Not that anyone missed me or noticed I was gone. But I spent a few days in North Carolina. Started out last Tuesday via Orlando to visit my darling offspring and then took I-95 north. Never done that before. Arrived in Hendersonville last Wednesday. We stayed at a bed and breakfast for the first two nights, which frankly, shouldn’t call itself a bed and breakfast. Maybe it should call itself “bed” and leave it at that. The breakfast wasn’t that great either morning and the evening meal from the dining room on Thursday evening was (I’m being more than kind here) uninspired. What a disappointment. Since this place screwed up our reservation to begin with, discovering they had only two nights available instead of the four we originally booked, they sent us to the Claddagh Inn, another B & B a few blocks away. For those of you who know me, you know I rarely rave. About anything. Because I’m jaded and used to disappointment, it takes a lot to impress me. But almost from the moment we walked in the door of the Claddagh Inn, I wished we’d booked all four nights of our stay there. There was no one to greet us at the first inn, just a note and the keys to our room in the mailbox. Completely the opposite at the Claddagh. And the breakfast? Allow me to rave! Absolutely excellent and delicious both mornings. Home baked goods, coffee with all the fixings already brewed and available an hour and a half before breakfast. Because the inn was full, their breakfast was buffet style. If there are fewer guests, breakfast is ala carte, but I’m sure it’d still be delicious. Three or four choices of fresh fruit, four choices of juice; three choices of cereal; two or three fresh baked goods; five or six choices of hot items like bacon, scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, pancakes. Another rave about the hashbrowns, something I rarely eat. Little round mounds of shredded potatoes with onion? maybe, perfectly cooked. Not greasy. Everything was so fresh. Everything was yummy. I overate, went completely off my “diet” and didn’t care. Cleaned my plate and went back for seconds. So…if you are in Hendersonville, North Carolina and looking for a B & B, I highly recommend the Claddagh Inn. Oh, another thing they do is put out wine and cheese and crackers for the guests in the evening. If I ran a B & B, that’s what I’d do. Except I’d be out there with the guests drinking the wine. We missed this event both nights we were there, so I can’t say that the innkeeper wasn’t mingling with her guests. Maybe she was.
Well, anyway, the experience made me think a lot about how I’d run a bed and breakfast. I’ve stayed at a few. I’d definitely have coffee available early and maybe some little samples of pastry that will be served at breakfast. And I love the wine and cheese idea in the afternoon—a good time for the guests to mingle. I’d find out if my guests wanted a newspaper of their own and have those available for them. Maybe leave little treats in the room each day. And ice easily available. Maybe it’s just me. I like accessible ice.
The first day we hiked up to Triple Falls and High Falls. So pretty and scenic and quiet. Not too many people to ruin the peace. You can walk right out on the rocks next to High Falls. It’s pretty cool. We also went to the Curb Farmers Market. I bought lots of stuff there. Woven rugs and potholders and embroidered towels. Then we checked out the Apple Festival booths as they were going up. The Apple Festival is a big deal annual event over Labor Day weekend in Hendersonville.
The second day we went to the gem and mineral show and shopped. We were both feeling the effects of our hike the day before.
The first night we ate at Fatz Cafe which is a franchise, although I’d never heard of it. There are about 40 of them throughout the south but none in Florida. The food was good. Our waitress, Tiffany, was a lot of fun. Go there and check it out if you run across one. They are online, too: www.fatzcafe.com
The third day we did something we’ve talked about doing for years. We went whitewater rafting. Okay, the water level in the French Broad River was pretty low, so I’m not even sure there was that much white water. We were on a raft with a professional raft guide (named Ilene) in a group with five other rafts with their own guides. My least favorite part of this experience was being handed a life jacket which I was required to wear. It smelled like really bad B.O. Really bad. Like Jerry’s car on that episode of Seinfeld. The clothes I wore under it are in the dryer as I write this, but I’m afraid I might have to throw them away. I may not be able to get the smell of river and B.O. out of them. The best part of this trip? Three people from our raft fell overboard. No idea how it happened and I wasn’t one of them. No one was hurt and we didn’t have to pay extra to watch it. It happened so fast, I’m not sure any of us even saw it. One of the women who fell over lost one of her shoes. After we got her back in the raft, we saw her shoe where it had been taken downstream ahead of us. Unfortunately, we couldn’t catch it. We got caught in the rocks a couple of times, and that was fun. All in all, worth what we paid for the trip.
We also ate at Sq1 Bistro in Hendersonville. An excellent meal. Priced about the same as the uninspired meal we had at the first inn. I’d highly recommend Sq1. They know what they’re doing, they care about the quality of their food and they don’t feel the need to gouge their customers with a high-priced menu.
Our last night we at the Bay Breeze, (which for some reason I thought was called “Burberry’s”, but realize it must have been the inn manager’s delightful southern accent that threw me off). For $10.99 we got a huge plate with fried popcorn shrimp, fried grouper (don’t know how they did that) cole slaw, another side and Texas toast or hushpuppies. The place was big and it was jampacked. What a deal.
I don’t know what it is about vacations, that make me actually anticipate a ROAD TRIP! It’s a weird felling because when you’re on vacation you take your life with you. It’s you that’s there, but your “real” life is waiting for you back at home. And why do you feel like you’ve been gone weeks when it’s only been days? Why do you tell yourself the trip home won’t be so bad, but it feels like it takes forever? That trip down I-75 through the Florida flatlands. It’s the worst. B-o-r-i-n-g. Didn’t help that my shoulder was giving me its usual problem, spiraling up into a headache like someone drove an ice pick into my ear. Advil’s not especially helpful for this condition, but I gulped them down throughout the day anyhow. By the time we hit Tampa—guess what? No more pain. I don’t get it.
I read and read and read. I finished Nora Roberts’ Tribute on the way up. A good story, which I highly recommend. Then I read Liars Anonymous by Louise Ure, whom I’ve never read before. Also a good read if you like mysteries. Then I started Die For You by Lisa Unger, which I’m still reading. (The large print version but I still need my glasses.)
So…I’m home. Five pounds heavier, second load of laundry going, trying to slowly ease back into my real life. Maybe no one else noticed I was gone. But I think Pepper missed me.