Have you ever had one of those days where at 2 PM you ask yourselves if you actually have time to do everything you have planned? And then you find yourself at 7 PM sitting in the backseat with an already-past-her-bedtime toddler eating Chick-fil-A in a Best Buy parking lot? That was pretty much (exactly) how our daytrip to Asheville, NC and Mount Mitchell State Park went.
For all the reasons and excuses, we set off in the morning about an hour later than we had planned. So already we were off to a fortuitous start. Driving from the campground in Tennessee to Asheville requires going through a mountain pass, and part of our delay was hoping that the fog would lift by the time we were heading up the mountain (it had not).
This was our second trip to Asheville since arriving in Tennessee, and our primary reason for going was to go to Trader Joe’s and stock up on groceries. Tennessee does not have a state-wide mask mandate (the first state we have visited to not have this in effect), and so we are very cautious about where and when we shop. Since we love Trader Joe’s and wanted to do a little sight-seeing around Asheville, it did not even phase us to head back over the mountain.
Our first stop was a fly shop for Will to pick up a few fishing supplies. The girls and I stayed in the truck, though I hear he had a good conversation with the guy in the shop and got what he needed. A success!
While he was in there, I placed our order at Hole Doughnuts. I had come across this small shop on Instagram, and I am a sucker for donuts. It was totally worth the stop. They have a very limited menu, but what they have is delicious. They are only operating via online orders and customers were not even allowed to step foot in the shop–they brought our order out to us. We tried each of their four flavors of donuts, which were still warm when we picked them up, and thoroughly enjoyed them. They were not super sweet like so many donuts, and their flavors were subtle and delicious.
We ate our donuts on the tailgate in a park along the French Broad River, then Will took Little Bird on a walk while I took a call for work in the truck with Daisy. To say the people of Asheville are eclectic is a complete understatement, and we saw quite a few interesting to-dos while we were there. At then end of my call was when I asked if we had time for all the things, and well, we forged ahead!
Trader Joe’s was an experience all in itself, as it typically is, but we made it out of the parking lot unscathed and we stocked up on coffee, produce, and everything ciabatta rolls, so yet another success.
From there, we headed up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, and let me tell you, pulling onto that road we love so much was a breath of fresh air. Asheville is great but driving up a mountain with no one else around is truly as good as it gets.
We made our way to Mount Mitchell State Park, which has been high on Will’s list of things to do while we are in the area. It is the tallest point east of the Mississippi, and you can drive to the top. We wound our way up the mountain and into, then above, the fog. It was rather crisp at the parking lot at the top, so we all bundled up and headed toward the observation deck and summit. Even though we could not see a ton, the views with the clouds and mountains peeking through in the distance were still spectacular.
When we returned to the truck, we realized that it was starting to get dark and the lower elevations were really fogging in. This combination lead to an interesting drive down the mountain and Blue Ridge Parkway (where we saw no other cars until we turned onto another highway).
We also realized that we were about twice as far away from the campground as we thought, and we had to weigh our options. Clearly picking up dinner on the way and getting Bird to bed at a not-too-late time won. We really try not to randomly eat out unless we plan to ahead of time, but we knew we would have a melting down toddler if we did not feed her dinner before 7:30 PM and bedtime would then likely be later and terrible. The option with a higher bedtime success rate is always going to win, so hello grilled chicken nuggets!
One thing we have already realized we will not be short on in this year of travel is the need to pivot and make changes to our plans, even if that means following through with our plans and making it up as we go. All in all, we had a really great day with some good food and great views, and we cannot ask for more than that.