I wrote previously about our 4 day stay in the Highlands area but wanted to leave some final thoughts. When we planned this, I was just looking for a short additional stay on our way from WI to Destin, FL. We picked Highlands because of suggestions, previous trips to NC and the driving distance.
This trip was a bit different for us, as once we had a rough area we started looking for lodging. We fell in love with the pictures we saw for Mountain Laurel Rest in Scaly Mountain. It was wonderful and I'm so glad we picked it. For us, some of our trips are about the place and just any old bed to plunk down at. For this trip we wanted both a special experience with the accommodations and interesting things to do. It really enhanced the stay to know we had a wonderful home to go to with friendly people and fabulous food waiting for us. Originally we wondered if the distance to Highlands would be a problem, it wasn't, the drive DID get shorter every time we took it.
So, LESSON ONE: follow your gut--no matter how much we looked around nowhere else caught our interest as that B&B and it was a very good decision.
LESSON TWO: allow time to adapt to the area. Yes, the roads are challenging, and for me the altitude was an issue, but the beauty of the area was wonderful. It was also so different from the relatively flat areas of the mid west or the beaches of the gulf.
LESSON THREE: there are many areas where cell phones don't work and GPS info may be wrong. Carry a map and if there is a real need for a cell call, you'll be out of a dead zone soon.
LESSON FOUR: plan for contingencies. Some may say I over pack, but the original plan was spending time strolling around Highland's shops in beautiful spring weather. Well, many shops didn't open for until May 1st, we had a record cold snap and the driving distances were longer than we expected. Luckily I had packed fleece, a down jacket and jeans along with nice clothing and I lived in the former for several days. Some of our favorite places we learned about from other travelers.
LESSON FIVE: have an outline of places and things to do, but leave enough time for changes. One of the main attractions, Dry Falls was shut down and we messed up and took a wrong turn leaving Whitewater Falls. No problem we enjoyed what we did find and have another "wrong turn" story.
LESSON SIX: the people you meet make the trip special. We'd only stayed in one other B&B before and took a chance on this one. Janis and Dave had some many suggestions, were so interesting and considerate--you won't get that from even a top concierge. We struck up conversations with perfect strangers and learned about some beautiful places we hadn't considered. We also learned that dogs also seem to be affected by altitude and that there are some really nice people out there who'll love to help, all you need to do is ask.