hot springs: a place to heal your soul

nestled way back in the mountains of madison county, deep in the pisgah national forest, lies a tiny, little mountain town named hot springs. there’s not much there. a railroad track – which is still in use multiple times throughout the day and night (as experienced while camping at night when the low, rumbling, clacking of the train over the tracks woke me from my slumber in my cozy tent). a few restaurants. a small library. a church. an outfitters store and a vintage/used store. and a post office. a creek runs under the main street, creating two separate blocks. and a few homes lie on some small streets just off of the main road. but, that’s about it. even with a population of only about 600, though, it’s a friendly place, bustling with movement + people – most of who have come to stay at the campground/resort or who are passing through, needing a little break from their trek in the woods or their ride through the mountains. of course, the real draw for hot springs is just that… its hot springs.

hot springs

hot springs has been a destination spot for years, since the 1800s to be exact. of course, the land has been used much longer than that. native americans gathered in the area to use the healing powers of the hot springs, conducting ceremonies and rituals. some time int he 1700s colonists began coming to the area to heal the ailments and sicknesses. at the tun of the century, a white colonist had purchased the land (from whom, i don’t know?! hopefully he didn’t just “take” it and claim it his), and began making money from visitors coming to experience the healing powers of the area.

soon there were hotels and people flocked there for resort vacations. a place catering to the rich in the midst of a poor, rural part of north carolina. big money at work, capitalism at its best, in the 1800s. somehow, as i type this, i find myself feeling more and more irritated at the way the people claim and use the land for their own profit, instead of keeping it wild + free.

then, the history takes an even darker turn, in my opinion. in 1917. the hotel was leased to the federal government where it became internment camp for hundreds of german merchant sailors captured in u.s. harbors when war was declared. according to the hot springs website, “the internees were treated well by the townspeople, and several returned to visit after the war.” let’s hope so. i will say that while were there camping, each night we talked about the old german prisoners of wars’ souls… are they still around? haunting and wandering?

after the war, things weren’t the same. the hotel never regained its glory (good!), and hot springs was almost forgotten way back there in those magical, healing mountains.

today, as people seek to get back in touch with nature + with the mystical, healing waters that flow through the area, hot springs is again a tourist destination. but, it without that upper-class feel. yes, there is a resort with a spa and some mineral baths, places to get in the 100 degree springs, but it is not over-the-top. the town is simple and cozy. and the campground keeps those seeking a real, wild, natural experience coming back. hiker walk through the town on their 2100 mile hike from georgia to maine on the appalachain trail. rafters shoot the rapids and float in the river. and people seeking a few days of rest, peace, simplicity + grounding come here to renew their spirit + tap into their inner wild side.

and that is exactly what i experienced.

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hot springs post office

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hot springs

 if you are in the mountains of north carolina, i most definitely recommend dropping by this quaint little town, surrounded by mountains, which offers a little peace + calm for your soul. stay a few hours, soak in the springs, or camp by the river. but, give yourself a chance to just be and breathe.

love + light. xx

off the grid + with the family

yesterday (sunday) was my dad’s 70th birthday, so my brother, lina + i decided that to celebrate his big day we’d head out to the woods to do a little family camping. of course, everyone else + their mother decided that it would be the perfect weekend for camping as well. why, you ask? this little thing called “leaf season”. up here, in the north carolina mountains, the leaves are just beginning to hit their peak beauty. needless to say, the campground we chose to visit was paaaa-acked! but, it was also beautiful.

on friday afternoon, lina + i packed up our car with food, a tent, sleeping bags, blankets, and cozy clothes. we headed just northwest of asheville, about 45 minutes, to the fabulous little town called hot springs – more on hot springs another day. my parents had already beaten us to the campground and had pulled their rv into their site by the time we arrived, so we went to our space and scouted out the best spot for our tent. we were not within sight distance of my parents’ site, but it was an easy 2 minute walk we went over to say hi to them and invited them over to our site (which is where we all hung out the entire weekend actually). then, we got to work setting up camp. let the coziness commence!

the weekend consisted of pure, quality family time. and food. yummy camp food. of course we sat by the fire practically the whole time (thanks to my brother’s mad fire-making skills + lina’s mad maintaining-the-fire skills). i read some + did a little walking. i took lots and lots of photos. and we all chatted and generally just spent time together. we were totally off the grid, so the only thing we focused on was each other. sadly, my brother had to travel back + forth to asheville a few times, but he slept in his tent at our campsite as well.

the whole weekend was just amazing. something that i will not soon forget, and will cherish in my heart for the rest of my life i am sure. it was an extremely special weekend for me – just the opportunity to be in the middle of nature, outside the whole entire weekend, living simply, being wild, and focusing on the things that are really important. the things that are the most important to me in my life.

day one:

lina me camping

all packed up!

hot springs camping

entering into hot springs campground. woo hoo!

hot springs camping

a few campsites were right on the river (lucky dogs). however, ours ended up being just across from it, and it was pretty much perfect.

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scouting out the best spot for the tent.

hot springs camping tent

our tent!! soooo cozy + perfect – a birthday present to me from my love last year. 

lina me beer pbr

a celebratory pbr (beer) ‘cuts we got the tent all set up!

hot springs camping

the fire is lit! and it stayed lit literally the entire weekend. soon awesome.

hot springs camping bread

darkness fell, and it was time to make some traditional campfire food – both swedish + american, of course. here, lina is baking bread on a stick over the fire. i devoured some s’mores.

hot springs camping campfire

dad warmed his hands by the fire for hours. clearly something silly was happening at this point too. 

hot springs camping campfire

the family is all gathered. xoxo

day two:hot springs camping morning tent

laying in my tent, early in the morning. just gazing the trees + listening to the silence. so peaceful.

hot springs camping lina morning

ready for the day!

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mornin’!

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first things first: hot camp coffee from a percolator. (that’s my brother!)

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hot springs camping

the morning fire is all lit.

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a little morning dog walking. these two are just the cutest. 

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breakfast preparations are underway. can’t wait!

hot springs camping pancakes

hot springs camping coffee

hot springs camping gunny

hot springs camping camp food

hot springs camping me

hot springs camping lina pancake

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hot springs camping reading

passing time by doing a little reading after a little walk into town. (those photos coming up tomorrow!)

hot springs camping trees

the sun is setting…

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evening arrives again. this one will be a special one.

hot springs camping dad

happy birthday to my dad! 

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my last little peek out from the tent as i tucked myself in.

hot springs camping campfire morning

when i woke in the morning and unzipped my tent, this is what i saw. sooooo cozy.

hot springs camping

i climbed out of my tent early and walked over to the river for a few moments of solitude. amazing.

hot springs camping campfire me

camp liz!

hot springs camping coffee

more camp coffee to get the morning started!

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hot springs camping campfire me nick cooking

brother-sister breakfast cooking team. eggs + bacon… coming up!

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our cozy home for the weekend.

hot springs camping campfire family

family time ♥

hope you had a good weekend, too, dear friends. check back over the next few days and i’ll share with you some photos of hot springs, the french broad river, + a little walking on the appalachian trail!

love + light. xx

the adventures of a girl in love with autumn

autumn tree red

so, autumn is in full swing here in asheville, north carolina and it just could not be more cozy and beautiful. october is absolutely a stunning month up here in the mountains. but, i’m telling you, this is only the beginning. the beauty, the coziness, the autumn amazingness will only grow more + more.

here’s an example: right now, as i type this, i have candles lit in my living room. a blanket on my feet. a glass or red wine by my side. halloween lights glowing outside my door on the balcony. the debate for north carolina’s next senator on tv (we vote in just 4 weeks – and it will be a big one). and tons of photos to share with you in this post.

yes, i am enjoying a very low key, relaxed night after about 2 glorious weeks of adventure, fun, and  friends. i gotta get my balance on, you know. so, here are bunches of snaps from the past 2 weeks – snaps of food, drinks, nature, laughs – of sharing life with one another. and, just as a bonus, they include lina’s high school friend from sweden who came to visit us for 10 days. take a peek!

happy october!

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dinners and beer out on the town – gotta share the avl secrets w/ our swedish friend!
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vintage store obsessions
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ah-freaking-mazing moments: 7:30 am yoga class + midday mountain ride + $2.50 cans of beer and slices of pizza.

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a huge fika group (20 were there!) and then some alone time at my “secret” hiding spot
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pub crawl. i mean, we’ve got 15 micro-breweries in asheville. what else to do?!IMG_8258 IMG_8260 IMG_8266

a small mountain town visit + railroad tracks + true bluegrass + the best burger ever at a lonesome country barIMG_8283 IMG_8292 IMG_8294

live music + another brewery + asheville’s drum circle (there is nothing quite like the downtown drum circle. anywhere. ever)IMG_8305 IMG_8310 IMG_8331 IMG_8334

biltmore estate + wine tasting IMG_8338 IMG_8344 IMG_8361 IMG_8364

the first frost + golden sun + the blue ridge parkwayIMG_8391 IMG_8398 IMG_8399 IMG_8405 IMG_8407 IMG_8429 IMG_8437 IMG_8452 IMG_8458 IMG_8467 IMG_8475

a celebratory last night out with our swedish friend (she left this morning)IMG_8511 IMG_8520 IMG_8524

dedication: 7:30 am yoga class – even though it was dark + rainy when i left home
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autumn peaceIMG_8541

you see? i told you it was a lot. hehe. i sure do hope that your autumn/spring has gotten off to a beautiful start. sending you lots of peace and happiness.

love + light. xx