The Beauty Around Us

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North Carolina Vacation – Day 3 of 9 (Biltmore Estates: Geese, Sheep and Horses)

We spent Days 3 and 4 (May 13 and May 14) of our North Carolina vacation at Biltmore Estates in Asheville NC. After admiring Biltmore House and the Library and South Terraces, the Walled Garden and Conservatory, and the Azalea Garden and Bass Pond, we returned to our car by shuttle bus and drove through the estate grounds to the lagoon.

the Lagoon

At the lagoon, we spread a blanket on the ground under the shade of a tree.  The photograph of the lagoon shown above was our view, as we ate a picnic lunch.  Our picnic fare was the same as other days: tuna salad and crackers, peaches and a couple sugar-free chocolate chip cookies.  We should go on a picnic more often.  Lunch was so relaxing.  After lunch, I entertained myself by watching and photographing the many geese and baby geese at the lagoon.

We drove to the other side of the lagoon and were rewarded with a magnificent view of the backside of the Biltmore House.

Lagoon view of Biltmore House

While on the shuttle bus ride, the driver pointed out two barns, one housing sheep and the other housing horses.  We stopped at both barns on our drive through the estate.

The sheep and lambs were in the pasture grazing.

Sheep

Sheep

Sheep

Sheep

Carriage and trail rides are available at the horse barns.  We didn’t go on a ride; however, we did enjoy looking at the horses.

Two Horses

Carriage & Trail Ride Barns

A farrier was in the barn shoeing this horse.

This is a smart dog.  It is staying out of the way of the horse’s hoofs!

We returned to our hotel around 2:30 pm, where we relaxed until it was time to leave for dinner.

Dinner was at Cracker Barrel Restaurant.  We met our friends, Karen and Pete, at the restaurant.  Pete and Bob used to be coworkers.  Karen and Pete moved to North Carolina several years ago.  Whenever we visit this part of North Carolina, we make arrangements to meet Karen and Pete for dinner.  Dinner was good, as was the conversation.  Karen and I are Facebook friends, and we keep in touch there.  However, nothing compares to a face-to-face conversation.   Much of the conversation centered around Bob’s workplace and coworkers that Bob and Pete both knew.  Before leaving the restaurant, Pete gave me a painting of two Carolina Wrens.  We now own three Pete Ferry original paintings!

imageThis covered bridge scene was the first painting that Pete gave to us.
Pete mailed this painting to us.

 imagePete gave us this painting of the ocean last year, when he and Karen visited us at our home.

imageThis is the newest addition to our Pete Ferry original paintings.

Pete is a talented painter.  His paintings are gorgeous!  Thank you, Pete, for your wonderful gifts.  We will treasure them always!

We returned to the hotel around 6:30 pm.  We spent the rest of the evening relaxing in our room.  Before retiring for the night, we watched a movie on Amazon Prime (Bob packed the ROKU).  The movie that we watched was called “Flight of the Phoenix”.  The movie was about survivors of a plane crash in the Mongolian desert working together to build a new plane.  We enjoyed the movie.  Hugh Laurie was one of the characters in the movie.  It was interesting to see him cast in a different role than that which he was cast in the TV show “House”.

 

 

Our Valentine’s Day

In case anyone is wondering how Bob and I spent our Valentine’s Day, here’s a blog post whose sole purpose is to divulge that information. For those of you who aren’t wondering how we spent Valentine’s Day, I’ll tell you anyway 🙂

Bob and I

I took this picture on Saturday, with the express purpose of  inserting it into an electronic Valentine’s Day greeting card for for my sweetie. Bob sent me a Valentine’s Day greeting card electronically too. What can I say? We both enjoy spending time on our computers. It’s all good, though. We both have laptop computers. We surfed the Internet together, sitting in the living room, for part of our Valentine’s Day.

My stepdaughter and her boyfriend stopped by briefly during the afternoon. They asked me to take their picture for one or more of the social networking sites to which they belong. Hey, what do you know? I now have a couple Valentine’s Day pictures of Mike and Stacey.

Stacey and Mike

Stacey and Mike

Later in the day Bob and I met 15 friends (7 couples and a single man) for dinner at Variety Buffet, a local Chinese restaurant. It was delightful to share Valentine’s Day dinner with so many of our friends. The conversation was lively and entertaining, and we enjoyed our meals. I believe other restaurant patrons were entertained, too, as we read our fortunes from the little white slips of paper contained inside our fortune cookies. When you read your fortunes, do you add the phrase “in bed” at the end of your fortune? We do; it adds to the fun.

After dinner Bob and I went to Walmart, where we dropped off the movie Zombieland and picked up two DVD rentals at the Redbox. We had watched the movie “Zombieland” on Saturday evening. We watched the movie “The Stepfather last night. We will watch Surrogates later today. I wasn’t too sure of Zombieland, when it first started playing. I shut my eyes (but couldn’t stop hearing) the cannibalistic behavior that is at the start of the movie. That behavior continues throughout the movie; however, it wasn’t nearly as awful as it was at the beginning of the movie. I would agree with an imdb.com movie reviewer that Zombieland is a horror comedy. The Stepfather, is of the thriller genre, and it held our interest appropriately throughout the movie. Surrogates is a sci-fi thriller, starring Bruce Willis. I don’t believe I have ever been disappointed by a movie in which Bruce Willis stars, so I expect to enjoy Surrogates as well.

Over all a very nice Valentine’s Day indeed. In fact our entire Valentine’s Day weekend was wonderful. Thank you, sweetheart, for spending the weekend with me, in addition to spending our day together on Valentine’s Day. I love you, Bob.

Our “Get out of the Cold” Vacation – Days 5, 6 and 7

Today’s blog post wraps up our “Get out of the Cold” vacation.

We departed our hotel in Kissimmee on Friday, January 15th. We were awakened by a dripping noise. The air conditioner in the room above us was dripping water on top of our air conditioner. That noise awakened us at 4:00 AM. We were on the road shortly after 5:00 AM. We arrived at our night’s destination (Sleep Inn in Summersville, West Virginia) at 6:40 PM. After checking in, we ate dinner at a nearby Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. After dinner, we spent rest of the night in our hotel room. We needed a lot of rest. Spending almost 14 hours in a car is a long time. It was approximately an 800-mile drive from Kissimmee to Summersville.

We passed by this unique-looking and colorful building somewhere in Virginia, I think. I wonder what it is?

On Saturday, January 16th, we drove from Summersville, West Virginia, to Tarentum, Pennsylvania, where we checked into the Marriott Springhill Suites Hotel located on the premises of the Pittsburgh Mills Mall. The drive was much shorter than our previous day’s drive. We departed Summersville at 9:00 AM, and we checked into our hotel at 1:15 PM. We could have made it all the way home from Summersville in approximately 6 hours. Why did we decide to spend the night at a hotel located on the premises of the Pittsburgh Mills Mall?  Bob has wanted to see Avatar in an IMAX theater ever since the movie was released. We do not have an IMAX theater near where we live. The nearest IMAX theaters are 3-4 hours away from our house, one of which is located at the Pittsburgh Mills Mall.

The first thing we did after checking into the hotel was drive to the movie theater and purchase tickets for Avatar. We returned to the theater at least 30 minutes before the 3:00 PM showing of the movie, and we sat in the middle back of the theater. The theater was 100% full for the 3:00 PM showing. The IMAX 3-D is the most intense way to see Avatar. We sat in front of a giant screen and experienced a larger-than-life, fully immersed viewing of the movie. Things popping out of the screen felt just a couple feet or, in some cases, several inches out of reach. I remember jumping one time when it felt like something was thrown at me! The best seats are in the back of the theater, as the picture will be more clear. The closer you sit to the screen the more blurry is the picture. The IMAX glasses were over sized, which was good for me because they needed to fit on top of my eyeglasses. Did we like the movie? No; we LOVED the movie! It was the most visually fantastic movie that we have ever seen!

On Sunday, January 17th, after eating breakfast at a nearby Eat ‘n Park, we headed home. The ride home was uneventful. As expected, it was approximately a 3-hour drive from Tarentum to our home.

The Proposal

We watched the 2009 movie “The Proposal” earlier this week. We rented the movie for $1.00 from Redbox. Here’s a summary of the movie, according to Redbox:

On the verge of being deported and losing the high-powered job she lives for, the controlling Margaret announces she’s engaged to her unsuspecting, put-upon assistant Andrew. After proposing a few demands of his own, the mismatched couple heads to Alaska where they have four short days to convince his quirky family and a very skeptical immigration agent that their charade is real.”

I knew how this movie would end. How else does a romantic comedy end but “happily ever after”? Nevertheless, I found “The Proposal” to be most charming and very funny. I laughed out loud several times. The chemistry between Ryan Reynolds (Andrew) and Sandra Bullock (Margaret) was excellent. Would I watch the movie again? Yes! I’m even thinking about buying the movie; it was that good!

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