Monday, January 4, 2010

Dispatches from the Blue Ridge: Part I

We are in northwestern North Carolina, close to the mountain towns I have always called "The Three B's": Boone, Blowing Rock, and Banner Elk. We are staying in a ridgeline cabin that is so good I will devote a post specifically to it once our trip is done.

There has been snow on the ground in these parts for more than two weeks, and in the three days since we arrived temperatures have not made it above freezing. Such conditions may not sound appealing to Northerners, but they do to Floridian children...and even if the parents of those children aren't cold-lovers like me, they will find the wintry landscape beautiful and enjoy playing in the white stuff with their kids.

Boone, home to Appalachian State University, is the U.S.A.'s highest town east of the Mississippi River with a population of more than 10,000. Yesterday we poked around a number of shops in its town center, including Mast General Store (which is the ultimate general store) and Footsloggers (which has high quality outdoor gear). Then we dined at a sandwich restaurant called Our Daily Bread, where I enjoyed the Gouda Heavens and every person in our party raved about the food. The kids kept wanting to stray from the sidewalks to step in the snow.

Today we drove to Blowing Rock, which is about 7 miles on the other side of Boone and has an even more immaculate downtown. Snow started falling on the drive over and was soon showering down, although the flakes were small and weren't always visible in pictures. I photographed a downtown park that looked peaceful but felt piercingly cold when the wind swept across. Needless to say, the hot chocolate across the street at Kilwin's hit the spot!

By the time we made it back to Boone for a 5:00 dinner at the Dan'l Boone Inn, the snowflakes were big and they were falling fast and often horizontal. We watched them come down while eating at a round table by a window, and snowplows were on the roads before we left.

The Dan'l Boone features family style eating that Erika aptly described as "a buffet but they bring it to you." It is not cheap in the way McDonald's is cheap -- but it is not expensive, and they charge different prices for kids and adults, and you will definitely get more than your money's worth. It is down-home-like-grandma-cooked-it and the mashed potatoes will make you drool thinking about them. Here is one of the Dan'l Boone's window boxes:

We've been back at the cabin for hours. It is 15 degrees right now and continuing to snow. I just came in from the back deck, where the porch lights illuminated white flakes falling through the clouds of my breath. I can not wait to play with Sarah tomorrow.


  1. wonderful. Be careful on the the drive home!!!

  2. Love the photos. Blowing Rock was one of my favorite places to visit in school. Plus we had to go there to get liquor by the drink since you could only buy beer in Boone at the time. I had a feeling you would find Kilwins since it just draws you in with it's magic chocolate.