The Nantahala River rushes through Class II rapids and higher, but it also runs through the stories of the countless people who've dared its churning waters and tumbling falls. One such story centers on Steven and Sue, who met at a Hendersonville summer camp and soon fell in love with each other and the Smoky Mountain air. Eight years later, the Matzes sold off the trappings of corporate-Atlanta life and founded Adventurous Fast Rivers Rafting with their two children, four dogs, and more than a dozen wilderness-loving employees.
These instructors—certified in First Aid and CPR—ready groups for each guided or unguided exploration by teaching proper raft and boat control, as well as describing techniques for crew coordination. A hand-painted map points out routes through the Nantahala Gorge that avoid interview-hungry nature documentarians. Adventurers have just as many rafting options as routes, including Aire and Hyside self-bailing inflatable rafts, funyaks, sit-on-top Torrent kayaks, and traditional bucket rafts. After either disembarking at the riverside outpost—recognizable by the tree growing through its center—or preparing for a final plunge down the Nantahala Wesser Falls, river-farers dry off and examine photos taken during the plunge down the Falls. The outdoor picnic area's park-style charcoal grills make it easy to throw a post-river barbecue.
Packard’s Games and Movies fuels friendly competition and hours of virtual entertainment with an eclectic abundance of gently used media. Gamers can fire up current consoles with a collection of used games, such as Halo 3 ($9.99) and Fable II ($7.99), which carry the ghosts of past triumphs to challenge their new owners. Those yearning for pixels of the past can dive into a rich selection of retro games ($2.99+) for vintage systems including Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Guide virtual superheroes as they jump across flames and elude persistent tax collectors with controllers for the Playstation 2 ($9.99+), Super Nintendo ($9.99+) or the Nintendo 64 ($12.99–$19.99). Stacks of previewed DVDs ($4.99) and Blu-rays ($8.99+) provide ample fodder for future movie nights. Each store has a slightly different selection, so call ahead for specific inquiries or simply browse through the cartridge- and disc-packed aisles in person.
Best Lil Day Spa's licensed aestheticians adeptly analyze their clients' skin types and skincare goals to inform custom revitalizing procedures using professional products from brands such as Postquam, a versatile cosmetic line imported from Spain. Each skin service begins with a consultation so the aesthetician can assess skin condition and hand select the most suitable ingredients for its treatment, an attention to detail that helps yield stunning results from blemish reduction to smooth bodies and rosy faces. In-house massage therapists regale muscles with elongated strokes, and technicians dote around fingernails and toenails with polishes and warnings about avoiding the company of chalkboards.
Recumbent bicycles release bodies from the strain of bending over handlebars by seating riders in an ergonomic, reclined position, cushioning the body on a larger area than traditional bike seats. U-Man Power outfits cyclists with a large fleet of two-wheeled and three-wheeled recumbents that take the strain off backs as they pedal. The shop's staff also repairs bicycles and stocks a wide variety of bike parts and accessories, such as helmets and T-shirts sized for both riders and their bikes. A lounge welcomes cyclists of all skill levels to chat, sip sports drinks, and nibble powerbars.
The Face and Body Place's Robin Poplin liberates faces of daily cosmetic regimens by lavishing eyes, brows, and lips with vibrant and steadfast permanent makeup. The licensed and certified derma-technician calls on 13 years of experience as she carefully and confidently guides an immaculately sanitized probe across the chosen area, imbuing the lower layers of skin with a permanent ink that complements each patient's unique coloring. The makeup, which can not run, smear, or rub off, leaves a natural-looking appearance that can last up to three years before requiring brightening in a refresher session or by napping on a stage actor's pillow. For those with sensitive skin, Robin also offers allergy tests and topical anesthetic before each session.