Western NC Mountains


As with some of my friends, I love trains.  A couple of friends and I had chatted about taking a train ride.  So we settled on this past weekend and we chose Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.     The train leaves from Bryson City and travels up the Nantahala Gorge and stops for lunch and returns to Bryson City.  * The train we took was about a dozen cars long (engine and power cars included).  Here are a few of the cars:

Once we reached the top of the gorge, the engine uncouples from the “front” of the train and travels to the rear to reverse the train’s direction.  Now the front is the rear …

From Front to Back

(Click on the link above to see the engine moving from front to rear.

I love train travel and this was no exception.  I will say the train IS the destination.  Here are some of the sights, but the scenery never changes much so the train ride should be your love, or this trip may not be the most exciting. Here are some views:






AND, here are we  three train riders:

Marshall, Chad and Dan.

The most fun was US.  We cut up and carried on and had a hoot of a time.  Once we detrained, we DERAILED.

Never let it be said that Dan can’t find a martini.  Because it wouldn’t be true.  The martinis helped us wash off the trail dust.  And the ones at Derailed and Anthony’s were FAB.

We walked around Bryson City and had fun until some fish tried to eat my LV clutch.  I wasn’t having any of it.  See

Needless to say, I got my clutch back and I made up with the fishy and also made a “FWB” with the Italian.









Somedays I wonder why I am free to roam without supervision, but that’s society’s problem.

At the end of day one we went to Asheville to overnight and have dinner and a few libations.  My very favorite watering hole in Asheville is the stunning The Times at S&W.  Chris and Joe make the greatest drinks.  If you want any flavor, call it, and they will create.  I had two different variations of a Negroni.  One substituted Braulio for Campari.  Oh my how delicious.  If you want the best creations while in Asheville stop the The Times and let me know how much you LOVE IT.  See my OutWithDan twitter post from our stop at The Times.


I went in a different direction from my friends.  They headed south to Atlanta and I headed back west to Johnson City.  Instead of taking the freeway home, I decided to travel the much longer mountain route.  I had heard of Hot Springs NC and wanted to see it.  I had heard it was small and quaint.  It was very small and very quaint and although I may return to explore one day, it didn’t hold much in store for me on this trip.  Here’s one pic from Hot Springs.  (Note the train theme returns):

Along the way to Hot Springs I saw a sign that says “Thisaway” to Historic Marshall.  I confess that this use of Historical is often a ruse to get you to stop.  Sometimes, I feel the Historical just needs a Match to correct the Landscape.  But I was pleasantly surprised with Marshall, NC.  You wind down from the main road along a curvy road until you come to the little downtown mostly along one road.  I parked at the beginning and walked the entire expanse of downtown.  The little touches all along the main street and the side streets were so well manicured and cared for.  It was fun to walk and explore and enjoy.  Here are some of the lovely sites I encountered.

There was a small farmers’ market on the “Island” and a few local churches turning out while I was there.  Everyone said “Hello” and seemed happy.  I am not 100% what one does in Marshall, but visually they’re doing it just fine.

I arrived home mid-afternoon happy.  It was an enjoyable weekend of great fun with friends, great visuals and a non-hurried life.  I approve and highly recommend it!

Peace and love!


Let’s go OutWithDan

  • Sadly, he GSMR website is NOT friendly.  It has schedule upon schedule and so many of them are duplicative and not accurate.  And, not enough concrete info about food and sights are included.  Most links are “possibilities” so the trains seem so much more expansive than they actually are.  And try to get someone on the phone is like calling the pentagon and asking for the chief.  It simply ain’t a-happenin’.  But if you like trains, the train part is GREAT.


Kiss O’Cherry

I love to create new recipes for food and for drinks.  Mostly I create things that I want to eat or drink.  I try to impress me first and then share.  This is one of those times.

Growing up Cherry was probably my least favorite flavor.  I was definitely the last favor chosen of the Lifesavers flavors. 

Now I would probably buy the Wild Cherry roll.  Coconut is and always will be my favorite, but Cherry is gaining ground quickly.

With Cherry in mind, I set out to create a Cherry Martini that is both simple and delicious.  And not overly sweet.  And I think I have succeeded wonderfully.


For a redder martini add an easy splash of Dark Cherry juice.

Add all ingredients into a shaker and fill with ice.  Shake vigorously for a couple of minutes and pour into martini glass.  Garnish with a maraschino cherry.    Enjoy!

Cherry Martini

The painted Oyster shell is by my talented friend Cynthia Dunn at Art 105 in Kinston, NC.


Typically I spend most birthdays in NYC, 13 of the last 15 to be exact.  Usually, it’s still cold and after living in Los Angeles for the last 17 years, a bit of cold was always fun.  This year my birthday was not long after relocating from LA to Eastern Tennessee, so I opted against NYC.  Nothing personal Big Apple….

I decided to make a short driving trip for this year’s birthday.  (As if that cross-country relocation wasn’t enough driving.  lol). And I wanted to go to some place that I’d never been before.  I settled on Lexington, KY. and I’m so glad I did.  Typically it’s a four hour trip for most people, you will quickly learn “I ain’t most people.”  I love to leap frog, hopscotch, lollygag or aimless wander as I wonder… I’m a sucker for seeing every small town and most roadside attractions along the way.  I’m endless fascinated by local things.

Otherwise, I would never have realized there is such a thing as a Woodbooger.  It’s in Norton, VA.  Sadly, I was a little too early to eat there as they opened a few hours after I drove thru, but next time for sure.


Woodbooger Grill

And I am a lover of alcohol.  I am always searching for something local.  According the google gods, there is a Moonshine (and vodka) distiller in Whitesburg, KY.  I have yet to acquire a taste for “Shine” but I wanted to give it a try.  Again, I was too early.  Boo…  Next time for sure (again).

Kentucky Mist

Kentucky Mist Moonshine

FORTUNATELY, Lexington was Open.  I arrived early afternoon.  I had looked for a unique and stately place to call home.  And boy did I find it in The Campbell House.  It’s a curio collection property by Hilton.  It’s old school oozing with charm and elegance.  The Campbell House Lexington.

My birthday weekend was bitterly cold (I think NYC sent the cold to taunt me.). But I wrapped up and went forth and conquered.

Here are a few of my pix from this fun trip to Lexington.


All in all, I had a most delicious and satisfying birthday.  Now, I’m comfortably on Highway known as 55.  And it’s a whole lotta fun!

Peace!  DAN