Our trip began with a 3 hour drive (two pee stops) to Waynesville, NC where we stayed at the gorgeous Waynesville Inn. It was one of the best views we've ever sipped our morning coffee to and, for the money, one of the nicest places to stay. The service was great and, aside from the weeds growing out of the gutters and a couple mold spots on the ceiling in our room, the place was impeccable. (I know, I'm such a pain in the ass noticing the details, but hey, that's what chefs do! :) )
We had a great meal there our first night at the "Cork and Cleaver Restaurant" on premises. The wife enjoyed the filet mignon, cooked medium, served with au gratin potatoes. I, even though noticing their "Niman Ranch" meat logo, opted for their 12 ounce veal porter house, cooked very rare served with awesome stone-ground aged-Gouda grits. I think there was a salad involved in all this, but I don't quite remember. That veal erased my memory. Everything was amazing (well, the cook needs to learn how to cook a filet medium, he sent it out mid-rare, but our server had that fixed, thanks!). Dessert, we split the chefs special "Apple Fritters with Vanilla Ice Cream", yum, basically an apple compote filled won-ton wrapper, deep fried and tossed in cinnamon sugar, delicious and warm.
After an amazing nights sleep in this huge king sized bed (weird, we never touched once in this cavernous thing!), we enjoyed a complimentary breakfast (great coffee!) and a ride into Bryson City, NC where we rode the Great Smokey Mountain Railroad through the beautifully historic smokey mountains. It was a 4.5 hour round trip train ride with a stop half way for a quick lunch on the Nantahala river. (nothing worth writing about, we just had hot dogs, chips, coke and ice cream bars, lol). The temperature was a cool 68 degrees, perfect early fall weather! To say that that area was beautifully breath taking is a HUGE understatement. The pictures I took do not do it justice.
On our way back to the Inn, we decided to take the long way and drive into Cherokee, NC. Which is basically a place where it's legal to gamble and is marketed solely to tourists. It wasn't what we expected. It kinda reminded us of Myrtle Beach, SC but without the ocean. Was a shame, really. I hear there are really nice places to see there, but I guess we didn't drive down the right side street or something.
After stopping into about 3 t-shirt shops, we heading on our way taking a short cut through the Blue Ridge Parkway. We've talked about driving through there for years but never got around to it. Wow, words cannot describe how amazing it is. You drive through these winding roads with breath taking views around every bend. Just crazy pretty. Please go if you get the chance, whether you just drive it for a few minutes or try to travel the entire 400plus miles of it, its a "must see before you die" kinda place.
We finally got back to our room with empty bellies and off we went to find nourishment. One of the guys that ran one of the t-shirt shacks we went to suggested the "Sweet Onion" restaurant in downtown Waynesville. This is my kinda place. Great ambiance, great smells, open kitchen and great food! We really stuffed ourselves at this place, wasn't hard, everything on the menu looked great! We started off splitting two appetizers; Stuffed Fried Risotto (gooey filed risotto, breaded and deep fried served with an awesome red sauce) and the Ahi Tuna Sashimi (perfectly pan-seared sesame crusted ahi tuna served simply with soy sauce and wasabi, perfect). Our main courses were fettuccine Alfredo for the wife and, (not sure what I was thinking) a gut bomb of a bacon wrapped meatloaf served with mac and cheese and a crisp cucumber salad. Aside from the meatloaf being a little dry, the meal was perfect for both of us! No, no dessert, we didn't dare try. It would have been kinda like that guy on the Monty Python skit with the "thin way-fare" and we surely would have exploded all over the place, could have been messy.
After a nice walk down town, and a stop in a bookstore, we headed back for a long nights sleep, heading home the next day.
That next morning, after check out, I discovered a great cigar shop and just had to stop by. The wife thought it would be a good idea to go shopping well I stunk up myself. I met some great guys and look forward to seeing them in the future. Smoked a great CAO CX2 cigar as well, which topped off a great trip perfectly!
If you live in the Carolinas and just want to get away for a quick weekend trip, check out Western, NC, there's tons to do and, compared to the big city, is like another planet!
Got some pics below, enjoy.
Half-eaten rare veal port house, whoa!
In Cherokee, NC in front of one of many "1/2 off Moccasins" shops
After taking a golf cart out onto the 18 hole course located in front of our bedroom at the Waynesville Inn, I discovered a wild apple tree and ate my weight in crisp, tart apples! I put some in Aprils purse for later, lol.
Perfect Ahi Tuna
Lunch on the Nantahala, what a great place to enjoy a hot dog, lol
The Blue Ridge Parkway, God's county, just awesome.
Amazing train ride, just amazing!