Our Christmas Trip to the Mountains!

The day after Christmas, we packed up the car and headed to the Great Smoky Mountains near Bryson City, NC. From our house, it was only 3.5 hours or so to our cabin up in the sticks somewhere. Definitely an easy drive – especially when you can stop in Asheville coming and going!

I first have to share a bit about packing for our trip. When we were packing, I was sticking all ‘dog stuff’ in her crate so we could easily keep up with it all. She’s a resource guarder anyways but this totally sent her over the top. First, she sat outside the crate and just kept Winston and Harley from coming within 10 feet. Then she stepped up her game and climbed IN the crate with all the stuff.

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Eventually she stopped guarding and started digging in bags for treats so she got evicted.

Silly girl.

The dogs don’t vacation with us often ever. So this was a new adventure! They all still had seatbelts from their move to NC so we buckled them up and hit the road. Winston is a spaz the first 20 minutes or so (and anytime the car slows down) but other than that, they are pretty good travelers.

And they are darn cute.

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He’s cute, too.

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Deciding to go on retreat less than a week before said retreat means there is some difficulty in finding a place to stay that takes 3 dogs but we hit the jackpot with this cabin! Just goes to show that Googling until the wee hours of the morning often does pay off.

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On the porch – rocking chairs, hammock, and hot tub. Out in the yard was also a firepit. Unfortunately, it was too darn cold to stay outside for long!

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And – perhaps the best part for dog owners – a fenced in yard! Part of the yard was gravel (Harley was not a fan) but the other half was grass. It was small but PERFECT for quick potty breaks.

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We rented through Watershed Cabins and had a great experience. Only hiccup was the gas fireplace not working well (and eventually, not at all) even with maintenance making a stop. But other than that, the perfect location for a getaway.

Oh yeah. This was the view from the front door. Weee!

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Jason golfed at Sequoyah National located sorta nearby in Whittier, NC. No doubt would this course be gorgeous in the fall/spring but it was still quite a sight on a very cold winters day. When we arrived, they were on a frost delay because it was only 32 outside. We also learned that 3 of the holes were too icy and never saw enough sunlight to thaw out so they were unplayable.

A few of the views:

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They are literally looking over the cliff from the tee box onto the fairway below:

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{see the bunker way down there?}

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The course {obviously} used gas powered golf carts instead of electric and it was super fun to go up and down the mountains like that. Very different experience – and REALLY cold – but Jason seemed to enjoy the course!

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We went on a walk but couldn’t find any trails within walking distance of our cabin. šŸ˜¦

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And the dogs loved to look out the front door.

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Winston decided he was scared of the wood floors in the cabin so he pretty much refused to leave the rug in the living room the entire trip. He even slept on the couch out there alone at night.

Going outside to potty meant a trail of towels from the door to the rug. Yup.

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We brought food and just cooked our meals at the cabin, which is why I referred to our trip as camping. I’m typically an anti-cooking on vacation girl but everything seemed to imply that restaurant food was not readily available. And they were right. We did venture to Bryson City to check things out and ate dinner at a local farm-to-table restaurant I found online.

The Smoky Mountain Railroad stops in Bryson City and that night, they were doing Polar Express rides so there were lots of kids (and some adults!) running around town in their PJs. If I had known, I would have worn mine too.

The Cork and Bean was a happening place that night – mostly due to the plethora of pajama wearing children and their tired parents – but we were seatedĀ immediately.

The place is in an old building downtown but the layout was very strange. There was no hostessĀ stand or place to check in. You sorta stood awkwardly until someone noticed and asked how many were in your party. In the main room, where you enter, is a bar, a small seating area (for waiting?), and actual tables for dining. We were seated at a two topper in this main room so when people came in, they sorta hovered near our table while waiting to be approached/seated.

On the other hand, from our seat there was certainly never a lack of entertainment!

This is the main room where we were seated:

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Even with the weird layout and lack-of-hostess-stand bit, the place was awesome. The decor was really rustic cool – perfect for a small mountain town – the service was great, and the food? Amazing.

We both had a creamy mushroom soup to start. While there was some serious fear that we’d be served something similar to Campbells condensed tin of goo, it was completely unfounded. This stuff was amazing – chock full of a variety of mushrooms with a bit of spice in the background.

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You’ll have to excuse the iPhone pics. The camera on it really, really stinks.

For his entree, Jason chose one of the daily chef specials. He had local trout (as in, from a farm up the road), lightly crusted and pan fried then served with asparagus and a starch that we can’t remember. I say it’s rice pilaf, he thought it might be potatoes. Whatever it was, we both remember the plate being practically licked clean. It was delicious – probably the best trout I’ve tasted.

I was jealous.

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I chose one of their savory crepes – mine had grilled (local) chicken, pesto, aged smoked gouda, and avocado. It was darn good and I’ll be recreating it at home soon!

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Never to pass up bread pudding, Jason ordered some for dessert. Delicious!

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Many places in that area close for the winter so we were thankful to dine here just days before they, too, closed for a month.

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The way to/from the cabin was through some very colorful areas of Western NC. šŸ™‚ The Nantahala Outdoor Center was less than 10 minutes away which meant we drove past lots of camp sites, cabins, rafting companies, and quirky eateries all closed up for the season. The Outdoor Center seemed to be open but things were very quiet each time we drove past. I hope we get a chance to return and actually go whitewater rafting!

We also drove past some very poor areas, abandoned(?) buildings, and a waterfall. Here are some things I snapped pics of:

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We were all sad to go – even the dogs seemed to love getting away – and I immediately came home and Googled how expensive mountain cabins were šŸ™‚ Hopefully we’ll find ourselves back in that area again soon!

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