Yesterday we were back in Blowing Rock and Boone, enjoying appetizers and beer at The Six Pence Pub and Macado's. The former's atmosphere is more refined and the latter's more relaxed. The quality is good at both places and neither is over-priced; however, because their prices match their atmospheres, Macado's packs more bang for your buck.
In between the two towns we drove up to the lodge at Appalachian Ski Mountain (pictured below) where it was 11 degrees and howling winds were blowing snow all over the place. At Sarah's request I took her to the bathroom, where AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds" was playing on the speakers. After bopping her head to the beat for a few seconds, she told me: "They should sing a song about frostbite."
The cabin in which we're staying is just on the Ashe County side of the line dividing Ashe and Watauga counties, and today we opted to stay in Ashe. The northwesternmost county in North Carolina, it is bordered by Virginia to the north and Tennessee to the west, and is home to more than 700 family-owned Christmas tree farms. It is an impressive fact that Christmas trees from Ashe County have been placed in the White House seven times in the last 25 years. Here is Sarah at Smith's Choose & Cut Farm:
We spent much of the afternoon in downtown West Jefferson. Though it is not as picturesque as the downtowns of Boone and Blowing Rock, its shops and eateries are comparable and it serves up good views of Mount Jefferson and Paddy Mountain. You would be using your tourist dollars well to spend them here.
We were especially pleased with Bohemia Coffee Shop. I thought their sugar free vanilla coffee was superb, Erika raved about their mocha latte, and Sarah almost finished an entire cup of hot chocolate for the first time ever. Bohemia offers free tastings of wines made by local vintners, and the the amount they pour is considerable. I liked the New River Fiddler Red so much I purchased a bottle to take home.
Speaking of New River, it is far more than the name of this winery. The New River is a long waterway that, despite its name, is said to be the oldest in North America. It starts in North Carolina and flows northward to West Virginia, where it tumbles through a steep gorge and empties into the Monongahela River (which flows on to Pennsylvania and is one of the "three rivers" made famous by Pittsburgh). Both the North Fork and South Fork of the New River can be found in Ashe County, where their surprisingly calm waters make for excellent canoeing. Here is a picture of the South Fork just a few miles from the cabin:
It stopped snowing this afternoon but is supposed to start again sometime tomorrow, and the temperatures are in the teens as I type this. Soon enough, I will write some more.