Back when we lived in New York, Colin’s older cousins began inviting us on their annual friends & family New Year’s Eve ski trips, and we discovered the splendors of dressing down instead of up, spending equivalent money for multiple days of vacation as a single night of overpriced food and drinks, and being able to actually hear your conversation with companions. So, we enthusiastically adopted this tradition ourselves and have continued this practice for most years of the past decade.
This year was our third trip out with our Nashville friends, and our second to the same area in the Blue Ridge Mountains. As far as local mountains go, this one has won my heart. It’s relatively quick to reach (3.5-4 hours); it’s WAY cheaper than the Gatlinburg-area Smokies; and it’s less crowded and less touristy. There’s even a tourist train, the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, you can ride for amazing views, but our party doesn’t tend to vacation splurge.
The house we rented this year was only 10 minutes outside of Blue Ridge, Georgia. In some ways it’s your typical mountain tourist town – fudge shops, real estate offices, art galleries – but it’s still pretty quiet and quaint. We were excited to spend a few days in the area, and be so close as to pop in for drinks or lunch. New Year’s Eve was an unseasonably warm day, so we found a local waterfall hike. Desperate for sustenance afterwards, we headed into town where it was crowded, but few places were actually open. (So I guess it’s not yet touristy enough to stay open when the tourists visit!) We spent an infuriating three hours trying to find food and then waiting for food, and really I shouldn’t even be mentioning this now, because we all agreed to forget it ever happened so as not to mar the experience.
We burrowed in for the rest of our stay, taking advantage of a huge screened in porch with a fireplace and bed swing (!!), drinking mimosas in the hot tub, playing board games, cooking dinner, and watching old movies. Before the vacation ended, and to celebrate a birthday, we headed back into town for lunch at the Blue Ridge Brewery. This visit, along with our other stops along Main Street, were completely redeeming.
The beauty about going away for New Year’s is that it feels like a wonderfully elicit little pause on life; holiday chaos is over, but you don’t have to start work again yet. It’s like time stops temporarily and you get to just be and enjoy.