If you got a text from me on Friday night and it was a little snippy, please accept my apologies. But at approximately 9:45pm, I had been all over the mountains of NC, and now I was standing in a Bojangles parking lot with 4 adults, 2 kids, 2 dogs, hungry and cold, with no place to stay.
The M.O. of this adventure was to chill. Relax. Unplug. Visit with friends. Let the kids play. The cabin had no WiFi. No cable. But unfortunately, upon arrival after dark on Friday night, it also had a curiously placed, broken water pipe. Did I mention it was cold? Dark? Wet? Muddy? Secluded? I brought my knife and how to fight a bear book…would that help?
Getting a hotel room, VrBO, or Airbnb night of, Friday night, in peak ski season is almost impossible. So here we were, excited to unplug, yet all 4 adults were glued to our phones sending emails, texts, and making phone calls like it was NFL Draft Day. But shortly after 10pm, we got one. It would do. It was 30 minutes away, reasonably priced, and had a roof (we found a teepee for rent, no joke). Sold. Book it. And pray.
I categorize out of town adventures into 2 categories these days: “sexy”and “not sexy”. It has nothing to do with romanticism and everything to do with the energy and attitude. (It really boils down to whether I have to shower and change clothes during the trip.) This trip? Well, any trip with 2 kids in tow is by definition not sexy. But once we finally arrived, after both SUVs had slid on the ice, after a few Deliverance moments, I’ll be damned if the place wasn’t semi-sexy.
Exposed wood, hot tub, side of a mountain, in the woods, overlooking a river. It was ridiculously dark when we arrived, so the exploring would have to wait. I wanted to see this river that I could vaguely hear. Where exactly was it? Where exactly were we?
By design, there was no agenda. Other than laugh, which we did lots of. I would certainly have to find a few things to get into to wear off my boyish energy, but that turned out to be no problem.
Per usual, the question was what was unique to the area that we needed to see and do? Check out Ashe County Cheese, a unique paradise of wine, cheese, fudge, and candy that made everyone happy.
Eat and drink at Boondocks Brewing, where the beer and food were good, but the highlight was watching my pal Caveman introduce himself to our waitress Mona Lisa. Like a cartoon. Caveman. Mona Lisa. Mona Lisa. Caveman. It’s stuff like that that gets you giggling, and that will be retold 10/20/30 years down the road. Do you remember…
It is important now and again to just stop. For me, I try to do it daily, really process it weekly when I write, and then occasionally, on long weekends like this, actually stop. I need to understand what it all means. That’s why I woke up and in 20 degree weather took my beloved Becks down to the river and as long as my fingers could take it, just stopped. Looked at the sunrise. Felt the light snow. Listened to the water flowing.
What does friendship mean? What does family mean? What about self? What does travel and exploration do and mean? Is small town USA dying, thriving, or just surviving?
Speaking of surviving, for now, I guess I’m just glad we found a place to stay. Because staying in that teepee with 6 people and 2 dogs, well…And if you are wondering? The trip lasted roughly 3 days. The temperature ranged from 6 to 40 degrees. And, nope, I took not one shower and never changed clothes. How’s that for adventure?
Have a great week.-Benj
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