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Monday, August 18, 2014

Road Trip!

Earlier in the summer we packed up the car and headed to Highlands, North Carolina. That's where I spent a good portion of my childhood. I haven't been back in ages, so this was really exciting. Right outside Chicago we spotted the Wienermobile. This is one of only 8 in the U.S. So that makes this sighting even more exciting than spotting a Hawaii license plate. 
 After spending the night in Greensburg, Indiana, we headed to Chapel Hill to visit my mom (she lives nearby). We didn't have much time for sightseeing, but we did stop for breakfast at the old-fashioned Waffle House on Franklin Street. In a word: delicious! 
 After stopping at a sports restaurant in Waynesville to watch the U.S./Portugal World Cup game, we drove on up the mountain to Highlands.

We arrived at our rental house pretty late. It was dark, foggy and a little spooky. It didn't help that my Scooby-Do-loving kids kept announcing that they saw ghosts as I scrambled to turn on the lights. By morning the house felt cheerier. We were energized and headed to Sunset Rock for a little hike. 
 It looks like the girls are running along a cliff. They're not. There's quite a bit more rock back there. That little cluster of white is the town of Highlands. 
 Did you ever go gem mining when you were a kid? I really wanted the girls to try, so we all went to this place on the Franklin road (about halfway between Highlands and Franklin). This place sold hot boiled peanuts, so we got to check two things off our must-do summer vacation list. 
 They found lots of shiny stuff in their bucket. My mom was generous and offered to have their favorite stones cut. Weeks later and they're still telling anyone who will listen that mom is going to turn their stones into jewelry when the get older. 
The mountains offered us a few sunny days like this... 
 but mostly it was like this...
Main Street is still cute like it was when I was a kid, but the shops have gotten a little fancier. 
I'm a list maker, so I'll leave you with my top 10 things to do in Highlands.

10) Scare the boiled peanuts out of your passengers as you drive with confidence up the Franklin road. I'm pretty sure they heightened the railing along the gorge, so it's not quite as terrifying of a drive for out-of-towners as it used to be. My husband was still pretty freaked out though. 
9) Nature Center (Highlands Biological Station) 
8) Friday night auctions at Scudders Gallery on Main Street. We didn't even get a chance to do this on our trip, but this was the main weekend event before there were bars and coffee shops. 
7) Sit on Loafers Bench on Main Street and count the Florida license plates.
6) Drive your car under Bridal Veil Falls. 
5) Sunset Rock. An easy hike from town with great views of Main Street and surrounding mountains. 
4) Buck's Coffee Cafe on Main Street. When I lived in Highlands, there were no cafes. So even though Buck's has been around for a while, it's still really exciting for me. 
3) Whiteside Mountain. A moderately difficult hike with amazing views. 
2) Bluegrass Wednesdays at the Ugly Dog Pub. This was totally new to me. Not just bluegrass night, but bars! Bars in Highlands. Never thought I'd see that. Several city folks whipped out their iPhones when a local guy started clogging. 
1) Dry Falls. So impressive that it has its own Wikipedia entry

 
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