About a week ago, I asked Google, “where is the most beautiful place to visit in fall?”
According to travelandleisure.com, Asheville, North Carolina was the place to go. I looked at a few photos and was immediately sold. Upon doing a little more research, I learned that the first weekend of November was the time of the leaves peak color. At this point, I was finalizing my purchase of our hotel room.
Wilson and I left Bowling Green on Thursday around 11:00 in the morning. We planned to hit the road hours earlier, but the night before was brutal to us. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say the absolutely foul smell of Yogi’s diarrhea on the carpet of my bedroom was not a pleasant way to be woken up in the middle of the night. We burned sage, two candles, used soap, bleach, water, 4 towels, and still contemplated booking a hotel for the night rather than sleeping in that disgusting room.
Carrying on with the Yogi Horror Story, he refused to use the bathroom before we began our 6 hour drive to North Carolina. Terrified for the night before to repeat itself in the car, Wilson and I added an hour of time to our drive from stopping to let him out so often. Spoiler alert: he didn’t go to the bathroom a single time.
After an entire day of driving, we finally checked into the only pet friendly hotel we could find that was under $1,000 for the weekend. It smelled funny and only had 100 channels on the TV, but it was good enough for us. We crawled into bed for a single moment to relax when it occurred to us that we wouldn’t be getting out of it for the rest of the night. It was officially cuddle and pizza delivery time. Falling asleep to repeated episodes of Family Fued on the TV, our little family was full of joy to be on our first wilderness adventure together.
(Going to pretend that Yogi didn’t have another middle-of-the-night accident on our hotel floor and continue on with the happy story)
Waking up to Yogi licking our faces, indicating he was ready to get out of bed and start the day, we quickly began gearing up for our days hike. We hopped on Blue Ridge Parkway and headed for Craven Gap Trail. On the way there, we stopped at Haw Creek Valley Overlook to breathe in the beautiful mountains full of colorful trees.
Beginning the Craven Gap Trail, we were unaware we just embarked on a 10 mile trail. An hour into the trail, we asked a passing hiker how far the overlook was.
“About a mile,” they said.
About a mile and 20 more minutes later, we were worried we went the wrong way. We asked another passing hiker how far the overlook was.
“About a mile,” they said.
This “mile” took us another hour. In the end, it took us a total of nearly three hours to get to where we were going. The view was beautiful, but looked so familiar?
Turns out, the view was simply an elevated version of the Haw Creek Valley Overlook we stopped at a few hours prior. We sat on the ledge of the mountain, amazed that we just did that.
In that moment, we truly accepted the fact that we are complete AMATEURS at planning and pursuing our own travels. There was nothing to do but crack up laughing.
Nonetheless, it was awesome.
Sharing ranch flavored sunflower seeds and flying our new drone, we were at peace.
Until we remembered we had to hike back.
There wasn’t a chance in hell that we were going to take the same three hour trail back to the car. Quite frankly, we didn’t have another choice. We began the trek back up and down the mountain when we fortunately saw an opportunity to leave the trail and walk on the road itself. Our walk just went from 2 hours through the mud to 40 minutes on the pavement.
Our legs, killing us, possessed us to try and hitch a ride. Holding our thumbs out nearly the entire walk back to the car, not a single person believed that we wouldn’t kidnap and kill them if they gave us a ride. I say this because people would wave and smile, clearly acknowledging us, then safely continue on the road from the luxury of their heated cars… without us in them.
I’ve been making it out to sound miserable, and I want to make it clear that it was the exact opposite. It was chaotic, of course, and therefore became one of my favorite memories Wilson and I have yet to share. Singing “99 bottles of beer on the wall” to pass time, we kicked up the fallen leaves with our feet and watched Yogi try to bite them before they hit the ground again. We watched the sun go down, made friends with other side-of-the-roaders, took a few breaks to lay in the leaves, and found some potential hiking sticks for the next day.
I loved every single second of it.
Finally reaching the car, we hit the gas all the way to the nearest Mexican restaurant, Ay Caramba! Ordering over $50 worth of food for us two hungry hikers, our bodies literally felt renewed.
Until the food coma hit.
We were in bed for the rest of the night, watching 17 Again and Twilight on channel 68.
(Notable mention: Yogi slept through the entire night and didn’t suffer from the runs)
The next day rolled around before we even knew it, and we were much more prepared for the day. Taking a pit stop to Waffle House on the way, our tummies were full and ready to explore.
An hour later, we made it to our destination.
(Backstory before continuing: Last May, Wilson and I went to the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and began the hike to a nearby waterfall. About to start my period, my stomach and head started killing me halfway through our march uphill. We ended up turning around and never saw a waterfall together. Wilson has never gotten over it)
Hence, our destination being Linnville Falls.
Linnville Falls was a much, much easier hike than Craven Gap. Seeing all 3 waterfalls the area had to offer, we only hiked a total of maybe 2 miles all day. Which is extraordinary mileage for the views we were able to experience.
Yogi was the center of attention the entire time of us being in Linnville. If I had a dollar for every time someone said “HES SO CUTE” … I’d have a few hundred dollars. We met a few sweet families as we ventured from waterfall to waterfall, all petting Yogi and asking where we’re from. Everyone in the mountains are so kind. The energy is different.
There’s a Japanese practice in Asheville based off the research that spending 2 hours in nature a day can drastically, positively change someone’s entire persona / life. Putting this practice to test ourselves, we deem it to be absolutely true. We would hum to ourselves all day, questioning the entire experience that is life.
I loved every second of it.
That night, we ordered Olive Garden for dinner. For the millionth time in my life, the employees thought my name was “Adam” and not “Autumn.” I’m not sure if my Kentucky accent makes me say my own name in a funky way, but this happens all the time. Wilson laughs every time.
Turning on channel 68, we watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and another Twilight movie before falling asleep in each others arms.
We finally saw a waterfall together.
The next day, the final day, TODAY, we didn’t explore the mountains again. To switch it up, we started the day off with Starbucks holiday drinks. (Wilson LOVES the Peppermint Mocha Frappe. He’s been talking about it all fall). After that, we ventured to Twisted Crepes, where I got a mouthwatering brunch.
Yogi couldn’t go in any of the shops Downtown besides the pet stores, so that’s where we went. We found him a bone that lasted him the remainder of the day and a new bandana. After that, we walked through a few street vendors along the sidewalk of a tall building in the center of the city. Buying herbs to make anti-anxiety and dream-enhancing tea, our trip to the city was more than successful.
The day in Asheville finished with a picnic along French Broad River Park. Sharing sandwiches from FireHouse Subs, Wilson and I watched rollerbladers and runners fly past our table. A few feet away from our lunch area was a dog park full of puppies.
We spent a few hours there.
Finally, we bought some honey from a man on the side of the road on the way back to our hotel. Our parents were so mad we didn’t bring them back a memorandum from California — so we were sure not to make the same mistake twice.
We’re on our way back to Bowling Green as I type this. We just got out of a huge traffic jam, where we sang Adele the whole time. I’ve been feeding Wilson his meal from KFC as he drives, using his chicken tender as a microphone while belting Olivia Rodrigo’s “Jealousy, jealousy.” It’s kind of our song? We have a little dance for it — specifically for when we’re riding in the car. It’s a rare yet special performance.
2 hours left to go til we’re home and I already want to plan another visit.
We climbed mountains, fell in love, and ate dinner in bed every night.
What could be better?