It’s been about two weeks since we’ve left our mini vacation to go back to reality and I can’t seem to stop thinking about planning our next trip back. As some have heard of the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains in western NC, there really are not any words to describe the mystical beauty to give that place any justice. We’ve lived in NC for almost seven years now and we’ve ventured that way many times before, but never during the infamous Peak season. All the lush golds and garnet that tower above you in hundreds of year old trees boast why pilgrimages are made there. There is something spiritually soothing about that place and it has to be experienced in order to understand. (Just a disclaimer that there are a ton of pictures so you know in advance).
We plan on making this an annual family getaway even if it is just for a few short days. I am an ocean person, but this experience has made it very difficult to choose.
Our trip wasn’t just to see the foliage, however. It was a bit of a family reunion. My paternal grandfather has finally had a chance to see the United States and to meet his great grandchildren for the first time. It has been a lifelong dream for him to be able to see how his hard work has paid off and that his family gets to live the life he and my grandmother have always dreamt for us.
We stayed in a cabin in Maggie Valley, had an awesome view and plenty of catching up.
Since my husband has never had the chance to meet my dad due to his passing, it was a bit emotional for me to see my grandfather and Andy meet for the first time. My grandfather and my dad look very much alike from their tall stature, voice, and appearance. It was like having my dad join us on our reunion too. They pretty much hit it off.
Back to raving about the mountains. The next day, we ventured out to Cataloochee, which was about 30 minutes away (it seemed like eternity to get there and back. I’ll explain later). Cataloochee was a thriving mountain town that dwindled as soon as other towns began to pop up surrounding the area and the younger generation sought for other work opportunities. It’s also a ski resort now aside from being a national park.
My brother and sister in law frequent there, so we decided to check it out. First, I am a city driver. I like flat, predictable grid roads. I am not a mountain driver nor ever will be. I am a scaredy cat when it comes to steep drops, unrailed, narrow, one lane roads with plenty of blind spots that you might as well close your eyes while you drive. The drive to Cataloochee (according to little scared Sophia) is no walk in the park. Even Andy, who I believe is a warrior on the road said that he couldn’t foresee making another trip up there for awhile regardless how beautiful it is. I don’t know how people do it with campers. I just don’t. We even asked the Park Ranger if there is another way out and she said no. So, pretty much I napped all the way back.
Once you get past the winding gravel road (it sounded so charming when my brother was explaining how to get there), lush, open fields welcome you, while the creek with its fresh mountain water sing you a lullaby. Not far from entering, there is a quaint church that has not been used for a very long time, but is still in amazing condition. I’ve only seen this type of setting in movies and was blown away by its charm and beauty. This little building has an entrance facing the creek and you can still hear the ghosts of sermons past.
With such beautiful Fall scenery, we couldn’t resist taking an impromptu family photo sesh.
Just a hop, skip, and a jump from that old church is the old schoolhouse. If you’ve ever seen the movie, The Village, this whole place had that kind of communal vibe. We were just nearing Halloween, so it was really neat to walk into these buildings with lots of history.
On the way back home, we stopped by Sky Top Orchard in Flat Rock, NC. I have always mentioned to Andy that if he wanted to woo me, he’d take me on a date to an apple orchard. Unfortunately, we live too far from one, so this was his chance to make up for the lack of dates we hardly (actually never) go on since we’ve had kids. It was beautiful to say the least and Saffron had so much fun picking the apples. Plus, the little farm animals and their lovely environment reminded me of the picturesque farm in the movie, Babe. Can you tell I watch lots of movies?
By the way, if you are not at all interested in picking apples, you still must make a stop here to try one of their apple cider doughnuts. It’s like crack and we ordered a dozen of them only to have eaten them all by the time we got home.
I can hardly wait until October starts creeping around next year, so we can do this all over again.