*With the rising cost of everything, including vacations, many people are opting to vacate closer to home. We call this new phenomenon the “staycation.” You stay near home but still get a vacation. I am doing a series of blog posts about fascinating places to visit that aren’t too far away from my home. (And if you live far away from me, you might want to consider taking a real vacation to come here and see these wonderful places!)
Each winter–around Valentine’s Day, conveniently enough–I begin to get itchy feet. By then, Ole Man Winter has been hanging around for a few months, and spring fever is already starting to sprout in my heart. Summer vacation past is WAY past, and summer vacation future seems eons away.
So what is the solution to this winter doldrums dilemma? SIMPLE! I bug the hubster until he takes me somewhere. Because we save our money for longer vacations in late summer, we have to find somewhere nearby to go in mid-February.
In 2012, I heard from a friend about a B & B that was only a half hour away from home–Pilot Knob Inn. We tried it out and were so pleased with our one-night “Valentine’s Getaway” stay that we took another trip there in 2013–this time in early March. Once again, we enjoyed our respite at this quaint, romantic retreat at the foot of Pilot Mountain–“Mount Pilot” for you Andy Griffith fans.
On the drive north up Highway 52, you are greeted by the looming knob that looks as though it could’ve been a volcano long ago. Before long, you’re off the highway at the Pilot Mountain State Park exit and nearly immediately turning into a secluded driveway. Not far up the driveway, you will begin to see rustic old tobacco barns. Just a part of the landscape? No! These are cabins for lodging.
The first year, we stayed in Cabin 4 which was further removed from the lodge and breakfast room than Cabin 1 where we stayed this year. Both had front porches with rockers–his and hers. I found Cabin 4 to be preferable because it had a balcony off the back of the upstairs loft bedroom.
Both were furnished in a style reminiscent of the West–Montana, Wyoming and such. Both had a cozy sitting room downstairs with a couch, a couple of chairs, a small TV. For the cooler months, there is a stone fireplace with a free stack of wood on the front porch.
The hubster and I sat at the small table in the downstairs room and ate a takeout meal from a restaurant in the nearby town of Pilot Mountain. There are many choices of tasty food at various restaurants in the downtown section that is only a mile or so away.
For a late night snack of popcorn or whatever trips your culinary trigger, there are a small microwave and mini-fridge. For the early morning caffeine enthusiast, there is a coffeemaker with packs of coffee, tea, sugar, etc.
I can forgo late-night snacks or TV (although we did select a videocassette from the breakfast area to watch on the cabin’s VCR)–as long as I get to enjoy the Jacuzzi. Aaaahhhh. . .the Jacuzzi! Both cabins had roomy ones that worked well, although I liked the one in Cabin 4 better–easier for me to get in and out of.
Up a flight of stairs was our sleeping quarters–a spacious loft. Again, the Out West theme predominated. How I loved lying in bed and watching the flat-screen TV (not a luxury I have at home). Since we only stayed one night, we didn’t avail ourselves of the storage areas–a wardrobe and chest at the foot of the bed. I loved the heavy-duty wood of all the furnishings.
I did, however, avail myself of the Wifi. As a free-lance writer and columnist for my local newspaper, I need constant access to the Internet, so I was happy to have good online service. (And of course, I wanted to brag a little about my great staycation on Facebook!)
We found the large bed (king or queen? I can’t remember! Maybe king in Cabin 4 and queen in Cabin 1?) to be super-duper comfy, with great pillows and high thread count sheets. And I didn’t even break my neck going downstairs to use the potty in the middle of the night–ha ha! (Yes, I am used to having a bathroom on the same floor of my bedroom, but this was no big deal in the coziness of this loft bedroom.)
I like to sleep late on vacations, but the temptation of a delicious breakfast was enough to lure me from the plush bed fairly early–8:45! And we even made it down to the breakfast room before they quit serving at 9:30. It was well worth every second of sleep I lost! And you paid no extra for it–price included in lodging rate.
The first year we ate at a table for two near the large open fireplace. This year we ate at the windowed wall that looks out at the swimming pool and right at Pilot Knob. Great views but an even greater breakfast!
We began with fruits, muffins, yogurt, cereal and other goodies at the well-stocked tables to the side. While we ate that, our orders were being cooked in the nearby kitchen. Eggs any way you like them, bacon, sausage, toast, Belgian waffles and MORE! The waitress (Kathy or Cathy?) was super-friendly and pleasantly conversational. One of the owners, Jennifer, helped us out the first year and was just as amiable and sweet.
They had t-shirts and such for sale (I regret not buying a tie-dyed one), and we settled up our bill right after breakfast in the kitchen. The atmosphere was casual and down-home. Some owners at places I’ve been are all uptight, wanting you to pay upfront before you even step inside your room. Not these folks. True Southern hospitality.
Since I’m from the region, I didn’t take advantage of the cool places to visit in the area–Hanging Rock State Park, Pilot Mountain State Park, Mount Airy (the real Mayberry–Snappy Lunch and all), the Blue Ridge Parkway. I was satisfied to hike to the Swinging Bridge and enjoy the stream in the March sunshine. I was pleased just to sit by the lake and daydream of the spring to come. I was happy just to chillax in the gazebo across from my cabin and read a good book while enjoying the view of the daffodils just beginning to show their pretty yellow heads.
We have not stayed in any of the suites or the Love Shack or either of the two cabins that allow pets. But the two tobacco cabins that we lodged in were just perfect for us. And the price was very reasonable for such a place and meal.
I long to go back there for more than just one night–to be able to escape the demands of life and meditate on the Lord while enjoying His beautiful creation there at the base of the regal mountain knob. Maybe when the last of the five kids is grown or when they are between sports seasons.
But for now, I will fondly recall the two trips I took to Pilot Knob Inn–the mini-staycations with the beloved hubster, the escape into an oh-so-brief hermitude, the peace of a cabin in the woods where God seemed just a little nearer in the quietness of the retreat.
For information on prices and further details, visit http://www.pilotknobinn.com/