Daily Archives: April 11, 2012

North Carolina Getaway: Part II

Missed Part I where I told you guys about the cabin we stayed at in North Carolina?

The cabin came equipped with plenty of things in terms of activities. There were traditional outdoorsy things like roasting marshmallows, making s’mores,  and songs around the campfire (which in reality was just me listening to my brother play his guitar and deciding not to ruin the moment with my singing). Then there were the nonconventional outdoorsy things like hanging out in the hot tub, playing pool, and watching The Great Outdoors on the large screen TV. My family found ourselves with plenty of things to keep us occupied and were content to spend a bulk of our vacation time just at the cabin.

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By far, my favorite moments at the cabin were the mornings. For the life of me, I cannot wake up before 7 a.m. without the help of an alarm clock (and a snooze button) at home. But for whatever reason, at the cabin, I was up bright and early between 6 and 6:30 a.m. every morning. I would go out into the kitchen where I would be joined by mom, who had really been up since 5 a.m. but was just waiting to hear someone else start stirring in the house. One of us would start a pot of coffee and if it was me, my mother would complain that I made it to strong, and if she made it, I would complain how weak it was. My mom would then start making breakfast while I went out onto the deck to capture some pictures of the sunrises.

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My mom would either then join me on the deck where we would sit in the rocking chairs and eat breakfast, or I would come inside to join her by the fireplace. Soon after, my dad would get up to join us, followed shortly afterwards by Mister E, and then much later into the morning by my brother and his girlfriend.

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As much as we loved our cabin, we did make an effort to get out each day and do some exploring. On the first day, we attempted to go to Lake Fontana where there was supposedly a hiking trail that surrounded the perimeter. We were very underprepared and didn’t even look up directions to the trail head thinking that it would be easy enough to find. Well, after about 45 minutes of wrong turns, we finally called defeat and headed back home for lunch. My parents dropped Mister E, myself, my brother, and his girlfriend off at the base of our mountain and let us hike the 1.5 miles up to our cabin, so we were still able to get some exercise in. Like I mentioned before, the road up to the cabin has a very sharp incline. It’s been a while since I’ve done any hiking, and boy, were my lungs burning!!

After lunch, we rallied the troops again and decided to check out the nearby town of Bryson City. I didn’t have high expectations, but Bryson City surprised me by having a very charming small downtown area of shops and restaurants including a very trendy and unique clothing store which really tortured my poor shopping-banned soul. While my parents checked out some of the gift shops and my brother and his girlfriend went to get a second lunch (do teenagers ever stop eating?), Mister E and I parked ourselves at Morning Perks to take advantage of their free wi-fi and enjoyed a delicious almond joy blended coffee drink.

Right across the street from the coffee shop was a train station for the the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad where visitors can do a tour of the mountains by train. Unfortunately by the time my family checked it out, the last train tour had already gone out for the day.

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On our second day and last full day in North Carolina, we were determined to get a real hike in. After doing some thorough research online (our cabin didn’t have wi-fi but I was able to get AT&T service there so I was able to get online through my phone), I found this list of nearby hiking trails. Immediately, the first one on the list jumped out at us, Deep Creek Loop, which was a 4 mile trail that looped around two waterfalls. The trail is described as being flat-leveled except for a one-mile section that goes uphill.

trail map

Unfortunately when we got to the trail head, there were several signs stating that dogs weren’t allowed on the trail when we had brought all three of our dogs. We were disappointed that nowhere online had it stated that the trail wasn’t dog friendly. At that point, we weren’t ready to give up and head home, so we decided to take our chances and bring the dogs on the trails. We tried to be as courteous as possible and made sure to clean up any messes. Horses were allowed on the trail, so we also made sure to pull the dogs off to the side anytime a horse passed to avoid having one of the dogs startle it by barking.

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The trail was a great choice and the view of the falls were very scenic. The one mile stretch that was described as being moderately difficult, was indeed, a little difficult. We had to take two breaks on the way up just for everyone to catch their breath and get some water. But the rest of the trail was flat-leveled just as promised which made the hike fly by.

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I thought you guys would enjoy the below sequence of photos where I had set up my camera to take a group shot with a ten second timer. Within those ten seconds, I had to run up the river bank, down a section of the trail, and then across the bridge. You can see that I made it just in time for the final shot!

North Carolina Cabin 2012

Oh, how could I not mention the food on the trip? My mother and I had spent quite a bit of time before the trip planning out our meals so everything would go smoothly. After we planned all of our meals, we made a list of all of the ingredients, and divided it into three categories – food I would bring, food my mother would bring, and food we would buy at a local grocery store. We were very lucky in that the cabin came equipped with a full kitchen making it very easy to have normal meals.

Our Meal Planning ended up looking like this:

Breakfasts:

  • Eggs
  • English Muffins, Bread, Croissants
  • Pancakes
  • Yogurt & Granola
  • Cereal
  • Leftover Steak with Hash Browns

Lunches:

Dinners:

  • Hot Dogs & Hamburgers
  • Steak, Bakes Potatoes, Zucchini, and Salad
  • Eat Out in Bryson City one night

Snacks:

  • Trail Mix
  • Cliff Bars
  • Brownies
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Apples & Bananas

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It was such a fantastic trip, that the minute I arrived home, I was already wishing I could go back to North Carolina. The fifteen hour car trip each way most certainly wasn’t fun, but I think it was worth it. I felt very fortunate to be able to spend so much quality time with my family and the fact that we were all able to bring along our pet just made everything that much better.

Mister E and I did the math on the trip home, and we figure that if at least six people stay in a cabin, the cabin can be pretty affordable per person/night. We’re already looking to see if there are similar cabins closer to us somewhere in New England that we could get a group of friends together for. If not, we enjoyed Watershed Cabins in North Carolina so much that we just might be willing to make the fifteen hour drive again for it.