I’ve missed you. Thank you for being sunny and showing me a great time this week. I hope I don’t have to wait as long before seeing you again. Please take care of yourself in the meantime.
All my best,
Oh, I guess I never told you what I did after my trip to Seattle, huh? Some of you may remember my friend, Jenny, who lives in Colorado. She came to visit me last year while I was still living … Continue reading
I’ve missed you. Thank you for being sunny and showing me a great time this week. I hope I don’t have to wait as long before seeing you again. Please take care of yourself in the meantime.
All my best,
Missed Part I where I told you guys about the cabin we stayed at in North Carolina?
The cabin came equipped with plenty of things in terms of activities. There were traditional outdoorsy things like roasting marshmallows, making s’mores, and songs around the campfire (which in reality was just me listening to my brother play his guitar and deciding not to ruin the moment with my singing). Then there were the nonconventional outdoorsy things like hanging out in the hot tub, playing pool, and watching The Great Outdoors on the large screen TV. My family found ourselves with plenty of things to keep us occupied and were content to spend a bulk of our vacation time just at the cabin.
By far, my favorite moments at the cabin were the mornings. For the life of me, I cannot wake up before 7 a.m. without the help of an alarm clock (and a snooze button) at home. But for whatever reason, at the cabin, I was up bright and early between 6 and 6:30 a.m. every morning. I would go out into the kitchen where I would be joined by mom, who had really been up since 5 a.m. but was just waiting to hear someone else start stirring in the house. One of us would start a pot of coffee and if it was me, my mother would complain that I made it to strong, and if she made it, I would complain how weak it was. My mom would then start making breakfast while I went out onto the deck to capture some pictures of the sunrises.
My mom would either then join me on the deck where we would sit in the rocking chairs and eat breakfast, or I would come inside to join her by the fireplace. Soon after, my dad would get up to join us, followed shortly afterwards by Mister E, and then much later into the morning by my brother and his girlfriend.
As much as we loved our cabin, we did make an effort to get out each day and do some exploring. On the first day, we attempted to go to Lake Fontana where there was supposedly a hiking trail that surrounded the perimeter. We were very underprepared and didn’t even look up directions to the trail head thinking that it would be easy enough to find. Well, after about 45 minutes of wrong turns, we finally called defeat and headed back home for lunch. My parents dropped Mister E, myself, my brother, and his girlfriend off at the base of our mountain and let us hike the 1.5 miles up to our cabin, so we were still able to get some exercise in. Like I mentioned before, the road up to the cabin has a very sharp incline. It’s been a while since I’ve done any hiking, and boy, were my lungs burning!!
After lunch, we rallied the troops again and decided to check out the nearby town of Bryson City. I didn’t have high expectations, but Bryson City surprised me by having a very charming small downtown area of shops and restaurants including a very trendy and unique clothing store which really tortured my poor shopping-banned soul. While my parents checked out some of the gift shops and my brother and his girlfriend went to get a second lunch (do teenagers ever stop eating?), Mister E and I parked ourselves at Morning Perks to take advantage of their free wi-fi and enjoyed a delicious almond joy blended coffee drink.
Right across the street from the coffee shop was a train station for the the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad where visitors can do a tour of the mountains by train. Unfortunately by the time my family checked it out, the last train tour had already gone out for the day.
On our second day and last full day in North Carolina, we were determined to get a real hike in. After doing some thorough research online (our cabin didn’t have wi-fi but I was able to get AT&T service there so I was able to get online through my phone), I found this list of nearby hiking trails. Immediately, the first one on the list jumped out at us, Deep Creek Loop, which was a 4 mile trail that looped around two waterfalls. The trail is described as being flat-leveled except for a one-mile section that goes uphill.
Unfortunately when we got to the trail head, there were several signs stating that dogs weren’t allowed on the trail when we had brought all three of our dogs. We were disappointed that nowhere online had it stated that the trail wasn’t dog friendly. At that point, we weren’t ready to give up and head home, so we decided to take our chances and bring the dogs on the trails. We tried to be as courteous as possible and made sure to clean up any messes. Horses were allowed on the trail, so we also made sure to pull the dogs off to the side anytime a horse passed to avoid having one of the dogs startle it by barking.
The trail was a great choice and the view of the falls were very scenic. The one mile stretch that was described as being moderately difficult, was indeed, a little difficult. We had to take two breaks on the way up just for everyone to catch their breath and get some water. But the rest of the trail was flat-leveled just as promised which made the hike fly by.
I thought you guys would enjoy the below sequence of photos where I had set up my camera to take a group shot with a ten second timer. Within those ten seconds, I had to run up the river bank, down a section of the trail, and then across the bridge. You can see that I made it just in time for the final shot!
Oh, how could I not mention the food on the trip? My mother and I had spent quite a bit of time before the trip planning out our meals so everything would go smoothly. After we planned all of our meals, we made a list of all of the ingredients, and divided it into three categories – food I would bring, food my mother would bring, and food we would buy at a local grocery store. We were very lucky in that the cabin came equipped with a full kitchen making it very easy to have normal meals.
Our Meal Planning ended up looking like this:
It was such a fantastic trip, that the minute I arrived home, I was already wishing I could go back to North Carolina. The fifteen hour car trip each way most certainly wasn’t fun, but I think it was worth it. I felt very fortunate to be able to spend so much quality time with my family and the fact that we were all able to bring along our pet just made everything that much better.
Mister E and I did the math on the trip home, and we figure that if at least six people stay in a cabin, the cabin can be pretty affordable per person/night. We’re already looking to see if there are similar cabins closer to us somewhere in New England that we could get a group of friends together for. If not, we enjoyed Watershed Cabins in North Carolina so much that we just might be willing to make the fifteen hour drive again for it.
Last weekend, Mister E and I made the long trek from Connecticut to North Carolina for a weekend getaway trip with my family. It’s really funny how the whole trip came about actually. Originally, at the beginning of March, my mom brought up the idea of doing a mother-daughter weekend together somewhere out West like Colorado or Arizona. While scouring the internet for travel deals, I happened upon a Groupon for Watershed Cabins near Bryson City in North Carolina.
My mom had mentioned that her and my dad were considering a trip to North Carolina, so I made sure to let her know about the Groupon deal in passing. One of us casually brought up the idea of how neat it would be for the whole family (my parents, my brother, my brother’s girlfriend, Mister, and myself) to stay in a cabin since it has been AGES since we’ve done a real family trip somewhere. Before I knew it, all of our original mother-daughter travel plans were out the window and I was planning a North Carolina family trip now.
The Groupon deal was for two nights in a cabin at a discounted rate, so our original plan was to buy the Groupon and tack on a third night in a cabin at full price. Unfortunately, by the time we had settled on dates and were ready to commit to buying the Groupon a day later, it had already sold out!
I had started to already go into panic mode when I discovered that Watershed Cabins was running their own special on their website. For any two nights booked from January 2012 through March 2012, you would get the third night free! Pricewise, this special would work out to be just about the same had we been able to buy the Groupon, so it was a done deal for us!
The booking process was a little stressful as there were so many great cabins to choose from, and with the Groupon promotion, cabins were booking up quickly and the reservation office was overwhelmed and had slow response times. It took about a week to get everything confirmed, but we were finally able to reserve Lake Fontana View Cabin for the last weekend in March.
The cabin was absolutely perfect!! The website described the cabin being in a gated community, so we weren’t quite sure what to expect. It turned out that by “gated community” they really meant a handful of cabins scattered on the side of a mountain with a gate at the bottom. The drive from the main gate to the cabin was a little nerve racking for someone who may not be experienced to severely steep roads and sharp drop-offs. I had Mister E behind the wheel, so I was just able to close my eyes and duck my head in-between my knees.
Privacy was a big concern for my parents since they wanted a location where they would truly feel out in the wilderness without neighbors. While it was possible to see the tops of some of the other cabins on the mountain from the main road, we were completely secluded at our own cabin and were never disturbed by any lights or noise.
The main floor of the cabin consisted of two bedrooms, a full bath, a kitchen, and a living room and dining area that overlooked the lake and mountains. The kitchen came equipped with an oven, microwave, fridge, dishwasher, washer, dryer, small appliances like a toaster, coffee maker, and blender, dishware, glassware, utensils, cooking tools, and baking items such as pots, pans, cookie sheets, and muffin tins.
The living room was very cozy and inviting with two leather couches, throws, pillows, a gas fireplace, and a large screen TV (complete with satellite). There were also raised ceilings in the living room which made it a great place to sit and enjoy the scenery from the warmth of being inside.
The two bedrooms on the first floor were very basic with only a bed, dresser, and a corner rack for hanging clothes. While some family members complained of the beds being too soft, I found them to be extremely comfortable and could have easily spent the majority of the trip just snuggled under the covers.
In the corner of the cabin was a very impressive circular staircase that led to the upstairs loft area. The loft area consisted of the master bedroom (that I did not get a picture of) with a complete bathroom and jacuzzi bathtub. Outside of the master bedroom was the game room which had a stereo and pool table and overlooked the downstairs area.
Out of the three dogs that were with us, only my little Prince was brave enough to attempt the spiral staircase! He really enjoyed going up to the loft area throughout the day just to keep a lookout on everything from the railing.
As an aside story – My brother’s dog, Shadow, was way too nervous to set step on the spiral staircase, so I convinced my brother to carry him up instead. I figured that once he got to the loft level, Shadow would have a much easier time coming down the stairs. WRONG. After a half hour of all the family members trying to coax him down with all sorts of treats, he still wouldn’t budge an inch. Finally, it took my mother picking him up by his hind legs and me picking him up by his chest to carry him back down the staircase. I will never force an animal up a staircase ever again.
But on the topics of dogs, one of the main selling points of Watershed Cabins was that they allowed dogs without any sort of restrictions. Their pet fee was $10 per night, per dog. So for my family, we had three dogs and stayed three nights, so we paid a $90 pet fee. We considered that a bargain compared to most hotel rates of $20-30 per night or what the cost would have been had we decided to board all three dogs.
Ok, back to the cabin. The back deck on the cabin comes furnished with two rocking chairs, a hot tub (!!!), and a gas grill. There are steps that lead off of the deck and straight into the fire pit area which has four adirondack chairs and a picnic table besides it.
I really can’t say enough good things about Watershed Cabins. The level of comfort, cleanliness, and luxury of our cabin certainly exceeded everyone’s expectations. It was so easy to feel at home there that by the end of the weekend, I was wishing that the cabin really was my home!
I’ll be back tomorrow with the details of all the fun stuff my family did on the trip, but until then, I’m going to stare longingly at these pictures and try to wish myself back to North Carolina!
This past Tuesday marked the three year anniversary of the day that I left Florida, my family, my friends, and the surroundings that I had known for most of my life to move to Seattle. I remember that it had been a tough decision to make, but one that was also filled with so much excitement that the fear was mostly overshadowed with anticipation. This move would mark the beginning of my adulthood and independence. This was the start of my first professional job, my first apartment with no roommates, my first time not having anyone that was just a phone call away to come to my rescue if I needed help. There would be over 3,000 miles between myself and my closest loved ones.
At the end of my college career, I found myself lucky enough to have two job offers in hand. One in Connecticut, where the majority of my extended family lived along with the all important Mister E. The other was in Seattle, Washington, where I knew no one. To some, it seemed like an obvious choice that I would choose the offer in Connecticut to be with Mister E and family. But to me, it wasn’t such an easy decision. At the time, the furthest West that I had been was Missouri, leaving the whole western part of the country as uncharted territory. There was a large question mark on the map hovering over Seattle. What was it like? What kind of people live there? What do people do there for fun? Does it snow there?
I made a long list of pros and cons for both job offers with neither coming out as a clear winner. I talked to my parents about it, soliciting their opinions. I talked to Mister E, going over scenarios of what the future might hold for us with each option. I talked to almost everyone who would listen, looking for any words of wisdom that might give me clarity. I spent two weeks in my own personal limbo, uncertain of what direction my life was about to go in. Part of the problem was that it was so easy for me to envision what my life would be like if I choose Connecticut – I could imagine everything, right down to the very details. But when I tried to imagine what my life would be like in Washington, I kept drawing a blank. How could I compare my two options when one was such a big unknown?
I wish I could say that I experienced some sort of divine intervention and was given a sign that made me confident in my final decision to choose Seattle, but there was none. Ultimately, it was the draw of Seattle’s blank canvas that blindly led me to my choice. As clearly as I could picture every other detail of what my life in Connecticut would be like, I could also see how I would always second guess my choice. I would always have a “what if” nagging at me in the back of my brain. What if I had chosen Seattle? How would things have been different for me? I decided that I didn’t want to move forward with my life always wondering how how life would have turned out had I made a different choice. So I choose Seattle, where I at least had the comfort of knowing what it was exactly that I was giving up by not choosing Connecticut.
There was such an overwhelming sense of relief once my decision was made. And although the process of making the decision was scary, once I had made up my mind, I found that I wasn’t all that scared about making such a big move. After making such a major decision, I was filled with adrenaline that gave me courage that I didn’t know I had.
I woke up at 4:30 a.m. the morning of July 26th, 2008 with a pit in my stomach. I checked and double checked all of my bags and my wallet for my id. I got dressed in my John Lennon t-shirt hoping that I would blend into the Seattle hipster scene. I ate the little bit of breakfast that I could manage to stomach. And then finally, I collected Kaylie and left for the airport with my parents and brother. I waited with my family next to the security gate as long as I could. It was a tough goodbye that wasn’t made any easier by trying to shove a pill down Kaylie’s throat that the vet had given her to help her remain calm for the flight. In that moment, I remember wishing that I had been prescribed something to help calm me down.
Within 15 minutes of walking off the the plane in Seattle, I called my mother collect from a payphone, already close to tears. I had managed to lose my cell phone during the flight and was now completely alone in a strange city with three large suitcases, one cranky cat, and no clue on how I was going to manage. My arrival seemed to set the tone for the next few days as one thing after another seemed to be going wrong. My laptop was on the fritz, I consistently got lost every day, and my old car that had been shipped all the way from Florida wouldn’t start.
As I was reminded again from my recent move to Connecticut, things are rough in the beginning. It takes time to figure things out and get settled in. It took me several weeks in Seattle to start getting comfortable with things and several months before I started to think that I would actually make it on my own there.
Now that I made the decision to leave Seattle for Connecticut nearly three years later, I’ve had friends and family ask me if I regret moving to Seattle instead of Connecticut in the first place. I can’t help but feel as if there’s hidden judgment behind their questions and comments. They make me feel as if I failed with my decision to move to Seattle. As if they’re saying, “Well, you gave it your best shot, but it just didn’t work out”.
Well, I’m here to tell you that Seattle worked out exactly as it was supposed to.
There are absolutely no regrets on my end. Yes, it was tough being on my own and there were lots of moments where I was lonely and missed everyone back in Florida and Connecticut. But with absolute confidence, I can say that Seattle was the right decision for me. It gave me the time and room to grow and explore adulthood without any barriers. I matured in ways that I don’t think would have been possible elsewhere.
And as far as my relationship goes with Mister E, the distance was most certainly a burden and pushed us to the breaking point more than once. However, I know that our love, trust, communication, and appreciation for each other is stronger today. For the rest of my life, Seattle will be remembered as the special place where I developed into the person that I am today.
So my point in telling you all of this is:
don’t be afraid of the choice in life that may be difficult/scary/uncomfortable.
Take a leap of faith and know that you will come out on the other side a changed person for the better.
Regardless of whether it turns out to be the right decision or not, you will be stronger, you will love yourself more, and you will learn that you are smarter and more capable of a person than what you gave yourself credit for.
So go ahead. No more waiting around. Take a deep breath and take the next scary step in life.