Monday, May 12, 2014

On a Long Weekend, Part 1


This weekend, Jason and I took a couple days off work apiece and went up into the mountains in North Carolina. Our goal was just to relax and be us for a few days, no pressure, no schedule, just existing.

A couple of years ago, we went up to Bryson City (which I wrote about here and then our hike at Deep Creek nearby here). We had a great time during that visit, so we decided to make it our location again. We stayed once again at the Fryemont Inn, although this time we decided to utilize their cabin; set slightly away from the rest of the hotel, it's very private. It has its own drive, you can kind of keep to yourself, and most importantly, the cabin allows dogs - so we could bring Indy with us and didn't have to worry about finding someone to take care of him.

He's kind of passed out on the couch right now. It was a very exciting weekend for him.

Bryson City is not for people who need their vacation planned to the last second; it lends itself to meandering, lingering over your drink, taking your sweet time. And take our sweet time we did.

Even our drive up was a little less planned this time around; instead of going up towards Asheville and then over like we did before, we went up windy little country highways, heading basically straight north until the last possible second and only then heading west for the last few towns.

We stopped at the overlook above shortly before exiting South Carolina and entering North Carolina, and stopped for lunch in a little town called Cashiers, which appears to be North Carolinian for "we have all the tax money and we know how to use it". Even the tiniest little shop was designed within an inch of its life, carefully painted and kept up. Very few chain things even seemed to exist, except for what has to be the single classiest Wendy's I have ever seen in my life. Pedestrian walks were all over the place. There were golf courses and lakehouse realtors as far as the eye could see, cheerfully offering us our choice of mountain view cabins for only $400,000! Clearly a steal!


Now, Google Maps steadfastly maintained that Cashiers has a Starbucks. The thing about that is that Google Maps is a dirty, dirty liar.

What Cashiers did have was Buck's Coffee Cafe, a little local place that operates both as a coffee shop and as a seller of unique, rustic/country-theme style art and home goods. We snagged some sandwiches for lunch and some coffee of sorts (one of the best lattes I have ever had; the milk steamed to perfect sweetness, the espresso nice and mild and not overpulled), took the dog on a nice walk around a little town trail they had just behind it (perfect for letting your dog stretch impatient legs a little bit). Jason and I decided, shortly after leaving to finish our trip up to Bryson City, that we should figure out what Cashiers is up to and come see them sometime.

We took our windy little roads up through Sylva and finally over onto the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway, which took us to Bryson City. It didn't really take any longer than the more 'direct' route, and it was definitely about a thousand times prettier. There is a lot to be said for country highways in the mountains. They might make you earn it with switchbacks, but they definitely give you a scenic ride.

We had some time to kill before we could check in, so we took the dog on a walk around Bryson City's park and then through downtown, where the coolest part of the day happened. Well, actually, it was kind of the coolest part of the whole trip.


That building is the old courthouse, and is the future site of the Swain County Heritage Museum. Now Jason and I had looked at the old courthouse on our visit two years ago, at the time clearly a construction site but terribly unclear as to what it was being reconstructed for; broken glass and piles of construction debris had been evident inside, the windows were pretty badly messed up, and we ended up walking away deeply curious as to what they were going to do with a building that big.

This time, we could see that it had clearly gone through quite a renovation. We wandered over with Indy to take a quick look through the front door, and both of us jumped when we saw a man wave hello on the other side. He opened the door and welcomed us to take a look around.

Where I saw one amazing museum coming together.

The reception desk alone was huge and centrally located and a bunch of other details that only matter if you're a museum nerd. The tile and carpet were both impressive and picked to complement everything on the walls. They had some of the items from their collection already up in their eventual locations, including a small schoolhouse setup with desks and a blackboard. We were allowed to go upstairs with our host and look into the second floor, where we saw a reconstructed log cabin coming together, along with a ton of graphics along the walls, the photos and prints speaking for themselves without any need for a ton of text.

We peppered our host with questions and he obligingly answered and let us take a good look at what a county can do when they've got people with a lot of good vision making it happen.

The workman we spoke to told us the opening date is somewhere around June 1st, and while Jason and I probably won't be able to get back up before the baby's here, we are nonetheless scheming to find a way to come see the museum while it's still brand new.

There you go. That's the part of my vacation that didn't involve A. hiking and more hiking, or B. napping on the couch just because I could.

I'll put more up throughout this week.

Although... mostly hiking.

I'm not sure you need a pictorial timeline of my napping. You... can probably figure out what that looked like yourself.

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