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.

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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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 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:

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all packed up!

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entering into hot springs campground. woo hoo!

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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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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!

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

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the sun is setting…

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

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happy birthday to my dad! 

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

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

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

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camp liz!

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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.

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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 day that love came to north carolina

asheville city hall same sex marriage

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here we are. in 2010. at a rally for marriage equality in raleigh, north carolina. 

yesterday was day one in north carolina.

what does that mean? it means that it was the first day, ever, that same sex couples were finally treated as equals. the first day that same-sex couples received the right to file for marriage licenses and get married. and the first day that my love and i were legally, officially, recognized as a married couple in my home state.

it’s been a long time coming, and for a while, i wondered how long we would have to wait to be able to have the right to marry and build a life with the one that we love. but, tonight i saw same sex couples getting married in asheville, north carolina. like legally married. not a commitment ceremony, but a real live, legal marriage. with paperwork from the government and all. in north carolina!

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it’s a long legal story, that sped up in intensity this past monday after a ruling in virginia struck down the law that defined marriage as only between a man and a women. in other words, it was unconstitutional (illegal). that ruling opened the door for other states to also strike down their own bans on same-sex marriage. north carolina has had a ban on gay marriage for a while now, but i didn’t really believe that the law would be stuck down anytime soon.

so, after a lot of drama and a lot of waiting, and hoping, and wishing, and last ditch political and horrific stalling tactics by republican, and almost giving up, at the last minute on friday night, a judge in north carolina ruled that the ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional (because of what happened in virginia on monday). and then, within minutes, same- sex marriages were allowed to begin. I couldn’t believe it when i saw it in my twitter feed.

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when i saw the news on twitter… i ran to lina. we stood in amazement. just looking at each other. suddenly, within a flash, our marriage was recognized in our state. suddenly we were a married couple in north carolina – with rights and privileges. not just two girls living together. but, legitimately married. it felt amazing. and i could hardly breathe.

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here we are, literally minutes after same sex marriage became legal in north carolina last night. we had to celebrate with a photo of a real, live, legally recognized married couple!

the government offices where you get marriage licenses stayed open late all across the state after the ruling in favor of same sex marriages. and couples poured in to get their licenses, and then immediately get married. there were ministers and clergy available everywhere to marry people right on the spot.

we decided to hop in the car and head down to the government building to be a part of this historic moment, and when we arrived, we saw that there were people milling about everywhere. couples were scattered in groups on the stairs in front of the building, getting married right there. other couples cheered them on. lina and i joined in. it is unbelievable how this truly affects the lives of so many people and so many families. it is so amazing that this has happened. that it is real.

to be clear, lina and i do not have to get married again. we were married in sweden almost 5 years ago, and as of last night, that marriage is now legal in north carolina! so, no ceremonies for us. only celebrations that our love and our marriage is something that is real and valid and recognized now. *deep breath* amazing.

here are photos of the wedding ceremonies and celebrations happening just after the ruling. it was so emotional and powerful and unbelievable…

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the rest of the photos are not mine. i pulled them off of different places on twitter. but, it shows you just some of the couples in asheville that got marriage licenses and got married. what a huge, mind-blowing, heart-exploding day! look at how cute these couples are – and they (along with lina and i) get to celebrate their love – and be recognized as full, legitimate spouses!

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yep. yesterday was day one. the day that love came to north carolina. the day that equality and justice won. i am so proud. so excited. and so overjoyed. and you know what else? it really did feel different walking around today, holding my love’s, my wife’s, hand – knowing that we are not just two women who live together. but, in the eyes of the law of north carolina and the united states, we are legally married. it is a binding contract, affording us the same rights and privileges as opposite gender couples. and i cannot adequately describe to you how incredible this feels.

yesterday, love won.

light + love