What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (Sharp’s Chapel, TN)

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Eagle's Nest Mountain Awaits My Return

Eagle’s Nest Mountain Awaits My Return

Leaving Waynesville (and Eagle’s Nest Mountain) was difficult. We made a promise to ourselves that we would be back soon.

View Toward Norris Lake From Our Property Sharp's Chapel, TN

View Toward Norris Lake
From Our Property
Sharp’s Chapel, TN

From Waynesville, we drove to Sharp’s Chapel, Tennessee. Several years ago, we purchased property in Sharp’s Chapel. We own 29+ acres on a ridge overlooking Norris Lake.

Norris Dam/Lake

Norris Dam/Lake

Norris Lake (Boat Ramp From The HIghlands)

Norris Lake (From The Highlands)

Norris Lake
(From the Boat Ramp)
The Highlands – Sharp’s Chapel, TN

Norris Lake is the product of the first major project for the Tennessee Valley Authority, Norris Dam. The TVA was created in 1933 to control the rampant flooding that had long plagued the Tennessee Valley. Norris Dam held back the Clinch and Powell Rivers, and created Norris Lake.

Entrance to The Highlands Sharp's Chapel, TN

Entrance to The Highlands
Sharp’s Chapel, TN

Our property is in a neighborhood called The Highlands.

Our Dear Friends Enjoying the Rockers Grove Park Inn

Our Dear Friends
Enjoying the Rockers
Grove Park Inn

Our dear friends, the Holcombs (the couple who met us in Asheville) live in The Highlands. That’s where we met. We were happy to see their wonderful old dog, Huckleberry. I’m especially grateful for this time together because Huck went to the Rainbow Bridge not long after we were there. He was a terrific dog!

 Another reason I’m certainly glad that we got to stop and visit for a while was that we got, for the first time, to see what the view from the back of the property looks like. A local developer had purchased and begun to clear, and partition the land on the “back” side of the ridge. (This is the side that faces away from Norris Lake.) We knew the view would be good, but had no idea it would be so special. On a clear day, one can see all the way to Cumberland Gap. Sadly for us, we have put our property on the market. It just isn’t looking like we’ll ever be able to move to Tennessee and build. At least, though, we got to see the vista so we can honestly say that it is gorgeous in all directions. 

View from "Back" Side Our Property Sharp's Chapel, TN

View from “Back” Side
Our Property
Sharp’s Chapel, TN

Panoramic View "Back" Side of Our Property Sharp's Chapel, TN

Panoramic View “Back” Side of Our Property Sharp’s Chapel, TN

Continuation of Panoramic View Our Property Sharp's Chapel, TN

Continuation of Panoramic View
Our Property
Sharp’s Chapel, TN

After too short a visit, we were back on the road heading home. We had one more stop to make – Georgetown, Kentucky. We had one more stop to make. Our appointment was for the next morning, 10:00 a.m. at Old Friends (a Kentucky Retirement Home for Thoroughbred Race Horses)

 

Up Next: What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (Old Friends at Old Friends)

 

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What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast – Day Two)

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Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn Waynesville, NC

Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn
Waynesville, NC

I realized while writing my post on the Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn that there was just too much for one post. I hope you’ll indulge me in my need to expand on this great location and all there is to do in the area.

Wonderful King-size Bed Library Suite Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Wonderful King-size Bed
Library Suite
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

First, let me tell you more about the Library Suite. It’s a huge, beautiful room on the first floor directly adjacent to the formal dining room. Meals are served in the common room, but this, more formal room, can be used for special occasions.

Bedroom Fireplace Library Suite Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Bedroom Fireplace
Library Suite
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

As I mentioned before, the bed was huge. It’s also extremely comfortable. The pillows were some of the best I’d ever slept on. There’s a large fireplace in the bedroom portion of the suite. It’s just comfortable – not at all stuffy. The paneling in both the bedroom and the bath is gorgeous.

Magnificent Jetted Tub/Shower/Dressing Area Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Magnificent Jetted Tub/Shower/Dressing Area
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

In the bathroom there is a mammoth, jetted tub and a huge, stand-alone shower. Even the ceiling is beautifully paneled. Another fireplace can warm the bathroom. This is, easily, the most beautiful room I’ve ever slept in – anywhere in the world.

Bathroom FIreplace Library Suite Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Bathroom FIreplace
Library Suite
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

We woke up to a less rainy day on Wednesday, August 21. Why do I mention the date? You’ll see. We were excited because we had on definite site we had planned to see in the Waynesville area.

Common Room Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Common Room
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Breakfast at Andon Reid was superb! It was nice sitting with people from all over the country (and world – we met a couple from Belgium). The food was thoughtfully prepared and just the right amount to start the day well without feeling overstuffed. I want to make special mention of one of the “starters.” It was a banana split! Now, bananas and I usually have a love/hate relationship. I love them, my tummy hates them. This however was a banana with fruit and flavored yogurts instead of ice cream. Delicious! The best part…my tummy didn’t grumble even once.

Wheels Through Time (Photo from Internet)

Wheels Through Time
(Photo from Internet)

Right after breakfast we jumped in the car and headed to Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley. After watching several episodes of “What’s in the Barn?” we were anxious to see this fascinating museum full of one-of-a-kind and very rare motorcycles. We don’t ride, but are both very interested in history and this place quickly turned into a must on our “bucket lists.”

Wheels Through Time Maggie Valley, NC

Wheels Through Time
Maggie Valley, NC
(Photo from Internet)

After a short drive to Maggie Valley, the museum was easily found on Victory Lane. Funny…no cars in the lot. Even funnier, there was a car coming out and someone was closing a gate behind it. We pulled in and a very sweet lady came over and asked if she could help us. We told her we were going to the museum. She got a surprised yet confused look on her face and said, “But the museum is CLOSED on Wednesdays. It always has been. Tuesdays and Wednesdays.”

After we got the car turned around, we sat and tried to figure out what in the world we were going to do next. Neither of us is interested in going to casinos. (There is a very large casino run by Harrah’s in Cherokee.) We really hadn’t brought proper hiking shoes to do any long-distance walking and the weather was still “iffy.”

Having a “smart” phone can be a very good thing. I just checked with Trip Advisor as to what was available in the area, and up popped gem mining! We had done some gem mining (with nice results) near Spruce Pine, NC several years ago. No there wasn’t anything worth thousands of dollars, but there were some really nice, cut-worthy stones. The main thing was that it was a LOT of fun! Off to Smoky Mountain Gold and Ruby Mine.

sm_pic_aboutus

Smoky Mountain Gold & Ruby Mine
(Photo from Website)

We walked up to the flume (water rushing down a table set up so that you can wash the dirt off your rocks to see if there’s anything worthwhile). Being the only customers there, the employees were happy to see us (it was getting close to the end of summer tourist season and well before leaf-peeper season). What a nice group of friendly, helpful fellas! We stayed for a couple of hours and washed lots of rocks. Yes, there were some gemstones, but I don’t know if any were really worth much. There were some “silver quartz” and some citrine. The citrine has nice color, so maybe, some-day we’ll see if it’s worth cutting. There is a shop attached where they can tell you what you found and if it’s worth cutting, but – unlike the mine in Spruce Pine where the cost of cutting two stones is included in the price – they charge to cut the stones. The store also has jewelry and polished stones for sale. For us though, the “hunt” is the fun part.

Gem Hunting Rocky Mountain Gold & Ruby Mine Cherokee, NC (Photo from Website)

Gem Hunting
Rocky Mountain Gold & Ruby Mine
Cherokee, NC
(Photo from Website)

We headed back to Waynesville and walked around town some more. I was starting to get rather melancholy as I knew our visit was coming to a close. I know I will go back to Waynesville frequently (and maybe move there someday if we’re lucky). I just hate to leave.

Walk Down to Fire-Pit Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Walk Down to Fire-Pit
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Back at Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast, we told Mark about the fun we had gem mining, and that Wheels Through Time is closed on Wednesdays. He told us that he wished we had asked, because he knew that the museum was closed and he could have saved us a trip. Yep, we should have asked, but Jim and I found our own fun. At least now, there is a definite destination for our next trip.

Sitting by the Fire Pit Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Sitting by the Fire Pit
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

As the evening was falling, we walked out to the fire-pit to spend a little more time looking at Eagle’s Nest Mountain. The bats started flying (no, not all that close to us) as the sun slipped away. The sky put on one heck of a beautiful display for my last night there. I took photo after photo, trying to capture the memory. One by one, the lights in homes on the mountain came on. It was a beautiful sight!

The Sky Blazes Over Eagle's Nest Mountain From Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

The Sky Blazes
Over Eagle’s Nest Mountain
From Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

 

Night Begins to Fall On Eagle's Nest Mountain From Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Night Begins to Fall
On Eagle’s Nest Mountain
From Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

 

The Sky Begins to Blaze Over Eagle’s Nest Mountain From Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Finally, was time to go inside. Clouds still obscured the stars, so I didn’t get to see one of the sights I had really been looking forward to. Just so you know, in Waynesville, the sky on a clear night is magnificent. Usually, one can see the Milky Way, satellites moving across the sky, planets, and shooting stars. Not this time.

 

After another fabulous breakfast on Thursday, we packed up the car and started our trip home. Mark and Kari made us feel so welcome. I know that the next time Waynesville is on our agenda, we’ll absolutely head for Andon Reid Bed and Breakfast Inn.

 

Up Next: What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (Rocky Top?)

 

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What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast – Day One)

 

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Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

The Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn is in beautiful Waynesville, North Carolina. If you’ve been following my blog, you know how important Waynesville is to me. Sadly, we no longer have any close family in the area, and (as you might remember) our family’s home on top of Eagle’s Nest Mountain burned to the ground in late 1980. That left us with a question as to where we would stay for our Waynesville portion of our summer vacation. Luckily, I found the Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn on Travelocity. What a terrific find!

Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn Waynesville, NC

Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn
Waynesville, NC

Mark and Kari Barbar purchased the Inn in November of 2012. The home was built in 1902, and had been transformed into a bed and breakfast several years ago. What Mark and Kari have done is absolutely remarkable. They have somehow maintained the true feel of “coming home” and made all their guests feel like family.

Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn Carriage House

Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn
Carriage House

From the moment we drove up, I knew we’d made the right choice. The house is absolutely lovely, and the new carriage house (which used to be a dilapidated garage) is gorgeous. We parked our car in their ample (but tree-shaded) parking lot and started walking up to the house. I had to stop dead in my tracks. There, out the back of the house, in all its glory, was Eagle’s Nest Mountain. “My” mountain is the view. I had to suppress a huge lump in my throat.

Parking Area Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn Waynesville, NC

Parking Area
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn
Waynesville, NC

Eagle’s Nest Mountain
From Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn
Waynesville, NC

Our first “greeting” came from the neighborhood kitty. She had been curled up on the ample porch and sauntered down for the obligatory petting. I’m told that Kitty is not on the payroll, but perhaps she should be.

Back Porch Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn Waynesville, NC

Back Porch
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn
Waynesville, NC

Kari (who works her “regular” job from home) jumped up and came out to greet us. Mark usually is the first person to meet new guests, but he was busy mowing the ample lawn during a break in the drizzle that seemed to accompany us throughout our stay in North Carolina. She brought us in through the door to the common room which was breathtaking. The room is comfy with a whole wall of windows facing the mountain, and a beautiful fireplace. I could just imagine how nice it would be to curl up in one of the oversized chairs in front of the fire on a cold, winter day.

Fireplace & Huge Windows
Common Room
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Mark hurried in and apologized for not greeting us (which was totally understandable as he had been busy wrangling the lawn mower on the steeply sloping front yard). He showed us to our room – the Library Suite which is breathtaking!

Mark then showed us around the rest of the Inn. It has been so tastefully restored and cared for. All of the rooms are well-appointed and inviting. The basement has been turned into a game and fitness room. There are all kinds of fitness equipment, a pool table, dartboard, other games, and the only television in the house. I would imagine that this room would be a great place to spend time. It would be especially great if the weather was stormy and preclusive of being out and about.

While the Barbars were traveling in Asia, Mark learned some wonderful needlework skills which are on display in a particularly intricate piece in the stairway. He is a former school teacher and principal. He always knew that he wanted to be an innkeeper, and he is excellent in this role. Kari is still working, but they make a great team.

 

The Carriage House
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn
Waynesville, NC

We then got a tour of the carriage house which Mark painstakingly renovated into a gorgeous, comfortable hideaway. It has all the charm of the main building, but has many modern conveniences like remote-controlled blinds. I can imagine that this would be the choice for honeymooners as it is totally separate from the main house, but has access to all the amenities. It absolutely amazed us that all the renovations had taken place in less than 9 months.

Common Room
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

We headed back in to the main house and set about getting settled in our room. I can’t forget to tell you that Mark also bakes! In the common room were some delicious lemon bars for the guests, as well as full candy dishes and a small refrigerator stocked with sodas and water. No nicety was overlooked (including welcome chocolates on the bed).

Wonderful King-size Bed Library Suite Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

Wonderful King-size Bed
Library Suite
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn

After getting settled, we headed back out to the common room to enjoy our lemon bars and water. Another two couples were there enjoying putting a puzzle together. They had not known each other before arriving at the Andon Reid, but seemed to be old friends. The place just seems to foster friendly mingling.

Common Room Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn (Note the puzzle on near table)

Common Room
Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn
(Note the puzzle on near table)

Available to all guests was a basket full of restaurant menus, and a table holding brochures from local attractions and maps of the area. Mark showed us some wonderful options for drives and told us how to find local waterfalls and beautiful vistas. We can’t wait to get back to Waynesville to take advantage of (hopefully) better weather to take these hikes. We took Mark up on his offer to call for reservations at The Sweet Onion which he highly recommended. If you read my earlier post on Waynesville, you know that we agreed!

Eagle's Nest Mountain Awaits My Return

Eagle’s Nest Mountain Awaits My Return

We decided that we had plenty of time to take a drive before dinner, and Eagle’s Nest Mountain was calling. Off we went up the mountain. I don’t think I could ever get tired of being on that mountain. I know that it has many old stories about unusual happenings on it (which I discussed in an earlier post), but it’s always felt like home to me.

 

Evening Falls Over Eagle's Nest Mountain (As Seen From Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn)

Evening Falls Over Eagle’s Nest Mountain
(As Seen From Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast Inn)

After our drive and fantastic dinner, we came back to the Inn to plan our tomorrow. It was still rather wet and soggy outside, but the porches that surround the inn are expansive and perfectly furnished to sit and relax. I did manage to take lots and lots of photos of the mountain as night descended. It was a perfectly wonderful way to end a very happy day.

 

Up Next: What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (Andon Reid Bed & Breakfast – Day Two)

 

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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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What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (Waynesville: A Journey “Home”)

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

In my “Prologue” to this group of posts I wrote about Waynesville, North Carolina. As I read that post again, I realized I’d poured my heart into it and wouldn’t change a word. Here is that text again.

My aunt grew up in Waynesville, North Carolina. I had listened to her talk about her home town for so many years, I felt like I knew it, too. Years later, my parents were offered the opportunity to purchase land on Eagle’s Nest Mountain in Waynesville. A neighbor was involved in a partnership to development a portion of the mountain and offered my parents the chance to get in on the ground-floor at the pre-development prices. They jumped at the chance. I’ll never forget driving up Eagle’s Nest for the first time to choose our lots. I immediately fell in love with the mountain and knew I’d come “home.”

“Waynesville has, ever since, been a magical place for me. Even after our home on Eagle’s Nest burned to the ground in late 1980, Waynesville has held a very special place in my heart. Memories of spending happy times with family (immediate and extended) are part of the reason for this; however, there is just something about the town, and the people who live there, that makes me feel warm and welcome.

Beautiful Waynesville, NC (Eagles' Nest Mountain in the Background)

Beautiful Waynesville, NC
(Eagles’ Nest Mountain in the Background)

Waynesville is the county-seat of Haywood County. The courthouse is right on Main Street.

Haywood County Courthouse Waynesville, NC

Haywood County Courthouse
Waynesville, NC

Main Street has changed quite a lot since we had our home in Waynesville. Most of the storefronts are still the same, but the change is in what’s inside. I was afraid that I would find the loss of the stores I used to visit hard to accept. I was wrong. Main Street, now, has some beautiful stores with artisan-quality goods. There are galleries of all kinds. Some world-class artists now call Waynesville home. There are also restaurants, chocolate shops, and clothing stores. Several real estate agents have offices on Main, as well as several attorneys’ offices.

Banjo & Wash-tub Base Main Street @ Miller Waynesville, NC

Banjo & Wash-tub Base
Main Street @ Miller
Waynesville, NC

Main Street Waynesville, NC

Main Street
Waynesville, NC

Looking Down Main Street Waynesville, NC

Looking Down Main Street Waynesville, NC

Mast General Store (one of several in North Carolina) is also on Main. Mast has a little of everything – clothing, shoes, housewares, furnishings, food, and the largest selection of old-time candy found anywhere.

Mast General Store Main Street Waynesville, NC

Mast General Store
Main Street
Waynesville, NC

I think the biggest surprise for me was that there are now three active breweries in Waynesville! We visited Tipping Point Tavern, but there are also Headwaters Brewing and Frog’s Leap Public House. Those two we will check out on our next visit.

Tipping Point Tavern Waynesville, NC

Tipping Point Tavern
Waynesville, NC

Tipping Point Tavern was a fun place to visit. Their in-house brews are quite good. We tried both the “Hiking Viking” (my Northeast High School friends will certainly understand this) and the “Chunky Girl Amber.” They also have an IPA called “Punch in the Face IPA.” We found the brews quite hoppy, so we can imagine what the IPA must be. Next time…

We had both a lunch and a dinner at Tipping Point Tavern. Lunch was quite enjoyable. The food was quite good – can’t say “great” with regard to sandwiches and beer, but very good. We started with the beer-battered jalapeno poppers which were hot from the fryer and had very good flavor. I had the Tavern Reuben and really enjoyed it. Jim had Fish Tacos. I must say, you really shouldn’t be leaving Tipping Point hungry! They don’t skimp on portions!

Dinner was something of a different story. We had planned to go to The Bourbon Barrel, but they weren’t interested in seating us – even though there were many open tables. I guess that’s a place for locals only. Out-of-towners need not darken their doors. So… we ended up back at Tipping Point Tavern. Yes, the portions were huge (especially the Pulled Pork Burrito)! What was really off-putting was the noise level. We were there on a Wednesday night, so we didn’t expect the crush of people or the noise. Obviously, this is the place for the younger crowd to meet for drinks after work. If we’d been there just for a beer or cocktails (and had been several years younger), we probably would have had a wonderful time. For dinner, well it was rather hard to enjoy ourselves. If you go, it’s probably wise to stick to lunch, or go for their terrific beer and after-work party.

Now for the best meal of our entire trip. It was at The Sweet Onion restaurant on Miller Street. This restaurant would be at home in any large city in the U.S, but it’s nestled in beautiful, downtown Waynesville, NC.

Sweet Onion

Sweet Onion
Waynesville, NC

We had been told by the innkeepers at our bed & breakfast (Andon-Reid) – complete review in a dedicated post coming – that reservations were strongly suggested, so they made them for us. This lovely restaurant was bustling and after our experience, I understand why. The service was superb. We were warmly welcomed and shown to a comfortable table next to the window. Our server took our beverage order and gave us a couple of minutes to take-in the menu. What a menu! It was incredibly hard to decide.

We settled on splitting the crab cake appetizer. This was chock-full of lump crab loosely bound and served with a terrific lemon-basil aioli. Our entrees were amazing. Jim had the Blackberry BBQ Short Ribs. He proclaimed that they were the best he’d ever had. They were fall-off-the bone tender and the sauce was incredible. I had the Shrimp & Grits. Now, these are no ordinary shrimp and grits! The white cheddar grits were topped with huge, perfectly-cooked shrimp and big pieces of bacon. On top of all that lusciousness, there was a delicate, yet flavorful, lobster cream sauce. Heavenly! I even got one of my all-time favorite sides with this entrée. Marinated Cucumber and Tomato Salad is one of the food items I most closely associate with my Aunt Jean (who grew up in Waynesville). To have this on the menu, and on my plate, brought me nostalgically home with her.

Dessert wasn’t necessary; but, then again, we were on vacation. We decided to splurge on splitting an amazing crème brulee. It was absolutely perfect. It was creamy and soul-satisfying, yet light enough to leave us comfortable. All in all, one of the best meals either of us had ever had.

If you are going to be in Waynesville for any length of time, I highly recommend you make plans to have at least one dinner at Sweet Onion. You won’t be sorry.

 

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

 

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What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (Prologue)

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

I know! I haven’t blogged in too long. Hope I didn’t lose to many subscribers. I seem to either go full speed ahead or not at all when it comes to blogging. I’m going to try (mind you, not promising anything) to post more regularly. If it works out the way I hope, there will be at least one post a week. If I were smart (again, not saying…), I’d write bunches of blogs at a time. Then I could get ahead and have some ready for when I either get tied up with work or have the occasional brain cramp.

Jim and I actually took a summer vacation again this year (GASP!!!)

As this was a “landmark” birthday for me this year, I wanted to vacation someplace that is special to me. It was really a no-brainer deciding that I wanted to spend our week mostly in North Carolina.

As a bit of background, I spent most of my summers in North Carolina when I was growing up. My aunt and uncle lived in Elkin, North Carolina for the early years. I actually remember a few tidbits from my second birthday. The party was held in Elkin. I know, it’s hard to believe I could have memories that go that far back, but everything about that birthday was unusual. My mother and I had actually flown to North Carolina for that summer. These days, that wouldn’t be at all unusual. In the early 1950s? Quite a different story.

My aunt grew up in Waynesville, North Carolina. I had listened to her talk about her home town for so many years, I felt like I knew it, too. Years later, my parents were offered the opportunity to purchase land on Eagle’s Nest Mountain in Waynesville. A neighbor was involved in a partnership to development a portion of the mountain and offered my parents the chance to get in on the ground-floor at the pre-development prices. They jumped at the chance. I’ll never forget driving up Eagle’s Nest for the first time to choose our lots. I immediately fell in love with the mountain and knew I’d come “home.”

Waynesville has, ever since, been a magical place for me. Even after our home on Eagle’s Nest burned to the ground in late 1980, Waynesville has held a very special place in my heart. Memories of spending happy times with family (immediate and extended) are part of the reason for this; however, there is just something about the town and the people who live there that makes me feel warm and welcome.

Our vacation would be partially in Waynesville, partially in Asheville, and end up in Georgetown, Kentucky at Old Friends Equine – A Retirement Home for Thoroughbred Racehorses.

Up Next: The Drive to Asheville

 

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A True(ly) Scary Story

I thought it appropriate to re-share a true frightening tale which happened to me on this Halloween!

Colmel's Blog

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

 

Halloween is coming, so I thought I’d tell you one of my true(ly) scary stories. This one is about something that happened while we were in our house on Eagles’ Nest Mountain in Waynesville, NC.

 

One day, my mother and I decided to go visit friends in Highlands, NC. My sister, Melanie, was quite young at the time and had a very good friend who lived at the bottom of the mountain. Our house was near the very top of the mountain (with glorious views of Maggie…

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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!

Another True(ly) Frightening Experience

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I don’t know if you would call it the “Devil” or just a manifestation of an evil force, but I know it exists.

 

When I was in my early 20s, I had an experience with what I consider the supernatural, and it truly frightened me.

 

We were in our home in on Eagles’ Nest Mountain in Waynesville, North Carolina which was on top of a mountain with a terrific view of the Smokies. Every thing about the house was warm and comfortable – except one night. That night there was no indication that something really evil was about to show itself.

 

We all went to bed as normal. My dad wasn’t home with us, so my little sister was upstairs with my mother in her room, my brother was in his bedroom, and I was in mine. Everything settled down to a noiseless, deep darkness.

 

The next thing I knew, our dog (a German Shepherd/Collie mix) jumped up on the bed and started to walk up onto my chest and stare down at me. It occurred to me that there was very little weight to her (now, this was a 50+ lb dog). I knew something wasn’t right. Then as I looked at her and tried to speak, her eyes started to glow an eerie reddish glow. The whole feel was of some extreme evil. This was absolutely NOT my dog. It was something trying to take on her image to get to me.

 

I somehow jumped out from under the “being” and reached for the light switch. As the light came on, there was nothing in the room. I thought perhaps it was a dream, but I truly did get to the switch, the lights did come on, and I did “feel” the being walk up on me. I truly don’t believe, in my heart, that it was a dream.

 

I ran through the house to make certain that the evil was gone and I wanted to make sure my dog was okay. Sure enough, our dog was in my brother’s room and looked up sleepily when I opened his door. She was fine and not at all the evil thing that had been in my room.

 

Whatever it was, it was something I would not want to repeat. I think the worst was that it used a familiar, much-loved creature as its disguise.

Up Next: Another Smoky Mountains “Ghost” Story

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A True(ly) Scary Story

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

 

Halloween is coming, so I thought I’d tell you one of my true(ly) scary stories. This one is about something that happened while we were in our house on Eagles’ Nest Mountain in Waynesville, NC.

 

One day, my mother and I decided to go visit friends in Highlands, NC. My sister, Melanie, was quite young at the time and had a very good friend who lived at the bottom of the mountain. Our house was near the very top of the mountain (with glorious views of Maggie Valley). Since there would be very little for Mel to do during our trip, we decided it would be best if she would stay and play with Heidi.

 

My Aunt Jean (Hyatt) Richardson was also visiting with us, and she opted to stay home. She’d grown up just down the mountain, and her kin were all around the area. She was going to spend the day visiting with them, so she stayed with our dog Gretyl.

 

The drive to Highlands was scary enough! The roads we took were twisty and turny, and there were areas with shear drops several hundred feet down the sides of mountains. When I think of the little rock walls on the down-side of the road, I still laugh. Don’t know what, exactly, they were supposed to stop, but it wouldn’t have been any normal-sized vehicle. The other sides of the road were straight up except for the rocks that stuck out from the walls. Surely, there was an easier way to get to our friend’s place, but her directions were very fuzzy. My mother swears that the air in the car was blue from all the curse words uttered. (I may have even made up a few new ones.) If you’ve never been “chased” down a mountain, back-road by a logging truck, consider yourself very lucky. But that wasn’t the end of the fright for the day.

 

After a pleasant visit, we headed back to Waynesville, We had better directions on how to get back, so the ride was much more pleasant. We stopped for dinner along the way and made our leisurely way back to Eagles’ Nest. That’s when the “fun” began.

 

As we were approaching Eagles’ Nest Mountain Road, we saw more police cars with lights flashing than we thought existed in the whole state of North Carolina. They were all getting off the interstate at our road. We only got as far as Mom and Pop Hyatt’s home (at the base of the mountain) when we were stopped and turned back.

 

Apparently, two bad guys had robbed a liquor store near Asheville, stolen a car, shot at police, and headed up our road. They’d ditched the car right at the gate that lead up the road – right next to where Mel was playing at her friend’s home. The authorities had the road blocked and weren’t letting anyone up or down.

 

We joined a large contingent of Hyatts at  Mom and Pop’s place. A quick call to Heidi’s parents reassured us that Mel was safe and that the police had posted sentries outside their home. Aunt Jean was another story, though. Here she was in our home up on the top of the mountain with only our dog keeping her company. We begged the police to let us go up to our home. The state police weren’t having any of it until the local county authorities arrived. Once they learned that Aunt Jean was Jean HYATT, the tune changed. To help you understand a little more, at one time just about everything in Haywood County was “Hyatt” something. The name is still attached to creeks, road, hills, and developments.

 

A rapid convoy was arranged. In the front were two police cars, then us in my car, then two more police cars. Lights were flashing everywhere.

 

Eagles’ Nest Mountain Road is like most of the other roads in the area. There are sharp curves, switchbacks, hairpin turns, and very few straight areas. It’s just wide enough for two cars to pass (in most places). We took the whole road. I never had before (nor after) gone up that road so fast. We’d been warned to keep in tight formation. I’m still not sure how we made it up there without someone rear-ending someone, but we did.

 

We sure were glad to get home, and Aunt Jean was beside herself. We all settled in to stay locked down for the night. That was, all of us except Gretyl. Poor pup had to “go!” She’d been cooped up inside for as long as she could wait. On top of that, there were “strange” people outside our house. The police had left a patrol to make sure we were safe. I hollered out to the officer that my dog absolutely could wait no longer. He grudgingly let us out. So, here I am, in the pitch dark, with a scared dog on a leash, just beggin’ her to go ahead and pee. (Now, Gretyl – being like most dogs – was almost too afraid to pee.) I was so concerned about her, that I didn’t hear the person walking up behind me. Nigh to jumped out of my skin when the biggest man I’d ever seen showed up right behind me! He even startled Gretyl as he’d appeared so quickly and quietly. Phew, another one of the police who was looking for the bad guys. He wasn’t sure who we were and why we were out there, but he was none too happy that we were.

 

Business taken care of, we were hustled back into the house. I know I didn’t sleep a wink. My mother was upstairs with my sister and aunt. My room was on the main level of the house. Gretyl stayed with me. Every so often, she’d give a low, warning growl. She sure wasn’t letting those men outside forget she was on duty.

 

Our house was a cross between a chalet-style and a barn. It was built into the bedrock of the mountain, and had a walk-out basement. The deck from the main portion of the house protruded out probably 20 feet. The views were spectacular. We could see the lights of Maggie Valley, the lighted cross on Mt. Lyn Lowery, and (on clear days) Mt. LeConte (the highest peak in the area and the third highest peak in the Smokies). The basement was only visible from below.

 

After a sleepless night, we were informed that one of the desperados had been caught and the other was presumed to be at least as far away as Maggie Valley. We could go back to our normal routine. The whole area breathed a sigh of relief (all except Gretyl who was still growling – poor dog was traumatized). That was until the next day, when the second guy was caught…walking down Eagles’ Nest Mountain Road.

 

Where’d he been? He told the authorities that he’d spent both nights up on top of the mountain…up next to a concrete basement… under a big deck.

 

Up Next: Another Smoky Mountains “Ghost” Story

 

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