Sunday, October 27, 2013

Mountain Getaway

Three years ago, Miss Chef and I celebrated our 10th anniversary by renting a cabin in the woods in the mountains of western North Carolina.  We enjoyed the entire weekend so much that it’s become our annual tradition.  Just as the long nights close in and winter signals its intent to return, we enjoy a last hurrah of sunshine (usually), beautiful color, and apples.

We have never stayed in the same place twice, and this year found us heading to Lake Lure, just down the road from Chimney Rock, which we visited a couple of years ago.  It seemed more difficult to us to find the kind of place we wanted this year within our price range.  Miss Chef found one in a gated community, which I assumed meant more of a townhome kind of arrangement, or at least not quite the isolated cabin experience we’ve had in the past.

Regardless, I was excited to get away for a long weekend.  It’s only about 2 1/2 hours to drive to the Asheville area, and it seems only an hour or so before we are already enjoying our first mountain views.



Although Lake Lure is on the near side of Asheville, we couldn’t check in to the cabin until 3:00.  So Miss Chef assumed that we would naturally head on into Asheville for lunch at her favorite area restaurant…


…again.  We haven’t been to Asheville without eating here, since we first discovered it.  So I didn’t bother to suggest we try something different.  Besides, there are always a few more items left to explore on this menu.

Miss Chef leapt at the chance to sit at the bar, which is prime seating for the open kitchen.  We both enjoyed watching the many cooks at work, serving up our lunches while also prepping for dinner.  I swear one cook stood in front of me separating cloves from heads of garlic for half an hour.


With all the movement going on, it was impossible to get a good, clean panorama shot, but I like the sense of energy.  I was impressed at how quietly the cooks worked, and how they seemed more or less oblivious of their audience.  Even the sauté pans were shiny and clean.  No cursing or sex jokes out here!

After lunch, we wandered Asheville for a bit, visiting Mast General Store and French Broad Chocolate Lounge…yum!



Then we headed on a rather lengthy drive down (and up, and down…) a lovely, winding mountain road toward Lake Lure to get the key to the cabin.  Though we had been getting hints of early fall color for the past week or so in  Charlotte, everything was still mostly green.



Once we had keys and directions in hand, we found our way to the “gated community” and quickly realized this wasn’t your average neighborhood.  Almost immediately we were driving up a narrow, twisty gravel road with cabins strewn here and there on the wooded slope.  And when we finally reached our cabin, I had to give Miss Chef her due…she had found us a perfect mountain getaway.



It was small and warm, with a second-story loft area serving as master bedroom.   The opposite wall of the cabin promised a lovely first view in the morning.



It wasn’t until I looked out the back window, and stepped onto the balcony that I fully appreciated where we had landed.


The name of the property is “Me, You and the View,” which had stuck me as just too cutesy, but I have to hand it to them…it’s a perfect name.

After settling in, we drove back out to get a few essentials—coffee for the morning, deli sandwiches for dinner, and our first gallon of apple cider.  Then we retired to our cozy getaway and enjoyed a few hours snuggled in front of the tv with hot mulled cider.

The next morning, I arose just before dawn and discovered the view had many faces…


…and that it changed quickly and frequently.  The fog rising off Lake Lure became rosy in the morning sun before slowly dissipating.







The temperature had dropped well below freezing the previous night, and neither of us was eager to head out on a tromp through the woods on this chilly morning.  So we opted to drive back to Hickory Nut Gap Farm, which we had passed the day before.  Miss Chef has been here before to pick up pork and beef for the school, and for one of the restaurants she’s worked at.  Today it was time to pick up some supplies for ourselves.

Which included apples.



Once we’d cleared out a good portion of their inventory, we decided to head on back to Asheville, since the farm was about halfway there anyway.  The day was still chilly, so we stopped to eat at a noodle shop right on Pack Square.  The place was teeny-tiny, reminding me of some of the no-frills restaurants I’d enjoyed as a student in Paris, many years ago.  The food was warm, delicious and filling, and we were soon back on the sidewalks, exploring the storefronts of this funky, creative city.

We stopped at the renowned Malaprops independent bookstore.



We tried out a new business, the Gourmet Chip Company.


I got the plain-Jane salt and pepper chips, Miss Chef tried “the Parisian:” white truffle spritz, herb crusted goat cheese, rosemary and thyme.

We checked out any number of gift shops, food stores and art galleries as the day warmed a bit.  We eventually found ourselves in the general area of the parking garage where we had left the car, and decided to head out of the city.  My vote was to enjoy a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, this is a beautiful two-way roadway constructed in the 1930s.  Today it is, in a sense, the longest National Park in the country.  According to Wikipedia,

“[i]t runs for 469 miles (755 km) through twenty-nine Virginia and North Carolina counties, mostly along the Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains. Its southern terminus is on the boundary between Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina, from which it travels north to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and offers access to the Skyline Drive.”

And according to the official National Park website, construction began in 1935 as part of the New Deal, offering jobs for the unemployed.  Today it is a lovely tourist attraction, but considering the state of technology nearly 80 years ago, it’s also a monument to human determination and ingenuity.

Ride along with us for a minute or so (please ignore the windshield specks).


The construction of the parkway tunnels gives testimony to the careful craftmanship of a bygone era.



The parkway also features many, many pullouts to stop and enjoy scenic overlooks.  We took advantage of several.






It seemed that the overnight cold snap had finally started some of the trees into their first bright show of color.




However, as you can tell, the sun was promising to soon drop behind the distant ridge, so we headed back to the the nearby town of Hendersonville for a warm, tasty dinner.  It was close to bedtime when we drove our way back up the gravel road to our home away from home, and we didn’t waste any time snuggling in for another cozy night.

Sunday morning I slept a bit later than the day before, and was eager to see what the view offered this day.



After snapping this shot, I settled into breakfast, only to look up no more than five minutes later and discover the scene had changed remarkably!


And ten minutes after that…



Did you notice the fake owl sitting on the balcony railing in a couple of those shots?  Miss Chef found it a bit unsettling…I can’t imagine why…



This was checkout day, so Miss Chef was busy cleaning up while I finished breakfast and stripped the bed.  I decided that, although we’d missed our chance for stargazing with the telescope near the back window, it might be interesting to see what it could do in gazing across the valley.  I’d never used a telescope before, and it took me forever to see anything besides white haze.  But in a one-in-a-million stroke of luck, I happened to zero in on the top of Chimney Rock!  I had Miss Chef come out to see, and we were both surprised to realize our cabin was sitting at least as high as that formation. 

Before driving back to the office of the rental agency, we went a little out of our way to visit the small lake where a kayak belonging to the property had been available for our use.  It had been too cold the previous day, but we were interested to see what the lakeside looked like.  And we were quite glad we took the time!



We also discovered a short nature trail across the road, and were happy to get in at least a short hike in the woods.  There was a picturesque waterfall…


…and a gorgeous wide, rocky river alive with swirling eddies.





We spent quite a while here, seated on a huge boulder, just watching the water flow by.  Isn’t that what vacation is all about.



Soon enough though, we were headed back to the highway—a couple of stops for more cider and other regional treats, as well as lunch in Hendersonville, and then back down to the flatlands.  We collected Rosie from “camp,” where she stays with a friend in the country, and then finally home.

Only to realize, fall had followed us into our own front yard.

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  1. Magnificent views everywhere - beautiful!

    1. I'm so very glad we have so many opportunities to enjoy them.

  2. Awesome photos (as always). The waterfall was stunning. We looked into doing a cabin in Little Switzerland but during the fall months, the price is pretty high.

    We haven't been to Asheville in... too long.

    1. Thanks for the compliment. I love digital photography, I can shoot as many pictures as I want until I get a good one. :) This was the first time that we really enjoyed Asheville; wandering the sidewalks with no real goal in mind seems to be the key.

  3. What a beautiful place to celebrate an anniversary and a place "qui fait du bien à l'âme"...

    1. Yes, absolutely! We are very lucky to be able to do this every year.

  4. I love your trips. I wanna go with you. (When we moved to CA, I saw my first plastic owl on top of a building and I threw dimes at it to move so I could see it fly. It didn't work. Next time I'll try quarters.)

    1. Oh, you have wonderful trips, too! But...dimes?? I can't think of a less aerodynamic coin. I'm glad you have gained wisdom over the years in regards to owl wrangling, though.


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