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The mountains are calling and I
must go already went.
Years ago, before children and health problems, two happy newly-married Fosters went on a trip to the mountains. We instantly fell in love. With the mountains, that is. We were already in love with each other. It created a longing in both of us to live in The Blue Ridge. Just about every vacation we took was to the mountains of Western North Carolina.
In 2007, during the worst of my health struggles, we had eight days to find a new place to live, pack and move across the state to the Asheville area when my husband went through a lay-off and found another job. We found a little piece of a Blue Ridge mountain to call home.
Growing up in FL, I never felt like I was at ‘home,’ a place where I would be content to stay until I died. A place I felt like I truly belonged. After marrying and moving to North Carolina, I never felt at home in the Raleigh area or in Mount Olive. I felt like our stays there were temporary. The day I opened the door and walked into this house, I finally felt at home. If I die here, I will be happy with that.
Now, we have no desire to leave the area when we vacation. We stay local, on the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are many wonderful shops and activities within a short drive from home. And you can’t beat the scenery, especially during the Fall. Driving The Blue Ridge Parkway in the Fall is a treat of which I will never grow tired.
Thursday, our homeschool group took a field trip to The Orchard at Altapass, an apple orchard on The Blue Ridge Parkway. We decided that hubby would take a vacation day and we would go to the Orchard, then he surprised us with a trip to The Soap Shed and the Rio Doce Mine afterwards.
We love The Soap Shed. If you remember my post about My Story, you know that I healed my cat using a good diet. The person who introduced me to the idea of a good diet and using herbs for cats with the owner of The Soap Shed, Karen. The idea she planted in my head about diet and herbs is what led to my own journey to healing when I got sick. I remember getting into my car after hearing bad news from the doctor, closing my eyes, leaning my head back and thinking, “It worked for him (the cat). Surely it can work for me.” I believe that had it not been for Karen, my life would have turned out much differently.
If you ever get to go by The Soap Shed, I recommend the shea butter or goat milk soaps. They carry every type of bar they make in an unscented version. If you know your basics about essential oils versus synthetic fragrances, you can easily pick out which is which. If you aren’t sure, ask and they’ll be glad to help. They also sell everything they make online with a flat $7 shipping to anywhere in the US. The Soap Shed does soapmaking demonstrations twice daily May through October.
Gem mining is one activity we all enjoy. My kids love science and my degree is in the field of geology and environmental science. There are many gem mining shops throughout the Blue Ridge.
The Orchard at Altapass has active beehives including one in the building that has plexiglass walls that you can see into.
They also have a Monarch conversation effort. The kids listened to a presentation about the life cycle of a Monarch.
The Orchard is beautiful.
We did a hayride, learned about the bees and butterflies and got to enjoy some live bluegrass music followed by a picnic lunch. It was a very enjoyable way to spend a few hours. The kids had a blast and are begging to go back next month when the leaves start changing colors.
We purchased a peck of apples. I plan on making this dish next week. It is one of my favorites.
From the Menu Mailer
Hands-on: 15 minutes
Hands-off: 50-60 minutes
1 whole chicken, cut up or the equivalent in pieces, with bone and skin
2 Tbs coconut oil, melted
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 tart green apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 shallot, minced (or use onion)
1 tsp thyme
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9×13 pan and place chicken in a single layer. Rub the chicken with the coconut oil, then sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Scatter the apple, shallot and thyme leaves over the chicken and pour on the balsamic vinegar. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the chicken is 165 degrees in the thickest part of the meat.
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