People tend to walk slowly across the Mile High Swinging Bridge, though not out of fear. The view is enough to slow anyone's steps. Spanning an 80-foot chasm one mile above sea level, the bridge grants 360-degree views of the mountains, specifically a rugged peak that rises to 5,946 feet: Grandfather Mountain. Recognized by the United Nations as one of the world's most diverse nature preserves, Grandfather Mountain bristles with verdant pines and wild flowers in full bloom, including the pinkshell azalea. The flower only grows in northwest North Carolina, and Grandfather Mountain claims the largest population.
Even on the seven backcountry trails, hikers aren't inclined to move very fast. Up-close views of the area's wild flora and fauna are enough to inspire quiet, peaceful strolls. And on one trail—Grandfather Trail—cables and ladders physically slow hikers as they climb to the mountain's peak. Other trails, meanwhile, wind past the park's seven animal habitats, where the likes of bears, cougars, and bald eagles live in their natural environments with their expert Feng Shui.
Although primarily an outdoor attraction, Grandfather Mountain does encompass a few indoor destinations. The Nature Museum chronicles the mountain's history—which stretches back billions of years to a time when the Earth still wore diapers—with two-dozen exhibits, including Indigenous American artifacts and mineral displays. Luckily, the park's onsite naturalists can help make sense of it all. Before or after exploring the mountain and its past, visitors can fuel up at the onsite restaurant or, if they can't bear to spend time indoors, picnic outside.
Dianna Goodman’s daughter developed an eating disorder in the ninth grade, according to a 2011 article in VERVE magazine. Unfortunately, this occurred in the mid-1990s, when eating disorders were not well understood and help was hard to find. Through her struggles to find health providers or books to help treat her daughter, Goodman found a new passion: preventing other families from facing a similar struggle.
In 2004, Goodman founded T.H.E. (Treatment, Healing, and Education) Center for Disordered Eating, which organizes prevention efforts and gathers support and resources for people with eating disorders. Today, support groups make up the cornerstone of the center. Every week, a group gathers to discuss their steps in recovering from an eating disorder, forming a presence in the community where healing can occur and people can share tips. The center also maintains a local treatment directory for individuals and families affected by eating disorders and sponsors middle-school prevention programs in schools across the region. A free lending library provides information on disordered eating, nutrition, and body image with more than 90 books targeting people of all ages.
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One of the first in the business of self-development, the origins of Nightingale Conant stretch back to World War II. Earl Nightingale was a serviceman assigned to the USS Arizona—and was one of only 100 to survive the attack on Pearl Harbor. Convinced he had been spared for a reason, Earl became obsessed with the secret of success. Why would one person find wealth and prosperity, another remain uneducated and penniless, and still another pay for everything in nickels? Late one night in 1956, Earl was struck with an idea, and woke up to write down what would become his biggest success: The Strangest Secret. In 1960, fellow WWII veteran Lloyd Conant joined forces with Nightingale, and the two formed Nightingale Conant, a global enterprise dedicated to disseminating positive psychology through radio, books, and now, the internet.
Crave treats diners to the fine art of food shrinkage with their internationally influenced menu of tapas. Tapas are smaller plates intended for snacking, sharing, combining, and carting home in microscopic doggy bags to create unique full-course meals. Crab-cake sliders layered with roma tomato and remoulade ($4.15) slip past dental defenses to tickle exposed taste buds, and fried goat cheese ($3.95) fills tonsil caverns with the echoing flavors of its pecan crust and granny-smith apple garnish. Chefs reflect their global modus operandi with battered plates of vegetable tempura ($5.95), bowls of spicy tomato-tortilla soup ($3.95), and miniature cowboy hats filled with 4-ounce portions of filet mignon ($9.95). Those saddled with heftier hunger pangs can satiate themselves with a large plate, such as duck confit with mushroom risotto, french beans, and mushrooms ($16), before stifling cacophonous sweet chompers with a delectable dessert of poached anjou pear with Grand Marnier sauce ($4.55).
Since 2001, Extreme Snowboard and Ski has populated the slopes of Sugar Mountain Resort with snow sportsters outfitted with rental and retail equipment, as well as apparel from brands such as Neff, Loki, and Grenade. The ski shop’s prime location at the entrance to mountain makes it a convenient stop for downhillers in need of rental skis or snowboards, a new pair of Spy or Smith goggles, or equipment tuning performed by the onsite repair technicians. The tech team treats skis and boards with the help of a Wintersteiger Micro 91, restoring their functionality and refining their bottoms until they can slide over snow with powder-cutting grace.