Fog on The New River

Fog over the riverA great morning fog over the river after a thrilling night of boomers and lightning.  Nothing like awakening to the crisp scent after a mountain rain!

At my age whitewater rafting should be a spectator sport

While on vacation at our Bearfoot Hideaway cabin in the mountains of North Carolina this summer, we decided to take a whitewater rafting excursion. It has been a particularly dry summer, and we were afraid that the water levels would be too low for the rafting trip.

After a few phone calls to the rafting companies, we were talked into renting “FUNYAKS” instead of going on the 10 man rafts. These are individual kayak shaped rafts. They are the same durability and material as a raft, just for a single person. (Do you think we are crazy yet?)

What I failed to realize is that if I am alone in a raft, I have to paddle the entire time! This was not a huge challenge for the younger, fitter people in the group. We also had a few in the group decline the funyaks, so they rode in a normal raft. There were about 30 people in total, not all our family.

The rafting trip started off very exciting, we were taking class 4 rapids in these individual crafts! Being spun around and pelted with rushing water as we went over 5 – 6 foot waterfalls was a great thrill! I was definitely having a GREAT TIME!

About a half hour into the trip, I realized full well why we were talked into funyaks originally. The river was pretty low! What this meant was that there were many places where the rocks were too close to the surface for a 10 man raft to easily get through. Being in a funyak, we were able to fit through narrower spaces than the rafts. HOWEVER — WE HAD TO DO OUR OWN STEERING, sometimes against the rushing currents!!!

The hardest part of the trip was getting OFF the rocks that we got stuck on! Getting out of the boat was not an option because the river was rushing and the rocks were very, very slippery! So here was a bunch of 50 somethings JIGGLING our way off THOUSANDS of rocks in the Upper Nolichucky River!

Because the river was so low, it was also tremendously slow! So a 10 mile run, which would have been about 5 hours turned into an TEN HOUR trip.

There were many times I was almost in tears and ready to give up. Giving up meant that I would have been stranded in the middle of a river in the mountains of Tennessee. Some of the other people were threatening to sue the rafting company! If I was not in such a cloud of pain and exhaustion I would have found it quite amusing. As dark approached, everyone started to panic. Luckily the guides were able to shorten the trip, and we took out a few miles sooner than normal.

Getting back to the rafting hut is a story for another time!

Who put the word FUN in funyak?

Carolina Wrens like our bear birdhouse

Letter from a guest:

Trish, arrived home a ahort time ago after a wonderful week at Bearfoot Hideway. Was much cooler there than the 90 degree reception here in central new york. We enjoyed the wildlife around your lovely home. A deer visited the front yard regularly, chipmunks, squirrels, birds, hummingbirds all seen. We used a mix of sunflower and regular seed for more variety of birds. I am sending 2 pictures of the bear birdhouse, you may be able to make out the bird in the house. There were 3-4 babies and mother wren  swooped by us about every time we walked up or down the stairs. Also enclosed is a picture of a bear wastebasket we bought  for your home, it seemed to go with the decor.

Had to go back to Blowing Rock the next day and purchase one for my daughter or the one for you might have disappeared. I placed yours on the hearth, obviously you may have a better place for it. P.S. the bird store you mentioned is no longer there, closed over a year ago according to another store owner next door. Never did find a place.

Steve and Sue

North Carolina Wine Tasting Festival

One of our favorite vineyards in NC is Raffaldini Vineyards.  It is in the Yadkin Valley region, about an hour or less from the cabin.

They have Wine Festivals a few times a year and we have been fortunate enough to be there at those times.  The weather is usually sunny and warm no matter what time of year we have visited.  Being outdoors in the bucolic orchards and vineyard is something Evan and I love.

Raffaldini Vineyards is located in Ronda, an area of the NC Piedmont that resembles Tuscany.  The vineyard has just finished a gorgeous tasting house, Villa Raffaldini, that looks just like what you would find in a fine vineyard in Tuscany.  Villa Raffaldini is constructed out of stone, distressed wood, slate, terracotta and stucco.  The rooms are adorned with authentic, traditional Italian art, statuary,  and wall hangings.  The marble fountain bubbles with authenticity and is a lovely focal point for weddings and special events.

The gardens surrounding the building are peaceful with breathtaking views of the valley.  There is always a wonderful spray of blooming flowers or trees.  The fragrance from the peach trees is scrumptious and  worth a visit to the Vineyard.  I love to watch the frogs in the lilypond.

It was great to be able to share this place with Jordan and Melissa.  We all enjoyed our tasting experience and spent a few hours sitting outside and absorbing the views and the weather.

No thanks to Delta – Delta Stinks

It is so very challenging to coordinate travel plans with adult children.  There is so much to take into consideration: cost, vacation time for 4 people, flight schedules, pet sitting, etc.  So when Jordan and Melissa were unable to make it to the cabin last year at Christmas, we were all sorely disappointed!  Add on top of that, Jordan’s bad luck with flying schedules.  He has experienced more flight delays, cancellations or misadventures than anyone else in our family.  So, when we were able to coordinate a late Fall weekend with them, we were all thrilled.

We arrived in Boone on Wednesday, Jordan and Melissa were arriving on Delta from JFK on Thursday evening.  Weather was fine, this time it would happen!

Well, Jordan’s luck being what it was, we got a call Thursday afternoon that his flight was delayed.  Then another call Thursday night that the flight was cancelled altogether.  They were putting them on an American Airlines flight the next morning, but the flight was from La Guardia, not JFK.  Delta put them up in a flea bag hotel at La Guardia airport and they were booked on a 7AM flight Friday.

6AM Friday morning, the phone rang….it was a MESS!  Delta never notified AA that they passed the ticket to them, so when Jordan and Melissa went to the AA ticket counter, they were told the flight was full and there was no seat nor ticket for them.  I can’t tell you how disappointing this was.  Evan was starting to feel that he would never be able to see Jordan unless he went to NY.  Time after time, flight mess ups cancelled our plans to visit with Jordan.

Jordan was furious, and with good reason.  Delta stinks at customer service!   He spent countless hours on the phone with Delta trying to find a way to get to NC.  After hours,  Melissa finally took over the negotiations, and managed to finally find a Delta rep who gave a hoot.  They booked them on a flight for Friday night, late.  They arrived around 1AM, worn but happy.

We had a wonderful weekend, but Delta totally screwed up their return flight!  It is a good thing Melissa thought to call and confirm everything before they got to the airport.  Delta completely cancelled them!  Rectifying this took the better part of Saturday afternoon.  Thank you Delta for living up to your reputation of being completely inept!

And on top of all if this, all Delta gave them was $150 off their flights to Lisbon.  GEESH!  I just pray Southwest would fly to Charlotte!

Tweetsie Railroad – witness a train robbery

Tweetsie Railroad is one of the most sought after attractions in the High Country.   Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Steam Engine #12 was built in 1917.

You can hop on board and have a real Wild West experience, complete with Cowboys & Indians and a ‘real’ train robbery!

The Theme Park has fabulous amusement park rides at the County Fair.  You can stroll through the western style Main Street and look at the varmints in the town jail, or try out your skills at the shooting gallery and arcade.   Why not try mining for gold on Miner’s Mountain?  Or visit the animals in the Deer Park Zoo.

If you are lucky enough to be in Boone in October, don’t miss the Spooky Ghost Train ride, which runs on weekend nights in October.

Tweetsie Railroad is opened from May 1 (or thereabout) to October 31 (or thereabout)

Watauga Lake

Spending the day on Watauga Lake is one of my favorite summertime activities.  We typically rent a pontoon boat for a little over $100 for the whole day.  The boats are equipped with radio and CD player.  A fully stocked picnic hamper and a stack of CDs makes the day perfect.

The kids settled in for an hour of sun bathing, while Evan and I operated the boat and listened to music.  The scenery is so beautiful on Watauga Lake, I could spend the entire day doing nothing more than gazing at the mountains and lake.  Despite my warnings, the girls took in a bit too much sun.  Alas, it is hard to get 20 somethings to listen.

Watauga Lake is a man made reservoir made by damming Elk and Watauga Rivers.  The old Tennessee town of Butler is at the bottom of  Watauga Lake.  Butler was a town where the Native Americans white settlers in the area interacted.  It was a stop over for Daniel Boone.

We brought our own tubes to pull along behind the boat.  We had a blast!

I am posting a bunch of pictures of our day on Watauga Lake here:

Happy Birthday Goo

It seems that our tradition has been to spend Marisa’s birthday in Boone.   Her favorite restaurant is Twig’s in Blowing Rock.  It is certainly a great choice for a special occasion.  Twig’s charming twig covered arbor beckons you into the cozy restaurant with a charming mountain decor.  The twinkling white lights through the restaurant gives it that festive flair that keeps us coming back.

The fare is always a contemporary touch  and interesting twist on some classic dishes.   One of my favorites is their house speicalty:  Crab Cakes with nantua butter.   Michael is in love with their New Zealand Lamb Chops with mango chutney.  Mady, who has been a vegetarian for 5 years has recently decided to be a carnivore again.  She embraced it with gusto and devoured her NY Strip with cabernet portobello sauce.  Goo and Evan both had the Yellowfin Tuna.

Happy Birthday my sweet Goo

Game Over with the Rental Agent

Our rental agent has hit strike 3 and the game is over!

She rented our cabin out for a party.  The place was trashed and the hot tub was vandalized.  She tried to take no responsibility and claimed it was normal wear and tear.  For the tenants to leave the cabin full of party trash and food everywhere, and the hot tub to be left opened with food and trash in it, is utterly unacceptable.  All the trash in the hot tub got into the motor and caused the motor to seize and the mother board to burn out!  A repair of $2000!

When Jennifer arrived to clean,  there were streamers and balloons still TAPED to the walls.   Removing the tape also removed paint from the walls.  This kind of thing makes you lose faith in people.

We can only wonder how many other times something like this has happened, but the rental agent’s cleaner did not report it, or at least the agent didnt report it to us! 

We will be renting the cabin ourselves.  We have learned from a number of neighbors and folks we have met in Boone that the experience of renting it themselves has been very rewarding.  They all say that they get to know the people who rent the cabin and even form long lasting friendships and relationships with some of them.  I am actually looking forward to it!  It might take awhile with my schedule to get it all together, but it will be for the best.

Our new Property Managers

We are thrilled with our new property managers.  Jennifer and Tim take care of our cabin like it was their own treasured home!

Their first time to clean, they spent 8 hours cleaning from top to bottom.  Jennifer even told me there were some things that had not been cleaned since the cabin was built!  We sure paid the rental agent’s staff alot of money to do nothing.

When we arrived at the cabin last week, I was amazed to find how neat and clean every room, every closet and every corner of the cabin was.  The sheets and towels that the previous crew would throw in bags under the bed were neatly folded and stacked in the closet.  Not a thing was out of place. 

Jennifer takes a complete inventory of the items in the cabin, and when something goes missing, she has notified me immediately.  One tenant took our laundry basket and hot tub towels home because, as they told the rental agent: ‘they didnt have time to pack their suitcase’?!!??  The rental agent used their deposit to replace our laundry basket and towels.  Previously, the cleaners would not have noticed, or not have reported the loss and we would be responsible for replacing all the missing items.

Jennifer is a godsend to us and to the future ethical tenants who will be visiting the cabin.