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On our recent trip to North Carolina, we found ourselves staying in Black Mountain, NC. While Orbitz said it was 20 miles away from our primary destination, it was actually a 55 mile drive. Anyway, we stayed in Black Mountain. We were looking for some place to eat. I read good reviews of a Mexican place, but being in North Carolina, I wasn’t in the mood for Mexican food. Maybe if I were in California or Arizona or some place like that. But being in North Carolina, we wanted to try the local food. We thought BBQ would be good. We both love good BBQ and enjoy trying different places around the country. I found several BBQ places in Black Mountain listed on the internet. The larger place was called Phil’s Bar-B-Que Pit. I read online reviews for Phil’s and they were mixed. From some of the descriptions, it reminded me of a place in the Adirondacks called Tail O’ the Pup, which wasn’t that good.
There was another place close to our motel called State Street BBQ that had almost no online reviews. We decided to try it. We walked over from our motel. It was 7pm on a Friday night, and they closed at 7:30pm which I thought was kind of early. But most of the stores in Black Mountain were already closed. I only saw one person working there, but there might have been more in the back. She was very nice. I asked what she recommended and she said the beef brisket. So I got the beef brisket. My wife got the chicken. Plus we also got two sides. I got the potato salad and the baked beans. My wife got the greens. The food came quickly. They also included hushpuppies. The meat was not already covered in BBQ sauce, but there were several different types of BBQ sauce in squeeze bottles on the table. We tried them all and they were all delicious. The potato salad was great, and the baked beans were good. The meat was excellent with the different BBQ sauces. I wasn’t brave enough to try the greens as I don’t like most dark green type vegetables. The hushpuppies were good. I even ate my wife’s as she is not a fan of hushpuppies. The prices were reasonable. And they offer both Coke and Pepsi products which was nice. I would definitely eat here again if we ever get back to this area.
State Street BBQ is located at 400 E State St # C, Black Mountain, NC 28711. Their phone number is 828-664-1446.

I booked a white water rafting trip, and wanted to take pictures and possibly video. On previous raft trips, I bought those plastic encased disposable film cameras. They worked, but tended to take crappy pictures. And with the cost of the camera and developing, they really aren’t that cheap. And then if I wanted to post the pictures on Facebook or something, I would have to scan the prints. Digital is much better!
I actually have an underwater case for my older Nikon Coolpix camera, but it is kind of bulky, and maybe overkill for a raft trip. I started researching, and found Dicapac underwater camera cases. They are soft plastic cases that you slide to camera into. I had a case like this years ago, and it wasn’t designed very well. I used it on a river tubing trip in Belize. The lens had to push the plastic out, and it caused the lens on my camera to get jammed. But the Dicapac was designed much better. It has a rigid part for the lens to expand into, so the lens won’t get jammed. There are different models of the Dicapac bags and I did some googling to figure out which model I needed. I planned to use my Samsung camera as it was older and if it got damaged, I wouldn’t be heart broken. I found that the model I needed was the Dicapac WP-410. I went ahead and ordered one. It came quickly. The concept is simple. It’s like a thick vinyl zip-lock bag with a thing for the lens to extend in. I unscrewed the lens cover, and opened the zip-lock part of the bag. I slid the camera inside, and lined the lens up with the lens opening. I turned the camera on, and it extended the lens. I saw it was going to be a bit long for the bag’s lens appendage. But it came with a little spacer ring. I removed the camera from the bag, inserted and positioned the spacer ring, and reinserted the camera. Perfect! I reinstalled the lens cover. The camera was a little difficult to operate through the bag, but was mostly doable. The knob on the top of the Samsung to change modes was nearly impossible to turn though. It would be fine if I only wanted to take pictures, or only wanted to take video. I decided to try my Casio Exilim camera in the bag. I found this bag was also to recommended bag for that camera as well. It slid in much easier than the Samsung as it is a smaller camera. But the buttons on the Exilim would be mush easier to use. I sealed the ziplock part of the bag, rolled it up, and fastened the Velcro. I snapped some test shots. They turned out pretty good. There as a little bit of lens cover part of the bag visible in some of the test shots. I didn’t do a full blown water proof test as I wasn’t going to be using it under water this trip. Or at least I didn’t plan to.
I took my Exilim in the bag on the raft trip. One problem I had was the camera sliding around inside the bag. So each time I wanted to take a shot, I had to slide it into position to line of the lens with the bag’s lens appendage. If I didn’t get it quite lined up, and the lens was obstructed from coming out, I would get an error. I just needed to turn the camera off, and try again. I think if I have used the big Samsung camera, it wouldn’t have slid around so much inside the bag. Other than that, camera was easy to use. The shots mostly came out great. There were some water drops visible in some of the pictures where they had splashed onto the lens cover. This wouldn’t have been an issue if I was filming under water. The corners of some of the pictures show the edges of the lens cover. But overall I am very happy with the Dicapac bag! It is way nicer than the cheap disposable underwater cameras. And I can reuse it in the future. The more I use it, the more economical it will be over the disposable cameras. And the quality is was better!

Click here to see it at Amazon.com!!!

I got an email from Living Social about a couple heavily discounted raft trips here in New York from an outfit called Adventure Calls. The first trip was in Letchworth State Park and was $45 for two people and was about 2 1/2 hours on the water. It was only a class I/II. But there was another raft trip that was 3 hours on the water and was class II/III+. That was on Cattaraugus Creek and cost $60 for two people and that included wetsuit, wet top, and wet booties rental. Also included was hot soup on the river, and pizza afterwards. My wife and I had already done white water rafting back in Washington State. I had done rafting on the Wenatchee River (class III/III+) and we had both done a trip together on the Methow River (class II-IV).
We were told the arrive at the rafting office at 10:30 for a 11am start. We arrived shortly before 10:30 and there were people already there getting signed in and getting their wetsuits. We filled out the waivers, but were asked to wait to get our wetsuits. Apparently there was another group going out before us. After a bit, we got inside and got our gear and got suited up. Under my wetsuit I wore a long sleeve Under Armour Cold Gear shirt, swim shorts, and thermal socks. I wore Under Armour Extreme Cold Gear gloves. I locked our clothes and stuff in the trunk of my car. I had removed the key from my key chain and tied it to the draw string on my swim trunks. I wished I had brought a lanyard as it would have made it easier to access the key. After a while I started worrying that I had removed the wrong key from my key chain as I have two Honda keys on there. Oh well, nothing I could do about it now.
We boarded the blue bus, and rode to the starting spot on the river. They were working on inflating the rafts. One of the guides gave us a short instructional speech. Then we helped carry the rafts to the water. We actually got onto the river about noon. It was cold, though fortunately not as cold as was predicted.
The rafts are smaller than the ones we rode in back in Washington. We were told they used smaller rafts because they were more maneuverable. There were only four of us in our raft, me, my wife, Our guide Don, and a guide in training named Brian. It was interesting listening to Don teach Brian about what to look for on the water. The first half the trip was relatively mellow. Lots of nice scenery.
About halfway, we stopped along the rivers edge and they fed us cups of hot tomato soup. That hit the spot. Then we were back on the river. The cold gear gloves didn’t help a lot to keep my hands warm. I wished I have gotten some of the neoprene mittens that other people had. I guess they got them at the rafting office. I didn’t remember seeing them though. My hands were freezing, and my feet were starting to get cold too.
The first real rapids were named Pinball. Then there were rapids sporadically spaced after that. There were also pretty waterfalls along the way. I brought a camera in a waterproof case, and took pictures along the way. I wasn’t able to get pictures of the rougher rapids though as I was always busy paddling during those.
Various people got tossed out of the rafts, and one raft dump trucked and dumped everyone out, including the guide. Neither I, nor my wife got dumped out. Maybe because our guide who knew how to hit the rapids, or because my wife and I knew how to wedge our feet in to help keep us in the boat, or a combination of the two. I didn’t mind going into the water on the trips back in Washington when they were in the middle of summer. But I am glad not to have gotten dumped into the freezing Cattaraugus Creek when the temps were in the low to mid 40s. That would not have been fun! We did get wet anyway. We ended up spending closer to four hours on the water. By the end I was shivering and was looking forward to being done. One of the drawbacks of having 5% body fat is I don’t have that natural insulation.
Soon were at the finish, and we went and climbed onto the bus. I start shivering heavily as my body tried to warm itself. After a while it started to subside. We got back to the rafting office which was just a shirt ride away. I grabbed our clothes out of the trunk of the car (thankfully, I had the right key). It was really nice to towel off, and change into dry clothes. I took our stuff and put it back into the trunk of the car and headed in for pizza. There were two big sheet pizza boxes, but no pizza. We were told they ordered some more. A smaller pepperoni pizza arrived. My wife got one small slice and I got two small slices. We also got some hot chocolate. I guess that was all the pizza. We were still starving. We headed to the nearby McDonalds and got some more food while we both warmed up.
Overall, it was a great deal. The checkin process could have been a little more organized. The raft trip itself was great. The guide we had was excellent. My one complaint was the lack of pizza at the end.




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