Left the house at 4:30am, and entered South Carolina at 5:05am. Stopped along the way to get breakfast at Chick-Fil-A at Garner's Ferry Rd just off interstate at 7:20am. This Chick-Fil-A was certainly not as good as what we are used to. The hash browns tasted a bit greasy-like they were left sitting in the grease. We asked for the number value menu, and got something totally different. My husband went inside to correct the problem, and was just handed a different bag...No "sorry," or "is that right?" or "would you like something else?" or "have a nice day." Nothing. Just handed him the bag back as if the error was his fault. Back on the road again.
Entered North Carolina at 8:30am. One of the first destinations we went to was Blowing Rock. The gardens looked like something you would see anywhere else. The legend was interesting, but we encountered several other overlooks in the area (that were free) where we could throw something over and it "blew" back at us. I honestly did not feel as though I got my money's worth ($14) for my family to enjoy this attraction. It only took us about an hour to go through this attraction, and we took our time. The gift shop did not have a wide variety of unique gift items. I collect bells, and I am usually able to find at least two or three to choose from. The gift shop only had about one of each collector item available. From here we went to the Blowing Rock visitor's center.
We were looking for a good place to have a picnic lunch and passed by the visitor's center. The gentleman inside was very friendly and helpful. He gave me directions to the Julian Price Memorial Park, which had a little bit of interesting history behind it. Once there, we agreed that everyone else in the area must have been given the same directions and had the same idea. The area was extremely crowded, and parking lot appeared full. Even with the limited parking and the large crowds, we managed to find a quiet and secluded place to enjoy lunch. Afterward we played in the stream that was right next to our picnic table. We really enjoyed The Julian Price Memorial Park.
After Lunch, we went to the craft center, located right down the road. There were several walking trails and even though the parking lot was full, the place did not seem overcrowded. We started walking on one of the trails, but we were all wearing flip flops, and the rocky road and long trails were not meant to be enjoyed in flip flops. We got several great pictures at various places at the Craft Center. We all agreed that we would come back tomorrow.
Once we got back to Blowing Rock, we checked into our hotel. It was roughly 5pm, and I had reservations for a room, but when I got there, they had few rooms left. I told the lady at the desk that I reserved a room through Priceline and had 2 adults and 2 children in my party. She proceeded to try to give me a smoking room, and tell me that it was all they had available. I told her that nobody in my family smokes, and that we were not going to settle for a smoking room. Then she tried to give me a room with one king bed, and told me they had rollaways for $10 extra for the children. I told her that I paid for 2 queens and I wanted two queens.
The manager walked up, and was eager to help get me in the rooms I asked for. While the manager corrected the problem, another gentleman walked up and said he just checked in, and was supposed to have a non-smoking room, but he did not.. The manager quickly tried to put him in a room with two queens that was non-smoking. Notice, this was the same type of room I wanted that the other lady said they did not have....On that note, I went to my room. The beds were comfortable, and the room seemed decent for the price. Mind you, this was a two star hotel in an area where the standard rate for a two star hotel was about $90/night. I wish I would have thought to take pictures of this hotel so I could post them. The breakfast was the typical Holiday Inn Express complimentary breakfast, and the coffee was good. They had warm cinnamon rollls, eggs and sausage for hot breakfast.
After unloading the car, we started to look for a place to eat. We looked at the handy little menus located in the phone book in the hotel room at all of the restaurants we seen on our way in and started looking at menu prices. I am a VERY cheap traveler. Pssghetti's looked very good, but was kinda' high, as well as most of the other area restaurants. We finally settled for a place that did not appear to be my taste from the outside called Mountain House in Boone. Once inside, it appeared to be a Cracker Barrell, with a few different menu options. I was pleased with the place, and the food was good. The prices were kinda' high, but compared to other options in the area, this place was cheap (or better yet, reasonable).
After supper, we went back to the hotel, and let the kids swim in the VERY small pool. The pool seemed crowded and it only had about 15 people in it at any one time. Luckily, the hotel did not mind people tracking the water from the pool all over the hotel, because they did not have ANY spare towels for the pool or the room to offer the guests after we left the pool. This happened once again the next night. After showers, we retired off to bed.