Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Weekend in the Mountains - Part 2

If you haven't read the first part of this, you might want to start here.

There isn't a lot open in small towns on Sunday, so Sunday morning we drove up to Grandfather Mountain.  Growing up in North Carolina, I had been there several times, but not in years, and Rob had never been. 
He actually smiled for this one!
They have several types of wild animals who for various reasons can no longer live in the wild.  We timed our visit right because we were able to see "enrichment" activities for several of the animals and that means they came up close where you could really see them.
Bald eagles

Male bear

Female bear

Female cougar
Male cougar
We drove on up to the top of the mountain to the swinging bridge.  The bridge is not nearly the frightening thing that it was when I was a kid.  It seems to me that it's been stabilized a great deal since then, but maybe it's just my imagination.  It was extremely windy on top of the mountain.  I mean push you around the parking lot, hang on to the rails so you don't get blown off, windy, so we decided not to cross the bridge.  We were worried less about the bridge than we were about the open rocks on the other side where there's nothing to hold on to.  So we were cautious adults.  Hey, we live in NC, it's not like we can't ever go back!
Yeah some people were crazy enough to hang out on top of that big rock in the wind, but not me!
After a stop for lunch, we drove out to Penland to check out the school.  Classes had just ended last week, so we just drove around and checked things out.  The school has a little different focus than the John C. Campbell Folk School, which we've been to a couple of times, but it seems like a nice place.

We stopped at Barking Spider Pottery near the school and bought a new piece for our ledge.  I didn't think to take a picture of it before I put it up on the ledge, so sorry for the crappy picture. 
It's the one on the right.
We drove in to Burnsville for an early dinner at a restaurant we like there, which doesn't seem to have a website, but it's called In the Garden. Then we made our way back to the Inn for the night.

Monday morning we got up and headed home.  All in all it was a nice weekend away and I look forward to going back to the area again and hopefully someday calling it home.

Monday, May 5, 2014

A Weekend in the Mountains - Part 1

Rob and I headed to the mountains this weekend.  We've spent the past couple of years checking out small mountain towns, looking for the area we'd like to purchase some property for weekends and eventually live there when we retire.  We really like the Burnsville area, so this weekend we headed to nearby Spruce Pine, just one county over to check out that area as well.

We left Friday morning and took our time driving up.  We went a little out of our way to stop in Black Mountain for lunch and a little wandering around.
I spotted some of Sue Dial's gorgeous buttons in the yarn shop there.

I was very tempted to purchase 4 of these for the members of the Sock Monkey Sisterhood, but I resisted.
We got to Spruce Pine in the afternoon and checked in to the lovely Richmond Inn.  We've discovered that we prefer staying in a Bed and Breakfast when we're spending a weekend away.  It's enjoyable to meet other travelers over breakfast and have a nice place to hang out when we're not out & about.
The Penland School of Crafts is not far from Spruce Pine, so art there is a lot of art and artists.  The Inn's neighbor is apparently somewhat of an artist as well.
We had dinner Friday evening at a great restaurant called The Tropical Grill.  Fabulous food and very friendly people.  Then we wandered around downtown for a while, and saw some more art, that was a little more practical this time. 

Saturday morning we headed back to historic downtown Spruce Pine for a while to investigate the shops that had been closed the night before.  The Toe River Arts Council was having an event with several artists selling their art, and I might have purchased a few things.

After that, we drove out towards Bakersville.  We went by a piece of property that was for sale, that looked somewhat promising online for a very good price, but after looking at it, decided it wasn't really what we were looking for.  We went into Bakersville, which is tiny, but it had a couple of art galleries where we browsed for a bit. 

In Bakersville we saw a sign for a wolf sanctuary.  If you know Rob, you know he has a fascination with wolves, so we started following the signs.  We had great timing because they are only open for tours on Saturdays certain parts of the year and this Saturday was the first time this year they'd been open.  We saw some gorgeous wolves, and even got to pet one of them.
After the wolves we drove around a bit and drove over to Little Switzerland just to see it.  We went back to the Inn to relax a bit before dinner, then had another wonderful dinner, this time at Knife & Fork.  They have some very unique items on their menu.  Rob had braised rabbit, which was very good.  I opted for a more traditional steak and potatoes, but the blueberry tart with lemon curd that I had for dessert was different and delicious.

Back at the Inn, one of the resident animals took a liking to Rob's lap.  Actually, she wasn't really particular about whose lap she was in, but I was knitting, so I guess she found his more relaxing at the time.
*In the interest of not going on too long, I'm going to chop this up in to two posts, so more tomorrow.