Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go! Okay, but really I did take a little 1.5 hour road trip up to my grandmother’s house and we did go through the woods. My mom and I went on a day trip over the weekend to visit my grandparents who live in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the tiny, remote country town of Clayton, Georgia.
A couple of fun facts about Clayton, Georgia: I spent a good deal of my childhood here, the population is a whopping 2,000 people, and it’s the cutest, most quaint truly Southern town I’ve ever been to. My mom would take my brother and I up to Clayton all the time when we were growing up so we could see our grandparents. We’d get to visit the family pharmacy in town that my mom owned, adventure and explore in the wilderness, build forts, skip rocks on the lake, and stare up at the stars.
This trip was the first time I’d seen my grandparents since I moved back home to Georgia from Los Angeles, so they wanted to take us out to lunch. Only a 30 minute drive from Clayton, the sweet town of Highlands, North Carolina sits perched in the midst of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s a great place to visit for lunch and shopping, which was exactly what we went there to do.
Our first stop was the Old Edwards Inn, a really nice bed & breakfast with the most perfect outdoor wine garden and restaurant. Especially during the summer, it’s so nice to go sit outside surrounded by all the trees, plants, and flowers. Luckily we went on a sunny day, so it was very open, airy and bright putting me in such a happy mood.
You walk down a little stone pathway to get there, where you can sit and just admire your beautiful surroundings. There’s something so serene and peaceful about eating here. It’s so hard to put into words.
I’ll be honest, the only frustrating part was they had basically no vegan options. Being from the South, I’m used to it. After all, I was raised here where the food options consisted of mostly fried foods, butter, and meat with dairy incorporated into absolutely everything. Luckily, since it’s a nice inn, a much better choice than anywhere else in town, they were very accommodating.
They ended up whipping up a refreshing fruit cup for me filled with grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, and strawberries. It was tiny though compared to the amount of fruit I normally eat, so I had to get two. My mom was just laughing at me the whole time because she knew something like this would happen.
So basically, lesson learned: never go out to lunch in the South hungry. Always eat before you go and always take snacks with you in your purse. Let’s just say on the drive back I was literally stuffing my face with the rice cakes my mom had brought me.
After our absolutely gorgeous, relaxing lunch, we took a walk around the main street soaking in the sunshine. I remembered how much I loved going into each of the shops as a kid and looking at all the trinkets. I had such a wild imagination, so I’d come up with stories in my head and turn it into a real adventure. So, I wanted to go back in the shops I remembered so fondly.
What I love about the South is everyone is so genuinely kind. It definitely was an adjustment, moving from Los Angeles back here. I was walking down the street and everyone just had the biggest smiles on their faces and would wish me a “happy afternoon”. It was a nice reminder for me that even the little things like a friendly smile could really help to brighten someone’s day.
Another lesson learned: be kind to everyone. It really makes all the difference in the world. I thank my lucky stars that I was born and raised in the South. In hindsight, I think it made me a more humble, down-to-earth person. That’s why being back home has been so nice – it’s really helped me to go back to my roots and reconnect with who I am.
After a full afternoon of lunching and window shopping, we drove back down the mountains and stopped for a minute to admire the view. Just looking out across the Blue Ridge Mountains, I couldn’t help but feel renewed with a sense of purpose. All I needed was a little escape to the country to make me feel truly at home again.