Saturday, October 1, 2011
Originally published in My Trip Journal on August 12, 2011
Wow, the days are flying by so quickly! We are trying to find the proper mix between time spent exploring or simply enjoying the cool breezes blowing through the windows of our house perched on the side of this mountain. Last evening around eight, we had a significant thunderstorm roll through with very heavy rainfall. Fortunately, there was never much wind (most of you know I have a well-deserved fear of wind!) so we just relaxed and enjoyed watching the storm roll in from the west, pass directly over us and then move on to the east leaving us with a breathtaking sunset and clear skies. Seeing the waves of rain ebb and flow as the storm passed right over us was so interesting.
Earlier in the day, we did some hiking on the very well maintained Beech Mountain system of trails. We started with the Wild Iris Trail and just took our time meandering through the forest savoring the cool air. None of the trails on Beech Mountain are very long and unfortunately, very few are loop trails. After finishing the trail, Bill wasn't really in the mood to tackle another two miles which was our options for in/out trails, but I wasn't done walking. We agreed he would drop me off at the Sassafras Trail, drive around to the other end and pick me up. This was a calculated risk as he would be making several turns on unfamiliar roads and we had absolutely NO cell phone service should we miss each other, but we established a back-up plan and off I went. It wasn't long, only a mile, but I thoroughly enjoyed the peace and quiet of a solo walk in the forest, and there Bill was, right where he said he'd be when I walked around the final curve. I sure hope we get to do a few more of the trails. They are really nice.
We headed out bright and early this morning for a trip to Mountain Farm, a lavender, blueberry and goat dairy farm located in Celo, NC about 50 miles from Beech Mountain. I had discovered Mountain Farm from the book, Farm Fresh, North Carolina and since lavender is my favorite color and one of my favorite scents, I had to check it out. Picking blueberries and feeding baby goats were just icing on the cake! It was a beautiful drive on another cool morning (54 degrees when I got up)and as always, we enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
Mountain Farm is a working, certified organic farm and we were the only guests there. We thoroughly enjoyed watching and petting the baby goats for awhile before heading up to the lavender fields and the lavender labyrinth. We took some time to "meditate" at the center of the labyrinth since that's apparently, what you are supposed to do. The smell was simply delicious. Lavender, particularly fresh lavender, is such a clean, fresh smell and the air was full of it. Unfortunately, the plants had already been trimmed back in preparation for a second growth leading up to a Fall Festival the farm holds each September, so we were unable to see the plants in full bloom, but it was still a neat experience nonetheless.
Of course, there is the obligatory visit to the Lavender Shack!! Fresh milk from the goats is used in making the handcrafted soaps right there on the property. We managed to escape with only a few purchases, but we will enjoy those for quite some time. One treat we allowed ourselves was a cup of Lavender Vanilla Bean Ice Cream that we took out to the porch and ate while sitting in lavender (what else??) adirondack chairs. It was a fun way to spend the morning.
We headed back towards Beech Mountain along a different route I had mapped out that would take us through the community of Newland. Newland has a 1.1 mile Riverwalk that I had read about and thought that would be a good resting place for some exercise. We had packed a picnic lunch, but unfortunately, Bill spied a McDonald's as we passed through Spruce Pine and decided he needed a fast food fix. That allowed just enough time for one of those major afternoon mountain thunderstorms to build, so we found ourselves driving along in rain so hard there was almost no visibility. And that led to one of those travel surprises which I love so much.
It seemed we were out in the middle of nowhere when I saw a sign pointing to Crossnore, NC and right beside it, a sign for Miracle Grounds Coffee Shop. What better way to wait out a rainstorm than in a local coffee shop. And what a find it was. A fun place, a delicious cup of coffee and the discovery of the Crossnore School. Follow the link, read the story of the school and be amazed at what can be accomplished when caring people have a vision. The school campus is beautiful, well-tended and oh my goodness, what a spectacular setting nestled at the foot of these North Carolina mountains. I am so thankful for that deluge of rain as Crossnore is just off the highway and we'd likely never have stopped had it not been pouring rain.
I was still hoping for a stroll along the Newland Riverwalk, but unfortunately, it had rained significantly in Newland as well and is seems the Riverwalk had become part of the river! It was quite flooded and appeared that no part of it was walkable. Oh well, another time, I suppose.
It wasn't too much further back to Beech Mountain where we will enjoy a quiet evening. I can already hear some distant thunder, so I wonder if we are going to be treated to another show as the storms roll over the mountain.
We plan a second trip down to Blowing Rock tomorrow to enjoy one of their summer Art In The Park festivals. These are widely known events and something I've always wanted to visit, but had not realized we would be here at the right time. Should be fun!
Thanks for reading!