The drive down > the drive home. In fact, the square root of the drive down > the drive home times infinity squared. This is for one reason – going down, we drove overnight and we came home in the day. Night driving is essential to my sanity because people sleep at night – the kids & mr b all go to sleep and I have the whole night to drive and listen to whatever I want and no one is fighting or whining or asking me how much longer or being a general jackass or needing to pee or driving like a complete asshole who thinks everyone else is an asshole. Plus on the way home, we got stuck in hellacious traffic due to a motor home fire. It was insane.
The cabin was amazing. Since we drove overnight, we got there well before our check-in time. We decided to do a drive-by to check the cabin out and then head out to sightsee for the day. Only there was no such thing as “drive-by” for this place. It was on an unpaved, private road that wound up into the mountain. From the outside, it looked like a tiny place, but in actuality, it was 3 floors and slept 10 easily. The hot tub was my favorite early morning thing to do, and sitting on the deck looking at the view was so relaxing.
The view from the main deck:
One of the cool things about the place was the wildlife – we saw deer and flying squirrels and bald eagles (no bears, surprisingly, given my aforementioned deliciousness). There were the strangest looking moths I have ever seen – some that looked exactly like a fallen leaf, some that were beautiful, and some that were just plain weird. And they were all HUGE:
Not cool at all? The spiders. And by “spiders,” I mean SPIDERS! I seriously wanted to take some photos to freak out Twitter (like someone who shall remain nameless coughburghbabycough) but I was too terrified to get anywhere near them. And I think I felt like there would be some bad horror movie juju involved in photographing them. They were that evil. I am not kidding when I say that they were giant, man-eating, horrible monsters who had obviously heard about my deliciousness from the bears.
It seems we picked a good week to get out of the burgh since apparently it was a million degrees here. It was hot down there, but being in the mountains meant it was much cooler, especially in the mornings and evenings.
We were only a few minutes from Nantahala Gorge and the Nantahala Outdoor Center, which was a fantastic place – places to eat, good beer, shop, trails and hot hippie guys – perfect! We spent a lot of time there during the week. The only bad experience I had there was…are you ready for this?
I got CARDED. No, really – carded. Now, I know you are thinking, but Gina, that’s a compliment, no?
No – it’s not. And I’ll tell you why: 1) I haven’t even been in my late twenties for more than a decade, so please spare me. It might have been a compliment if I didn’t know that I looked every bit of my 41 years, but since I do, it was just WTF?? 2) Someone told me later that they have to card everyone, regardless of how old they look (because they have a very precarious license in an otherwise dry county), and that would make me feel better about things, except that the girl doing the carding didn‘t card anyone else in the group (all male…hmmm), and 3) If it were at all possible that she really believed I was under 21, it would have made me feel good a little while, but I’ll take a beer buzz any day.
Nantahala Outdoor Center:
There were so many things to do in the area– rafting, canoeing, kayaking, tubing. Surprisingly, of all those activities, the one I managed to injure myself on was the calm, serene tube-float down the Little Tennessee River. That would be because instead of sitting in the tube like I should have been, I got into the tube and let my lags dangle in the water. And when we suddenly went from a depth of I-Can’t-Touch to Holy-Crap-Rocks-Hurt!, my knees, shins and ankles suffered for it. I actually have a tiny little bone chip moving around in my knee now. That’s not fatal, is it?
Just as surprising as the DangerTubing is the fact that I went whitewater rafting and stayed in the raft the entire time. I thought for sure I would end up going in. And what was worrying me the most about that? Not the danger of drowning, or busting open my head on the racks. No, I was worried that of I went in, I would be mortified that my raft-mates would have to haul my fat ass back in the raft. I really think if I had gone in, I would have been all, “Oh, don’t worry about me – just go one ahead, I’ll hang out here.” This is the same reason I didn’t jump in the water and swim with the boy during one of the calm areas.
The boy was the only one not afraid to swim there (other than me), because everyone was crying the while time about how cold the water was. Now don’t get me wrong, it WAS cold – about 50 – 55 degrees. But somehow it felt good to me. Maybe because it was so hot that day. Or because it wasn’t too much colder than swimming in the Yough, which is pretty damned cold, too. But I decided to tell myself that doing the Polar Bear Plunge has turned me into a badass cold water rock star. Now that is cold water.
When we were getting suited up for our rafting trip, I put on a PFT (life vest, but I like saying PFT like I’m down with the lingo), and I could barely breathe what with the boob-squeezing. Four male guides checked me and said it fit perfectly, until a similarly-boobed female guide came over, rolled her eyes at the men and helped me adjust. Then we got our training and I did my very best not to strangle the kid behind me who made the training take 10 minutes longer with his inane questions (Um…what…um…about that…um…water position if …you know…um…you…uh…go over the falls? Do you have to do a back flip?), and finally we were off. We all got on the bus and the guides got on last. One guide sat next to me on the bus wearing nothing but a speedo. I was hoping we didn’t get him as our guide, because all I could think about was that if we flipped over, I was probably going to get balls on me in the process. Luckily we didn’t – we got an awesome guide who was informative and fun and kindly kept his genitals hidden from view.
We also went gem-mining, which the kids loved. And The Girl made me proud by sharing her big gems with the other kids. And the boy made me proud by using his own money to buy another bucket for them all to share:
One day we went to Dollywod. Dollywood is a great park – small, pretty, but still fun. But despite the fun, it was slightly less pleasant than the last few times we’ve been there. For one thing, it was HOT. I mean – while the mountains stay cooler, somehow it’s not really the case at Dollywood. And then we went in a large group and I really, really hate going to amusement parks with a group (too much waiting and whining and dicking around). And The Girl got crabby a few times about some imaginary crap. And we were with folks who kept failing to wait for the group before getting in line and then expecting us to cut and catch up, which I will absolutely NEVER do (it’s a HUGE pet peeve of mine when people do that).
They have some good rides there, though. The Girl loved the Raging Rapids-type ride. The first time we rode it, I got splashed. The second time we rode it – just before leaving the park – I got SOAKED:
But she hated the Mountain Slidewinder (which is an AWESOME waterslide where you sit in a foam “log” and slide down the mountain), although she was ready to go on it again a short time later:
Also, mr b spent 50 cents on a game and won the girl a guitar (not a little toy piece of crap, either, but a real, working guitar. And then this happened:
And there’s nothing else to say after that.