Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Spectacular Evening!

Because I am Facebook friends with
my beloved, favorite nurse-of-all-time
Mary Poole...
I received notification of an upcoming event
several months ago.
Mary was responsible for Jack at Silverado
but is now with the company sponsoring this event--
Christian Care Centers.
 I reserved two places right away.

The event was the 
Christian Care Center Festival of Trees Gala
benefiting Alzheimers's Care.
The date was yesterday, November 17th.
The place was The Westin Galleria in Dallas.
The guest artist was Amy Grant!!!
The dinner was marvelous.
The enthusiastic, generous crowd numbered 570!

I couldn't wait to see "my" Mary.
(If you've read my blogs for long, you've read lots
about her!)
(Or--if you just know me you've heard lots
about her!)
But...I don't have to tell you how wonderful she is.
Unbeknownst to me, all of a sudden she
appeared on the big screens, receiving the
Heart of Faith award!
Everyone knew how wonderful she is!

 This is a shot from a lovely video of Mary receiving
the award.

Here we are when we first found each other
last night.
I didn't even know then that she was being honored!

And here's Amy--the "other star" of the evening!
She recorded her first album at 16.
Believe it or not, she's now 53!  And I've loved her
music for all those years.
She sang the beautiful Breath of Heaven as her
final selection.

 I made a wise choice in inviting Becky Leffler to
attend this event with me.
She and I have "SPG" credit cards which enabled
us, with our points, to stay free at the Westin.
But...Becky is gold SPG, so I got to tag along with
her to the Club Lounge!
Yes, sir!  We were in high cotton. 
(It was serious fun!)

Oh...there was a silent auction, too, at the gala.
I need to tell you...if you are ever responsible for an
auction, you need to invite me.
I will feel sorry for neglected or overlooked items
and buy them.
Case in point:  This poor great big Santa did
not have ONE bid.  He was sitting there all proud 
in his striped pants.
I couldn't stand it.  I bought him.

 Here he is riding down the elevator atop our luggage.
(Yes, we had to have help, not because of our luggage, but
because of all the stuff we bought!)

And here he is at home.
His attire goes with no room in my house.
Actually, there is no room for him in my house.
But at least he's not abandoned and alone.
(And I am deeply sorry for calling him 
"Ugly Santa."
 I promise not to do that again.)
Come to think of it, he will be a
great reminder of one marvelous
event which added multiple exclamation points
to my exclamation point life!!!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

I'm Goin' After My Mexican Vanilla in 99 sq. ft.

Did you read that I'm out of Mexican vanilla?
This morning I made arrangements to go
replenish my supply.
 You're going to be amazed, I think, at my plan.

Several years ago Norwegian Cruise Line launched
a ship called the Norwegian Epic. 
It caught my attention because there were some
provisions that catered to single travelers.
I never did check it out and kinda forgot about it.
However, I don't like having to pay double
every time I cruise, which is what the other 
cruise lines do to single cruisers.

This morning a message about bargain cruising
 popped up on my AOL home page.
The first cruise listed was on the
Norwegian Getaway
in its inaugural season!
And then I spotted "studios" which sleep only 1, but
also charge for only 1--no single supplement.
Very interesting!
So I called.  And I booked!

The studios are tiny.  Only 99 sq. ft.!
They are interior, with a one way glass window which
looks out on the hallway.  (With a sliding cover!)
Nearby is a private lounge with a concierge for
studio cruisers only!
And it's lots cheaper.


Are you wondering about my bathroom?
Well, I will have full access with my keycard to
the bathroom down the hall in the Studio Lounge.


Here is a shot which shows the bathroom--
included in the massive 99 sq. ft.


(I just tickle myself to death, you know.
I'm sitting here dying laughing over the thought
of me traipsing down the hall to the bathroom!)

After the fact (reservation)
I thought of submitting a question on
Cruise Critic about how the studio rooms had
worked out for other cruisers.

I have received 4 positive responses saying
(1) the studios are not at all claustrophobic
(2) they're perfect for 1
(3) a great place to sleep
(4) my luggage WILL fit under the bed
(5) that I'm gonna love it!
And not a single negative response!

So whata ya' think?
It sounds like an adventure to me!
And remember, it's a real bargain--
for a couple of bottles of vanilla!


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

My Last But Not Least Stop

Our flights for the Biltmore trip were in and out of the
Charlotte, North Carolina, airport.
Very near the airport was our last stop,
the Billy Graham Library.
It was located right off of Billy Graham Parkway,
a major thoroughfare.

Now I'm really proud to feel Billy Graham is part
of my generation.
I've been his great admirer all my life.
I actually went to a crusade one time--
in person!

I found his to be outstanding among the libraries
that I've visited in my long lifetime.
The setting is lovely.
The volunteers there are so pleasant.
The presentations are organized and interesting.
I liked it even more than I expected.

We entered the library "at the foot of the cross."
(See a greeter standing at the door?)

The Grahams were dairy farmers, so
a very realistic animated "Bessie the Cow" greets visitors
and starts them on their way through
The Journey of Faith.

There are many clips of Billy speaking.
Then there are enthralling pictures of him.
I especially loved the ones with the eleven
presidents by whom he was called "pastor."
My favorite was one of Ronald and Nancy Reagan
with Billy.
Nancy had her hands on his waist and was
looking up at him so admiringly.

I took a picture of this old piano with equally
old sheet music on it.

Because...look what I have.

Also on the library grounds is the Graham childhood home.
It was actually moved here from a few miles away.

That's one of our fearless leaders and my dear friend,
Kim Carb,
standing in front of the lovely home.

Ruth Graham passed away in 2008 and is
buried on the beautiful premises.
Billy will be buried beside her.

Also buried there are Cliff Barrows,
the music director for the Billy Graham Evangelistic
and George Beverly Shea, the incomparable
baritone soloist for the crusades.

I was looking forward to dining at the
Graham Brothers Dairy Bar
at the conclusion of my tour.  
But by the time I made it through and shopped
 the gift shop, there was not enough time left!

This was one of my purchases:

A fitting conclusion to a wonderful trip.

Monday, November 3, 2014

You May Want to Put This on Your Bucket List


I feel like I've been to Downton Abbey with
only a two-hour plane ride!
I went with my bank travel club to the
Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N. Carolina.

The estate covers over 8,000 acres.
We stayed in the relatively new Inn on Biltmore,
a lovely spot!
It is an approximately twenty minute drive
from here to the Biltmore home.

  There were two HUGE fireplaces.
This one was in the dining room.

This is my room.

And my bathroom.
(Let me apologize now.  I actually just
wanted to post a picture of my only new outfit
for the trip.) 
(Yes, I realize all you can really see here
is the potty.)
(Well, and the beautiful red rose.)

That's a Keurig, so I fixed myself a cup of coffee
and enjoyed the view!
We had one of the best dinners I've ever had in the
Inn dining room the first night.
And the breakfast buffets were absolutely fabulous!
(including cheese blintzes and cheese grits!)

Our first (very full!) day was just the "warm up act."
I could do a blog on each of the places we went,
but since you don't want to read this for 3 days, 
I'll spare you.

Our first stops were in the lovely town of
Asheville, North Carolina.
  Number 1: a magnificent church.
Lots of history.

You would enjoy seeing this if you go there!

Switching gears, our second stop was in the
beautiful, spotlessly clean downtown area,
called by some the "Paris of the South."
The most memorable part to me?
Having lunch at this Woolworth lunch counter!
(I know--not very Parisian!)

Then we headed out of town for Chimney Rock.
This was described to us as a...
"500-million-year-old towering monolith"
(which I looked up--all one rock)!

 (I'm using their picture--much better than mine.)

A 26 story elevator through the rock
 enabled us to go to the top
(plus these steps!)

(That's not me--I'm the photographer!)
But I did ascend!  And descend!
And hurt!

  Glad I brought a jacket.

Never fails to stir me old heart strings.


 From the top of Chimney Rock we could see
our next destination--Lake Lure.

Lake Lure has one claim to fame:
the sight of filming for the movie Dirty Dancing.
Here we are cruising the lake--quite beautiful.

And here's the Inn--old and very charming.

But...there's a big BUT.

I understand that
this staircase, seen from the cruise boat, is the
ONLY thing about this place you see in the movie!!!


Yes, I know it's a bit blurry, but you MUST see it.
My friend Charlotte says Jennifer Grey comes
tripping down these stairs carrying a watermelon.
I can't wait to watch the movie again to see
if I can find anything else that looks familiar.
Oh...the stars did stay in the Lake Lure Inn!

So, we're all warmed up and ready for the

This is the Biltmore Estate in the fall.

If I told you I took this beautiful shot, 
would you believe me?
Well, you shouldn't.
Here's my shot of our first view--from the bus!

This is the largest privately owned home in the U.S.
Touring it was one fabulous experience.

 No pictures were allowed inside.
(I hear you breathing a sigh of relief!)
I would especially have liked to take approximately
ten jillion of the Christmas decorating that was
going on and the many beautiful trees 
already glowing (as many as 3 to a room!)

I have been through quite a few mansions and palaces,
and somehow this one especially impressed me.
The audio guide to the home was just perfect.  
I listened to every word.
There are 3 floors and a basement to tour!
 And one small elevator only for those who 
really need it--and that didn't include me.
Instead, I had to swallow a few Advil for my
aching legs!

Here I am on a balcony at the Biltmore!

We had the afternoon free, so I returned to the
Estate to tour the gardens.
(Ugh--more stairs--MANY more.)
But, it was worth it.  My pictures are as good
as the professional ones
(if I do say so myself, and I do.)


The conservatory:

 And...I'm not an orchid aficionado, but I know
some of you are.
These struck me as very special! 
Am I right?

Okay.  I'm as tired as if I walked the estate
grounds today.
I'm going to save the last stop on our trip
until tomorrow.
I know you'll be waiting with bated breath!!!
At least I was.