Friday, January 31, 2014

The Great Smokies

I fell back into my life in the U.S. so smoothly and so quickly it almost feels like Italy never happened.  I have my memories and my relationships to attest to the fact that it wasn't all just a dream.  However, when you have a life-changing experience, you almost expect the rest of the world to change too and when I came back everything was just as I left it!  I am glad to have the familiarity and close relationships that make my home, home but at the same time if things had drastically changed, moved forward etc. it would have put me a little off balance which is always a good catalyst for change.  And I'm once again getting restless for more change and adventure!

Anyway, I brought a little bit of Italy home with me, and the boyfriend and I made fresh pasta a few weekends ago.  Joe was a natural (he was better at rolling the dough out than me) and although it still took an inordinate amount of time, there were no catastrophes of the sort that plagued my last attempt at making fresh pasta (see full story here).  We enjoyed our fresh tagliatelle with bolognese ragu and some of the red wine I brought back...yum! Next attempt will be ravioli!
My little car entertainment center
I thought after Italy I wouldn't have anymore travels for awhile but this past weekend Joe and I made a spontaneous trip to the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina.  Saturday morning we made the 8 hour drive into the Smoky Mountains; although it was a long drive it was a beautiful one.  We passed through the rolling green hills of the Shenandoah down I-81 and through the misty blue Smoky Mountains.  Along the way we stopped at a pretty little scenic overlook and took some ridiculous photos (see below).  Sunday afternoon we arrived at our whitewashed rustic cabin that sat by a bubbling creek in the middle of the wooded hillsides near the National Park.

After settling in and exploring the cabin we set out on a hike to Fontana Lake.  The trail was snow covered and icy and it was  a bit circuitous getting there but once we arrived it was worth it.  The steep hillsides surrounding the lake evidenced the passing of many years through the visible layers of sediment (which was not only a neat Geology lesson, it was a beautiful landscape effect).  We witnessed the sun setting over the distant hazy mountains and then made the trek back to the cabin as darkness descended over the beautiful landscape.  What better way to keep away the darkness than a glowing grill and a cozy campfire?  Upon reaching the cabin I fired up the grill (my time building fires in Montefegatesi served me well) and Joe built a blazing campfire.  We grilled up some steaks and veggies for dinner and then had s'mores for desert, perfect!
Fontana Lake

We woke up Monday morning to a beautiful day that felt more like spring than winter and we set out to catch dinner.  Neither of us had really been fishing before but we proved to be efficient fishermen; our first three lines out brought in three rainbow trout.  After fishing we hiked for a bit and then went back to the cabin and grilled up the fish, made some s'mores and enjoyed the amenities of the cabin (including the hot tub!).  Luckily we headed to bed early because we had no idea what was in store for us the next day...

If you've watched the news in the last few days you would have seen about the big snowstorm in Atlanta, GA.  Well Bryson City where we were is about 2 hours from Atlanta.  Although we headed out early (around 10am), pretty soon we were caught up in the storm.  Snow fell heavily, coating the roads in a thick layer of icy, wet snow.  Although Joe's truck had no problem cutting through the mess, that didn't help us get around the standstill traffic as people came to a near halt navigating the icy roads.  16 hours later and finally back in Virginia we were near to crazy from exhaustion as we pulled up to the house at 2 in the morning.  It will be a long while before I'm up for a long road trip again, but in March I have a trip to Pennsylvania with Cari!
Hidden Creek Cabin

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