Monday, May 04, 2009

Road Trip (Part II)

On the way down to North Carolina, we stopped at Berea, KY because Mom was reminiscing about going down with her sister Fern with their spouses to visit her sister Ruth down in Atlanta years ago. It's known for Berea College, geared toward low-income students. There are a lot of crafts in the area, and Mom remembered a nice dress shop at which she said she and Fern almost always bought something. Nice hotel and restaurant. The town had a lovely, quiet feel to it.

We went to the tourist center and to a nearby craft-type store, where I picked up a kalimba (thumb-harp) and some Mint Juleep Elixir (I guess you can sell drink mixes in a dry town even if you have to purchase your liquor elsewhere). Vicki and mom also bought a few things, but we headed on down the road to Mt. Vernon where we had overnight reservations.

We ended up eating at "Jean's" family restaurant. Talk about the local flavor. Very small building. Mostly locals inside. Plain tables. No music. No nonsense. It smelled like fried chicken and bacon ... the walls were probably permeated with it. But the food was good, and the price was right, and it was just a few miles down the highway from the motel. We slept and pushed on in the morning to Jim & Carol's (the trip I chronicled in the last post that went over Joe Brown Highway).

We got to Jim & Carol's about 2 in the afternoon. Their cabin is lovely. Not too big, but a couple of guest bedrooms, a large front deck, and a gazebo as a deck extension. It's on a walkout basement. Jim & Carol like to eat outside when the weather permits. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It's nice. They do that in Nevada as well. That's what the gazebo is for.

I think they have 9 acres NW of Murphy, NC. We walked around and looked at all the spring flowers and the foliage leafing out.

They took us to some of their favorite haunts, including the Moose Hollow Trading Company in Murphy where they had all kinds of home decor tailored to cabins, from old fashioned signs to furniture to some pretty unique taxidermy. They also took us to a family style restaurant in Georgia they like (Smith's?) and to Mercier's Orchard & Restaurant ... where they have awesome individual fried pies. I used to get the ... Dolly Madison ones when I was in high school. I loved the blueberry ones, so naturally I had to try theirs. It was very good. As was their blackberry. We drove around quite a bit but mostly we were there for the visiting and the sight-seeing was extra.

I brough my guitar along this time and kinda plucked it while people played games and worked on puzzles. I've never been much into that, but I enjoy watching other people do it. I was sucked in to the puzzle eventually, but for the most part the rest of the crew put it together out on the deck over a couple of days. I think a very good time was had by all.

Carol was a concert pianist and still plays for pleasure, and she played us a few tunes. Mom was quite the pianist herself back in the day and she played some, too. Guess you can't get Vicki to do it anymore. I've heard she used to be pretty good, but it's been over 40 years.

Their place is beautiful, overlooking Hanging Dog Creek, and just up the road (like 300 yards) from a Cherokee Indian Reservation. You can hear the creek, which is about 150 yards away from the house, and the sunlight sparkles on it all morning as it ripples and bounces over the rocks at it's shallow depth. The cabin is at 1600 feet, but the nearby mountaintops peak out at over 2000 so there's plenty of drama in the landscape. They have some neighbors, a few of whom they know through their Nevada connections.

Jim told us the story of Hanging Dog Creek and how it got its name. There's a story of a Cherokee village that was facing starvation due to a crop failure. Only one hunter in the village was able to find game that year thanks to his faithful hunting dong. "Deer Killer" and his dog were hunting one day and had spent the entire winter day chasing the deer through the forest trying to get positioned for a clean shot. Finally, he took his shot but the shot failed to kill the deer. It ran through a creek and they gave chase, but the dog got stuck in a mass of debris in the creek. Deer Killer jumped into the icy creek and freed the dog, saving it from drowning, and the two continued their chase. They finally tracked the deer down, and when the deer meat was served, the dog was invited into the teepee to eat with the people, which was unusual. The villagers took to calling the creek Hanging Dog Creek. Neat story.

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