I'd start the search here
Last weekend I panicked. I realized that between work schedules and individual weekend commitments, we had ONE weekend left as a family of 2 + pup. And I had five days to plan it. Nevermind that it was memorial day weekend and rates at places were high and I am cheap as all heck. I had a sudden feeling of claustrophobia, knowing that my chances to leave the big city with my two favorite guys were close to gone. So, I pulled out the big guns. I used facebook. And my husband has admitted that he will never again tease my facebook usage and is very grateful for the resource that it is. Thanks to my handy travel agent, and to my old Grady friend Clarissa who was on facebook at just the right time, we found what could quickly become our new getaway (or home if we won the lottery!!) So, sit back, grab a glass of tea, and get acquainted with Hayesville, North Carolina.
Just two hours north of Atlanta, in tiny Hayesville NC, lies a town that has everything we could ever want or need. An old co-worker and friend, Clarissa, recently moved back there and works here. For $35.00 a night, we stayed in a precious, secluded cottage complete with rocking chairs on the porch. The pup was welcomed, and as some of the only guests on this acres large property, he enjoyed uninhibited exploration of the great outdoors. And explore he (and we) did.
We started Saturday morning with one of those precious mom and pop restaurants, complete with a ridiculously inexpensive breakfast buffet, washed down by illegally sweet tea. That gave mom and babe the energy needed for a short hike. We discovered that our dog who we have never seen swim, actually enjoyed playing in the water and splashing around. He was so happy I didn't even worry about wet doggie smell in my car! Pretty soon my need to sit came in quicker intervals so we headed out. R wanted to take the dog on a more strenuous hike elsewhere and agreed to stop by downtown Hayesville to let me
shop look around. It turns out that this adorable town was having their Memorial Day commemoration. I was so, so happy we left the trail and got to experience this beautiful service. We sang the National Anthem and God Bless America with our new mountain town friends and prayed with them for fallen soldiers and soldiers serving now. I cried on Ross's shoulder, missing my dad and praying in thanksgiving for his safety and Patrick's safe return home. I smiled at old ladies waving flags and kids in red, white, and blue. I followed my husband around as he talked to retired marines and played with guns. I walked my pup and let him chase the smell of bar-b-que. I bought a handmade ring to replace my too small wedding bands and to stop looking like an unwed mother in a small town. I drank another glass of illegally sweet tea, tasted homemade margarita jelly (HOLY COW!) and enjoyed the beauty that is a small town square.
And then I had mercy on my husband and agreed it was time for him to hit the trails and for me to set up camp on the lake. He hiked. I read a book, cover to cover, only stopping to wade in the water and stare at the mountains. The only disruption to my hours of silence and peace was a family coming to fish. And as quickly as I lamented the end of my quiet, I smiled, hearing the pure joy of little boys splashing in the cold lake. How can you get annoyed at the sounds, albeit loud ones, of innocence and fun? I was then happily reunited with my guys after a few hours alone and was elated to see that they brought sustenance (Mike and Ike's and cold water). Ross and I played cards on the edge of the lake and scolded our puppy for darting off to steal the macaroni and cheese from the picnicing family (again, precious people in this town. they not only laughed at his choice of mac and cheese but offered him (not preggo mama) a burger! ) We swam in the lake and soaked in pure, blissful nature. I layed on my blanket and took in the beauty in front of me, thankful for facebook re-connections and just maybe a little bit of the Holy Spirit's guidance in finding the perfect getaway.
We finished our perfect day the way we would prefer to finish any perfect day, and headed up the road for authentic Mexican food. The bump festively outfitted in a sundress, bronzed skin and a perfect patio seat and maybe a teeny, tiny sip of my husband's ginormous margarita made for a delicious meal. And no small town dinner would be complete without running into someone who knows your name. As we were leaving, I saw the most handsome little cowboy I have ever seen and his mama, my friend Clarissa, the orchestrator of this perfect weekend. I hugged her neck, not knowing how to convey how much I loved her new hometown. And then came the reaaal perfect ending to the day, when my husband, NOT miss sweet tooth here, suggested and old fashioned ice cream parlor. Insert lyrics to Elvis's "I can't help falling in love with you..."
With antique juke boxes, 1950's coca cola memorabilia and kids checkers games set up, we chose our ice cream (mint chocolate chip, thinking of my bff) and sat on the porch. In rocking chairs, of course.
Sunday we made our way to church, as all good small town southerners do and I was as amazed by this community as I was by the mountains. Before Mass started, there was a welcome statement. I am glad I remembered to write some of it down because I don't want to forget it.
"If you are lonely or depressed today, you belong here, you belong to us. Because Christ is here and you belong to Christ. If you are laid off and struggling to make ends meet for your family, you belong here, you belong to us. Because Christ is here and you belong to Christ. If you are divorced, single, gay, lesbian, struggling in your marriage, you belong here, you belong to us. Because Christ is here and you belong to Christ. If you are a visitor or someone just passing through, you belong here...If you are heartbroken or full of love, you belong here...if you are searching for answers about God or a lifetime follower, you belong here..."
She continued on for awhile and with each statement, she made me so happy we found ourselves at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Hayesville, NC. The priest was precious (see pic below- as kind as he looks!) making us all laugh as he welcomed us to the wrong church! (for us Atlantans, this priest has two parishes 40 miles away from each other- pray for vocations!!) Anyway- the chance to hear a new voice, in such a welcoming community, to worship and receive the Eucharist, well, it was the icing on the cake to a great weekend. Actually, the real icing on the cake was the doughnuts in the parish hall and the fair trade sale that let me shop with a purpose (as in husband can't complain) , whilst eating doughnuts. I mean, hello heaven, nice to see you!!
**Praying for Fr. Kloster and both his parishes of Immaculate Heart of Mary and St.Williams. When we move to NC, we will be seeing you!! Thanks for the doughnuts! **