Thanks to everyone for checking in on me here and leaving positive comments. The past two days "down south" have really made me scream -- internally, anyway -- "I'm on VA-CA-TIOOOON!"
Yesterday, I got up and ventured away from the hotel...but not too far...for a real downhome breakfast at The Haystack, a little Southern cookin' place right at the end of the hotel's driveway (told you that I didn't make it far, especially without coffee.) After a delicious plate full of eggs, bacon, grits, and freshly baked bread, toasted, I headed out on an adventure tailored uniquely to me -- checking out all the thrift stores in the greater Asheville and Western Asheville vicinity. The weather was a bit cloudy, so I thought it was the perfect day for some indoor exploring. Sadly, the thrift scene here is not so robust as I had hoped, but I still picked up a few things for the store and a few for me too!
After a BBQ late lunch (many details later,) I drove waaay up into the hills for my special vacation 'treat'...a one hour private tub at the Shoji Japanese spa. Interestingly enough, I totally bought into the spa's brochure because the descriptions of its treatments reminded me of another Japanese hot tub place I've visited -- Ten Thousand Waves in Santa Fe. As I checked in, I came to find out that Shoji is based on TTW...they even carry its line of amazing bath and body products. Woo hoo!
I settled into my tub and looked around at all the colorful leaves and beautiful mountain views. As my hour progressed, the sky went from light to dark and a light rain started sprinkling. Everything seemed perfect and I felt myself relax into...vacation. I even cold plunged *4* times, in case anyone who witnessed my lame cold plunge attempts at TTW was wondering.
Today, I got up and had a quick breakfast (yes, at the hotel -- so I'm cheap!) then took the winding road through Western North Carolina's "Apple Country" to Chimney Rock. The Rock (that's what they call it) is almost 3,000ft into the mountains and there's an elevator running directly through the middle of it, which takes visitors up 250+ feet in 30 seconds. So I took the elevator up and saw the most beautiful views of my trip. I hiked down and then, after a quick lunch, drove over to another popular attraction, the Biltmore Estate.
Ok, the Vanderbilts succeeded in making tons of money, and it seems appropriate that their estate also excels at this particular goal. The entrance fee to the Estate's 8,000 acres was a hefty $55...whoa. But since I bought my ticket after 3pm, I'm going back again tomorrow. Today I explored the Farm, the Inn, and the Vineyard. Normally, I hate tourist attractions and particularly ones where I am jammed in with (other) people, but since I've stayed mostly off the radar this trip, I figured that some typical tourists and their off-hand comments would be a refreshing break from my solitude.
I was wrong.
However, the grounds of the Estate are amazing and I'm looking forward to going back tomorrow and spending a few hours in the house (which has 250 rooms, 43 of which are bathrooms.) Then I'll have lunch and it's off to the airport! Tonight, I'm going to explore a few places downtown which I missed and maybe try to catch some live bluegrass.
On Sunday night while drinking at Applebee's bar, I could never imagine how I'd fill five days by myself. I even broke out in a stress rash that first night. BUT now I can hardly believe that tomorrow is the last day of my solo 30 trip. There are a few things about traveling alone that I may never get used to -- like having to initiate conversations with people sitting next to me at bars who usually turn out to be in the Navy (?) and always being called "that lady over there by herself" -- but, for the most part, this trip has made me come to some important realizations. Don't worry, I'll share them here, along with some photos, once I'm back home. Overall, I don't think you can deny, Inter-net, that I've pulled myself up by my (Appalacian) bootstraps in regard to this vacation! Oh, and two things:
1. the stress rash has healed
2. I'll never travel without a laptop again
So tomorrow night, I fly back to Boston, and turn the BIG 30 while in flight since the plane lands at 12:35am and I entered the world at 12:02am back in 1977. Seems an appropriate entrance into my third decade, don'tcha think?
Biscuits with gravy on top,
* Total Asheville Tourist