We’ve been wanting to make it down to Charlotte, NC, to visit with Kate’s daughter Erin and check out her new *important* job assignment, as General Manager of the HOPS Restaurant there. So, we finally got it scheduled, and got to go with Bruce and Joyce, which made it FUNNER! 🙂 We all crowded into our recently-purchased 2008 Ford Focus so we’d maybe save on gas and also share gasoline expenses with them.
We made our rendezvous with B & J at their home in Elizabethtown (E-town) Kentucky, about an hour south of us, then hit the highway. Everything went pretty smoothly on the drive – the only ‘complaint’ about the car was its lack of cruise control, but we plan to fix that deficiency soon.
We angled southwest and went through the outskirts of Knoxville, TN, then continued on to Asheville, NC (home of the Biltmore Estate – we’ll visit there on another trip), then on into Charlotte, NC. According to Google Maps, it was to be an 8-hour trip, but we managed to find some shortcuts and were then able to make the drive in only 10.5 hours! I guess it was the extra stop for potato chips for me that did us in. We got into Charlotte around 10:30 PM and found our hotel (Comfort Inn) without too much wandering around. Our Tom-Tom navigator system isn’t *perfect*, but it only cost us $66 on Ebay, so we don’t quibble too much over minor problems. The hotel was nice, very comfortable, no problems there.
Erin came over to see us on her way home from HOPS, which was near our hotel. We had a good visit, and Erin joined us for a game of SEQUENCE (fun board game), then after she left we were able to stay up another 15 minutes or so until we collapsed into bed. Ahhh, travel…… it wears you out!
Next morning we went over to Erin’s house to check out her living quarters (see pictures). She’s in a quiet neighborhood with big trees and her house looks very comfortable – she and Joe (arriving mid-June from Denver with all the furniture) should do fine there. Right now she only has some cats there for company, but I think she’s coping pretty well with her isolation. Erin had to work later that day but had time to show us around Matthews, the suburb where she works. We wandered around the downtown area a bit, did some sight-seeing, then ate lunch at the Beantown restaurant. Good food, good company!
We had a very good visit with Erin, got to see her workplace (see pictures), then hugged her goodbye the next morning as we started our trek northward to do some ‘touristy’ stuff on our way home.
I had requested a visit to Chimney Rock Park, near Asheville, NC, which was the filming location for “Last of the Mohicans” in 1992. There was some *impressive* scenery in the movie, so I suggested (whined about) seeing the park on our way back. So, everyone gave in and agreed (just kidding – they really wanted to see it). It’s located about 30 miles from Asheville in a beautiful mountain range (Blue Ridge mountains, I think). We located it, no problems, and paid our fee at the entrance ($12 per person, not *too* bad) and found our way to the parking area. We had the choice of hiking up (and up and up) to the Chimney Rock itself (total of 475 stair steps plus the trail itself) or going over to the Hickory Nut Waterfall, a *moderate* hike. Usually, you can take the elevator up to Chimney Rock but right now it’s undergoing renovation, so we chose to go to Hickory Nut Waterfall. It was a moderate hike (read NOT REAL EASY), but we got there with no major stumbles or fall-downs, took a lot of pictures (some are included below), then hiked back to the car. I had remembered a trip I took years ago to Carlsbad Cavern and how the path into the cavern went DOWN and DOWN and DOWN and my calves were knotted up for days, made it very painful to walk. Well, this was kinda the same thing, just not quite as many steps, but I KNEW my legs would remind me of the hike for the next few days. Bottom line, It was well worth it and I’m glad we did it – I recommend it to everyone, see it if you can.
After we left the park we drove 30 miles or so through more beautiful mountains, very winding road, to Black Mountain, NC. Kate had read about a place there called “Red Rocker Inn” and we planned to stay there if we could. We got to see some of the town while we were looking for the Inn, and really liked it – nice little village, interesting downtown.
We found the Red Rocker Inn (bed and breakfast establishment) without difficulty, got a couple of rooms for the night. Accomodations were not cheap, but it’s well into the tourist ‘high season’, so we just ‘bit the bullet’ and got registered. Bruce and Joyce were in the Dogwood room and we were in the Azalea room. Just like staying at Grandma’s house; cozy rooms upstairs, nice folks as our hosts (Doug and Genny). As you’ll see in the photos, the front porch is lined with Red Rockers, and we took advantage of them with our cups of coffee and some of the delicious cookies they provided (macaroons and snickerdoodles were great!).
We got in some shopping time downtown (Kate and Joyce shopped, Bruce and I guarded the car), then had some great pizza at one of the local eateries. We dined on the patio – the weather was FANTASTIC – nice and cool. I was joking with Kate, said we should stop in at the realty office, start shopping for a house. Then I ducked!
Next morning we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast at the Inn, then started packing up the car for the remaining leg of our trip back to home and reality. Only one minor hiccup during the packing – one of us, not saying who (psssssst it was JOYCE), locked the only car key in the trunk. Hmmm, what to do. Fortunately, they had AAA, so they made a quick call, the guy showed up in about 20 minutes, and presto! the car got unlocked. No hard feelings, these things do happen from time to time. I think I may check into that AAA thing, sounds kinda handy.
So, we made it home safely with lots of good memories, little Millie dog (we’re changing her name from KD), was ecstatic to see us as usual, wagging her tail all over. We’ll have to go down that way again, maybe go see the Biltmore and do some more exploring. More good memories in the offing, I’m sure! Wanna go? 🙂