Prologue: Other than being vacation busy, I have held off on this post of Day 4, simply because of the negative experiences we had in this particular town, and I didn't want to be too negative with these vacation postings - especially considering literally everywhere else we traveled in North Carolina was so friendly - Vilas, Boone, Sylva, Cherokee, Fontana Village - and every stop along the way.
Like I mentioned, I don't leave reviews much, and when I do, they're positive 99% of the time unless it's really bad - and though this was really bad, not going to leave a review, but I will give it a mention on my blog ;)
Also, despite having social anxiety, I tend to talk to everybody and smile and am very friendly - and in most cases, even standoffish people will often eventually warm up to you, when you do :)
Just not in Blowing Rock ;)
At first, I couldn't figure it out, and my social anxiety/phobia kicked in - "It was a short trail, but maybe we got too dusty/dirty at Blowing Rock? Did I say or do something socially awkward or wrong and offend someone? Do I have something on my face? Was it my clothes (I wore outdoorsy stuff, like most people did), my hair, what - what's wrong with me?!?"
And these were NOT rednecks and hillbillies - Blowing Rock is a wealthier community full of vacation homes!
So despite my hesitation of not wanting to be too negative, I'm going ahead with this post and story, because of the statistics I already had in this pending post of new COVID cases in Blowing Rock, and because of the New York Times' article today about the disparity between Red Rural/Southern America COVID cases VS. blue areas - and because the story I'm about to tell below about what happened when we wore a mask inside the stores of this town is 100% true.
(In fact, since we returned, it's the first thing Mark has mentioned to people - that we had a wonderful time, but to avoid Blowing Rock and why.)
I'm not going to spend too much time on this post and will post again quickly on the next area, because literally everywhere else in North Carolina, both before and after this town, were absolutely lovely, wonderful people, truly - I made friends with people all along the political spectrum along the way. I don't know what their politics are and didn't want to know - we just had love of nature in common :)
Because I'm on vacation - I don't CARE what your politics are, and everyone else we encountered in our grand tour of mountainous North Carolina didn't care what OUR politics were, as long as we're courteous, respectful, and nice to each other.
In fact, every other town we went, and we visited several, everyone was nice to us and each other, and the businesses were friendly and more than happy to take our tourist money, mask or no mask and whatever politics people were, especially after COVID lockdown, and were as kind and helpful as they could possibly be, often going way out of their way to help us :)
In fact, that's one of the positive memories of the pre-Trump South I'd like to take with me - that though there is a lot of mental unhealth, shall we say, ingrained in the Southern culture, and a lot of negatives - when you travel there, most people are (were) kind, friendly, and went out of their way to help you. If you got a flat tire, 5 people would stop and help you, white, black, Latino, Native American, whatever.
However, not so in this town - simply because we were wearing masks, we discovered - a town which we noticed, by the way, was almost completely devoid of any people of color, Asians, Indians, Persians, Latinos. I mean zero - and we quickly realized why - nobody but white Trump Republicans believing the virus was a hoax were welcome.
Regardless, on to the original post, which I'd parked in draft, and what happened in this town ...
Blowing Rock - such a beautiful name for the most beautiful spot - the most beautiful spot in this area.
In fact, it was one of two times, the beauty of nature brought tears to my eyes (the first being the Laurel Creek Waterfall - pictures and video below).
I don't know, I never used to - I guess I'm just so grateful after financially struggling for such a long time, then COVID, things have so much more meaning now, I'm just filled with gratitude :)
Well, make that three times that I almost cried - including after visiting the actual town of Blowing Rock, named for the rock (and also where the Smoky Mountains meet the Blue Ridge (and where the Blue Ridge Parkway begins), but that was not altogether for good reasons - story after the photos.
However, it suffices to say, after our experiences with the people there - and I do NOT not mean mean poor service, I'm not a Karen - were bad enough that we will not be returning to the actual town, except to the blowing rock itself.
Well, to be fair, I was warned - someone said, "It's a whole different vibe in Blowing Rock, you'll see. It's a prettier town and higher elevation, but ... well, you'll see."
I really didn't pay much attention to that because I was so excited about visiting here. It's a beautiful little town with Arts and Crafts bungalows, Swiss-style chalets, and shingled, Cape-Cod sea-type cottages, all built along the cliffs, with gardens everywhere :)
It was our number one destination to consider for retirement but now - erm - no, thank you (read below) :)
Now, before you view these pictures, do realize that somebody (who shall remain nameless) dropped our digital camera in the hot tub and it conked - oops! So most of these were taken with my iPhone or a cheap digital we picked up at Walmart lol!
Our first destination was the actual Blowing Rock, which includes a quaint little stone gift shop, a small garden, two observation decks, and an ice cream parlor :)
It was just a tad bit cloudy, but didn't rain, and cleared up later ...
Entrance to the Blowing Rock and Gift Shop ...
The gardens ...
So lastly, just a few photos of the quaint little town of Blowing Rock itself, because I don't want to advertise too much for them ...
Okay, so, I hesitate to tell this story because I'm not sure I'll be believed, but it's nevertheless true.
So both Boone and Blowing Rock are in Watauga County, literally 10 minutes from each other. Though we are vaccinated, we decided that with so many vacationing, to wear our masks around our necks when outside, put them on in the little tiny shops which were overcrowded - especially considering the COVID count in Watauga County
Keep in mind, that Weather Channel figure is just for the last week - and this county only normally has 56,000 full-time residents - so this increase is clearly from tourism.
Also, the NYT posted an article today, entitled "Red America's Covid Problem", which shows are the county averages nationwide, broken down by vaccinated and unvaccinated - and clearly, red states and counties who do not believe in vaccinations and that COVID is real have much higher counts of COVID, as one would suspect.
Right, so after visiting the actual Blowing Rock and the Green Park Hotel, we went to do some shopping - and as mentioned, wore masks around our necks until indoors, in the tiny little boutiques, packed with people, right?
Now, again, keep in mind, I have social anxiety so I notice stuff other people don't, nonverbal stuff, always "hyperalert" for possible judgment of me - HOWEVER - it got so bad that Mark said we should leave.
And if it was just one or two people being A-holes, that'd be fine - but it wasn't.
Now, I have nothing bad to say about the attraction site of Blowing Rock itself - wonderful staff AND people visiting the rock - happy to chat with you and pet your dog (and let you pet theirs) because dogs are allowed at the rock AND the town :)
The first rude couple wasn't too bad and I wasn't sure she meant it the way it came out, so I didn't think too much of it - until this rude behavior only increased - and yet it still wasn't the worst we encountered that day - in fact, it was the mildest and I'm still not sure if she was joking and it still came out wrong.
However, later, she seemed very irritated that dogs were allowed on the trails and in the gift shop, even though Brookie and all of the other dogs were very well behaved - just the look on her face when she saw them.
Also, she was taking a picture and I moved out of the way as much as I could on the narrow path and said:
Me: "I feel like I'm still in your way - am I enough out of your way or should I back up down the path a little bit?"
Lady: "Whatever photo YOU turn up in, I'll crop YOU right out."
I thought she was joking, had a dry sense of humor and it just came out wrong, because there was no smile, no laugh, no nothing - in fact, she still had a sort of a mean look on her face.
I would've continued to think she was joking - if not for her obvious disgust with seeing dogs were allowed anywhere (including inside the gift shop).
Never mind that she's the same lady in MY shot for the Blowing Rock above, who stood there for well over 10 minutes despite a line, and never even asked, as I did, if she was in MY shot lol.
But like I said, I thought it just came out wrong, so I just laughed - and backed up further - and even if she was being rude, despite my trying to be courteous and polite - it was just a couple of a-holes, oh well - right?
It got worse - and I kept giving benefit of the doubt, even when they became more specific as to why they were being rude, until we had no benefit of the doubt left to give, sorry.
We then visited the boutiques in town, and we immediately noticed people literally pointing, staring, and laughing at us - and we're not talking about rednecks - we're talking clearly people with money.
Because of my social anxiety, I often notice what other people don't, nonverbal, etc., so I asked Mark if I was being paranoid or had he noticed, and he said, "Yeah, it's starting to piss me off."
I just said we'd ignore them, not ruining our day :)
If they were in the medical field, they wouldn't, but it wasn't worth the argument and I wouldn't change their mind/they wouldn't believe me - and they're entitled to their belief system, same as me.
However, I was not going to be bullied into believing as they do or leaving :)
I also wasn't going to let them ruin my day, so I just kept on smiling, greeting, and being friendly :)
But then it got to the point where people - both male and female - literally started to shout things at us like:
"They bought the lie!"
"Communists!" ... then to her friend, "They teach them this stuff in college, you know. That's why I never went, I won't be indoctrinated."
Simply because we had masks around are necks and wore them in the smaller stores.
My thoughts, never said - "Seems to me YOU are the brainwashed, indoctrinated ones doing whatever your politicians tell you without question, idolizing them as if they're gods - and you'd think I was wearing a KGB uniform or something, instead of a mask! May I remind you this is America and I can wear a mask if I want to, with or without COVID - some people wore them way before COVID due to severe allergies anyway!"
I thought Watauga County was strongly blue, they voted for Biden - but I was told later, that's Boone, where the college is - not Blowing Rock.
And again - these were NOT rednecks or hillbillies - this is a wealthier town than Boone (which is also a college town) and draws wealthier vacation-homers tourists - well-dressed white people, typically ages 40 to 70 - the people over 70 and under 30 were a bit nicer.
In fact, I saw on black person the entire day in Blowing Rock - he was one of the nice older men I talk about below :)
However, I just kept smiling and being kind - figuring I'd kill 'em with kindness sort of thing, refusing to let them damper my mood :)
However, the store clerks were almost as rude.
In fact, a salon skincare worker standing outside asked me if I wanted a sample and I said sure.
Apparently, he heard one of the jeers and said, "Yeah, you might want stay in Boone. Blowing Rock is Trump territory. I work here but I try not to hang out here much lol."
So I thought, "Finally, a nice normal person," right?
Apparently the few liberals there are A-holes, too.
He proceeded to put a sample under my eyes to "get rid of all those bags and wrinkles."
Okay, so - I'm very aware of every wrinkle on my face - but I don't have many around my eyes. My wrinkles are around my mouth. As far as my eyes, my problem is the area under my eyes actually gets sunken, instead of baggy/wrinkly - but okay, he's a salesman, whatever.
Salon Guy: "See? You use this cream and you won't have to get lid surgery for those drooping lids."
Okay - my lids have always been droopy, I have tear-shaped eyes, and I wasn't going to get surgery for them, but thanks?
Salon Guy (to my husband): "You guys have been together 10 years? See, this eye cream will make her look like she did when you first met her, 10 years ago."
Mark: "Erm - she doesn't look much different than she did 10 years ago, and she definitely doesn't look her age, and I think you know she looks better than most women her age. I think she's beautiful."
That was tear-up number 3 - my husband defending me from the overzealous skincare salesman :)
Salon Guy: "Well, she does have mostly nice skin."
Gee, thanks, buddy.
The only compliment that guy gave me, and it's actually not true - I ruined my skin a long time ago lol.
And I worked for Clinique in college - we were trained you never point out what you think is wrong with their skin, you ask them where they feel their problem areas are first?!?
And yet STILL I refused to let this deter me and ruin my mood - oh, but wait - it gets worse.
Then while walking to the next shop, some well-dressed man who also had a ponytail - like he was stuck in Miami Vice mode - was talking on his cell phone about:
"Yeah, she got busted with 2 kilos last night, I'm afraid she'll rate me out and I'm next. But then remember, we've got eyes on the inside. Fucking government, you've got to have an inside man, these days."
What ... the ...?
Okay, so yes, Boone has about 6 hemp/CBD stores - but they definitely do NOT have white wealthy people walking around, openly talking about their employee cocaine dealers getting busted for cocaine and having to be more careful!!!
So then we leave there and I went into a little Christmas boutique, because I've started a new tradition of buying a Christmas ornament where I travel, so as to have the memory of that place at Christmas. However, I'm going to tell myself I bought them in Boone lol.
The lady running the store was super smiley and nice to the people in front of me (without masks) but when it came to me, went sour in the face.
I asked her if the ornaments were made locally.
"Ha - NO? They're made by some ladies in Indonesia, from the leaf of a tree. Well, here, I don't know, here's a paper on it." - and slams it down on the counter.
By the way, there was no one in line behind me.
I paid her and she shoved the bag at me without thanking me or anything.
So I thanked her and just left quickly.
The only time she was semi-nice was because I left in such a hurry, I left my card and she brought it to me, which she also shoved in my hand saying, "I was looking for you. You left this" and then took off.
Regardless, here are the ornaments :)
Aren't they cute?
I think I'm going to pretend they were from Boone and tell people that lol ;)
Then lastly, what happened to Mark, just as I came out of the store - the very worst experience.
He was literally shouting at a woman.
Mark: "My God, RUDE! What the hell is WRONG with you? Don't kick my dog, you rude fucking Trumper bitch."
Me: "Mark! My God, shhhh, calm down, what happened?"
Mark: "That lady said, 'I can't believe the City of Blowing Rock allows people to bring their dogs here, getting in our way. Low-class liberals!" - and then kicked our dog! Fucking bitch!"
Me: "Mark, shhhh, keep your voice down - we're not from here, we'll lose. Did she really kick Brookie?"
I turned to the guy with the veteran's hat on with a Trump badge on it as I asked, half-asking him, who at first appeared to be getting up to intervene, which is one of the reasons I shushed Mark - he looked like he was probably packing in an open-carry state lol.
However, interestingly enough, when I asked that question and looked up at that guy, he raised his eyebrows and did a hand waiver, like, "Yeah, she kinda did."
And the thing is, Mark was sitting on the park bench, with Brookie to the side, and she was sitting quietly, when the two women were on the corner, crossing the street - they weren't in anyone's way!
Mark: "It wasn't an actual kick, but she shoved her face with her foot, when Brookie wasn't even in her way. Let's get out of here, let these half-wealth wannabes have the place, I'm done. Nope, no more, they can have this place, definitely crossing this off the list. Let's go back to Boone."
By that time, the lady and her friend were gone.
Now, I'm ashamed to say I shushed my husband and told him to settle down, but at the same time, I didn't know if the veteran starting to stand up/intervene was packing - AND - for just a few moments, I went back to my old suburban Cincy days of growing up.
Old reaction from my childhood in Cincy, remembering that it doesn't matter if you're defending yourself, your dog, or even your child from even a physical attack, it doesn't matter who the real victim is - wealthy, powerful property-tax payers, and/or evangelical religious people VS. outsiders will win every time - and you better pray they don't call the cops on you, just for saying something back - because they'll make up a story and play the victim - and whose story do you think they'll believe? ;)
After that initial reaction of letting her get to me, that I was low class and beneath them - I later got mad. SUPER mad.
And poor Brookie, she was so good, she never once barked at anyone, as she often does at home, and here I am trying to coax her, as she is shy, into people pet her, which was working, until this bitch ruined it :/
Thus, after all is said and done, I now have this to say to the people of Blowing Rock:
Dear New-Money Trump People of Blowing Rock/Vacation-Home Owners/Vacationers,
Now, I know that you feel justified in bullying people with masks/Democrats/Liberals who have been nothing but kind to you and were patrons of your business, because you've been told by your politicians (whom you trust without question like Gods) that you can't trust us, we're out to harm you, and "take over" - but in doing so, don't you realize that YOU are the ones being aggressive bullies and rude?
We're vaccinated, and although we can still get mild symptoms, the biggest danger is that is suspected that we can still carry/transmit.
In other words, we're wearing a mask mostly to protect YOU, the people who refused to get vaccinated!
And we're not invading you, I promise - we're just tourists - guests in your lovely town, happy to spend our money in your town, regardless of your politics - but you don't want our money? Fine, plenty of other places in NC that do.
And sure, you have a little money - but you're nothing compared to the old money in the Northeast and New York, Chicago, or even LA or Vail or Aspen, Colorado!
Though maybe not the kindest people in the world either, they at least still have much better manners!
And may I remind you that you are in the Appalachian Mountains, for God's sake? You couldn't even afford a vacation cabin in Vail or Aspen, you settled for Appalachia! LOL.
And may I also remind you that if it weren't for MY Appalachian relatives and ancestors, forging the pioneer frontier in the mid-to-late 1700s, you wouldn't even have this spot for your beautiful vacation home!
(And you can tell the homesteading locals in the Appalachians are my kin, because as my husband said, all the locals all look like me, it's like Salt Lake City, where everyone looks like the Osmonds! LOL. It's true - the locals here all have near-black or black hair, blue-green eyes, and very pale skin that eventually tans very dark lol.)
But dohkay, we're "low-class liberals," because we brought our shy and well-behaved dog, when the City of Blowing Rock clearly says it welcomes dogs and we weren't the only ones (just the only ones with masks ;)
I'm just sorry our masks don't protect us from ALL of YOUR diseases - including your hatred hurled our way, simply because we had masks.
However, I'm STILL going to keep on being kind despite you - UNLESS, of course, you push my dog again.
Because speaking of "low-class liberal," you should also know that I'm also half-Appalachian hillbilly - and I was taught the bible verse "Pride cometh before a fall" ...
... and if any of you Trumpers ever kick/push my dog again, you're going to experience that fall a lot sooner than you think, because you're going down with gloves off! LOL.
~ Love and Kisses,
(I would be willing to go to jail if someone hurts my dog, you see ;)
I thought Trumpers liked dogs, too, I thought we agreed on that at least - but apparently, not in this town - I counted two Trump women that didn't, acted like they were disgusting, liberals are disgusting - everyone not just like them is disgusting.
But, I digress - like I said, the over 70 set and the under 30 set were very nice.
Particularly a group of older men sitting outside.
I love to cut up with old men, I guess I miss my grandfathers.
Me: "Let me guess, your women ran off and left you for shopping, and you didn't feel like being purse-holders today? lol"
Men: "We lost them somewhere along the way. If you see them, tell them where we are lol. Look here, now, at this pretty Sheltie, she's beautiful! Hello, girl, you're so pretty! I used to have a Sheltie, years ago, smart dogs"
I then passed them on the way back about an hour later, still sitting there.
Me: "Well, here you are still - they still haven't shown up?"
Men: "Nah, we have no idea where they are, but we're not worried, this is nothing. They'll probably be another good hour or two."
Me: "They're probably down there getting a drink, having a girls' happy hour, by now."
Men: "Right? You know that's exactly right, probably where they are by now. What chumps we are, we should've sat down there all day instead and waited on them."
Me: "Well, have a good rest of your day, gentlemen, hope your women finally turn up."
Men: "You as well, have a good one! Bye Brookie!"
I'm told the ski resort town which we didn't have time to visit, Banner Elk, can be similarly snobby, but a bit more diverse at least.
However, we will be visiting other spots along the Blue-Ridge Parkway today to our next destinations, ready or not, Trumpers ...