NoLa: The Land of Highs and Lows

Before we get into our week in New Orleans, we must first describe the drive from the tippy top of Alabama, all the way down to the bottom.  Recently I reread To Kill a Mockingbird and became slightly obsessed with small, sleepy southern towns.  At one point we were planning on doing a road trip that covered only the back roads of the south, but life got in the way.  So when I found out that Harper Lee was from Monroeville, Alabama- which was sort of on our way from Chattanoonga to New Orleans, I knew I wanted to stop.  Besides, after reading the town’s tourist information, how could we not want to go (I mean there is a painted birdhouse walking tour?!).  IMG_5800

As with any sleepy southern town, there wasn’t very much going on when we got there- but really that’s what I was most interested in seeing: people sitting the day away on porches, little stores shut up and closed for the weekend, and empty streets to walk along.  FullSizeRender(2)From Monroeville, we drove to Mobile Alabama and stayed the night- incidentally we also had some of the best Mexican food we’ve ever had in our lives (the best being in Chattanooga of all places).  Sunday we headed through the southern, coastal portion of Mississippi and onward towards New Orleans!IMG_4355Vera is loving spending so much time all together.  We were so happy that she was starting to act like herself, because at the end of our stay in New Orleans we experienced our first, and only NoLa low.  A woman we met there told us that New Orleans is the land of ‘high highs and low lows’- but up until Thursday, we experienced nothing that could be classified as a low.  That morning, however, when Adam was walking Vera, another dog ran up and bit her- the laceration was really bad and we had to take her to an emergency vet.  She stayed there all day for surgery and to be stapled back up.  IMG_5859She’s been doing much better since Thursday (as the former picture suggests) and has moments where we think even she forgets that she has such a huge cut in her side.

The beginning of our week in New Orleans was a totally different story- we love that city!  It might, of course have had something to do with the fact that we missed the city life- but the houses! How can you not fall in love with all the adorable, colorful, tiny houses?  We spent the week choosing our favorite and landed on the following house:  IMG_5779Of course we can’t really be sure.  Though we walked around endlessly, exploring as many of the neighborhoods and backstreets as we could, there’s no way of really knowing if this was the best- but it would definitely end up in the top five.

Aside from choosing our favorite houses, we also used the walks to see as much of New Orleans as possible- checking off as many recommendations and obligatory tourist stops as we could.

First, we ate beignets (which we could eat every day forever.)IMG_5819We walked along the Mississippi River.  We went to Siberia, a metal bar, and ate a beet burger (it was the best food we’ve eaten at a bar, ever.) We walked on Bourbon Street for one block and took this picture, then promptly exited.  IMG_5855 We rode our bikes in City Park and walked all the way from the 7th ward down to the Lower 9th to check out how far the development has come along since Katrina.  IMG_5839We ate gumbo and po’boys and even saw Uncle Dave!  We checked out the street art and found Adam’s favorite.  IMG_5815 We got to stay in a super cute, awesome house in the 7th ward and met the neighbors (the people in New Orleans are so much friendlier than anyone else- we had conversations with neighbors that lasted multiple hours).  FullSizeRender(3)We didn’t really get to see any parades (just one tiny one that was more like a bunch of people from some company walking the same way on the street than a parade).  I found out that it was because parades happen every month of the year except July when I went to the Backstreet Museum in Treme.  We definitely need to go back to New Orleans, but we’re happy to move on to the open country of West Texas.

‘Chatty’ Chattanooga

Adam kept trying to convince me that the phrase “Chatty Chattanooga” was an actual thing people say because people in the city talk a lot- and though I still don’t believe him, it’s undeniable that we definitely had more conversations with locals here than we did in Asheville… or really most places we’ve been.  People seemed ready and willing to have a conversation about basically anything, even if you were only standing next to one another waiting to cross the same street.  It was really nice to be able to get insiders’ perspectives on this city.  It was clear that there is a lot of pride around the rebuilding of Chattanooga, and for a good reason.  Chattanooga was a great place to spend a week- there were bridges to walk over, ice cream to eat, trails to run, and plenty of people to talk to.

We actually stopped off in Cloudland Canyon State Park in the northern tip of Georgia before we began our Chattanooga adventures.  This park was gorgeous and our campsite was beautiful and secluded.    IMG_2960The next morning we woke up early to go for a seriously breathtaking sunrise run along the rim of the canyon.

IMG_2977After our run, we quickly reloaded the car and made our way to Chattanooga.

IMG_5681The summer heat was getting pretty intense, so the first thing we did when we got to Chattanooga was head to the blue hole in Soddy Daisy.  Unfortunately, it started thunder storming about a half an hour after we got there, so we weren’t able to swim- though we had two of the best conversations with people from the area who gave us tons of recommendations and welcomed us to Chattanooga- so all was not lost- besides we went back later on in the week.  The water along Chickamauga Creek is crystal clear and a serious relief from the heat- especially since we had been camping for so many days in a row.  IMG_3006We ran and hiked a ton of trails around the city, mostly in Raccoon and Lookout Mountains.  One morning during our run, the clouds hadn’t lifted yet and looked like a river amongst the mountains.  IMG_5732Lookout Mountain was a beautiful hike, though it started off horribly with Vera getting a fish hook stuck in her ear- something we didn’t exactly think we had to worry about happening up in the mountains, but Vera handled it well and happily hiked up to the lookout after we performed minor surgery on her.  IMG_2994 IMG_5735The rest of our Chattanooga adventures involved walking around the city (mostly over the same walking bridge)and eating ice cream.  IMG_5767We’ll miss Chattanooga, but we were definitely ready to leave at the end of the week- it’s hard not to be excited for New Orleans!

Food + Beer = Asheville

About five years ago, Adam and I decided that we wanted to visit Asheville, North Carolina.  I’m not sure where this desire came from; I don’t even think we’d met anyone who lived there until years later.  Based on the influx of northerners, it’s possible we were also influenced by some mysterious marketing campaign.  Regardless of the reason, we excitedly decided to book a cabin in the woods somewhere near Asheville for that Christmas time.  Unfortunately for us, however, our plans were thwarted by ‘Snowmageddon 2010’.  This, I think only served to make us more enticed by this little city.

When we began preparations for this summer, we decided that starting off in Asheville might be the easiest transition from NYC to life on the road.  I met a native ‘Ashevillian’ last summer who confirmed all our Internet Research about how the city is not only surrounded by beautiful mountains, but is also inhabited by open-minded, happy people who drink a lot of beer and eat only good food.

Asheville, to put it simply, met and exceeded all of our (super high) expectations.  We stayed in the Asheville area for two full weeks before moving on.  In that time we climbed to some of the prettiest views we’d ever seen, went on amazing trail runs, ate incredible food, and of course, drank great beer at many of the local breweries.

We stayed in a cabin for the first week out in Leicester, North Carolina. (We had the top floor above the garage).

IMG_2920The second week we spent camping at Lake Powhatan, which was right along the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway.  IMG_5245

On July 4th, we hiked out to Skinny Dip Falls to go swimming, but unfortunately it was grey and rainy so we decided not to jump in.  We’re pretty sure Vera was ok with that idea since she associates water only with taking a bath (one of her least favorite things to do).  FullSizeRender(1)Probably my favorite hike was the morning we climbed to the top of Max Patch, an area on top of a mountain once cleared for a pasture, that offers 360 degree views of the Great Smokey and Black Mountain Ranges. Views for days…

IMG_5223 IMG_5227Also, on this hike, we got to see our first ever baby llama.

IMG_5233It was definitely hard to say goodbye to the comforts of Asheville, but we were excited about pushing onward to Adam’s most anticipated stop: Chattanooga, Tennessee (of course, his anticipation was based solely on this article from Outside Magazine).