Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Tracking the Fall Foliage Change Along the Blue Ridge Parkway

September 16th, 2013 by blakehouse

As we near the end of summer and the month of September, the calls start rolling in from guests wanting to know if the leaves are changing yet and when will the colors be at their peak.

From year to year, this changes slightly and I always hesitate to tell guests when they should come in case I’m off. In general, the best period for seeing the leaves at their peak is between the 2nd and 4th weeks in October. Because of all the rain in the first half of the year, predictions are wildly all over the place about when the leaves will change and if we’ll get any color at all.

So, to try to help out our guests in planning their trip to Asheville, I found a great fall foliage tracker on Blue Ridge Parkway Daily.

Not only are they tracking the fall colors around Asheville, but in Virginia as well. And there’s information on where the Parkway may have closings that people want to avoid. Travelers can send in information themselves when and where they are seeing color and the tracker gets updated on Thursdays each week.

Right now, it looks like everything is still green all along the 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway, but keep checking back each week to see the color changes.


November Starts Ski Season in Western NC

October 30th, 2010 by Skyla Grimes

Although there is still lots of colorful leaves on the trees in WNC, the cold temperatures are finally moving into the region and that means that ski season is just around the corner.  Last night saw low temperatures close to freezing and there was a blanket of frost on the grass when I took the dogs out for their morning walk.  At the same time, we’re still getting up into the 60s during the day, but the first frost usually means that it’s time to bring the potted plants inside for the winter and the ski slopes will be opening soon!

For those who don’t know, there are 6 ski slopes in western NC, all within a 2 hour drive from Asheville.  Listed below is general information about all.

  • Cataloochee Ski Area – Located in Maggie Valley, this ski area opens in early November. It has 16 slopes and trails, five ski lifts, Tube World, and night skiing.  Cataloochee is family-oriented and good for beginners.  Contact: 800.768.0285 for rates and information.  Cataloochee Ski Area is 43 miles from the Inn (about a 1 hour drive).
  • Wolf Ridge Ski Resort – Located in Mars Hill, this ski resort opens in November with 16 slopes and trails, eight ski lifts and Mars Hill Snow Tubing. Contact: 800.817.4111. Wolf Ridge Ski Resort is 44 miles from the Inn (about a 1 hour drive).
  • Sapphire Valley Ski Resort – Located in Sapphire, just east of Cashiers off Hwy 64. This resort opens mid-December with two slopes, one trail, and Frozen Falls Tube Park. Contact: 828.743.7663 for rates and information. Sapphire Valley Ski Resort is 44 miles SW of the Inn (about 1 hour 5 minutes away).
  • Sugar Mountain Resort – Located near Banner Elk, Sugar Mountain Resort has historically opened in mid-November with 20 slopes and trails, 8 ski lifts, 10,000 square-foot ice skating rink, and tubing. Ski racing and snowshoeing are also offered. Sugar Mountain is the largest ski resort in the state and encompasses over 115 acres. Contact: 800.784.2768. Sugar Mountain Resort is 85 miles NE of the Inn (about 1 hour 45 minutes away).
  • Appalachian Ski Mountain – Located near Blowing Rock, ASM is open for the 2010-2011 season from November 19 – March 27. This ski area offers 10 slopes, five ski lifts, two terrain parks, tubing, and an outdoor ice arena.  Contact: 800.322.2373 for rates and information. ASM is 99 miles NE of the Inn (just under a 2-hour drive).
  • Beech Mountain Resort – Located just past Banner Elk, Beech Mountain Resort opens in November with 15 slopes and trails, 9 lifts, a 7,000 square foot ice skating rink, and tubing. The resort boasts the highest elevation among East Coast  ski resorts at 5,506 feet. Contact: 800.438.2093 for rates and information. Beech Mountain Resort is 92 miles from the Inn (about a 2-hour drive).

Believe it or not, I have never been skiing in my life! I grew up in Northern VA, but I tended to enjoy sports requiring a lot less clothing than skiing like soccer, basketball, and volleyball.  But this may be the year that I give it a try. If any of my guests are interested, maybe we can plan a day trip together. Just be aware that I’ll be hanging out on the Beginner slopes!

It’s the End of Summer and I Can’t Think!

August 31st, 2010 by Skyla Grimes

I’m not a writer, so I can’t have writer’s block. I’m not a blogger, so I can’t have blogger’s block.  But I’ve definitely been having trouble coming up with the topics and the energy to write anything. I think it all started in June when my dog, Hummer, passed away. Since then, I began working at Eagle’s Nest Foundation and July and August have been pretty busy months at the Inn. Between being depressed about losing my baby and dealing with the summer crush as well as a new job, I feel like I haven’t had the energy or inspiration. You’d think that with all the summer action around here, I’d have no problem coming up with interesting topics.

But I can’t think of ANYTHING that I want to/feel like write about!

I’m sure I could blog about the new piece of flooring in the kitchen I had done last week ($1600 later and it’s only 1/4 of the entire kitchen floor space). Or, I could talk about the Family Reunion Cruise I just returned from (I probably will share that soon). There’s also all the fun summer activities that took place in Asheville or the cool fall lineup, including the Flower Carpet at Biltmore and Octoberfest (another beer festival). There’s a wedding at the Inn this weekend that could inspire me to write and another one the first weekend in October that I’m preparing for. Lastly, I could always talk about my super sister, Jessica, and her admirable battle with breast cancer these past six months (another probably will blog).

There are definitely lots of topics to write about. I just need to find my mojo and get back into the groove.  I’d really love to hear from anyone (professional writer, blogger, or novice) what tips they might like to share with me and the general public about how they deal with the infamous “block” that invariably happens.  What can/do you do to get past it?

Three Reasons to Send Your Kid(s) to Summer Camp

July 17th, 2010 by Skyla Grimes

As a youngster growing up in Virginia, I was extremely fortunate to have gone to summer camp for five years at Camp Rim Rock for Girls in West Virginia. My experiences have stayed with me to this day and because of the joy I had, I was able to send my son Brian to Camp Woodmont in Georgia for a few years while we lived in Florida.

Recently, I began working part-time at the Eagle’s Nest Foundation in Pisgah Forest, and it has brought back so many positive memories of my camp experiences from the 1980’s.  The Eagle’s Nest Foundation operates Hante Adventures, The Outdoor Academy, and Eagle’s Nest Camp.

Hante Adventures run during the summer for 13-18 year olds. These adventure trips last anywhere from two weeks to a month and provide many of the skills experienced at camp, but in different ways. This year, there are four Hante trips: Outer Banks, Appalachian Trail (AT) Trek, Australia, and Southwestern US Canyons. Small groups trek through the wilderness while rock climbing, biking, and whitewater paddling while learning invaluable skills and making lifelong friends.  In the past, trips have gone all over the US and the world.

The Outdoor Academy of the Southern Appalachians is an academic semester-long program for 10th graders, set on the campus of the Eagle’s Nest Camp. There is a fall semester and a spring semester and students live on campus while enjoying and experiential education. The curriculum of the Outdoor Academy is considered a college prep program with small classes in English, Natural Science, World History, Math, Languages, and Arts.

Eagle’s Nest is set on 180 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains. That alone is enough incentive to send your kid(s) to get them off the couch or in front of the TV/video game console. The Eagle’s Nest Camp offers one-week, two-week, and three-week sessions to kids, ages 6-17. Camp is so much more than a babysitting service for parents. In fact, that’s not it at all.  I have learned that at this camp, kids come back year after year, many become Junior Counselors and Counselors. Parents also become counselors while their children attend camp and get to enjoy the “camp” experience as well.

Here are three more reasons to consider sending your kid(s) to Eagle’s Nest:

  1. Adventure – Being in the mountains, Eagle’s Nest offers campers a nature setting to explore their environment and try new things. They will climb mountains, paddle down the French Broad River on a homemade raft, go rock climbing, and backpack on overnight camping trips.
  2. Leadership – The purpose of this camp is to help young people discover their true selves through activities that promote community awareness and establish a connection with nature. Leadership skills are enhanced and developed when kids work towards common goals like building their own raft, building sets for their session play, and putting together an overnight camp during a hiking trip.
  3. Education – The mission of Eagle’s Nest is “Experiential education for young people, promoting the natural world and the betterment of human character.” Activities are not mindless time fillers; they all serve an educational purpose while encouraging campers to live naturally, responsibly, and respectfully.

I ended this post with the Summer Camp, but in reality, it is just the beginning of Eagle’s Nest. The amount of loyalty towards Eagle’s Nest is impressive and kids go from summer camp to Hante Adventures to The Outdoor Academy, to possibly camp counselors/Academy Instructors, and on. Being a non-profit, Eagle’s Nest Foundation is overseen by a Board of Trustees, many of whom have sent their children to camp or had some association with the Foundation prior to becoming a Board member. There is a strong sense of family within this Foundation and if you are looking for something different in your kid’s summer camp, I encourage you to check out Eagle’s Nest. This is not just another summer camp; it rises above and offers so much more than the average camp experience. Your kid(s) will never forget their experiences here and the value of what they take away is worth so much more than money.

Touring WNC’s Family Farms – How To Do It Without Leaving the City

June 28th, 2010 by Skyla Grimes

This past weekend (June 26th and 27th), my mother and I participated in the 2010 Family Farm Tour organized through the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP). The annual tour presented 37 farms (actually only 36 because one we went to had a sign out saying they could not participate) all over Western NC, in 6 counties. Tour times were between 1-6 pm Saturday and Sunday.

It was sunny and HOT both days, but the people at every farm were gracious and friendly. When we thought to ask how they thought the numbers compared to 2009, everyone indicated that more people were coming in 2010 so that is a positive sign that this event is growing. YAY!

On Saturday, we started off at Round Mountain Creamery in Black Mountain. I wanted to go to a goat farm since I fell in love with goat cheese after trying it and loving it on a trip to Ireland with my mom in 2009. We received a comprehensive and fun tour of the machinery and processes of this Grade A operation, including visiting with the goats. There are over 300 goats on the farm and there is a complex system of separating the goats based on age, health, milking output, gender, etc. We were allowed to get up close and personal with the baby goats and I decided that one day, I’d love to have a couple as pets (maybe pygmy goats – not the kind at this farm – since they are miniature goats). I was quite impressed with the cleanliness of this place, given the amount of barnyard animals, but I guess that’s why they are certified as Grade A and must be inspected regularly and maintain mountains of paperwork. At the end of the tour, we sampled at least 6 different flavors of goat cheese and I had my first taste of goat’s milk. I loved it all! Goat’s milk is not heavy like whole cow’s milk which I think is too thick (I drink 2%, 1% or skim). The goat’s milk is close to 2% and just right. At this point, we found out that Round Mountain has just started selling their cheeses in EarthFare which was very exciting for us since there is an EarthFare just a couple of miles from the Inn. I believe they also sell as one or more of the Asheville-area tailgate markets which is great for anyone not wanting to travel far to purchase some of their products.

The second stop of our journey was the Wake Robin Farm all the way up in Marshall (I probably picked one of the farms furthest from where we were coming from). But, I wanted to visit this farm since they make brick oven-baked breads, cinnamon rolls, granola, and gluten-free products. Plus, we thought that this would be a good place to eat since we had purchased goat cheese and milk and, other than crackers, what better companion to cheese, than bread? After driving through rural countryside and winding roads, we started down the gravel driveway towards the farm, but quickly realized that the driveway was long, winding and not conducive to a parade of cars driving in both directions. There was literally no place for cars to move over for oncoming traffic (the driveway was a good 1/2 mile long) so going in and coming out, we (or other cars) were forced to back up all the way out of the driveway to allow cars to get through. This difficulty made the getting in and out frustrating and somewhat ruined the experience.  My mother felt that this farm with its access issue should not be on the tour for the simple reason that it was quite difficult to get in and out and once in, there was very little parking room for cars and people could easily get blocked in.  However, the bread was delicious and they also sell their products at some of the Asheville-area tailgate markets.

After leaving Wake Robin Farm, we stayed in Marshall and headed to the Bee Tree Farm and Vineyard. By the time we got there, it was almost 5:30 (tours ended at 6:00) so we didn’t want to stay too long. There was no real tour of anything and my mother thinks the farm is more of a commune with a yurt and tipis. The farm does make fruit-flavored wines, tomato and pesto sauces (good on some of the bread we bought), and fruit preserves. Since I don’t drink wine, I wasn’t interested in buying any, but I did try some strawberry wine (too winey for me and I didn’t taste any fruit at all). We did buy some tomato sauce and saw berry bushes and the small vineyard on the way down the driveway toward the parking area.

So, on day one, we were able to visit only 3 farms. It probably could have been more had I planned better, but I had no idea how long it would take at each place. I definitely planned better for day two.

On Sunday, we chose farms that were closer in proximity to each other, and thus, we were able to see 3 farms in half the time it took on day one. We started out at Holler Ministries in Fletcher. I wanted to visit this farm because they offer egg/chicken shares for purchase. The farm is close to the Inn and I was excited to see that I could purchase a share of organic, grass-fed chicken eggs. A share is a dozen eggs a week and it’s possible to purchase chickens from the farm in the future if I decide to keep egg-laying chickens at the Inn. The Ministry also runs a summer Christian youth mission camp and they have an African-style village set up for the camp. This camp is training for service in Third World countries. Our tour provided us with a better understanding of how an African Village is set up. It really puts things into perspective for those of us in modernized countries. Holler Ministries also operates a community garden and they donate extras to local people in need. This particular farm was started in the 1930s by the current owner’s grandfather and we got to see a couple of buildings that his grandfather built by hand 80 years ago. It was nice to see this property still operating by the same family.

After leaving Holler Ministries, we traveled to McConnell Farms in Hendersonville. This farm has just about everything you can think of from fruits and vegetables to nursery plants. It’s a huge operation and they sell to various Asheville-area tailgate markets as well as onsite at their own retail place. The memorable part of this farm is the fresh-made ice cream! Of course we had some and it was so delicious and creamy. I ate some blackberry chip ice cream and Mom had old-fashioned strawberry ice cream. Here, my mother was talking to the owner about fig trees since they grow them, but he actually referred her to another grower whose trees (Celeste) would probably do better where we live. At about this time, we could see a storm coming so we jumped in the car and headed to Stepp’s Plants.

Stepp’s Plants is located in Flat Rock and along with plants and flowers, they also grow fruits. There were no nursery plants available because they sell 80% annuals and their season is in the spring time. We went on a short tour of their crop fields where we could see raspberries just about ready to harvest and blueberry bushes. While here, it did start raining so it turned into a short visit. We did find out that they participate in Hendersonville’s Garden Jubilee in the spring which we have attended so we’ll be sure to check them out next year.

After leaving Stepp’s we headed over to Fields of Gold Farm in west Hendersonville, but they were closed. So, we decided to end our tour at this point and headed back home, stopping at my favorite sushi restaurant, Umi, in Hendersonville for a late lunch.

The one farm I did not get to visit was the Maple Creek Farm in Burnsville (about an hour from the Inn).  Maple Creek Farm is the only commercial maple syrup producer in NC. Hopefully, I can find some of their products at a tailgate market. There are several tailgate markets around Asheville, in addition to the WNC Farmers Market. The closest to the Inn is the Asheville City Market – South which is approximately 3 miles away. Some of the farmers on the Farm Tour probably sell their goods at this or any of the other dozen tailgate markets around the city and Buncombe county.

So, for $25, my mother and I spent some fun bonding time while exploring the mountains and farms of Western NC, learning about the bountiful foods, plants, and animals that contribute to the surrounding communities. I am thrilled to have been a part of the tour because I got so much more out of the experience than just the tour itself. To see what is going on around this part of the state makes me proud to live here and I plan to continue doing my part to help sustain the way of life provided by WNC farmers. So for anyone who wants to support the local farmers without driving all over the place, just visit one of the local farmers markets and “take the tour” there. You’ll be glad you did.

To learn more about WNC’s ASAP initiative, visit: Or, to find farms and take your own tours or for a listing of tailgate markets and hours, go to

My 5 Favorite Dog-Friendly Activities

April 21st, 2010 by Skyla Grimes

Asheville is definitely a dog-friendly city and there are a plethora of activities in WNC where a person can take their pooch. I certainly have not experienced them all, but wanted to share my 5 favorites.

  • Gray Line Historic Trolley Tours – there are a couple of trolley tours and one comedy tour in Asheville. I am familiar with the Gray Line tours (red trolleys) and I know they allow well-behaved dogs, no matter what size. The trolleys are roomy and the aisles have plenty of space for your dog to sit. My suggestion is to sit as far back in the trolley as possible so nobody trips over your dog. I carry trolley vouchers at the Inn and they are well worth the price. Adult tickets are $20, children (3-12) pay $10. There are 9 stops on the trolley route and the buses run March – December (March is on a half schedule). Riders may exit the trolley at any or all stops and your trolley admission also gets you into the Thomas Wolfe Memorial (sorry, no dogs allowed inside). Some of the trolley stops include the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa, the River Arts District, Biltmore Village, and downtown Asheville.
  • Chimney Rock Park – This State park is located 30 minutes southeast of the Inn. Open year-round, the park offers 4-5 different hiking/walking trails, from easy to moderate. The only place dogs are not permitted is the elevator and cafe located at the base of the Chimney Rock. However, you and your dog can still get there by taking the amazing amount of stairs that wind up and around the side of the cliff walls. My dog Hummer (a 90-lb weimaraner) made it with little effort, but it may prove strenuous for older, short-legged dogs. If that is the case, there are several easy to walk trails; one leads you to the base of the waterfall. The Park offers all sorts of cool activities from bird watching, to photography lessons, rock climbing to an Easter Sunday Sunrise service. Cost to get into the park is $14 for adults, $7 for children, free for dogs! I carry $1 off discount coupons at the Inn.
  • Asheville’s Urban Trail – The Urban Trail is a 1.7 mile walk through downtown Asheville with 30 points of interest, spread over 5 historic periods in time. The self-guided walking tour starts at the Asheville Art Museum at Pack Square, but tourgoers can start at any point and end at any point. I carry trail guides at the Inn and guests and dogs are free to stop along the way at one of the many restaurants in downtown Asheville that offers outdoor seating so that you can refresh and re-energize before completing the tour.
  • North Carolina Arboretum – The Arboretum is a 434-acre natural preserve with 65 acres of cultivated gardens and 10 miles of hiking and biking trails. Parking is $8 per vehicle and the first Tuesday of each month is free. There are nine different trails rated from Easy to Difficult. The Arboretum offers permanent and temporary exhibits, a unique bonsai collection, and educational programs for adults and children. The Arboretum is located approximately a 10-minute drive from the Inn and will provide a wonderful outdoor experience for you and your pet at a very reasonable price.
  • Biltmore Estate – No Top 5 List would be complete without mentioning the Biltmore Estate. While dogs are not permitted in the house, the rest of the 8,000-acre estate is open to your canine friend, including many walking trails.  If you want to enjoy the house, I recommend making use of the Estate’s kennels, located in Parking Lot C. This lot is typically used by RVs and buses, but there is plenty of parking for regular vehicles and you can catch a shuttle bus to the house from this lot.  The kennels are self-serve and free of charge. There are 8 kennels, very nicely maintained and sturdy, enclosed on all sides and located under trees, thus providing additional shade. The kennels also have water bowls for your pets, plenty of room for them to move around, and locks for you to take the key.  I snapped several photos of the kennels so you can see what they look like in advance of your visit…
    Biltmore KennelsBiltmore Kennels Biltmore Estate

There are many, many more dog-friendly attractions and activities around Asheville. I carry maps and hiking guides that include specific information on hikes that are appropriate for dogs. So if you are wondering what to do in Asheville with Fido, start with my Favorite 5 list and if you get through it, I can promise to provide more options for you.

Hope to see you and your dog in Asheville soon!


Earth Day – What it Really Means

April 11th, 2010 by Skyla Grimes

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. It will be celebrated on Thursday, April 22 in many ways and in many countries. But what does Earth Day really mean?

In the US, Earth Day as it was named, is celebrated on April 22nd, having first started in 1970. Around the world, Earth Day is called different things and celebrated at different times, but the concept is still the same. It is a day (or period of time) for people to appreciate and focus on the Earth’s environment, either through events, fundraisers, celebrations, and other types of activities geared toward awareness.

In Western NC, we too, celebrate Earth Day. Some of the activities planned here include:

At the Inn, I try to be aware of the purpose of Earth Day year-round, through an ongoing effort to green the Inn and to reduce waste and the environmental impact of operating this place. I wrote an earlier blog on my efforts at becoming green and those are ongoing.  Even today, my son built a 4′ X 7′ garden box so that I can start growing my own vegetables, herbs and fruits for use in cooking here at the Inn. While a small gesture, it’s just one step in a checklist of things I am doing around here to become more eco-conscious.

As travelers, we all have the responsibility to pay attention to the amount of trash we create while on the road (we tend to produce more trash away from home than at home). We should also pay attention to the practices of the places we stay at and eat at and support those businesses that make an effort at eco-friendliness.  In Asheville, there are plenty of accommodations and restaurants that are going green. Check out Posana Cafe and Green Sage Coffeehouse Cafe and you’ll be impressed, not only with their food, but with their “greenness.”

For me, Earth Day is something I try to be conscious of all year. But even if you only celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd, many people can do a lot of good. Come to Asheville during our Earth Day celebrations, and you will receive a 40% discount off the 3rd night of your stay (between 4/13 – 4/27).

Update: Spring Goals

March 31st, 2010 by Skyla Grimes

Well, it’s been a month since I set a few goals for the Spring. Following is the list:

  1. repair the “roof” of the gazebo which collapsed under the weight of the first snow we had in December.  After assessing the damage, I’m confident that with some new wood arms, I can repair the ones that broke.
  2. replace any dead plants and bushes around the patio areas and in containers. Plant new plants in the pergola area to continue filling it in as a garden area.
  3. replace some rotting wood around the front porch roof and outside the bay window of the dining room.
  4. build a small 4X6 vegetable/fruit garden outside the kitchen on the edge of the pergola/garden area. I would like to start small with a few vegetables and fruits and expand from there.
  5. research the feasibility of building and stocking a small chicken coop enclosure to provide eggs for cooking. This may not end up being a goal, it’s just an idea right now and I want to look into whether this is even something the city of Asheville will allow me to do.

At this point, I’m about 95% complete with the first goal of fixing the gazebo roof. My father and stepmother visited for a few days and they did a lot to get it repaired (actually, they did most of the work). I replaced one broken wood arm and my dad was able to get all of the arms up and back into their holder. The one casualty of the damage was to the canvas. When the roof fell, the canvas ripped in several places so it did not go back into the holder along with the arms (see photo).

As such, I had to staple the canvas to the tops of each arm. Unfortunately, it does not look the same and there are some rips and gaps. However, being the creative person that I am :0), I am going to attach more fabric to the underside of the arms so that nobody has to see the damaged canvas. By the time my readers come visit, the inside canvas should be up and I’ll be sure to make it look decorative so that it will appear good as new.

One goal – check!

I have begun working on goal #2 of replacing dead bushes and plants around the patio and garden areas and in containers. Today was the first day of warm weather and a free afternoon. I have started by pulling out dead stumps, cutting back bushes, branches, and dead grasses around the patios, gazebo, and front porch. On Friday, my landscapers start again for the year and will be cleaning up debris and leaves so that I can fully assess what needs to be replaced. I am really surprised that most everything I planted last year is coming back, given the cold, snowy winter. Some plants that I thought for sure were dead are sprouting leaves and buds. I may not have to replace as much as I had thought, but I anticipate completing this goal (or being close to completion) by the end of April.

Goal #3 is getting looked at on Friday.

I have the materials list for goal #4 and hope to start building the bed by next week; and to start filling it in within the next 2-3 weeks. I plan to start with tomatoes, peppers, basil, and mint and will go from there.

I have not even begun to look into goal #5. That will definitely be last on my list.

The good thing about publishing goals is that it’s not enough just to post them on the wall for me to see. By showing them to my readers, I feel more motivated to work on them.  Sharing goals with others means that more than one person is thinking about them, and not wanting to disappoint my readers, I am determined to accomplish them.

Asheville Gets More Snow

March 3rd, 2010 by Skyla Grimes

Asheville was “lucky” enough to get another 6-7 inches of snow yesterday, March 2nd. Here are a few photos taken with the Photo Booth Plus application on my iPhone. You will see Rocky wiggling his way through the snow as fast as he could across the parking lot to get to the Inn so he can get inside and get warm!

The good news is that temperatures for the next couple of days will get up into the 40s and by Saturday/Sunday, we should be in the 50s. While this snow was especially beautiful, I am ready for it to melt.  I was out last night shoveling the walkway, a path to the walkway and the kitchen door and one parking spot.  If the remaining snow doesn’t melt, I’ll be shoveling a few more spots for this weekend’s guests.

To date, the Asheville area has seen snow accumulations in December, January, February, & now March. All told, the Inn has had close to 3 feet of snow (not all at once like my family in Virginia), but over 4 different snows, all added together. That’s outrageous!  We usually get 4-6″ a year.  And I won’t even talk about the cold temperatures! Suffice it to say, our averages have been 10 – 15 degrees below average all winter.

On a lighter note, I have seen a few green sprouts coming up before yesterday’s snow, which means that the first spring bulbs are not far behind.  I am quite excited to see some color on the ground within the next few weeks and will be snapping photos as soon as the daffodils, hyacinth, and tulips make their appearances.

My Goals for Spring

February 28th, 2010 by Skyla Grimes

Once this dratted winter is finally gone, there will be some projects that I plan to work on around the Inn. Until the days stay warmer (40s and above), I can’t assess the entire property, but there are some things that I know will need to be done. Over the Winter, my major project was repainting the downstairs and upstairs common hall areas and stairway. The previous color is what I call salmon. I changed it to a light vanilla on the first floor and one shade darker on the second floor. With the exception of a patch of wall going up the stairs which I cannot reach, this has been accomplished. The unpainted patch will have to be done by a professional who has the proper scaffolding. I am quite pleased with the results. You can see the salmon pink color still on the wall in the first photo as a reference.

Now, I’m compiling a list of goals to accomplish during the Spring season. So far, here is what I’ve got:

  • repair the “roof” of the gazebo which collapsed under the weight of the first snow we had in December.  After assessing the damage, I’m confident that with some new wood arms, I can repair the ones that broke.
  • replace any dead plants and bushes around the patio areas and in containers. Plant new plants in the pergola area to continue filling it in as a garden area.
  • replace some rotting wood around the front porch roof and outside the bay window of the dining room.
  • build a small 4X6 vegetable/fruit garden outside the kitchen on the edge of the pergola/garden area. I would like to start small with a few vegetables and fruits and expand from there.
  • research the feasibility of building and stocking a small chicken coop enclosure to provide eggs for cooking. This may not end up being a goal, it’s just an idea right now and I want to look into whether this is even something the city of Asheville will allow me to do.

Spring is a short 3 months so I think this list is a good start and should keep me busy.  I will post updates and photos as I go along. I would love comments and advice from anyone with experience in any of these areas or things you experienced when working on a similar project yourself.

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