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”)

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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)

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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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Mummo’s Piano

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I recently added more music to our house. Well, sound, anyway.

My mother moved from her mobile home in Florida to a smaller, more manageable, apartment. In doing so, she had to downsize her possessions. One major item that would never fit in an apartment was the piano that had belonged to my grandmother, Mummo.

Mummo’s baby grand piano was the one she tried to teach me to play on. It’s a lovely, dark mahogany, Stodart piano. It had its own special niche in the front room of Mummo’s home. The technician who came to check it out and find out what repairs were necessary said that she is from the 1920s. But, I am getting ahead of myself.

Mummo's House

As a bit of background, Mummo (whose first name was Marion) was born in New Jersey in 1891. She was the next youngest of five children. Her upbringing was extraordinarily Victorian, but she was always something of a rebel. She told me stories, in whispered tones, about sneaking the horse out of the barn, walking it over the hill – out of sight of her parents – and then riding off bareback and ASTRIDE!!!! Imagine, the indignity of a “lady” straddling a horse. She kept some the things she was taught as a child, though, all through her life.

One of her closely-held beliefs was that there were only a very few occupations that were suitable for ladies. Those were – teacher, pianist, or piano teacher. Nursing was off limits because – HORRORS – you would see naked people (even men). My desire to be a racehorse trainer was met with disbelief and a firm dismissal that a racetrack was no place for a lady. Actually, up until the past few decades, Mummo was not alone. There was a widely-held belief that women could not train or ride racehorses. So, Mummo determined I really had to learn to play the piano.

God bless her, Mummo tried. Unfortunately, I was only seven or eight years old when she tried to teach me piano. It was a lost cause – at that time.

She was so gifted! Not only could she play the most intricate and complicated pieces, she composed glorious music that was all her own. I remember her sitting at her piano making it sing the most remarkable songs. Her house was full of music. There was classical, sure, but there was also more popular tunes and Christmas carols. She just could not understand why her wayward granddaughter would rather be out climbing trees or riding horses. What she didn’t realize – nor would I until this past year – was that her granddaughter really was paying attention. I was just too young and too scattered to sit and practice an hour or more every day.

In her late years, Alzheimer’s (although it hadn’t been named, yet) stole Mummo’s mind. She retreated further and further into a world where she couldn’t communicate with words. Sometimes, though, she’d find her way to the piano. Her piano was her voice. It was so incredibly sad for us that this was her sole way to express herself. Even when she was finally moved into a nursing home, they would occasionally find her at the piano in the common area. There she was – a very tiny, sad, old woman making the whole place ring with music.

When the time came to move Mummo’s piano, a dealer came to my mother’s home and told her he would buy the piano and “give” her $500. Once I was told that, I realized that there was no way I could allow “Voce Marion”  (Marion’s Voice – the name I’ve given to the piano) to go to someone who would never know my Mummo. No one else could ever know how desperately she loved that piano – nor ever hear the beauty that came from her fingers. I had to bring it home to be with me.

I still can’t play “her,” but I’m going to learn. I probably will never be able to make that instrument sing like she used to. She will, however, be loved and cared for. I will remember the way she used to sound when a true musician touched her keys. The technician who came to give her a checkup is a talented musician and he sat and played her. That same, rich tone came tumbling out for the first time in probably 40 years. For those few minutes, Voce Marion was in her glory again. The tears just couldn’t be stopped. I could almost feel Mummo standing over my shoulder smiling.

Poor thing, she’ll probably have to put up with some awful clunkers to begin with. I guess the learning curve will be steep as I’m no longer a kid, but I’m going to persevere. Maybe one day, I’ll be able to bring the music that still resonates in my mind to my fingers. I think Mummo would be very proud.

Up Next: Remembering a Dear Friend

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I’m Thankful For…

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I know, Thanksgiving has past. Where was I? Where was my blog? Well, I’ll tell ya. I’ve been busy with work and having family and friend over for a Thanksgiving dinner. If you’ve never cleaned a house in which live two very active German Shepherd Dogs, you have no idea of the amount of hair, muddy paw prints, and assorted drool to be cleaned to get ready for company. You know what, I wouldn’t trade that for any amount of money.

 

We live in what still is the greatest country on earth. It’s up to us to keep it that way. Remember, if you see a serviceperson, say thanks. If you know a veteran, say thanks. They’re the ones who are or have put it all on the line to keep America free.

It’s always so easy to take for granted health and home – until you lose both. It goes without saying that we are all thankful for these things. I wanted to emphasize some of the things that make my life so blessed.

 

So, first and foremost, I have to say that I’m thankful for my dear husband, Jim. We’ve been together for almost 27 years and I haven’t run him off yet. That’s something to be very grateful for.

I’m thankful for my family – both the one I was born into and the one I got when I married Jim. I don’t get to see my family enough as I’m so far away geographically. Luckily, Jim’s family is right here in Michigan. I get to see them often and it’s always a good time when we get together.

 

Sydney LOVES her Dad!

I’m thankful for my two “kids,” Sydney and Bear. They are such good dogs! Sydney came at a very difficult time for Jim. We’d just lost Liesel to lymphoma, and, while no dog could ever take Liesel’s place, Sydney has been such a wonderful friend for him.

 

da Bear

Bear came at a time when I was so sad. In less than a year we’d lost Liesel, my dearest girl, Guinevere, and then our boy Chief. Sydney was so bonded with Jim. She tolerated me – at the time – but was completely a “daddy’s girl.” I was beside myself. Even Sydney was grieving the loss of her buddies. Then Bear came into our lives. What a ray of rambunctious sunshine!

 

I’m grateful for my job! Having a job – in and of itself – is a blessing in this economy. This is especially true in Michigan. The thing is, I love my job. I work for a company that is doing well by all standards. That’s not all. My coworkers are some of the greatest, most dedicated (yet fun) people I’ve ever met. There’s a true sense of cooperation and shared purpose here. In my former life, it seemed that the plan was to tear/beat you down to the point where you no longer had any sense of self worth. I’m SO thankful that I’m no longer there and that Kalitta Air took a chance on hiring someone with no aviation background but a hunger to learn and a dedicated outlook.

 

My friends! I can honestly say I don’t know how I would have made it through some of the very tough times we’ve faced over the past years without my friends. I have wonderful friends all over the U.S. (many from former and current  work, and my days in the thoroughbred industry). I have made a special new friend who just happens to be the wife of a fellow I work with. I have one very dear friend/sister in England who has shown me so much love and friendship that I can’t even put into words how important she has become to me (and that’s saying something that I’m at a loss for words!)

 

I’ve also recently gotten reacquainted with a whole group of wonderful people – my high school class. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made was to go to my high school reunion. I can honestly say that our group of crazy kids have turned into a really great group of still-crazy, almost adults. We’re all 50-something, but years and seriousness seem to melt away when we get together.

 

One of the things I’m most thankful for is that, recently, I’ve been able to reconnect with people who are VERY important to me. It’s way too easy to lose those you hold dear. It’s so much harder to get them back. I hope you recognize yourselves in this. One person, in particular, has come back into my life that I missed the most – someone who I never should have lost in the first place. Now that we’re back communicating and keeping up with each other. I vow to never lose touch again.

 

I hope y’all will share with me and other readers things that you are thankful for.

 

 

Up Next: The Joys (?) of Snow

 

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Saying Thanks!

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The entire reason for this post is to say, “THANK YOU!” to all of those who served or are now serving in the military. Today is Veterans’ Day. We should all remember to say thanks every day. It is your sacrifice of time serving our country, away from your families, in war and peace time, that keeps us free.

 

It really hit home just this morning. I said thank you to a coworker who was in the Marines. He told me that he felt funny about accepting thanks because he never saw combat. He felt as though he didn’t deserve the same appreciation as those who are overseas in combat now or who had been involved in past wars/conflicts. (To me, Korea and Viet Nam were wars. Yes, they are called “conflicts” in politically correct lingo, but friends, brothers/sisters, fathers/mothers, and aunts/uncles died in service to us and our country. That is war.)

 

On a personal level, I have a brother who served during the first Gulf War. He spent one career in the Army. He’d gone through college in ROTC and graduated as a Second Lieutenant. He got to live his dream to fly helicopters. (Well, to be truthful, he’d wanted to be a jet jockey but eyesight and a bad knee from sports kept him out of the jets.) He served for more than 20 years. He is now a civilian contractor with the Army, so still is in the business of keeping us safe and free.

 

My father-in-law is a veteran of D-Day. He went ashore on Utah Beach, fought the Battle of the Bulge, was in the Ardennes, and built bridges across the Rhine. He still doesn’t talk about the combat. He will tell stories of the lighter moments (which, surprisingly, there were). Some of the stories – including the dangers of “trench foot” are hard to imagine. To him, these were lighter moments. I guess we’ll never hear about much of it as it’s far too painful for him to remember or discuss.

 

My Daddy served in the 1950s. He was supposed to go to Korea, but an injury to his ears kept him stateside. Basically, he saw two young soldiers in the wrong place. They were in a field down in front of the artillery pieces that were getting ready to be fired. Daddy knew that the concussion from the barrage could kill these two, so he ran out and dove onto them just as the firing started. No one died. My dad, however, was left with a permanent ringing in his ears. No combat for him. He, too, was an individual who felt a little “odd” about being thanked on Veterans’ Day. He felt that, since he never saw combat, his service was somehow less worthy of appreciation.

 

BUNK! He served. He taught young men how to fight and, who knows, his training may have saved some lives. I know his actions at Ft. Knox saved two.

Anyone who puts on the uniform of any of the armed forces is deserving of our thanks and our honor. It doesn’t matter what time frame they served. During war or peace, they chose (or were chosen) to serve. Any of them would have done their duty should there be a call to combat. They all, man or woman, gave up their time – much of it away from family and friends – to take up the charge of protecting us and our freedoms. To them, we owe such a large debt that saying thank you only scratches the surface.

So veterans, THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! In my heart, every day is Veterans’ Day!

 

Up Next: Thanksgiving Memories

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