Tag Archives: National/State Park

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

Into the Wild in Cazorla (Spain)

By Sally James

Cazorla Nature Preserve

Cazorla Nature Preserve

If you’re tired of visiting big cities and you dream of enjoying an unforgettable experience in the midst of nature, one area that you will enjoy as much for its serenity as for its adventure offerings, is Cazorla, in the south of Spain. Cazorla is around an hour away from the city of Jaén and comprises both a main town, and part of a mountain range known as the Cazorla Nature Reserve (in Spanish, the Sierra de Cazorla, Segura y Villas) – the largest protected green area in Spain, home to ancient towering trees, dramatic waterfalls and serene tracks which vary in length and complexity. The Cazorla Nature Reserve was declared a World Biosphere Reserve owing to the rich variety of flora and fauna. Continue reading

Visit National Parks to Discover Some of the World’s Most Breath-Taking Natural Spaces

By Jocelyn Brown

Banff Canada by Ezra Jeffrey

Banff Canada by Ezra Jeffrey

The 7,000 national parks across 100 countries all around the globe, offer travelers the chance to experience the world’s natural beauty first hand. National parks are conservation areas used to help protect and preserve areas of natural land. The land is often semi natural or all natural. But there is some developed land which can call itself a national park, just as long as a country or state declares it as being its own property. Beauty might be in the eye of the beholder, but there is no doubt that these parks offer the best in magnificent landscapes, environmental wonders and fascinating plants and wildlife. Continue reading

Hiking with Casper the (Un)Friendly Ghost: Four Haunted United States National Parks

By:   Jocelyn Brown

Photo by Andrea Boldizsar

Photo by Andrea Boldizsar

The United States National Parks have a dark and brooding history. Many visitors mysteriously vanish on hikes through these parks, and over the past 100 years, there have been 1,100 missing persons cases that have never been closed. Unable to cross over, these restless souls continue to haunt the parks and if you’re hiking at night, you’d better watch out for these spirits. They’re not all as friendly as Casper. Continue reading

Memphis: A City of Music Legends that Rocks

Feel the Beat of Rock’n’ Roll, Soul and Blues

By: Charlene & Richard Mixa

“I’m Going to Memphis!” is our chant as we begin our musical journey to Memphis. Sitting on the bluffs along the Mississippi River, Memphis is famous for its influential strains of blues, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll that originated here. The home of music pioneers who produced new beats to American music and their impact is still heard today.

Sharecroppers migrate to Memphis seeking jobs and bringing their music

Sharecroppers migrate to Memphis seeking jobs and bringing their music

“All Shook Up!” The music of Memphis actually “shook up the entire world.” The Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum tells the story of the birthplace of rock and soul music. A video begins our introduction on the music originating in the rural fields and with the sharecroppers of the 1930’s. Donning headsets, we wind through the six Galleries on a digital audio tour. The Rural Culture Gallery explains the impact of blues, country and gospel music that unexpectedly combined for a musical revolution. Each stop on the audio tour explains the intriguing story of the music and its impact on the musicians, the city, the culture, as well as, social and racial barriers. Continue reading

A Taste of Traverse City

Sipping, Sampling, Dining, and More!

By: Charlene & Richard Mixa

Scenic View through trees at Bowers Harbor Inn (Mission Table)

Scenic View through trees at Bowers Harbor Inn (Mission Table)

On the shores of Grand Traverse Bay sits the captivating unique town of Traverse City. Glacier-sculpted landscape created miles of sugar-sand shoreline, rolling hills, and a majestic peninsula. Located on the 45th parallel halfway between the North Pole and the Equator the climate flourishes with lush vineyards, as well as, cherry and apple orchards. Continue reading

Asheville: The Call of Mountain Adventures

From Treetop Thrills to Luxurious Spa Caves
By Charlene & Richard Mixa (aka Mimi & Papa)

The Mixa's  take on the Adventure Center of Asheville

The Mixa’s take on the Adventure Center of Asheville

Zip through treetops, hike to a mountain top, slide down a waterfall, ride a wacky bus, play a round of golf, relax in an underground spa and tour a mansion, the Western North Carolina Mountains beckon adventurers from thrill seekers to pursuers of relaxation. On trips to dynamic Asheville we have hiked mountains, waded in ice cold creeks and been on tours to sample foods, taste beers and sip wines. Yet, each visit to these magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains brings a distinct twist on any adventure. Grandchildren, Louis (6 yrs.) and Lucy (4yrs) and their parents, Matt and Dawn join a few adventures adding to the excitement. Continue reading

Enhance your Irish Adventure- Head North

By Sally James

Last year over 1.3 million Americans embraced the opportunity to visit Ireland. Yet only a relatively small proportion of these adventurers opted to enhance their Irish experience by heading over the border into Northern Ireland. Here we take a closer look at some of the delights which the region can offer and highlight why it is a must on any Emerald Isle itinerary. Continue reading

Find a Plethora of Activities in Western North Carolina

Experience an Abundance of Adventures

By Charlene & Richard Mixa

 Craggy Gardens Trail leads to spectacular views

Craggy Gardens Trail leads to spectacular views

Plethora an abundance or excess of something. Yep, Western North Carolina boasts an abundance of eclectic activities. “What to do?” is asked not for lack of things to do but deciding from an array of adventures. The world’s oldest mountains easily brag on its diverse outdoor activities, inviting towns, historic attractions, cultural venues, and its own uniqueness. In the past we’ve roamed the Biltmore, relaxed in a salt cave, wined and dined at the 100 year old Grove Park Inn, seen Asheville on traditional to wacky bus tours, hiked to tops of mountains, sipped local microbrews on beer tours, and sampled culinary delights on food excursions. Now we’re off to seek new and different, plus tried and true exploits in the Western North Carolina Mountains. Continue reading

Exciting Southern West Virginia

By Charlene S. Mixa

A Wild and Wonderful Mountain Vacation

New River Gorge Bridge

New River Gorge Bridge

Imagine scenic vistas with verdant mountains of steep hills and deep valleys, serene retreats, country culture, and serious adventure! The best kept secret in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains is Southern West Virginia. Continue reading