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Valentines in the Mountains

Personal, Travel

February 18, 2016

We love Valentines Day (at least, I’m pretty sure “we” love it – if not, Evan is one heck of a faker). I love most all holidays, and Evan is a romantic guy, so we look forward to the excuse to show a little extra love in February – an otherwise bitter cold and miserable month.

We love Valentines Day so much that, last year, we prolonged it by flying home from Swaziland. We stopped in five different countries and added quite a few hours to February 14th. Airplanes and layovers and lingering illnesses don’t make for a romantic day, though, so this year we decided to make up for it by taking a trip to the mountains!

Our last trip was meant to be a cabin retreat, but we forgot to book a cabin in time and ended up sleeping on the ground in the cold. So Evan booked a cabin months ago at a quaint little cabin community called Mountain Brook, up near Franklin, NC.

Evan surprised me on the way up with a stop at the Dillard House, which he’s heard me pine for many times in the past year. If you’ve never been, it’s worth the trip just for the lunch. It was just as I remembered – a full southern meal delivered to our table within 3 minutes of sitting down, and never an order taken. There’s no order needed – everything is perfectly delicious. And of course we didn’t leave without saying hello to the friendly farm animals.



Evan then took a surprising left out of the Dillard House and on a 2 mile detour to 12 Spies Vineyard – a cute family owned vineyard and winery. We tasted all the wines they had to offer, got to know the nice couple that owns the place, played with their sweet dogs and bought a couple bottles to take home. I’m excited to have some that tastes better than my usual $8 purchases.


Another hour in the car and we started to notice some snow on the ground as we approached Mountain Brook! Ms. Randi gave us a very warm welcome, along with an overflowing binder full of things to do and places to eat in Franklin. Our little cabin had a big bed, an antique sofa, a fireplace, and a large jacuzzi all in the same room! Perfect for the cold weekend!




There was a nice half-mile trail that looped around the cabins, so we decided to go for a walk. Confession: We only made it .25 miles before my feet started to hurt from the cold. Anyone have any winter boots to give away?

©JennaSimmons-16 ©JennaSimmons-18 ©JennaSimmons-20 ©JennaSimmons-22©JennaSimmons-27 ©JennaSimmons-25 Waking up to a warm fire at my feet and having an entire day of uninterrupted time together was refreshing. Work has been pretty crazy for both of us lately and we were reminded how important Sabbath is to our relationships with each other and the Lord. If you haven’t hit pause lately, I highly recommend making time for it!


Saturday afternoon we grabbed the camera and ventured out into the winter wonderland around us. We drove 8 miles of switchbacks towards a waterfall Randi had recommended we check out. We found the road closed because of ice, so we kept driving towards the observation tower at the top of the mountain. Also closed unless we wanted to hike 2 miles. Normally we wouldn’t hesitate but my body wasn’t designed for cold, so we jumped out of the car and played on the side of the road instead.

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As you can guess, my feet got cold, so we went to Franklin early. Unfortunately most of the shops were closed and our dinner reservations weren’t for another 4 hours. We found a food truck and a local brewery, The Lazy Hiker, to rest in. It was warm, the beer was pretty good and I got the chance to play with my macro lens, so I’d say it was a good stop.

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I was quite sad to pack up on Sunday morning, but Evan promised we would stop at anything that caught my eye. We’re really bad about driving past interesting places and making mental notes to visit, but to never return. Surprisingly, there are quite a few gems on the side of I-985!

First stop was a huge thrift store full of cheap junk and expensive antiques. Bust. Next stop was a mall with a cute little fake store-front. I was drawn to the colors and wanted to snap some pics.

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Our favorite stop by far was at a large automobile graveyard with a row of graffiti’d school busses. We traipsed past the No Trespassing signs, as any good photographer would do, and had a grand old time expressing our inner angst and artistic vibes.

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Sorry if you get tired of our faces – we really should start bringing other people on our adventures so we can get some portrait variety.

I’d have to say that our first married Valentine’s Day was perfect. Good rest, good places, good photos and the best company.


Stay tuned for our next adventure – the Caribbean!

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