The sky was so dark and the air crisp. Chilly yes, but not enough to make me want to run inside. The air was fresh and clean and it felt good to be out in it. We were taking the dog out one last time and I looked up to the sky and saw something so magical. Thousands and THOUSANDS of stars. I had wanted to call the Hubs and tell him how amazing this was but I was greeted by two unfamiliar words when I looked at my phone; NO SERVICE. My immediate reaction was a little panic but then I decided to just embrace it...this was disconnecting. I had no choice but to just enjoy the company of my friend and just stare at the night sky. Yes! This is what is meant by enjoying the free treasures around you...being so far removed that you could see every constellation (if I knew them of course) and just listening to the silence that can only be heard when you're in the middle of nowhere on top of a mountain. Nothing but the trickling sound of the stream that was near by. My soul was nourished.
I drove up, down, over, around, and through mountains last week. At one point I wondered if I was ever going to reach my destination. Not because it was a long drive (about 3 hours from Atlanta), but the uncertainty that comes with weaving through unfamiliar roads while trying to sneak a peek at your google maps to make sure you didn't make a serious wrong turn. I was on my way to see one of my oldest friends and play some catch up! It was long overdue.
And I did make it, and it was glorious. I finally rounded the bend and was greeted by the charming town of Brevard, NC. Brevard is this fantastic mountain town near Asheville, NC with a population of roughly 7,600 people. In the summer I am told it becomes a frenzy for outdoor enthusiasts and the population grows largely for a few months. They have it all; rafting, hiking, falls, fly fishing, biking, camping, etc...all with a charming small town feel.
Living in Atlanta over the last year I have become a little obsessed (okay, ALOT) with finding places for us to go for a weekend or even a day. Somewhere that gives us all (kids and adults alike) something we enjoy. This is the direction I think this blog is heading because it is challenging and fun to find new things to do with your family. We are lucky enough that we could drive in a variety of directions and be somewhere new in a few hours (mountains, beach, etc..) I am researching when I'll be taking my boys here. It will happen.
I could categorize the average Brevardian into three segments; retired yet awesomely active; young, hippie who loves the mountains and chose Brevard over Boulder, or young hipster people who love the outdoors and probably largely shop at REI and The North Face. And I loved it! Fresh air, an old friend, and what appeared to be amazing food and beer choices greeted me. I scored on all levels. It was a great day.
Within an hour we had decided to take a quick hike as the day was passing us by quickly. We drove down to a spot in Pisgah National Forest and this is what I was greeted by ten minutes into our hike.....cue the Hallelujah chorus:
No lie I could have stared at this for an hour. The sound was so relaxing and the water looked crystal enough you could have a drink with no repercussions. Next time I intend to do a much more intense hike because you walk past a ton of falls like this and the streams are insane. A few more pics so you can understand....
Next up, beer! My friend directed my driving and I wondered where the heck she was taking us. We pulled up to what can only be described as an old factory that certainly used to manufacture something of great importance back in the day. But alas, it was the Oskar Blues Brewery. This is not your typical brewery because you walk in expecting the usual tour and taste and Voila...there is a taproom upstairs. We settled in and decided to share a tasting and then a pint. Oskar Blues sells a nice variety of beers; pilsners, stouts, scotch ale, and a host of IPA's. In case you don't know, the South is booming with local breweries. It's pretty awesome. I became acquainted with the Pilsner and was nothing short of impressed of this operation. My total bill for a tasting and a pint was $13 with tip so I knew I had found something special. (as with most towns I visit I reminded myself to look up real estate later..it's a habit I can't help)
By the time we finished up at Oskar's it was time for dinner so we headed to Marco Trattoria. The restaurant looks like an old house and feels like a cozy place you'd certainly dine at if you were staying at a lodge. A little more of that charm in Brevard. The food was RIDICULOUSLY awesome! I had the Marco Salad (Arugula with x virgin olive oil, red sea salt, grilled lemon and goat cheese crostini ) and Mussels that were to die. We shared a crazy good cheese plate (like real big hunks of AMAZING cheese..no skimping), a carafe of wine and I got to try my friends' Wood Fired Pizza; The Bianca (ricotta cheese, caramelized onions, rosemary and grapes) Interesting combo but shockingly delicious. Not to mention, the menu is so cheap. I could most definitely take my kid there and feel like they had something for all of us.
For those that are in the Atlanta area, Brevard is a great retreat away from everyday life and perfect for a family outing. For those that live a bit further away I can't imagine a better place for a great family vacation (and please invite us). Visiting towns like Brevard leave me with only one thought.....