Category Archives: North Carolina
Thanks to Hurricane Florence, New Bern has been in the news lately and not because it was the Colonial Capital of North Carolina. This charming historic town is not only the birthplace of yours truly, but also of Pepsi Cola.
It’s a lovely place, founded in 1710, by Baron von Graffenried from Bern, Switzerland and jam-packed with history. Four historic districts include more than 160 sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There are parks, gardens and about 2,000 crepe myrtles (the city’s official flower), a thriving sailing community, and the confluence of the Neuse and Trent Rivers. The setting for homes along the wide riverfront is absolutely beautiful. It is that unique and wonderful location that has caused them so many problems with this recent storm.
Keep everyone from New Bern in your thoughts as they clean-up and recover from Flo. Then, be sure to visit sometime in the near future.
In Western North Carolina, just a few miles south of the Virginia border is a little slice of mountain life that is good for the soul (and the stomach). Shatley Springs is a ramshackle collection of metal-roofed buildings and cabins, some dating as far back as 1923. Décor leans to early-barn, with colorful flowers planted in re-purposed kitchen pots and old equipment.
Built over springs reported to have medicinal powers, a typical Sunday finds a huge after-church crowd and (without being rude) lots of folks who appear to have very healthy appetites. If you don’t have a reservation you may have to wait, but just sit back in the porch rockers and enjoy the live music or wander around the grounds, check out the spring, buy some Ashe County fruit and bread, browse the shops, or chat-up some new friends. NASCAR is a popular topic I overheard being discussed during this most recent visit. The shops have an eclectic variety of items including jewelry, candy, and locally handcrafted goods.
Lunch and dinner are available after 11:30 and feature fried chicken and sugar-cured country ham. This was our first time trying the breakfast menu and we had a delicious meal. I like that you can forgo the trademark large family-style meals and order exactly what you want, including eggs made to order. The biscuits are amazing, and as long as I can get good country sausage gravy I am happy (a treat my Yankee husband just does not understand).
When you can’t eat another bite, your waitress will add “God Bless You” to your check and wish you a blessed day – and she will mean it.
If you drive over from Boone the Railroad Grade Road between Todd and Fleetwood is a beautiful drive along the New River.
Once at Shatley Springs, you will need to check in at the office; they will call your name to be seated. You return to the same area at the end of the meal to settle your bill. Keeping up with the times, they now take credit cards. Open daily 7 AM til 9 PM. Call for reservations.
407 Shatley Springs Road, Crumpler, NC 336.982.2236
For more details check out: www.shatleysprings.com
We returned to Lake Toxaway this year, at the invitation of good friends (thanks!) and once again had some wonderful new adventures. Who doesn’t love a mountain lake? And we enjoyed the hospitality of another Florida friend when he gave us a first-rate boat tour. It was interesting to learn about the history of some of the beautiful lake-front estates and even more interesting to hear current neighborhood tidbits. We even saw a bear scouting for food just below the deck of the house.
As a preservation advocate, I’m always up for anything historic and we visited the Cashiers Designer Showhouse, Fox Tail, presented by the Cashiers Historical Society. I wasn’t that thrilled with the showhouse, but enjoyed the 1920 cottage on the 42-acre property that was also open to tour. The Historic Lawrence Monteith Cabin was open as a joint venture with the Glenville Area Historical Society.
The three-bedroom house still has the original doors and windows with rope pulleys. The sawmill that provided the boards to build the house and the original farm fields were covered by Lake Glenville in 1941. Although electricity and plumbing were added in the 1940s, the three-bedroom home never had an indoor bathroom.
It was a nice glimpse into past mountain living.
There’s a reason they call it the Blue Ridge.
After a week with some serious rain, the sky was clean and bright, with landscape greens and blues at their best. A perfect day to drive along the Parkway, stroll around Blowing Rock, and of course make a stop at Kilwins for some toasted coconut ice cream.
Along the way, we came across a Park Ranger equipped with a stuffed cinnamon-colored black bear (yes, they are not always black) to help promote the National Park Service’s exceptional Junior Ranger Program. When I expressed sadness at the demise of the little bear she assured me he had a very long life as a youth educator. If you have kids or grandkids, be sure to check out the Jr Ranger Activities, they are terrific.
We learned the black bear population has come back from a low of 400 to somewhere in the 20-30,000 range in this part of the country. No wonder there are so many bear-sightings this year.
BTW, we also learned Carolina coastal bears enjoy a richer diet and are much fatter than their mountain relatives.
Our friend in Asheville thought we would enjoy the LaZoom City Comedy Tour and she was right on point.
The 90-minute open-air bus tour winds its way through charming Asheville and manages to impart quite a bit of local flavor and history between the funny, corny, and sometimes bawdy, commentary.
This is a great city – chock full of unique locally owned shops and restaurants (over 90%) and more craft breweries than anywhere else in the country. You can bet the breweries are mentioned during this tour, which allows consumption of wine and/or beer while on board, and includes a rest stop at the Green Man Brewery.
Two facts that made an impression:
- despite the ghost stories, no one died during the Civil War’s Battle of Asheville, and
- last month Asheville’s nationally renowned Wicked Weed Brewing company sold out to Anheuser-Busch. We hope it’s not the start of a trend.
Check out their website for times, fees and other tour options: http://www.lazoomtours.com/
A short, but rigorous hike will reward you with views of the lovely Crab Orchard Falls. Even in this very dry summer, the sound of the water rushing over the rocks is powerful. The falls are extensive and have many levels, but from what I have read, have never been officially measured. Visitors park at the Valle Crucis Episcopal Church, in the upper parking lot. It is well-marked where you should and shouldn’t park and signs will direct you to the trail leading to the Falls.
The 1/2 mile hike takes you up 500′ to an elevation of 3,110′. Benches are conventionality placed every 1/10 of a mile to take any needed breaks. After reaching the top elevation, you will head down towards a network of boardwalks leading to the falls. The boardwalks are not in the best condition and it seems some restoration work may be underway. In general, use caution due to lose rocks, prolific tree roots and the potentially slippery wood walkway. It’s worth the trip.