Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ashe County and New River Kayak Trip

After a lovely evening and great night's sleep at our neighbor's mountain
retreat, we got up with the sun because we couldn't wait to explore Ashe County!
As I always do before a trip, I'd done my homework on the area... So I knew where
we'd find the best restaurants, antique shops and other reasons to visit Ashe County!
That's Ashe County, North Carolina... Where apparently...
The Buffalo roam!
As soon as we passed this herd of Buffalo we both said, I haven't seen Buffalo since
Ft. Rily at the same time! So we found a place to turn around to get a better look!
We both love Buffaloes! He likes them between a bun, which I won't even
consider... But we both appreciate what beautiful creatures buffalo are!
We also appreciate the benefit of  putting a
little more distance between us and them!
Which is why we decided to move on before
anyone got too excited about our curiosity!
After our Ft. Riley buffalo flash-backs we headed into West Jefferson for a little
breakfast. After breakfast we headed over to the first attraction on our list...
The Ashe County Cheese Factory!
We L-O-V-E cheese!
And this place is just too stinkin' cute!
Lots of cheese and of course, plenty of North Carolina wines too!
We sampled lots of tasty cheese. And although kids there were eating cheese curds
by the handful, I didn't get it. To me, it kinda felt like eating bouncy super balls!
After our tour of the cheese, wine and gift shop, we
crossed the street to see where the cheese is made!
As you stand in front of a large glass window, a recording tells the history of Ashe
County Cheese and a little bit about the making of the cheese you're viewing
During our visit they were sectioning and packaging Ashe County Cheese cheddar!
It's aged a full two days!
Two days, I asked? Yes, this particular cheddar is aged two days, they said
The French would giggle, I said...
If you're French. Or if you just get why 2 days is funny, feel free to giggle too
All giggling aside, we enjoyed our visit to Ashe County Cheese
We didn't buy any cheese; however, we did stock up on plenty
of munchies for the next part of our day, and our ride home!
After the cheese, we spent a couple of hours poking
through most of the antique shops in West Jefferson
On our way to the New River, we stopped to take a look at this beautiful
little church called Saint Mary's. It is one of two Church of the Frescoes 
These are frescoes done by Benjamin Long, a fantastic artist. Ben is also a
former Marine and Vietnam Veteran. You can read more about him here
I know... I didn't really want to say former Marine. I have plenty
of Marine friends, so I know... Once a Marine, always a Marine!
This Church of the Frescoes wasn't on my list of places to visit in Ashe
county. Initially, we stopped just to take a closer look at this gorgeous
pine tree and to read the writing on these headstones in the yard. But
now that we've discovered Mr. Long's frescoes, I'm really glad we did!
Roughly ten miles from the church is the community of Todd. Literally
a map dot now, Todd was once larger than nearby Boone. But today, unless
you're out here to ride your bike, enjoy the New River or visit the oldest
general store in North Carolina, there's really no reason to stop in Todd! 
Fortunately for us, we were in Todd to go river kayaking! We've been ocean
kayaking, and bay kayaking in Canada but never river kayaking. So why not?
This is interesting... Not something one expects to see at an outdoor rec shop!
But then this is Todd, North Carolina!
Actually, this is Petunia...
And, she lives at the River Girl Fishing shop in Todd!
Everywhere I went, Petunia seemed to want to go too! The only other
thing to know about River Girl Fishing is that they charge tourists
nearly DOUBLE what they charge locals. Just after we paid $76.00 for
the two of us, a couple that came in behind us paid $40 for the very same
excursion. When I asked why, I was told they were locals, so they got the
local rate. When I asked how they knew we weren't local, we were
told, this is Todd, and there ain't but 20 locals. So... They knew! 
Double the rate for tourists like us aside, we were about to go kayaking,
which meant I was still all smiles! Besides... Someone has to feed Petunia!
I'm telling you... No matter what it is... This is always the cure!
For the man I love too!
Just take me kayaking or skiing and I'll be happy all day!
River kayaking is a little different from what we're used to. First, it's
easier since the river current helps push you along. Second, there
are other things happening on the river too... Such as tubing!
When I heard there was tubing available I imagined something else...
But now that I see this - All these people tied up together, sharing from a cooler
floating in its own tube, I can't get that song, Redneck Yacht Club out of my head!
I'm willing to accept that it may just be me!
But this is what I'm here to see!
Just me in my kayak, and this Great Blue Heron!
Fortunately, I was able to catch a rock in the river
to stop me so that I could watch him for a while
He didn't mind me one bit!
And, just as I glided past this mom and her babies on the other
side of the river, and stopped again to pull out my camera...
Mr. Heron flew over to ensure he got back into my shots!
Honestly! What a ham!
Lucky me!
Although river kayaking isn't our favorite way to kayak - We very
much enjoyed exploring this part of North Carolina's New River
Hey, Dad! Here's an A-frame in the woods for you... And, it's my favorite color too!
As it always does, our time in a kayak ended too soon... But we
do have next weekend's kayak trip in Charleston to look forward to!
We very much enjoyed our weekend in Ashe County. We can now check
river kayaking off our list. Our neighbor's cabin was spectacular, and we
always enjoy any time we get to spend in the mountains of North Carolina!
Have a Great week!


  1. Janet~
    LOVE following along on your trip to the Blue Ridge Mts. I went to camp every summer in the Blue Ridge Mts!
    What a lovely day for you guys.
    That pot~bellied pig is HILARIOUS!
    You guys need to make a trip to the Northwest so we can go kayaking!
    I love BOONE!
    That general store is AWESOME!
    Popping over now to see the cabin!
    I was going to mail you post cards from TOfino but the mail people were on strike!

  2. Janet,
    Your photos of the metal cows just gave me a good laugh, along with the red-neck yacht club...Your last pic of the horse cooling off by the window fan is just great.
    AL from WA (not CA anymore)

  3. Janet, I can tell your a California girl....Cheese Curds are all about the saltiness of fresh cheese and the squeakness of the curds. Love my curds...but have to get up north to Tillamook to get Californians just don't get it. Looks like you all had a great getaway! Take care of yourself.


  4. The cheese making reminds me SO much of our wonderful Tillamook cheese factory here on the Oregon Coast! Many happy memories of visits (and their incredible Tillamook ice cream in addition to the squeaky cheese curds)!

  5. I love this post! I love that you stop to admire a tree. I love that you know your readers well enough that buffalo, pot-bellied pigs, frescoes and waterfowl and two day old cheese etc., would delight them.


Readers who comment ROCK!