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Final Summer Tour Post; Asheville; Hiking the Blue Ridge; IANDS San Antonio; Hilton Head; Heading Home!

Following Suzanne’s presentation at Unity of the Blue Ridge, we had some time to relax before her next event. A short distance from Unity is a new tourist attraction, Sierra Nevada Brewery.  (What a good location for a spiritual brew… I am going backpack-meditating next week in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California, so it was appropriate to try out some of their tasty offerings after a mountain bike ride in nearby Bent Creek Park.) 

My Lovely Bride ordered water (“What???”) so Your Humble Correspondent had to take up the slack and order a flight of four very small (dare I say “teeny”) tasting glasses of SNB’s finest: Pale Ale, Nooner (a Pilsner), Torpedo (a “hop bomb”), and Bigfoot (a rich, bitter-sweet barleywine variety). We also enjoyed SNB’s outstanding snack menu – if you’re ever in the Asheville area, it’s worth a stop).

We also took a short tour of the brewery, a very classy, state-of-the-brewer’s art facility. This was one of the vats where hops, barley and yeast are mixed to create beer.

Our stay in Asheville was for 9 days, during which time Suzanne flew out to San Antonio for the International Association of Near Death Studies (IANDS) Annual Conference, where she was one of four keynote speakers (the very first medium IANDS had ever invited to be a featured speaker). I even got to watch her on a Live Stream video, and as always, was suitably impressed. By all accounts, she was a big hit with the IANDS attendees and leadership, because she’s already been invited back for their next Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida, 28-31 July 2016. You are all invited to attend and you can watch Suzanne’s 2015 speech on demand on the IANDS web site,

I stayed behind with Rudy and Gretchen at our campground, and got quite a bit of hiking in. The Blue Ridge Mountains are delightful this time of year, not too warm, relatively dry and almost bug-free. The views from the Blue Ridge Parkway, especially to the north and west, are impressive, with virtually no buildings visible as far as the eye can see. At sunset, it’s easy to see why this range has it’s colorful name. Just slightly left of center in the background is the steep, bare slope of Looking Glass Mountain.

Late one evening while driving back from a hike, these towering thunderheads (cumulonimbus clouds) were attention-getting. 

One afternoon, I visited Connemara Farms, the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site on Little River Road in Flat Rock, NC. Coincidentally, we live on Little River Path, but sadly, I am not a poet… On this occasion, I toured the grounds and took a pleasant hike up to Big Glassy Mountain.

This warning sign was placed near a big slab of granite sloping down to some trees. About 30 miles away is Looking Glass Mountain where that same day, a hiker died when he fell 500 feet down the bald slope after losing his footing.

Another early morning hike was to Mt. Pisgah, 5,713 feet. It was named after the mountain from which Moses first sighted the Promised Land. I was hoping for clear skies, but low clouds kept me in a fog (literally) until early afternoon, long after I had reached the summit. One section of trail reminded me of forests described in the Hobbit… 

My last North Carolina hike was a 9-miler on the Mountains to Sea Trail. Still under development (and that’s sort of a stretch, because the trail is much less used than the Appalachian Trail, and has no shelters for hikers), it will run from the highest point in North Carolina, Clingman’s Dome, to the Outer Banks. This “rustic” bridge is typical of the trail up near the Blue Ridge Parkway. I didn’t see a single person for three hours up here.

This leaf on the forest floor caught my eye during the hike; I loved the way raindrops had collected on its surface. 

When Suzanne returned from San Antonio, we saddled up and moved to Hilton Head to visit Irene and Tony Vouvalides at their beautiful home. Suzanne had given Irene two readings after the death of her daughter, Carly, and featured her in her IANDS presentation.  We thoroughly enjoyed their fabulous hospitality, including a delicious home-cooked pizza on the grill lunch, a bike tour, and a wonderful shrimp, arugula and pasta dinner. Tony is a world-class ship model builder and is now building a sailboat in his garage.

By the way, our last two nights on the road were spent at a marina/campground in Hilton Head. This was the view from the front window of our coach… not too shabby!

As we pulled onto our street back in The Villages, I wondered whether the sign that our good friends Joyce and Sharon had alerted us to was still on our front lawn… hmmm…. at least the porta-potti was gone!

Our first home-cooked meal back in TV was this fabulous grilled pizza; thanks to Irene and Tony for the recipe! 

This will be the final post of our Summer 2015 Tour… we had a great time but are looking forward to winter in The Villages and catching up with family and friends after almost six months on the road. Stay tuned in a week or so for Ty’s report from his upcoming Yosemite backpacking trip and future goings-on with His Lovely Bride (The Lovely Suzanne), Rudy and Gretchen!


  • Anonymous
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 11:51 am

    Glad you guys are home safe. Enjoy your trip to Yosemite! Brad

  • Unknown
    Posted September 23, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    You both had a wonderful adventure. I will miss the trip blogs and look forward to hearing about your future travels. Linda and Jim


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