{Choose Your Adventure} Lake Eden Arts Festival (LEAF) + Hot Springs, NC + Oktoberfest in Helen, Ga

{Choose Your Adventure} LEAF + Hot Springs, NC + Oktoberfest in Helen, GA

October has been one crazy, fun-filled month! 3 out of 4 weekends have been spent out of town. We're actually going to be home this weekend, thankfully. I'm really happy that I don't have to worry about packing and other preparations to leave town, it'll be nice to wake up in my own bed—whenever I please—on Saturday morning!

So far, the only thing I have shared with you is my experience at The National Beard & Mustache Championships in Lancaster, PA, which was an absolute blast. If you missed that post, you should definitely check it out!

A couple weeks ago, I decided to do an experiment where I asked people here on the blog and Facebook to help me decide what I would share next, because I just couldn't make up my mind. I posted a collage with three different options and asked for your opinion. It was actually quite fun seeing the reactions, and I really liked the feedback, so I decided to do it again. Tell me...

What would you like to see first? Refer to the photo above!

A.) L.E.A.F. - Lake Eden Arts Festival in Black Mountain, NC

B.) How to Spend a Day in Hot Springs, NC
 C.) Oktoberfest in Helen, GA

Let me know by casting your vote in the comment section here on the blog. 
Or you can share your choice on the WW Facebook page.

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Battle of the Beards | The 2011 National Beard & Mustache Championship | Lancaster, PA

Battle of the Beards | The National Beard and Mustache Championship | Lancaster, PA
Living with a mountain man who has been growing a beard for the past few years has helped me become more appreciative of those that grow facial hair. It's not that I didn't think beards were awesome before I began dating someone who is into that sort of thing, but I just didn't give it too much thought. Now, you'll find me blatantly pointing people out, possibly even giving them a thumbs up, when I see a fella with a face-full of fuzz.

I get that for people who grow beards, it's a way of life and not just an accessory of sorts. Most people who have beards don't have them only to keep their faces warm. No, they're doing it for cultural or spiritual reasons, and probably to look cool, too.


Beards have been around for thousands of years! Only recently, though, has the movement become more mainstream. While I know that bands of bearded brothers have been competing for quite some time now, it seems as though most folically-challenged folks had no idea these sorts of events took place. It wasn't until the new IFC documentary called, Whisker Wars, came out that it brought this community into the limelight and helped the movement gain more momentum.

Battle of the Beards | The National Beard 
and Mustache Championship | Lancaster, PA

Beard Team USA, founded by Phil Olsen, is yet another reason why beardos are banding together. When he realized that the World Beard and Mustache Championships barely had any American representatives, he made it his mission to change that, which he did. Since then, the US has taken home awards from the World Championships, and he has even established a National Beard and Mustache Competition here in the US.


I was lucky enough to attend the 2nd Annual Beard and Mustache Championship held at the Clipper Stadium in Lancaster, PA on October 8th. When Cody and I had the hair-brained idea to head to the competition, we had no clue what to expect, but we decided to do it anyway because it seemed like it'd be a lot of fun. So, we hopped in the car for the 9-hour road trip hoping that we wouldn't regret it later.

Either way it would be an adventure, right?! All we knew was that the event was being held at the stadium, and that a parade would take place from a nearby hotel. After aimlessly following people with facial hair in hopes that we'd stumbled upon the place we needed to be, we ended up elsewhere. Thankfully, the parade was running behind, and we were able to catch the procession as it got closer to the stadium.

Battle of the Beards | The National Beard 
and Mustache Championship | Lancaster, PA


As we watched the steady stream of people pass by, I realized that everyone in the crowd had their own personal style. Not only were there beards and mustaches of all kinds donning the faces of men (and women), most of them also had a costume to go along with it. It was really interesting to see how the personalities fit the facial hair. The people with the complete package seemed to make a bigger impact than those who came dressed in everyday clothing.

This made the most difference during the judging. There were 5 categories: Mustache, Partial Beard, Full Beard Groomed, Full Beard Natural, and Freestyle. After randomly selecting groups in each category, they would head onto the stage where the judges would choose three contestants to go to the final round of judging. The process was long, but highly entertaining. Think toddlers and tiaras without the talent portion and tantrums.

I have to admit something. We actually missed the final judging of the competition because we were having too much fun over at Oktoberfest drinking and talking to strangers. Hey, it's not my fault that they scheduled it smack dab in the middle of the contest! I know, how silly is it that we drove all that way for the championships only to miss the grand finale! Haha

My Mustache Brings all the Boys to the Yard


In the beginning, I was slightly hesitant to approach people to ask them if I could take a portrait. However, I quickly realized that my reservations were completely ridiculous because every single person I approached was super friendly. After I got past the initial hump, I took pictures of all kinds of crazy cool beards and mustaches. We pretty much instantly became friends with everyone we met. That's when I understood what this event was really about. It wasn't necessarily about winning or competing. It was more so about building a community of people who have a fondness for facial hair.

If you'd like to learn more about Beard Team USA (& the championships), here is a link to the website.

We had such a great time meeting people and taking photos of beards (and mustaches) that we are definitely planning to attend next year's beard contest in Las Vegas! I really look forward to reconnecting with all of the fun people we encountered along the way. More images will likely be uploaded to the WW Facebook page in the next week or so. If you're interested in seeing more, be sure to let me know!

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My Surprise Birthday Dinner @ The Mast Farm Inn | Valle Crucis, NC

Mast Farm Inn | Valle Crucis, 

I've driven by this place a dozen times, and I've told myself repeatedly that I'd eat there one of these days. Six years later, it finally happened!

Honestly, I don't know how I let that much time pass before I actually made my way over to eat dinner in this charming little establishment. I mean, it's no secret that I enjoy going out to eat. (I'm always sharing my food with you, it seems.) However, this place can't be compared to the typical dining experiences I frequently have.


It's different because you feel like you're having dinner in someone's house, not a restaurant. The atmosphere is cozy and intimate, and has very limited seating for service. Reservations are required in order to dine, otherwise, they wouldn't make enough food. You see, they operate differently than restaurants you have become accustomed to. The meals are prepared fresh and made with organic ingredients that are oftentimes locally sourced. That is, if they didn't grow some of the items themselves.

Across the street from the inn are a large number of raised bed gardens where they can pluck ingredients to use that same day. They also put a big emphasis on local items included on the menu; It is something I definitely appreciate. The menu changes every night depending upon what they get their hands on. Surprises were plentiful that evening!

I can't even tell you how giddy I was to be there. It was undoubtedly the best part of my birthday weekend. You know, because of the FOOD! I'll just stop beating around the bush here, and tell you about the amazing meal.


The dinner began with a basket of homemade white and corny corn bread. They supplied us with a dish of their very flavorful herb butter, which I slathered on top of my cornbread. There was a slightly sweet crust on top that paired so well with the buttery spread. Next up, was the petite vegetable soup which was simple yet satisfying.

For the third course, we were served a mixed green salad topped with local goat cheese, dried cranberries & blueberries, pecans, and a molasses vinaigrette. I devoured this salad even though the dressing wasn't as sweet as I would have wanted it to be. I will say, though, that it was quite interesting. Our main dish consisted of beef bourguignon smothered with a rich red burgundy wine sauce topped with mushrooms and pearl onions. The beef was tender and delicious. No knife required for cutting. The accompanying sides included creamy grits and sauteed green beans. I loved the grits. They were awesome!


At this point in the meal, I barely had enough room to finish the beef bourguignon ( I ended up taking a portion home) much less leave enough room for dessert. But I'd be crazy to pass up the last course, don't you think?! I ended up going with the chocolate fudge cake (it was called something like that—sorry, I don't have my notes!) that came with homemade caramel ice cream. I could only have one tiny corner of the cake and a few spoonfuls of the ice cream, but oh my word, they were both incredible. The leftover cake went home with me, too!

By the end of our dinner, we had been there for over 2 hours. Tell me, when do you get the opportunity to take your time eating a multiple-course meal like that? Not very often, I'm sure. I know that I'm used to things coming as quickly as possible when dining out, so this was a welcomed alternative because I don't like feeling rushed. 

If you'd like to find out more about The Mast Farm Inn, here is a link to their website.

Having dinner at The Mast Farm Inn's restaurant (called Simplicity) was a treat, although I don't think this should just be one of those “special occasion” places to eat. Yes, it was slightly pricier that your typical restaurant. However, for the quality of food, service, and ambiance, it was well worth the expense. Now that I've finally been there for a dinner service, I know that I'll be back a lot sooner next time! 

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[Warning!] Roller Derby Can Be Addictive! My First Appalachian Rollergirls Bout in Boone, NC.

Appalachian Roller Girls | Boone, NC
One thing I learned from my first roller derby competition is that you call it a BOUT. Not a match or a game, but a BOUT! I'm glad they clarified that in their little brochure because I would have been calling it everything but that, probably. Going into my first roller derby, I didn't know much about the sport. All I really knew was that the ladies who participate are super hardcore chicks that won't hesitate to kick your aXX. Or so I thought...


On the exterior, you see these strong, in-your-face ladies who can be a little intimidating, but when you let go of the assumptions that you have about their attitudes, you realize that they're merely kittens in a sexy tiger costume. Don't get me wrong, I'm not questioning their badaXXedness, not at all, I'm just pointing out the fact that they are actually really awesome people who like to have fun on wheels.

In my mind, I depicted roller derby as a violent-ish sport, and it's true that you can get hurt really badly if it's your unlucky day, because, let's face it, it's a full-contact sport. However, for the most part, I felt as though it was more thrilling and exciting than downright dangerous. During the bout, I saw a few gnarly falls, but the girls seemed to bounce back pretty quickly after a slip-up. Except for the jammer (the point scorer), the pack moved around the track at a rather moderate pace, not at all like the high-speed antics I envisioned.


Now that I think about it, it was the movie 'Whip It' that created this crazy illusion of what I thought roller derby would be. According to the rules, I know that you can't use elbows, forearms, hands, or feet to hit the other skaters, but that you can use your shoulders, hips, torso, or buttocks to block. So, all those fists flying in the movie, yeah, you can't do that in real-life roller derby unless you care to get penalized! Seeing them interact with the other team and each other, it seemed as though they didn't have a vindictive bone in their bodies. In fact, they appeared to be very encouraging and supportive of their teammates. What I saw was a tight-knit group of gals, it was actually really refreshing to see.

Appalachian Roller Girls | Boone, NC


It made me sort of want to join them! I won't lie, the thought of becoming an Appalachian Roller Girl has crossed my mind. Back in the day, I used to be quite the skater. Skating brings back some pretty fond memories for me because I did it for many years. It was something that I absolutely LOVED! But it's been so long. For those that have a desire to give it a go. The ARGs are hosting a boot camp on October 23rd. It's an opportunity to see if this sport might be your speed without having to invest more than an afternoon and $35. If I wasn't going to be out of town that day, I'd be tempted to put my rusty skills to the test! 


You can enjoy watching the girls do their thing without knowing the ins and outs of the game, though, that's what I did during this bout. They provided a handy zine of sorts that had the low-down on how roller derby works, which was a great guide. Next time, I'll know what's going on...maybe. All that mattered, really, was that they creamed the other team. I mean, it was kinda bad. You almost felt sorry for the other ladies, but they put up a pretty good fight until the bitter end. The final score was ARG 223 — Star City 36! This was their last home bout of the season, the next few will be held out of town. For their first season of bouting, they are doing pretty great and are currently at 7-2. I'd say that those are nice odds. Keep on being awesome girls! You seriously rock :D

If you'd like to learn more about the Appalachian Roller Girls, here is a link to their website.

One thing that I loved about the roller derby are the awesome nicknames people give themselves. There are some great names that are good for a few laughs out there. It made me think about what sort of wicked nickname I'd give myself if I were to ever become a roller girl. I visited a roller derby name generator for some inspiration, which churned out a few good ones that I liked, but they just weren't awesome enough. After giving it a little thought, I finally came up with my roller derby name. It's so good I almost feel like I have to become a roller girl just so I can use it! Curious to know what it is? Tell me what yours would be and I'll tell you mine! :D

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My Birthday Weekend Recap | Boone, NC

Birthday Weekend Recap
I must confess. This year, I was a little bummed out about not having a grand getaway planned for my birthday. You see, for the past four years or so, taking a trip for my birthday has become a tradition, but not this year. It's mainly because October has shaped up to be a pretty packed month for us. So, I figured it would be best to stick close to home since plenty of travel lies ahead in the coming weeks.

When you compare a birthday spent in your typical surroundings to vacations in Hawaii and Las Vegas, you're bound to be met with a bit of disappointment. Thankfully, I still have vivid memories of those treasured times to sustain me until my next big escape. I make it sound like I never get to go anywhere! Haha Really, my birthday wasn't bad. In fact, it actually turned out to be pretty awesome with all the fun stuff we ended up doing.

My birthday started with Cody staying home from work, so I didn't have to spend the day alone. It was a nice surprise. We had breakfast at one of my favorite places in town, Melanie's. Then we walked around the Turchin Center to take in some art. Cody and I stopped in at Stick Boy Bread Company for a birthday sweet treat—a slice of mocha ganache cake. Later in the evening, after a pleasantly laid-back day, we headed up to Mellow Mushroom to hang out at the bar (it's become one of my favorite places to go). All in all, it was a pretty tame day. But it was just what I needed!

The birthday fun didn't really stop there, though. There were other plans in the works that I wasn't privy to. Friday evening, Cody had a surprise planned for me. It was fun not knowing what we were doing, that doesn't happen all that often around here because I'm the planner. I was extremely surprised to find that I'd be having dinner at a restaurant that I've wanted to eat at for quite some time now, The Mast Farm Inn. I couldn't help but giddily jump up and down as we walked toward the old farmhouse. It put the biggest smile on my face. The food was delicious, and I can't wait to share!

Still not ready to relinquish the birthday spree, we decided to head down to the town of Wilkesboro, NC on Saturday for the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival. We heard about the festival from a friend, and thought it sounded like fun. It covered a pretty large area and had hundreds of vendors selling food and handmade items. The event was a lot more fun than I thought it would be. As a bonus, we were able to get our fair-food fix in the process! Think turkey legs and cotton candy :D

Saturday evening, after the apple festival, we made our way to the Holmes Center here in Boone to catch the Appalachian Roller Girls' last match of the season. It was my first time getting to go to one of the events, so I was really looking forward to it. I still don't know the ins and outs of the rules, but I really enjoyed watching them throw down.

Recounting these birthday events makes me realize that we did a lot this past weekend! There was definitely no time for me to be bummed at any point about not going out of town. Once the weekend got going, I didn't really even think about it. Cody did everything he could to ensure that I had a wonderful birthday, and I'll be the first to tell you that he did a great job. It was an awesome birthday, and I can't wait to share more!

I do need some help, though. You can imagine that I have tons of photos to share with you, but I'm at a loss as to what I should show you first. To relieve some of the pressure, how about you help me choose which outing I'll cover here on Wayfaring Wanderer?!?! I'll admit that I've been somewhat of a slacker lately when it comes to sharing my adventures, so I could use some direction!

What would you like to see first? Refer to the photo above!

A.) Brushy Farm Apple Festival

B.) Surprise Dinner at the Mast Farm Inn (UPDATE: This is now posted!)

 C.) Appalachian Roller Girls (Derby) (UPDATE: This is now posted!)

Let me know by casting your vote in the comment section here on the blog. 
Or you can share your choice on the WW Facebook page

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