Tag Archives: asheville

A Fun Post with Lists and Numbers and Stuff. Ice Cream Too.

Nibble Nook

Fair thee well, dear Nibble Nook

Tonight marks the end of my time at Ridgecrest. It’s been a unique experience and something both completely unexpected as well as completely different from everything else I’m doing this trip.

I wanted to do a by-the-numbers thing, so I did it below, starting with 26. It ended up being more numbers than I anticipated, but I’m a freaking trooper so I finished it.

Next stop: D.C. by way of Charlotte.

26 different flavors of ice cream tried (my favorite: extreme moose tracks – chocolate ice cream on chocolate fudge on  chocolate chunks. Insulin not included.)

25 minutes to hike to the top of Royal Gorge Lookout, where I arrived sweating and out of breath but thankful for the beauty of the earth and strong arms for dipping ice cream.

24 cups of coffee every three days (8 cups a day) (it’s an addiction).

23 or so volunteers that are wonderful, kind people who helped me understand how difficult facebook is to use and let me in on the secrets of life they’ve learned through the years.

22 physical miles and 10,000 cultural miles to Asheville, NC.

21 is the drinking age in the US. I did not drink any alcohol this past week, which was great news for my wallet.

20 years until I turn 45, which is still young according to the other volunteers.

19 miles hiked at least, all of it solo. No bear bites!

18 dollars spent on a hamburger at the Grove Park Inn. I ate the entire thing, an entire biscuit, and all the fries. I immediately wanted to vomit but hate wasting money.

17 seconds – the amount of time I spent considering stealing a towel from Ridgecrest. I decided against it because it was white and would look very dirty after just a short while. Also, it’s wrong.

16 times I laughed to myself when I thought of how close the Nibble Nook is to being the Nipple Nook.

15 eggs eaten at least. Probably more like twenty, but twenty was already taken in this listicle.

14 reasons to come back next year and seven to never return ever again.

13 hours of straight rain. And then another 48.

12 different buildings to get lost in and / or play hide and go seek in (full disclosure: not sure if it’s actually twelve).

11 o’clock is time to play Bananagrams with the ladies.

10 o’clock is thirty minutes until closing time at the Nipple Nook.

9 accidental curse words or other cultural faux pas that my filter let slip through.

8 days in Baptist territory. No alcohol allowed, and nothing weird preferred.

7 chapters written in my cheesy romance novel featuring a budding relationship between a Nibble Nook volunteer and a boy’s camp counselor. I won’t ruin the ending for you.

6 o’clock is dinner time! Most days featured food that was half fried into oblivion, baked well past done, or sauteed in butter until it lost all its senses. This is not the place to come for your diet.

5 hours of solo hiking wearing forest-colored clothing during what may have been bear hunting season. Also, no one knew where I was. Also, I didn’t know where I was.

4 different people’s detergent I used in the laundry room. I hadn’t brought any and figured I’d spread the burden.

3 hours spent driving to and from Mt. Mitchell in terrible fog on windy roads. This was probably the closest I came to dying.

2 new facebook friends (at least).

1 unique experience I will carry with me until I birth something creative from it, and then I’ll carry that creative thing with me until the day I die.

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Scooping Ice Cream for The Lord: A Week at Ridgecrest Conference Center

retro ice cream chic

retro ice cream chic

I’m in Ridgecrest, NC, which is about 17 miles west of Asheville and a million cultural miles away from any other city I’ve lived in. To be more specific, I’m at Ridgecrest Conference Center, a Baptist retreat paradise that has operated for more than 100 years in the Swannanoa Valley.

I’m volunteering for the week, and in exchange for scooping ice cream alongside Baptist retirees, I get free room and board and a whole lot of culture you just don’t find in San Francisco. It’s a pretty sweet deal – terrible pun intended.

This place is not exactly on the beaten path, and considering I’ve never been to Ridgecrest before, am not Baptist, and am under the age of 70, the first thing people want to know when we meet is how in the world did I wind up here in the Nibble Nook (the ice cream shop)(but seriously that’s what it’s called.)

The answer is simple really: Google. When I was planning my 7 week long post-quitting-my-job celebration trip, I wanted to do something in North Carolina before heading to Washington, D.C., NY, and Boston while I was still in the Southeast U.S. I also didn’t want to pay for food or lodging while traveling. Go figure.

I don’t know what happened first, but one thing led to another and on a very productive night at Starbucks, I sent some emails to conference centers in the greater Asheville area asking about opportunities for work or volunteering.

Eventually, I got in touch with Ridgecrest and signed up for one week of service knowing nothing about what I would be doing. Cut to 6 weeks, two buses and a cab ride later and I’m checking into my guest room at Spruce, the volunteer lodgings.

As I found out at breakfast the next morning, the volunteer program is almost exclusively for senior citizens, most of them from Florida, Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina. As I sat down at a table with a tray full of eggs and grits with people who were at least 50-60 years my senior, I wondered what on earth I had gotten myself into.

Long story short (more details to come later), it’s been much better than I thought it would be, even though sometimes I’m afraid I’ll blow my brains out after explaining one more time that I am from Oklahoma, but I live in San Francisco and I’m a triplet and I want to be Tina Fey when I grow up.

I’ve realized that the people here are good even though they’re not like my other friends. One woman is on a mission to be the world’s most helpful person. Every time I see her she asks if I need anything and gives me advice on something. Another woman is trying to get me a boyfriend. Another man is trying to fix me up with his son. Another woman told me about how her mother-in-law blew herself up because she smoked a cigarette while using an oxygen tank.

I have to say that it’s been refreshing to be around people who are different than what I’m used to. Most of these men and women have had close friends or spouses die, are retired, and have large extended families. Their life stories are mindblowing and they don’t even know it.

I’ve still got 3 more days left here, which will include a hike and pizza with a woman named Mickie who is 77 years old and spent 8 years in Zimbabwe after her husband left her. I’m also going to Asheville with her, which I hear is like a woodsier and smaller version of San Francisco, so it’ll be fun to hear her take on everything she sees. She’s Baptist, so I’m guessing there’ll be no afternoon beer.

If I did get a beer though, I’d toast to experiences that surprise you.

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