Banner Elk - Boone NC
Sugar Mountain
Stick Boy Bread Company
Good Life Cafe
 Tuesday February 10th - Saturday February 14th 2015

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Day 1 - Tuesday February 10th 2015

Preface - Laurie wanted our lab Destiny to see snow.     Robert also wanted to go skiing.     We found the closest place to see snow driving from Florida, was the Banner Elk and Boone NC area.   We also found that visiting in February gave the best chance to see real snow.    The ski resorts in the area make snow, so you can see it if you visit Sugar or Beech Mountain.    But some people want to see real snow.    Honestly, there's no difference between snow from the sky and snow that is made at ski resorts.     I'm sure there's slight differences if we really want to get technical, but guess what, it's SNOW.       If Banner Elk doesn't have real snow, the next place to visit would be Snowshoe mountain in West Virginia.   This was our back up plan.   But lucky for us, it snowed for real, white out conditions, Destiny saw real snow, mission accomplished.   

Day 1 - Tuesday February 10th 2015.   We rented a Nissan Pathfinder SUV from Alamo FLL airport location.    Renting from the airport may cost more in taxes, but they're open 24 hours.    We picked up the car at 12:30am on Sunday February 8th and scheduled the return for 11:30pm Saturday February 14th.   This was a weekly rental for $189, doing this allowed us to pack the car on Sunday and Monday.       Alamo is good because they let you pick the car in a row.   We scheduled a mini van at a low price, and switched to an SUV at the airport since it is similar but has bench seating in the back so the dog could lay down.   Minivans have individual seats, so that doesn't work when bringing a dog.    On Tuesday February 10th, we left the house at 02:30am.    We drove a total of 855 miles arriving the Banner Elk Best Western at 06:45pm.    Google maps shows you can drive the entire distance in 12 hours, but with stops, we did it in 16.    

Here we are at the Whole Foods in Greenville SC.        This is where we ate lunch after driving through the night and morning.   We ate a salad and a couple slices of veggie pizza.    Destiny was having a great time going for a walk in a field across from the parking lot and pizza is her favorite food.    Something interesting I noticed after arriving in South Carolina.   Everyone was greeting me asking, "How are you Doing?"    At first I thought this was going to lead to someone asking for money, but later I realized everyone in NC and SC greets people by saying, "How are you Doing?" 

Winding roads through the mountains as we drove from SC to NC.     We were using our iPhones with Google maps to navigate the entire time.   

We arrived the Best Western Banner Elk at 06:45pm.    Our room was clean, everything good.    We were in room 133 on the bottom floor, in the back of the property.   There is a dog walk area with a big field.   Next to the field is a school.    They have poo bags and a waste canister.     They also gave us a treat bag with a few biscuits for the dog when we checked in.

Day 2 - Wednesday February 11th 2015.    Robert would go skiing while Laurie stayed in the room with Destiny sleeping in and reading her books.  

Here's the breakfast area.   Not pictured is a pancake machine, toast, bagels, cereal, and juice.    This is basically the standard continental breakfast with TVs showing the current news of the day (weather report).    

This is where I rented my ski equipment, located right across the street from the entrance of Sugar Mountain.
Friendly people, set me up with skis, boots, poles, and helmet.    I walked across the street and took a picture of the Sugar Mountain sign with the mountain in the background.   In pictures 3, 4, and 5, I've finally arrived the ski area.  These are the scenes you see on the web cam, now I was here.        Sunny skies, temp was 46 degrees, a Wednesday with no crowds.   Can't ask for anything else.

1st picture, the main lift.  When you look on the web cam, you see everyone heading to the right.   This is the lift they're going too.    The temperature was 46 degrees at 10am.   Here I am traveling up the lift.   It makes a few stops along the way.    Finally at the top, someone took a picture of me.   You can see I have my GoPro chest mount strapped on.   The camera worked great and I got a ton of footage. 

I'm ready to head down the trails.    Taking it easy, I head down blue square trails Northridge to Switchback and head down the mountain to the bottom.   This is the path most people take.  

This is Gunther's Way a new  Black/Bluediamond trail.     What was it like?    Not groomed, packed powder, a couple major drops, then flat at the bottom.   This is a good challenge for most skiers.  

Oma's Meadow, my favorite trail of the trip.    Nice open spaces, blue square trail, not many people here.    It seems most people don't find the lift to the far left side when looking at trail map, but this is the big secret.   It doesn't take you to the top of the mountain, but a side trail to the far left side that most people don't find.      

I returned my ski equipment, went back to the hotel, picked up Laurie and Destiny, and we took some back roads to the top of Sugar Mountain.     There was a guard gate at the entrance to a condo building near the top.   The guard gave us directions saying we could get to the top of the mountain.   We used the GPS on our phones to find our way.    The road winds through  time share buildings.    They have nasty signs saying your car will be towed, but we were only staying for a few minutes.   We parked our car at the very top and walked through a path which leads to the black diamond run called Boulder Dash.    We ended up next to the first aid station.   The ski lift operators were nearby but didn't say anything about us walking around.  They park their vehicle at the top of the mountain as well.   It seems the nasty signs are there to keep skiers from parking at the top since it is next to the slope.  

Here I am with Destiny at the top of the mountain.   We walked through the trees, Destiny had a good time in the snow.  

We headed out to Boone NC and a visit to Stick Boy Bread Company.   Laurie did some research and found this place on her phone using Google.    We drove 16 miles and it took about 30 minutes to reach this place, but worth it.   We actually came here twice, that's how good the food and deserts are.    Pictured is a salad, Chick Pea sandwich, and bean chili.    We sat at a table outside.

Day 3 - Thursday February 12th 2015.  This is the day we would have driven to Snowshoe WV (5 hours away)  if there was no real snow in Banner Elk, but I checked the weather forecast, and snow was expected.    The day started off with over cast clouds, the temperature dropped into the 20s, the wind picked up.    And look, it's Snowing, Horay.     We drove through Banner Elk to Beech Mountain.   There was a news truck doing a report on the weather.  

Here's Laurie walking with Destiny at the base of Beech Mountain.    It was cold and windy, the temperature dropped to 16 degrees.  

Here's Robert playing with Destiny at the base of Beech Mountain.   After we took some pictures, we hurried back to the car, it was freezing outside.   You can see the snow on Destiny.  
A video of Destiny playing in the snow can be found here

We were starved and wanted to eat.  We used our phones to search Trip Advisor.     We found Brick Oven Pizza and ordered to go.   The worker inside told Laurie there was a dog park behind the restaurant.   We drove there and ate the pizza in the car, it was good.

Are you kidding me?   It's 16 degrees out, there's a snow snower going on, and we're walking in a dog park.    We didn't stay long, it was freezing with the wind blowing.    Destiny went pee in a field, we loaded up in the car with the heater on full blast, and drove away.   So not only did Destiny she real snow, she saw a snow shower with white out conditions.  

The roads were covered with snow, good thing we were driving an SUV.    We had all our ski cloths on and the heater on full blast.   We were hungry, the pizza didn't fill us up.    We drove back to Boone NC taking 45 minutes to reach Stick Boy Bread company.    This time we called and ordered food to go eating back at the hotel room.

Day 4 - Friday February 13th 2015.    We woke up early, packed the car, checked out, and left at 06:30am.   It was 10 degrees outside as we left.       We drove to Columbia SC and stopped at Good Life Cafe.  We ordered ahead and ate outside, it was slightly warmer, but temps were still in the 30s.   I was shivering sitting at the table, even with my ski jacket and gloves on.        Pictured is a bean burger and nori wrap, tasted great.

We drove to Gainesville stopping at Publix to pick up flowers and balloons for our daughter and my parents.   We picked up a couple pizzas from Satchel's, and visited our daughter Ashley in Reddick FL.    We stayed for an hour eating dinner, then drove to my parents in Leesburg FL giving my mom flowers and a balloon.   We drove home arriving Saturday morning at 01:50am.    This was a 24 hour day from the time we woke up to when we went to bed at home.   The total miles driven on the trip was 1850, and the average mpg was 26.    We unpacked the SUV, I washed and vacuumed it that morning because it was dirty.   Vacuuming the rental car also helps to make sure nothing is left behind.   We filled up the SUV with gas and returned it to FLL airport.   

End of Report.   Thanks for reading. 

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