Saturday, August 13, 2016

Hot Springs North Carolina

August 11 and 12 2016

Jeff and Robin gave us a Getaway to Hot Springs NC for Christmas.  For one reason or the other we had not gotten it on the calendar…but this week we were in the mood for a little trip and called to make the arrangements.  We would be staying in the Iron Station Inn right in the middle of Hot Springs, having dinner there in their restaurant, and enjoying an hour in one of the “hot tubs” at the famous Hot Springs. Jane needs to apologize for the lack of photos.  No phone signal from ATT in Hot Spring so the phone went into a pocket and was often forgotten - a nice feeling!

We enjoyed a ride over the mountain from Greeneville – a road neither of us thought we had been on.  But as we left Greeneville Ben remembered he had been all over that area doing a damage assessment during the flooding about 10 years back.  So he enjoyed remembering all his experiences.  It was a devastating flood for the Camp Creek area.  I remember seeing the photos and hearing the stories of houses literally floating down the mountain.  Remarkably the worst flooding was near the top of one of the mountains.  We stopped to look at one house that Ben remembered distinctly had no soil left in the yard – now a nice green lawn but after the flood it was a front yard of only round river rocks.  Hard to believe the small less than a yard across creek could have caused so much damage.

About an hour from Greeneville, just across the North Carolina line, sits Hot Springs.  This small town is truly small town America.  The Appalachian Trail follows the main road – US 70 & 25 – right through the town.  We found the Iron Horse Inn where it sits beside the railroad.  The area in late 1800’s had a huge 360 room hotel and the Hot Springs were a huge draw.  Later a fire would destroy the hotel.  A German Prisoner of War camp, the hot springs, and the railroad are all intermingled in the history of the area.  Now the main industry seems to be the outdoor adventures – rafting, hiking, and sightseeing and of course the hot springs. 

Appalachian Trail is Main Street of Hot Springs

We got ourselves checked in and then explored around town a bit.  A couple hardware stores, a few restaurants, gift shops, and a nice trail along the river. We particularly enjoyed the Bluff Mountain Outfitters which was a very nice outdoors shop with nice clothing, hiking gear, books, food, and other items primarily for the many hikers that come through town.  There was also a very nice jewelry and rock shop but it was closed.

About 5:30 we headed to the Iron Horse Restaurant for dinner.  Thursday night special was Prime Rib which sounded perfect to Ben.  I added some Fried Green Tomatoes and we had an excellent feast.  Our only problem was way too much food.  We should had split the meal!  The fried green tomatoes, green beans with tomatoes and garlic, and the prime rib were as good as anywhere. 

Fried Green Tomatoes at Iron Horse

Our scheduled hour at the Hot Springs was 7:45 and we were told to be there about 15 minutes before our appointed time.  We considered walking over the railroad to the hot springs but after considering the walk back after an hour relaxing we drove.  While it did not look like it was very far – it was further than it looked.  The water comes from deep in the ground not from water bubbling out of the ground – it is pumped into the various “hot tubs” that were placed along the river banks in gazebo type structures. Since the business operates year round – the roof would be needed for rain and snow plus keeping leaves out of the tubs.  The water was hot – they said 99 – 102 degrees.  While it was relaxing – the experience was also a bit like being in a sweat box – so guess that was healthy!  We enjoyed the experience and Ben even enjoyed ice cream after the soak. 

The Iron Horse Inn is the upstairs above what must have been the railroad offices. The ground floor was now the restaurant, police department and city hall, and other shops.  The rooms were small but furnished with vintage furniture.  The only phone in the place fit right in!  A TV was out in the lobby area as were reading materials etc. and you were encouraged to sit with lots of comfy furniture.  The WIFI worked well some of the time all over the Inn.  Early in the afternoon it was hard to get a consistent signal but later it worked fine. 
It works!

Room 209

After reading a while we were sound asleep.  Ben heard a train in the night – Jane heard nothing. Great night’s sleep. 

Coffee but no breakfast was offered in the Inn so we went to the Smoky Mountain Diner – recommended by the Inn for breakfast.  Follow the cars is often a good test for restaurants in small towns and that was the case here – locals and tourists both were enjoying a multitude of foods.  After a good meal we wandered through the gift shop below the Inn – lots of nice things. 
We headed towards Asheville on US 70-25.  We headed to the Asheville Mall where Jane spent about an hour searching for a few bargains and did find some slacks and a couple shirts.  We then found the Trader Joe’s and bought a baguette and chicken salad for lunch and a few other goodies.  Nice to finally find this store – our nearest Trader Joe’s. 

Beautiful Day in Western NC

Ben had been asked by Robin to come to speak to Daniel’s 4th grade class on rocks in a couple weeks when we are there.  Ben said he needed one more rock to be able to fully “show and tell” about all types of rocks. It should be noted here that he already has a cabinet full of wonderful rocks collected over more than 60 years!  The perfect one would be found near the “Eye of God” in one of the cuts on I-26 near Sam’s Gap.  So off we went in search of that perfect rock on our way home.   He found the perfect metamorphic example after a bit of searching and Jane got a good photo of the “Eye of God” – the dark section in one of the major highway cuts.  

Up to "Sam's Gap" on I 26 

Searching for that perfect rock

"Eye of God"

Very nice getaway for us!  We are so lucky to live in an area where only a few miles away from home are numerous beautiful get away locations!  Thanks Jeff and Robin.