Monday, August 25, 2008

The ABCs of our North Carolina mountain vacation

Last week we had the opportunity to go to the North Carolina mountains for several days. DH and I have been wanting to get out of town but with Hannah's health issues we have not wanted to board her so we were looking for a place to go that welcomed Hannah and Emma. A friend of mine very generously let us stay at her house in western North Carolina. The setting was beautiful! We cannot thank her enough for her kindness.

On our vacation, we wanted to have some activities for the Girls as well as for us. DH went kayaking and I went biking and the Girls went to Yappy Hour. It was a wonderful and relaxing vacation and we had some adventures along the way.

A is for Automotive
B is for Biking
C is for Canine

Automotive Adventures

We left home on Wednesday morning and took I-40 west from Raleigh, through Greensboro and Winston-Salem. Everything was going great until the approach to Asheville. We got just past the exit for Old Fort and I-40 stopped. We were in the Outback. The Outback has a standard (not automatic) transmission. We were on a 6% grade approaching the Eastern Continental Divide.

Stop. Roll. Stop. Roll. Stop. Roll.

Time passes and after about 45 minutes. We are still several miles to the next exit. Bad smells emit from the car. Paper factory smells. The odor reminds me of a time not so long ago when we ended up replacing the clutch. Way back in... June.

Bad things happened to the clutch. The smell gets stronger. Stress levels begin to rise. We pulled off on the shoulder and traffic inches forward.

I pulled the mutt mats out of the car on the shoulder in the shade of the car and the girls laid down. After several phone calls for advice, we determined that after the clutch had cooled (smoking clutch, never a good sign), we could proceed to Cullowhee. We were told to let the clutch cool overnight and see how things were in the morning. The next morning, the clutch was worse. We went back to Asheville (50+ miles each way), dropped the car at the Subaru dealer for repair. We had just replaced the clutch in June after 85,000+ miles on it. We got a rental RAV4. Went back, goofed off. That afternoon we got a message that the car was ready (woo hoo!). It turned out that it was the clutch but linkage between the clutch itself and the pedal.

The next morning, DH offered to do the round trip to swap the cars back. He left me with Hannah and Emma. On his way back to Asheville in the RAV4, a rock hit the window and broke it. Oh. My. Gosh. I think that we were both wondering if things could go downhill from there.

Biking Adventures

I was able to get some nice mountain rides in during our stay in Cullowhee. Thanks to the folks at Motion Makers bike shop in Sylva. They posted lots of routes and I used several of them -- including the Tuesday Night Ride from Sylva to Balsam (which I did on Friday morning) and Caney Fork, which I did every other day up there since we were staying near Caney Fork. Below is the profile for the Caney Fork route.

The scenery on all of three routes was just amazing.

On Saturday morning I wanted something a bit longer so I tried Caney Fork-John's Creek. Mistake. Big Mistake. I was riding up John's Creek which is pretty steep so I was going about 12 mph. About a third of the way up John's Fork, two Jack Russell Terriers started to chase me. I was able to to pick it up to about 14 mph but that was not enough. They were not chasing me for fun. They were chasing me for breakfast. Barking. Snarling. Biting. Yes, biting me! One of them got me in the right calf. After I got away from they I rode for several minutes more and stopped to check the damage. My leg was really stratch up and already starting to bruise. I continued up John's Creek and when I went turn around for the descent, I checked my leg again and it was starting to bleed. I rinsed it off with my water bottle and thought about looking for the number on the mailbox near the JRTs. When I approached that area, though one of the terriers started to chase me again. I noticed his collar wablue but was busy trying to avoid a second bite so I did not get the house number.. It's developed into a really large bruise. Jackson County Animal Control was called. Mostly I want to make sure that the dogs both are up-to-date on rabies. I don't want to do a rabies series, thankyouverymuch.

Canine Adventures

When we first got to my friend's place in Cullowhee, Hannah was a bit put out. Part of the issue was that it was getting late so the lighting was not great and another part, I'm sure, is that she is pretty sensative and with the car issues, I'm sure that she knew that we were not 100% into vacation mode just yet.

On Thursday morning, though, Hannah was much better. We dealt with the car on Thursday morning and when we got back we took the Girls to Dillsboro. Hannah and Emma got into the water near the Tuckaseegee River where Dillsboro has a dog park. Hannah was very happy to get her feet wet. They got to go to Mountain Dog Bakery and I got to go to Dillsboro Chocolate Factory.

On Friday, DH did the car exchange while the Girls and I remained at the house. The driveway to the house is quite steep and there is a beautiful creek at the bottom. Hannah loves loves loves the water and I thought that she would enjoy the creek. The three of us went outside and I started down the driveway. Hannah and Emma followed. Then decided that she Emma did not want to come down the driveway. Hannah and I continued down to the creek and Emma waited. She was like, "I'll be on the porch, OK?"

Emma stops and watches us go down the driveway.

Hannah continues down to the creek.

On Friday evening, Hannah and Emma took us to Yappy Hour at Mountain Dog Bakery. Both Girls scored some additional treats. Then on Saturday, while DH was kayaking, they waded in the Nantahala. Both Hannah and Emma really enjoyed that.

Despite some, uh, challenges -- we had a great vacation. I think that all of us are already ready to go back!


  1. I want to go there! What a great place! Sorry about the JT's!

  2. I'm so glad that ya'll enjoyed it! I knew that the dogs would love the creek. I'm apparently going to have to take Ms. Harley into Dillsboro when we go in October!!! Loved Kevin's pictures from his rafting trip too!

  3. I'm sorry we didn't know you all would be in the area. We would have loved to see you!