Run to the Hills

In August, My Man is going to Alaska. Damn him. Me and the kids got to go last summer, so I suppose it’s only fair. But still, I’ve had to carefully work my head around the envy.

Part of my tactic is the same as I use for my 4yo– offer an exciting alternative! And so I started thinking about places closer in that I might like to take the kids on a road trip to. I started by thinking about Tennessee. What’s in Tennessee? Why, The Farm of course! Hippie icon of communal and progressive living, as well as home to Ina May Gaskin, mother of the 1960’s midwifery revival in the United States. Also in TN, my not-so-secret crush Sandor Katz (author of The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved) lives at yet another farm commune called Short Mountain.

But it’s a 9 hour drive up there. Do I want to spend 18+ hours of my vacation driving? Have I mentioned that I hate driving? Alone with 2 kids? Just to go knock on their respective doors and say, blushingly, ‘hi….’ It was not sounding very appealing.

I’ve been wanting to take them on a train ride though. That could really be fun. I looked to see how close I could get by train. Hmm. Not very. But in the course of my futzing around I stumbled across the fact of the Blue Ridge Mountains, right there on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, and a mere 2 hour drive from the train. Errr? Mountains? Well, more like high rolling hills. Nevertheless I was hooked.

And then, lo and behold, the Appalachian Trail runs through them mountains! And ends in Georgia! Who knew? I’ve always had a thing about the AT, what outdoorsy person hasn’t? Of course, solo with two littles, I can’t actually hike on it, but I could go and stand on it. Maybe peeble a few hundred feet of it. I could see it anyway, and how cool is that?

Then I started to realize that hey, the Appalachians are famous for their backwoods old-timers. The mountain farmers of yesteryear. Like in the Foxfire books, another icon of my yearning-to-be-a-homesteader days. Wait, hold everything, could this be true? The Foxfire Museum?! Right there in the southwestern tip of North Carolina?

So, looks like me and the kids will be taking a train trip to Atlanta, Georgia. Renting a car and driving up to the Blue Ridge Mountains. I’ve got a line on a couple of farms, hoping one will take us for a few days. Late August. Anyone want to join us?

Or, more likely, anyone know the area and have any recommendations, or live round about there with an extra bedroom?

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7 thoughts on “Run to the Hills

  1. That sounds fantastic. Well, the car thing with kids not so much, but the vacation in the Blue Ridge Mtns….fantastic! I don’t know of any farms, but I do highly recommend A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson. And if you have time before your trip, I’m a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away, also by Bill.

  2. i grew up in western nc. i’ll actually be driving 12 hours alone with my dd to visit my parents there for the first half of august. pisgah national forest is awesome. besides lots of easy, beautiful trails and waterfalls, it also is the birthplace of american forestry so there is a forest discovery center, fish hatchery, the original forestry school (including historical re-enactors), and tubing on the “river”(more like a sizeable stream). brevard is the town at the entrance to the forest. pretty touristy, but has a street dance on tuesday evenings which is usually crawling with kids. be prepared for thunderstorms. it’s been droughty the past few years, but the usual is for some rain every afternoon. if you do get rained out for an afternoon, downtown asheville is great. lots of hippy shops, art galleries, and a kickass children’s museum/”health adventure”. in the evenings downtown there are tons of street performers, and on friday nights there is a drum circle/unofficial community dance at one of the parks. there is also an abundance of amazing food. less relevant with kids in tow, but asheville has also been voted “beer city usa” several years running because of its plethora of microbreweries.
    i wouldn’t recommend the appalachian trail when alone with littles. however, you can drive along the blue ridge parkway to a number of great smaller trail heads and lookouts. my absolute favorite is “graveyard fields” which is a great short hike to an incredible view of the shining rock wilderness, and is covered in wild blueberry bushes. i have been on three continents, and it remains my favorite picnic spot in the world. just talking about all this stuff is making me super excited for my own trip. hope you enjoy yourself.

      1. heh, internet speak, “dd” is “dear daughter”. i spend too much time on message boards and the lingo creeps up on me.
        i love when people discover the blue ridge, and try to talk it up whenever possible. i miss living there something awful.

  3. Ooh, FOXFIRE books. Glad to find another fan. I have 1-8. I don’t know if there were more than that. And Bill Bryson books…also winners.

  4. Well goodness, if you’re going to be that close-! Come up here to Knoxville, and we can meet up, we’re just 3 hours north of ATL & about 2 hours west of Asheville. Just north of us is the Appalachian Museum, about 40 minutes – a sincerely awesome place to visit.

  5. Western Kentucky was always beautiful when I used to live there. But I no longer know anyone with couchs/spare rooms there anymore . . .

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