It’s All Clear Now

Last night was Boo’s first big thunderstorm and all four of us (Diesel included) ended up in the same bed for most of the night. I loved hearing the thunder and watching the lightning over the mountains from our bedroom window.

This is why they call it the Smoky Mountains:

The Smoky Mountains


Brett spent the day running errands and planting grass where the new septic tank is.  I spent most of the day caulking and painting the house:


I spent at least 2 or 3 hours filling all the cracks and imperfections with white caulk and it all looked amazing! UNTIL… began to disappear. Wait, didn’t I already do this room? I had used:


Note: It was not clear when it came out of the tube! The clear goes on white at first but and turns clear when it dries.

As a result I ended up at the town hardware store twice today. Look the jars of seeds they have….order by the 1/4 pound and they are put in a small brown paper bag.  The cute old scale from the 1950’s didn’t fit in the photo (and the cute old man from the 1950’s who asked if he could help me). Does it not make you want to garden?


We had a huge thunderstorm during dinner tonight.  The lights went out a few times but everyone just kept on eating and talking.  After a downpour and lots of lightning it was over as quick as it showed up. Brett said tonight’s dinner was his favorite yet with country fried steak, broccoli casserole, biscuits, chicken and dumplings, among other things.  Good grief I need to start hiking asap.

After the tables were cleared we sat in the dining room with another family (who also used to visit in her childhood and decided to come back with her own family) and looked through old photo albums looking at the inn from the 1950’s.  I’ll have to share some of those cool vintage photos with you when I get my scanner and desktop up and running again.

Shuffleboard at the Hemlock Inn Bryson City


We got a new post office box today. Turns out the postmaster is the grandfather of two cute little boys that Boo played with this morning. I love that when I picked up my key they said “welcome to Bryson City.” Later I tried to find the library and my Google Maps took me up a steep hill, via a small road by a place called the Fryemont Inn and the road was so tiny I was sure there wasn’t a library down it.  I did a 40 point turn in the parking lot with a small crowd as an audience, almost running over their sign. That would have been horrible…what if I had a mugshot?!  Sometimes I wish I still had my little Prius because it’s a little less conspicuous. The huge truck with the camper shell and Yakima rack with the California license plates don’t allow me to fly under the radar easily.  The other day we passed this guy in another white pickup FOUR times..and on random back roads:

Me: What do you think that guy is doing?
Brett: I’m wondering what he thinks WE are doing.
Me: Maybe he’s a citizen patrol…out making his daily round of citizen arrests

Brett: I don’t think they have those in Bryson City.

I think I am in love with this small town. This is where I’m supposed to be.  I know Boo feels that. She’s all over the place…even accompanying the innkeepers to town to run errands today. I see Brett getting more and more settled too. And thanks for the ideas about the walkie talkies!  We found our set and used them all day with Boo. She’s still getting the hang of them though: Lainey said Boo was singing “Let it Go” into the walkie talkie as they drove to town and someone else they didn’t know responded.

I’m sure I get some eye rolling over how excited I am about the littlest of things (like the store that sells guns AND ice cream?!)   I can imagine it gets exhausting too:

I love that silo!
I love that old man!
I love that falling down building!
I love that mangy looking dog!
I love that pile of leaves!
I love that purple haired lady!
Look how much water the dehumidifier made!
I love that newly plowed field!
I love that…and that…and that.
I don’t love all those spiders!
I DO love those old pickups!
I love the train tracks!
I love that there is a McDonald’s!
I love this inn!
I’ve always wanted overalls!
I love septic tanks!

I love it all.

I love REAL. And this town is so real to me.

Oh and P.S. the new mailing address for Lil Blue Boo / Hackshaw Family is:

P.O. Box 910
Bryson City, NC 28713

And of course you can just send mail to the Hemlock Inn directly too. They know where to find me.


From the Smoky Mountains,




  1. Kim says

    Hi Ashley! Congratulations on your move to the Hemlock! Your story is fabulous and I’ve enjoyed reading about your life for a long time. I’m thrilled that you’ve shared this little slice of heaven with the world. I too am a recent cancer survivor and can identify with so much of what you’ve experienced. I think a visit to the Hemlock Inn would do me a world of good and I would love to meet you! I live in Chattanooga, TN which is only about 3 hrs from there so it actually may be a possibility. You have a real gift for writing and sharing your experiences and your faith. Keep up the good work & God bless you, Boo, and Brett! Oh, and of course Diesel! p.s. I read the story about losing him and watched the short and cried my eyes out! So glad he was found! :)

  2. Karen says

    Funny you mentioned a store that sells guns and ice cream. There is a gas station/store about 65 miles or so north of me heading up Michigan’s thumb. When you walk in the door to your right there seems to be enough artillery to outfit a small army and to your left are ice cream and donuts!! The back of the store has very nice bathrooms and showers too, that amazed me. There are a lot of big rigs parked there so maybe it gives those drivers a place to clean up, probably some of the hunters need to hit those showers too before heading home :-)

  3. says

    Your excitement is contagious! I love it as much as you just reading your words. (We’ve been through a few times, but never stayed in Bryson City. Now I want to visit!)

  4. tessa says

    I’m glad you’re enjoying the move! It’s fun to see you so excited. I live in a small town 2 hours from Bryson City, more in the Appalachian/Blue Ridge Mountains. Simpler is better. It’s the way we live. I look forward to reading of your family’s journey over the coming year.

  5. Gina says

    I am “loving” your blog these days!! I just rediscovered it yesterday through one of my Pinterest pins and spent a couple of hours “catching up!! I couldn’t wait to chek today to see if you posted!! 😉 😀

  6. Maggie says

    What a beautiful adventure you’re on! It looks as though your prayers are being answered, and then some. :) And do you even realize how cool it sounds: “Ash, from the Smokey Mountains.” I’m jealous.

  7. Nadine says

    Thank you for sharing your adventures. Our family loves the Fryemont Inn. I hope you give it a try – or at least play Monopoly in the Lobby during a thunderstorm and/or try to get the ring on the hook in the bar – with Boo, too. We love Bryson City, too!

  8. Sydney says

    What a terrific adventure! Have you looked into schools for Boo yet? It sounds like she’s having the time of her life!

  9. Liz says

    Your enthusiasm is infectious Ashley! You’re making me want to get up and travel, to do the million hour flight & drive from the UK just to visit to Hemlock…it sounds and looks totally idyllic.
    I’m about to do the opposite to you, a move to the big city for a job, and I’m not sure it’s going to be as peaceful as the countryside….I cannot wait to be out the other side of this rat race and to settle in my real place in the world, but needs must! Thank you for making me question these recent decisions :)

  10. jennifer says

    When we moved back to missouri from California my daughter was 2 and was scared of raindrops. It had been so long since she saw rain she didn’t remember it, so I’m glad to hear Boo is adjusting to the storms. I started reading your blog bc we were new to California and I was teaching myself to sew. I have been simply amazed by your journey and strength

  11. says

    You’d love Hussey’s General Store in Windsor Maine – Wedding dresses, guns, food, gas, hardware, feed, & so much more.
    I’ve only made it out a few times myself, long ago.

    Congrats on your move and surviving the first thunderstorm. :-) Sounds wonderful there.

  12. Amy says

    It’s been a while since I have left a comment but I have been here for 3 years now…and still loving your blog! You amaze me and inspire me to reach beyond my dreams. There are no limits to our lives!

  13. Christie says

    oh my….I always loved your blog (since I found it last year). I love it even more now…because of how much you are LOVING everything!! :) I am so happy for you and can’t wait to hear more! Is there anything you already miss about CA? How far is your mom from the Inn? How precious that Boo is so comfortable with the inn keepers already. You sure fit in there!!

  14. Linda L says

    I’m so glad that you all are getting settled. The Hemlock sounds like perfection!! Can’t wait to hear more about you adventure! Enjoy!

  15. says

    Hello! I completely relate to your desire to move away from the desert. I grew up in Indiana but have lived in Las Vegas for nearly 20 years. Now I have a 3 year old son and would love to live back where there are seasons and trees and rain and thunderstorms. But it’s so hard to commit to moving! I have 20 years of history here now, which is hard to leave, but my heart sure is back in the Midwest. How can I decide?

  16. says

    I love reading basically anything you write… you just draw me in. It’s wonderful to read so much good and happiness. I read you before cancer, during… and blessedly NOW :))) I am so happy for you and your family. You are living a dream many of us only.. well, dream about. Cheers to YOU!!

  17. Erika says

    That was quite a storm! We were camping at Deep Creek when it hit, you could hear the wind coming over the mountain so we hit the road and sheltered at the Smoky Mountain Campground store down the road (the old green building on W. Deep Creek Road that has “TUBES” written in red on the tin roof, near the Nat’l Park entrance) . Big trees and strong winds makes one want to leave the tent and seek a concrete building. LOL…BTW that store is a great place to get ice cream after a day in the creek. Love reading your posts!!!