As I mentioned, last post, we're going to the mountains this summer :)
So ... we booked our trip weeks ago (though it was already difficult to find a cabin), and we will continue - despite one of our stays being near Blowing Rock/Boone, North Carolina, which made the national news, this morning, after a 13-hour-long standoff with the Watauga County Sheriff's Department and shooting, leaving 5 dead!?!
We will continue, because this event is actually an anomaly, for this normally very peaceful area (thus why it was national newsworthy).
This situation was apparently a domestic disturbance gone awry, which can happen anywhere in America, as can mass shootings and/or the growing number of paranoid, right-wing-conspiracy, white-redneck nuts with guns and bombs, who have always been around - especially in the South, especially in rural areas.
Plus, we plan on being mostly outdoors in nature near our cabins anyway, and we don't plan on going into town or popular spots much, during COVID, despite being vaccinated ;)
We booked our vacation stays in several spots in the greater Asheville area, from Blowing Rock/Boone down to Bryson City and a couple of stops in between along the Blue Ridge Parkway, but Blowing Rock is our top destination for retirement, as both Asheville and Boone are virtually the only two bright blue dots in the otherwise red sea that is Western North Carolina ;)
My husband and I are drawn more to mountains than beaches - we both just feel most relaxed in a mountain setting, for some reason.
(Though I'd take either, if offered. In fact, I'd take any free travel vacation offered, with the exception of Las Vegas or the oceanic equivalent of Las Vegas, which is an ocean cruise liner - never been drawn to either, for a multitude of flashy, glittery, over-populated reasons. Smaller river cruises are okay with us, though, so figure that one out. Just another one of my "delightful quirks" regarding travel, which lucky for me, are quirks I have in common with my husband lol).
As a quick aside, though my husband and I have enough differences in interests to keep things interesting, we both enjoy nature and history, and most importantly, we have similar values and similar goals and dreams.
In fact, just today, at lunch, Mark said to me: (paraphrasing a full conversation, which including later calling me on the way back to work):
Mark: "I'm glad you agree about still going and that we agree on what type of places to stay and things to do, and that for the most part, we'll be staying around the cabin and hiking anyway, good plan."
Me: "Yep, enough differences to keep it interesting, but we're still cut from the same cloth, baby! :)"
Mark: "True. Except the reason I called you on the way back to work, just now, is because there's some guy in the truck in front of me that has a "Kentucky Bigfoot Hunter" sticker on the back of his truck lol. Maybe we can go Bigfoot hunting while there?!? ;) hehehe
So ... this needs some explanation lol. My husband does NOT believe in Bigfoot, but he's fascinated with the type of people who do believe this, and their ridiculous accompanying videos lol.
At most, he likes the idea of happening upon some cryptid that hasn't been discovered yet, or is thought to have become extinct, but actually isn't - like ghost sharks or mountain pygmy possums - or black panthers which some people say are still in North Carolina lol.
Me: "LOL - hilarious! Wow, you should catch up with him, because it sounds like you just found your new best friend - because there's no way in hell I'm spending our vacay camping with a bunch of whackadoodles in the woods, hunting for Bigfoot lol. Camping is fine, but not with THAT kinda crew - humans scare me more than any bigfoot, especially those types, with guns! lol."
"Ghostie stuff is as far as I go with 'paranormal,' simply because energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transferred; it has to go somewhere, and I want to know where it goes lol. Guess that's the day I'll visit the Biltmore Estate and gardens, since it's at the bottom of your list? lol"
Mark: "Suit yourself, but you do know the Native Americans think he's a spiritual being, so that's a type of paranormal, right? ;) lol. JOKING ... and I actually DO want to go to Biltmore, it's just not as near the top of my list as yours; only because of the indoor tours possibly alongside non-vaccinated idiots without masks, in my face ... and I don't need a new best friend, I already have one - *smooch*."
Aw, sweet much?
Right back at ya, Boo, you're my BFF, too - maybe we can just wander outside, only in the Biltmore gardens rather than an inside tour, for this trip? xo :)
Back to our mountain vacay, though Gatlinburg (where we were married) is closer, and fun for young kids and families, it has become so crowded that it's difficult for two grown adults to have any privacy, or even find a cabin that isn't looking directly into your neighbors' cabin anymore, plus it's become so touristy and almost Las-Vegas cheesy that we can't deal lol.
Thus, we've decided to look to the other side of the Smoky Mountains, where it's less crowded and touristy, there's better hiking trails and there's more water - meaning unlike the Tennessee side of the Smokys - yes, it is officially plural with a "y" instead of an "ies" when you say it without the "mountains" part, for some reason - there is a plethora of mountain creeks, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, and natural "swimming holes."
The French Broad River courses the entire area, to include coursing through the west side of Asheville itself. As the name implies, it's fairly shallow, but broad, making kayaking, paddle-boarding, tubing, and even whitewater rafting a popular activity ...
... even through the downtown Asheville area.
However, I wouldn't recommend these activities actually downtown, on the river, though people do - because I've heard it's more polluted with both trash and people, in this area, so you may find yourself in this situation ...
Yeah, erm - hat may be fine for party people who care nothing about COVID, but for us - no thanks :)
Thus, we'll go either up river a bit ...
Or you can go down river, by the Biltmore Estate (discussed more later).
As for Asheville itself, it's a bit different for a Southern city - not only because of its location, nestled in a valley on the east side of the Smokys, but because Asheville is a very diverse, artisan community - arguably the most liberal city in the South (often compared to Portland, Oregon, only less ... militantly liberal? lol)
Though artisans are sprinkled all throughout Asheville and the greater Asheville area, of particular interest is the River Arts District, which was formerly a grouping of old, abandoned, run-down industrial buildings down by the river, now spruced up to display artisan goods ...
Asheville also known as "Craft Beer City," because it has 26 craft breweries, but that's not such a draw for us lol.
(Not sure why Tom Selleck and that guy from the Goonies is on the street art at this brewery/bar, other than 80s love, but okay :)
Just south of Asheville is the largest privately owned estate in America - likely the closest thing we Americans have to a European chateau-style estate - the Biltmore Estate, built in 1889 by George Washington Vanderbilt :)