Between last summer/fall and this spring we have worked at Lake Powhatan as glamping hosts for five months, significantly longer than we ever anticipated work camping before COVID, but as we have mentioned multiple times, the cancellation of markets (and later our own unwillingness to participate until we were vaccinated) pushed us into finding alternative income to bolster our existing retirement. By the first week of May, however, we had received our second Pfizer shot, and were eager to return to our regularly scheduled program of travelling the country and selling at craft fairs and related venues.
One of our Blue Ridge Parkway drives.
So with just over two weeks remaining on our glamping gig, May gave us the opportunity to prepare for our travels while doing as many of the things in the area we could, especially seeing friends and family. For Mothers Day my mom and stepdad drove over from Wilmington and stayed for a couple of days, allowing us to have a few get togethers. Last fall they stayed in the glamping tents, and let’s just say having checked that box they opted for a traditional hotel for both of this year’s visits. Crazy right? I mean who wouldn’t want to pay $150 a night for a tent in the woods? (No seriously, it sounds expensive to me, but people love it. Aside from the lack of bath facilities in your tent, it’s pretty close to having a hotel room right in the woods.)
Hunting a geocache along the Blue Ridge.
When they came back in March, Rosemarie was laid up following her dental surgery, so it was great that they were able to make another trip to Western North Carolina. We were able to give them a more thorough tour of the campground this time, and enjoyed a Mothers Day brunch at our site complete with mimosas and local cured country ham biscuits. We met up again at brother Jason and Emmie’s home in nearby Black Mountain, allowing us to spend a little more time with Olivia Jane.
We managed to get together one more time with our RV friends Jen and Dees, who gave up their full time RV life for a home in Asheville last year, though they still plan on being on the road part time for the foreseeable future. They picked our spot for Cinco de Mayo: Zia Taqueria, which sports a large covered outdoor seating area, credible tacos, and a nice assortment of local craft beer.
In our last week in town we met up with Judith, one of Rosemarie’s friends from Miami Beach going way back. Judith recently moved to Greenville, South Carolina, and we all agreed to meet roughly half way between us. Judith picked The Purple Onion in the cute town of Saluda, which turned out to be an excellent choice all around. It was great listening to them catch up on each other as well as many mutual friends from their Miami Beach era.
Aside from friends and family, we aimed for more outdoor activity away from the city proper, and for much of that we allowed geocaching to define some some of our days. Thus we took the Blue Ridge Parkway both north and south of town in search of a few older or rarer caches. Other than some fantastic views, these outings gave us several short hikes to either interesting locations or amusing caches. 6
We’ve been busy with the caches these last two months. (The yellow circles are all of the ones we found.)
Likewise, we explored areas of the North Carolina Arboretum that we had skipped during our visits last year. Lake Powhatan Recreation Area has several trails that lead to the Arboretum property, and hikers and bicyclists are allowed in free of charge (cars typically pay $16 for the day.) It wasn’t just geocaching that we enjoyed along the way, Rosemarie added to her survivalist cred by finding wild onions as well. They are quite small but rather intense in flavor, and the stems taste quite like scallions. She has now found three edible species of mushrooms and these, though she really was hoping to find ramps, a particular type of wild onion with a very strong garlic.
Having covered all of our favorite Asheville food and drink spots last post, I want to mention one final place: Los Tienda Los Nenos, a bodega/bakery/take out taco joint/butcher shop in a West Asheville strip mall behind an Aldi’s. It felt like true and authentic piece of Central America dropped into Appalachia. We can highly recommend the fresh made chicharrons (pork rinds) and only wish we had not discovered them so late in our Asheville stay. Word is their tacos are fantastic, and the carnitas (pulled pork) even better.
We started this season at Lake Powhatan with dramas, so perhaps it is appropriate, or rather, inevitable, that we ended with a bit more. You may recall that back in March management instituted policies that resulted in multiple employees quitting or not showing up for the season. Things appeared on the road to a new normal as they hired replacements, and back tracked a bit on one policy by hiring a new on site manager couple. The day before we left they fired them, asked them to leave the property within days, and promoted the most recently hired (and arguably least “camp host” experienced) couple. They’ll be fine; they are young, computer literate, and work motivated.
So yeah, the place is still a bit in transition, and while we are curious in the gossipy sense to know how things progressed after our departure, we realize that we are not likely to work their again, so it’s really none of our concern. But if your are looking for a camp host position in the Western North Carolina region, we know a place with openings.
Next up: we begin our westward run as we develop plans for the summer along the way.