet, the Arcade is the largest building in downtown Asheville and one of the last shopping arcades in the country.

Originally built to support a 14 story tower, only the base was competed. Upon opening, it contained a fine collection of shops and services including candy and cigar stores, a haberdashery, stenography office, fruit stands, millinery shops, beauty parlors, barbershops, a photography center, bookstalls and specialty groceries.  Offices filled the upper floors and for 13 years this building was the center of commercial life in Western North Carolina.

Upstairs offices and apartments embellished with medieval grotesques.

Peaked glass ceilings and wrought iron walkways and staircases add to the drama.

In 1942, the Federal Government took over the building, evicting all of the tenants to be replaced by offices to monitor and win World War II.  After the war ended, the Federal Government used the building to house the National Climatic Data Center.  For 50 years the Arcade was shuttered and windows bricked over.

Open air market

Al fresco dining

With the revival of downtown Asheville in the 1970's the public supported returning the Arcade to its former  glory and use.  Restored and opened to the public again in 2002, today it houses all of the same sort of shops it once did, with offices  and luxury apartments on the upper floors. Restaurants line the street side with outside patios while a open air market  adds charm in the warmer months.  Hope you enjoyed learning about this piece of our town's history.

The exterior is ivory hued terra cotta tiles.
Winged lions guard the north entrance.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Steep Slope Homes

I hope you had a wonderful holiday - I took an impromptu break to catch up on other projects. A belated Happy New Year to all!

I thought I would try to find some images that show some unique and unusual things about the place I call home beginning with this post.

It never ceases to amaze me that people build houses on steep slopes, ending up with absolutely no usable land to walk on around their house - just decks instead of a yard.  Here is one going up just off Route 9.  Sitting below the twisty winding road , it is built on a cement slab. They had to haul off  dirt to level off a place for the house. It is going to be 3 stories high with decks in back and the front door faces a dirt wall.  How safe can this be?

The homes in the pic below sit on Riverside Drive with their back decks jutting out over the street below. It would scare me living in a place like this!

Do you have limits on building steep slopes in your town or do they do this?


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