When the summer heat is rising, it’s best to find some shade and a body of water where you can cool off your body. A few weeks ago, our friends invited us to join them for a weekend in Hot Springs, NC.
On a scorching-hot mid-June afternoon, we loaded up our two dogs, left plenty of food and water for the cat at home, and hit the road. The drive wasn’t bad at all, even if the map showed some squiggly line leading to the camping grounds. We arrived around 5 p.m. and checked in. We were looking for the leveled parking pad for our RV but had to do a double take in order to figure out that the gravel peeking from the dirt and grass was it. The public restrooms were in a trailer close by, and the heavy rain earlier in the week had made the trails a muddy mess. The Smoky Mountains KOA had us spoiled…
We congratulated ourselves for two purchases. The first one was the windshield exterior cover, which was much easier to install and provided better shade and privacy than the interior Velcro curtain we used previously. The second good investment was the large outdoor rug, which kept our feet and the dogs off the dirt. The thing I need to improve on? Bringing a microwaveable/oven-ready dish that actually fits inside our new oven… Oops.
Once situated, I tried to text my friend to let her know we had arrived. Only there was no signal… Luckily, I knew their tent site number, so I used the map to figure out which way they might be stationed. I left David with Lexi and the dogs to get the things situated the rest of the way, and I headed down the dirt path in search of our friends.
The crew had set up tent on the French Broad River bank and was enjoying some cold beverages, while the grill was working at capacity. David joined later and we cooked together, enjoying catching up. Although it was still warm, the evening was pleasant enough to sit outside by the fire and share stories over a glass (or two, or…) of wine. We were very glad to return to the cool interior of our RV for the night.
The morning started O.K. temperature-wise but quickly got unbearably hot. We made the mistake of taking a bike ride into town, which was really just around the corner from our camping ground. Even if it was still fairly early in the day, the heat was too much and I needed a shower by the time we returned. We considered leaving the bikes and going downtown again by foot but just the thought of walking through the dust/mud and heat exhausted me. Besides, the downtown wasn’t much to see – somewhat cute but very small, nothing to write home about.
My friends spend the day in the water and we considered joining them but opted for a nice long nap inside the air-conditioned RV instead of the no-doubt cooling but too-brown water of the French Broad River.
In the evening, we chose to grill and have another air-conditioned meal before heading out to hang out with our friends. More of their friends had arrived and the party was full on. One of the couples had a really cool make-shift camper built on the back of their truck. Their rescue three-legged pit bull and two humans could comfortably sleep in the cozy get-up. We spent more fun quality time with the gang before retiring for the night.
Sunday morning came with dogs barking incessantly – not ours but from one of the nearby guests. I stumbled around, trying to find the culprit: a yahoo couple had their large dog tied to the tree and was casually making a big breakfast without being bothered at all by their loudly barking animal. I gave them the best stink eye I could (pre-coffee, pre-8 a.m.) and walked away. Of course, they did nothing about it. The barking was further incentive to pack up quickly. We visited with our friends once again and hit the road back to Knoxville.
Although the campgrounds and the weather were less than delightful, the best part of the trip was spending time with friends, getting to know new friends better, and taking a break from our digital distractions. After all, traveling is about disconnecting and also connecting with nature and friends – and along those lines, this trip delivered.