Got dash puppy, will travel! Pippa has taken to riding in the dash cubby in Happy, lately. She hyper focuses for hours, hunting the leaves in the hood or caught in the wipers or imaginary critters when there are no leaves. It’s really funny! We drove down the mountain to Greenville, Thursday evening to spend the night in Julianne’s driveway, so Wiley could wake up to be there first thing Friday morning for company meetings. After work on Friday, we were to head to my longtime friend, Suzanne’s in the mountains of Blue Ridge, GA for the weekend. We woke Friday morning, ate in the van, then parked in Wiley’s company parking lot. I stayed in the van and hung out with the puppies in the morning while Wiley was in meetings. My friend, Kathy, who was also going to Suzanne’s, came to get me at lunchtime, so I could ride with her to Blue Ridge. Wiley and the puppies would come later. Kathy and I had a fun road trip. It ended up being an hour longer than normal due to Kathy missing a turn, but we were so busy chatting, we didn’t mind. I was thrilled to arrive and see Suzanne. It had been six months, which was too long.
Wiley arrived just in time for a big Blue Ridge dinner at Suzanne’s. It was a house full of friends and relations, totaling 11 people. Suzanne had cooked chili and cornbread, I made a big salad, and Suzanne’s mom baked a to die for coconut custard pie. I cooked a lamb shank for Wiley, as he’s doing the Low FODMAPs diet. Typically, I eat what Wiley eats since it’s just the two of us, but I was on vacation, so splurged and ate chili. We sat around the table and talked for hours. It was a really fun evening.We had a leisurely Saturday morning. I enjoyed some of Suzanne’s homemade banana bread. She really is the hostess with the mostest. My High Maintenance Hippie soul sister, Christine drove over from Hayesville, GA to met Kathy, Suzanne, Wiley, the puppies, and me at the downtown Blue Ridge Arts in Park. We strolled through and enjoyed some fabulous art. Christine and I visited the bead store then we all went in search of lunch. Downtown was crazy with long waits at all the restaurants. We opted to load up in the cars to drive out of town a bit to eat at a BBQ place. Carroll’s BBQ hit the spot with pulled pork BBQ salad, brunswick stew, and (definitely not low FODMAP) corn fritters, worth whatever tummy troubles may occur later, I assure you. Delish!
After lunch, we all returned to Suzanne’s, put on our hiking boots, and made our way to the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, just up the road from Suzanne’s. We hiked the crowded, but short 0.5 mi. climb on the Benton Mackaye Trail to Fall Branch Falls. It was was nice to be in the woods and share it with friends. That’s unusual for us. It’s typically just Wiley, the puppies, and me. It was a pretty little hike. Christine headed home to Hayesville afterward. We said our goodbyes, but planned to rendezvous in a couple of weeks at Fires Creek to camp. Wiley and Greg hung out that evening, while us girls and later Suzanne’s mom played some intense Rummikub. I brought it and taught Suzanne and Kathy to play, but ended up being an all around loser. Kathy won the first round of games, then Suzanne’s mom, Pat, who’d played before, jumped in and stomped us all. It was a good time despite my being crushed. Almost forgot to mention, Pat baked us a buttermilk cake Saturday, that was divine. Suzanne said, she’d never seen me eat so many sweets, as I had that weekend. You could say, I was really enjoying my vacation. I was certainly back on the program come Monday. It’s fun and necessary to let loose on the diet occasionally, especially when traveling. Boy, did I cheat while in Blue Ridge!
Sunday, Suzanne cooked us a send off breakfast. We left Blue Ridge for home. As we approached, dear to our heart, Standing Indian Campground in Nantahala National Forest near Franklin, we decided to make a detour for a short hike before going home. Once we arrived, we realized we could dump our tank, so we did then set out for the trail. We hopped on the Park Creek Trail through the rhododendron tunnels along the creek. It is absolutely one of my favorite places on earth. The headwaters of the Nantahala River get life here at Standing Indian. The water is crystal clear and abundant throughout the forest. It’s just gorgeous with trails in every direction, and the AT at Rock Gap, right outside the campground. If you haven’t been, I have to let you know, campsite #13 is the coveted primo spot right on the water. I need to go ahead and reserve it for us in the spring, as soon as, the park reopens after being closed October 31-April 1. I did just learn that there is more primitive camping, as well as horse camping two miles away at Hurricane Creek Campground, which is opened April 1-December 31. We have not been, but need to check this one out too. Love the area. The pit stop hike was icing on a great weekend. Can not express enough the gratitude and appreciation I have for living in Nantahala National Forest. The fact that we can pop in on our way home for a hike in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, is one of my life’s greatest gifts. Thank you, Wiley and thank you, Mother Nature.