I wanted a vacation for myself, Lena, my younger brother BJ, and sister Kristy, so when a neighbor offered the use of his North Carolina mountain cabin for a week, I jumped at the chance. It was in the Great Smoky Mountains and I had never actually watched Deliverance, so everything was good to go. We negotiated dates, made dinner reservations ahead of time, and set off northward.

Looking off the back porch of our cabin in the sky. You can’t tell it from here, but the smoke in the Great Smoky Mountains is actually caused by my sister’s cigarettes.

The trip was long but uneventful, and the “cabin” was in fact a beautiful little house on a southern slope outside of Sylva. There were fireflies every night and flowers everywhere, every room had plates on the walls with painted fish on them, and there were no neighbors within sight or sound.

Beginning an exciting mountain adventure!

Well, the trip was almost uneventful.

We used our iPhones to find the place, which functioned perfectly. However, a perfectly functioning map application is still only as good as the person typing the address, and substituting a “dale” for a “branch” in a street name may take you to a dead-end street that looks innocent and friendly, with bunnies hopping around in the grass and warm sunshine, and then suddenly transforms into a The Hills Have Eyes type pathway, full of rocks, tree roots rising up out of the dirt road, and a leering woman in a stained housecoat carrying a shotgun who clocked you as outsiders the instant you accidentally turned onto her drive.

Sorry. “Dale.”

They only chased us a few blocks.

Add a filthy pink mumu with tiny yellow flowers, firearms, and remove all but three teeth, and you will begin to approach the feeling of getting the address wrong in Apallatia.

Then we arrived at the delightful cabin.

The food scene in this area is insane. You can barely swing a dilapidated banjo without hitting a five-star restaurant. Our first experience was at Sweet Onions, almost immediately rechristened by us The Creepy Onion Squid.

This is a wall sculpture of the onions that the machines in the Matrix used to provide extra flavor to their human captives.

The trout was perfect, though the consensus of the table was that the French Onion soup was the real standout. We then returned to our cabin and the fish plates.

Because the onion squid simply was not creepy enough.

Dillsboro was a tiny touristy town with a tour train that ran through the middle of it twice a day and its own selection of fantastic restaurants. They also had a balsamic vinegar store that literally vacuumed money out of your pants, a chocolate/coffee store that catered to the most demanding of me-customers (decaf, sugar-free chai latte, I’m lookin’ at you), and several country god chotchke shops that made me nervous to enter for fear of hot oil and damnation.

Enjoying beautiful Dillsboro, home of Innovation Brewing.

The next day we went white water rafting on the “Tuck,” which is the much easier to remember and spell nickname for the local river. None of us had ever done it before and we all piled into a single raft and let out.

Now, I need to warn anyone who might try this, four people who do not know how to raft in a boat can be trying. Add speed, rocks, sun, and hunger, and you have a recipe for a multiple death-by-oar-beatings trip. One person must be in charge. Politeness causes death. Everyone must work together. Independence causes death.

All the rafts have clever names. Like, Relationship Tester, Divorce in the Water, and
Just How Well Do You THINK You Know These People?

About halfway through we began to get the hang of it, which in my estimation was nearly ten minutes before the murders were scheduled to begin. The fact that none of us killed each other is testament to our deep and abiding love, as well as none of us really wanting to drive the whole way back on our own.

There are thirty five wild bears in this picture. Can you spot them?

The Blue Ridge Parkway was the only time things actually got cold, as we were around 6,000 feet high when the mist came rolling in. If you live in Florida and you go too high up on a mountainside, you can’t help but feel as if you are constantly about to fall off, even if you are standing on a completely flat road. I am pretty sure this phenomenon is caused by mountain witches.

Legend has it, anyone who falls asleep on Big Witch Overlook returns home… changed. They will become perceptive, handsome, and world-famous authors.
Also evil, but that’s barely worth discussing.

We ate steak in Sylva, spent the day toodling around art galleries and breweries in Asheville (there are at leastas many breweries in the mountains of North Carolina as there are churches), and ran into people we knew from Florida in the book shop, because we all looked like people on vacation who didn’t know what sunscreen was for and could barely dress themselves.

We also went to Waynesville… but I don’t remember what was there.

Our last evening at the cabin was restful and contemplative. We spent the most time of all just sitting on the patio looking down the mountain and visiting with each other, talking about what wonderful food we’d had, conjecturing whether or not marijuana would get you higher at greater elevation, and speculating on who would win in an oar fight. (Lena)

Another view from the porch. Really, we spent WAY too much time on that porch.

All in all it was an amazing trip, and I am so happy I got the opportunity to do it.

But we should really talk about those fish plates.

How many fish plates is the right amount of fish plates?
The correct answer is “Mountain Cabin.”


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