Although I’d been to the area before (one of my sisters went to Western Carolina University in Cullowhee), Bryson City was new to me. And what a cute little town it is! We did not choose Bryson City for the attractions it offered, but rather the lack of. We went based off a good looking, pet friendly cabin with a secluded feel. I knew from the descriptions on the website that there would be a steep driveway, but not to the point where it probably should have recommended a four wheel drive. It helps, though, to know how to maneuver on hills- knowing you need a little speed and driving slightly off center of the driveway so you didn’t drive where others drove and spun into the ground. My husband is from SC, where it’s flat. Let’s say he learned something new.
The plus side of being on top of the hill is the privacy and the views. I always feel at home among the trees and when I got out of the car, it was so quiet that I just immediately relaxed. It was such a wonderful change from hearing traffic nearby our apartment. We also lucked out on the smoke. You may or may not have heard that the southern parts of the Appalachian Mountains are suffering from some of the worst wildfires its ever had. It’s so big that the smokes had reached Charleston a couple of days before we headed out. The morning we were set to leave, to ease my mind (aside from it being too late to get a refund), I called to see if we would be affected. Luckily the wind was not blowing their way that weekend. It was pretty clear our whole stay, though it was a little hazy and I could get whiffs of it every now and again. We were able to enjoy sitting outside, which I was very happy about as I had no plans to leave my dog behind.
As soon as we had finished checking out the place and unpacked, we got right back in the car and drove to town, which was literally 5 minutes away. Talk about convenience. There was a dog friendly winery that I had added to our agenda beforehand. We had hoped it would be on one of the main streets, but when we realized it wasn’t, we were so hungry, we opted for Nick and Nate’s. Their buffalo pimento pizza was absolutely delicious! Even Taz enjoyed the crusts. While we were sitting there waiting for the pizza and enjoying a couple of locally brewed beer, we noticed a family matching and mixing in red and plaid. Jon and I joked to each other that it was a little early to be celebrating Christmas, even though a lot of people do start celebrating before Thanksgiving and the town had its Christmas lights up. The family matched like someone bought them a family reunion t-shirt that you wear when you take a trip together. We watched to see where they would go. (Yeah, we people-watch sometimes.) They walked into an unmarked building. That was when we noticed other families wearing pajamas. We figured something was going on that we didn’t know about. By now, we were starting to take in our surroundings. Nearby was a candy store, a used book store, a small art gallery, and the Great Smoky Railroad train. I had wanted to get on to enjoy a couple of hours of a scenic ride, but they weren’t dog friendly. That unmarked building was right next to the train and right next to the unmarked building was a tent set up for the Polar Express. The train was all decorated up. That was when I realized the whole thing was inspired by that Christmas movie The Polar Express! How funny is that? Not to mention cute for families with little kids.
Our next stop was the Great Smoky Mountain Winery. Once we knew where they were, we had to go. Because they would be closed tomorrow otherwise. On our way, we walked by a store that had a bear in front of it. A life size bear. I think Taz was as startled by it as the people nearby were of him barking and growling at it. But, of course, it wasn’t real, but how can you explain that to him? We had to carry on, though, because we didn’t want to stay out too late after dark. Maybe I didn’t look closely enough at the menu, but I had not realized that this winery wasn’t the type to make their own, but rather they were representing NC wines, though they had others. We tasted 8 different types. Most of what we selected was NC wine. We enjoyed the tasting with a delicious slice of cheesecake and took home a slice of chocolate explosion cake along with two bottles of wine- one from NC, one from Spain. Believe me, we devoured that cake later on.
The next day, we went out for lunch at Anthony’s and enjoyed even more pizza and local beer. Taz enjoyed even more crust and attention from waitresses and people walking by. He pretends to be a well-grounded boy, but he knows how good looking he is. We decided to walk off our lunch up and down town. We walked past the life sized bear again. This time I was able to convince him that it wasn’t real. He was good to go after that. People laughed when I told them that he’s never seen a bear before. I walked into the shop and almost bought a beautiful hand-carved bear that would remind us of how funny Taz’s reaction toward a fake bear was, but I passed on it. Our next stop was Nantahala Brewing Company. We ordered a flight of 4 beers and left with a winter special, which we enjoyed later that evening.
We talked a lot that evening about buying a cabin, but we know we’re nowhere near ready. We need to focus on buying a house here first and build our way up. A second home in the mountains would be amazing!