Navitat Canopy Tours

A few years ago my mother, who loves visiting Costa Rica, told me about zip lining through the Costa Rican jungle. I was familiar with zip lines but had never heard of a commercial outfit offering anything like that. Since that time zip lining has moved from Costa Rica to other parts of the globe including Western, NC.

My youngest son is a great lover of zip lines so I've been looking for a good safe place to take him where he could soar hundreds of feet in the air.  A couple weeks ago, my friend Godfrey who has an adventurous spirit told me about a place fairly close by.

Navitat Canopy Tours opened a year ago in Barnardsville, NC just north of Asheville. They are ranked as one of the top ten zip line outfitters in the country. They've been featured on CNN Headline News, in USA Today, the New York Times and on Good Morning America.
Their tour offers ten zip lines ranging in length from 250' to a 1000' (or something like that).  There are also a couple of rappels from one platform to another and some really cool sky bridges to cross. The tour guides are top notch and safety is their highest concern. (Our guides were Rob and Blade - great guys.) Everything is checked and re-checked and the guides also offer a lot of interesting information about the flora along the way.

Sometime I'd like to check out their night tours.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 82 miles

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Appalachian Trail Journals

Overmountain Shelter
If you like quirky stories and tall tales, then you probably enjoy, as I do, reading the kind of travel journals you might find at a Bed and Breakfast or in a room at a nice inn. Without a doubt though, the most interesting ones I've found are the trail journals I've found located in Appalachian Trail shelters.  If you find yourself at one, I highly recommend taking the time to read it.  A couple I came across recently had the following entries.

  • One from a guy claiming he had a two hour staring contest with a deer.
  • Another claiming a bear had just entered the campsite.
  • One by a guy claiming he was in a hurry because the "anti-sin" crew was on his heels trying to save him from eternal damnation.
  • The next one was from a group that simply wrote, "damn sinners!"
    • Another was from a group from the north. The writer spoke over and over about how many spiders and insects there were in the shelter. I thought that was funny. Yep, in the South there are bugs in the wilderness, and in the cities, and in our homes.  That's just the way it is.
    • Another from a guy claiming that he and his pals had encountered a mountain lion in a pine tree that had bitten one of his friends. 
    • Another entry was from an Amish family who claimed they had so much trouble finding fresh water that they had resorted to drinking their own urine. 
    Double Springs Shelter

    There were lots of other interesting ones, most of them describing their encounters with wildlife and commenting on the peacefulness of the trail. Some regarding the weather and lots of advice on which springs were dry and which were not. There were several quoting Bible verses and just as many extolling the virtues of bonfires and liquor.

    Silers Bald Shelter

    Stan Murray Shelter

    More Ghost Hunting...still no ghosts

    I've mentioned ghost hunting outings on this blog in the past and judging by my stat records that seems to be a popular topic (especially around October). Recently I went by a few more places listed in John Boyanski's Ghosts of the Upstate to see if I could spot something from beyond.  (I have no belief in ghosts, so I really do it because I like the quirky history of these places not because I expect to see anything other worldly.)

    Burke-Stark Mansion
    On July 4th my friend Tim and I went down to Abbeville to check out several haunted locations, all of which were closed. Some due to the holiday, some due to the fact that Abbeville has literally become a ghost town. Practically every business on the square is closed down, despite obvious efforts by the city to revitalize the place. Sidewalks are freshly poured and new walkways have been added in the past couple years, but no one is around.  The first place we arrived was the Burk Stark Mansion, which is a really cool place, and where the ghost of Jefferson Davis is said to reside.  While on the grounds, we did find things a bit amiss. In front of the home we encountered something I never remember seeing before, an Eastern Lubber Grasshopper. An omen? Perhaps. He seemed to be pointing us to a dead body that almost went unnoticed. There in broad daylight, on the front walk of the mansion lay, God bless his soul, a dead squirrel. No obvious sign of death could be found. Hmmm....

    Moving on we stopped by the Abbeville Opera House and the Belmont Inn. Both were locked and the Belmont Inn had a sign stating it was closed permanently (like almost every other business in town). Despite that fact, there was a TV on in the bar and I saw a figure dart from the room as I glanced in the window.

    The following weekend I headed out the other direction.  First I went by the Walnut Lane Inn in Lyman where  a former owner, a maid and the owner's two daughters are supposedly haunting the place. It's a beautiful house. The owner was busy getting ready for a birthday party so we only spoke briefly and I didn't bother him with questions about his phantasmal residents.

    Speaking of ghost towns,  downtown Spartanburg has a rich history of haints. There are several dorms at Wofford, Converse and the School for the Deaf and Blind that are supposedly haunted and some private residences in town are also said to be haunted, but not having access to the inside of these places they weren't particularly interesting.

    So I headed out to a haunted bridge where it's rumored two fisherman were killed by a beast that lives under the bridge and that the fisherman can sometimes be heard. After pulling over, I found getting below the bridge was a bit tough due to the overgrown vegetation and as I walked across the bridge (it's very small) a fellow came out of nowhere and asked if I was out of gas. I explained that I was just walking around so he drove on but then slowed and turned and came back my direction, at which point I got the distinct feeling I wasn't welcome there.

    From there I drove out to Walnut Grove to visit Nesbitt Bridge where it's rumored that a female hitchhiker will ask for a ride but then suddenly vanish. The river below was far more impressive than the creek where the legendary beast resided at the last location. Again though, while walking across the bridge, a guy in a pick-up truck stopped and said, "How ya doin'?" I mentioned that I was just out taking photos (I don't want people to think I'm a nut so I don't mention the ghost hunting). "Just taking pictures huh?" he didn't quite buy it.  We exchanged a few more lines and he finally seemed satisfied that I was harmless and drove off. I noticed he had a DNR sticker on his truck so maybe he just thought I was fishing without a license (although despite all the money I spend on fishing licenses I've never had anyone ask me to produce one).

    View from Nesbitt Bridge
    If you look closely at the photo to left you can see a stray hound on the island in the middle of the frame. Ghost hound?

    And speaking of haunted buildings. I recently came across this next building in Tigerville. Surely it has some ghost stories attached to it.

    If you're weird like I am and have some interest in visiting some of these spots be sure to visit local blogger Tom's Random Connections Blog and and download the KMZ file he created which makes finding many of these spots really easy.

    Deserted Schoolhouse?

    The Buddha and The Madonna

    15' Vietnamese homage to Madonna and Christ child located off of HWY 14 in Greer.

    Distance from downtown Greenville: 20 miles

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    15' Cambodian homage to Buddha located north of Spartanburg at the Spartanburg Buddhist Center of South Carolina. The center is still under construction but will feature gardens and performance space. 

    Distance from downtown Greenville: 32 miles

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    Rockhouse Vineyards and Overmountain Vineyards

    My wife and I recently had an opportunity to swing by a couple of local wineries. The Rockhouse Vineyards was first on our list. Actually it was the only one on our list.  Although tiny, they offer some really nice selections. We especially enjoyed the Cab Franc and the Meritage which we learned is a Bordeaux style red made in places other than the Bordeaux region. (Only wines produced in Bordeaux can officially be called a Bordeaux.) All of their wines are fermented in oak barrels.

    Before leaving the owner suggested we stop by a place up the street that opened so recently that it isn't currently listed in any of the NC Wine promotional material and we were certainly glad we did. The Overmountain Winery specializes in white wines, all of which are fermented in steel barrels to give their wines a crisper finish.

    Both are located on beautiful property in the hills near Tryon, NC. While exiting the Rockhouse property, we were met by several turkeys which we later learned are quite a nuisance to vintners because they knock the grapes off the vines and then eat them. (Seem to be a lot of turkeys around this year. I see them a couple times a month somewhere.)

    These wineries are within rock throwing distance of Green Creek Winery which I've mentioned previously so you could easily make an afternoon of wine tasting in the area.

    Distance from downtown Greenville: 48-55 miles.

    Rockhouse Vineyards

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    Overmountain Winery

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    Green Creek Winery

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