This is Boone | Starry Night edition

A few weeks ago, I spent a Saturday night on my friends’ back porch. We were rocking in rocking chairs, staring up at the stars, and drinking beer and homemade moonshine while there were guns and/or firecrackers firing in the not-so-distant distance. We were enjoying a good conversation and I had one of those moments like I did when I first put on snow boots or that time I wore flannel to brunch where I thought… this is Boone. This is my Boone life.

And then I picked up my rental car the next morning and I drove up to DC for the week.

Sometimes I feel like I’m being pulled in different directions: working in DC and living in North Carolina. Continue reading

Boone Life: Good, Familiar

Yesterday morning, after snacking on a couple Snickerdoodle cookies from our gathering the night before, I made a bowl of fruit salad: watermelon, strawberries, and blueberries drizzled with syrup made from sugar, water, and oranges. I put on a blue cotton dress and a flannel shirt, and Bret made me stand outside to make sure I wouldn’t freeze since it was only 44 degrees outside. In May. Surprisingly, I didn’t freeze! I’m acclimating.

We got in the car, and drove 20 minutes to our friends’ house. Ten minutes of that drive were spent driving up, up, up a narrow mountain road. As usual, we couldn’t rely on the GPS completely. Something about winding gravel roads on a remote mountain doesn’t scream “priority” to google, I’ve learned. More than once, when trying to navigate home at night from a friend’s house, we’ve been stranded without GPS signal… or phone signal! Thankfully, Bret has an incredible sense of direction.

Continue reading

Winter in Boone: a new kind of miserable.

Winter is the worst.
Boone is the worst.
Winter in Boone is downright miserable.

Driving around narrow roads with hairpin turns and cliffs is terrifying enough when they AREN’T coated in ice. Working from home is isolating enough WITHOUT giving up on every evening walk because it is always 4 degrees outside. And living on the side of a mountain is suffocating enough BEFORE seeing layers upon layers and layers of barren branches between you and the sky.

Boone you so pretty

This is literally the first thing I see every morning. Good morning, Boone. You so pretty. Continue reading

Our First Hike

I’m learning that in addition to bluegrass music and local breweries, Boone is known for it’s gorgeous hiking trails.

I’m not much of an outdoorsy person [yet]. I’m one of those people who likes camping and hiking in theory, but not so much in practice. I love fresh air. I love the gentle, soothing sounds of nature. I love food prepared over a campfire. I do not love bugs, snakes, or dirt.

I can’t live here and not at least try to embrace the outdoorsy-ness, though, right? So this weekend, Bret and I went on our first Boone hike. Continue reading

Highland Games 2015

After a great visit with Bret’s parents, they told us that they would leave so we could get back to our normal routine. I realized, when they said this, that our weekends have had no normalcy since we’ve moved to Boone. We’ve been here for a little over a month, but every other weekend we’ve had visitors, I’ve been on work travel, or we’ve been visiting someone. I know we’ll have time to build our routines, but for this weekend, we decided to do another something out of the ordinary.

We’ve seen a lot of signs (and heard a lot of hype) about the annual Highland Games on Grandfather Mountain. From what I could gather, this was a Scottish festival of sorts with lots of competitions and events that took place on top of a huge mountain with limited parking. I kind of hate driving up the mountains, but when we found out that there was a shuttle available, we thought it may be worth the trip. So we hopped on the bus!

20150712_103658One of my fellow passengers described the shuttle as, “incredibly convenient and only a little bit scary” and I would agree with that assessment. Climbing a narrow gravel road up a mountain isn’t exactly more comfortable in a bus than a car, but I was confident in our driver’s ability, and it was worth it for the experience. Also, there were plenty of trees on the side of the road to “catch us” should we run off the road. Fortunately, this was not an issue.

When we arrived, it was a beautiful crisp cool day and even though it was crowded, there was plenty of room to walk around. There were so many events going on all day, and walking around was an experience in itself. We immediately felt energized and both said within seconds of arriving that we were glad we decided to spend the afternoon here.

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I knew I had some Scottish heritage so I wondered if I could trace it back to a particular Scottish clan. I couldn’t this time, but it was so fun to see each tent and families dressed in authentic kilts and colors. It felt like a giant family reunion of sorts.

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We had fun checking out all of the different items for sale: kilts, t-shirts, authentic jewelry… I almost spent $50 on a ring, but decided against it. It’s so hard to decide in situations like this because you don’t know when you’ll have an opportunity to find something similar again, but we both agreed that we will be here next year.

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After walking around for a bit, I spotted some nearly empty bleachers so we climbed up to watch some of the games.

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One of my favorite activities was watching a border collie who could herd and direct the sheep better than the children volunteers.

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I also enjoyed the children’s races. They all wore kilts!

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There was also a lot of great music. And parades!

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Bret tried some authentic Scottish food…including…haggis. I won’t tell you what haggis is. You can Google it if you don’t know. But I think it’s disgusting and I refused to kiss Bret until he brushed his teeth hahaha. Haggis is the gooey looking stuff on the right of his plate:

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We ate while we sat on some rocks waiting for our shuttle. We got to talk to a few people there and most of them had been to Scotland before – multiple times. They told us the best places to stay and where to eat and by the end of our conversations I became convinced that we need to plan a trip to Scotland next summer. Best of all, the drive down the mountain was significantly less scary since we could drive on a two-lane paved road.

Overall it was an awesome event that draws a huge crowd each year so I’m looking forward to attending again. (A win for Boone!) I heard from talking with other visitors that over 58,000 people attended on Saturday and the lines were impossible, so I’m glad we decided to go on Sunday instead.

Until next year!

Things I LOVE about Boone [so far]

Moving is a very personal process. It involves physically touching and organizing all of your belongings. It’s disruptive. It’s scary. It’s expensive. But it can also be so very cleansing. I won’t go so far to say that I enjoy it, but I appreciate the process. Dare I say, I crave it, like I crave a big challenge every once in a while.

It’s a fresh start. When I look back over the past decade of my life, there’s been a lot of fresh starts, and most of those have centered around a move. These were the big ones:

  • In 2005, I moved away from my family to begin college.
  • In 2011, I completed my Master’s degree and moved to Washington, D.C. to begin my first full-time job.
  • In 2012, I moved to Florida to live with Bret.
  • And this year… in 2015… I moved to Boone, NC.

It’s no secret that Boone is not where I pictured myself living. I loved Florida, and I missed the DC city life, so when Bret hit the job market, I imagined we’d either stay in palm tree paradise or be back in a buzzing, bustling, big city. Well. You know that phrase, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans?”

This is where I live now…

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It’s gorgeous, right? But there is neither a palm tree nor a bustling city in sight.

I have a bad habit of focusing on what isn’t. There is no Target here. There is no beach here. It’s pretty cold all the time. I’m making a point to have an open-mind, though, because I know moving out of my comfort zone has always led to positive change. I mean, LOOK at those mountains! If only I enjoyed camping or hiking or knew how to ski…

One of my dear friends asked me, “Tell me something you really like about your new house.” and, “What’s something you really like about Boone?” Even though it doesn’t feel like home yet, making a point to identify these things is a healthy exercise. I said that I like how our living room came with built-in bookshelves, and I love that Boone has a TON of incredibly delicious local restaurants with a plethora of vegetarian options. That’s a huge plus for me.

Reminding myself of those things and feeling grateful for what IS here obviously makes me feel a lot better. So today, I’m focusing on the good things. Here are some things I LOVE about Boone so far:

    1. It has an EarthFare. earthfareEarthFare is a grocery store full of healthy (and sometimes pretty expensive) foods. They also have a salad bar, a smoothie bar, a hot bar with mashed potatoes which Bret loves. We don’t shop there for all of our regular groceries, but somehow, this place became a staple in our Tallahassee life and I’m so glad it “made the move” with us to Boone. We love their freshly made cookies, their natural low sugar sodas, and the salad bar. They also have the best produce and seafood. Hooray for fresh seafood in the mountains!
    2. 20150327_124002 20150327_130119 Our Daily Bread. I’ve only been to this place twice so far, but I could tell after a quick glance at the menu that this restaurant was made for me. A whole section dedicated to local vegetarian sandwiches?! A whole display of homemade desserts?! Get in my belly. It’s located downtown which is within walking distance of a bunch of other delicious restaurants and adorable shops.
    3. Stick Boy Bread Company. It’s a bakery with the best croissants and cookies and coffee. I love it there.
    4. I’m going to learn how to ski! (Honestly, I just threw that in here because I realized this list is mainly about food, but I do plan to learn how to ski, or, at least, I plan to enjoy the ski lodge experience. They have hot cocoa and a fireplace right?)
    5. Those mountain views. I mean, they are pretty breath-taking and oh-so-different from our Florida flatness. I am going to miss the beach, but I can drive over to the North Carolina coast in about 4 hours. And I do love the mountains.
      Boone scereery
    6. Our new house. I didn’t love it at first, but it’s pretty cute and comes with pretty much everything we were looking for. I really do love our big gas fireplace and enormous windows. Truthfully, it’s more about where we DON’T live. When we came up here to look at houses, we drove up non state-maintained roads that were either single lane gravel roads through a mountain or steep climbs up a cliff without a guard rail. We looked at places without trash pick-up or running water or quality internet (which is absolutely essential when you work from home). Our house is close to campus which means we can get food delivery and our roads are state-maintained which will be wonderful in the winter. I’m grateful. And I’m grateful I never have to drive on these roads again:
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    7. 20150328_154924Candy. Yes, we’re back to the topic of food. Have I mentioned…The Candy Barrell?! The Mast General Store has hundreds of delicious candies and you can just fill up a bucket. It’s like trick-or-treating without the effort. I also just really like the feel of the rest of the store. Need hiking boots? Hiking socks? A hiking hat? A hiking back pack? I have no intentions of becoming an extreme mountain climber, but it reminds me that there is a lot of exploring to be done.
    8. I think this is my favorite thing, though: being closer (only a 5-hour drive) to my family and so many Virginia friends. We’re only 7 hours from DC (hello, co-workers!) and also only 9 hours from Bret’s family which is a day’s drive — certainly closer than Florida. I really missed being able to hop in the car and see my sister on a spontaneous weekend, and I feel like that option is back within my grasp. That means more than any palm tree or city could provide.

I know what it’s like to transition into living in a new place. This process is familiar to me. Everything feels off for a while. You feel like an imposter who is just visiting someone else’s house. You don’t know how to pronounce all the street names or where to find the light switches at first. But then, you do.

When Bret and I started dating, we both knew we didn’t want to live in one place forever. A career in academia grants us with opportunities to live and work in new places. This is just one of them. I don’t want to rush the adjustment phase or pretend I don’t miss Florida. I’d LOVE to cast away in a canoe right now, marvel at those cypress trees, brunch on down at Paisley Cafe, drive through some canopy roads, and then stretch my arms up toward the sun that always made such a friendly appearance after an afternoon shower…

…Do you think I’ll remember Boone this fondly one day? I bet yes. Well, I hope so.

I know Boone has some of these things and also it’s own charms. And, honestly, thinking about Tallahassee also makes my heart ache for other places I’ve lived and loved like Harrisonburg. Gosh, I miss that place. That’s another pro for Boone, though. We’re so much closer to that perfect town where we met. JMU Football weekends, here I come!