Happy Holidays

Triple Falls

If you're looking for snow it's not hard to find. The roads to Dupont State Forest are clear.  My sons and I saw practically no one there yesterday. Great way to spend the solstice.


Given the weather conditions I thought a link to some regional webcams might be of service to my faithful readers.

Greenville Webcams
South Carolina webcams
Great Smoky Mountain National Park webcams
High Country Webcams

Linville River Log Cabins

I've mentioned previously the village of Linville Falls, the Linville Gorge and Linville Caverns. Nearby a new set of cabins are now available for rent on the the Linville River.  All cabins are located right on the river. 

Distance from downtown Greenville: 144 miles.

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Happy Turkey Day

I captured a picture of this lady on Nov. 1st near Hemphill Bald.  I saw about forty turkeys that day which I thought was rather apropos considering the date.

Share the Road

I'd like to make an appeal to my cycling friends.  If you're going to slap a bumper sticker on your Subaru asking others to share the road, please heed your own advice. If your fifty member cycling club is winding up Hwy 178 at ten miles an hour, you're not sharing the road. If you're riding down the middle of the Blue Ridge Parkway with ten cars behind you, you're not sharing the road.  You may have the same legal right to be there, but that doesn't give you the right to be rude and make everyone else wait on you.

On the other, to my motorist friends, although it may at times be tempting to run some of these self-absorbed folks into the grass, it's probably something we should make an effort to avoid.  (Save that temptation for the Floridians who drive like they've never seen a curve in the road before.)

Share the Road

Mount Mitchell

Update: I finally had a chance to see the new upgrades at Mt. Mitchell this weekend. The new lookout tower is really impressive.

Mt. Mitchell Restaurant is the highest restaurant on the east coast, located on the highest mountain east of the Mississippi. The menu ranges from burgers to mountain trout. The dining room overlooks the mountains. Since this is located in a state park there is no beer or wine offerings. If you want a similar dining experience with a more upscale menu and a great wine and beer selection, travel down the Parkway another hour to the Pisgah Inn. (Watch out for the Parkway police officers so you don't blow a needless 100 bucks as I did yesterday.)

Mt. Mitchell in November.

The state park offers great (although very strenuous) trails and a few nice tent campsites. If you’re looking for an easy hike try the Balsam Nature trail. It’s a beautiful trail and only a mile or so round trip. If you’re looking for something more strenuous try the Camp Alice or Old Mt. Mitchell trails. They are much easier going down the mountain than they are coming back up it.

Mt. Mitchell is located in the Black Mountains, which contains 18 of the highest peaks on the east coast. Several of these can be reached via the Deep Gap trail (also called the Black Mountain Crest Trail). The three peaks seen here are Big Tom, Balsam Cone and Cattail Peak. Just behind me a couple hundred yards up the trail is Mt. Craig, the second highest peak on the east coast. All four of these peaks are over 6500’. Deep Gap is one of the most beautiful trails you’re likely to find near Greenville, but is very strenuous. Fortunately the temperature, in theory, should be about 20 degrees cooler than in Greenville (3.5 degrees per 1000’ in elevation).

At this elevation the weather and temperature change rapidly so remember to take a variety of clothes with you. Also, it’s a good idea to call ahead to make sure the park is open.

Location: 35°45'53.49"N 82°15'55.02"W
Distance from downtown Greenville: 92 miles by Google. The best route though is I26N to I40 to 17, then hop on the Parkway for the rest of the drive.

This picture shows the damage from a recent storm on Bald Knob Ridge trail located about a half mile from Mt. Mitchell State Park. There are a couple hundred trees such as these down in this area, several of which have destroyed a campsite and covered the trail, so camping could be hazardous.

Asheville Film Festival

The 7th Annual Asheville Film Festival started tonight. This is a great little film festival. All the venues are within walking distance of each other and within walking distance of plenty of nice restaurants and drinking holes. There are also a number of workshops offered for free. I've got a short film screening there Saturday evening at the Fine Arts Center lower theatre. (I had a feature film screen there a couple years ago.)

Click here for more info.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 61 miles

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Open Studios Returns

Greenville Open Studios  is a weekend event which opens the studios of local visual artists to the public. The event, scheduled for November 7-8, 2009, showcases artists at work in their studios.

Saturday, November 7, 10am - 6pm
Sunday, November 8, Noon - 6pm.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 0-15 miles

Green River Narrows Competition

One of the the top paddling competitions in the country takes place tomorrow (Nov.  7th) on the Green River.  The race starts at 12:00 noon. 

If you'd like to watch the race here are the direction to the trailhead. There is about a two mile hike in from there. 

From Greenville, take Hwy 25 to I26 west.
Take Exit 53 and go right on Upward Road.
Go 1.5 miles and go right on Big Hungry Road (after brick church). (This is where it gets a bit confusing.)
Take first Left on Big Hungry Road.
Take first Right on Big Hungry Road (DON'T TAKE first Right on Gallimore Road.)
But continue 3.1 
more miles
Park in unmarked pull-off on right.

From there Just follow the crowd. Bring food and water and be prepared to scale down the side of the mountain to get to the river. It's well worth the effort. Check out the image here:

Update: These images are from today's race. 11.7.09

Distance from downtown Greenville: 45 miles

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Best Main Street

Main, St Greenville was just voted one of the top main streets in the country by the American Planning Association. From their website:

Main Street in downtown Greenville attracts residents and visitors alike with bustling foot traffic seven days a week, day and night. Once lined with numerous vacant buildings, Greenville's long-term commitment to planning and plan implementation during the past 30 years has turned Main Street into a magnet of commerce and social activity that is now expanding into neighboring areas. From its storefront displays to historic buildings, dozens of restaurants and Falls Park, Main Street offers a nexus of opportunities in a unique and remarkable setting.

This just after the AARP ranked Greenville, the second best place "to live the simple life."

In addition Relocate American ranks it as the the fourth best place to live.

The Swag Country Inn

If you like to drink your first cup of coffee while watching the sunrise at a 5000' perch, there's no better place to do it than from Gooseberry Knob located on the property of The Swag Country Inn. The Swag was recently featured in three articles in the Asheville Citizen-Times (1) (2) (3) and voted the number two small inn in the US by Conde Nast Traveler (and number 72 in the world for all hotels).

The inn caters to hikers and lovers of seclusion. After passing through the gate, visitors drive two and a half miles through private undeveloped property to the top of the mountain. The inn offers 15 upscale, yet rustic rooms with wood burning fire places, outdoor hot tubs and amazing views.  The rooms are literally a stone's throw from the most popular national park in the nation, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  Meals are an event all unto themselves.  Served family style and featuring food grown either on the property or nearby, Chef Brian Kimmet, keeps the guests well fed with creations matched only in the finest restaurants.

The good news for Greenvillians is that this sanctuary is less than two hours away.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 93 miles. 

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John Tynan

First Snow

Twas a good day to be in the woods.


Twas also a good day to be above tree line.

The End.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 87 miles
Location: 35°20'25.57"N 82°52'4.05"W

Halloween Bible Burning

This is just weird enough I may have to attend.  I just read on the the Ashevegas blog that a church in Canton is planning to burn books on Halloween. Many of them include various non-KJV versions of the Bible.


Distance from downtown Greenville: 77 miles

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Lake Lure, NC

Lake Lure is a quiet mountain lake where the mountains drop down to the water. It's deceptively large due to it's shape. The lake contains a variety of coves so it appears small and quaint. Several movies have been filmed at Lake Lure including Dirty Dancing, My Fellow Americans and Firestarter.

The town of Lake Lure contains several nice restaurants and is located next to the tourist town of Chimney Rock.  Cabins, hotels, motels and campgrounds are all located nearby.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 64 miles.

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Help the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

You can help the Great Smoky Mountain National Park earn a grant for renovation of park resources. Vote here.

Greenville HD

Here's a local website readers of this blog might enjoy:
     Click Here: Greenville HD

Spartanburg Gun Club

I'm not a big fan of firearms. (Actually it's not firearms I mind so much as the irrational gun culture created by radical special interest groups like the NRA.) If you like the sport but have no desire to gang bang, rob banks, kill wildlife from a helicopter or abuse your second amendment rights, the Spartanburg Gun Club is a great place to spend the day.  

Located on 110 acres near Croft State Park, they offer trap, skeet and sporting clays.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 42 miles.

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WNCW needs help

The best radio station around is in dire straits after losing $200,000 in state funding. According to the Ashvegas blog, three people from WNCW were laid off this week.

I was just thinking that if everyone who clicked on my blog since January donated ten bucks, we could make up the difference.

If you're not familiar with WNCW, take a listen. It's not your standard NPR, that's for sure.

Listen Now

Headwaters Outfitters

Tubing Trips
Canoeing & Kayaking
Canoe Camping

Located in Rosman, NC between Sapphire and Brevard, Headwaters Outfitters offers several different paddling/float packages on the French Broad river. They also carry a nice supply of fly fishing and paddling gear.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 47 miles.

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Mabry Mill

Much like Hagood Mill, Mabry Mill is a step into the past. Located on the Blue Ridge Parkway in southwestern Virginia, the mill is open for tours. There are often volunteers on site working as blacksmiths, spinners, millers and demonstrating other 19th century occupations. On the weekends local bluegrass musicians stop by to play a mix of traditional tunes, folk and bluegrass music. A gift shop and restaurant are also located on the premises.

One of the things that I like about this particular mill is the intact and fully functional water flume that runs throughout the premises.

If you like old historic places like this but want something closer to home check out the Mountain Heritage Museum in Old Fort, NC, the aforementioned Hagood Mill in Pickens, the Cradle of Forestry in Brevard or the Roper Mountain Science Center here in Greenville.

Distance from downtown Greenville:231 miles.

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Art Opening Today, August 22nd

From my friend Tim Speaker:

"On Saturday, August 22nd, I will have an opening at the Bang Salon in Greenville. The x/+ exhibition will present work found previously in the XTRMNTR series.

"The opening will be around 5, and will feature 3 live bands. Bitterman, Feeding the Fire, and the Dixie Ramblers will all rock the Bang. Come out and check out some art and listen to some tunes.

"Bang Salon is located at 1 Wade Hampton Blvd."

Distance from downtown Greenville: A short walk. (Across the street from the Handlebar.)

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Nature Find

Check out this site. You just type in your location and it delivers you information about nature related events and locations.


Green Creek Winery 4th Annual Anniversary Celebration

From the Green Creek Winery:

September 5, 2009
10am - 6pm

Green Creek Winery will be hosting our 4th annual Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, September 5th from 10:00am to 6:00pm. Free admission and parking, live music, local art and crafts vendors, a Blessing of the Harvest, a rose workshop (Easy Rose Care by Paul Zimmerman of Ashdown Roses at 11:00am and 2:00pm), a chance to win prizes if you dress up like Lucille Ball, and everyone is invited to stomp grapes.

Wine will be for sale by the glass or the bottle. For this anniversary there will be a 20% discount on all cases - September 5th ONLY. Great food will be available for purchase.

Don't forget your lawn chairs and blankets. No pets or coolers please.


Allow me to vent briefly.

On a camping trip in March, while hiking the Art Loeb Trail, a friend and I found the defacement seen here at Tennent Mountain, NC (which I've written about previously). It was the first and only vandalism I had noticed anywhere near this vicinity.

A few weeks ago another friend and I were camped near Graveyard Fields and we came across a great campsite by a nice river located between a couple of waterfalls. Someone had built a really nice fire pit beside the river. Unfortunately in the pit we found seven or eight water bottles and beer cans, a condom wrapper, and a Bi-Lo bag full of something that neither of us were willing to investigate. So we were left with the task of cleaning up the site and hauling all of this out. To make matters worse, about two hours after setting up camp I walked back up the trail and noticed where three people had left human scat, uncovered, toilet paper and all, within about four feet of the trail, on the uphill side, about fifteen feet from the river. That's disgusting.

Yesterday I was back on Tennent Mountain and discovered where several young girls (judging by their 1990's names) had continued the tradition started by Jonfun and Devo. In addition I also picked up an empty water bottle and empty beer can (Pabst Blue Ribbon of all things) on the same trail.
So all of this has left me pondering a couple of things. First of all what the hell is wrong with people? Are they simply so self-absorbed that they don't care about anyone else or the natural settings they are in? Secondly, is it possible that somehow this little blog has helped to create these problems? I don't get a ton of hits but I did get 6038 unique visitors in 2008 and have 5300 so far this year. Is it possible that I actually led these people to these spots with my little postings? I sure hope not. My goal has always been to bring these great spots to the attention of people who will also appreciate them and protect them, not destroy them.
So if you read this blog and decide to explore these places please respect them. Pack out all trash, and pick up trash you see left by others. Make sure all fires are extinguished. Don't pee in the streams and rivers and if you have to squat in the woods do it at least 70 paces from any water source. Dig a hole first with the heel of your shoe and then cover it afterwards. And for godssake, if you're going to haul beer in at least take something more drinkable than Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Here are a couple of resources for anyone spending time in the wilderness:
And if Jonfun, Devo, Shashy, Sam, Ellen, Megan, Chloe, Kendall, Aubie, Abie, Kellie, Taylor, Sasha or Lexi happen to come across this, please redeem yourselves by contacting one of the following and offering to assist in trail cleanup and maintenance.

Old Fiddler's Convention

74th Annual August 3 - 8, 2009
from their website:
Before the second weekend in August each year, lovers of country and mountain music leave their homes in time to be in Galax, VA for the Annual Old Fiddler's Convention. For some this means hundreds of miles of travel, while for others it will be a short trip from their nearby homes. Most of these people don't play music, and come just for the listening and renewing old acquaintances.

However, a few hundred come with their instruments to show their skill, and compete for the cash prizes which total thousands of dollars. But most of them would come without the prizes being offered. They want to see and be seen, and hear and be heard. The instruments vary from mouth harps in pockets to bull fiddles strapped on top of cars. Many of these musicians have played in most of the conventions since 1935, but this group is growing smaller by the year.

The Old Fiddler's Convention was originated in the spring of 1935 when a few members of the then new Moose Lodge #733 needed something to raise funds and promote publicity. In a newspaper item at the time it was stated that the Convention was dedicated to "Keeping alive the memories and sentiments of days gone by and make it possible for people of today to hear and enjoy the tunes of yesterday". The original purpose is held in the same regard today, and the sponsors feel that in some measure this purpose has been accomplished.

Two conventions were held in 1935, but by the last one that fall the indoor facilities had been outgrown, and the convention was moved to Felts Park, and has been held there each year since except when weather forced it indoors temporarily. One convention was omitted during World War II, due to limitations of travel.

The Old Fiddler's Convention has grown steadily until now each year people must be notified often that SRO is available in the park and room for parking is filled.

In 1965, a Saturday afternoon program was started to relieve the pressure on Saturday night. In 1967 NBC-TV covered the entire three nights and Saturday afternoon. A few years ago a Wednesday night performance was added. In 1999, Tuesday night competition was added. A Fiddlers' Youth Competition was added in 2000, which added Monday night to the schedule.

A unique aspect of the convention is the camping area where the musicians rehearse and try to get in tune. Some listeners and onlookers follow these bands around and lose contact with what's happening on the stage. Often dancers and players try out their abilities in the parking lot when they would not dare go on the stage.

Contestants must register in advance of the convention and there is no charge for registration. Some of these come from distant states and at times from foreign countries, but when they play, the tunes are usually the same that have been heard at the convention down through the years.

In the early years, the contestants came chiefly from Carroll, Grayson, and adjoining counties in Virginia and North Carolina. Now bands and individual performers come from the big cities, the college campuses, and every place where the old music is loved and played.

The promoters feel that the Annual Old Fiddler's Convention is fast becoming a tradition in country and mountain musical circles, and will do their best to continue bringing to you the tunes which have been handed down from generation to generation in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The fact that many of the contestants are youngsters is encouraging, and we feel that the future of Folk and Country Music is secure.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 218 miles.

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Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa

If you live anywhere within a day's drive of Greenville or Asheville, you owe yourself a trip to the Grove Park Inn. Built in 1913, the Grove Park has expanded from it's original structure to include two newer wings. Personally I prefer the rooms in the older wing. These are not only cheaper but cozier and more "inn-like."

View from one of the outdoor terraces.

The spa is a truly fantastic experience. You enter it through a hallway lined with stone walls, dim lighting, soft music and the aroma of eucalyptus. The spa itself is built to look like an underground cave. It features an indoor lap pool, a heated pool, hot tubs with waterfalls pouring hot water over you, a dry sauna, a wet sauna, etc, etc. Fires are burning in the various fire places inside and out. New age and classical music plays throughout, including under the water. No children are allowed and the spa limits the number of guests to a few dozen per day to assure a tranquil experience.

There are several restaurants within the inn ranging from moderate pricing to extremely upscale. There are many other amenities including a golf course, a gym, antique car exhibit, a great room with two enormous wood fireplaces and lots of places to find a private place to enjoy a drink and smoke a cigar.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 65 miles

Skinny Dip Falls

Located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway on the Mountains-to-Sea trail, Skinny Dip Falls is a beautiful cascading waterfall.

The water is crystal clear. Unfortunately these images don't do it justice. To reach the falls, park at the Looking Glass Overlook located at milepost 417. Cross the street and take the connector trail to the Mountains to Sea Trail and turn left. You'll reach the falls in about a half mile.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 70 miles

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