Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bark at the Park

We always enjoy the guest pets who join their owners for a fun stay at the Inn on Mill Creek. Just last week, the innpugs, Csaba Pugga and Bugsy Pug, made two new friends, Grayson and Scout, who were vacationing along with their respective humans at the B&B. Since we always travel with the innpugs in tow, we know how nice it is to find a pet friendly area. And that's one of the reasons we (and the pugs) enjoy living in the dog-loving Asheville and Black Mountain area.

Many of the restaurants with outdoor patio seating will allow pets in warm weather months, and even some of the shops welcome pets. There are dog parks for playing, and dog bakeries where you can find treats for your four-legged family member.

And yes, there are even events tailor-made for you and your dog, including Chimney Rock Park's Bark at the Park, scheduled for April 24 this year. Chimney Rock Park, located a half hour south of the Inn on Mill Creek, shares the following about Bark at the Park:

Your pup (and you!) is in for a tail-wagging good time as our Meadows transforms into a doggie dream park. This day of canine adventure features agility demonstrations, info booths and lots more. Don’t forget the leash.

This year's contests are Most Phenomenal Pet Trick, Best Dressed and Dog & Owner Look-a-Like. Winners will receive fun prizes from vendors and Chimney Rock.

Participating vendors so far: Guide Dog Foundation, Paws2Care, Bone-A-Fide Bakery [one of Csaba and Bugsy's favorite places in Black Mountain!], Best Friends Pet Cemetery, NC Search & Rescue Dogs, Chain Free Asheville, Cynthia's Twigs, TheraPets

While you're at Chimney Rock, don't forget that there are some really nice trails that you and your dog will enjoy. Csaba and Bugsy recommend the Hickory Nut Falls Trail. Here they are last November, making their way to the bottom of the falls while getting the usual oooohs and ahhhhs from the admiring public...they do a great job of putting a smile on everyone's faces:

And here's one more photo of them relaxing along the trail (well, Csaba, also known as Ferdinand the Bull, is relaxing...Bugsy is ready for more hiking!):

A helpful tip: Dogs are welcome on the trails on leash, but they are not permitted indoors, including in the elevator to the Chimney. However, you can reach the Chimney with your dog by taking the Outcroppings Trail.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Painter's Greenhouse Herb Festival 2010

One of our favorite local nurseries, Painter's Greenhouse, is having their annual Herb Festival during the weekend of April 10-11, 2010. This is the sixth year for the festival, which will feature fresh grown herbs, plus entertainment by craftsmen, cooks and musicians.

We've gotten so many fantastic plants from Painter's Greenhouse, located about 20 minutes southeast of the Inn on Mill Creek in Old Fort, NC. When we get word each year that they're opening for the season, it just puts a smile on our faces.

From early Spring blossoms like the gorgeous one shown above (from Painter's Facebook page) to succulents, perennials, annuals, water plants, vegetables and herbs, they definitely have something for everyone's outdoor space.

Painter's Greenhouse is open each week from Wednesday through Sunday (9am-4pm). They feature special sales periodically throughout their season, which runs through June. Check them out at www.paintersgreenhouse.com. And if you see Brigette browsing the aisles, feel free to give her some suggestions on what plants to buy for the Inn!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Easter Weekend Events

Easter weekend is April 2-4. As your innkeepers prepare to consume mass quantities of Cadbury Eggs and chocolate, here are some activities we thought might interest you if you'll be in our neck of the woods over Easter:

Opening of Davidson's Fort Historic Park - We've been sharing periodic updates regarding the reconstruction of Davidson's Fort, a Revolutionary War fort that was used by General Rutherford and the North Carolina colonists as they prepared to battle the Cherokee, who sided with the British. It gave the town of Old Fort its name. Davidson's Fort, located 15 minutes east of the Inn on Mill Creek, will officially open to the public on Saturday, April 3. While you're in Old Fort, check out the area's newest music series, GrassRoots Old Fort, where local musicians perform at Catawba Vale Cafe on Main Street from noon until 2pm.

Easter at Biltmore - Taking place on the second day of the 25th annual Biltmore Festival of Flowers, Biltmore Estate's Easter celebration on Sunday, April 4 will feature Easter egg hunts in the afternoon, a visit from the Easter Bunny on the front lawn, storytelling, magic shows and music. Additionally, the weekend will be full of special celebrations during the Festival of Flowers. Don't forget: Guests of the Inn on Mill Creek can purchase tickets for $10 off the one-day gated admission price and those tickets are good for a free second day at Biltmore!

Easter Sunrise Service at Chimney Rock Park - An interdenominational service will take place at 6:30am on Sunday, April 4, at Chimney Rock Park, located a half hour south of the Inn on Mill Creek. This is the 55th year for the Sunrise Service. Gates will open between 5am and 6am. You'll want to dress for cool weather and bring a flashlight to get around before the sun rises over Lake Lure and Hickory Nut Gorge. The Old Rock Cafe will serve a breakfast buffet after the service. Also, during the weekend, you can check out the Park's new exhibit space, The Birdhouse, which opens March 27, and do some hiking as well. The Hickory Nut Falls trail, which was closed due to winter snowstorms, reopened March 19.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Welcoming Spring to the North Carolina mountains

If today was any indication of what Spring will be like this year...well, in one word: Glorious. A perfect Saturday greeted our guests who are staying with us this first weekend of Spring! The sun was shining, the birds were singing, we opened the windows at the Inn on Mill Creek to fresh mountain breezes and took some photos of our crocuses, which have never failed to give us a colorful Spring introduction.

More photos can be found on our B&B Facebook page.

Stay tuned to our blog as we highlight all the various events and activities going on in the Asheville, Black Mountain and Old Fort areas and beyond. The mountains are coming alive over the next three months, and we hope you'll be able to join us as we welcome Spring to our neck of the woods.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Biltmore Festival of Flowers 2010

How does the thought of walking among 100,000 tulips sound? How about enjoying live music surrounded by hundreds of vibrant plants and colorful blooms in a glassed-roof conservatory? Or taking a tour of a winery and then sampling a special wine made especially for Spring?

Biltmore's 25th annual Festival of Flowers takes place this year from April 3 through May 16. For its silver anniversary of the festival, Biltmore is celebrating in several special ways. Here are some highlights we've learned about:

Look for the fleur de lis in pattern flower beds, urns and containers. It symbolizes the iris, the 25th anniversary flower.

Musicians will add their sounds to Spring with daily performances inside Biltmore House in the Winter Garden (11am-3pm) as well as in the Conservatory (11:30am-3:30pm).

In the Walled Garden, gardening enthusiasts will have the opportunity to learn from Biltmore's horticulture professionals at the "Ask a Gardener" station from 11am to 4pm.

Three free seminars will take place daily at A Gardener's Place adjacent to the Conservatory: How to create five-minute floral arrangement masterpieces (1pm), wreaths for your door (2pm), and the basics of growing roses (3pm).

The restaurants at Biltmore will have special menus. There are several dining choices on the Estate from which to choose: www.biltmore.com/visit/dining/default.asp.

Antler Hill Village is Biltmore's new village that includes the existing Winery and Farm (with its Kitchen Garden, farm equipment on display and farm demonstrations), plus the addition of a tavern, historical exhibits and the Outdoor Adventure Center, where you can schedule Segway tours, horseback riding, carriage rides, float trips, fishing, bike rentals and more. You can also listen to live music on the Village Green from 2pm-6pm.

The Biltmore Winery celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, so the Conservatory will connect the Winery and Festival of Flowers anniversaries with colorful container plantings designed to represent wine selections, including Burgundy, Cabernet, Sparkling, Blush and Reisling, and decorative features such as corks, wine crates and barrels.

The Winery will offer special Festival of Flowers wines in celebration, plus the Winery, a former dairy, has a new tour entrance in Antler Hill Village via the dairy's original underground tunnel.

Biltmore has new beer! Cedric's, a new tavern in Antler Hill Village, and Biltmore is introducing a brown ale and pale ale in celebration, using standards of traditional English style that George Vanderbilt loved.

And don't forget to pick up discounted tickets when you stay with us: starting March 19, tickets purchased at the Inn on Mill Creek are $50/person ($10 off the daytime gated admission price) and are good for a free second day, so you can enjoy all the Festival of Flowers activities at a leisurely pace while you're visiting our neck of the woods.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

GrassRoots Old Fort Music Series

Our area is rich with local musical talent, so we just have to share a new event we learned about with our fellow music lovers:
If you'll be in Old Fort (about a 15-minute drive from the Inn on Mill Creek) on a Saturday afternoon and you want to hear great live music, you may be interested in a new event -- GrassRoots Old Fort Music Series -- hosted by the Catawba Vale Cafe (pictured above).

Local musicians perform each Saturday from noon until 2pm at Catawba Vale Cafe (which has great food by the way!). The series kicked off last weekend. This Saturday, March 20, Colby Laney and Clint Riddle will be traveling from Johnson City, Tenn., to perform at GrassRoots Old Fort. The performance is free, and we think this is the perfect venue to enjoy music and a bite to eat on a Saturday afternoon as we welcome Spring back to the mountains.

And right next door to Catawba Vale Cafe is The Appalachian Artisan Society Gallery, with items for sale from 60-70 regional artisans and craftspeople. Not only can you enjoy music, lunch and art, but also on Saturday afternoons, the Gallery hosts a free crochet and knitting class sponsored by Pisgah Yarns from noon until 3pm.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Blue Ridge Parkway 75th Anniversary

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Blue Ridge Parkway, a 469-mile scenic route from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, southwest through the North Carolina mountains to the Smoky Mountains National Park.

In our area, the nearest section of the Parkway heads from the Grandfather Mountain area northeast of the Inn on Mill Creek, along the Black Mountains and Mt. Mitchell (the highest peak east of the Mississippi), around Asheville and on to Mt. Pisgah to the southwest. It's a wonderful road to take for views of the mountains via picturesque overlooks, nice hiking (and a picnic lunch), walking among wildflowers galore, and fantastic birding opportunities.

From the Inn on Mill Creek, you can reach the Blue Ridge Parkway by heading west to I-40 exit 55 in Asheville (best for going south on the Parkway), or through Old Fort to the east on Highway 70 to Route 80 (curvy!) or Highway 221 North (best for going north on the Parkway).

To commemorate and bring awareness to this year's special anniversary of the Parkway, the BRP75 folks are highlighting several events taking place in our area, including the North Carolina Gold Festival in Marion and Pioneer Day in Old Fort in April, and the Rhododendron Show in Asheville, Railroad Day in Old Fort and Naturalist Weekend at Grandfather Mountain in May. You can find more events at www.brp75.org.

Friday, March 5, 2010

March Comes in Like a Lion

At the end of February, we wondered how March would arrive...lion or lamb. Well, we got our answer on March 2, when our lion roared up with his snowy white mane and gave us a few inches of the fluffy stuff. The lion didn't stick around long, though, because it melted away by week's end. But it was quite pretty while our lion was here! You can see more photos of our snow day on our B&B Facebook page.

We look forward to March heading off like a lamb in a few weeks and bringing us a beautiful Spring here in the mountains. The 10-day forecast is calling for some rain, which should help our little Spring flowers, like these, our latest sunny yellow crocus blooms, to be happy... even if a lion shows up again.

Spring is on its way...