Tuesday, October 29, 2013

So much in my head

I'm slowly getting back into my groove after several days of travel and family visiting, and it's hilarious how writing here is a NEED more than a want, because it's not like I have anything mind-blowing to report.

I inherited a new-to-me iPhone 4, so I have a camera again, which is 14 kinds of awesome...once I get around to downloading the pictures, which should have occurred about 2 days ago...but we went hiking on Sunday, which meant lying around in a dazed brain fog yesterday, groaning occasionally because my everything hurt, and my right ankle arthritis flared up like the little bitch that it is and I couldn't find my decent ankle brace anywhere, because apparently it's been a good ankle year and I haven't used the damn thing since we moved.....

So the picture is from Tumblr, because I'm a lazy cuss, and I'm still piecing together how fricking adorable and weird Gatlinburg was...like an American tourist trap crash-landed and sprawled all over this delightful southern valley, so that it felt like a Jersey Shore boardwalk had transplanted itself in the mountains.

This autumn doesn't feel quite as showy, color-wise, as it was last year, but it was still incredible. The hotel we stayed at was within walking distance of almost everything of note, so we barely used the car...which also explains why my legs still aren't speaking to me. The prices there were about what you'd expect, so we didn't splurge much (and Hubs and I couldn't splurge til Friday anyway, because my delightful company decided to play around with payment processing and not tell those of us affected). But just wandering was a blast too, all the people-watching and hilarious storefronts. Ripley's is big there, and handmade candy kitchens, and all variety of shops; and the black bear is definitely the unofficial mascot of the area.

There's a ski resort smack in the middle of town, so we took the tram up there to look around, and I wished I had the balls to take the ski lift up the rest of the way, because the alpine slide looks nifty as heck...but I pussed out (I have a mild fear of heights). I'm the person who wishes rope tows still existed, so I could ski without having to deal with lifts. We hit a moonshine distillery for their free tasting (good stuff!), and discovered that peak season is not the time to hit the pancake houses (the lines were laughable).

My Lil Sis celebrated her 30th turn around the sun with this trip, and it was delightful. On Friday we headed to Bryson City to ride the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad up to the Nantahala Outdoor Center. The train has open cars with no windows for leaf watching, for those of us who aren't afraid of freezing our tails off (temps were in the 40s that day). We came prepared and appropriately clothed, and it was an awesome time! We found an AMAZING restaurant/coffee shop in Bryson City for dinner afterward, which was a terrific way to end the trip.

Saturday I had to get some work in, so after we picked up Mom's dog at the kennel and hit the farmer's market, I dove into the sites and Mom and Lil Sis wandered town, and then we met them for dinner at Avenue M. Food was delish, service was meh. They need to school their servers on sommelier terminology. Telling us the wine comes from grapes ain't gonna win you that 20% tip.

Sunday we hit Craggy Gardens, which was a lot easier than I remember, though my body is definitely telling me differently now. It reinforced how we need to be taking weekend days for hiking around here; there's no shortage of nice places/trails in the area and it's nuts that we're not taking more excursions. Of course, I'm getting this jones when we're a month away from the Parkway closing ;) That's OK though, as it definitely isn't the only game around town.

Pretty sure the rest of this week is workworkwork. I'm a bit behind, and much as I'd love an apple orchard excursion, I'm also recognizing that pickings are winding down and work must take its place front and center. The local Ingles and Greenlife have decent produce sections if I get in an apple butter and sauce making jones...but right now I'm more concerned with getting work done so I may can blackberry jam and cherry preserves with my freezer stock this coming weekend, and getting the bread recipe right. I was going to bale on the edX cooking course, but woke up today with renewed vigor toward learning that stuff. If I'm hoping to process more of my own food in the future, I definitely want to know the science of it. I thank Ben Hewitt for that motivation; his posts of late have been all about food making, and I'd love to be able to do that without the crippling worry that I could poison family members.

Image from here.

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