Last weekend we decided to drive to Mount Mitchell and do some hiking and exploring. Ever since I moved to Boone last summer I have been wanting to visit it. The North Carolina mountain holds the title of the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, measuring in at 6,684 feet above sea level!
So Saturday morning we went. First tip – bring lunch. We didn’t because we thought the restaurant there would be open and surprise! it wasn’t. lol. It is only open seasonally. Thankfully we had snacks but there is literally nothing nearby as this is a remote area so bring all the food and drink you will need for the day. Little Switzerland is where we stopped at on the way home to eat and they have a nice lunch cafe. But it would have been better if we had packed a picnic lunch.
Being at such a high elevation the vegetation is vastly different from the rest of the area. It truly feels more like a Canadian forest both temperature and tree wise. So unique and makes for some great hikes. Bryce had a blast pointing out the different trees to us and unique rocks.
Since my mother-n-law was with us and Bryce we only tackled the .75 mile Balsam Nature Trail. But it was beautiful and a nice way to stretch the legs after the long car ride. We also went to the observation platform and was amazed at the 360 degree views offered there!
On the way home we stopped for lunch at Little Switzerland and then came across the cutest ice cream/pie mom and pop store! It is called Linville River Mercantile and Bakery. It is located in Crossnore, NC. Stop by on your way back to Boone for a treat!
Mount Mitchell is only a few miles off of the Blue Ridge Parkway so the drive there and back from Boone was also a treat. Add this to your bucket list for sure!
In March, on the Friday before my 40th birthday my husband came home and said “Pack your bags we are going on vacation!” Like something out of a movie. And in true Hollywood plot form, he refused to tell me where we were going. Just that I needed to pack for “hot” weather and needed a swimsuit. So it was with no small miracle that we quickly packed the car and headed to the airport for a quick 3 day getaway!
Brian truly did not tell me where we were going till the taxi to the hotel. I had heard of Atlantis but seeing it with my own eyes as we drove up was surreal. The immense SIZE of the place was instantly the first thing that impressed me! Huge, with multiple hotels, a casino and even a marina village all part of the Atlantis property.
Our room was located in The Towers, which has a perfect central location to everything. And.the.room. Simply amazing. Suite actually, with a kitchenette, huge balcony and an incredibly large bathroom with his and hers showers! The suite had way more space than we needed, but I definitely wasn’t complaining. It had incredible views and it was very nice to come back to the suite and have room to spread out. I would describe it as being perfect for those planning a longer stay, traveling with children or bunking up for a group trip. Our son slept on a couch in the living room and it worked out perfect for each of us to have our own space.
Now The Atlantis isn’t your standard resort– there’s a reason they call it Paradise Island – because it’s like it’s own city! The property is massive and while you are free to roam as you please, every section of the hotel has it’s own easily-accessible pools and restaurants. We spent most of our time at the waterpark but it was nice to walk the aquariums everyday and we even spent some time at the beach one afternoon. I did get in a facial at the spa as a treat for my birthday, and I highly recommend you check that out if you get a chance. They offer free use of their facilities for the day if you get a treatment and it was very relaxing to enjoy their steam rooms, saunas and pools for a bit before my facial.
The open air and closed aquariums are amazing and a must see! Bryce had endless entertainment watching the animals and actually learned a lot about them while we were there. The property is simply breathtaking and themed perfectly. Just walking around felt like a vacation seeing all the marine life.
One of the aspects I like about The Atlantis is that it’s a destination for all ages. No matter if you’re traveling with family and children, a large group of friends or if you’re looking for a romantic getaway, the resort is so large that’s there’s a place and an activity for everyone.
Before we know it our trip was over. We hope to go back someday as there is still stuff we would like to see and do there! It is definitely a place you should add to your bucket list and I can’t recommend The Atlantis enough if you’re looking for an upbeat resort with endless activities. And for those of you who live in the south or on the east coast in the U.S. it’s an incredibly quick flight– it was just two hours for us from Charlotte. Easy enough to go for a long weekend!
So you like your Young Living Essential Oils but don’t know what to order next. Let me share a gem I have discovered recently. Last month I ordered Young Living’s Bon Voyage Travel Kit. You get 11 airplane carry on approved items for face and body that are packaged in a nice quality travel bag. When I unboxed it I was amazed at how LARGE some of these items were! It is a great way to try numerous Young Living products at once without having to spend the money on full size versions. I am loving everything I have tried so far and these items would make great stocking stuffers at Christmas time or to give as part of a gift basket to someone!
Bon Voyage offers 11 Young Living personal-care products inside an attractive, custom-designed, Young Living bag:
Thieves AromaBright Toothpaste, 2 oz.
Thieves Waterless Hand Purifier, 29.5ml.
Thieves Dental Floss
Thieves Fresh Essence Plus Mouthwash, 2 oz.
Young Living branded Toothbrush
Lavender Shampoo, 2 oz.
Lavender Conditioner, 2 oz.
Cinnamint Lip Balm
Morning Start™ Bath & Shower Gel, 2 oz.
Genesis Hand and Body Lotion, 2 oz.
ART Light Face Moisturizer
These travel-sized toiletries make Bon Voyage convenient as well as compact—a perfect size for carry-ons or handbags.
Safe and effective personal-care products that are infused with Young Living essential oils
Convenient and compact for easy travel
Branded travel bag with travel-sized toiletries
Great gift idea
If you have never purchased Young Living before, the best way to start is to purchase an essential oil kit with diffuser. It is a great way to get started on your wellness journey and it allows you to get member pricing with Young Living, which is 24% cheaper than Retail pricing! Click here to order.
About 45 minutes from Disney World there is a Nature Preserve like no other. Set on a scenic lake surrounded by old Oak trees, and housing miles of walking trails, sits a place called Circle B Bar Reserve. A once functioning cattle ranch, it is now recognized by USA Today Travel as one of the 51 Great Places to See Wildlife.
It is a Central Florida hidden gem. Free, and open to the public year round, it is considered one of the best places for birding in Florida as a result of the Banana Creek marsh system. In a nutshell: don’t visit the reserve without your camera, your Instagram followers will thank you.
The 1,267-acre property features several diverse habitats including freshwater marshes, hardwood swamps, oak hammocks, creeks and lakes, which are home to a wide variety of ducks, shorebirds, wading birds, native and migrant landbirds, ospreys, bald eagles, and more than 45-species of butterflies.
For me, I come here for the Alligator sightings. Which is quite common and can be safely done from the preserve’s pier, shoreline, or the infamous Alligator Alley.
On a calm water day you will see more alligators on the lake than you will see people in the park. That many alligators reside here.
And even as you leave, look out your window, because Wild Boar live in these woods. I made sure to stay far away from this protective mama as I took this pic.
Believe it or not, all these photos were taken the SAME day. There is that much wildlife to see at this preserve. It is a must see place. So put it on your list, maybe see Mickey Mouse one day less. This place is worth a visit. Most people don’t see past the concrete of Orlando’s amusement parks or Florida’s beaches. The REAL Florida is this. Wild, untamed, and amazingly beautiful.
I have been fortunate that I have been able to travel. All over South America, Europe and as far east as Bali so far in my life. Still, there is so much more I want to see. To experience.
Every time I go somewhere I am always amazed how once you break down social, economic and religious barriers, humanity is all the same. We all want love, all want our place in the world. Forget jobs, money and toys, your family is what is important and your place within it just as much.
When Brian and I were in Bali we kept getting asked if we were married, how many kids did we have, did our parents live with us? At first we were taken aback but then I realized how family oriented their culture is. Even their houses are built for harmony, as compounds where there is an open air room in the middle and around it separate buildings that are bedrooms, or a living room, or a kitchen. 3 generations or more of a Bali family may live together. Family is how they define themselves and each other. So they were asking us these questions to determine our family, to define us as they knew how.
Another eye opening experience for me was seeing the level of poverty outside of the US. Of course we have poverty here, and considering we are a developed nation, way more and worse than we should. But still, most people here have access to clean water, to some food, some sort of housing. When I was in South America, I was floored to see how entire villages lived. Some people walked miles just to get water, and entire families slept on dirt floors. Food? If they were lucky, enough for thatday. In Chile I remember all of us getting back on our comfy tour bus, and our tour guide from the last two days comes running over to us. He had a pair of running shoes in his hand. Muddy, torn and frayed, he asked if someone had forgotten them. When it became apparent no one was to claim them, he said he would bring to his village for someone who needed them. WOW. And he was so excited about it to. This has left a forever impact on me. At the time I was 21, going to college, never had the hardships this guy probably had. That someone would think dirty old shoes were treasure opened my eyes to how superficial I was most of the time.
Of course not all my trips have been life altering. And I wish I could say I joined the Peace Corps and changed the world but I did not. Some of my trips are purely for that mythical “tropical escape” and I act like a normal tourist who enjoys the resorts and tries not to think about the poverty around me.
As a woman, I have become grateful for the freedom being an American gives me. I realize how different my life might have been if I was not born where I was but in a country that doesn’t allow a female the right to live life the way she wants. I have had to cover up in some of my travels and otherwise adopt local customs in order to honor their ways and fly under the radar. It feels weird. And I am always happy to come back to where I can just live how I want and not question myself on how I shouldact.
I will leave you with one more story. When I was in Bolivia we gave out school supplies we had bought with us to some children. They were so excited. And grateful. It just blew me away that kids were getting excited over pencils and paper. But to them, getting an education is a gift. A chance to better their life and their families. They are praying just for the opportunity to learn. To have hope.