By Alicia Squillante

Sitting by a warm, crackling fire with two enormous puppies curled up at my feet, the snow falling gently on the porch rails, the chickadees and finches hopping around in the soft white snow. This may sound like the intro to the great American novel, but it’s actually just a sample from my most recent trip to the beautiful state of North Carolina.  Now, every year for the past few years I’ve gone out-of-state for a couple weeks, mostly just to get out of Florida. I have to admit, this past trip was the best I ever had.

We awoke well before dawn on a slightly chilly October morning and headed out on our adventure. We arrived in Black Mountain, North Carolina just before the sun set and set up temporary residence in a small, but adequate, hotel room. While in Black Mountain we visited Chimney Rock State Park, home to one of the best climbs and prettiest views in the Appalachian mountains. Later we ventured down in to the town below Chimney Rock and wandered to our heart’s content. We also drove to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and visited Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in the park, Cade’s Cove, which was on the Tennessee side of the park and featured a long, one-lane loop in which you could routinely see deer, turkey and occasionally bear. We also visited Linville Falls off of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

After several days in Black Mountain we braved the growing winds of Hurricane Sandy and ventured north to the town of Valle Crucis, just outside of Boone. There we stayed at the Lazy Bear Lodge, a bed and breakfast that will forever hold a small place in my heart. The night we arrived at the Lazy Bear it began to snow, and continued snowing until we left two days later. Let me tell you, for as beautiful as snow is, it’s down right terrifying to drive in when all you’re accustomed to is the flat lands of Florida. It was at the Lazy Bear where I sat by the fire, watching the snow fall, eating chocolate chip cookies as I watched the birds fight for bird seed. Our hostess, Anne Winkleman, was even gracious enough to cook us dinner because we were nervous about driving the snowy roads after dark.

Coming home after so much fun and adventure was a bit hard. It’s alright though, I have an even bigger trip planned for September!

If you were interested in staying at the Lazy Bear Lodge, please visit


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