What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (Eagle’s Nest Mountain)

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Eagle’s Nest Mountain is beautiful. The views are spectacular.

One View From Eagle's Nest Mountain

One View From Eagle’s Nest Mountain

In 1900, S. C. Satterthwait built the Eagle Nest Hotel at an elevation of 5050 feet. The hotel was one of the two hay fever resorts in western North Carolina, and it had room for 100 guests (although tents could be used if the hotel filled up) and a view of Plott Balsam. “[A] good wagon road” reached the top of the mountain.

 

Today, Eagle’s Nest Mountain Road winds up the mountain, following much the same trail as the “wagon road” of yesteryear. It’s still a twisting, turning road that must be respected. If you read my story about having to snake our way up with police cars guarding front and back (https://colmel.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/a-truely-scary-story ), you know I have a healthy respect for that barely, two-lane byway.

 

Our home on Eagle’s Nest Mountain was a Lindal Cedar Home. It was built at an elevation of 5,150 ft. – not very far from the former location of the hotel. I have been desperately looking to see if I can find some of the photos of our home, but haven’t had any luck. Of course, this is one of my favorite topics, so I’ll (undoubtedly) revisit it soon.

 

There are many legends that involve Eagle’s Nest Mountain. One of the most persistent is that of Boojum. I told the story – as I’d always heard it – in an earlier post (https://colmel.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/another-appalachian-tale-%e2%80%93-boojum-the-mystery-on-eagle%e2%80%99s-nest-mountain/ ). I recently read a post from another blogger who had learned a slightly different story http://ashevilleoralhistoryproject.com/2012/11/02/boojum/

 

In his story, Boojum’s bride could be responsible for the burning of the grand hotel.

 

There have always been tales of strange things happening on Eagle’s Nest. There was a large outcropping of rocks known as “Boy Scout Rock.” Scouts used to regularly hike up the mountain and camp in the area. Many of them told stories of seeing and hearing strange things. Some were so frightened that they only went on one trip. Others say that they neither saw nor heard anything other than the wind and the animals that naturally inhabit the mountain.

 

Other stories involve people feeling as though they are being followed, but turning to see no one there. Some have reported hearing “parties” in the large meadow near the top only to find it empty. There are wild animals on the mountain, so that might explain some of the things people have seen or heard. The stories go back over a century – probably even before the first, non-native Americans arrived.

 

Party Here?

Party Here?

 

During our relatively short time on the mountain, there were numerous odd things happen, but – other than one terrifying, inexplicable occurrence – nothing that made me worry. That, of course, was until our house burned to the ground. The destruction was so complete, that there never was a definitive cause. One more mystery to add to legends of Eagle’s Nest Mountain.

 

On our recent trip, I was pleased to find that there is, once again, a home on the ground that once held our home. It’s a lovely home and the owners have landscaped the second lot beautifully. I wish I’d stopped and given them my card so that they could call me if they ever wanted to sell. (That would require me to win some form of lottery, though, I’m sure.) Their view (our view) is spectacular! From our deck we could see Maggie Valley, the “smoke” from Ghost Town in the Sky, and – on a very clear day – all the way to Mount LeConte near Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

 

New Home Where Ours Used To Be

New Home Where Ours Used To Be

 

Beautiful Landscaping

Beautiful Landscaping

On the way back down, I snapped a couple of photos of the meadow where the old hotel stood so many years ago. It took all my self-restraint to not hop out of the car and go running in the tall, wet grass. Every time I go back up the mountain, I feel more at home and get a stronger sense of that this is where I belong.

 

The "Meadow"

The “Meadow”

 

The "Meadow"

The “Meadow”

 

 

 

The "Pond" (Boojum's Bath?)

The “Pond” (Boojum’s Bath?)

 

Up Next: What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (The Andon-Reid Bed & Breakfast)

 

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Rocks in Our Heads

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You know the old expression “You’ve got Rocks in Your Head”? Well, my friends, I believe my dear husband and I may actually have rocks in our heads.

 

We have been discussing taking up the hobby of lapidary. As far back as I can remember, I’ve taken to rocks. They don’t, necessarily, have to be shiny or semi-precious or even clean. I just have had an interest in looking at them and studying them. It’s not every rock that piques my interest, either. Today, I have stones and rocks that I’ve picked up in places that were “important” to me. I have one from my childhood home, a couple from Eagle’s Nest Mountain in North Carolina where we had a home until it burnt to the ground, and some good-sized specimens from our former home in Georgia.

One of the “Eggs”
(from the Smithsonian website)

 On a trip to Washington, D.C. when I was in grade school, we visited the Smithsonian. I was smitten by the Museum of Natural History. Yes, I saw the Hope Diamond, but what really got my interest (and I remember with great clarity) were two, carved, rock-crystal eggs. They were set in very simple, elegant stands Of course, when we went ruby mining in North Carolina when I was still quite young, I was in rock-hound heaven. I only remember going to a ruby mine once as a child. I have no idea what happened to the rubies, sapphires and garnets that we found that day at a small mine near Frankin, but I was hooked on the idea from that point on.

 

Fast forward nearly forty years, and I’m back at the flume with a wire tray in my hands shaking it in the fast-running water to clear the dirt away from my precious rocks. The best part of the whole thing is that my husband is sitting next to me, doing the same thing, and seemingly enjoying it as much as I was. We were at Gem Mountain near Spruce Pine, NC. We really hadn’t “planned” to go mining, but we were visiting in the area and decided it might be fun. Naturally, I was all for it with my memories of looking for treasure as a kid. Maybe there has always been a little “Boojum” in me. (Boojum? Go back and read a blog I did awhile back about Smokey Mountain legends: https://colmel.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/another-appalachian-tale-–-boojum-the-mystery-on-eagle’s-nest-mountain/ .)

 

That brings us up to today. In the past few years, we’ve gone to several “rock and mineral” shows in the area. We’ve talked about a hobby that we could be involved in – especially during the winter – and both enjoy. Many of the exhibitors at the shows we’ve visited have been couples. We decided to look into lapidary. We have already purchased our first equipment – a tumbler. Now, we have to get some rocks (other than the ones in our heads) and get started.

 

We thought that it might be prudent to go and talk to some folks at a local gem and mineral show which was held last weekend. This show was put on by the club that we were considering joining, and figured it would be a great way to meet some of the members, ask questions about some of the rocks we have, and find out more about the hobby. What a great idea it was!

 

When we first arrived at the Livingston Gem and Mineral Society (LGMS) show (which was held at the former high school which also houses the club), we were met by some wonderful, friendly folks. There was a silent auction set up and the final bids were to be called in only a very few minutes. I was astounded at the items that were available. (I must interject that the carving society was doing a sister show at the same venue, so they had combined the efforts.) We placed our initial bids and went off to start exploring the show, checking back intermittently to make sure our bids were still the highest. We were rewarded by having the winning bids.

 

One was this amazing totem, walking stick. Each segment of this piece was carved and painted by a different individual. Each is intricately carved in three dimensions. Most of the segments also turn. Obviously, this is strictly an ornamental piece, but what a find!

Another silent auction item we won was this, stone-inlaid, “lazy susan.” I can’t identify what all the stones are that are in it (hopefully, I will learn quickly), but it’s so beautiful, it really doesn’t matter. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

 

There were two distinct areas set up in the show. One area was where the retail sales and finished products were set up. There were quite a few vendors set up and they had some amazing things for sale. There were eggs and orbs that were fashioned from stone. There were carved animals, faceted gemstones, rough stones, tumbled stones, wire-wrapped jewelry, and even a globe where each country was shaped from different minerals.

 

It was in this area that we found a couple of beautiful, rough Petoskey stones (the Michigan state stone). They’re wet because the fossils show better when the stones are wet before they are finished and polished.

We also found this pretty heart made from snowflake obsidian. Obsidian is not native to Michigan. It is a rock which is formed from cooled magma. It has been used since prehistoric time for arrowheads and sharpened tools, among many other uses. This little heart was so pretty, and the price was so reasonable, we bought it. I had thought to make a piece of jewelry out of it, but I think I might just keep it as a “worry stone.”

I found my first piece of jewelry made from snowflake obsidian at a roadside market in the mountains of Arizona near Sedona. Some Native American women had set up tables and were selling their handiwork. I, naturally, gravitated to the rock jewelry. My purchase that day was a snowflake obsidian arrowhead made into a necklace with elongated beads.

 

The second room was where the LGMS meets. There were all kinds of wonderful machines there for shaping, grinding, and buffing stones. This work-room and all the machines are available for the use of the membership. There were several members working on projects in the workroom. They were demonstrating different specialties. One lady was making wire-wrap jewelry. A silversmith was working, and another lady was making semi-precious gemstone beads.

 

One gentleman was demonstrating copper wire weaving. What exacting work that is! I was mesmerized by the intricacy of each wrap. I couldn’t help but buy this necklace and earring set after seeing the amazing amount of work that goes into each millimeter.

 

As we were winding down, we found a gentleman who has been working in lapidary for nearly 30 years. I would guess that he is nearly our age, so he’s been a hobbyist since he was a very young man. He explained cutting the stones, using the equipment in the workroom, finishing and polishing different stones, and he, also, told us all about club membership. With people like him (and all the other members we met), we feel very comfortable that we could learn quite a bit and greatly enjoy membership in the organization.

On our way out, I noticed a piece of polished rock on the workbench of our new friend (Bob). It had bits of quartz in it along with several other colored minerals; however, what really caught my attention were the brilliant flecks of copper. It turns out, there were actually two pieces. Bob had found this rock in an old copper mine in the UP (Upper Peninsula of Michigan). He had cleaved it in half and polished the faces. I guess they are supposed to be bookends, but we decided to put them on our mantle with both of the polished sides facing out.

 

So, stay “tuned.” I hope that, before too terribly long, I’ll be sharing photos and stories of our new hobby.

 

Up Next: A Spinning Rant

 

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Looking forward to “seeing” you here on Colmel’s Blog!

The Best Meal – EVER

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I know I keep promising to discuss the Farmers’ Market/Fall Market in Brighton. The weather just has NOT cooperated. I’m still hopeful, though.

 

In the interim, I started thinking about all the wonderful fruit and vegetables that are available at all the farmers’ markets in the area. It brought to mind my MOST favorite meal I’ve ever had. While contemplating it, I realized with shock that that meal had to be more 40 years ago. What wonderful establishment could create such a meal that I would remember it all these years later and still salivate? Must it have been a “Michelin” star winner? Absolutely, not.

 

The best meal I ever ate was in my beloved Waynesviile, North Carolina. My family were going to go up Eagles’ Nest Mountain (yes, that Eagles’ Nest Mountain of Boojum fame) to look at property for sale. One of our neighbors had joined in a group who had purchased a very large portion of the land on the mountain and were selling building lots. As Aunt Jean’s momma and daddy lived at the base of the mountain, we just stopped by to say hello on our way up.

 

We should have known that we couldn’t just stop by to say, “Hey!” Mom Hyatt always had to feed her visitors. Mom kept a huge “truck garden.” She said she was starting to cut back the size of her garden due to the fact that she was getting up in age. So, her garden was only about ¾ acre. She grew the best vegetables! So, in we had to come, set down and eat. What bounty!

 

On my plate were corn on the cob, huge slices of still-warm tomato, pole beans, cucumbers and onion (in vinegar), and a huge slab of hot, fresh cornbread with a mound of sweet butter. She tried to pour me some buttermilk, but I hadn’t gotten my taste for that yet, so sweet milk it was. Throughout the whole time, Mom Hyatt kept apologizing for not having any meat. Those were still days where barter was common in the area and the trades hadn’t taken place yet.

 

In the current vernacular…OMG!!!! Every bite tasted like a hug. There was so much love in the growing and in the cooking, that this meal would stick in my heart forever. It’s not that I’d never had any of these items before; it was that I’d never had them all straight from the garden to the table like this before – nor have I since.

 

Do you have a meal or meals that stick out in your memory? I’d love to hear about it – as would all of us, I’m sure. Please share your story with us in the “Reply” section. This blog is so much more fun when others get involved.

 

Up Next: I’m Still Hoping for “Fall Markets”

 

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Another Appalachian Tale – Boojum: The Mystery on Eagle’s Nest Mountain

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Earlier I told you about my Aunt Jean who was raised in Waynesville, NC. Waynesville is the county seat for Haywood County. I know an awful lot about Waynesville because my family also owned a house there (until it burned to the ground in 1981 – but that’s another story). It was atop Eagle’s Nest Mountain (about 50 feet below 1 mile high). Eagle’s Nest overlooks Maggie Valley and is one of the most beautiful places in the entire world.

Eagle’s Nest is so beautiful that it was a destination back in the day (1880s). The more affluent from the Deep South and city folk from of the big northern cities would get on trains during the summers and head for the mountains. Vanderbilt built his mansion in nearby Asheville (not very far as the crow flies). During that time, a large hotel was built on top of Eagle’s Nest Mountain. The population in little Waynesville would soar. There was also an Inn built at the base of Eagle’s Nest that survived until the 1990s.

This is the tale of Boojum (as told to me by my Aunt Jean Hyatt Richardson).

Long before the masses found the beauty of Eagle’s Nest, a particularly strange manimal (half man/half animal) made his home on Eagle’s Nest. He was called Boojum. Boojum was an early “Bigfoot” type character who appeared to be as much bear as man. He was said to be furry and smelly. Boojum had a real fondness for the beautiful gemstones prevalent in the North Carolina mountains. As you may know, many precious and semi-precious stones are found in their raw state in the area. Among these are rubies, sapphires, garnets, aquamarines, smoky and rose quartzes, emeralds, tourmaline, and citrines. So many beautiful gemstones!

Boojum was said to wander all over the mountains to find these stones and bring them back to his home on Eagle’s Nest Mountain. No one knew exactly where he lived, but many tried to find his lair to find his stash of gems. Boojum was a clever creature, though, and hid them well out of sight.

It is also said that Boojum would occasionally frighten the female visitors to the inns by sneaking up on them as they bathed in the streams and bathing areas. It is also said that one young woman felt pity for the lonely creature and went off to join him. There are versions of the Boojum legend that has him “marrying” this girl, but the one I learned didn’t mention any alliance with any human.

To anyone’s knowledge, no one ever found Boojum or his stash of pretty rocks. They might be hidden in buckets or barrels with water in them to hide them. There are many openings, caves, crevasses, and hidden places still on Eagle’s Nest Mountain (even though it has been greatly developed since).

On a very personal note, my aunt told me once that she was told as a girl that she’d better behave or Boojum would get her. I guess he was used rather like the “boogey-man” or “bogey-man” of non-Western-Carolina upbringing. In the near future, I’ll tell y’all a true story of a night on Eagle’s Nest Mountain that I was almost certain Boojum was gonna get me.

The fancy inn on the top burned to the ground (not unlike our home) early in the 20th century. Let me just say this about the road to the top of Eagle’s Nest Mountain, it’s one of the most twisty, turny, difficult roads to travel. The grades are steep and the switchbacks are many. It was virtually impossible to get modern fire trucks to our house when it burned. I can’t imagine what it must have been like trying to get a horse-pulled water truck to the top in the olden days. The Piedmont Inn (the one near the base) has been pretty much razed for a golf community.

For those of you who enjoyed my Appalachian, folk tales, I found a book that includes these two stories and many, many more. The name of the book is “Mountain Ghost Stories – and curious tales of Western North Carolina.” It was compiled by Randy Russell and Janet Barnett. John Blair is the publisher. They seem to have delved deeply into the myths, legends and ghost stories of the area. I will probably share some of these (giving credit, naturally) in later blogs. If you enjoy these tales, though, I highly recommend this little book.

 

Up Next: Farmers’ Markets In the Fall (or maybe something else ;>)

 

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