Weekly Explorers

A Socially Distanced Day Trip From Charlotte

Note: This post was written 07.08.20


In case you don’t make it all the way to the end of this week’s Explorer, here is a quick reminder to join us at 3PM today via Facebook Live to Explore More Greece as we debut our video project from our trip last year.  The boys have been asking to do another Facebook Live, so today is the day since we have something new to share.  We will also be making Greek Frappes and telling the story about how they were accidentally created.
Now, back to this week’s email … I needed a little getaway this past weekend.  Not being able to hang out with others to celebrate the 4th had me down, and there is one thing that makes me feel better – exploring new places!  Since we are taking social distancing seriously, it took a little maneuvering on such a busy weekend, especially since we were visiting the popular tourist town of Blowing Rock in the North Carolina mountains.
Since we decided to take this trip last minute, I did all of the planning on my phone en route while Rob drove.  I had my heart set on eating at the Speckled Trout.  I thought it would be a good choice since it is on the edge of town and has a lot of outdoor seating.  It also has a parking lot.  I think normally it would be a good choice for a socially distanced kind of meal.  They had big signs on the door saying masks must be worn and all the staff was wearing them.  However, they quoted an hour wait so we decided it might be better to leave Main St. where all the action was and move to Hwy 321 which is the road that leads to Boone.  We ended up at Foggy Rock Eatery & Pub which had a few tables outside, and we were able to sit quickly.  Again, there was a big sign on the door requiring masks and the servers were all wearing them.  They also had doors market for Entrance & Exit to help distance people a little more.  As we were sitting down and deciding what to order, I got a text from Speckled Trout saying our table was already ready but it really was a little more crowded than I was comfortable with – I think it would be fine on a non-holiday weekend.  I also think we ended up in a pretty good spot considering we sat under the cutest American flag on 4th of July weekend.  Hello, photo opps!
We then headed to the office for the company we decided to use for the boys first tubing adventure, Wahoo Adventures.  Note to anyone taking this trip, read your email after making your reservation because you are not supposed to go to the office in Blowing Rock!  You are supposed to drive 25 minutes further to their outpost on the river.  Oops!  Luckily, we were ahead of schedule for once in our lives and this was not an issue. 
We initially chose Wahoo Adventures simply because I knew where their office was in Blowing Rock, but since that did not end up being where we were supposed to go, that ended up not being important.  I learned that Wahoo’s has you park where you take your tube out of the river so when you finish floating the river and you are wet, you are at your car where you can get your towel and dry clothes.  (However, this ended up not being important, and I will get to that later in the email …) High Mountain Adventures actually looked to have a much nicer outpost and mini-buses.  So they both have pros and cons.  If I was not traveling with children, I’d probably go for the ‘nicer’ experience.  From what I saw, employees from both companies were wearing face masks and practicing social distancing.
I thought we were signing up for a strict time slot, and that we would be on a bus with others but I figured the windows would be open and had read they were requiring face masks so I was okay with it.  I was so pleased to learn that the time slots really didn’t mean much and that their vans were continuously taking people up the river so that you could pretty much arrive anytime within an hour or so of your time slot.  Maybe this was simply because it was a busy holiday weekend.  I was pleased when the guy who loaded our tubes and drove the van asked if were comfortable riding with other guests.  I said yes since we had face masks and he told the other family we shared a van with that they must wear face masks as well.  It was nice to know we could have requested to ride solely with our family.

Our guide wore his mask at all times, even while he was setting us up in the river so we left ours on too until he left.

Despite the crowds of the holiday weekend, we felt like we had the river mostly to ourselves.  

It was peaceful floating down the river, even with two 7 year olds!

Well, it was peaceful until we got to this insanely low (working!) bridge that serves as a driveway for two homes on the river.  The boys had to lay flat on their bellies while Rob guided them under the bridge.  They were already nervous about it, but it did not help that I yelped while I was pushing the tubes under the bridge because the depth increased by about a foot suddenly.  After that, they were done and ended up climbing over the bridge!

Shortly after that, we noticed that there were some really dark clouds behinds us.  We thought we were close to the end and was hoping to out’float’ the storm.  I saw some stairs out of the river and suggested to Rob we go ahead and get out, but he thought we could make it.  Suddenly, there was a large clap of thunder and flash of lightning.  The boys started crying, so Rob and I turned around and started walking against the current with the tubes to get back to the steps.  We clambered up the steep steps and stood along the road until a High Mountain Adventures bus rescued us!  Thanks 2020, you are the gift that keeps on giving!!!
We could not end our day like that so I looked up the best ice cream in Blowing Rock.  Surprisingly, there are not that many choices but there is a great choice for social distancing since you don’t have to go indoors to get it!  Blue Deer Cookies makes ice cream sandwiches with fresh baked cookies and homemade ice cream in the most adorable trailer with seating under sparkly white lights.  I must admit, I am a sucker for any place decorated with little white lights!

We managed to get our orders in right before the rain started to fall (again – thanks 2020). 

At least the dark clouds meant that the little white lights were on even though we didn’t get to sit under them but nobody seemed to mind our car picnic – especially Bryson who likes sweets as much as I do 🙂

So while not a perfect day, it was a day not like the many days before it.

That’s me drinking Greek coffee in Naxos!  While I wish I was drinking frappes in Greece this summer, I will attempt to make them during my Facebook Live today at 3PM.  We will also be debuting our newest video project, Explore More Greece!

Our Domestic Travel feature this week is Forbes Five Star The Cloister at Sea Island. Located on the coast of Georgia, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, The Cloister offers an array of family and individual activities. At this Virtuoso ‘Best of the Best’ property, guests can savor distinctive luxury and reclaim nature’s timeless rhythm. Cloister guests experience genuine Southern hospitality and world-class lodging with gracious service, natural beauty, and legendary recreation along five miles of private beach.

Here are the Virtuoso amenities I can secure for you as my client:
💎Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
💎Full a la carte or buffet breakfast daily in restaurant for up to 2 guests per bedroom (max $70.00 per day)
💎US $100 resort credit that can be applied to any Sea Island amenity excluding accommodations.
💎Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
💎Complimentary Wi-Fi

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