My Favorite Beach Vacation Spot

Tell me your favorite beach spot and I will tell you mine. My husband tells me to stop sharing our favorite beach because everyone will want to go there   Then it won’t be as secluded as it is now.  But I can’t help it I love it and I know if you visit this area you will love it too.

I have been to a lot of different beaches but Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina near Wilmington is my absolute favorite.  I was going to wait and show you some updated pictures after our vacation there this year but that vacation may not happen so I will show you some I have taken through the years.

Wrightsville Beach is a town in New Hanover County, North Carolina. It is just East of Wilmington and is part of the Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Several years ago Mark and I were at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina.  We had gone there several times and really liked it.  But this time we took a chartered boat trip up the coast about 70 miles north of Myrtle into North Carolina, and discovered Wrightsville Beach.  It looked really interesting.  Later that year before it got too cold we took a weekend off and drove to Wrightsville Beach.  We grossly underestimated the drive time.  It turned out to be about 10 hours from where we live when you add in bathroom breaks and stopping to eat.

We arrived late at night around 10:00 PM and realized that there were very few hotels on Wrightsville Beach. There were mostly beach houses.  We pulled into a hotel that offered all ocean front suites.  The Surf.  Little did we know at that time that we would be coming here for years.  Later on we also discovered Shell Island Resort, just a little ways up the beach and we loved it as well.  Shell Island is at the very end of Wrightsville Beach.  Several years ago, because of beach erosion, the Resort was in danger of totally falling into the ocean.  A huge beach restoration took place and the beach and the resort was saved.  At that time you could buy a condo for $35,000.  Mark wanted to buy one but I would not because I wasn’t sure the beach could be saved.  Well as I said it was saved and now the condos go for at least a half million.  Something my husband never lets me forget HA!!!

Because the drive is about 10 hours a few years ago we chose to fly and save some time.  We fly into the Wilmington International Airport.  It is only about 25 minutes from Wrightsville.  We rent a car and the travel time is so much easier.  That means more time on the beach.

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       The beach is never overly crowded and it feels safe to walk at any time of the night or day.  If you get up early the sunrise is amazing and lots of surfers are out. 

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    The Trolly Stop is a small Hot Dog stand that has been open since 1976.  They only sell hot dogs and maybe chips.  If you wait until noon to get there there will be a line out the door.  I think everyone on the beach and in town gets hot dogs at the Trolly Stop at lunch time.


Which hot dog would you pick.  I always get the North Carolina Hot Dog.


The Oceanic is our favorite place to eat.  Fresh seafood and live music and a balcony overlooking the ocean makes for the perfect place to eat.  It is also located next door to the Surf Suites and if you have one to many of the ahhhhmazing Stumbling Islanders to drink you can stumble back to your room.  HA!!

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    When we are at the beach I get up before daylight so I can be down on the beach getting pictures of the sunrise.  

So that is my favorite spot to go on vacation. It may not happen this year we will just have to wait and see.  If not there is always next year.  I hope you get a chance to check it out I think you would love it. And now where is your favorite beach spot?

Always remember,

Love your day your way!!!

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My Trip to Ireland

Several years ago my husband and I took a trip to Ireland. During this trip we also visited Scotland, Wales and London. I will tell you about those in another post.  For this and the 10th day of my blog post challenge,  The best trip of my life, I would like to share my trip to Ireland with you.   While I can’t say for sure that it is the “best” it certainly ranks up there as one of the best.

Our first morning in Ireland we went to visit the House of Waterford Crystal.  We had a tour through the factory and got to see the crystal being made.  It was very interesting and a little scary being near all of the expensive crystal.

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At one time all of Waterford Crystal was made in Ireland but now it is being produced in other countries.

 

 

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Isn’t Ireland beautiful?  It was everything I expected it to be and much much more.

Next we ventured to Avoca to visit Ireland’s oldest Hand weaving Mill and watch the weavers at work.  You know how I love weaving and knitting and everything like that so I was beyond excited.  This mill is the oldest surviving working mill in Ireland today and dates from 1723.    The original whitewashed buildings of the old mill now house the store which carries an extensive selection of clothing, gifts and food.  I did have to buy several scarves and a couple of hats.   Check out more details here

The next place we visited was Glendalough.  Glendalough is a glacial valley in County Wicklow Ireland.  The early Christian monastic site founded by St. Kevin in the 6th Century.  It was so beautiful it was one of our favorite places.  For more pictures and information check out the site here.

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And from the quiet countryside into the fast paced city of Dublin.  Dublin is a beautiful city we spent some time shopping there and just checking out the sites.

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We did go to the Guinness Brewing company and went to the top floor where the Oxygen bar is.  It was Halloween and it was so crowded you could not move!!!  It is on the top floor and the views are amazing.


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Dublin

 

 


St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

So that was the some of the highlights to our trip to Ireland. I hope you enjoyed it and if you haven’t been to Ireland you get to go one day.  I will save the days in Scotland  and London and Wales for another post because their just too good to share.

Always remember,

Love your day your way!!

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A Short Trip to Gatlinburg, TN And a Stay at The Margaritaville Resort

Happy February friends,

Can you believe that February is here already?  I can’t.  Last Monday I went to Gatlinburg for an attractions meeting.  The organization is called Southern Highlands Attractions and is made up of several top attractions in the south. Check out our website.  I have probably mentioned this group before.  We meet three times a year and visit other tourist attractions in the area and even some out of the area.  We have traveled to San Diego, St. Louis and other states and this year we will be visiting Niagara Falls.  I can’t wait for that one.

On Monday I left for the Gatlinburg meeting.  Gatlinburg is about an hour and a half from me.  We stayed at the new five star Margaritaville Resort in Gatlinburg.  I had not been there before so I was really excited about seeing the resort and getting a chance to stay there.

The Margaritaville Resort is lovely.  Of course it has an island theme and Jimmy Buffett music coming from speakers everywhere.  All of the staff members wear tropical shirts and they are beyond nice.  Customer service is something I always pay close attention to. I believe in it totally.

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After getting checked in I went straight to a meeting that started at 1:00 PM.  There was a lunch set up for us before the meeting started.  After our meeting ended at 5:00 I had an opportunity to freshen up before we headed uptown to the  Gatlinburg Sky Lift and Sky Bridge.  You may remember I visited the Sky Lift and the new Sky Bridge, which is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America,  back in the fall when I was on my Sister Trip, you can read about that here.  The bridge is 680 feet across with a height of 140 feet at its midpoint. The middle of the bridge has a glass-floor panel where you can see straight down.  This part is a little scary.   The night we were up there it was dark and rainy and the bridge was not as scary somehow.  Darkness can do that.  It was beautiful seeing the lights of Gatlinburg from such an altitude.

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The next day was a full day of sight seeing.  We started the day at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. I have been there many times and so had everyone that was with us.  So I though meh so what.  But this time we met with the GM and we were able to do a behind the scenes tour.  WOW!!!  So much goes on to keep such a place running day to day.   We were able to see how they prepared the food for the sharks and the other animals. It was just a different world from what is seen by people every day.  So much to see.


This big girl is Sally.  She is a sea turtle, she weighs about 500 pounds and she is 60 years old.  She has to be put in this holding tank while the sharks are being fed, if not Sally will take the food right out of the sharks’ mouths.

Next we visited the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum.  I mentioned a few months back,  on my Sister Trip post,  that a wildfire spread through much of Gatlinburg in November of 2016.  While a lot of the city was left untouched by the fire many many people lost their homes and businesses and several people lost their lives.  It was horrific.   After the fire many businesses were renovated and updated.  The Ripley’s Museum is one of those.  I have visited the Museum many times.  I was really happy to see a wonderful change to the museum.  The GM explained to us that they had discovered that people wanted to see more modern, and I know that modern and museum doesn’t necessarily mix, but in this case it does, pop culture.  So we saw a lot of different and new things.  It was very hands on and interactive.  I loved it and can’t wait to take the hubs back to see it.


This village was built with 15,000 match sticks.  Man I would hate to transport that.

We lunched at  Ole Red’s,  a fairly new restaurant owned by country star Blake Shelton.  The food was good and the atmosphere was nice with lots of music.  There is often a live band that plays.  Since we were having lunch there was not live music.  I think that is saved for night but I’m not sure.   The home made tater tots are a must have as well as the fried, smoked okra and the yummy cornbread.

The next stop was Ober Gatlinburg.  Another place I had not visited in many years.  You have to ride a tram to the top or drive a very steep and winding mountain road.  The trolleys in Gatlinburg will not drive this road.  We took the tram.


It takes about 10 minutes to get to the top of the mountain by tram.
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The temperature has to be below freezing, at night, for several days for Ober to be able to make snow.  They were making snow the day we were there.  You can ski, snow board,  go tubing in the snow, ice skate and lots of other things.   We didn’t get to do a lot because we had a very limited amount of time.  I had on some boots that were not really for a lot of outdoor activities and were a little slick on the bottom.  I was happy to just look around.   Remember the part about the slick boots because they will come up again in a minute.

Our last adventure was a tour of the Smoky Mountains National Park, visited by 12.5 million visitors a year.  I did notice on the agenda that a two hour plus time limit had been allotted for it.  Nowhere on the agenda did it mention a hike.  We pulled up to the Visitor’s Center and a Park Ranger got on the trolley and we drove down the road for about 3 miles.  We pulled up to a lot that had a sign for Laurel Falls.  I had heard of this waterfall and I knew it involved a hike.  The Ranger was giving us instructions and precautions that we might want to take during the hike. Make sure you have plenty of water, almost none of us did, make sure you have comfortable shoes for walking up hill , lots of us didn’t.  I showed the ranger my boots and she said they should be fine.   She also told us it was 1.5 miles round trip.  It was not.  It was 1.3 miles each way.  The first 1.3 miles was all uphill.  The trail was narrow and wet and paved in most places.  My boots were so slick.  I probably should have turned around, some people did, but I continued on.  Keep in mind it was not just the shoes but I am also out of shape and overweight.  Also again we were on a time limit.  I gave up on the time limit and just took my time.  I had come this far and I was determined to see the falls and take some pictures.  I was the last one to the falls and the last one back to the trolley.  This was mildly embarrassing but I saw the falls and they were beyond beautiful.  The falls are 80 feet high and named after the mountain laurel that grows wild around the falls.  I will go back with my husband and I will wear hiking boots and take water and take lots of time.

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See I told you it was beautiful and well worth the hike to see it even if it was a little scary. I am so glad now that we did the hike and got to see the falls.

That night we had a wonderful dinner and I think I was in bed by 8:30.
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A full day I would say.

Wednesday was a half day of meetings and then headed home.  All in all a great meeting and visits.  As always I am soooo glad to get back to my little family.

Until next time,  Always remember

Love your day your way!!

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Biltmore Estate at Christmas

Hello friends, Have you ever been to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville NC? Have you been at Christmas time?  Well either way you need to go.  I have been to Biltmore many many times.  I love it!!!  I especially love going at Christmas time.  It is magical. Last week my husband and I had a few extra days off from work and we decided to go.  It is about 3.5 hours from where we live.  We decided to go over very early and spend the day and come back.


  Not the best picture of the estate but it’s hard to get a good shot of it it’s so big.

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George Vanderbilt visited Asheville with his mother in 1888 and loved the area so much he started purchasing 125,000 acres of land to build a “French Renaissance Chateau”. It took six years of construction and around 1,000 workers ranging from local laborers to internationally known artists. Biltmore House was started in 1889 and finished in 1895.  George was a Bachelor at this time.  He married Edith Stuyvesant Dresser in 1898 in Paris.  She had not seen the house.  Can you imagine what she thought the first time she came through the trees and saw the house!!!!

Biltmore house has 250 rooms, including 35 bedrooms for family and guests, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces and three kitchens and two libraries, a total of 178,926 square feet of floor space. 
This is the Banquet Hall.  The ceiling here is over seven stories high. At Christmas this room is decorated with a 35-foot Fraser Fir.  The tree is decorated with 500 ornaments up to several feet long, 500 lights and 500 packages.   It is really something to see.


This is in the entrance hall and the first thing you see when entering the estate.


  This is the Breakfast Room.  Guests of the Vanderbilt’s were served both breakfast and luncheon here.  It is located just off of the Banquet Hall.


  This is the Tapestry Gallery.  This room is 90-feet long.  The Flemish tapestries on the wall are part of a 1530s set know as The Triumph of the Seven Virtues.


   The Music Room


 George Vanderbilt’s Bedroom


    Edith Vanderbilt’s Bedroom

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This is the Library.  This room contains half of George Vanderbilt’s 22,000-volume collection of books which range in a large variety of subjects.

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The 70,000-gallon swimming pool was heated and still has the original underwater lighting.

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This was one of the nation’s first bowling alleys in a private residence.  A favorite place for the guests to spend time.

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In August of 1900  the Vanderbilt’s welcomed the arrival of their daughter Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt.   The Halloween Room in the basement of the estate was often used for parties with Cornelia’s friends.

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In April of 1924 Cornelia married the Honorable John Francis Amherst Cecil.  In 1925 the couple spent weeks painting the wall scenes for a New Year’s Eve Party.

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The staff quarters was very minimal but Biltmore functioned much like a luxury hotel. Employees received room, board and uniforms as well as New York wages which was substantially higher than the Asheville standard.


Every year a gingerbread house is set up in the kitchen area of the estate.  It is one of my favorite things to see at Christmas.  The detail is really unique.

Seeing the Biltmore Estate is only a very small part of what visiting the Biltmore is about.  There is so many things to do while you are on the grounds.  There are several different tours of the house that you may purchase separately if you wish.  These are behind the scenes tours that you don’t usually see while touring the house.

There is also several places to eat on the estate, and many gift shops to purchase one of a kind treasures.

The spring is a wonderful time to visit during the Festival of Flowers.  The gardens are absolutely unbelievable.

The Winery, Antler Hill Village, The Farm and The Village Green are just a few of the places to visit while you are on the estate.

November 8, 2019-April 7, 2020. DOWNTON ABBEY, THE EXHIBITION is on display at Biltmore with many of the costumes worn while filming.

There are two places to stay if you would like to include an overnight or a few days to enjoy everything.  My husband and I stayed at The Inn on Biltmore Estate for our anniversary a couple of years ago it is spectacular with beautiful views of the entire property.  There is also The Village Hotel which is not quite as upscale as the Inn but also very nice.

For more information about the Biltmore Estate check out their website http://www.biltmore.com and if you plan to visit be sure to download the Biltmore App http://www.biltmore.com/app

Biltmore Estate is a magical place.  I always like to pretend what it would have been like to live there.  I can only imagine.  Put this on your to do list.  Asheville NC is also a beautiful place to visit.  For some additional things to do in Asheville check out my previous post here  from a few months ago when I spent a few days in Asheville.

Until next time, always remember,

Love your day your way
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