October/November 2020 – When we first began our Slow Nomad travels in 2014, we estimated that we would travel as long as we had, 1) the desire to keep traveling; 2) the funds to continue; and 3) our health.
We hadn’t counted on a global pandemic.
Or the most divisive presidential election in our nation’s history. So, what we really needed was a safe escape from reality.
Packing and prepping for two weeks away wasn’t all that different from many of our other travels, we knew what to do.
Remaining healthy meant that we would want to do essentially the same things we had been doing for the past several months – wear masks, avoid any crowds, stay 6 feet away from others whenever possible, and wash hands regularly. Except in a different location. We had chosen to stay in Franklin, North Carolina where Jeannie found a cute place outside of town we rented as a home base.
Driving straight through from our home in central Florida to Hendersonville, NC took between eight and nine hours, and once there we had a nice visit with Jeannie’s brother John and his husband Brian. From there it was only two hours to Franklin, with a brief stop in Highlands.
Over the almost-next two weeks we found numerous places to visit and hike all within reasonable distances of Franklin, itself a delightful little town. We only ate at restaurants twice (once, alone at a table on a porch, and once inside at a socially-distanced table). Take-out was an option we used, but mostly we ate at home, with food from the local Ingles grocery store.
A hike though dry leaves (pre-Zeta) … [volume up]
The roads quickly became familiar, and we were able to find our way around pretty much without error. The only real ‘problem’ we encountered was the remnants of hurricane Zeta. Heavy rains and wind kept us inside for a couple of days. Of course, Zeta was followed by a cold front that brought us a few days with highs in the low 50s F and upper 20s F at night.
Though the rains made many of the trails rather wet and the streams swollen and muddy, there were options. While waiting for the trails to dry, we took a day-trip from Franklin to Waynesville via Sylva, and returned by way of Cherokee and Bryson City, with a delightful picnic along the way.
In all, it was a great escape from politics, and the continuing heat in Florida. And while the pandemic was everywhere, being in an environment with mountains and some great hiking, it was just what we needed.