‘Girls’ Night Out’ Weekend in Franklin, NC
This past weekend, my daughter Caroline and I decided to do a girls’ weekend and chose Franklin, NC as our destination. About a two and a half hour drive from our home in Knoxville and nestled in the Smoky Mountains, the town of Franklin was incorporated right before the Civil War in 1855. Our goals for the weekend were to mine for gems, visit a waterfall and visit the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville.
We set out Friday right after her last day of summer camp for the week, on my promise that we’d jump right into the hotel pool upon arrival. We got there around 6:00 p.m. and the rain promptly began to fall. So instead of the pool, we hopped back into the car and headed to downtown Franklin. As in most small towns, many of the businesses were closed for the day so we didn’t have any luck shopping downtown. Instead we went to WalMart, picked up a couple paperbacks and headed back to the room for a ‘girls’ night in’ of delivered pizza, reading and arguing over Law & Order: SVU or Selena Gomez in Another Cinderella Story. (I won.)
The next morning we drove to Rose Creek Mine in Franklin. Rose Creek Mine is one of the three state-licensed gem mines in Macon County. The owner, Tom, also known as “Dr. Rock,” said the license allows them to continue to dig deeper into the ground than the other area mines. Neither Caroline nor I had mined for gems before, so really had no idea what to expect. What we ended up with was tons of fun and lots of shiny, colorful stones!
There are two ways to mine at Rose Creek. You can purchase a bucket, go to the mine pit, and shovel your own dirt into the bucket. Or, you can buy various levels of enhanced, or ‘salted,’ buckets. A salted bucket is prepacked with dirt by the mine owner and includes lots of shiny, colorful gems, ensuring good finds for the kids. We chose one bucket of each. Armed with our buckets of dirt, Caroline and I prepared to get dirty at the flume. In the real dirt, we found mostly rocks….although we did find an emerald stone. In her salted bucket, Caroline found rubies, sapphires, garnets, topaz, smoky quartz and moonstones. She was excited and we both thoroughly enjoyed the morning of mining.
After the mine, with the sun finally out, we took advantage of some pool time for a couple hours, then headed to Dry Falls. Dry Falls flows on the Cullasaja River through the Nantahala National Forest. Dry Falls flows over an overhanging bluff that allows visitors to walk up under the falls and remain relatively dry. Hence the fall’s name. Caroline and I were duly impressed! Saturday after our visit to Dry Falls, we were able to enjoy several more hours of pool time.
Sunday morning we checked out of the hotel and drove to Asheville to visit the North Carolina Arboretum. The North Carolina Arboretum is located in the Pisgah National Forest and is operated under a special use permit issued by the National Forests in North Carolina. Established in 1986 by the General Assembly as an affiliate of the University of North Carolina, the Arboretum was founded nearly a century after Frederick Law Olmsted, the ‘Father of American Landscape Architecture,’ first envisioned such an institution near Asheville as part of his legacy to the Biltmore Estate. The gardens were bursting with color and the bonsai garden was especially intriguing.
All in all, a very enjoyable weekend in North Carolina. We’ll definitely make this trip again. We didn’t have nearly enough time to experience all the area has to offer. When we return, we’ll visit, to name a few places, the The Nantahala Outdoor Center and the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.