Is it possible to be a dedicated homeschooling mom while still making time for myself as an individual (a girlie girl who likes cute shoes)? I like to think so. Follow along, and I'll let you know for sure.

Trust me . . . it's not ALL about the shoes.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Asheville, NC - Chimney Rock Park

Our second trip to Asheville was even more enjoyable than the first. We really got a feel for the town and how it supports many of the things that are important to us, with natural health and environmental responsibility topping the list.

Most of the restaurant ads and signs we saw around town touted local, organic food on their menu with a variety of vegetarian and vegan options. There are numerous farmer's markets in the area, including a daily market just south of town. And their natural foods market - Earth Fare - was really impressive! It was actually there that we picked up a relocation guide and several real estate magazines, in which green builders and green home communities dominated the ads.

Our first stop was the Laughing Seed Cafe, an awesome vegetarian restaurant in a very quaint part of downtown. Although it was a bit too cold to sit on the gorgeous patio, the inside of the restaurant was just as lovely. I had picked Rosetta's Kitchen for our first in-town meal since it's almost entirely vegan, but I was pleasantly surprised at the number of vegan options offered at Laughing Seed, including a fabulous "Silk and Honey" martini.

After lunch, we took a stroll around the town before driving down to Chimney Rock Park, where we took an elevator up 26 stories inside the mountain (Ava was asleep on Jim's shoulder so we opted out of the stairs) to see the view from the top. If you can see the American flag at the top of the picture, that's where we were. The picture does it no justice, of course, and what you don't see is that we drove three miles up the mountain to get to that spot. When we drove into the park entrance, all we saw was the rock and the flag towards the top of a mountain totally covered with trees; it was surreal to think that there was actually a way to get to that point.

Though the main attraction here is the view, I'm not a big fan of heights, so once we reached the top, I was ready to go back down! We decided to hike the Falls trail, which is 1.5 miles round trip up the mountain to see a spectacular 404 foot waterfall. Along the way, we took a detour of the Four Seasons trail to find a letterbox.

Back down at the base of the mountain, we explored the kids area which included another great trail. Unlike the trails on the mountain, where one side of the trail was a wall of mountain and the other was a sheer drop down thousands of feet, this one was very kid friendly and both of mine had a great time blazing through it at top speeds. They had stations along with way with sculptures of the mountain's inhabitants and a sign with information about each animal. The kids loved learning about raccoons, chipmunks, owls and more while they caught their breath from all the running.

We wrapped up our second day in Asheville with a quick drive around Lake Lure, then headed "home" for some R & R.

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