Mountain Getaway

The Bunny & I decided we needed to sneak in some couple time and since we are headed to the beach with fam at the end of the month, we wanted different. So we took a trip out west, well at least to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Doing my Virgo thang, I checked into "interesting & different" activities in relatively small areas to pick a "central" location. While poking around on the internet, I found several unique things to do up around the Linville area (Caverns & Falls) and of course tossed in gemstone mining (considering it is one of Bunny's favorite past times).  Next step, check the cost of hotels vs campgrounds vs cabins, and we decided camping was the way to go. Then it was a relatively easy choice to make, because Linville Falls Campground was the clear winner. Reasonable priced (tent sites are $30 a night), beautiful pictures on the website, and best of all (since I'm addicted to my power toys) power & water at the individual sites.

So the Bunny called and made the reservations, we packed up the car, boarded the Divo at the Rents, and then took off on the 4 hour drive west. We enjoyed listening to our travel playlist, road trip food, water, and just simply talking. That's how we travel when we go by ourselves. We play 20 questions, plot & plan our futures (this time around it was haunted houses we wanna go to this fall), just simply touch base, and sing off key a lot! FYI, If you get car sick I recommend taking something before starting on the roads up to the campground, because OMG those roads are totally twisty turny, but it was simply a stellar drive. 

I loved seeing all the green. 
(We are considering another trip this fall to see the colors.)

We saw some amazing sites on the way up - like this panoramic shot of the mountains.

Myself at the Brown Mountain Overlook and the Overlook itself.

We made it from Fayetteville to the campground in about 4 hours and truly enjoyed meeting Marla (she is an abso amazing person FYI). And of course, Bunny thoroughly enjoyed meeting the camp dog. I will totally say that this is a tiny, boutique campground with a minuscule but extremely well stocked store. It is extremely intimate, but set up in the most amazing way. All of the sites that I saw are set up with privacy fences between them, creating "pockets" of true privacy. The bathhouse was tiny with 2 toilet stalls, showers, & sinks, but impeccably clean and decorated (well the female side) extremely cute. I would have taken a few pictures, but there was someone in the bathhouse each & every time I went in, and I'm not gonna breech anyone's privacy like that.

So we got the tent set up just in time cause just as we put the rain fly on, the sky let loose and rain came pouring down. Instead of putting a damper on our mood ~ it truly lifted us up because it felt abso amazing. After setting up, we decided to go ahead over to Linville Caverns to check out a natural cave system, because the Bunny has never actually been inside one. For $8 a head, you get a wonderfully informative tour full of interesting facts and at least one major spook. Holy crap, you won't believe how dark it gets in that cavern when the lights go out.

It was TTT, but I didn't get to see any bats. *pout pout* Evidently they only use this cave system during winter hibernation. Bunny got his traditional hat. (I love our hat collection. I wanted a way to display then, so I hung a tension rod up and used curtain hooks to hang all his hats up. So this means we have a constant reminder of all the wonderful adventures we've had.)

We were hungry and headed into town to look for something to eat. We ended up at a place called Carolina BBQ and I would *NOT* recommend it to any one. It's not that the food was bad, okay the food was bad, but there was live music. After a very unsatisfying dinner, we headed back to the campground to play cards until the sun went down. (we would have probably stay up later but Bunny forgot our lantern). After it got dark, we made our way to the bathhouse for showers & then snuggled into the tent for the night. I, for one, am really glad that Bunny listened to me when I said we needed a blanket cause it got chilly around 1-2am.

On Saturday, we woke up super early and decided to go ahead an start our day. We got dressed, headed back into town to get gas (that's when we discovered the only ick to the weekend but that's not my tale to tell) and then breakfast. We ended up at Famous Louise's for breakfast and while I must say that my steak & eggs were abso delicious, Bunny said his flapjacks were a bit off. After breakfast, we headed to Linville Falls because once again he's never seen a real water fall.

On the way to the Falls, we drove through a rainbow.

I decided to skip out on the hike up the mountain in favor of reading my book and simply enjoying the morning air. The parking lot area is truly a magnificent. I did get a picture of the Bunny before he headed up the mountain.

One of the other things that sold us on this area was the black light tour over at Emerald Village's Bon Ami mine Saturday night. Driving after dark in a unfamiliar area is not our cup of tea, so we plugged the address into Waze and off we headed exploring the mountains.

 We saw some inspiring views. We also had some stomach churning moments on the roads as they passed right through areas where some rocks had fallen. But we made it safely to Emerald Village. Now there are a lot of places to go mining for gemstones up here in the mountains, but I for one am very glad we decided to come to this one, because it was to put it simply, breath taking. Evidently Bon Ami had come to the area  (circa 1924) to look for feldspar - a soft mineral that could be combined with soap to create a less-abrasive product that would clean without scratching. Since we were going to come back for the black light tour, we skipped the Bon Ami mine tour and just looked around at everything else. I love the way this attraction is structured and while there are multiple mines on site, the only one open to the public is the Bon Ami Mine. You can take a self guided tour through it during the normal for $9 per person or you can show up for the guided black light tour at $15 a head, but you get a free pass to come back during the next business day. There is a multilevel free museum with items from mining to homesteading to rocks (haha it is a mine after all). And there's a snack bar on site, as well as your traditional touristy gift store.

Bon Ami Mine

Bunny being silly with the Miner.

We went to the mock up village in a box, which was interesting even if we couldn't find some of the items that were listed.

The Big McKinney Mine Entrance

The Big Deal Mine - standing in front of this one was like standing in front of an a/c fan

Sluicing area

Bunny Sluicing for Gemstones

I got Bunny a gigantic bucket of sand/rock mixture so he could pan for stones. He thinks it is the most relaxing thing ever and will spend tons of time on each couple of scoops, patiently sifting out the dirt & regular rock. I will say that in Emerald Village buckets, there is A LOT of regular rock aka granite, that most people were just throwing away, but me being me, I told the Bunny to hold on to them. My exact words were probably along the line of "We want to redo the fire pit and that requires more river rock for the pit, but we've already paid for these rocks so lets keep them." We ended up with enough mined rock to cover the fire pit (if we keep the older stuff on the bottom) so now our firepit will be a "memory trigger" as well. The weather was kinda freaky up in the hills, because while we were sluicing, it started raining and extremely heavily, BUT since the sluice area is covered we stuck it out and just enjoyed our time here.

(FYI these are the gemstones we found - this picture was taken after we got home)

After we found all our stones, we went inside to get everything identified. We found a palmful of garnet chips that we are going to see about tumbling so I can use to make jewelry. And I found 3 pieces of Flourite!!!!!! 3 count them 3 Fairy Stones. I'm pretty sure the gemologist wasn't expecting my happy butt wiggle, but what can I say - I love Flourite.

Unfortunately, due to the level of twisty turny roads & lack of lighting, we decided better safe than sorry and chose to not return to Emerald Village after dark for the Black Light tour. No matter how much you may want to do something, sometimes you just have to put safety first, ya know?

So instead of making a late evening out of it, we decided to grill out, play some cards, and just basically be together. We hit the grocery store to get food and back to the campground. Got the grill fired up, the cards out, made up coffee & tea, and ahhhhhh simply relaxed for the rest of the evening.

Our Campsite (aka the Hotel from the Florida trip years ago lol)

Our dinner on the grill - add a salad and bingo was his name-O - pretty freaking tasty!

My Bunny being silly

This was a whirlwind trip - we decided on Monday to get the Bunny off work for the weekend, picked the region, then the campground, packed the car and headed out less than 3 days later and I will say if this hadn't been such a spur of the moment trip, we probably would have remembered to pack things like the lantern, the camp chairs, etc. But this, simply being connected to my Bunny was honestly what I needed more than anything else. And to me that makes the trip worth any amount we paid for it, but after getting home I figured the total cost up. For campground, all the fun stuff we did, gas there & back and food - $162.

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