This outing takes us back to the North Carolina mountains to camp with family and do a little work. For our first few days we drove to John’s bucket-list project, Mystic Cabin just east of Asheville, NC. Easily parked under the garage roof and set up with water and electricity. John is ever closer to his certificate of occupancy that will allow him to fully move into this 2-year project and we hope to help get those last few items finished up.
On the list this time is nailing in the stair risers, installing interior doors, adding door trim, then moving the chop and table saws, tools, lumber and such out of the living room and onto the back porch. That let us clear out the piles of sawdust, wipe down the windows and walls and install screens. Showers work, the refrigerator is running, AC was cooling and we fired up the Wolf stove with fresh-baked hamburger and hoagie rolls.
After a day we backed up and out of the driveway, hooked up the jeep and drove another 3 hours to Stone Mountain State Park near Roaring Gap and the Blue Ridge Parkway. We are spending four days camping with Judy and Craig while their daughter Rachel attends Camp Cheerio, which was just along the ridgeline above our campground.
Driving from Elkin toward the park was through some very beautiful pastures and tobacco fields, and the park sat amid the rolling hills below the much higher peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains. At camp it was an easy task to disconnect the jeep and back into the site. Flat towing the Jeep is much easier than the tow dolly and the Rav4, with just a few connections using the Roadmaster tow bar and Invisibrake. This should be a big help for our big trip out West in the fall.
Once in camp we unfurled a new purchase, a screen room to help keep flies and biting bugs out of our way. The last trip to Florida featured an abundance of hungry mosquitos, so this lightweight and easy-to-assemble screen room is our answer to avoiding itchy bites the whole week. This unit was lightweight, easy to assemble and had plenty of room for four chairs and side tables. I am particularly reactive to insect bites and this of course led to a continuing discussion about certain blood types attracting mosquitos … but we actually didn’t have any, just annoying gnats.
Anyway, we were in an area of the mountains that had a lot of vineyards, but they were only open Thursdays through Sundays and we had arrived on a Sunday and would be departing early on a Thursday — so you know what that meant, we had to hustle out to get to a nearby winery before closing time. We found a gem of a spot, ordered flights of 5 wines and had a wonderful time sharing and comparing the wines.
Judy and Craig told of how long the check-in process at Camp Cheerio was that morning, but Rachel was properly settled in for the week, son Colin was out in New Mexico working as troop leader for the Philmont Boy Scout Ranch and now it was just the four of us camping. As the wine ran out we got hungry and headed back to cook dinner and watch the stars.
Maybe an hour after we hit the sack our awning suddenly started blowing up and down with much thumping. That’s not a good sign, so I jumped out of bed to roll it back in, while the wind was whipping up and thunder could be heard in the distance. As lightning flashed and the wind blew, we folded up chairs and caught the rug before it blew away, also keeping an eye on the screen room (which we had fortunately staked to the ground). It wasn’t long before we were pelted with big raindrops and retreated back to bed, this time with Kodi joining us of course. Big booms of thunder cracked and echoed around the mountains and valleys as the rain continued to fall. Not a restful first night.
But the morning brought clear blue skies and cool dry air. It was a gorgeous start to what would be four beautiful days in the lush green mountains and we were able to take in some great hikes to waterfalls, slick rock streams and a view of the granite Stone Mountain outcropping. We also made a stop at a country store nearby to get some delicious ice cream scoops!
In fact it got downright cold at night, and since we had packed the motorhome during humid, 90 degree days back home (while our AC was out and being repaired), we only had shorts and tee shirts and were quite chilled around the campfire at night. Doug bought a sweatshirt at the visitors center and Jackie found a small blanket in the Jeep, so we were fine the next day. You would think we would know to pack for all types of weather by now.
We found a fun brewery in Elkin for dinner and had ourselves some brews and wood-fired pizza. Angry Troll was darn busy and the food was delicious, but they were closed the rest of the week, so we only got to visit once.
One of our hikes in the park was to a stream that made for a cool waterslide and with the recent rainfall it was easy for kids to slide down, even with some tubes.
We just waded around, got our feet wet and tried not to slip. Another hike was to an original homestead at the base of the mountain and as we hiked along the stream trail we could hear a growing chorus of girls’ voices walking along a parallel roadway – only to discover … Rachel(!) among the group of hikers from Camp Cheerio. We tried not to make a fuss, but she spotted us and shouted “bring shampoo” before walking on down the trail. Crazy timing. This was a 12 mile hike the oldest of the group takes down from their camp to the waterfall and back up the mountain.
We broke camp on another cool, clear morning as we reflected on some nice meals in camp, warm campfires, a serpentine road trip up the mountain to Roaring Gap in the Jeep and just a nice visit to the mountains. Our next stop was back at John’s cabin three hours away. We slipped the motorhome under the garage roof and Craig expertly backed their trailer down the driveway, leveled up and hooked up (thanks for the hookups, John).
We couldn’t pass up a drive to Asheville and dinner at Sierra Nevada Brewing. We made sure to embarrass Jackie by recognizing her birthday, all while having some excellent beer and food.
Back at John’s we had some work to do. Judy and Craig had to drive back to pick up Rachel, then return to hitch up and head back to Nashville. While the weather was good, Doug and John trenched and built footing forms for the cement that would be poured for the garage floor later in the week. There was a pile of scrap lumber that had to be moved and a very large tarp under the deck that had to be dragged around front, cut up and taken to the dump. We installed a large light fixture that hung from the ceiling above the kitchen island and wired up and installed the ceiling fan over the living room.
We put down more of his flooring in the living room (not quite all of it). Jackie ran the dishwasher, washer and dryer for the first time (and got us caught up on clean laundry) and we surprised her with a small birthday celebration.
But somehow chiggers decided to spoil things. Either our last days in camp or working around the cabin, they found us. Well, Doug mostly. As I noted earlier, I don’t react well to insect bites and I kind of lost count of all the itchy spots. Had to buy some extra anti-itch cream, but as you may know, you just have to wait out the itch for a few days. Arrghhh.
To celebrate both Father’s Day and Jackie’s birthday we drove to Lake Lure and Chimney Rock to find Hickory Nut Gorge Brewing and have … you guessed it, some beer and grub.
On the way, John got a text from fellow brewcrew member Barb that she was in Lake Lure with a friend and how far was that from his place? Well, of course we told her to join us at the brewery and soon we were all sitting alongside the Broad River enjoying the cool evening with beer in hand. Jackie, John and I shared plates of pulled pork nachos as we looked up at Chimney Rock. It was maybe 7 years ago that we paddleboarded on Lake Lure and climbed to Chimney Rock. This was a nice night with good friends.
We had appointments back home and had some babysitting duties awaiting us, so it was time to return home after helping get John closer to moving into the cabin for good. Other than the big thunderstorm at the start and the darn chiggers, this was a great outing. Back home we will have to check over the motorhome to be sure everything is still ship-shape and clean things up and then write and post this blog.
Thanks for coming along on the journey. What’s next? We have our trip to the Southwest planned and booked, ready to head out in mid-September. That one should be wild, as we explore Utah, northern New Mexico and the Gunnison River Valley with our jeep in tow!