Wednesday, October 31, 2007

FOLIAGE WATCH: REPORT 6



We hear from guests that the fall foliage at higher elevations (4,000-6,000 feet) on the Blue Ridge Parkway is just past peak, but color still abounds at places like Grandfather Mountain, and wildflowers along the way make for great scenery. [If you're headed north on the Parkway, be sure to stop by the Orchard at Altapass to take advantage its wonderful mountain views. UPDATE: The Orchard at Altapass closed for the season on November 9. Check their website for their 2008 opening date, and keep in mind they ship their fudge and jars of goodies all year round.]

Locations at lower elevations, such as Chimney Rock Park, are great places to visit right now as their leaf season heads into its peak.

At our elevation (2,500) and around the Asheville area, we're close to, if not right at, peak. The weird and wacky weather we had this summer and even as late as September means we'll be getting an extended leaf season. There's still plenty of green around us; we'll be keeping our fingers crossed that those leaves do put out some color before they fall.

It rained last week, but we're back to having mild weather and sunny skies, which bring a bursting brightness and sparkle to the leaves as the sun shines through.



Here's a photo of a morning moon above the orchard with the national forest in the background:



Dave took this photo on his way to Old Fort:



There are several areas to check out if you're in the neighborhood this week and next. If you're driving, head out to the North Carolina Arboretum just south of Asheville and witness some spectacular colors (as mentioned in a previous post, the arboretum's deciduous bonsai trees are changing right along with their regular-sized counterparts).

Head into Asheville or Black Mountain and you'll see plenty of color while you take in some shopping and grab a bite to eat.

Right here in our neck of the woods, we have two forest service trails off the southern end of our property. The western trail leads along one of the ridges bordering the Inn. About a quarter-mile down the trail is a mountain biking/hiking path off to the left that provides some really beautiful scenery. Now that the leaves are starting to fall, you can begin to see the forest through the trees...we'll post some pictures of that hike later this week.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

FIRST FROST

Yesterday, weather forecasters issued a frost warning for the mountains, but we didn't see any when we woke up. However, today, we awoke to a bright, crisp clear morning and a little bit of frost on the ground. What was really eye-catching was the mist slowly rising off the lake with the autumn trees in the background. What a nice view for breakfast from the dining solarium!



We've had several cool nights this week -- if you're planning a visit in November, be sure to bring warm clothes for the evenings and mornings. Afternoons are still perfectly pleasant and warm so layers are the best clothing option as you head out to enjoy the beautiful fall here in western North Carolina.

Friday, October 26, 2007

AUTUMN AT CHIMNEY ROCK

Our good friends at Chimney Rock Park gave us a great fall foliage report this week. What a pretty place, and what a great place for hiking. We loved our trip there in April of last year. Here's Dave standing on top of the "chimney" with Lake Lure in the backround. Pretty nice scenery behind him, huh? Brigette has a fear of falling, so she was huddled partially behind a rock, gripping onto it while taking Dave's picture. The rest of the day was spent hiking up to the top of the falls and back. Very spectacular views!



We suggest a leisurely scenic drive to Chimney Rock if you're in the area this weekend or next week. It's just a half hour south of us via Route 9 out of Black Mountain. On the way back, if you want to take a different route, you can head up US-64/74 to Asheville (or stay on US-64 to get to Hendersonville, south of Asheville).

Thursday, October 25, 2007

COOL WEATHER OUTSIDE, COZY FIRE INSIDE



Tonight, the cool weather arrived, and with it, the 2007 inaugural autumn lighting of the woodburning fireplace in the Great Room. What a nice way to relax after a day of searching for beautiful fall foliage on an otherwise rainy and dreary day. We spent the evening warming up in front of the fire engaged in a nice conversation with two of our guests, Ashley and Mary (who are visiting the Inn for the second time).

We wonder if our friends, Mark and Eileen in Bay Village, have been getting good use out of their fireplace this season...how's the Ohio weather?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

FOLIAGE WATCH: REPORT 5



Over the past few days, the colors have really begun popping. Peak leaf season is upon us here, although we hear that the patches of red, yellow and orange are not as widespread as years' past. We took these pictures of our woods at the Inn this week:







Walnut tree with our orchard in the background:



It's been rainy in Black Mountain this week; however, the forecast calls for clearer weather this weekend, perfect for catching some fall foliage on a drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway, where the elevations are over 4,000 feet. Recent guests tell us that a drive on the Parkway a few days ago yielded a cascading show of color that drifted from golden yellow to bronze to crimson red.

Another recommendation for visitors to our area would be to take in the sights at the North Carolina Arboretum. They have a wonderful bonzai display with over 100 specimens, and the deciduous bonzai trees are changing color along with their regular-sized counterparts. The Arboretum has a variety of gardens on over 400 acres and is set in a beautiful area surrounded by mountains, just south of Asheville.

Friday, October 19, 2007

DINNER RECOMMENDATION: OCTOBER



Almost all our guests over the past couple of weeks have been raving about the Cellar Door restaurant in Black Mountain. Cellar Door is casual and contemporary yet elegant. The first thing you notice when you walk in is the beautiful exposed brick, perfect lighting and the general comfortableness of the place. Then you see the menu, where literally everything looks delicious. [Brigette's note: They also have a good wine list and serve beers from local breweries.]

The best phrase we've heard a guest use to describe Cellar Door's presentation is top notch artistry. They offer a wide array of appetizers, salads and entrees...their wood grilled caesar salad is probably the best caesar salad in town.

Be sure to save room for one of their house-made desserts!

Cellar Door is accessible via either Broadway or Cherry. The front of the restaurant is on Cherry, next to the Veranda. The Broadway entrance has handicap access. Cellar Door is open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner (and there's a fork and cork menu from 2:30pm to 5:00pm). Dinner reservations are highly recommended.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

FOLIAGE WATCH: REPORT 4



The middle of October is here, but the peak is at least a week away due to the dry conditions we had this summer. We have plenty of green landscape left for you to enjoy as the leaves continue to lighten and change, creating a striking contrast on our two-mile tree-lined drive.


We're also starting to see more leaves on the ground.



The arbor overlooking our lake is a great spot for leaf and bird watching:


Never fear leaf hunters -- there's plenty of color popping up throughout the Pisgah National Forest where we're located, and certain spots in our area are starting to see vibrant foliage.

We're especially starting to see some bright reds.


Heading out for a drive? One suggested fall foliage drive would be to go up the Blue Ridge Parkway to Grandfather Mountain, which has a mile-high swing bridge. We recommend taking the scenic route from the Inn to US-70 and from there, take US-80 up to the Parkway. Very scenic (and very curvy for those of you who like to drive in the mountains). Alternatively, drive down Route 9 to Chimney Rock. The views are expansive at both locations and you'll be sure to see reds, golds and oranges dotting the landscape.

Our county, McDowell County, has begun publishing periodic leaf reports. Check them out for details on where to catch the best leaf shows east of us.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE INNPUGS

Csaba and Bugsy are the Inn on Mill Creek's celebrity innpugs. They are much more popular than we are, so we're giving them their own blog entry today in celebration of their third birthday. Csaba and Bugsy came from a litter of six pugs born in 2004 to Daisy Pug and Chubby Checker Pug.

Csaba was the biggest roly poly pug of the litter and Bugsy was the only one of the four black pug puppies with no white markings.

Dave and Brigette stopped by the breeder's house when the pugs were two weeks old and captured their first baby picture. As you can see, Csaba's tongue is already starting to hang out of his mouth (an endearing characteristic he has to this day). Look at those cute Csaba ears. And Bugsy is showing off his teeny back feet:



This is shortly after we brought them home. It's our favorite photo of the boys:


Below is a shot of the boys at three years old shortly after they woke up this morning. Happy Birthday, innpugs! If you'd like to send them a happy birthday note, you can e-mail them at innpugs@innonmillcreek.com. They answer all their fan mail.

Friday, October 12, 2007

WINE TASTINGS IN BLACK MOUNTAIN

Love wine? You'll love The Merry Wine Market in Black Mountain. They're holding wine tastings every Saturday from 5pm to 7pm through December. Chances are, you might see Innkeeper Brigette there on a Saturday evening this Fall...

The Merry Wine Market has a very wide selection of wines from all over the world, such as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, France, Germany, Chile, Italy, the United States and the list goes on. Their staff is extremely well-versed in wine and they'll be able to help you find the perfect bottle for any occasion.

The Merry Wine Market is located at 108 W. State Street in Black Mountain (right next to Chocolate Gems...mmmm...chocolate and wine go perfectly together...).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

FOLIAGE WATCH: REPORT 3



Greetings from beautiful western North Carolina! The leaves are turning faster and faster with each new day. We've had a cooling down of the daytime temperatures this week, and evenings are clear and crisp...that should speed up the leaf changing and make for a perfect Autumn.

The lake has been reflecting the leaves quite nicely over the past few days. Close up of the reflection:



Here at an elevation of 2,500 feet, there's still plenty of green in the forest, but yellow, red and orange are catching up quickly and the leaf peak will be here before we know it! This photo was taken along the east forest service trail near the Inn (an awesome place to hike):



Vibrant colors are being reported at higher elevations along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Mt. Pisgah. If you're heading this way over the next few days, check out the popular hiking spot known as Graveyard Fields (elevation: 5,100-5,400 feet at Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 418.8) -- leaf peepers are reporting brilliant displays of color there.

Be sure to check out the Asheville Fall Color Hunter Blog for the latest fall foliage reports in our area.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

CHERRY STREET GALLERY

There's a great little shop in Black Mountain called Cherry Street Gallery. They have photography, pottery, handmade jewelry, copper art and other handcrafted items made by local artisans. We bought these striking blue stained glass fan pulls yesterday at Cherry Street Gallery, which we'll be putting in the Terrace Suite:



We'll also be picking up a few photos taken by local photographers of our beautiful scenery here in the mountains. We highly recommend stopping in to Cherry Street Gallery. Chances are, you'll find something you really like. They're open Monday-Saturday (10am-5pm) and Sunday (12pm-4pm).

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

FOLIAGE WATCH: REPORT 2



October is here and the tinted hues of leaves are gold and burgundy peeking through what is mostly still a green landscape.



Most of the trees at our elevation (somewhere around 2,500 feet) are still summer green, although several are lightening up considerably to a pale green and will likely turn within the next week or so if they keep up at the rate they're going. Our road, which we like to call our two-mile tree-lined drive, is a golden route right now; the trees that are changing at this moment are mostly turning yellow.

We hear from guests who have driven the Blue Ridge Parkway that the trees at higher elevations on the way to Mt. Mitchell (north of us) and Mt. Pisgah (southwest of us) are showing some real change. If you're coming to our neck of the woods, definitely drive the Parkway while you're here.

Took these out on a walk today:



Monday, October 1, 2007

MORE SPACE

Here inside the national forest where we have a two-mile buffer zone from city lights, we see plenty of stars. We can see some other objects, too...one of our recent guests told us how to find out when the International Space Station goes by. NASA has a nifty link off its ISS website where you can plug in your latitude/longitude or zip code and it will tell you the next time the Space Station passes over your house.

http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/index.html



Looks like we'll be having some clear, cool evenings over the next several days. Brigette, being the space loving gal she is, will be watching tomorrow night at 8:45pm to see if she can catch the Space Station zooming past...