Photo Friday: Mountain Stream and Tunnel in Cades Cove

Cades Cove is a great place to drive around in the Smoky Mountains National Park. Tom got this shot of a stream and tunnel.

Mountain Stream and Tunnel on Cades Cove Drive

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It’s Not Too Late for a Michigan Ski Getaway Weekend!

skisAlthough daffodils are poking their little, bright yellow heads up in certain parts of the country, there are still plenty of snow and skiing options available in northern Michigan. Snow doesn’t melt in these parts until late in the Spring and there are lots of advantages to planning one more ski weekend before Spring truly arrives.

If you want to get in a few more runs, there are several amazing ski resorts you can visit to enjoy and there is nothing like skiing along on a ski run with the warm spring sunshine making it a perfect day. Warm spring days are not the only advantage to spring skiing however. There will be fewer people on the slopes, instructors are not overwhelmed with students and will be available, restaurants are less crowded making it easier to enjoy your meals, you can really enjoy the pool and hot tub without freezing when you get out, but possibly the best reason of all for spring skiing – the prices!

Special deals on accommodations are often available and this is the perfect time to stop in the ski shop and pick up some great deals on ski clothes, goggles, and other necessities at great prices. So if you didn’t get quite enough skiing this winter, check out one of these lovely resorts and make a reservation for this weekend before those pesky daffodils start appearing in Michigan as well!

Read the rest of this article on Epicurean Traveler HERE.

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Maumee Bay State Park Lodge and Conference Center

lodgeillustrationI’m just going to be totally honest; our expectations for a state park lodge were pretty low. In our experience, they are nice but not anything spectacular.

You all.

We could not have possibly been more wrong.

Maumee Bay State Park Lodge and Conference Center is absolutely amazing. Located in the tiny town of Oregon, Ohio, it’s just about fifteen minutes away from Toledo but you would never know it is near a major city when you stay there. We were offered a three night stay on our way home from Michigan but had privately decided that we would probably stay one night to rest, then head home.

We stayed the entire time and were quite sad when we had to leave.

Our first clue that this was a place unlike any other park lodge we had visited was when we pulled up in front. What was this? A beautiful, modern, expansive building with big windows in the middle of gorgeous scenery? Was this actually a park lodge?

View of the lodge.

View of the lodge.

Yep. It certainly was.

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Photo Friday: Koi at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel

I got this shot of some koi in the water at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and love the way the open ceiling is reflected in the water.

Koi at Gaylord Opryland Hotel


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An Idyllic Winter Getaway at Crooked River Lodge

Michigan illustrationHosted Accommodations

Spring may be rapidly approaching but, in Michigan, winter still  has a firm hold and this is perfect if you are not quite over your love of snow and related activities.

Like us.

Every trip we take to our new love, Michigan, we learn more about this amazing state, the scenic towns, and the wonderful resorts, hotels, and Bed and Breakfast locations you can find. It’s hard to say which town has been our favorite but quaint little Petoskey is definitely a front-runner. Located on the shore of Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, this location has been a favorite destination of travelers for over 100 years.

The town was blanketed in snow when we were there in February, hushed and quiet, and the bay which is reputed to be lovely in the summer was just a smooth part of a white and snowy expanse. But the interesting shops and restaurants, the friendly people, and the great location were all hints that this would be a great destination during any season.

We were in Petoskey to visit the Crooked River Lodge and check out some of the area restaurants. We really didn’t know what to expect when we pulled into the parking lot of the Crooked River Lodge but our expectations were pretty high. We are big fans of the whole lodge concept and this location met every expectation – and then some. Located right on the beautiful Crooked River in Alanson near Petoskey which is apparently a very popular location in the summer months, the Lodge was immediately appealing with its rustic and charming appearance.




Entrance to the Crooked River Lodge.

Entrance to the Crooked River Lodge.

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Chocoholics Unite in Cologne, Germany!

chocolateLovely pastel colored buildings and quaint cobblestone streets greet you as you pull into the charming city of Cologne, Germany on an AmaWaterways cruise of the beautiful Rhine River. Although Cologne may look like it dates from medieval times, much of the city was destroyed during WWII and restoration began in the late 1940’s.

The famous twin-spired Cologne Cathedral, which took six centuries to build and is Germany’s most visited landmark, survived the war and now looms over the city in all its gothic magnificence. Tiny shops and restaurants are everywhere, offering up local beer, wine, hot pretzels, sausages, and scrumptious desserts.

You should definitely make time to walk around the city, tour the cathedral, and sample some of the local specialties. But if you, like me, are a chocoholic, there is really only one place to immediately begin your visit upon arriving in Cologne. It is, of course, the Cologne Chocolate Museum. Yes, indeed, there is an entire museum dedicated to chocolate. And, yes, there are plenty of samples of chocolate to be offered.

Read the rest of this article on Europe up Close HERE.

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Culinary Getaway to the Gervasi Vineyard

Natural-wines1If you like to cook, drink wine, or just enjoy a fabulous meal prepared by someone else, you must plan a getaway to the Gervasi Vineyard in Canton, Ohio. Hidden away in a quiet neighborhood, you will probably think you have taken a wrong turn until you spot the elaborate entrance to the vineyard, a sprawling 55-acre estate which includes 5 acres of vineyards producing a variety of grapes, two restaurants, an outdoor pavilion for weddings and other events, a cozy shop, an event center, and 24 guest suites housed in some amazing, Tuscan-influenced villas.

It’s obvious this location was purchased and lovingly built by an Italian family as the Tuscan influence is felt throughout the property in every detail from wine bottle shaped sinks in The Crush House restaurant to the gorgeous faucets in the bathroom villas and even chandeliers made from wine bottles.

Read the rest of this article on Epicurean Traveler HERE.

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Photo Friday: Starfish and Sea Anemone at Cannon Beach, Oregon

Tom is usually the photographer, but I actually got this shot of starfish and see anemone at Cannon Beach, Oregon when I wandered down to the beach alone one evening.

Starfish and Anemone

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Cheese Tasting at the Reypenaer Tasting Room in Amsterdam

CheeseWe stepped out of one of the ubiquitous Amsterdam canal boats onto the cobblestone path which ran beside one of the many scenic canals in the city. Sometimes referred to as “the Venice of the North”, canals run everywhere throughout this beautiful European city and are one of the main modes of transportation as well as the home for many charming houseboats.

Many-leveled warehouses with big windows which had been converted to homes and apartments overlooked the canal and hundreds of bikes – the transportation of choice in Amsterdam – lined the streets.

But we didn’t pay much attention to these uniquely Amsterdam sights because we were on a mission. A cheese-tasting mission. Dutch cheese can be found everywhere in Amsterdam in many different forms and you can pretty much have cheese for every meal of the day if you choose – and it will all be delicious! You are probably familiar with the more common Gouda or even rather stinky Limburger but there are plenty of other choices in the Netherlands including Edam, Leerdamer, Leyden, Maaslander, and Parrano cheese, just to name a few.

Read the rest of this article on Epicurean Traveler HERE.

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Getaway to “The Land of the Sky” – Asheville, North Carolina

ILL-AshevilleNCIn 1876, author Frances Tiernan wrote a book called “The Land of the Sky.” Located between the soaring Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains, this moniker was adopted as Asheville, North Carolina’s nickname and is still used today.

     Our first visit to The Land of the Sky was actually a happy accident. On our drive from Lexington, Kentucky to Savannah, Georgia, we found a place about halfway in between to stop at a small city in North Carolina, and that just so happened to be Asheville. It was a serendipitous event that introduced us to this lovely, kitschy, fascinating little town that often draws visitors back for return visits. It quickly became obvious that this was a place we too would return to again and again.

Read the rest of this article on Travelhoppers HERE.

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