A lot of Nothing at Lake Santeelah

A friend of mine was renting a house at Lake Santeelah last week and invited me to join for two nights. Since I work remotely and have wanted to explore more of the area’s lakes since my trip to Lake Jocassee, I jumped at the opportunity. I had visions of floating, kayaking, crystal-clear water, and maybe stumbling upon some kind of gloriously weird lake-adjacent watering hole (my favorite find in this category remains the Honi-Honi Bar in Deep Creek Lake Maryland).

What was the reality? It was a whole lot of nothing. Literally, we hardly did anything. And like the Honi-Honi Bar, it was glorious (albeit a less chaotic type of glory). 

The Air BnB proprietor my friend rented the house from played very fast and loose with the term “waterfront.” The cabin was nice: a great living room with a comfortable sectional, ample kitchen where I could work, two bedrooms, a great front porch, and nice fire pit. However, the “waterfront” was a creek that led into one of the many inlets that make up Lake Santeelah. Like Jocassee, Fontana, and all the other man-made lakes dotting the area, these lakes are inlet filled. However, while Jocassee’s inlets were sparkling, clear, and easily accessible from the main open lake, Santeelahs were muddy, murky, thin, and required a mile or two’s worth of paddling to get to open water. And that wasn’t even possible in our inlet/creek situation—there were at least three trees fully down and blocking the path of any kayaks had we braved the shaky-looking cabin dock and paddled through the murky water. Honestly, I know alligators aren’t native to North Carolina, but I wouldn’t be shocked if we had seen one. 

So there was no floating, no kayaking, and we didn’t even try to find anywhere local to stop. Robbinsville is the closest town, and per Google and Yelp, there were several Subways, a few diners (of the down-home-country-cookin-hold-the-g-variety), and one Chinese take-out place. 

So, we cooked, we read, we sat out on the porch and got some sun, I worked one day, and we watched a little television each night but essentially did nothing. I don’t remember the last time I did a full day of nothing. Now, I go on trips often. I’m not going to act like I don’t live a pretty leisurely lifestyle, but my vacations are full of hikes, breweries, restaurants, kayaking, etc. Anywhere I go, somewhere new, I try to fit in as much as possible. I do the same on weekends—I often end up just as tired on Sunday nights as I am when I finish work on Fridays.

It’s a good reminder for me that it’s okay to slow it down a bit, and just because nothing happens doesn’t mean a trip, night, or weekend is bad. Doing nothing is fine. Not seeing everything a new locale has to offer is fine. You don’t always have to be productive. In fact, I look forward to the next trip where I’ll do nothing. However, I don’t think it’ll be a return trip here. I think Santeelah might’ve been a one-and-done for this guy.

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