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It's Fall Y'all! A long weekend in Highlands North Carolina

It's Fall Y'all! A long weekend in Highlands North Carolina

Old Oct 5th, 2020, 12:30 PM
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It's Fall Y'all! A long weekend in Highlands North Carolina

This was our first trip since the pandemic arrived and made us all shut ins. We booked a Falls Lodge suite at Old Edwards Inn in Highlands North Carolina. As the time for our trip approached, we finally got a break in the weather and cooler, less humid weather arrived. In checking the forecast, it was a dream forecast for a Fall weekend getaway. The days were sunny, and the temperature would be in the mid-50s and in the mid 30s at night.



Old Edwards Inn called us immediately upon booking to confirm dinner reservations and spa appointments as they are limited because of COVID and social distancing requirements. Their staff wears masks and the town mandates masks in public.



We arrived on Friday around noon (just a 3 hour trip from Atlanta). Our room wasn’t ready but we checked in, had a welcome glass of Champs and started exploring the property. This is Mr. Starbucks kind of property. It’s all stone and timbers and the property extends over 3 blocks in the heart of Highlands. It’s easy to get around the property and we found 2 heated pools, one with a bar, a fitness center (where we never darkened the door), spa, and Hummingbirds lounge (indoor, very “library-like” bar. There are lots of spots with fireplaces or fire pits and seating, so plenty of space to social distance while still enjoying the property. The landscape is full of Japanese maples, cypress & hydrangeas. There was just the beginning of leaves turning colors for Fall.



We headed to the rooftop bar for lunch and managed to get a seat at the bar. It’s a pretty spot and the weather was perfect for a glass of wine and lunch. The capacity is limited because of all the restrictions but we got in. Once you are seated guests can remove their mask but you do have to wear one if you get up to use the facilities and when you leave. The menu is available by scanning a QR code on your smartphone. (If you need a paper menu, you can get one and they use a UV light scanner to decontaminate menus when you are done with them). They also check your temperature (forehead scanner) before seating you.



He – the burger, local IPA

She – BBQ pork sandwich, Triennes Rose



Our food was great, the drinks were great and we felt safe (or as safe as you can these days). Our bartender told us to check out the wine bar in the front of the property later that day. We also learned that the bistro on property would deliver anywhere on the property with online ordering. We got a call that our room was ready as we finished lunch. We were escorted to our room and shown where to park. The Falls suites are toward the back of the property. They have a fireplace (gas) and a small outdoor space. There is a huge bed & bedroom with flat screen TV (Direct TV), tons of storage and closet space (walk in), separate living room with flat screen TV, wet bar and fridge (plus Nespresso coffee maker with pods). The bathroom is massive. Two areas, first a double sink vanity room and then a second room with toilet, floating tub, another sink and a shower stall with overhead soaker, body spray nozzles and handheld shower head. All marble – gorgeous.



We unpacked, cleaned up and changed for dinner. First stop, window shopping in downtown Highlands. I haven’t thought about shopping in ages but it was nice to see lots of stores still in business with lots of Fall fashions. We went on to the wine bar which is beautiful. It’s an outdoor space with landscaped with waterfalls. Old Edwards Inn was dressed for Fall with lots of pumpkins and gourds everywhere (again, Mr Starbucks loves)—it’s kind of Instagram heaven. We got the last 2 seats at the bar as all the tables were taken and ordered drinks (more local beer for him and Rose for me). We also got a little pimiento cheese with crackers to snack on as dinner wasn’t until 8pm. Great experience and the staff there are really doing all they can to ensure everyone wears a mask when not at their seat. I love the sound of waterfalls and fountains, so this was a perfect spot for me. The only thing I would have changed was the guy sitting at the other end of the bar Face Timing a friend on speakerphone. C’mon. No speaker phones without headphones in public. This is so rude and I’m not sure when everyone decided it is OK to walk around with their calls and YouTube videos on speaker (maybe the same time that everyone decided that wearing pajamas in public is OK). Sorry for the rant. I just miss manners and consideration for others.



We just stayed put there as we figured we wouldn’t find a better location and it is only a few steps to Madison’s. We had dinner reservations at 8pm.



He – Caesar salad & Ribeye with fingerling potatoes Dessert: Spiced Apple Cobbler

She – Maytag blue cheese salad & Filet with blue cheese & fingerling potatoes Dessert: Rum and Cherry Souffle



While there was nothing wrong with our dinners, the steaks were not special. I’d have liked the blue cheese on my steak to have been browned under a broiler. They were cooked fine but missing a good crust on the outside. The potatoes were great and served in little iron pots. The bread was good (but don’t remember what was in the assortment). Dessert was good – the cobbler was the better dessert. The souffle had no cherry flavor and there were cherries just sitting in the bottom of the ramekin. For me, I don’t really want fruit sitting at the bottom of a souffle. I appreciate the attempt at creativity but maybe it’s better to stick to more classic flavors. Dinner was good but not memorable.



A chilly walk back to our room and we fell into bed pretty tired and happy with our first day.
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Old Oct 7th, 2020, 04:08 PM
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Day 2 – Saturday

I found Chaz up and sipping on an espresso on our little deck. He was loving the cold mornings. I turned on the fireplace to take the chill off in the room while sipping my fav AM beverage, a diet coke. The thing that really says vacation to both of us is breakfast. We rarely go out for breakfast at home and we really enjoy going for breakfast when we travel. While we were not super excited about Madison’s for dinner on Friday night, we were very excited about their breakfast!

They serve Benton’s smoked bacon. I just got 2 eggs with that fab bacon, a biscuit and grits but they also do grits RIGHT! Flavorful, rich and with texture---if you have never had real grits (stone ground not instant), this is a great example of how they should be and very rarely are. All of it was very well done and delicious. He got an omelet with 2 kinds of sausage and breakfast potatoes that was also really good. Just what we wanted and the preserves and jams are locally made.

Next up a quick drive to the catch the trail to Glen Falls. This is very close to Highlands—probably not even a 15 minute drive. The cool thing about this trail is that as you descend you come across 5 (I think) viewing areas to get a great look at the 3 waterfalls along this trail…and they just get better as you continue down the trail. Really gorgeous. There are lots of roots growing in the trail so you have to pay attention as you go but it’s worth it. The vertical descent is about 400 ft and you have to climb that to get back but it’s not a bad hike up (and we did have that breakfast to work off).

After our waterfalls and hike, we spent the rest of the morning shopping in Highlands. They have lots of great little shops. Lots of Fall sweaters in the boutiques, great art and housewares…something for everyone. After the year we have had, it was great to see so many small boutiques, shops and restaurants still in business. Highlands is a very walkable town. We ended at Four65 Woodfire Bistro for a late lunch. Chaz got a local Pumpkin Ale that he loved, I had a Rose and we split some meatballs and a Brussels and Bacon white pizza. The food was really good but we didn’t want to finish it all. We had facials scheduled at 3pm at the Old Edwards Spa.

Unfortunately, the steam room and saunas were not available for use because of COVID restrictions. The mineral whirlpool was OK to use so I had that to myself to work out the kinks in my neck and I followed that up with an amazing shower—just like the one in our room but bigger. The water was HOT and the pressure was strong.

I went to the common area where they come get you for your treatment and my aesthetician came and off we went. My treatment was great (although it is hard to get used to the aesthetician wearing gloves but that’s our world right now). Once I got back to the locker room, one of the staff let me know there was a mix-up with Chaz and that he would be late. Hmmm…odd.

As I was hanging out in the common area, I overheard a couple who had just been reunited post treatment and I started to piece together the mix-up. His name was Travis. She made him a massage appointment but he had never had a spa treatment.

Rewind- the aesthetician came in and called Chaz at 3pm. Chaz was in the meditation room where you can also wait. Travis stood up and went with the aesthetician and got started – on Chaz’ facial. Travis and Chaz I guess could sound similar…

Once Chaz realized no one had come for him and started chatting with Travis’ wife who was also waiting for her treatment at 3:15, they started to piece it all together. She told him that Travis would not likely say anything to the aesthetician even though he was scheduled for a massage. Eventually they sent someone to get Travis and get him to the massage and Chaz to his facial.

We all met afterwards and had a laugh over the mix up. Kind of a crazy snafu but probably lucky that the spa was not functioning at capacity or there would not have been clean rooms for the guys to move to.

Post spa we took our time getting ready for an afternoon cocktail and dinner. We decided to just hang out at the The Lodge reception area. They have a bar in the afternoon and live entertainment. I tried out their Pomegranate Spritzer—delicious! We sat outside and just relaxed until time to walk to Wolfgang’s in town.

Wolfgang’s is highly rated and gets great reviews. Our night didn’t go very well there.

We were seated immediately but outside and next to a heater. I asked that they turn the heater on and we were told the heater didn’t work. The hostess said they could try to move us but it wasn’t freezing so we decided to be low maintenance and stay put.

Someone came by and took a drink order but we waited a bit to place our dinner order. We placed that with a second server. The food came out very quickly (so quick it was a bit concerning) and it was brought out by someone else. No one came back by to check on us and we noticed we were the only table in our section with the broken heater. We did see the woman we think was our server running around and waiting on a pretty large table across the restaurant. The carousel of personnel finally delivered a dessert menu. We had planned to bail but thought maybe we could turn around the night with apple streudel. We waited again forever to order dessert and by the time our server came to get the order, we just wanted our check. My husband had to hurl our credit card at the server as she was planning to dump the check and run. We were not having it. It’s too bad as our food was very good (weiner schnitzel and a Bavarian sampler). We were so glad to be leaving. I can’t remember the last time we were so invisible in a restaurant.

We ended at Hummingbirds lounge at OEI. This is a great spot on a chilly night…very library looking with a fireplace. The gentleman playing piano was good and we wanted a good way to end the night. Champs for me and a rye old fashioned for him by the fireplace. Very nice, cozy and comfortable.

Another great day with brilliant weather. We needed to rest up for our day of falconry with Curtis Wright Outfitters the next day.
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Old Oct 7th, 2020, 04:14 PM
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Day 2 – Saturday



I found Chaz up and sipping on an espresso on our little deck. He was loving the cold mornings. I turned on the fireplace to take the chill off in the room while sipping my fav AM beverage, a diet coke. The thing that really says vacation to both of us is breakfast. We rarely go out for breakfast at home and we really enjoy going for breakfast when we travel. While we were not super excited about Madison’s for dinner on Friday night, we were very excited about their breakfast!



They serve Benton’s smoked bacon. I just got 2 eggs with that fab bacon, a biscuit and grits but they also do grits RIGHT! Flavorful, rich and with texture---if you have never had real grits (stone ground not instant), this is a great example of how they should be and very rarely are. All of it was very well done and delicious. He got an omelet with 2 kinds of sausage and breakfast potatoes that was also really good. Just what we wanted and the preserves and jams are locally made.



Next up a quick drive to the catch the trail to Glen Falls. This is very close to Highlands—probably not even a 15 minute drive. The cool thing about this trail is that as you descend you come across 5 (I think) viewing areas to get a great look at the 3 waterfalls along this trail…and they just get better as you continue down the trail. Really gorgeous. There are lots of roots growing in the trail so you have to pay attention as you go but it’s worth it. The vertical descent is about 400 ft and you have to climb that to get back but it’s not a bad hike up (and we did have that breakfast to work off).



After our waterfalls and hike, we spent the rest of the morning shopping in Highlands. They have lots of great little shops. Lots of Fall sweaters in the boutiques, great art and housewares…something for everyone. After the year we have had, it was great to see so many small boutiques, shops and restaurants still in business. Highlands is a very walkable town. We ended at Four65 Woodfire Bistro for a late lunch. Chaz got a local Pumpkin Ale that he loved, I had a Rose and we split some meatballs and a Brussels and Bacon white pizza. The food was really good but we didn’t want to finish it all. We had facials scheduled at 3pm at the Old Edwards Spa.



Unfortunately, the steam room and saunas were not available for use because of COVID restrictions. The mineral whirlpool was OK to use so I had that to myself to work out the kinks in my neck and I followed that up with an amazing shower—just like the one in our room but bigger. The water was HOT and the pressure was strong.



I went to the common area where they come get you for your treatment and my aesthetician came and off we went. My treatment was great (although it is hard to get used to the aesthetician wearing gloves but that’s our world right now). Once I got back to the locker room, one of the staff let me know there was a mix-up with Chaz and that he would be late. Hmmm…odd.



As I was hanging out in the common area, I overheard a couple who had just been reunited post treatment and I started to piece together the mix-up. His name was Travis. She made him a massage appointment but he had never had a spa treatment.



Rewind- the aesthetician came in and called Chaz at 3pm. Chaz was in the meditation room where you can also wait. Travis stood up and went with the aesthetician and got started – on Chaz’ facial. Travis and Chaz I guess could sound similar…



Once Chaz realized no one had come for him and started chatting with Travis’ wife who was also waiting for her treatment at 3:15, they started to piece it all together. She told him that Travis would not likely say anything to the aesthetician even though he was scheduled for a massage. Eventually they sent someone to get Travis and get him to the massage and Chaz to his facial.



We all met afterwards and had a laugh over the mix up. Kind of a crazy snafu but probably lucky that the spa was not functioning at capacity or there would not have been clean rooms for the guys to move to.



Post spa we took our time getting ready for an afternoon cocktail and dinner. We decided to just hang out at the The Lodge reception area. They have a bar in the afternoon and live entertainment. I tried out their Pomegranate Spritzer—delicious! We sat outside and just relaxed until time to walk to Wolfgang’s in town.



Wolfgang’s is highly rated and gets great reviews. Our night didn’t go very well there.



We were seated immediately but outside and next to a heater. I asked that they turn the heater on and we were told the heater didn’t work. The hostess said they could try to move us but it wasn’t freezing so we decided to be low maintenance and stay put.



Someone came by and took a drink order but we waited a bit to place our dinner order. We placed that with a second server. The food came out very quickly (so quick it was a bit concerning) and it was brought out by someone else. No one came back by to check on us and we noticed we were the only table in our section with the broken heater. We did see the woman we think was our server running around and waiting on a pretty large table across the restaurant. The carousel of personnel finally delivered a dessert menu. We had planned to bail but thought maybe we could turn around the night with apple streudel. We waited again forever to order dessert and by the time our server came to get the order, we just wanted our check. My husband had to hurl our credit card at the server as she was planning to dump the check and run. We were not having it. It’s too bad as our food was very good (weiner schnitzel and a Bavarian sampler). We were so glad to be leaving. I can’t remember the last time we were so invisible in a restaurant.



We ended at Hummingbirds lounge at OEI. This is a great spot on a chilly night…very library looking with a fireplace. The gentleman playing piano was good and we wanted a good way to end the night. Champs for me and a rye old fashioned for him by the fireplace. Very nice.



Another great day with brilliant weather. We needed to rest up for our day of falconry with Curtis Wright Outfitters the next day.
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Old Oct 7th, 2020, 05:40 PM
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Hi denisea, so glad you traveled to Highlands. We'll be folflowing along with your experiences. We really like the whole area! This is a great season to travel there!
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Old Oct 7th, 2020, 08:35 PM
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I love your trip reports, Denisea. It’s not Paris, but I’m enjoying it as if it was! So nice that you were able to travel, I can’t wait to get out again.
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Old Oct 8th, 2020, 05:47 PM
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Day 3 -Sunday



The usual start – Chaz on the balcony with coffee and cold air; me up a little bit later (Is 7:15am late?) turning on the fireplace, cranking up the radiant heat in the bathroom floor and sipping a diet coke.



Walk to Madison’s for breakfast. Grits – check; Smoked bacon- check; Chaz tried the blueberry pancakes and they were excellent. They really have a terrific breakfast (and I miss it now). WE had time to kill but the shops there open late on Sunday. We did find a few things open and did some browsing after breakfast. We were to meet Peter Kipp from Curtis Wright Outfitters at 1pm for our first experience with falconry.



We got a late AM snack at a little grocery/pizza spot in town before heading to Scaly Mountain to meet up for the falconry.



As soon as Pete pulled up, we realized it would just be the 2 of us for the day. Yipee! We had been told they might add people to our group but we were pretty happy to get all the time for just the two of us.



We followed Pete to a farm close to Highlands and got started. First, a younger red tail hawk (Rufus) was placed on a perch while Pete talked to us about the history of falconry. We learned several common expressions that we use today that are rooted in falconry (one is “I’ll be there with bells on”). We also learned about the equipment and how they ensure the bird’s safety. It was incredibly interesting to learn how birds are raised, how they get those little hoods on the birds, how birds are prepped to work and the rules around capturing birds vs buying birds born in captivity.



After we learned a bit, out came the protective gloves and the more experienced Harris hawk, Sweetie. We were taught how to hold your hand to create a platform for the bird to land on, the correct arm positions and how to call the bird. We first had the bird transfer from Pete to our glove and got used to holding the bird. Sweetie was a trooper and easy to work with. Next you walk with the bird and once you are comfortable there…it’s time to let the bird loose.



Sweetie flew to a tree and then followed us out to a fenced pasture. Sweetie doesn’t like to wait to be called so much. He also liked to buzz Chaz when we were not moving fast enough. Pretty funny. Sweetie is very smart and Pete talk to him like we would our cats or dogs.

So, glove on, a little piece of beef in your fingers…”Come Sweetie” and arm up and he is on the way. Very cool to have these birds land on your hand. They get a little stroke on their chest and praise when they come. Pete takes wonderful slow motion video on your phone for you. We also learned to cast the birds, as well. We had lots of time with Sweetie and tons of video and pictures. Once all their beef has been fed (the birds are weighed before they work and the food amount is very precise), then they get their favorite which is a dead, frozen mouse.



Hawks will use their wings to hood and hide their food and they instinctively eat quickly.



Next, Rufus was prepped to work and Pete was interested to see how he would do. He’s still learning and is apparently a little inconsistent. Both birds were beautiful but Rufus has really gorgeous color and really has the look of an eagle. He’s gorgeous!



Rufus did very well with us and is a little bigger than Sweetie. You could really feel the grip strength of his talons. They both had unique flight patterns on their way to the glove. We got more great video with Rufus and he also received his mouse at the end.



We spent about 2 hours with Pete, Rufus and Sweetie. I can’t say enough about how FUN falconry is. We are hoping to get to Ireland in 2021 for Chaz’ birthday and want to go on a falconry outing there. (Who knows if we will be welcome in Ireland in 2021…stay tuned but I am not feeling too confident about that right now). No matter where, I know we will be doing this again. We had terrific weather for this (and they don’t fly the birds in the rain), so we were just fortunate all the way around. If you are in Western North Carolina, check out Curtis Wright falconry. If you see falconry anywhere you travel, it’s worth a shot. Peter Kipp is a master falconer and there are very few in the US. He really loves the birds (he got interested at 8 years old) and is extremely knowledgeable and personable. 10 out 10 for the entire experience.



We went back to our room and cleaned up with a plan to enjoy the rest of the afternoon and maybe the night at the outdoor wine garden.



It took a few minutes but we got a table and enjoyed some wine and a charcuterie/cheese board AND the Fall weather. Can’t say enough about how perfect the wine bar setting us—so pretty and I do love a waterfall!



We had the nicest server. He really wanted to please everyone and go the extra mile. I thought he was gonna fall into the water trying to take a picture of us. He still had a lot to learn about wine and food but I’m sure he’ll get there. Total “A” for effort. We almost felt like coming up with wild requests to see if he’s ever say no to anything (we didn’t but had some fun coming up with some ridiculous requests). His answer to everything was absolutely and he even walked over to Madison’s to cancel our dinner reservation because we decided to stay put at the wine bar. They are right there together so it isn’t far but still very nice of him to do us a favor.



So, we ordered some Ruinart Rose and just stayed put. At some point, we got a second bottle so it’s a good thing we were just walking back to our room after dinner. We did have a casual dinner and it was very good (same menu as Madisons). I got the bison burger and he got the meatloaf. Both were really excellent. We should have stopped there as we didn’t need dessert. They had a version of Coca Cola cake that was nothing like Coca Cola cake. It was a devil’s food cake with cherries and buttercream icing. (I am Southern a grew up with Coca Cola cake-this was NOT it! Not even close). The cake wasn’t bad but I didn’t really care that much for it—even as just chocolate cake. I wish we hadn’t gotten it because everything else was very good (including the Ruinart).



The weekend flew by and we enjoyed it all. Great hotel, great town, beautiful weather, fun outdoor outings. Can’t wait to go back and we were SO grateful to just have a long weekend away from home after all the craziness of this year (and we know we are not done). The town and all the establishments did a great job with cleaning, masks and social distancing (and more) to make it as safe as possible.

I will try to get some photos posted (I am awful at that but I will give it a shot).
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Old Nov 5th, 2020, 09:08 AM
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Ohhh! Just found this and scan read. LOVE your trip reports!
Looking forward to reading in detail. Good to know about the falconry option close by. I had a solo "tour" at the Greenbrier in WV that was wonderful. Good to know about this option too! I've been fascinated since childhood.
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Old Nov 6th, 2020, 02:29 AM
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Looks like you really enjoyed your trip, it was fun reading your trip reports
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Old Nov 6th, 2020, 12:04 PM
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Thanks - I miss travel so much so was glad to have just a quick trip close to home. We had a great time and truly loved falconry. We had hoped to go to Ireland next year (probably will not happen) but hope to try it again there.
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