A Notch in the Bucket List – North Carolina

There are so many travel destinations I want to explore while I’m able to.  I hear people comment that they want to travel once they retire.  I say, what’s the wait?

Fortunately, I have many friends who share the same philosophy (birds of a feather) so it seems when we get together we spend the majority of our time sharing stories of recent adventures or an upcoming one.  We all have our on-going bucket lists and I recently checked a destination off my own bucket list.

Chimney Rock, North Carolina. I drove through this area in 1990 on the way to visit my brother in Monroe, NC.  My dad was a bit nervous about me driving alone with my daughter so he plotted out our trip turn by turn as if I didn’t know how to read a map.  I followed his instructions meticulously which included a detour off the interstate to, a short-cut (which added 2 hours to our travel time) as he called it.  That short-cut, took us through beautiful mountain switch-backs where we were lucky to reach 20 mph before landing aside Lake Lure and Chimney Rock.  You may recall this area is where part of Dirty Dancing was filmed.  It was late afternoon when we took the curve through the heavily wooded roadside that opened to the breathtaking view of Lake Lure.  We didn’t have time to wander other than a pit stop in nearby Chimney Rock.  I promised myself that one day I would return and with a wedding I was attending in Asheville, it was the perfect time to revisit this area of the smokey mountains I fell upon accidentally decades ago.

Perhaps it’s my Minnesota roots but my eyes yearn for lush, green rolling hills and clear blue lakes and that’s what I found so appealing about this area less than an hour southeast of Asheville.  Lake Lure and the surrounding area is famous for hiking, bird watching, fly fishing, rock climbing, skiing, golfing and boating.  And of course there are many tourists shops to get lost in and local diners to treat your taste buds to southern flavors.

No adventure of mine is ever without a bit of excitement and this trip was no different.  Not anticipating the mountains would interfere with my cell service I quickly discovered not only was I unable to make telephone calls, I also lost my navigation which took me into what seemed like another country, the back hill country and in this case I had no desire to have the experience of a local.  All I could think of was the 1994 movie The River Wild that featured Kevin Bacon and Meryl Streep. Lost and frightened, I came upon a car pulled over to the side of the road.  They looked scary but I was desperate for help.  It was that or pull into what appeared to be an abandoned house except that it had laundry drying from branches on the trees out front.  You get the picture? So I opted for the car of men and asked which direction Chimney Rock was.  They said “I take it you’re not from these parts”.  Clearly I wasn’t, I have a full set of teeth.  While the others stared at me like I was a space alien the driver kindly told me to go to the stop sign, take a left and when you get to the next stop sign take another left.  A good 10 miles and a gravel road later I came upon the first stop sign. Sheesh, clearly I wondered where these guys were sending me but I had no choice than to have faith in the human race while I dueling banjos playing in my head.  The second stop sign brought me back to a paved road into Chimney Rock.

I didn’t have a lot of time to explore the shops, nor did I eat (really) because I wanted to spend time breathing in the fresh mountain air along with a hike to the 404 ft tall Hickory Nut Falls in Chimney Rock State Park.  The waterfall is famous for being featured in the 1992 film The Last of the Mohicans.  Along the trail to the falls I took in the beauty of the Carolina Rhododendron in bloom and the scent of the Carolina pines.   Mmmmmm!  Never without my Nikon on an adventure like this I shot some great photos of this beautiful park.  Swipe through, sit back and enjoy the view.

I made it back to Asheville safely, met up with friends and attended an evening wedding of the son of my childhood friend, Dori.  It was a great weekend and the perfect kick-off to summer, 2015.  And I was able to check off an item on my summer bucket list.  Well not entirely, now I want to go back and spend more time in Asheville.  The travel destination list is never-ending as is my desire to explore!

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” – Mark Twain



  1. I’m glad you enjoyed reading this, it was a great trip! Next up, Memphis.

  2. I don’t know Surf City but will be sure and do some research and check it out!

  3. Full set of teeth? Oh my…I’m falling off my chair reading this one! So funny. And your photography skills are clearly as good as your writing. Beautiful! Keep up the travels and checking off that list.

  4. Good for you Lynn I just came back from Surf City Our daughter lives in the Hampstead area and that’s where we will be as soon as I can John to retire

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