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August 31, 2016
NPS Centennial: Fun for the Whole Family at Connemara

connemara-alaina-1.jpgMy first visit to Connemara was a breezy, blue-skied, late summer day last year. This unique and beautiful National Park offers an astonishing array of activities to enjoy: The opportunity to explore the home of a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, the sweet splendor of a laze-about in open fields with a herd of milking goats, and a gentle trail to Big Glassy with stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Though I’ve enjoyed a wide variety of National Parks over the years, Connemara has easily become a favorite for its diverse offerings that every member of my family will enjoy.

Tags: Winston-Salem, Columbia, Knoxville, Greenville, Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville, Boone, Valle Crucis, all, Mast Family Favorites, Inspiration, Adventure
August 30, 2016
NPS Centennial: Snowy Adventure on the Appalachian Trail

GSMNP-2-Scott-1.jpgWe had entered the park under clouds and wet, frozen fog. My partner, Turbo, and I left Cosby Knob Shelter around 9:30 a.m., which not exactly an alpine start, and set off into the chilly damp. As we gained in elevation, the snow got deeper and made for slow going. Often, we would fall through the crunchy top layer and sink into deeper soft snow beneath. Then things got interesting…

Tags: Winston-Salem, Columbia, Knoxville, Greenville, Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville, Boone, Valle Crucis, all, Mast Family Favorites, Inspiration, Adventure
August 29, 2016
NPS Centennial: Black Bear Encounters in Shenandoah

shenandoah-2-mary-3.jpgAfter my husband and I retired from our careers, we lived full time in our RV for two and a half years. During that time, we traveled around the country working in different campgrounds. We worked several summers in Shenandoah National Park as campground hosts for the National Park Service.

Tags: Winston-Salem, Columbia, Knoxville, Greenville, Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville, Boone, Valle Crucis, all, Mast Family Favorites, Inspiration, Adventure
August 28, 2016
NPS Centennial: Discovering Desert Beauty in Zion

Zion-Deb-3b.jpgThe desert offers both magical and mystical beauty. When I’m still, I can see the changes in the color of the landscape, and discover nature I didn’t see at first glance. As I see these things, I hear the desert calling me.

Tags: Winston-Salem, Columbia, Knoxville, Greenville, Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville, Boone, Valle Crucis, all, Mast Family Favorites, Inspiration, Adventure
August 26, 2016
NPS Centennial: Amazing Beauty Close to Home at Mammoth Cave

Mammoth-Cave-Tamera-1.jpgThe first field trip went on was in first grade to Tuckaleechee Caverns in Townsend, Tennessee. This trip was the first time I became fascinated by caves and bats. Once I learned about Mammoth Cave from the weekly reader during elementary school, I made a plan to someday visit there. It was interesting to me to know the largest cave system on the planet was less than 200 miles from home. Experts have explored 400 miles of Mammoth Cave, but there’s still much more to explore.  After a little research, I put the cave at the top of my to-do list.

Tags: Winston-Salem, Columbia, Knoxville, Greenville, Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville, Boone, Valle Crucis, all, Mast Family Favorites, Inspiration, Adventure
August 25, 2016
NPS Centennial: Island Adventures in St. John

Jody-BVI-5.jpgI honestly cannot say what would be my favorite National Park because they’re all wonderfully diverse treasures. I had the unique experience of living on the U.S. Virgin Island of St. John. Did you know that more than half of this stunning island is part of the Virgin Islands National Park?

Tags: Winston-Salem, Columbia, Knoxville, Greenville, Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville, Boone, Valle Crucis, all, Mast Family Favorites, Inspiration, Adventure
August 24, 2016
NPS Centennial: Making Family Memories Out West

Yellowstone-Amy-1.jpgI’ve long been a fan of America’s National Parks. This probably began the summer I worked in Yellowstone while I was a college student.  At 21-years-old, visiting Yellowstone was a life altering-experience.  Although I’ve visited quite a few national parks, Yellowstone has remained my favorite.

Tags: Winston-Salem, Columbia, Knoxville, Greenville, Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville, Boone, Valle Crucis, all, Mast Family Favorites, Inspiration, Adventure
August 22, 2016
NPS Centennial: Getting a Bird's Eye View From Bodie Island Lighthouse

Bodie-Heather-1.jpegIn late September 2013, I visited the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  One of the highlights of the trip was a stop at Bodie Lighthouse on the Oregon Inlet in Nags Head, NC.  It had recently undergone major renovations that finished at the end of March 2013.  Luckily for me, it was now open for the public to explore the interior of the lighthouse!

Tags: Winston-Salem, Columbia, Knoxville, Greenville, Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville, Boone, Valle Crucis, all, Mast Family Favorites, Inspiration, Adventure
August 21, 2016
NPS Centennial: Running with the Wolves in Yellowstone

Western-NPS-Tour-2-Gina-1.jpgWhen I was a junior in the biology department at Appalachian State University, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel cross-country throughout the United States, into Mexico and Canada, visiting many state and national parks. Our studies focused on the fauna and flora throughout the U.S. We traveled for 7 weeks.

Tags: Winston-Salem, Columbia, Knoxville, Greenville, Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville, Boone, Valle Crucis, all, Mast Family Favorites, Inspiration, Adventure
August 19, 2016
NPS Centennial: Paddling & Birding on the Congaree River

Congaree-Joey-1a.jpgGrowing up in Columbia, South Carolina, I’ve had this somewhat overlooked gem in my backyard my whole life.  My dad loves bird watching, so, as a child, I got to go to the Congaree National Park about four times a year for the seasonal bird counts.

Tags: Winston-Salem, Columbia, Knoxville, Greenville, Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville, Boone, Valle Crucis, all, Mast Family Favorites, Inspiration, Adventure
August 17, 2016
NPS Centennial: Exploring the Great Smokies in Tennessee

GSMNP-Chris-4.jpgI always like to visit the Great Smoky Mountain National Park because it is the most bio-diverse park in the NPS.  With everything from huge, exposed balds and ridge lines to dark and wet coves, the Smokies have it all.  They have just over 800 miles of trails that can give you whatever you want to see while in the woods.  I have been trying to knock out every trail in the Park since I was in college, and I am up to just over 600 miles complete…and don’t want it to end!  For that reason, every trip to the Smokies is my favorite trip.

Tags: Winston-Salem, Columbia, Knoxville, Greenville, Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville, Boone, Valle Crucis, all, Mast Family Favorites, Inspiration, Adventure
August 16, 2016
NPS Centennial: The Grand Canyon, an Ethereal Visit

GC-1.jpgZephyr-roughened and patinaed cliffs began to narrow all around.  I watched for the indications of our journey’s end, read where we were in the encyclopedic rocks in my enfeebled way.  Past the friable Tapeats Sandstone, fascinating Vishnu Schist was yards First time reactions differ.  The Grand Canyon.  One of the World’s Wonders.  Stillness pervades my whole self.

Tags: Winston-Salem, Columbia, Knoxville, Greenville, Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville, Boone, Valle Crucis, all, Mast Family Favorites, Inspiration, Adventure
August 15, 2016
NPS Centennial: Bikecentennial '76 Memories

Grand-Teton-Chafin-1.jpegI participated in the Bikecentennial ‘76.  This landmark event consisted of a series of bicycle tours on the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail across the United States in the summer of 1976 in commemoration of the bicentennial of America's Declaration of Independence. Best of all, I was able to enjoy several national parks from the comfort of my bicycle.

Tags: Winston-Salem, Columbia, Knoxville, Greenville, Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville, Boone, Valle Crucis, all, Mast Family Favorites, Inspiration, Adventure
August 14, 2016
NPS Centennial: Wildlife Encounters in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rockies-Renea-2.jpg“Whoa, what is that?” I screamed with excitement. “It’s an elk,” my friend Cathy responded.  I had never seen such a creature.  It was amazing, and what made it even more amazing was the beautiful alpine tundra on which the elk and its counterparts were standing.  We had made it…Rocky Mountain National Park. This place was not like anything I had ever seen or experienced before.

Tags: Winston-Salem, Columbia, Knoxville, Greenville, Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville, Boone, Valle Crucis, all, Mast Family Favorites, Inspiration, Adventure
August 12, 2016
NPS Centennial: Honeymooning in Glacier National Park

Glacier-Travis-2a.jpgThis summer, my wife and I drove 2,210 miles to Glacier National Park in Montana for our honeymoon.  We chose Glacier because we had a friend in Bozeman, Montana that told us about her experience there. After we did some research, we decided that traveling to Glacier National Park would be out perfect honeymoon destination.

Tags: Winston-Salem, Columbia, Knoxville, Greenville, Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville, Boone, Valle Crucis, all, Mast Family Favorites, Inspiration, Adventure
August 10, 2016
NPS Centennial: All Things Beautiful and Blueberry in Maine

Acadia Laura 3My husband and I recently went to Acadia National Park for our 5th wedding anniversary. It was the best trip we’ve ever taken. Spectacular views, warm sun, cool breeze, and flowers in abundance… It couldn’t have been more perfect!

Tags: Winston-Salem, Columbia, Knoxville, Greenville, Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville, Boone, Valle Crucis, all, Mast Family Favorites, Inspiration, Adventure
August 8, 2016
NPS Centennial: Endless Exploration on the Blue Ridge Parkway

BRP-2-Fox-1.jpgMy favorite National Park is the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s wonderful to be able to experience it by car for as little or as long as you'd like. You can take a short drive to refresh your mind when you've got just an hour, or you could spend entire weeks driving and stopping at all the overlooks and park attractions. 

Tags: Winston-Salem, Columbia, Knoxville, Greenville, Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville, Boone, Valle Crucis, all, Mast Family Favorites, Inspiration, Adventure
August 7, 2016
NPS Centennial: Treasures Abound at Cape Lookout National Seashore

Cape-Lookout-Sheri-4.jpgCape Lookout National Seashore includes a Visitor Center on the Mainland at Harker’s Island, North Carolina, as well as Shackleford Banks and North and South Core Banks. You can reach the Cape Lookout Lighthouse and Shackleford by ferry (from Beaufort or Harker’s Island), or if you are adventurous, by paddling out on a kayak.

Tags: Winston-Salem, Columbia, Knoxville, Greenville, Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville, Boone, Valle Crucis, all, Mast Family Favorites, Inspiration, Adventure
August 5, 2016
NPS Centennial: American Pride at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Liberty-JD-header.jpgThe first time I viewed the Statue of Liberty, I was sailing into New York harbor on my way to Montauk, NY. That was nearly three decades ago. We slipped beneath the Verrazano Bridge and there she was. I was awestruck. The next occasion was a fly over nearly a decade later, but the same feeling was evoked. However, it wasn’t until June of this year that I actually visited Lady Liberty in person. I was again awestruck.

Tags: Winston-Salem, Columbia, Knoxville, Greenville, Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville, Boone, Valle Crucis, all, Mast Family Favorites, Inspiration, Adventure
August 3, 2016
NPS Centennial: Finding Peace in Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah-Theresa-1.jpgShenandoah National Park is a family favorite and we travel there often. My husband, Eric, and I love it so much that we got married in the park - right off Skyline Drive at Timber Hollow Outlook.  As you see in the photos, I got married in a gray wool suit. I am not very “girly” and it was late November.

Tags: Winston-Salem, Columbia, Knoxville, Greenville, Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville, Boone, Valle Crucis, all, Mast Family Favorites, Inspiration, Adventure