10 Reasons to Love Cashiers, NC

10 Reasons to Love Cashiers, NC

I have always thought of it as my home away from home.
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Born and raised in Orlando, Florida, I have never felt much like a city girl. I grew up spending my summers in the beautiful mountains of Cashiers, North Carolina. I fell in love. I fell in love with the people and the way they seemed to care. I fell in love with the hiking and seeing things from a perspective beyond the flat terrain of Florida. I fell in love with the adventures I made growing up and the adventures still to come. I have always thought of it as my home away from home. Here are 10 reasons why you should love it too.

1. The drive from Greenville to Cashiers

There's nothing better than backroads and your favorite Spotify playlist. Sit back, drive, and whip out some of your most embarrassing dance moves.

2. A reason to bring out the Chacos

I don't know about you, but there's something to be said about a girl in chacos. They are perfect for a hike to Turtleback Falls or even for a stroll around downtown Cashiers.

P.S. try for that #chacotan.

3. The best tater-tots

The Ugly Dog Pub never disappoints, especially after a long hike. I mean... do you see those tots?

4. Adventures with your best friends

My favorite part of the mountains is getting to share them with my friends. The Saturday of Martin Luther King weekend, we drove to Cashiers to hike Whiteside Mountain. Little did we know we would be hiking on black ice. Can you say #wipeout?

5. Lake days with your favorite pup

Boating, tubing, kayaking... Lake Glenville has it all. With secret waterfall coves to discover and rope swings to jump off, you will never be bored.

6. S'mores by your favorite waterfall


I promise, there's nothing better than a warm s'more after playing and tubing down the falls. Dry off, sit by the fire, and roast some marshmallows.

P.S. try roasting starbursts. You won't regret it.

7. Bingo nights

Me everytime someone asks to hang out on Thursday nights. Bingo night at 7 pm is a family favorite, especially when the cash prize is $500. Just beware of the competitive old people. They don't mess around.

8. The Farmer's Market

The Cashiers Farmer's Market sells the freshest fruits, vegetables, and homemade jams. My absolute favorites are the peaches and strawberries. #YUM

9. Sunset hikes + Photoshoots

Located to the west of Cashiers, Jones Knob Hike has one of the most beautiful sunsets. Grab your friends and your camera and go see for yourself!

10. A reason to put @foodintheair

.

Cheers to chocolate covered pretzels, hiking buddies, and Cashiers.
Cover Image Credit: Joanna Cotter

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.
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After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say, "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing.

My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from "Shameless."

"Shameless" is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out of place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum, it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone, however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by "Shameless."

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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My Future Is Unpredictable And That's Totally Alright

As I prepare for study abroad in Ecuador, I'm going in with no expectations.

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For six months, I had plans to study abroad in the Dominican Republic during the fall semester of junior year. Filling out what seemed like endless applications and paperwork, searching for travel ideas on Pinterest, and writing a class research paper on the DR's relationship with its neighboring island, Haiti, I was prepared to live and learn about Dominican culture hands-on.

Then on the Thursday before Finals Week last spring, I read my email. My study abroad program in the DR had gotten canceled. In the span of 30 seconds, my future had taken a new course. Less than a week later, I was submitting papers to study abroad in a new country where another adventure awaited: Ecuador.

If there's anything I've learned in the past year, it's that life is unpredictable and we can't control it. The future is unknown. But-

Who wants to know exactly what's going to happen in the next few years? I mean, I believe it's good to have a direction, but you don't have to have the entire journey pinpointed straight to the core. You meet people, you get inspired, you see things, you have experiences. And you go from there. (Though, I totally respect people who have clear ambitions and stick with them their entire lives.)

Where I was a year ago was a completely different path than where I find myself today. Last summer, I worked four different internships/jobs in the span of three months. A year ago, I would never have guessed my following summer unfolding with an immersion trip to India, a solo adventure to Taiwan & Hong Kong, and becoming a certified yoga instructor. A year ago, I hadn't met half of my best friends. A year ago, I hadn't seen poverty in a third-world country. A year ago, I wasn't even sure I wanted to major in Environmental Studies.

Just because I don't know what the future holds doesn't mean I can't set goals. I have a destination, an idea of where I'm headed and where I want to go. While abroad in Ecuador, I want to learn about sustainable development and coffee production as well as enhance my Spanish skills.

As I prepare for study abroad in Ecuador, I'm going in with no expectations. I know the format of the program. I'll be taking classes and living with a host family and then doing an internship at a farm. Otherwise, I have no idea what's going to happen. And that's what I'm looking forward to the most. The spontaneity. The unexpected. As one of my good friends would say whenever he doesn't have formal weekend plans, "I'm improvising." And you know the one rule of improv: Always say yes.

¡Hasta pronto, Ecuador!

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