No TV. No internet. No cell service. No distractions. Well, except the furry kind! Sometimes you really just need to unplug and get away from the “real world” to remember what’s really important. We try to do just that as often as we can, and were really excited when we were asked by Glamping with Pets to do a media stay and found this super cute barn out in western NC on their site to stay at. I knew it would be the perfect place for an adventurous yet relaxing few days in nature
DAY 1: Driving, Exploring the Creek & Relaxing
So on Friday, while the hubby was still at work, I ran around like a headless chicken getting things packed up, making sure the dogs had their ridiculous amount of adventure gear (to my like 4 items) and loaded everyone up in the truck. Not, of course, before Roxie decided to pull a Houdini, jump out of her crate in the 4 minutes that I spent loading the truck, and re-injure her 2-week post op leg. Oy vey. (Thankfully, she’s doing okay and had a blast anyway, with some adjustments to the itinerary).
We spent 3 1/2 hours driving on interstates and country highways, with Helo staring at the reflection off of my phone on the ceiling of my Xterra and panting, Ringo snoring. The last half hour or so we cruised on dirt roads through mountains and cow fields and eventually made our way to the oasis that is The Barn at Huffman Creek Retreat.
You know when you see pictures of a place online and you’re blown away and then you worry that it won’t be quite as awesome in person? Well yeah, that did NOT happen here. This place is BEAUTIFUL!
Arriving at the Barn
Since we’ve done this a million times, I now have a dog vacation post-arrival “checklist” in my head, which goes a little something like this:
1. Potty break/sniff fest
2. Get the dogs their water, chew toys, and beds
3. Unload the truck
4. Unpack the cooler and load everything in the fridge
5. Sit down and take a deep breath.. because we MADE IT and the rest is no work and all play!
Exploring the Grounds
Once everything was unloaded, I knew I couldn’t wait another minute to go check out Huffman Creek, which is right on the other side of the gravel drive from the barn. We wandered around, the dogs smelled every blade of grass and fallen twig, and I stood there in awe of my surroundings. The sound of the rushing water, the beauty of the surrounding woods, this was exactly the secluded, away from it all setting that we had hoped for!
Robert showed up about an hour later and the dogs greeted him like I’ve never seen before. I have a feeling that they thought I was kidnapping them and they’d never see him again or something. We were both tired from the drive, so we cooked some dinner, built a fire in the woodstove, and curled up on the couch with the dogs.
The barn didn’t have a tv or wifi, which was even better in our opinion. It was, however, stocked with a whole cabinet of great games and a boom box. We managed to find a country station that came in pretty well, even this far out. We had a perfect evening of music, a few cold beers, and good conversation. Before bed, we took the dogs on a walk along the gravel drive in the moonlight, admiring the bright stars overhead. It was completely quiet in a way that you just can’t get when you live in a big city. Then we turned in, knowing we wanted to be up bright and to hit the trails in the morning.
DAY 2: POWER OUTAGE, BACON, HIKING, ROCKING CHAIRS, and FIRE!
Power Outage + Ladders
As any of you who know us are well aware, no trip is complete without at least one small hiccup. So, you can imagine that at around 2am when we heard the power flicker and then all of the lights (and space heaters) turned off, we were less than surprised. Since there wasn’t much to to do about it and we figured we had some time before the food went bad or the barn got too cold, we went back to bed. I woke back up at 6am freezing (barns aren’t exactly insulated). Robert snored away beside me, blissfully unaware as always, and the power was still out. So, I get out of bed to go make a fire. I’ve always loved fireplaces, but I wanted to kiss the wood stove on this cold February morning!
Oh, I didn’t mention this earlier, but the bedrooms are upstairs in two separate lofts, accessible by these cute wooden ladders. It felt a little less cute as I stumbled around a loft that I had only seen in the daylight for a very short time, feeling for the railing and ladder, hoping not to fall. I’m laughing as I write this because this is so typical for us. HAHA! Anyway, I make it down without falling to my death (yay!) and find my dying cell phone on the coffee table (after hitting my shin on it of course), with 8% battery left. Great, well it’s better than nothing. Using it as a makeshift flashlight in short bursts to preserve the battery, I get all the dogs leashed up and take them out to pee 2 at a time. I could then tell that the power was still out on the whole street. We come back in and I go in search of some candles that I vaguely remember seeing in a cupboard the day before. Thank goodness this place is well stocked!
I find 3 big scented candles and the lighter we had used for the woodstove, which provide enough light for me to kind of see what I’m doing and start a fire. I then spend the next 10 minutes fumbling with wood, newspaper, and a lighter in my right hand while I hold a hot candle halfway inside the woodstove in the other to “see” what the heck I’m doing in the other. My camping experience pays off and I get a fire going. I then wrap myself and the dogs in a blanket on the couch, pleased with my accomplishments.
Literally FIVE MINUTES LATER the power comes back on… and my husband wakes up. You’re kidding me right?? After I just did all that??? I just sat there and had a really good laugh!
Now that the power is back in, I may as well start our morning glamping tradition… MAKING BACON! I throw some bacon in a pan, supervised by 4 pairs of pleading eyes, while Robert reads about local trails in a brochure about the area. We end up deciding to skip the whole egg cooking part of our breakfast, split the bacon with the drooling dogs, and head straight for the trails! One of the best things about this property is that it’s on a big, beautiful piece of land with private hiking trails.
One of the many gorgeous moss-covered bridges on the property
We get everyone geared up and head across the creek to the trailhead, just as it starts to sprinkle. After exploring a little, the rain looks like it’s picking up. We decide to head back to the barn and wait for the rain to pass on the covered porch, rocking away and listening to the creek. Not a bad plan B!
Private Hiking Trails
About an hour later, the rain stops and it starts to get a bit brighter outside, so we gear up and head back out. This time, we get to really enjoy the creek and the trails. Boomer dives head first into hole after hole on the way up the mountain, searching for vermin of some sort, snorting and getting covered in dirt, thoroughly enjoying her fruitless pursuit. We tackle switchback after switchback and finally make it to the top to Bear Den Falls, a tall cascade of water coming down a large slab of rock on the side of the mountain. The dogs pose for the obligatory picture and a water break, and we head back down, exploring more of the creek along the way.
We went”home” to the barn for lunch, and could think of no better plan than to hit the road in search of more awesome hiking opportunities. After all, we were in the heart of the beautiful Nantahala National Forest. We attempted to hike out to a scenic overlook but ended up at a forest road with a locked gate, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The next sign we saw was for Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. We remembered reading something about it in one of the brochures at the cabin and decided to go check it out. So glad we did!
Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest
Since Roxie was still limping pretty bad, she hitched a ride in my daypack and we all headed into the forest. It was a bit foggy and everything was glistening from the recent rain, making the forest even more vibrant and beautiful. Moss covered trees, big boulders, and rushing water made for a gorgeous hike and great photo ops! Some of the trails were closed due to fire damage, but we managed to explore enough to get us talking about planning a return trip to do a lot more exploring in the spring!
Evening at the Barn
As the sunlight was starting to fade, we headed back “home” to the barn to whip up some dinner. Robert and his trusty sidekick, Helo, manned the outdoor kitchen and made some burgers for us all (humans AND dogs alike, of course), and we dined outside on the porch in the perfect 50 degree weather.
By the time we were done, it was pretty dark, and we headed across the drive to the gorgeous outdoor fire pit with beer and marshmallows. All four pups lounged on the big benches around the fire pit, Roxie INSIDE her sleeping bag, until we were all a bit cold and decided to call it a wrap after a long, action-packed day.
DAY 3: Rest, Relaxation, Return Home
After a day full of hiking and activity, we were ready for some downtime before the drive home. We spent our last morning at the barn lazily lounging around, reading books, and snuggling with the dogs. We obviously made some more bacon, this time with eggs, and fed the dogs their special vacation breakfast. Afterwards, the sun started shining and the weather was SO perfect. I just had to head up to the loft and soak it all in one last time.
Grabbing Roxie, and then Ringo, I carefully carried them up the ladder with me one at a time. I opened up the barn doors, which are without a doubt the best feature in this adorable rental, to let in the sunshine and display that perfect view of the creek and the woods. The little guys snuggled at my feet while I zoned out watching the creek below. I sat there reflecting on the amazing weekend that we’ve just had. The perfect simple ending to a great weekend in the woods with my family.
We packed up the truck and left feeling refreshed, energized, and reconnected. A few days away from the constant interruptions of everyday life and buzzing phones, a few dogs, and a sweet barn in the woods were definitely what the doctor ordered. Everything may not have gone perfectly, but that’s life. No one can control the power going out or a little rain, but we were in a cozy, beautiful place with everything we needed for a memorable weekend with the ones who matter most.
To find your own oasis away from it all, check out pets.glampinghub.com and see what kind of unique getaways you can find in your own area!
Disclosure: We received this stay free of charge from Glamping with Pets in exchange for sharing our experience. The content in this post is based solely on my personal experience and is was not affected by said partnership.
Thanks for reading!
Debbie & THE MUTTS