Sunday, November 16, 2014

Monday, October 27

At the Rattlesnake Lodge trailhead
Kathi, having gone to bed and been asleep by 10 last night is up this morning at 6:45am in an effort to make up for some lost homework time.  Kathi has already made a pot of coffee and put bacon in the oven for breakfast. Breakfast consists of bacon, eggs and toast and is quite delicious.  We spend some time blogging, sorting pictures, doing homework (Kathi, only!) and researching hiking opportunities, of which there is MUCH to choose from.  Today we decide to take a hike up to the ruins of Rattlesnake Lodge, since the trail is fairly close to us.  On past Girls Weekend trips we have spent HOURS driving to an activity that we both really want to do, but upon reflection have decided that we would like to spend less time in the car and more time actually DOING things that are available nearby, so we tend to look for opportunities than don’t take more than an hour to get to. The Rattlesnake Lodge trailhead is about 20 minutes away and the trail itself is a moderate hike of 2.6 miles that follows an old wagon trail with an elevation gain of 550 feet through a lush, Appalachian forest.  Sound perfect!!
We shower and dress for hiking.  Kathi fixes us sandwiches for lunch and we head out on yet another beautiful, sunshiny, 70 plus degree day to get some exercise and fresh air.  We love this!  

Rattlesnake Lodge was built in 1903 and 1904 as a summer home for Asheville physician, Dr. Chase P. Ambler. and his family.  Dr. Ambler’s wife, Harriet and their five children spent summers at the lodge from 1908 until 1920, when the property was sold.  Dr. Ambler would join the rest of the family on weekends and most Wednesdays.  They also entertained many guests at the lodge during the summer months.  The trail that was cut to the lodge was purposely left too narrow for horse drawn carriages of the time to navigate in an effort to keep the property private.  Guests left their carriages at a carriage house at the bottom of the trail and either walked or rode horses up to the lodge.  While not quite as impressive as the Biltmore Mansion, it sounds like the lodge was quite a comfortable and inviting place to visit.
There were tennis courts and a swimming pool and a big back porch.  Unfortunately the lodge burned down, most likely due to a lightning strike in 1926 so all there is left to see are remnants of retaining walls and chimneys.  But the hike is beautiful, affording views of the mountains along the way.

Once we reached the area where the lodge once was, we stopped and ate our lunch of sandwiches and chips.  I have to say, nothing tastes better than a sandwich after working up a bit of a sweat and appetite after a hike uphill!  We finished our lunch, rested and enjoyed the sunshine a bit, then started back downhill, realizing that we had made reservations for a LaZoom Haunted bus tour of Asheville for that evening and we needed to get back and get ready for that.

We both decided that a nap sounded like a pretty good idea once we got back to the cabin so that we would feel refreshed and ready for our bus tour that evening. I don't think that it took too long for either one of us to pass out once we stretched out on the bed and after we shook the "sleepies" off when our phone alarms went off, we took turns hopping into the shower to wash away the sweat from the morning hike, hopped into the car and drove into downtown Asheville. While trying to find a place to park close to the "Thirsty Monk", where the bus was to pick us up, we discovered a little are of town that we had failed to discover and explore the day before that had a very interesting bookstore. This bookstore was not only full of books (ALWAYS a favorite with both of us), but also a champagne bar and a coffee bar along with all of these separate rooms and stairways and nooks and crannies with comfy chairs and conversation areas that could be reserved for bookclub meetings and such. We vowed to come back here!

We found the LaZoom bus and took some time to get some photos and to go into the Thirsty Monk to grab a couple of beers to take with us on the bus and enjoy during the tour. Once we boarded the bus we came to the realization that were we probably the ONLY ones on the bus who had not already begun the evening's festivities with wine spirits PRIOR to the tour. The tour promised to be funny and to "uncover tales of murder, deceit, scandals and ghosts."

Our tour guide was a wild and crazy guy who sounded a bit like Wolfman Jack and had big wolf-like ears on. He swung around a pole at the front of the bus, played loud rock and rock and did all kinds of crazy things while telling us stories as we drove around town. There was another "cast member" who welcomed us aboard the bus and introduced our tour guide. He then left the bus and appeared later throughout town as multiple characters in the historical tales we were told by our guide. It certainly made for an entertaining hour but I can't say that I am convinced that all, or any, of the stories that were heard were completely accurate. Nevertheless, it was a fun way to spend the evening. A bit reminiscent of the Nash Trash Tour that we took in Nashville, Tennessee a few years back.

The tour completed, we climbed into the car an drove back to our home away from home, where we had a late dinner and got rested up for tomorrow. So, I am realizing as I wrap this day up that there are a couple of things that I have left out. The first being that last year we decided to add an extra day to our "Girls' Weekend". Our travel days are now Thursday and Wednesday, rather than Thursday and Tuesday, giving us ALL of tomorrow to continue our little getaway and do a bit more exploration. WooHoo! Two, we did the final tossing of the states last night and after a couple of tosses where both states landed face down, we did come up with a winner! 

Looks like we will be headed back to this part of the country, so we will have to see if we can find a place where we can get a different kind of experience. I will start researching!

Tomorrow, we are going to hike again. This time we are going to hike in some of the locations that were used in The Hunger Games movies in the DuPont National Forest. We will be on the lookout for mockingjays.

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