Granted, we’re still in a pandemic, and life is not completely normal. We feel comfortable on trails, but our only dining is outdoors, and we mask up for grocery shopping. We’re avoiding music venues and other indoor activities that we would otherwise seek out. But even if this is our reality for the foreseeable future, it’s manageable, and we’re finding joy in the small moments of everyday life. Truly, that’s all we have anyway, isn’t it?
Leisurely Dining At Beautiful Lake Toxaway
When we booked our stay at Lake Toxaway many months ago, I didn’t realize that it is a private lake. Our little RV park has a Lake Toxaway address, but it’s not part of the exclusive Lake Toxaway community. I was a little disappointed until I discovered that we could enjoy the lake by dining at the Greystone Inn.
After a long stretch of very little in the way of dining out, we hit the jackpot at the Lakeside Restaurant. We’ve enjoyed dinner and brunch on the patio overlooking the lake. Other than the servers wearing masks, this feels like the ‘before times.’ The food is superb, and the service is excellent. This is not just pandemic deprivation talking, it really is a fabulous experience.
On a chilly morning last week, we returned for brunch on the patio, followed by relaxing on the lawn and playing our version of Trivial Pursuit (we just run through the cards and both call out answers to the questions. We feel smarter that way, lol). We enjoyed it so much we have reservations for next week.
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Gorgeous Hiking In Gorges State Park
We’re doing a lot of hiking on trails near and far to balance out our culinary adventures. At only five miles away, Gorges State Park is right in our backyard. We’ve been at least a half-dozen times to hike various trails in the park.
Established in 1999, Gorges is North Carolina’s westernmost state park. More than 80 inches of rainfall each year keep the waterfalls flowing and provide a temperate rainforest environment for a wide variety of flora and fauna.
The visitor center is excellent, with museum quality displays and an inviting porch with beautiful views.
Rainbow & Turtleback Falls
The highlight of the state park is the trail to Rainbow Falls. Although we had hiked this trail twice previously, I started thinking about the name of the falls, and wondering if there truly was a rainbow to be found. Sure enough, if you hike in the morning, the sun is at the right angle to refract through the mist, creating a rainbow across the falls.
The trail is about 4 miles round-trip, and is rated on AllTrails as moderate (with some folks rating it as strenuous). I think it depends on how accustomed you are to hiking. We would rate it squarely in the ‘moderate’ category. It provides enough of a workout so that you feel like you’ve accomplished something, but not so much that you’re worn out.
On another day, we returned to Gorges to hike a lesser known option. The trail that goes to Stairway Falls isn’t marked on the park map. It veers off from the main trail to Rainbow Falls, and is a fun and interesting little adventure!
Although the trail begins benignly enough, it drops steeply and involves a bit of scrambling. It’s worth it. The falls aren’t tall, but they’re beautiful. And we had them all to ourselves.
Walking Trails In Gorges State Park
Other easier hikes in the park include the trail to Bearwallow Falls, and the Raymond Fisher Trail to a serene small lake. It’s a pretty spot to watch dozens of dragonflies and damselflies going about their acrobatic flights, while listening to the chorus of frogs from the sidelines. I still don’t understand why there are no biting bugs here, but we’re not complaining.
Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch
We moved our campsite three spaces over at the first of September. We’re now directly on the creek but on high ground, so no risk of flooding should there be another torrential storm. We’re delighted with our site, and Magnolia is happy watching the squirrels and abundant birdlife. I just hope she doesn’t outgrow her cat tree. I’m not sure if they come in a bigger size.
Speaking of Magnolia, some of you have asked about the litter box situation. Eric installed a cat door in a storage bay next to our bed that has an access door to the outside for cleaning the box. He walled off part of the bay for her deluxe litter box and added a motion-detector light so that she can see what she’s doing. She adapted pretty quickly, and now we get a kick out of her tapping the door to her ‘bathroom’ to turn the light on before she goes in. 😂