You Capture Autumn

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For my birthday in November, the year I turned 49, my sweet husband and I went to Asheville, North Carolina, which is right smack dab in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We stayed at this majestic place called The Grove Park Inn.

Built from granite boulders hewn from Sunset Mountain, The Grove Park Inn opened in 1913. At its opening dinner, William Jennings Bryan declared that it had been “built for the ages.” In the decades since it has become one of the South’s most famous and venerable resorts.

The hotel was the vision of E.W. Grove, a St. Louis entrepreneur who made his millions in the 1890s peddling an elixir called Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic. Modeled after the grand old railway hotels of the West, the Inn was built from a sketch made by Grove’s son-in-law, the enterprising Fred Seely (who would become its first general manager). It took a crew of 400 men only 12 months to build the majestic landmark, dragging hundreds of tons of boulders up the mountainside with the aid of teams of mules, ropes and pulleys, wagons and a lone steam shovel.
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This is a photo of us, standing in front of one of the massive fireplaces in the lobby. This lobby is known as The Great Hall — and for good reason. Measuring 120 feet across, the hall features 24-foot ceilings and two gigantic 14-foot stone fireplaces. It’s famous for the elevators cleverly hidden in the chimneys of the stone fireplaces (put there to conceal the noise of the machinery), which continue to transport guests to their rooms today.

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This is the other fireplace, decorated and ready for Christmas.

It’s hard to believe today but there was a time soon after WWII when the only thing that kept the Inn standing was the prohibitive cost of tearing it down. Fortunately, in 1955, the hotel caught the eye of Dallas businessman named Charles Sammons. Under the stewardship of Sammons, the Inn was fully restored and, in1973, it was named to the National Register of Historic Places.

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With the restoration the contemporary wings of the hotel were added, and beginning in 1998, a period of intensive renovation and expansion occurred, culminating in the creation of the resort’s $42 million Spa. This photo shows the back of the Inn, which features a dramatic waterfall above the Spa. The Spa, built into an underground rock cavern, is more than 43,000 square feet in size, and includes mineral pools with soothing underwater music and nearby waterfall pools. There is also exhilarating contrast pools, a lap pool, an inhalation room, sauna and a eucalyptus-infused steam room. You can sip herbal teas and savor refreshments in the lounge.

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Although The Grove Park Inn is a destination all unto itself, no trip to Asheville is ever complete without a tour of the Biltmore House and Estate. Said to be America’s only real castle, George and Edith Vanderbilt’s 250-room family home and country retreat is open for tours every day. You will see original art from masters such as Renoir, magnificent 16th-century tapestries, Napoleon’s chess set, a library with 10,000 volumes, a Banquet Hall with a 70-foot ceiling, 65 fireplaces, an indoor pool, bowling alley, and priceless antiques. Opened to friends on Christmas Eve 1895, this French Renaissance chateáu remains America’s largest privately owned home.

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But the main star of this trip is the mountains themselves. In November, the trees have lost most of their leaves, leaving the mountains barren, but perhaps even more beautiful.

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Y’all really ought to visit the lovely and talented Pseudonymous High School Teacher today.  Pseudo, as she’s affectionately referred to, lives in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. Anyhoo, she has started a great thing over at her place called Travel Tip Thursday – every Thursday she and anyone who chooses to participate will do a little “travelogue” about a place close to home.

I found a new photo blog to participate in on Thursdays! It’s called You Capture. Every week there is new theme. This week’s was “Red”

Click on the link here to read about how to play along. Then, do your best to visit the other participants’ site – everyone loves the traffic, the comments and the feedback (not just you!) Next week’s photo challenge is Still Life. I can’t wait to tackle that one!

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You Capture Still Life

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I found a new photo blog to participate in on Thursdays! It’s called You Capture. Every week there is new theme. This week’s was “Still Life.”

Click on the link here to read about how to play along. Then, do your best to visit the other participants’ site – everyone loves the traffic, the comments and the feedback (not just you!) Next week’s photo challenge is Technology. I’m not sure how I’m going to tackle that one!

These are some of the photos I captured on a recent lazy afternoon we spent in downtown Wilmington, NC.  Wilmington is a beautiful city, rich in history and natural scenery. As a Wilmington native, I am always jumping at the chance to show off my hometown.

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The downtown area offers a wide variety of restaurants, bars and shops that are unique, interesting and full of character. Outdoor dining is a pleasant way to spend a few hours. You might even spot a Hollywood star while you’re lingering over your dessert!

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To see more photos of the historic Wilmington, NC  area, visit my photo blog, Wilmington Daily Photo.

Capturing Bits of Red in Wilmington, NC

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The HENRIETTA III, an authentic tour and dinner riverboat,  is a constant and familiar part of the scenery on the Cape Fear River in Wilmington, NC. She is docked at the foot of Dock and Water Streets, on The Riverwalk, in historic downtown.

“Welcome Aboard!” is the motto of HENRIETTA III’s Captain Carl Marshburn and crew. They offer the finest in Southern hospitality. A favorite for locals and visitors, HENRIETTA III is a unique way to celebrate  special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, family reunions, weddings and receptions, as well as just a lazy day or evening of fun.

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This was taken early one morning at Topsail Beach, NC. It’s the best time of day for fishing, if you can get up that early!

Topsail Beach is located on Topsail Island, just off US Highway 17, about halfway between Wilmington and Jacksonville, NC. Topsail (pronounced Tops’l) has a rich and varied history. In the 1700’s, when pirate ships roamed these waters, the pirates had an infamous hiding place  in the channel behind the island, where they waited for passing merchant ships. In time, the merchants learned to watch for the tops of the pirate’s sails, which could be seen over the rolling dunes, and the island became known as Topsail Island.

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This shot was taken at a Classic Car Show in Wilmington, NC. The name Fairlane came from Henry Ford’s Fair Lane mansion location in Dearborn, Michigan. The Ford Fairlane was introduced in 1955 as Ford’s full-size model and was available in six different body styles.

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Horse-drawn carriage tours are offered daily, every half hour, at the foot of Market Street in downtown Wilmington. This is a great way for visitors to see the city and learn about our history. I have taken the tour myself, and every time I learn something new.  The costumed driver, known as “The Carriage Man” has a wealth of information about the stately old mansions, public buildings and streets.

The folks at Springbrook Farms own and manage the horses. Each one of them are rescued Percheron draft horses, born on Amish farms throughout the Northeast. For whatever reason, the farmers were not able to use them, and they wound up at auction. Often these magnificent animals are bought by meat processing companies to make dog food or other products. These folks have saved the lives of many horses over the years and continue to do so with the proceeds they make from the tours.

These folks love their horses. They rotate them throughout the day, so the horses are allowed frequent water and rest breaks. They are out fitted with special shoes, and provided with veterinarian care. After a week of pulling carriages, each horse is given a three week vacation at the Brunswick County farm.

Many thanks to Springbrook Farms, not only for rescuing these fine animals, but for lending a special ambiance to our city!

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Hughes Brothers, Inc. is North Carolina’s oldest tire dealer, in business since 1921. The original shop was at the corner of  2nd and Market Streets, in Wilmington, NC. This interesting red and white building at 1101 Market Street has been their primary location since the 1940’s.

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I captured this photo this past summer on a visit to Wrightsville Beach, NC. It has a lot of red in it, but I particuarly like the red Radio Flyer wagon. The little boy riding in it was having the time of his life!

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This photo was taken in the sound waters near Figure Eight Island.

This is a crab cage. It may also be referred to as a “crab pot”. There are many different types of crab cages, or traps, and they all work pretty much the same way. You place some bait, usually raw chicken pieces, at the bottom of the trap  in a “bait bag,” and secure it to the bottom of the trap so that it doesn’t float away. The cage has a string or cord attached to it. When you toss it into the water, the sand comes up and conceals most of the cage, leaving the bait in plain view. This attracts the crabs, who climb in for a free meal. When the cage is pulled out of the water, the tugging action on the cords causes the sides of the cage to come up, trapping the crabs inside of the cage.

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Wilmington is a beautiful city, rich in history and natural scenery. As a Wilmington native, I am always jumping at the chance to show off my hometown.

Y’all really ought to visit the lovely and talented Pseudonymous High School Teacher today.  Pseudo, as she’s affectionately referred to, lives in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. Anyhoo, she has started a great thing over at her place called Travel Tip Thursday – every Thursday she and anyone who chooses to participate will do a little “travelogue” about a place close to home.

I found a new photo blog to participate in on Thursdays! It’s called You Capture. Every week there is new theme. This week’s was “Red” I immediately thought of these pictures – these are all from my blog, Wilmington Daily Photo. I also participate in a photo forum called Ruby Tuesday. Ruby Tuesday allows me to post photos of something red every week, so I thought I’d recycle some of my favorites. You can see all of my Ruby Tuesday photos here.

How about y’all? What photos do you have of things that are red?

Click on the link here to read about how to play along. Then, do your best to visit the other participants’ site – everyone loves the traffic, the comments and the feedback (not just you!) Next week’s photo challenge is Still Life. I can’t wait to tackle that one!

You Might Recognize Wilmington

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Thanks to my friend, Jan, over at Jan’s Sushi Bar, I’ve decided to give this here posting every day thing a try, y’all. It’s called NaBloPoMo,and I can’t believe how long it just took me to write that. Stands for “National Blog Posting Month”. You post something every day for a month.

It’s ridiculously hard.

Y’all really ought to visit the lovely and talented Pseudonymous High School Teacher today.  Pseudo, as she’s affectionately referred to, lives in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. Anyhoo, she has started a great meme over at her place called Travel Tip Thursday – every Thursday she and anyone who chooses to participate will do a little “travelogue” about a place close to home.

For the last five days, I’ve been posting about our Staycation. My 14 year old step daughter, Dani,  and her BFFL, Sella, are visiting us this month. They live in Upstate New York. We decided to take the two of  them on a vacation in our own backyard this year, and explore some of the things that tourists do and see when they visit our area. Things that we’ve always wanted to do, but that pesky little thing called a job keeps getting in the way.

So far it’s been a lot of fun, y’all.

We had a Girls Only Day, which included a luncheon at La Costa, manicures and pedicures, ear piercing and a shopping spree at Independence Mall. We took a tour of the Screen Gems Studio, where One Tree Hill is filmed, and went on a Haunted Ghost Walk of Old Wilmington. We hosted a Chicken Spiedie family dinner, played golf in Burgaw, went to Wrightsville Beach, and yesterday we revisited the mall and had dinner at Wild Wings Cafe, located in the Landfall Center.

Try the Garlic Garlic Wings, if you like garlic, y’all. They are to die for, I swaunee.

Today we are going to do something that I’ve wanted to do ever since it became available in Wilmington! We are going on a Segway Tour of the historic downtown area. It is listed as the number one top rated attraction in Wilmington right now by Trip Advisor. We are taking a two hour tour which will take us by several film locations and haunted buildings. It should be exciting – I will be posting pictures and details tomorrow.

And tomorrow night, the girls are going to be able to see a show, The Wiz, in one of the oldest, working theaters in the United States, Thalian Hall.

Wilmington is a beautiful city, rich in history and natural scenery. As a Wilmington native, I am so proud to show off my hometown. I love it so much that I have another blog called Wilmington Daily Photo. It keeps me busy posting a new photo of the Wilmington area every day. I hope y’all will check it out and see for yourselves why I think this place is so spectacular.

If the pictures make you feel a little like, Deja vu, it might be because you’ve already visited here, without realizing it. You’ve probably already seen one or more things that have been filmed in Wilmington. Known as “Wilmywood,” it is one of the largest motion picture and television production studios in the United States, outside of Hollywood, CA. Over 350 television and motion pictures have been filmed here since the studio was built by Dino De Laurentiis in 1984. It operated under the name DEG (DeLaurentiis Entertainment Group) until 1990, when it was purchased by Carolco (producers of the Terminator movies).

George Cooney, owner of EUE/Screen Gems, acquired the Wilmington Studios in 1996 and renamed it EUE/Screen Gems Studios.

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Some of the stuff that has been filmed here: One Tree Hill, Dawson’s Creek, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Part I and Part II), Domestic Disturbance, Nights in Rodanthe, Sleeping With The Enemy, Lolita, Cape Fear, Firestarter, Blue Velvet and Surface.

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The Haunted Ghost Walk was pretty corny and our guide was a wee bit drunk, we think, but never-the-less, Wilmington is hauntingly beautiful at night. Here are a few interesting shots I got during the tour.

This is the fountain in front of the Alton Lennon Federal Courthouse building, where, incidentally, much of Matlock was filmed.

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Looking down Front Street towards Cape Fear College.

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This used to be our New Hanover County Courthouse. It is now used as a Visitor’s Center. The clock tower is a fine example of the architecture of the time.

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A staple of Wilmington’s downtown nightlife, Fat Tony’s Italian Pub is one of the stops along the Haunted Ghost Walk. It has a house brew that’s called the “Haunted Pub Brew” in honor of the ghosts (former guests of the old Orton Hotel that burned down in the 1940s) who are said to linger here at the site of their old haunt. You can’t find much more ambiance than this.

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The Bellamy Mansion is one of our most spectacular examples of antebellum architecture. Built right after  the Civil War by free and enslaved black artisans, for John Dillard Bellamy (1817-1896) who was a physician, a planter and a business leader. After the fall of Fort Fisher in 1865, Federal troops commandeered the house as their headquarters during the occupation of Wilmington. Now it is a museum that offers tours during the day, but it is a pretty sight at night.

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