Friday, January 24, 2020


We'd been to Asheville once before, but all I remember is that it was windy/cold and there was a pizza place/bar/laundromat which I proclaim to be a genius combination.  Sadly, the Bar of Soap no longer exists.  We think about it fondly.  Someone else, please pick up this idea.

National Bagel Day fell on a Wednesday immediately following Puzzled Pint night, and since both of those had relevance in Asheville we decided to make an overnight trip across the border from Spartanburg.

Also, on the way we discovered Chimney Rock.  $10 per person is kind of steep for a state park entry fee, but it was worth it (especially since the weather wasn't nearly as bad as it might have been).  Let the fun hiking and exploring commence.

Hello, my brother!

It didn't take long to arrive at the extensive stairway/overlook system leading up the side of the hill that's even steeper than the entry fee:

Gneiss cave you got there:

The Grotto, a little room under a big rock:

One benefit of "almost but not quite crappy" weather was the awesome cloud layer spread out below us:

Almost feels like we climbed up a really high mountain (except without the giant backpacks):

Aptly named Opera Box:

The sea of clouds settled in the valley:

Overlooking an overlook:

We hiked over to the top of Hickory Nut Falls, which was a nice walk but with zero view of the actual falls.  We couldn't resist trying the trail to the bottom and were rewarded with a much better vantage point.  Apparently a scene from "The Last of the Mohicans" was filmed here - "I will find you!"

That was a few hours well spent - highly recommend.

We continued on to Asheville, checked into a hotel and got cleaned up, and then did some walking around town.

Hey, it's the hiking company owned by Jennifer Pharr Davis, super cool!  I've enjoyed reading her books about her Appalachian Trail hikes and amazing overall FKT.  Neat to see a sign with her name on it.

"Hot water provided by the sun" - thank you, sun!

One of many pieces of public art:

Puzzled Pint at Well Played Board Game Cafe - it has been a few months since we've made it to one of these (both the event and a board game cafe)!  We weren't fast, and we could have used another teammate or 2, but we eventually solved the puzzles, we enjoyed the food, and the space is set up perfectly for this.  Super cool.

The next day we wandered around the River Arts area looking for more public art.  This seems to say "Love your husband"  :)  (and your coffee)

Best mural in town:

OK, this one is pretty good too:

Gotta love when the art is creating more of itself - go Bart!

Keep reaching for the stars!

John was captivated by the 3D effect and extra effort here:

Kind of strange...

Another a-bit-freaky mashup:

Chair garden:

Lovely egret (I believe):


And finally - Bruegger's Bagels!  One baker's dozen please.

We returned to South Carolina quite content.  And with bagels.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

South Carolina in the winter

Hello from South Carolina!  For the month of January we were looking for somewhere reasonably warm and somewhat close to hills or mountains for training.  Well, the Greenville area is indeed not too far from some great parks and nice scenery.  However, it hasn't really been warm much.  Occasionally we've had beautiful days.  But it mostly freezes overnight.  A good test of our trailer (and heater) systems.

So, we're here, let's see what there is to see.  We walked a bit in downtown Greenville and admired the pedestrian walkways and pretty little river running through town:

Dr. Charles Hard Townes, a Physics Nobel Prize winner from Greenville:

The gorgeous waterfall that is the town centerpiece:

Easily viewable from this amazing walking bridge:

Fun "running" sculpture:

And a view of the bridge showing zero supports underneath:

I spy... a blue heron!

Chatting with the town lion over coffee:

Yep, that's kind of our motto:


We couldn't NOT go to a place called Biscuit Heads.  I should have tried harder to get a better picture of the mural on the wall there:

Biscuits as large as your head (or at least, your cat's head), with a butter + jam bar, and yummy too:

On a different day, I drove up to Table Rock state park for a nice long hike up one end of the Foothills Trail:

I took this picture to bring back to John to make him wish he had come along (he loves doing trail work, and all these little branches would have entertained him for a while):

Lots of little waterfalls and neat rock shapes.  In this case, combined to make the trail slightly damp:

Enjoying the sunny day on the trail:

Excellent view from Bald Knob:

Just a few steps through the larger rocks:

A tunnel of mountain laurel, super fun to run through:

And I made it to North Carolina!

The summit of Sassafras Mountain, cool!  But it was a bit odd, because I KNEW we had been here before, but nothing looked familiar...

And it's true!  The summit area has been completely redone since we were here in 2014.  Too funny.  Maybe it's still the same bench at least:

Lots of giant boulders and interesting scenery:

Hey!  Someone came and did that trail work that I was going to tempt John with!  Thank you, whoever you were:

A sideways cascade that funnels into a couple crevices, an interesting bit of water movement I haven't seen before:

And lastly, a day in Spartanburg.  We walked around the Milliken arboretum, which is a neat place on company grounds with a bunch of trees (many are labeled) and places to walk.  This is a bald cypress with fun little shoots all around:

John in the magnolia:

Lots of bike-related art in downtown Spartanburg:

And a really nice sign language sculpture!

I love when the art is trying to define - or even liberate - itself:

Hmm, any idea?

We're having fun with little day trips while getting some work done - and trying to stay warm  :)