Category Archives: North America

The Swag: A Luxury Mountain Paradise

An Enchanting, Serene, and Remote Retreat

By Charlene & Richard Mixa

Scenic views of North Carolina's highest mountain ranges

Scenic views of North Carolina’s highest mountain ranges

A refined luxury inn and the highest inn east of the Mississippi, The Swag sits atop a 250 acre oasis in the North Carolina Mountains where nature and serenity create a remote mountain paradise.  A serene retreat to recharge and indulge the senses.  Original architecturally designed luxurious accommodations lure guests with surprises, warm hospitality, and charm for an unconventional and extraordinary getaway.  With incomparable Smoky Mountain National Park views and a panorama of over four of North Carolina’s six highest mountain ranges, The Swag meets the definition of paradise “a place of extreme beauty, delight and happiness.” Continue reading

A Summer of Terrific Mountain Golf

Western North Carolina Offers a Variety of Golf Courses
By Richard & Charlene Mixa

Laurel Ridge a scenic downhill hole

Laurel Ridge a scenic downhill hole

On our recent summer visit to the Asheville area, Charlene and I were fortunate to play fifteen area golf courses.  Some were private, semi-private, or resort courses, and all were within reasonable driving distances (for avid golfers!) to Asheville.  Below is a course summary for each along with their location and contact information.  Hope you enjoy the courses as much as we did.  Golf is a great and often humbling game! Continue reading

A Sampling of Asheville’s Culinary Scene

A Few Unique Dining Venues
By Charlene & Richard Mixa

The Junction in the River Arts District

The Junction in the River Arts District

Foodie’s will delight in the eclectic restaurants in Asheville with its many unique and memorable food and drink experiences.   A town on the move, it consistently offers a plethora of dining options.  In fact ExploreAsheville.com has coined the term a “Foodtopia” to describe Asheville’s “community of culinary collaborators.” Having visited this dynamic town the past few years we have experienced many of the local flavors and favorites in the downtown area.  In the pursuit of new eateries and experiences in Asheville’s food scene we find special venues, “hidden gems” and amazing restaurants. Continue reading

A Taste of Black Mountain!

A Little Town with Lots of “Taste!”
By Charlene & Richard Mixa

Boasting over 30 restaurants and two microbreweries Black Mountain is a great town to visit or stay when vacationing in the Blue Ridge Mountains.   Just fifteen minutes from Asheville, this welcoming community offers a wonderful variety of eateries from hearty soup and sandwiches to BBQ and ribs to mountain trout and authentic ethnic cuisine.

My sampling plate of Black Mountain Bistro's delightful tastings

My sampling plate of Black Mountain Bistro’s delightful tastings

To get a “taste” of the town, we start with the 17th Annual “Rock the Taste” presented by Black Mountain Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce.  Arriving at the White Horse a variety of restaurants feature their favorite dishes in this unique venue.  Wow! So many choices! Roaming the vendors each tantalizes with their specialty fares.  The Black Mountain Bistro showcases their Quinoa and Kale Salad, a delectable Artichoke Spinach Dip, hearty Shrimp & Grit Cake along with scrumptious desserts of Coconut Cake, Chocolate Layer Cake and Banana Pudding.  Samplings continue at the Red Rocker Inn table featuring Sausage and Grits.  A true southern favorite is their luscious Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie. Continue reading

A Mountain Community Above it All, Mountain Air

Gracious Elevated Living on a Mountaintop
by Charlene & Richard Mixa  

Mountain Scenery from Orville & Wilbur's Bar & Grill

Mountain Scenery from Orville & Wilbur’s Bar & Grill

The “Call of the Mountains” has people of all ages seeking the beauty and peacefulness of the western North Carolina Mountains.  While some seek a simple reclusive getaway others desire a welcoming friendly community that offers a range of amenities.  At Mountain Air Country Club we find a Mountain Shangri La atop Slickrock Mountain at 4,600 feet with its miles of beautiful mountain scenery and tranquil setting. This iconic mountain community is definitely above it all! Continue reading

Celebrating Beer City, USA

A Sampling of Asheville’s Beer Week 2017
By Charlene & Richard Mixa

A toast to AVL Beer Week !  Chestnut & Highland Brewing Company Beer Pairing Dinner

A toast to AVL Beer Week ! Chestnut & Highland Brewing Company Beer Pairing Dinner

It’s all about BEER! Asheville Beer Week is an eight-day celebration of beer in spectacular Western North Carolina. This mountain town has thrived in the past few years to consistently be recognized as Beer City, USA. With microbreweries “popping open” each year, Asheville has plenty to celebrate. Organized by a group of regional beer industry folks and the Asheville Brewers Alliance, Asheville is the place to taste, sample, learn, and explore BEER. Activities are many including beer dinners, educational events, pint nights, and dozens of other beer-centric events, and of course the Beer City Festival. Additionally, the Asheville Brewers Alliance coordinates the making of a collaborative brew with ABA member breweries just for AVL Beer Week. Continue reading

Asheville’s Vibrant & Eclectic River Arts District

An Art Studio Experience
By Charlene & Richard Mixa

Odyssey Center - We carefully watch Nich as he instructs us on making pottery

Odyssey Center – We carefully watch Nich as he instructs us on making pottery

On the bluffs of the French Broad River, where former warehouses once sat abandoned, now sits Asheville’s River Arts District. Over 200 artists in a wide variety of mediums in 22 buildings, all within one mile, have found their niche in this restored warehouse riverside setting. With the growth of art studios and tourists, unique eateries are popping up. To educate ourselves on the River Arts District, we are taking the Asheville Art Studio Tour and checking out a couple of eateries. Continue reading

Charismatic Charleston, South Carolina

By Charlene & Richard Mixa

Charleston's Battery Park

Charleston’s Battery Park

Elegantly Preserving History While Nurturing a Creative Culture
Receiving the highest ranking in 2016 as the best city in the world, Charleston, South Carolina is the toast of the South. Travel & Leisure’s annual World’s Best Awards has Charleston, the Holy City, as the top travel destination from around the world. A dynamic city that preserves its heritage while nurturing a most creative culture. A prime coastal city flanked by the Ashley River, the Cooper River and the Atlantic Ocean, Charleston intrigues visitors with its 300 plus year old history, numerous plantations, European-like atmosphere, award-winning gardens, historic buildings, and rich past along with nurturing customs, an eclectic cuisine, varied eateries and specialty shops. Continue reading

Sail Away With Me – Summer Holidays on the Water

By Jocelyn Brown

Photo by: Torbjorn Sandbakk

Photo by: Torbjorn Sandbakk

Whether you’ve never set foot in a boat before, or are already a seasoned and salty sailor, a holiday on the water is a great option for the upcoming summer. Relaxing but infused with a real sense of adventure, everyone can have the trip of a lifetime once onboard from young families to solo seniors – after all, adventures don’t have to stop just because you age! Continue reading

X Marks the Spot: Five of the Most Interesting Geocache Sites Around the World

By Jocelyn Brown

Photo by Natalie Fox

Photo by Natalie Fox

As children, we were adventure-seekers, pirates, and treasure hunters. We dreamed of finding the X that led to the golden prize, or treasure chest filled with doubloons. Well now, we can make those dreams a reality. Geocaching is the world’s largest treasure hunt, and is ultimately a hide-and-seek game for adults. Players use a GPS receiver or their cellphones and other clues and navigational information to find containers, or geocaches around the world. These geocaches are sometimes filled with small treasures that you can take, but make sure you leave something else for the next treasure seeker! Continue reading