Yesterday some of our favorite things came together giving us what we would consider a perfect day. A lot of people who come in Sunrise tell us they don't have the time to do the things we do. When this happens we always try to convince them that isn't true. We work a good bit, but on our days off we try to take at least one day to venture out looking for something fun to get into. For us, this almost always includes mountains or rivers; if we're lucky, then both. If we're even luckier then it also includes some tacos or other Mexican cuisine. But, we are like most Americans who don't have endless amounts of money and have to find things to do that doesn't cost a fortune (we have THREE kiddos to put through college back to back to back!). We also don't have endless amounts of time, so that is why a lot of the stuff we do is local. There is sooo much to do, so much beauty to see, around these mountains. There's no excuse not to get out and disconnect a little. As Muir said in, The Yosemite, "Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike."
A few weeks ago we took our boys to go see an IMAX movie. After ticket and concession purchases we had spent over a hundred dollars!! Let that sink in. It cost four people over one-hundred dollars to go see a movie. We didn't even get a crazy amount of popcorn. The tickets themselves were eighty dollars! We wanted to treat the boys to an IMAX and were shocked when they told us the total. What we spent at the theater, in fuel, and in getting dinner that day was way more than what we spent yesterday.
Yesterday, we left around lunchtime, so we decided on grabbing lunch out. A lot of times we pack lunch and scout out a cool place to picnic, but today we had a reason to eat out. Anytime we go to the Nantahala area, Monte Alban in Andrews, North Carolina is almost always on the top of our priority list. Yesterday was no different. Their cheesesteak tacos & Mexican guacamole are out of this world! Great service, too. They had a food truck at the rafting place which sounded very tempting, but we are very loyal to our chips & salsa. Next time we'll try that food truck, though. It gives us a good excuse to go back soon.
We made our way to Adventurous Fast Rivers in Topton (NC) after lunch. They recently built and moved into a place right off the Nantahala River. Jason and I have been talking about buying a couple of kayaks and wanted to try out some inflatable ones. I had never used duckies before and was curious to their differences in stability and movement with the other kayaks. So we rented two singles, signed the waivers & talked about how we were more than likely going to be going down the river floating on our backs.
Finally, we were ready to take on that river. They gave us a couple of life jackets and a quick chat about safety, drove us to the drop off spot & patted us on the back as we pushed off into the river to conquer three class III rapids.
The river's water is being pulled from the bottom of Lake Nantahala, making it stay nice & brisk, with temps in the 50s year 'round. They actually rent wetsuits for those who don't find the thought of getting dunked in such cold water exhilarating, but Jason and I were talking on the way back, the water felt amazing. The air temp was pretty warm, so the water was refreshing after we got that initial shock out of the way with the first splash. If it wasn't for the fact I was nervous about the kayak being swept away, I would have pulled over to go for a proper swim.
Of course, it goes without saying, the scenery was beautiful. We were surrounded by mountains and a lot of green as we paddled down river. The Nantahala National Forest really is one of the prettiest places around. If you take the time to explore it, I promise you won't be disappointed you did. It is one of our favorite places to go. In fact, there are days we will take off and just drive some of the dirt roads in the forest. It's so much better than being stuck in the house with the computer and TV. And on rainy days...even better. Those dark, grey clouds really make the colors pop. If you want to see a gorgeous area of Nantahala, take Wayah Road and follow it along the upper part of the river. But my first suggestion is to take the river. It was pretty amazing to be paddling through the heart of Nantahala. You get to see things you wouldn't normally see from the car.
It took us about two hours to paddle down that section of the river. As convinced as Jason & I were that we would be swimming the river rather than kayaking it, somehow, miraculously, we both made it the whole way without falling over. I loved the inflatable kayaks. You sit on top and they are very sturdy. It wasn't difficult to maneuver them pretty quickly when needed, either. We both really liked the company we rented them with, too. Adventurous Fast Rivers had a great staff, they were all super cheerful and knowledgeable. They booked us a couple of kayaks the morning of, with our impromptu decision to go kayaking.
After leaving Fast Rivers we went back home to get ready to set up camp to watch Perseids. We always look forward to watching the Geminids and Perseids meteor showers every year. We haven't been able to see very many due to cloud coverage the last few years, but this year's Perseid shower was set to be clear with hardly any light from the moon. We had our tent popped open and our fire built in no time. Jason can pretty much build a fire while he's sleeping. All those years of building fires for boiling peanuts have paid off for camping, that's for sure. We decided to do a little fine dining of hot dogs roasted over an open flame for dinner. The only thing we were missing was some Reese's Cups Smores for dessert.
It was an incredible night. We saw quite a few meteors that streaked across a big portion of the sky. Perseids are pieces of the Swift-Tuttle comet that can be seen every year, peaking in mid-August. It's a pretty crazy show to watch. It reminds me of how small we are in the vast universe. I always say if anyone needs to be humbled, look up into space.
What an amazing day here in our Appalachian Mountains. Everyone talks about there being lots to do in the cities, but I have found nothing can compare to spending the day (and night) in the mountains on a trail or on the river. There's a whole world out there to explore, with little cost, and you get so much more from it in return.
*MUCH THANKS to Mountain Crossings for helping us out with camp gear! You guys are a wealth of knowledge & the coolest peeps around.