Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Climb Every Mountain - Vacationing in North Carolina

Desmond Tutu once said that you don't get to choose your family. He said that God chose them for you and that is your gift. 


That's funny.

But what about the folks you do choose to let into your life? (Sort of like a gift card from God. God hands you this carte blanche to find the ones you want to spend time with!) I got to spend the week with my gift card! My Sweet Guy and his family invited me on their annual mountain trip to their cabin up in Franklin, North Carolina. The purpose of the trip, aside from obvious bonding time, is for his mom and sister to attend this retailer's jewelry show. It is basically where you buy jewelry at wholesale prices. Guess who got a pass? Moi!

It started out fairly simply, Sweet Guy and his youngest daughter met me at work on Wednesday and they hopped in my car and we drove to Franklin, NC.  

We ended up meeting up with the rest of his family (Mom, Mom's best friend, daughter and niece,) in Suwanee, Georgia for a quick lunch at The Cracker Barrel. His mom is not much for change and pretty much set in her ways, so taking the adventure over to the authentic ethnic restaurants across the street were pretty much out of the question. Service was good, food was as expected, and we hopped back in the car and headed to a Farmer's Market they like to stop at along the way for Peach Ice cream.
We stopped at Jaemor Farm Market and relaxed for a few minutes. The girls got ice cream, while my SG and I wondered the aisles marveling at the gigantic blackberries and wood work. Jaemor is located in the Northeast Georgia Mountains sells homemade fresh breads, jams & jellies, pickles, relishes, BBQ sauces, marinades, dressings, pies, ice creams, cakes, boiled peanuts and much more. Apparently there is a Summer Harvest Festival on August 8th you might want to check out. 

After the little sideline at the Farm, we made our way up the road to Goats on The Roof. This tourist trap is located in Tiger, Georgia. I say tourist trap with the greatest affection because I am such a sucker for a goat - and the have them on THE ROOF! It was an awesome little stop. They had everything you could imagine, they carry Amish foods, Amish Furniture, unique gifts, T-Shirts, homemade fudge, the best nitro homemade ice cream, gem mining and rock crushers. You can even feed the goats and become an official Goat Ranger! 

SG's niece was cranking a bike that carried the pail of feed up to the goat!
Finally, we made it up to Franklin, North Carolina, in the Smokey Mountains. The cabin did not disappoint! 

The home had two full bedrooms and baths, and a large loft that had two more sleeping areas. Horses, mountain views - everything you need to just relax and unwind in the Smokey Mountains. 

My favorite spot was to sit on the back porch and sip my coffee and read a book. 

view from the porch
That night we ate a family barbecue place called Fat Buddies. I ordered the baby back rib platter with french fries and back beans. I have to say, those were hands down some of the best ribs I have ever had!

The next morning we got up and headed to this jewelry show! I racked up on goodies (compliments of SG.) He is such a sweetie. He gave me a card the night before with cash and said, "I love you - now go shopping." 

That actually happened. 

That afternoon we grabbed lunch at the show - I went for a chili dog and chips and made our way back to the cabin for naps. That evening we went to Shoney's and had the buffet. I had not eaten there in sooo long. Since we were such a big party, they stuck us back in this super cold room. All it took was some home style mashed potatoes to warm me right up!

The next day, SG and I dropped everyone off at the jewelry show and made our way downtown to eat at Caffe Rel. This place was phenomenal! Authentic French Cuisine and what made it so interesting, it was located inside a service station. Yes - a gas station. Just behind the doors was this upscale french bistro! 

SG ordered scallops and potatoes, while I had the Caffe Bleu - chicken with ham shavings and a bechamel sauce. We split the Gruyere/Rosemary Mac & Cheese. To. Die. For. Each entree came with an orchid as a garnish. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS PLACE. 

After lunch, we picked the girls up and headed to Dillard, Georgia to the Dillard Stables at the Dillard House. The girls wanted to go horseback riding, and that's what we did!

The ride was $55 a person for one hour down a river trail. The girls had a blast, and the area was absolute gorgeous. I was a little disappointed with the "welcome" we received from the lady who seemed to be running things. Less than hospitable, but as long as the girls enjoyed themselves, I guess that is all that matters. On the experience I would recommend it, if you are partial to people acting like they care you were there, the nah. Apparently, while on the trail, one of the guides was busy texting the entire time.
Uh.. yeah. 

That night, we split up and ate at different places. SG, his youngest and I went to Fatz Cafe in Franklin and enjoyed a great dinner! I got something very bad and fried, as well as slurped up a delicious glass of Pinot. Woosaaah.

The next day we decided it was time to go TUBING! We headed into Dillsboro and took an 1 & 1/2 tour of the Tuskeegee River. We used the Dillsboro River Company - super nice people and good prices. 

Afterwards, we went into downtown to the Dillsboro Chocolate Factory for some chocolate goodies and coffee. I got an espresso, jelly beans, rock candy and truffles! 

On our final day, we went to Highlands, North Carolina to be touristy and enjoy the shops. 

Highlands is hands down one of the prettiest places I have ever visited in the mountains. My sister used to live here when she worked for a professional theater company. 

After an afternoon there, we headed down the mountain to Cashier's Rock and to the sliding rocks. 

We had to hike a bit down to the area, and once we got there - oh my! We got to play in the cold headwaters of the Chattooga National Wild & Scenic River. 

Later that night we finished our trip with a big group dinner at the Motor Company Grill in Franklin. This place is a 1950s and 60s themed diner specializing in burgers. I got the fried pickle burger. (Or yeah.. I did!)

All in all it was an excellent trip! We ended it by having a good old fashioned Shoney's Breakfast bar and heading home.

I feel incredibly blessed to have met my Sweet Guy. His girls are awesome, as well as his family. I hope I'm still around for next year's family vacay! I'm sorry I missed my hometown's Bragg Jam Music Festival, but sometimes life requires you to let go of the past and move forward.

So much good in my life... so much good. 

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