So I had a week off from work. We usually like to take vacations where we wander around looking at scenic wonders like national parks, maybe visit a museum or two. We also like to try and go someplace we've never been before.
But two things put the kai-bosh on this years trip.
1. I didn't want to spend much money. I'd like to do a bit more feathering of my nest before Winter so I told SM I'd like to vakay on the cheap.
And number 2. The government shutdown = no national parks or services. Washington is only 6 hrs away so I'd thought we'd visit all that the Smithsonian had to offer. Nope. Not this year at least.
So at first I thought that I'd end up with another staycation which wouldn't have been all that bad except for the fact that SM and I had that look in our eyes that said we REALLY needed to get the heck out of Dodge.
You know that look. That glazed over, I can't take it anymore look.
A change of pace was desperately needed.
SM had a job scheduled on Monday so we stayed put over the weekend. Tuesday morning had us scrambling to get a rental car since both our cars are old and there's nothing worse than being on a road trip with a broken down car on the side of the road.
"Where to?" Asked SM who had left the details of our big adventure up to me. It was already 11am so wherever we were going wasn't going to be too far down the road.
"Little Switzerland." I told him as I fiddled with the GPS. "Joe (my walking buddy) told me about it. It's up on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's supposed to look like a European village in the mountains. Joe says you can spend half a day there wandering the shops so that should be a good place to start."
The BRP was still open for cars but facilities along the parkway were closed. I'd also called ahead to see if the Little Switzerland Inn had rooms for the night and made a reservation. I hardly ever do that but I figured I was in unknown territory and I didn't want to wander the mountains in the dark looking for a place to sleep.
The GPS had never heard of Little Switzerland but fortunately I'd printed out directions so off we went. By 2:00 we were there.
"That's it?" SM asked as we blinked and went by the village which consisted of a turn in the road which housed the Inn and a few shops.
"Go down the road a little further just in case." I told SM.
Nope. Nothing else.
We looked at each other with that deer in the headlights look.
Little Switzerland was little indeed. SM carefully turned around as I eyeballed the steep decent that was now on my side of the car.
"Geez. If I want to kill myself all I have to do is open the car door. Be careful!!!" I told SM white knuckled.
So we went back to the Inn and parked. Check in was at 3pm so we wandered over to the café down the curving road. We were both pretty hungry by that time.
The café was probably big enough to seat 20 people. It was a chilly day and the inside tables were taken with other folks lured to Little Switzerland. But the sun was shining and they had a few picnic tables out front so we sat outside. SM had BarBQ and I had a salad. Very nice.
"We're staying at the Inn tonight. What is there to do around here?" I asked our server. She looked at me blankly for a second.
"Well, nothing really. Unless you like to dig in the dirt." Panning for gemstones at the mine was the only extra curricular activity advertised.
"There is Spruce Pine down the road. They've got more shops to see." She offered up.
So we decided to head to Spruce Pine first and then go dig in the dirt if all else failed. It was after 3 so we walked back to the Inn to check in. The Little Switzerland Inn is an older Inn with a huge lodge type lobby. Crackling fireplace with comfy couches and chairs. A huge panoramic window, terrace with outdoor seating, restaurant, bar...Very Nice!
We dragged our stuff up to our room and took off for Spruce Pine. Ah, civilization! A Western Sizzler, a Dollar General...Whoo, Hoo!
We drove by a golf course and I said to SM, "Why don't we go golfing?" SM always drags his clubs along on road trips.
"It's a nice day and there's nothing else to do."
"You wouldn't mind?" SM lit up.
"Nah. It's better than digging in the dirt!" I grinned at him.
So that's what we did. Or he did. I tagged along and took pictures of him hitting the ball which he said helped him figure out his stance or position or whatever.
It was really a nice day. We laughed and got goofy until the sun went down on 16.
Brrr. Time to head back to the Inn.
We weren't really hungry for a big meal so we headed over to the bar, which was small, but packed. We found a few seats, ordered some wine, ate some popcorn and watched the baseball game on TV. SM said he wasn't hungry but I knew better. Diabetics need to eat and he hadn't eaten since 3. He was just tired and didn't want to pay the "high" price of a fancy restaurant appetizer.
I left him alone for a few minutes then waved the bartender down and ordered the prime rib sandwich.
"Whatcha doing?" He asked.
"I'm hungry." I said with a shrug. "You can have some if you want."
I dug into the fries first and waited to see if SM would take the bait.
Yep. He picked up a half as I shoved the horseradish towards him. "Try this on it." I said as I continued to throw myself on the French fries that SM really shouldn't eat. Protein was what he needed.
When he finished that, I nudged the other half his way.
"You don't want this?" He asked me.
"I'm fine with the fries." I told him, my eyes glued to the baseball game, playing possum.
(Ha. Do I know how to take care of my Baby or what?)
With a glass of wine and some food in our bellies we felt more mellow and wandered out into the chilly night to look at the stars. They had a gas fire pit going down on the lawn to help keep guests warm. We sat out and looked at the twinkling lights in the sky and on the mountain and reflected on how this simple Inn was actually quite nice. The perfect place to decompress.
Another couple came out and we got to talking. They were about our age.
"Where you from?"
"Cleveland." Ha! Thus ensued a nice conversation about all things Ohio. And all things North Carolina.
"Where you going?" I asked.
"We have no idea. Road trip you know." We laughed when we told them that we're doing the same thing.
"I think we're heading to The Biltmore tomorrow." I mentioned. "Maybe we'll see you there." We said our goodbyes and headed into the lodge to warm up.
"How about a game of checkers?" I asked SM. They had those great big checker mats out on a few tables.
SM tried his best. He usually skunks me but with the wine, the golf and the driving...Well, he was pretty much done in.
We slept like rocks and SM ate breakfast ay the Inn while I nursed my Mountain Dew. By 9am we were ready to go.
"Where to?" SM asked.
"I think it's time we visit The Big House, don't you?" We've lived here 15 years and never have never visited The Biltmore. So we plugged it into the GPS and headed down the BRP.