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carolina mountain life TM

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...a wonderful read for 23 years!

Come Wander through Autumn . . .

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Autumn on Sugar Mountain

There’s no better place to enjoy an Appalachian autumn than the Village of Sugar Mountain. Named long ago for the prolific Sugar Maple Tree covering the mountainside, the four-seasons resort town provides the perfect stage for the dancing flames of yellow, red and orange that will light the fall landscape. With an average elevation of 4,000 feet above sea level, (the peak at the crest of the Sugar Mountain ski slopes stands at 5,300 feet), the annual fest of color begins late September and grows in intensity through the third week in October. Sunday drives to the lower elevations of the surrounding foothills in every direction from Sugar Mountain extend the beauty of fall for travelers. But you won’t have to stray far for a fabulous time when visiting here. Few destinations combine the spirit of the outdoors and a central location to all that is good in the North Carolina High Country quite like Sugar Mountain. Some of America’s most spectacular hiking, fishing and white water rafting is only a step away. Iconic attractions like Grandfather Mountain, Linville Gorge, The Blowing Rock, and the Blue Ridge Parkway are just around the corner from Sugar Mountain. The crisp autumn air is great for your soul, and good for your appetite. At the end of your daily adventures, you’ll find some of the world’s finest dining nearby featuring local fare to continental in casual to formal dining rooms.

With hundreds of lodging options in the village, from condos to chalets, you can dine in with family and friends by the fire, or on the deck enjoying distant autumn vistas. Don’t forget your golf clubs. The 18-hole public golf course sports perhaps its finest conditions each fall. With the par-64 showing immaculate putting surfaces, made even speedier with each morning frost, golf at Sugar Mountain is a special experience this time of year. The course is open until the end of October, and never forget your sweater. That goes for tennis, too. Sugar Mountain is home to six har-tru clay courts and everyone is welcome. But perhaps there’s no more special time on Sugar than Oktoberfest Weekend, held this year on October 10th and 11th. Stirring Oom pah band, dancing, Bavarian beer, knockwurst and bratwurst lend an unforgettable spirit to the resort each autumn. This year’s rendition, the 29th annual celebration, promises lots of fun for the family with plenty for the kids to do, not the least of which, is a ride to the top of the mountain on the resort’s high speed Summit Express chair lift. The autumn leaves should be in full color, and you can see for miles. You’ll find it all on Sugar Mountain. The only thing missing is you. To learn more about Sugar Mountain go to

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Cover Photo Autumn’s Bridge to Heaven by Mike Koenig

On the Inside . . . Page 22......The Virtual Valle Country Fair By Pan McCaslin

Mike is a Nature and Landscape Photographer living in Lenoir, North Carolina. His website is a friendly and easy to use photo platform built for Photographers by Photographers.

Page 24......Performing Arts Have Tough Act to Follow By Keith Martin

Page 28......App Theatre: A First Year Retrospective By Kevin Christopher

Page 34......On the Visual Arts Menu: Sculpture Alfresco By Lynn Rees-Jones

Page 59......Animal Control: A Cause for Four Paws By LouAnn Morehouse

Page 64......Autumn on The Creeper Trail By Frank Ruggiero

Page 69......The Legacy of the Apple Tree By Edwin Ansel

Page 71......Homeschooling Top 10 Tips By Elizabeth Baird Hardy

Page 76......Tracking the Cabooses By Steve York

Page 78......John Thomas: A Legacy Revisited By Karen Rieley

Page 83......On the Front Porch By Julie Farthing

Page 85......Blowing Rock’s Prayer Tree By Tamara S. Randolph

Page 86......Local Veterans: Soldiers to Students By Steve York

Page 100....A Bright Spot in Our Economy By Jason Reagan

Page 114....Wine Down at Watauga Lake Winery By Karen Rieley

autumn! Book Nook . . . 40

Notes from Grandfather Mountain . . . 49

Blue Ridge Explorers with Tamara S. Randolph . . . 50 Fishing with Andrew Corpening . . . 55 Birding with Curtis Smalling . . . 57

Blue Ridge Parkway Update . . . 67

Wisdom and Ways with Jim Casada . . . 74 Local Tidbits and News . . . 90

Community and Local Business News . . . 92 Finance with Katherine S. Newton . . . 105 Be Well with Samantha Steele . . . 109 Wine with Jeff Collins . . . 113

Recipes from the CML Kitchen with Meagan Goheen . . . 120 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Autumn 2020 —


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Banner Elk Winery & Villa Experience Luxury in the High Country’s Original & Most Acclaimed Winery Savor award-winning wine and pamper yourself at The Villa, a luxury B&B. Spend your days exploring the local golfing, fishing, and skiing. Or recharge with a spa treatment and a glass of wine in front of the magnificent stone fireplace. A weekend getaway, corporate retreat, family vacation, engagements, elopements, rehearsal dinners, or special’s the perfect place to relax, re-inspire, and rejuvenate – both inside and out.

A publication of Carolina Mountain Life, Inc. ©2020 by Carolina Mountain Life Magazine, Inc. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the Publisher. Babette McAuliffe, Publisher & Editor in Chief Deborah Mayhall-Bradshaw, Design Director Kathy Griewisch, Account Manager Tamara S. Randolph, Editor Keith Martin, Cultural Arts Editor Contributors: Edwin Ansel, Natalie Brunner, Rebecca Cairns, Jim Casada, Trimella Chaney, Kevin Christopher, Jeff Collins, Andrew Corpening, Jon Elliston, Julie Farthing, Nina Fischesser, Brennan Ford, Morgan Ford, Koren Gillespie, Meagan Murphy Goheen, Elizabeth Baird Hardy, Michael C. Hardy, Annie Hoskins, Lynn Rees-Jones, Tom McAuliffe, Pan McCaslin, Amy C. Millette, LouAnn Morehouse, Katherine Newton, Jason Reagan, Karen Rieley, Frank Ruggiero, Skip Sickler, Curtis Smalling, Samantha Steele, Joe Tennis, Carol Lowe Timblin, Elisabeth Wall and Steve York Share us with a friend! CML is published 4 times a year and is available by subscription for $35.00 a year (continental US) Send check or money order to: Carolina Mountain Life, PO Box 976, Linville, NC 28646

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Publisher’s Note As this issue was going to press, I lost my dad . . . one of my best friends in life. It started when I was just a toddler when he would call me pumpkin’ and toss me up in the air. I would giggle and laugh and just knew in my gut that he would always be there to catch me. He always played with me and taught me that everything from kite flying to looking for rock treasures in the sandhills of Wyoming was just good plain fun. He knew I was heartbroken when we had to move from Wyoming to Ohio, but he assured us that greater adventures would be in store for our family. He was right. New friends and new challenges greeted all of us. Both high schools in Toledo and Charlotte (our last big move) had tough curriculums but he would always drop his work to help with algebra and calculus problems, sometimes taking an hour to explain one equation to ensure that the concept was understood. He was there watching me play field hockey, and screaming while I stood guard as center for the high school basketball team. He taught me how to drive my first stick shift, a super beetle Volkswagen, and made sure to yell, “if you can’t find it – don’t grind it” while I struggled to find the clutch point. Dad ran a business and nurtured our family alongside mom, while chasing after three children, the youngest of whom was born when I was fifteen. Yet he took it all in stride and made it look easy. Dad emphasized how important it was to live by the golden rule, never had a cross word to say to anyone, and I took heed. He was full of pride when I graduated from our small high school and then years later when my brother and I both got our degrees from Appalachian State. Dad never doubted that we could accomplish whatever we wanted to do in life. No matter how many side roads we took, he was always there to say, “You are doing great . . . carry on!” He loved to share his love of life and welcomed opportunities to tell stories to his grandchildren and great-granddaughters. John Munn was a fierce lover of knowledge and always had a book or magazine at his side. A spiritual mentor, faithful ‘till his last breath, indicating to all that his spirit would live on in and through each of us. I called him my “Renaissance Dad,” because he loved music, art, math, engineering, building, and exploring . . . while always looking for new ways to help others. My father was so proud to see CML grow from a small paper publication to what it is today and loved sharing copies with friends and colleagues. My mentor and cheerleader, Dad taught me that nothing is free, to work hard each day to earn respect, and give back to others. Dad, I promise to carry the torch of your convictions and hope you look down while we continue to make you proud. Thanks for all you did for us. I will make sure to learn something new each day and endeavor to utilize these pages as a venue to share my discoveries. Mom and I share your love for these majestic mountaintops and were blessed to be here with you, Kevin, and Brian during your final days. My hope is that each of us will cherish every day while being kind to one another. Enjoy these crisp Autumn days. We hope that you find ways to explore all that is within these pages.



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Autumn Regional Happenings Avery County Woolly Worm Festival Fun Like many mass gatherings and celebrations, the annual Woolly Worm Festival will not be taking place this year in its traditional format. And while the town of Banner Elk won’t get to welcome nearly 20,000 people to this family-friendly festival, there are still many ways to participate and celebrate our favorite caterpillar, also known as the “woolly worm.” Now in its 43rd year, this world-renowned event co-hosted by the Avery County Chamber of Commerce and the Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk will definitely look a little different. Yet organizers have found creative ways to share the fun, both in-person and on the world wide web. Online virtual activities for children, hosted by festival mascot Merryweather, will be open to kids of all ages beginning in October. Faceto-face fun will also be part of the festivities, with both the Avery County Chamber of Commerce and Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce holding small-scale woolly worm races outdoors throughout the month of October. Race boards will be set up so that visitors to our area can “try their hand” at racing a Woolly Worm up a string. Every year, festival goers look forward to perusing vendors’ special offerings, so for this year the Avery Chamber has provided website links to many of those vendors. The official 2020 t-shirt, designed by Don Iverson, is also available for purchase through a link at Since the Woolly Worm Festival began, more than $1.4 million have been raised to make life better for the children of Avery County and to promote tourism and business growth within the county. Every year, profits from the festival are given back to the community. In 2020, people can still support the festival’s mission by making a donation in support of the programs that would ordinarily be funded by festival proceeds. Please continue to check the Woolly Worm Festival website (www.woollyworm. com), Avery Chamber website ( and the Woolly Worm Facebook page for further details on activities and opportunities. And for all those who were looking forward to experiencing their very first Woolly Worm Festival in downtown Banner Elk, you can step back in time and get a bird’s-eye view of a recent festival at


Oktoberfest at Sugar Mountain Take in the beautiful fall foliage, cool, comfortable mountain temperatures, and a weekend full of festival activities at the 2020 Oktoberfest at Sugar Mountain. The festival takes place on Saturday and Sunday, October 10 and 11, from 10 am until 5 pm each day. The Harbour Towne Fest Band will provide a festive Bavarian atmosphere to Sugar’s 30th annual Oktoberfest celebration. Bavarian food and drinks are available and local and regional arts and crafts vendors will also be on-site. Admission, parking and shuttle service are free! So grab your beer stein, put on your lederhosen or your dirndl and head to Sugar Mountain Resort, rain, shine or snow! And don’t forget to bring the kids because the event is for the entire family. Visit http://oktoberfest. to learn more about the event and to plan your weekend, or call 828-898-4521. A Word from the Organizers: The safety of Sugar Mountain Resort guests and employees has always been our top priority. We continue this commitment during the public health crisis by following guidance from the CDC and state public health officials to promote a clean, healthy, and fun environment.

Mitchell County Watauga County Holiday Time in Blowing Rock While the holiday festivities may look a little different this year, Blowing Rock is still one of the best, and most picturesque, destinations for celebrating Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Wanting to get an early start on your gift purchases? Blowing Rock’s popular Art in the Park finishes its season on Saturday, October 3. Some of the best local and regional artists and craftspeople showcase their handcrafted jewelry, pottery, fiber, glass, photography, painting and more. https://blowingrock. com/artinthepark. And don’t miss the Blowing Rock Halloween Festival on Saturday, October 31. This free event is open to the public and includes the following lineup: n Creepy Crafts hands-on activity at Blowing Rock Art & History Museum, 2-3 p.m. n Games and Activities for Kids in Memorial Park, 3-5:30 p.m. n Airwalks in Memorial Park, 3-8 p.m. n Hayrides through Blowing Rock, 4-8 p.m. n Monster March on Main Street - join in with your costumes! 5:30 p.m. (Line-up at American Legion) n Trick-or-Treat Downtown and Trunk-or-Treat at Blowing Rock First Baptist, 6 p.m.-until n Costume Contest, prizes awarded! 7:00 p.m. (Sign up by 6:45 p.m.) n Moonlight Scavenger Hunt at Broyhill Park (Ages 6-13, bring a Flashlight), 8 p.m. Looking for more Halloween fun? Head to Tanger Outlets on October 31 for trick-or-treating and more, 5-7 p.m. Find out more about Blowing Rock’s Halloween events on the Family Fun Halloween page at Schedule subject to change.

Annual Spruce Pine Potters Market The much-anticipated Spruce Pine Potters Market is on! Online, that is. The Spruce Pine Potters market is an annual gathering of our region’s outstanding ceramic artists, representing a wide range of aesthetic and stylistic interpretations. This year’s Market will be held online on Saturday, October 10, beginning at 10 a.m. on its website at This year’s event, in a unique virtual format, will feature more than 30 potters from Mitchell, Yancey and Avery counties (as well as specially invited guest potters) including Will Baker, Pam Brewer, Cynthia Bringle, Naomi Dalglish, Susan Feagin, Terry Gess, Michael Hunt, Lisa and Nick Joerling, MichaelKline, Suze Lindsay, Shaunna Lyons, Courtney Martin, Kent McLaughlin, Teresa Pietsch, David Ross, Michael and Ruth Rutkowsky, Ken and Galen Sedberry, Jenny Lou Sherburne, Gay Smith and Joy Tanner. While the Spruce Pine potters will miss seeing their devoted followers in person, they will offer their works for you to purchase from the comfort of your kitchen table or living room sofa. Online sales begin LIVE at 10 a.m. on October 10, although you can link to each artist’s web shop beginning October 1 at The artisans also encourage market visitors to join them in their annual support of local non-profits by purchasing raffle tickets. Works by potters Suze Lindsay, Lisa Joerling, Shane Mickey and Joy Tanner will be raffled to raise funds that will be distributed to Shepherd’s Staff and Neighbors Feeding Neighbors. Learn more at and at Email:, Phone: 828 733-5755. For updated information on other events taking place this fall in Spruce Pine, visit continued...



More Autumn Regional Happenings Yancey County

Ashe County

Celebrate with the Stars The Bare Dark Sky Observatory, named for Warren and Larissa Bare, is located at the Mayland Earth-to-Sky Park in Yancey County. Throughout the year, the community can experience the wonders of the universe, and astronomy students can engage in hands-on learning. While Public Community Viewing Nights may not be offered until later in the year, private viewings are available for up to eight people. Have something special to celebrate? Want to throw the ultimate star party for some of your closest friends? Your group will have the opportunity to view the moon, planets, and stars like never before. Astronomy experts will guide you on a tour of the dark skies by looking through the “Sam Scope,” the largest public telescope in North Carolina. Although the night temperatures may be getting colder, the autumn and winter night sky is rich with incredible celestial objects not otherwise visible during the summer months. Now is a great time to visit the Observatory for a star-studded night! For more information on this unique opportunity, email For additional information on the observatory, along with updates on the return of Public Community Viewing Nights, visit

Lost Province at the Lansing School Prior to the 20th century, the counties of the northwest corner of North Carolina (Ashe, Alleghany and Watauga) were separated from major economic centers of the state by their mountainous terrain. Known as the Lost Provinces, this area was relatively inaccessible. By the early 20th century, roads had been carved through the mountains and the N&W Railroad opened the area for transport; by mid-century, Lansing, NC had become a thriving part of Ashe County. The stately Lansing School was constructed in 1938 under the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and is recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. It was the center of education in Ashe County from 1939 until the early 1990s, but has since had limited use. Lost Province Center for Cultural Arts (LPCCA) was founded in 2018 by two community leaders, Beth Rembert and Carole Ford, who believed that the traditions and arts of Southern Appalachia were at risk of being lost forever due to generational lifestyle changes. They saw an opportunity to repurpose the vacant Lansing schoolhouse to create a center to preserve “all-things Appalachian.” Their long-range vision includes renovating the Lansing School buildings to create a learning center that promotes Appalachian arts, crafts and skills. The preservation of the historic property will provide a spacious venue for classes, special events, sustainable multi-use housing, a signature farm-to-table restaurant and a showcase gallery. The purchased buildings—a schoolhouse building made with traditional construction clad with local native stone, and a two-story brick classroom building—sit on the 4.475 acre original school site, along with a favorite Lansing destination, Molley Chomper Cidery. On Saturday, September 19, from 2-6 p.m. the public has the opportunity to take a tour of Lansing School. Each tour takes approximately 30 minutes, and the tours will adhere to social distancing guidelines (masks required). To learn more about the Lansing School, the Lost Province Center for Cultural Arts, and future tours and events, visit After touring Lansing, head over to downtown West Jefferson and visit the town’s unique shops, restaurants and galleries. Ashe County also offers a number of outdoor opportunities during the fall months, including barn quilt tours, corn mazes and choose and cut tree farms. Visit for a guide to some of the area’s most popular activities and destinations.


Throughout the High Country

Add to Your Autumn Calendar

The Season for Choose and Cut Christmas Trees The first Christmas tree marketplace was created in 1851 in New York City; however, it took NC until 1955 to begin growing Fraser Fir seedlings specifically for harvesting. In 1959, five Avery County tree growers created the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association (NCCTA) to develop and extend interest in the production and marketing of quality Christmas trees in North Carolina. Their mission has been hugely successful, and today the High Country of NC is one of the most popular destinations in the country for Christmas tree shoppers. Beginning in November of every year, countless families make the traditional pilgrimage to our mountains to pick their favorite Christmas trees at one of our many Choose and Cut Farms. There are more locations than ever in our surrounding counties, which include Avery, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Burke, Mitchell, Yancey and beyond. Choose and Cut farms generally open the weekend before Thanksgiving and remain open through the week before Christmas. Most tree farmers make it an event for visiting families, treating their patrons to hot cider and hot chocolate, hayrides, and other Christmas-themed activities. In addition to trees, handmade wreaths and garland are popular purchases, and some farms offer locally made arts and crafts. You can find a comprehensive list of Choose and Cut farms throughout our mountain region at the NCCTA’s website, Visit their ‘Teacher Resources and Kids’ Corner’ page to download fun Christmas tree-themed activities, including craft projects and worksheets.

Many other seasonal events will likely take place here in the High Country throughout the autumn season. Some of the best resources for checking event listings, updates and changes are our local Chambers of Commerce and Tourism Development Associations. Be sure to check out the following websites before planning your visit to take advantage of all that our region has to offer. n Ashe County Chamber of Commerce: n Avery Chamber of Commerce: n Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce: n Beech Mountain TDA: n Boone Chamber of Commerce: n Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce: n Burnsville-Yancey Chamber of Commerce: n Caldwell County Chamber of Commerce: n Morganton Chamber of Commerce: n Johnson County, TN, Chamber of Commerce: n Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce: n Sugar Mountain TDA: n Wilkes County Chamber of Commerce:



Valle Country Fair Mission Remains Unchanged By Pan McCaslin

2020 VIRTUAL Valle Country Fair

October 12-17, 2020

Donate to the Valle Country Fair Grant Fund and visit our Virtual Exhibitor Market at FOLLOW US on Instagram and Facebook


~ All Proceeds Go To Local Charity ~ Sponsored by The Church of the Holy Cross and the Valle Crucis Conference Center

“Our main focus is raising money. If you love the Valle Country Fair and support the work of the Fair, we encourage you to visit our site any time mid-September through October 17 and give… Give early and often… and please give with your heart.”



or 41 years, the mission of the Valle Country Fair has remained unchanged: To raise funds for community outreach in Watauga and Avery counties. Holy Cross Episcopal Church, Valle Crucis, held the first Valle Country Fair in 1978. Since that time, the third Saturday of October has seen the fields across from the church and the Valle Crucis Conference Center transformed into an arts and crafts fair extravaganza drawing over ten thousand visitors each year. And honoring its mission, the Valle Country Fair, sponsored by the Episcopal Church of the Holy Cross and the Valle Crucis Conference Center, has returned over one million dollars in the form of grants to non-profits and assistance to individuals and families with emergency needs. “The Mission of the Valle Country Fair has remained unchanged for over four decades. In 2020, however, we must change how we fulfill that mission,” shared Julie Gates, 2020 Valle Country Fair co-chair with her husband Bob. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will host a virtual Valle Country Fair. We will miss greeting people face to face, but the safety of visitors, exhibitors, and volunteers is most important.” Since early September, an updated Fair website at www.2020vallecountryfair. org has been a hive of activity. “Our main focus is raising money. If you love the Valle Country Fair and support the work of the Fair, we encourage you to visit our site any time mid-September through October 17 and give… Give early and often… and please give with your heart,” said Bob Gates with a smile. Going virtual brings a few benefits. Using the revised 2020 Fair website along with social media channels like Facebook and Instagram allow an infinite number of people to donate money, shop with Fair artisans, and purchase Fair t-shirts and hats via a website marketplace. The website will make it easy to donate using a credit card or PayPal. Visitors to the site can buy Valle Country Fair goodies including commemorative 2020 t-shirts, hats, and the official 2020 Valle Country Fair poster. The Valle Fair poster, designed by Shane Bondi, includes a QR code, which will take the user directly to the website.

“Shane’s poster artwork includes a pumpkin wearing a protective mask inscribed with the year 2020. This masked pumpkin will also appear on t-shirts and hats for sale and are sure to become a collector’s item,” said Julie. Visitors to the Fair website can also purchase the Fair’s famous homemade apple butter, jams and jellies, and locally made cakes. The website marketplace is live as of early September and stays live until Saturday, October 17. Facebook, Instagram, and the fair’s website will highlight many of the nonprofit organizations in the High Country that have received Valle Country Fair grants and put that money to good use over the past forty years. “Organizations like Hunger and Health Coalition, Mountain Alliance, and Hospitality House are examples of the work of the fair come to life,” said Bob. “We will be inviting the public to donate to the mission of the Fair and to continue the history of supporting ministries that help the underserved.” Each year, the funds granted come from the previous year’s fair. “In 2019, net proceeds were roughly $64,000, which will be used to fulfill grants and support emergency need in Watauga and Avery counties in 2020,” said Julie. The following organizations received Valle Country Fair grants this year: Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture, The Children’s Council, High Country Caregivers, Hunger and Health Coalition, Life Village, Mountain Alliance and Spirit Ride Therapeutic Riding Center. The remaining proceeds are used by the Mission and Outreach Commission of Church of the Holy Cross to assist individuals and families in need throughout the year. The demand on non-profit organizations and the need for funds to assist those individuals and families in emergency situations will continue to increase. Bob concluded, “Now is the time to support those in need in the High Country. The Valle Country Fair has been raising money for over 40 years to do just that. Although this year’s event will be different, our mandate is unchanged. If you have great memories of attending the Valle Country Fair, and you support the work of the Fair, we thank you for your support and ask you to give generously.”




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A Tough Act to Follow:

Regional Companies Get Creative with New Socially-Distanced Art Forms By Keith Martin


n our summer issue we reported that “The Show Must Go On(line)” and detailed how our beloved local companies and performers here in the High Country and throughout the region were stepping up and finding ways to keep connecting with audiences as they adapted in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Now that period of trial-and-error is behind us, and many performing arts organizations have bounced back by getting creative with new, socially-distanced art forms... both online and in person. Perhaps Allison West, Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Appalachian, said it best. “We have to think about new ways of delivering the performing arts, and right now that’s through the power of technology—offering original and curated content that audiences can enjoy from the comfort of their own homes or classrooms.” Here are a few events and seasons that have been announced from now through early December, listed alphabetically below by producing company. PLEASE NOTE that all of the performances, dates, and times are subject to change; readers are strongly encouraged to check their websites for the most current information.

Faced with the uncertainty of holding in-person performances during the fall, the Appalachian State University Department Of Theatre And Dance has created its own virtual stage and a slate of seven unique productions. On September 18, October 2, 16, and 23, The COVID Chronicles: Monologues Created During the Pandemic is a series of fresh, new, original works created and performed by Appalachian students. Inspired by the popular 24 Hour Plays productions in New York City, these unique and contemporary monologues share student responses to COVID-19 in dramatic fashion, creating acts of theatre that are vital, timely,


moving, and irreverent, documenting an unprecedented moment in history. Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush are excerpts taken from Appalachian’s 202021 Common Reading Program selection this year, the 2019 Pulitzer Prize finalist in general nonfiction. In collaboration with The Climate Stories Collaborative, the department will interpret the stories Rush recorded of people from every corner of the country, all of whom are experiencing the dire consequences of rising sea levels and rising temperatures due to climate change. October 3 and 4, 2020 The American Dance Festival’s Movies by Movers international film festival dedicated to the celebration of the conversation between the moving body and the camera returns online and free, streamed on a continuous basis October 12 – 18, featuring more than 80 short and featurelength films from around the world. For information and access to the films, go to From October 19 through October 25, join in a live virtual event. Re/Imagining Performance: A Digital Collective is a First Year Showcase that features theatre and dance students collaborating to examine, discuss, and create around the questions: What is performance? How do space and performance work together? What is the relationship between our bodies and the spaces our bodies are in? How do we humanize a digital space? Dracula: A Radio Play, adapted and directed by Derek Gagnier, relives the thrills of 1930s radio dramas. Based from the 1897 Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker, this new adaptation is recorded in the style of the “Mercury Theatre On The Air” shows from that era. The production will be broadcast on Appalachian’s student-run WASU radio station during Halloween weekend, October 30 - November 1.

ATHC - Laura Linney / Photo by Nino Munzo

Dancing With Ourselves, November 5 – 7, is a collaborative dance project made and performed on Zoom that plans to use the virtual background feature for dancers to appear to be in close proximity, sharing the screen, and dancing with others. From November 19 – 22, Waiting for the Host: An Online Play by Marc Palmieri is set in April 2020 and the pandemic is raging through New York City. A church pastor still wants to produce his church’s annual Easter passion play… online. He gathers a cast of actors on Zoom to rehearse. As they grapple with the various challenges of videoconferencing, isolation, and potential contagion, they also rediscover the enduring power of human connection. Additional information about all seven of the above productions may be found at On Thursday, September 17, the Appalachian Theatre Of The High Country (ATHC) will hold a unique FUN-draiser, Lights, Camera… Auction! with four-time Emmy Award-winning actress Laura Linney serving as honorary chair for the event. Linney has been nominated three times for an Academy Award, four times for a Tony Award, six times for a SAG award, once for a BAFTA Award, and five times for a Golden Globe. She has won one Screen Actors Guild Award, one National Board of Review Award, two Golden Globes and four Emmy Awards. She is the daughter of the late playwright Romulus Linney, whose archives reside in the Belk Library at Appalachian. For more info, go to In Abingdon, Virginia, the Barter Theatre acquired the abandoned Moonlite Drive-In theater and has lovingly converted it into a live, outdoor performance venue, using non-union actors from the Barter Players touring company. As producing director Katy Brown told writer Karen Sabo in American Theatre, “Patrons

Eugene Wolf

MBM 2020 Between the Lines by Jen Guy Metcalf Barter Theatre - Wizard of Oz at Moonlight Drive-In

drive in to a touchless check-in, go directly to their assigned double-wide parking spot on the clean grounds, tune into the stage from their car stereo, and watch the actors on the 15-foot-high stage, with close-ups simulcast to the Moonlite’s big screen directly above the stage.” Following successful experiments with Beauty and the Beast and Mary Poppins, “The State Theatre of Virginia” has just announced a fall season consisting of Barter favorite Eugene Wolf in How Can I Keep from Singing? Wolf ’s unique mixture of song, story and characters brings to life friends and extended family from his 23 years in Abingdon, including pieces by Jo Carson, songs and tales of A.P. Carter, and more from October 1 through 3. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a musical adapted from Washington Irving’s novel by Barter playwright-in-residence Catherine Bush and Dax Dupuy. From October 15 through November 11, the Moonlight Drive-In becomes Sleepy Hollow, “a village haunted by the legendary Headless Horseman, has a new schoolmaster, the somewhat hapless and extremely superstitious Ichabod Crane. When Ichabod tries to win the hand of the beautiful Katrina Van Tassel, he makes an enemy of her former suitor, the brawny Brom Bones. Brom vows revenge and, one dark and spooky night, Ichabod finds himself in for the ride of his life!” From October 8 to November 8, a second production of Dracula, also adapted from Bram Stoker’s novel, “recounts the vampire as he flees Transylvania for London, where the teeming population provides ample fodder for his blood-thirst. Only Abraham Van Helsing, the world famous metaphysician, has a hope of stopping the Prince of the Undead. Can Van Helsing save the day? Or will his heroic efforts merely render him the next victim to Dracula’s deadly bite? A fresh new take on a timeless horror classic.” Please visit

In mid-November, In/Visible Theatre intends to produce a retrospective of its annual Boone Solo Festival (BOLO Fest) consisting of revivals of popular shows from seasons past, plus a couple of new works from emerging playwrights. There is a provision for going online if need be, according to founders Derek Davidson and Karen Sabo. They are encouraging audience members to visit their website for more specific show information. www. Lees-McRae College’s Performing Arts Department is producing four events this fall on their picturesque campus in Banner Elk. The first is a group of short works that are being presented on an outdoor stage as a springboard to the devised piece they will be creating and producing as their last production. The second production is an enhanced readers theatre piece called Changemakers by Jennifer Clements which will be streamed online starting October 9 and available through October 16. One Flea Spare, by Naomi Wallace, is an award-winning play set in plague-ravaged 17th Century London; this will be performed outside and is also an enhanced readers theatre piece. On November 7, the department will debut a devised theatre piece entitled The Dumpster Fire Variety Hour. It will be streamed online with information available at or via Instagram @lmctheatre. Schaefer Center Presents 2020-21 Season will be delivered virtually, OctoberApril. In light of the uncertainties of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the vast knowledge gleaned from the summer’s online programming, the staff at Appalachian’s Office of Arts and Cultural Programs felt that continuing virtual-only programming offers the safest alternative while still continuing to meet the ongoing needs of students, faculty, the community, and a larger digital audience.

At press time, series organizers were in the midst of assembling the season and confirming artist engagements. What is known is that the fall season of Schaefer Center Presents will welcome two esteemed theatre companies in the North Carolina Black Repertory Company and the American Shakespeare Center, with additional programming that includes music, dance, film, theatre, and worldrenowned speakers. Plans are underway to present approximately 10 shows during the fall and spring semesters, all of which will either be live-streamed from the stage of the Schaefer Center, or presented as a live remote or pre-recorded event. Several of these artists are available to provide workshops and/or master classes for university students. For details, please visit The HUNGER AND HEALTH COALITION has become known for being a pillar in our community and adaptively caring for our neighbors in need for the past 38 years. This year, they are leaning on their ability to creatively pivot by offering safe and fun options to get outside and celebrate Halloween this fall. For a spooky family friendly time, join for the HHC Halloween Drive-In Movies on the grounds of the Valle Crucis Conference Center. Bring your family or a date and enjoy a movie in the safety of your vehicle. They’ll be featuring two cult classics: Beetlejuice on Friday, October 23 and Hocus Pocus on Friday, October 30, both at 7pm. Rumor has it that the Appalachian Musical Theatre Ensemble will again be involved with HHC in this event. All funds raised benefit the Hunger and Health Coalition. For updates and more information, please visit CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Autumn 2020 —


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n 1988 J. Brad Watson was trying to convince me to include him in the first Technical Theatre Class at Watauga High School. I did and he was right! Many local folks witnessed his considerable talents onstage and behind the scenes as he became a T-Bird in Grease, designed sets for Pygmalion, and progressed with a theatre scholarship to Lees-McRae. There under the excellent tutelage of the Performing Arts Faculty he continued to enjoy both technical and dramatic work. Performing as Huck in Big River and Benjamin in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, his outstanding talent was obvious. With a degree in Acting and Musical Theatre, Brad moved to the vibrant film community in Wilmington, North Carolina to work in the “business.” He says during the Dawson’s Creek era he discovered that his training from Dr. Charlotte D’Armond (a Lees-McRae professor who introduced him to the world of costuming) was more marketable than his AllAmerican freckled face look. That same integrity and work ethic instilled in him by his parents, Johnny and Shirley Watson, and noted by many of his teachers and professors, along with his creative talent soon put him into the orbit of Spielberg, Scorcese, and Little Women costume designer, Jacqueline Durran. An opportunity to work with awardwinning costume designer Donna Zakowska on the HBO miniseries John Adams prompted Watson’s move to Richmond, Virginia. He credits this move with being the catalyst for his professional and personal success. While working on this series, he discovered his love for period dramas; he was recognized for his work with a certificate from the Motion Picture Academy; and he met his partner who was an extra on the set. Ms. Zakowska took home the Oscar for her designs for the series. “You’re only as good as your last job,” Brad tells me when he acknowledges that he has not sent out a resume in years. He illustrates this point with the story of his work in Washington, DC on the film, Wonder Woman. There he worked with Oscar-winning Costume Designer Lindy Hemming. When the project wrapped, Ms. Hemming’s former assistant Jacqueline Durran was beginning work on Little Women. Ms. Hemming recommended him

Dressing the Part:

J. Brad Watson By Trimella Chaney

“If you let me in this class, I promise you won’t be sorry.” That was my introduction to J. Brad Watson, Men’s Fitter for the current Greta Gerwig film, Little Women.

and soon he was in Boston working with the most Oscar-winning designer, Jacqueline Durran. He has also enjoyed working with another well-known Oscar-winning costume designer, Sandy Powell. Just what is his job? Technically he is a Men’s Fitter. He goes into an empty space and sets up the shop, unpacks and catalogues costumes, organizes and arranges stock as well as fitting actors. Each actor, even in crowd scenes, is costumed from head to toe. No stapling of hems. No shortcuts. Each costume is altered correctly, sewn, and ironed. “I’ve done this so much I don’t even need a tape measure now!” I asked Brad what the biggest fear in his profession was. With his typical humor, he quips, “A 60 inch waist!” Seriously, his fear is that the use of computer generated images (CGI) will greatly minimize his work. Three dimensional scans of actors can be manipulated to look as though there are crowds of people. This technique is called tiling and is a serious threat to the artistry of the costumer. In Little Women Brad worked with 450-500 extras during three weeks of fittings. Each one is completely costumed accurately whether on a New York City street or in a Parisian garden. The moment all actors are in place, the horses are on set, and everything is working is his greatest joy “because we have created the atmosphere for the actors to work.” There were many costume changes in Little Women and some pieces of costumes were used repeatedly just as sisters would share clothes. The director was very intentional about the use of hats, which were a big accessory in that period but are a

problem for filming. Brad’s favorite era to costume is the Civil War period. This preference was learned while working on Spielberg’s Lincoln, which was filmed on location in Richmond, Virginia where Brad currently resides. His work on location is “like packing an overnight bag for 400 people.” He likens it to a traveling circus! But the importance of the crowd scenes cannot be minimized because they bring life to the scenes. Although it is not his style to be a name-dropper, when pressed, Brad will name one of his favorite actors to costume: Wilkesboro’s Zach Galifanakis. When Galifanakis met Brad and found out that he had been a clogger in the High Country, they immediately bonded. “He couldn’t have been cooler,” Brad chuckles. Another actor Brad holds in high regard is the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman. He worked with Hoffman on the HBO series, Empire Falls, and states that, “He made me appreciate the art of film acting. He was brilliant, intense, and amazing to watch.” Asked if he has further ambitions, he quickly states, “I love what I do. I love the organizing and arranging and keeping everything neat and clean.” And as a good Southern boy who has achieved professional success, he says, “I get that from my Mama.” Ms. Trimella Chaney is a veteran theatre arts teacher and founder of the Theatre Arts Department at Watauga High School.  She currently teaches at Appalachian State University in the Department of Theatre and Dance, and is a local community theatre director.



The Appalachian Theatre: A Year in Review

theatre! By Kevin Christopher

SRO Audience at Drew and Ellie Holcomb Concert, Feb. 22, 2020


t a recent board meeting of the Appalachian Theatre, trustees received a “state of the theatre” address from outgoing chair John Cooper and executive director Laura Kratt. It was an occasion to pause and reflect over the momentous events of the prior fiscal year, which began with an intensive swirl of activity to complete the eight-year, ten million dollar renovation and construction effort that restored the venerable landmark on King Street to its former glory, and ended in a complete shutdown due to the pandemic.

The First Five Months The grand re-opening took place on October 14, 2019 with a standing-roomonly concert, the first in a month-long series of events designed to welcome community stakeholders whose combined efforts saved the High County’s Art Deco architectural jewel. Almost 3,500 people joined in the festivities, the first of which was an opening performance with John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and the String Wizards with their “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” concert. The concert paid homage to many of the legendary performers that once graced the Appalachian stage in its early years ranging from Bill Monroe to Flatt & Scruggs to Doc Watson. Local talent, Liam Purcell of Cane Mill Road, joined in to make the evening a multi-


generation affair. It was the perfect night to announce the dedication of the Doc Watson Stage for Americana Music at the App Theatre. Subsequent events featured a wide range of local organizations that played a supportive role in the revival of this historic theatre. Digital Watauga, The Jones House, and the Watauga Public and Appalachian Regional Library each partnered with the theatre to host gallery exhibits, talks, and films that celebrated the history of the Appalachian Theatre and our region. The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a Business After Hours to welcome 200+ members of the Boone and Blowing Rock business communities. The Watauga Community Foundation hosted its annual awards dinner in the new community room and the App State Humanities Council screened a film that sparked a lively discussion about the role of Native Americans in WWII. On November 14, the exact 81st anniversary of the theatre’s initial opening in 1938, Boone residents took center stage to share their personal stories during the premiere of Phil Arnold’s documentary “Hollywood in the High Country: A History of the Appalachian Theatre.” The vision for the new Appalachian Theatre has always embraced program diversity and community engagement as a top priority, and the opening events

bore out that commitment. Audiences of all ages and interests delighted in an artistic sampling which included concerts, comedy, films, and lectures ranging from the big band jazz of the US Army Jazz Ambassadors, family films like Hocus Pocus, and Carolina comedian, Jeanne Robertson. The grand opening month culminated in a sold-out show by Sam Bush, who was so impressed with the Appalachian and Boone audiences he exclaimed “I love these old theatres” from the stage. Kratt said that during its first five months of operation, the theatre hosted 8,217 visitors and 26 events in support of its mission to also provide economic stimulus to Boone and the High Country region. More than half of these 26 events benefited local nonprofits and businesses that included the Watauga Community Foundation, the Heart Church, Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, Allen Wealth Management, Piedmont Federal Bank, and Appalachian State University. Special December holiday shows by the Carolina Snowbelles and Mountain Home Music helped organizers double their normal attendance, and Watauga High School’s Pioneer Playmakers grabbed awards at the Southeastern Theatre Conference in Louisville, KY thanks to the funds they raised at their February fundraiser at the theatre.

Marquee during Army Jazz, October 17, 2019

According to Kratt, in the first five months of operation, the 8,000+ people attending shows at the Appalachian Theatre generated almost $400,000 in new economic activity in Boone and supported the creation of four full time and 20 part time jobs in the local workforce. Looking Forward In March, the Appalachian Theatre was well on track to break-even in its very first year of operation, until the COVID-19 global pandemic shuttered public assembly spaces across the globe. Their last event was the sold out Wailin’ Jennys concert on March 7, 2020. While the theatre has been closed to the general public, their staff has been working nonstop behind the scenes to complete construction punch-lists and shake down various technical systems. As with any new start-up, the App Theatre had a long laundry list of new systems to implement. Kratt said, “We’re taking advantage of the shutdown to tackle that list so we can once again invite our community to gather together, safely. In the meantime, we continue to pursue avenues for engaging and serving our community.” For example, a recent virtual fundraiser held on the Appalachian Theatre stage helped raise $13,000 in support of local small businesses and the Re-Energize Watauga loan program. The King Street

Marquee after the sold out Wailin’ Jennys concert on March 7, 2020.

windows of the theatre proudly featured Watauga High School’s performing arts seniors and the marquee congratulated the Class of 2020. Staff and Trustees raised funds to feed families at Hospitality House for a night. “We know that our community is strong and resilient,” Kratt said, “and our doors will open wide once it is deemed that we can all gather safely. Our staff is working to reschedule events wherever possible.” Outgoing board chair Cooper has led fundraising efforts for the Appalachian, a perpetual activity since a group of enthusiastic and optimistic supporters first met in December of 2011 to imagine what the theatre could be and could do for the community. “While we are strong,” Cooper told trustees, “we are also vulnerable. Fortunately, many folks, including several trustees, have stepped up to help make up some of the ground we have lost. While we have funds to continue to operate, we will need to replace the lost pledges so that we can reopen when it is safe to do so, and continue to move forward being debt free.” Cooper concluded his “state of the theatre” remarks by saying, “The grand reopening in October 2019 provided a wonderful gift to local residents in our community, to visitors in the High Country, and area businesses. It meant that folks

in our region had more opportunities for live performing arts and a surge in business activity in the downtown. In the five months the theatre was open, it had a strong and favorable impact on the community. The re-opening of the theatre after the pandemic will once again provide a substantial return on investment that benefits the entire region. “It’s only an intermission,” said Cooper. We’ll be back bigger, better, and bolder than ever before with your continued support.” Learn more about the Appalachian Theatre and stay up-to-date on future programming by visiting

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Introducing the High Country’s Newest Arts Event: By Kevin Christopher

Lonnie Holley in his studio from THUMBS UP FOR THE UNIVERSE

BOONE DOCS Documentary Film Series B

OONE DOCS at the Appalachian Theatre is a newly launched year-round film series featuring independent and documentary films that spark community conversation by presenting an independent lens to view our world. Showcasing emerging and award-winning filmmakers and distinct perspectives from across the globe, BOONE DOCS celebrates the creative power of independent film beginning September 20, 2020. Executive Director Laura Kratt said BOONE DOCS is a collaborative initiative to bring together film fans and community partners to create a High Country home for independent film. “Given our community’s love for good storytelling and the quality and creative depth of the Southern Circuit Filmmakers, partnering with South Arts was a natural first step for BOONE DOCS. We are thrilled to have been selected to be one of their newest host sites and be a part of this distinguished regional film network.” South Arts in Georgia selected the Appalachian Theatre in Boone as one of only 17 Screening Partner organizations


in the southeastern US selected for the 2020-21 Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers. The film selection process is equally rigorous with over 200 filmmakers competing to be one of the six films presented on each local tour. A dedicated 12-person local film team was an invaluable part of the process volunteering countless hours in film review to help bring compelling and engaging films to Boone. From September 2020 through April 2021, BOONE DOCS will present six Southern Circuit films hosted by the filmmakers, giving audiences a rare look behind the scenes with post-screening Q&As about film subjects and the filmmaking process, plus activities such as workshops and class visits. To prioritize the wellbeing and flexibility of Screening Partners, filmmakers, and audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, the inaugural 2020-21 Southern Circuit season will feature a hybrid of in-person and online screenings. The first event of the series features a free, online screening of “Coded Bias.”

Hailed by the Denver Post as “The best of Sundance,” the documentary explores the MIT researcher Joy Buolamwini’s startling discovery that facial recognition software has an inherent bias—it does not see dark-skinned faces and women accurately—and shares her journey to push for the first-ever legislation against bias in algorithms that impact us all. The screening is hosted by director Shalini Kantayya. This first BOONE DOCS event is offered free of charge to High Country audiences through the generous support of the theatre’s board of trustees. The link to view the live-streaming film will be sent to those signed up for the Appalachian Theatre’s e-list on the day of the event. To subscribe to the e-list and view this event at no cost, visit the theatre’s website at Another film that will be part of the BOONE DOCS series is “Big Fur,” a wild love story and fun portrait of an eccentric artist-hero, World Champion taxidermist Ken Walker who builds a life-sized Bigfoot, based on frames from an iconic 1967 movie. He is looking for love... and proof

Bartender Andrea Velasquez in WAGING CHANGE BIG FUR

Racing Falcon still from OVERLAND

at the Appalachian Theatre that Bigfoot is real. Can he find both while building a life-sized version of the legendary creature? This film will be screened at 3 p.m. on Sunday, October 4. “Waging Change,” directed by Peabody Award-winner Abby Ginzberg, delves into the challenges faced by restaurant workers trying to feed themselves and their families off the federal tipped minimum wage of $2.13 an hour, and the #MeToo movement’s efforts to end sexual harassment. This documentary will be streamed online at 3 p.m. on Sunday, November 8. At 3 p.m. on Sunday, February 21, 2021, “Thumbs Up for Mother Universe,” a film by George King, will be screened here in Boone. Lonnie Holley has been described as a poet, a prophet, a hustler, a visionary artist, and a shaman. The 67-year old Holley has overcome grinding poverty, Jim Crow, and a nightmare childhood to emerge as a creative powerhouse with an agenda to save the planet, “Thumbs Up for Mother Universe!” “Overland: Wake the Ancient Wild,” by Revere La Noue and Elisabeth Haviland James is a visually stunning, stir-

ring, and cinematic journey shot across four continents that twists and turns like nature itself, bridging ancient to modern, east to west, and earth to sky. As each of these stories unfolds; eagles, falcons, and hawks play a critical role in helping their human partners keep the wild from fading out of sight and out of mind. This documentary will be screened at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 14, 2021. The inaugural BOONE DOCS series concludes at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 18, 2021, with “Cured,” Patrick Sammon and Bennett Singer’s moving work that sheds a light on the historic and political history of the LGBTQ movement through the lens of the medical field. It takes audiences behind the scenes of this riveting narrative to chronicle the strategy that led to a crucial victory in the movement for LGBT rights and the first major step on the path to first-class citizenship for LGBT Americans. For more information about these films, go to



A Fresh Look at Art:

Sculpture Alfresco

Hanna Jubran Rudy Rudisill

By Lynn Rees-Jones

Tom Scicluna

David Boyajian

Wayne Vaughn

Photography by Marie Freeman Around the world, those who thrive on spending time with art have been limited in access to museums and art experiences. As a result, there has been a surge in interest in outdoor sculpture as a way to enjoy art without the constraints of being indoors during a time of social distancing and health concerns. Those living in or visiting the Boone area are in luck because the campus of Appalachian State University is a haven of outdoor sculpture that is accessible to all.



culpture has long been an element of the university and the current collection of more than 50 works is diverse in materials, size, design and style. While the majority of sculptures are permanent, a fresh contingent of nine sculptures were installed across campus in July as part of the Rosen Outdoor Sculpture Competition, a national, juried competition presented by the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts and An Appalachian Summer Festival. For the last 34 years, the exhibition has showcased contemporary sculpture from across the United States. Each year, an artist is invited to jury the competition and this year juror Rachel Stevens selected 10 sculpture finalists. Stevens’ passion for art serves as a flying carpet of sorts, inspiring travels to many countries around the world. She reflected on the impact of sculpture and the Rosen Sculpture Exhibition during the challenges of COVID-19 with the simple but universal statement, “With art there is hope.”

The sculptures in the current Rosen exhibition range from biomorphic to whimsical to intriguing and the artists have expressed their three-dimensional concepts with expert craftmanship utilizing a variety of materials, including cast resin, bronze and concrete, as well as steel with a variety of finishes. Among the sculptures in this year’s competition is Glenn Zweygardt’s Remembering Giotto, which resembles an abstract figure of playful totemic quality with a variety of surfaces, forms, and bright colors. Another of the sculptures, Light Pulse by Hanna Jubran, is a collection of vertical elements that feature distinct geometric forms in bright primary colors. These two sculptors share in that they are both very playful and whimsical. Phoenix by Rudy Rudisill, resembles an abstract interpretation of a towering rooster and has a really fun folk art sensibility. Teeter Tower by Matt Amante, consists of five circular, sky blue circular forms. Some have a little nub protruding

Glenn Zwegardt

Matt Amante

Charles Pilkey

from their centers. Stevens shared that she feels this piece “boils down to a kind of visual music”. Three of the sculptures are made primarily of rusted, patinated or oxidized steel and present intriguing form, patina and detail. Wayne Vaughn’s The Dance is made from painted and patinated steel and is comprised of a large orb covered with protruding spheres and spikes and is rich in texture and form. Though it was created prior to COVID-19, its structure is reminiscent of the now ubiquitous virus. Steampunk Babylon by Charles Pilkey is a formative cylindrical telescoping form that reaches skyward and is punctuated by a variety of intriguing figures and shapes. David Boyajian’s Unfurling Rising is welded from oxidized steel and is a bundled assemblage of graceful curvilinear stems which come together to suggest a figurative form. In contrast to the other sculptures, Tom Scicluna’s Scheme speaks to a minimalist tradition in sculpture. It is made of concrete parking bumpers and rebar

and is relatable in that it is created from recognizable found objects. The sculptures of the 34th Rosen Exhibition will remain on campus until May 2022 and the winner from last year, A Memorial by Bob Doster, is on view on the grounds of the Turchin Center along with previous winner Tetness, the Polar Bear by James Futral. The sculptures can also be viewed digitally. Access to a virtual tour, digital map and learning guide are available at Printed maps are available at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts and at the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts during open hours, which will fluctuate in the foreseeable future. The annual exhibition and competition program is made possible by the generous support of the Martin and Doris Rosen Giving Fund/Debbie Rosen Davidson and David Rosen, and the Charles and Nancy Rosenblatt Foundation. The Turchin Center for the Visual Arts is the largest facility of its kind in

the region and fulfills Appalachian State University’s long-held mission of providing a home for world-class visual arts programming. The TCVA is located at 423 West King St., in Boone. Regular hours are 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Tuesday Thursday and Saturday, and Noon - 8 p.m., Friday. Check the website for schedule changes due to Covid-19. Admission is always free. Parking on campus is free after 5 p.m. and on weekends. For more information or to schedule a tour, call 828-262-3017 or visit You can also follow the Turchin Center on Facebook and Instagram @ TurchinCenter.




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“To be an artist is to believe in life.” – Henry Moore


y friend Rusty Gray has expressive hazel eyes that practically invite you to engage with her. Joined with that friendly gaze is a frequent smile usually followed by some example of her droll sense of humor. Rusty likes to talk to people; you get the impression she’s actually interested in what you have to say. When you get to know her better, and find out she’s an accomplished sculptor, it just seems right. Rusty is a person who can see objects in their fullness. How perfect it is that she uses her hands to build the things she sees around her, and animates them with her skill. As a child she was “one of those” who loved crayon and chalk for drawing and coloring. She says she was “always the one in the class that the teacher asked to draw things on the board.” She was raised in a household where her latent artistic skills were respected and encouraged. Growing up in Charlotte, NC, her parents, Nancy and Alex Josephs, saw to it that Rusty could attend Saturday art classes and summer programs. As she progressed through school and found her first mentor in her high school art teacher, Dean Barber, the Josephs welcomed him into their home, making art appreciation a family pursuit. The Josephs sent her to Sophie Newcomb College, in New Orleans, where she studied fine art and sculpture. She says she “loves good paintings” above all the art forms, but she sees things in three dimensions, and sculpting best fits her abilities to express that vision. After college, Rusty was committed to making a living in an art profession and

did the less glamorous jobs, working as a middle school art teacher and a framer for several years. Eventually, she came to a creative field where she excelled and that also paid a living wage. But even after leaving an art career and joining BellSouth as a trainer in marketing, Rusty continued to make sculpture. Her pursuit of art became an avocation, rather than the work that paid the bills. Nevertheless, Rusty “retired early, and as soon as possible,” to get back to doing what she loved most. And on the very day she retired, she entered into a long and happy relationship with noted sculptor, Cantey Kellerher Tanner, who became her teacher and mentor for many years. Rusty makes sculptures in clay, and casts select pieces in bronze. She never was interested in creating monumental works, preferring to focus on the fine details and textures of a closely observed subject. She says, “You have to know your subject in total.” She has made a number of busts for people, but says she’s “not a portraitist,” and it’s “more fun to do animals.” A devoted animal lover from childhood (she had a collection of ceramic cows as a kid), she is particularly fond of birds, as her bronze and clay chicken sculptures amply reveal. Rusty’s newest addition is a bear cub, a wee inquisitive one standing only four and a half inches tall. It and the fine mama bear created a couple of years back are perfectly aligned to make a spirited pair. Sculpture small enough to hold, but oh so lifelike. It helps to take yourself seriously as an artist when your medium requires a lot of Continued on next page

A 3-D Life:

The Sculpture of Rustin Josephs Gray

life! By LouAnn Morehouse



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time, and a hefty investment, to actually come into being. Rusty says, “casting is expensive, so I’m willing to take months to get it right.” It all starts with “tons of photos.” When she gets an idea, she starts assembling her “scrap,” the photos and artwork collected from various sources that help her visualize her subject. One resource she likes to use is her cousin, who is a wildlife photographer and guide in Alaska. She also takes photos and videos of the critters (think chickens) who live on the Grays farm in Waxhaw. And then there are the bears who frequent the lower slopes of Grandfather Mountain, where Rusty and her husband, Tony, have a cottage. With the scrap mounted on boards in her studio for reference, Rusty is ready to start. Some pieces require her to make an armature, or metal framework. Then she sculpts in clay; water-based for the pieces that will be fired as ceramics, and a special clay for the work that will be cast in bronze. When she is satisfied with it, a mold is made from the work that is to be cast. The molds are shipped to a foundry— currently Eagle Bronze in Wyoming—and the dialogue begins with the experts there as the work takes shape. Rusty is especially particular about the patina applied to her pieces—“my work has so much texture”— so she generally prefers a light finish. When all is said and done, she gets maybe ten bronze sculptures from the process. She glazes and fires her ceramic pieces herself. They are, of course, one-of-a-kind. Rusty gratefully refers to many strong influences in her work, from the classics to such 20th Century greats as Henry Moore. Closer to home, she greatly admires the ceramic sculptor and mosaic designer, Pam Brewer. Rusty says Pam’s workshops are “incredible” for their wealth of inspiration. Having just completed her baby bear, Rusty is on the hunt for new animals to sculpt. She’s been thinking about owls now for awhile, and she says maybe cats too. The bronzes and ceramics of Rusty, or more properly, Rustin, Josephs Gray, can be seen in the High Country at Crossnore Fine Arts Gallery, Alta Vista Gallery, and the BE Artists Gallery. Hours may be limited, please check the gallery websites.


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BOOK NOOK The Last Entry A Novel by Jim Hamilton —Reviewed by Edwin Ansel His childhood home is a pile of ashes. The beloved old pickup he inherited from Paw Paw doesn’t run. He made a bonehead comment to the girl next door. You just know that his dog would have been dead, too, if he’d had a dog. Tucker is in a jam. And then he discovers that his shiftless parents have stolen his savings and bought a convertible! This suffering, and more, is heaped on Tucker by Jim Hamilton in his debut novel, “The Last Entry.” But this is old-fashioned storytelling, and it’s not a spoiler to report that good people—and some not so good—will step up to help him, that he gets the girl, and that through grit and a bit of luck he secures an even greater fortune. The fun is in the journey. Hamilton tells the story through action and dialog, in scenes of bite-size. In other words, it’s a page turner. He’s got an eye for detail. For example, when Tucker visits Gragg’s Pelt and Herb Mercantile, you’ll experience the dirt dauber nests on the wormy chestnut siding, see the earthy colors of a rusty old Dr. Pepper sign, and hear the groan and slap of the screen door. You’re there. He’s got an ear too. Tucker’s sixth-grade teacher, Miss Tincher, was raised in Georgia. The children giggle because she says y’all when everybody knows you’re supposed to say you’uns. And he’s given us a good cast of characters. To name a few, there’s the girl, Allie, who has a big heart and a sharp mind. You’ll look forward to the chapters where she appears. There’s a crew of hispanic Christmas tree workers who are spirited and funny. And there is of course the town sociopath, Rat, who you’ll genuinely hate.


Hamilton tells us that he wants to dramatize the importance of ginseng in local culture, and he’s created a world where ginseng was, and continues to be, almost a piggy bank for some folks. He dramatizes also the way exploding Asian markets have led to illegal harvesting of wild ginseng in the High Country that threatens to wipe it out, and in this old-fashioned tale, people who poach ginseng from public and private land do not prosper. He also shows precisely where, when and how you can cultivate ginseng yourself to help keep this special plant, and old local traditions, alive. Indeed, in his role as an agent for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, he urges anyone who owns a patch of “older growth” forest to plant ginseng, and for some years now he has been teaching people how to cultivate ginseng commercially or as a hobby. In addition, he points us to United Plant Savers (, who could use your help in their efforts to conserve ginseng and other threatened wild plants. Purchase your copy online at ___ Bank Notes: An Inside Look at the Launching of North Carolina’s Banking Ascendancy and a Commentary on the Current New World of Banking Luther Hodges, Author —Reviewed by Edwin Ansel “We would dream and converse in my kitchen” about a “new world” in business. It’s a popular story these days. A couple of ambitious young men batting ideas back and forth, looking for ways to shake up a stodgy old industry. Let’s take

it nationwide! To create opportunities for themselves and also to expand the opportunities of others. This story is often spun around the “tech bros” of Silicon Valley. They’re called “disruptors” for the impact they have on traditional businesses. And disruption they have caused to even the most imposing of the old powers. Try to find a pay phone these days. But this kitchen is located in Charlotte. In the mid-1960s. And the business is banking. Luther H. Hodges, Jr. and his friends have a vision. A bank that is able to operate nationwide will thrive, and North Carolina is a good place to launch such a bank. These young bank officers were “disruptors” long before it was cool. Bank Notes: An Inside Look at the Launching of North Carolina’s Banking Ascendancy and a Commentary on the Current New World of Banking is Hodges’ reflection on his personal experience in banking, in the private sector as a commercial banker and also in his public career as the acting Secretary of Commerce for the United States. He provides a concise account of the history of banking in North Carolina, setting the stage for the explosive growth and change that occurred in banking during and after his own career. He then looks forward, offering insights into the effect of bank regulation by the federal government and the impact of technology on banking. Hodges also gives us something that only an insider can. This former bank chairman and CEO lets us read a letter that he wrote at the conclusion of a summer internship he had at Wachovia Bank and Trust while he was in business school at Harvard. Any young person concluding an internship in business will benefit from reading Hodges’ letter and preparing one like it. Especially noteworthy are examples of his clear-eyed appraisal: International banking sounded sexy, but in 1960 it was not ripe; advertising seemed contemptible, but creative, locally sensitive advertising proved quite respectable. Young people looking for a career in business will likely find great value in the book as a whole. It describes a path to success. Have a vision? Put it into words. Get

out and meet talented people both inside your company and those who aren’t yet, but who could be persuaded to join. Any business writer can say these things, but here you see the path being taken. Those who are contemplating a career in banking will especially benefit. Technology and regulation will continue to disrupt banking in the near future. Internet banking, clearly. More interestingly is the impact that intense regulation has on lending, where non-bank entities offer big loans to big borrowers, skirting the regs— “shadow banking.” Bank Notes can be read in one sitting, a quality that any busy young person can appreciate. It can also be re-read in one sitting. Re-reading is where the real learning takes place. The book is full of nuggets, and it’s when you go back for a second and third look that you scoop them up. And finally, let’s remember that the young disruptors were right. Not long after Hodges and his fellow bankers took the wheel, North Carolina became home to some of the most powerful banks in the world. Order or pick up a copy of Bank Notes at your local N.C. bookseller or online. ___ Great Day Hikes on North Carolina’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail The Official Guide from Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, edited by Jim Grode (A Southern Gateways Guide) —Reviewed by Tamara S. Randolph Want to explore North Carolina, one step at a time? Or, maybe discover some great hiking trails right here in our High Country region? This new guide to hikes along the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) showcases single-day trips that highlight the features and diversity of this 1,175-mile trail. As the name indicates, this destination trail crosses the entire state of North Carolina, from Clingmans Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park near the Tennessee line, to Jockey’s Ridge State Park on the Outer Banks. And September 2020 marks the trail’s 43rd year!

We have Friends of the Mountains-toSea Trail, a nonprofit organization, to thank for organizing the many resources required to build and maintain the trail over the years. The Friends of the MST’s original mission was to “bring together communities and volunteers to build a simple footpath connecting North Carolina’s natural treasures for the enjoyment and education of people.” While much of the trail is now complete, the mission to finish the trail continues to this day—ultimately, the trail will be a continuous footpath that passes through 37 counties, four national parks, three national forests, two national wildlife refuges, ten state parks, four state game lands, one state forest, one state historic site, and numerous local parks and protected areas. The Friends mission also includes spreading the word to people who love trails and NC, and encouraging people to use the trail. This comprehensive, first-ever guide to day hikes along the trail does just that, helping hikers choose hikes by distance, degree of difficulty, trail type, trail highlights and more. • Features of the Guide include: • 40 hikes carefully chosen to appeal to hikers of all experience levels • A helpful hike finder feature to identify the perfect hikes for birding, waterfalls, history, universal accessibility, and more • Full-color maps, photos, and hike directions • Turn-by-turn guidance and key points of interest for each hike • Information on the trail’s history and ongoing development. Autumn in the High Country is one of the best seasons for hiking, and this guide will certainly inspire you to get outside and explore the segments of the trail that pass through our region. In addition to being a terrific reference to have on hand, purchasing the guide helps support the continuing efforts of the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Learn more, participate in trail challenges as part of the MST’s 43rd birthday, and purchase your copy of Great Day Hikes at


As the days get shorter and cooler, we’re reminded of the joys of curling up with a good book… or, getting outside with a great hiking guide! We hope you enjoy our Book Nook choices for Autumn.



585 West King St., Suite D Boone NC 28607 10am-6pm, mon-sun

42nd year

Sally Nooney ARTIST STUDIO GALLERY Fine Art Paintings Glass Creations & Heirloom Jewelry Scenic Hwy 194 South Midway between Valle Crucis & Banner Elk Tuesday thru Saturday 10-5 828-963-7347 • • Commissions Invited! Frank Nooney Furniture Restoration, and Antiques at the Gallery, next door




Where the Music is: Autumn 2020 Music happens in the area

all year long from skilled and talented musicians. They’re

picking and jamming on the

stages, in the meadows and on front porches. Here are some of our favorite places… At the Wineries & Vineyards Linville Falls Winery

Located near both Linville Falls and the spectacular Linville Gorge, the steepest gorge east of the Mississippi River, Linville Falls Winery hosts music every Saturday and Sunday afternoon beginning at 3 p.m. 9557 Linville Falls Hwy (Hwy 221) Linville Falls, NC Blue Ridge Parkway Mile 317, 828-765-1400,

Banner Elk Winery

The High Country’s original winery is just minutes from downtown Banner Elk hosts music Saturdays 12-6 p.m., Sundays 3-6 p.m. and most Fridays 3-6 p.m. Located at 60 Deer Run Lane, Banner Elk, NC. For more information 828-898-9090,

Grandfather Vineyard and Winery

The vineyard hosts a season full of live music at its tasting room on Friday and Saturday starting at 2 p.m. and Sunday afternoons starting at 1 p.m. through the third week in October. Food truck available. Check their website for event updates. The winery is located at 225 Vineyard Lane, off N.C. 105 between Boone and Banner Elk. 828-963-2400,


At Restaurants & Bars Old Hampton Barbecue and The Tavern at the Old Hampton Store

Live outdoor music on Thursdays from 5:30-8:30 p.m. (weather dependent). Located at 77 Ruffin Street in Linville. 828-733-5213. Go to Old Hampton Store Facebook page for the latest updates, additions, and changes.

Live Bands at Banner Elk Café

Timberlake’s Restaurant at the Chetola Resort

Featuring live music in the Pub, on the Patio or by the Bonfire, depending on weather and special events on Wednesday through Saturday 6-9 p.m. 185 Chetola Lake Dr., Blowing Rock, 828-295-5505,

At Parks Concerts in the Park, Blowing Rock

Fridays and Saturdays throughout the autumn, 6-10 p.m. 324 Shawneehaw Ave. S. Banner Elk, 828-898-4040,

September 13 and October 4 at 4 p.m. Memorial Park 1036 Main Street, Blowing Rock, NC. 828-295-7851,

Live Music at Lost Province Brewery


Every Friday and Saturday evening, 7:30-10 p.m. 130 N. Depot Street, Boone. 828-265-3506,

Chef’s Table

Live Wednesday night jazz with Shane Chalke at 7 p.m. More information at 140 Azalea Circle, Banner Elk, 828-898-5214

Barra Sports Bar

Karaoke Friday nights starting at 9 p.m. For live music please call the Sorrento’s Dinning Complex for details. More info at 140 Azalea Circle, Banner Elk, 828-898-5214

Highlanders Grill & Tavern

Check for dates and lineup on their Facebook page at 4527 Tynecastle Hwy., Banner Elk, highlandersbannerelk, 828-898-9613

Summer Music Series at the Table at Crestwood

Every Thursday night through midOctober, 6-9 p.m. The Inn at Crestwood, Blowing Rock. Reservations advised. 3236 Shulls Mill Rd., Boone, 828-963-6646,

Sugar Mountain Oktoberfest

Banner Elk, October 10 and 11. Sugar Mountain’s annual Oktoberfest invites you to bring your lederhosen or dirndl and have fun! Parking, shuttle service, and admission are free for this two-day event. The Harbour Town Fest Band will provide entertainment, food and crafts will be available for purchase, as well as traditional Spaten beer. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. both days. For information, call 828 898-4521or visit oktoberfest.

At Stores Concerts in The Courtyard at Tanger Outlets/Blowing Rock

Every Other Saturday, June 6 - October 10 from 12 -2 p.m. Bring a lawn chair and your friends and family! All events are FREE. 278 Shoppes on the Parkway Road, Blowing Rock, NC 28605, 828-295-4444,

Banner Elk Winery

Sugar Mountain Oktoberfest

Concerts in The Courtyard at Tanger Outlets/Blowing Rock

Sugar Mountain Oktoberfest

Grandfather Vineyard and Winery

Highlanders Grill & Tavern

Lost Province Brewery

Before you head out, be sure to check with each venue or search online for any changes to dates, times, locations, and restrictions. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Autumn 2020 —


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And Everything In Between...”

66 Pershing St, Newland, NC / 828-733-8148 / Summer Hours: Thursday - Saturday 10-5 Please wear a mask during your visit (available at our store for $3). We are working hard to maintain a healthy environment for all patrons.


Southern Charm in the High Country


215 Boone Heights Dr., Boone




NOW on Main St!

Bring a Book, Take a Book

at the Historic Banner Elk School We offer books to swap, magazines, WiFi, puzzles, book discussion groups, lectures, music jams, and children’s programs throughout the year. Stop by and see us this season!

Unique Accents for your Home & Patio, Mirrors Creative Wall Decor, Clocks, Lamps Accessories in all price ranges

828.295.3330 1151 Main Street Blowing Rock, NC

Open All Year Tuesday-Friday 10-4 Saturday 1-4 (May - October) We look forward to seeing you back in the Book Exchange when we are able to reopen.

For schedule updates, visit:

Come tour the new Grandfather Home

Visitors’ Center & Museum EXPERIENCE

an important part of our


To help maintain social distancing, tours available by appointment only. Email Madison at mlcornwell@childrenshopealliance or call 828-897-4527 to schedule your private tour today.


Mary Tobias Miller Interior Design NC Mountains: 4004 Hwy 105, Suite 1, Banner Elk, NC 28604 | 828.898.4449 @abodehome Charlotte: 1530 East Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28203 | 704.332.3731 |

Local Raw Honey • Jams, Jellies and Butters • Produce • Quilts Mountain Crafts • Books • Pottery • Antiques • Folk Art • Candles Sugar Cured Hams • Homemade Pies • Cheese • Dried Beans Stone Ground Cornmeal and Grits • Muscadine Products • Apple Butter Possom’s Seasoning• Flour Sack Towels • Birdhouses • Wood Crafts

2963 HWY 105, BOONE, NORTH C AROLINA• 828-719-1219 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Autumn 2020 —


SECOND HOME. FIRST LOVE. There’s just no comparison with life at Echota where effortless mountain living truly reaches its peak. Award-winning amenities and a friendly community await your return, and mountain-modern architecture frames incomparable views. Visit soon and be prepared for the best of the High Country to steal your heart. EFFORTLESS MOUNTAIN LIVING FROM THE $200s | ECHOTANC.COM



mountain notes Grandfather Mountain’s Mile High Swinging Bridge offers a striking backdrop for the vibrant hues of the changing leaves.





A close-up view of the hawthorn leaf that showcases its vibrant hues.





The Fall Color Ramble returns daily Oct. 3-11. The naturalist-led walks show you where to best observe the changing leaves. Free with regular park admission.



The Most Colorful Time of the Year: Fall Color Rambles Back to Grandfather Mountain

As summer fades into fall, the beginning of October brings a vibrant display of color all across Grandfather Mountain. When it comes to the changing of the leaves, the Appalachian Mountains and Grandfather Mountain’s 360-degree views take center stage, because this natural phenomenon tends to flourish at higher elevations. To showcase the beauty of the fall leaf color, Grandfather Mountain naturalists will host the Fall Color Ramble from October 3-11. This series of 20-minute, guided nature strolls will allow visitors to observe the leaves and learn from naturalists about the science behind the changing of the colors and long-term weather trends throughout the years. The tours will be held at 2 p.m. daily in areas of the mountain that best showcase the autumn foliage. “The fall colors in the Southeast are exceptionally spectacular because of the diversity of species that change color,” said Lauren Farrell, interpretation and education programs coordinator for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the Linville, N.C., nature preserve. “It’s definitely one of my favorite times on the mountain.”

The program is free with regular park admission, and the meeting place for the walks will be announced by the entrance gate or staff members daily. To participate in the activities and access the nature park, guests must first purchase their tickets in advance at www.grandfather. com. To ensure the guests’ safety, social distancing practices will be observed during this special event, and group sizes will be monitored. Face masks are required in all indoor locations in the park, as well as outdoors when safe social distancing cannot be maintained. During their visit, guests are also encouraged to practice the “Grandfather Two-Step,” meaning two steps of separation (6 feet) between each party traveling together in the park. This encourages social distancing and is an easy-to-remember rule for staff and guests. To learn more about Grandfather Mountain’s COVID-19 operating procedures, please visit covid-19-update/.

On the Leaves

The leaves atop Grandfather Mountain can start changing anywhere from early to mid-October. However,

long-term weather patterns seem to be changing, and this can affect when the leaves start to turn. “The changing of the leaves is not just something beautiful for people to see, but it’s an actual adaptation that helps the trees survive,” Farrell added. “If you want to know more about the reasons why the leaves change, join the naturalists for the guided walks.” According to Farrell, the best type of trees on which to see fall color are red maples. This particular tree is named for its red flowers, twigs, fruit and red fall foliage. However, despite its name, the foliage can also turn yellow or orange during autumn, as well. It is also considered one of the most abundant trees in the Eastern deciduous forest. While many leaves may not already be blooming at lower elevations in the High Country, the wide range of elevation available on Grandfather Mountain—a nearly 1,000-foot change from base to peak—provides viewers with a longer and wider window of opportunity to see vibrant foliage. For more information on hours and pricing (and to book a reservation), please visit

The nonprofit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, call 800-468-7325, or visit to plan a trip. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Autumn 2020 —


Blue Ridge Explorers:

Get to Know iNaturalist By Tamara S. Randolph


ave you ever observed an eyecatching “butterfly,” only to find out it’s actually a moth? Or perhaps you’ve noticed a natural “weed” that may look unwanted but turns out to be very beneficial for your garden? Here in the mountains, a simple stroll through the forest, a community park, and even your own backyard can result in dozens of sightings in nature that make you wonder, “What’s that?” It used to be that naturalists—those who observe and study elements of the natural world, including plants, animals, fungi, and nature’s processes in general— would want to carry along an assortment of field guides to identify their finds. Today, your smartphone, loaded with the iNaturalist app, may be all that you need to confirm and classify your discoveries in nature. Observe and Share iNaturalist is one of the easiest-touse digital tools available to anyone who is curious about nature. A joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society, iNaturalist lets everyday people record their observations through photographs, share those photographs with fellow naturalists and experts who can identify


the organisms, and participate in discussions on your findings. The application also helps you keep track of your encounters and maintain “life lists.” As of early fall, over 3 million people around the world had signed up to share more than 48 million observations! Have a favorite focus? Wildflowers or trees or songbirds or maybe even snakes? Equipped with iNaturalist, you’re bound to develop your expertise in your favorite organisms. And if your observations qualify as “Research Grade,” your data may be used by scientists for professional research. According to the iNaturalist community, “Every observation can contribute to biodiversity science, from the rarest butterfly to the most common backyard weed. All you have to do is observe.” Load and Launch Getting started is simple. Go to the “App store” on your smartphone, find the iNaturalist app and download it. Quickly create an account with your email address and password. Then you’re ready to head outside and record your first observation. Look for any living thing—plant, animal, or fungus—and find something you’d like to record and identify. You’ll tap “Observe” on the app

and take a photo. Next, you’ll tap on the “What did you see?” button to pull up a list of similar images and suggested species to help you narrow your options. You can add additional photos or notes, click on “Share,” and presto! Your observation will be uploaded and available to the iNaturalist community. Those are the basics; however, there’s even more to iNaturalist for those wanting to delve deeper. Engage in research projects, participate in forums, and create lesson plans for teaching children about nature. Best of all, iNaturalist is equally fun for young and older naturalists alike. Youth programs, such as ecoEXPLORE (see the Blue Ridge Explorers column in the Summer ’20 issue) are based on iNaturalist observations provided by young citizen scientists (grades K-8). The application works on all devices, but if you find you’re not interested in the app, or uploading your own images, a world of observations is available for you to discover at the iNaturalist website: Tamara S. Randolph, CML’s editor, is a N.C. Certified Environmental Educator and Blue Ridge Naturalist. You can reach Tamara at

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Hunter’s Tree Service, Inc.


Hunter’s Tree Service, Inc. has served the High Country since 1980. Our mission is to provide you with skilled tree care and outstanding customer service, while caring for one of your most valuable resources. As your complete tree specialist, we offer a range of services:

Pruning View enhancement Tree removal Stump grinding Bucket truck service Crane service Cabling Lightning protection Pre-construction consultation Disease and pest control

POB 1674, Banner Elk NC 28604 / 828-733-3320 or 828-953-5094

When you get serious about wanting superior, knowledgeable service in buying or selling real estate in our beautiful High Country, then contact Banner Elk’s oldest brokerage firm. Put 40 years experience in our local real estate market to work for you!





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A to Z Auto Detailing 828.260.0283 Amy Brown, CPA Certified Public Accountant 828.898.7607 Avery County Chamber of Commerce 828.898.5605 / BB&T 888.BBT-ONLINE / Creative Interiors by Darlene Parker 828.898.9636 Encore Travel 828.719.6955 Highlanders Grill & Tavern Open 7 Days a Week 828.898.9613 Peak Real Estate 828.898.1880 Salon Suites at Tynecastle • SALON M 828.260.3791 Shooz & Shiraz A Shoe & Wine Salon at The Dande Lion The Dande Lion Ladies Apparel, Shoes, & Accessories 866.222.2050 and 828.898.3566 Tynecastle Builders 828.387.1222 / Tynecastle Realty 828.898.7777 / Valle de Bravo Mexican Grill 828.898.4949 Walgreens Pharmacy 828.898.8971


For Leasing Information Please Call 828.898.6246

SHOPPING • DINING • BUSINESS • At the Corner of Hwy 105 & 184 Tynecastle Hwy. • Banner Elk CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Autumn 2020 —


249 Kimberly Drive, Boone, NC 28607 | 828.832.8180



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Computer Repair I.T. Consultant

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The Old Greer House “A simple old farmhouse where kids can grow closer to God, any time of the year.” Designed for youth groups. Can sleep 36.

Boone’s Donate-What-You-Can Community Cafe “Where Everybody Eats” 617 W. King Street Across from Mast Store Lunch Mon-Fri, 11-2

Fishing Q&A By Andrew Corpening

When visitors vacation in our region this time of year, an interesting phenomenon seems to occur. People who can’t even remember the last time they looked at a fishing rod—if they even have one—want to go fishing! Naturally, visitors who fit this description have a lot of questions about fishing in the High Country. The first question might be, “Where can I go fishing?” The simple answer is any place you see a lake, river, or stream. The truth is that most of the higher mountain streams hold trout, even rivers that are not designated as mountain trout water by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC). Sometimes these undesignated rivers fish very well since they receive less fishing pressure. If you see promising water, and it is not posted for no trespassing, give it a try. However, just because you find water with fish does not mean that “anything goes”—you’ll still need to pay attention to specific fishing rules and regulations based on your location and the time of year. Stream Designations Because of the delicate nature of mountain trout streams there are several different stream “designations.” These, for the most part, pertain to what is on the end of your line. The vast majority of the local trout streams require single hook, artificial lures. This applies to Delayed Harvest streams from October 1 to the first Saturday in June, Wild Trout Waters all year, Fly Fishing Only Catch and Release streams all year, and Single Hook Artificial Lures Catch and Release streams all year. If you are unsure as to the designation, look for the diamond-shaped signs that the NCWRC places along the rivers. If the signs are missing you can find out about a stream by picking up a NCWRC Regulations Digest or by going online to Undesignated streams fall under the Hatchery Supported rules where any sort of bait or hook is allowed. The one exception is during the month

of March until the first Saturday in April when Hatchery Supported rivers are closed; even though you can still fish undesignated streams, no trout may be kept. Licenses The second most asked question is, “Do I need a license?” The answer is “yes, you need a license to fish.” For residents, a ten-day license is $9, and an annual license is $25. If you are a North Carolina resident with a Sportsman license, a lifetime license, or a combination hunt/fish license, you are already legal to fish for trout. If you are a non-resident, a ten-day non-resident license is $23, while an annual non-resident license will cost you $45. If you think this is expensive, take a look at what some of the neighboring states charge and you will see that North Carolina is a bargain. What’s Biting? The third most asked question is, “What are they hitting (or biting, or taking, or hatching)?” Even though fishing shop employees will give you some ideas, they may not know exactly since they are not on the river at that time. Trout eat the aquatic insects that are available and that can change hourly. However, since these insects spend the majority of their lives as nymphs that live underwater, the trout will eat nymphs all year round—it is always a good bet to use the nymph type flies. The type of fly to imitate a nymph is probably not as important as getting the fly down to where a trout is holding. Trout feel safer underwater so they are likely to try anything that comes their way if it looks like food. Fly Selection Of course flyfishers want to use dry flies that imitate the nymph that has come to the surface to hatch into a winged insect. Dry fly fishing can be more exciting since you can see the trout come up and

take the fly. Unfortunately, these “hatches” occur infrequently. In this part of the country hatches can happen any time of day and for a very short time, which can be frustrating for the occasional fly fisher since they may not have the right fly for the moment. This is the reason avid fly fishers carry what seems to some a ridiculous number of flies; they want to be prepared for whatever happens on the river. With that said it is not really necessary to carry exact replicas of every aquatic insect. If you have a good selection of sizes of the light colored dry flies, like Light Cahills, you can imitate a number of the light colored insects the trout eat. This also applies to the dark insects. A good selection of the Adams fly can imitate a lot of the dark bugs. This can also be said of the Elk Hair Caddis. These three flies can imitate a majority of the insects that trout eat on the surface. If you are on the river and see trout feeding on the surface but see no insects, the trout are probably eating an emerger. The emerger is the nymph that has come to the surface to split open and hatch into a winged insect. During this process the insect is extremely vulnerable to trout. Good imitations to use are the parachute flies. You may have to experiment with dark and light colored parachute flies but one of the two will probably work. Fishing vs. Catching The fourth most asked question is, “Why am I not catching fish? I have tried everything in my box.” The answer could be the weather, high/low water, water temperature, time of day, time of year, or “operator error.” Whatever the reason, our local shop employees will try to help customers improve their chances. Remember that to simply be out on a lake, river or stream in our beautiful region enjoying nature is part of the experience—and even if there’s more “fishing” than “catching,” a day on the water generally beats a day at the office. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Autumn 2020 —


Blowing Rock Souvenir Sportswear Area’s Largest Selection of Hats & Shirts Be Sure to Visit Sunset Sweets & Heats (over 500 hot sauces) Jewelry Hershey’s Dip Ice Cream Gifts Life Is Good T-Shirts

Apple Hill Farm Store

“Get back in touch with what's real.” Largest selection of alpaca yarns & accessories in the High Country. Summer Hours: Mon - Sat 10-4; Sun 12 to 4 Banner Elk, NC | (828)963-1662


9am-9pm Mon-Sat | 10am-8pm Sun Main St., Blowing Rock | 828-295-9326

Chris Wotell, Broker-in-Charge: 828-260-1366 Jim Fitzpatrick: 828-898-3257 4501 Unit #6 Tynecastle Hwy. Banner Elk |

Christmas magic is found on the farm, not in a parking lot.

Make the trek to the Boone & Blowing Rock area in Watauga County to hand pick your family Christmas tree. Many farms offer hayrides, farm animals, cookies and cocoa, and even Christmas Shops where wreaths and roping are also available. Visit the Choose and Cut Capital this season, and start your own family tradition. To find a farm, visit: or call 828.264.3061



Indigo Bunting in fall plumage

Indigo Bunting

Scarlet Tanager

What Bird is That Anyway? F

all is a great time of year for birders as millions of migrant birds stream their way south. Most of our breeding species head to Central and South America, but some are arriving to spend the winter with us from places farther north, as well as the minority species that are with us year round. For experienced birders this is like welcoming old friends back, saying goodbye for a few months to others, and spending days waiting for the changeover that happens all fall. But if you are a new birder, it can be daunting to have everything shuffling, sometimes on a daily basis. That is really different than seeing the same birds in your yard daily throughout the summer. To make things harder, many species are molting into different plumage, young birds are around that don’t look like their parents, and some species are uncommon to us with only passing looks at best and for a very short time of the year. So I want to offer some tips to help you quickly identify what you are seeing. Experienced birders have a great sense of the general shape and size of groups of birds that help us quickly get to the right part of the field guide. Spend some time thinking about the birds you know well, like American Crows or American Robins. And even before thinking about colors, think about the shape. Ask yourself questions like “Does it have long legs?” “Does the tail seem really long?” “What is the first thing about its shape I notice?” “Is it a large heavy beak, a crest of feathers

on its head?” Often these first impressions are the most important. Once you learn the basic body shapes you will find yourself saying, “it looks like a sparrow only bigger” or “seems like a warbler but the beak is too big.” And just remember, you know more than you may think you do. Most of us know a duck when we see one, or a hawk, or an owl, so keep those wellknown shapes and actions in your head, as they help form the basis for more detailed observations later. There are some tips for harder-to-ID groups as well. Fall warblers aren’t called confusing fall warblers for no reason. Even good birders can get fooled by a young bird of some species. Many of our breeding birds, including some warblers, buntings, tanagers, grosbeaks, and sparrows, change quite a bit from summer to winter plumage. Most of our breeding species complete those molts while here with us so you might see birds half way between both plumages. But size and body type doesn’t change so keeping those in mind helps. With most of these birds the rule is that they change from brighter colors to duller ones. The male Scarlet Tanager is a great example—he changes from beautiful bright scarlet with black wings to green with black wings. Chestnut-sided warblers also change a good bit from bright green and chestnut sides to duller green and white sides. For most birds during the fall it is good to ask yourself some basic questions: Does the bird have bright spots or bars

Scarlet Tanager in fall plumage

By Curtis Smalling on the wings (called wing bars)? Does the chest and/or flanks have streaks, or is it all the same color with no streaks? Is there some readily seen pattern with the head or face around the beak? Normally, this combination of answers can get within one or two species. If all of that detective work seems too daunting, there are technological aids to assist you! Most bird identification apps give you an option to answer some questions about shape and color to narrow your search and one app, the Merlin App from Cornell, can give you some very accurate choices by answering only five questions. The newer Birdsnap app takes a look at your pictures to help ID your bird. These can help, but I prefer to do it oldschool and look through my field guides, watch the bird to see what it is doing and how it is behaving, remember what kind of habitat it was in, and enjoy the thrill of figuring it out! When all else fails, email your favorite bird watcher friend and ask them. All of us with some experience love getting those emails! It is my favorite part of my job, so email me at Curtis.smalling@ with your description, picture or song recording. In these times of isolation, birds are right outside living their lives and can entertain for a minute or a lifetime. Now is a great time to start working on your identification skills! Curtis Smalling is Director of Conservation at Audubon North Carolina. All photos by Don Mullaney. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Autumn 2020 —


The High Country’s Dog & Cat Destination


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Meet Mulan and Tank... ... two of many animals in our community who have suffered TANK | found abandonment, abuse chained up and and neglect, yet could malnourished not speak out for themselves. If you live in Avery County and want to support efforts to rescue and care for animals in need, make your voice heard. When our voices are heard, so are the animals’.

MULAN | found stray with injuries to the head

Speak Out Take Action

ADVOCATES for the Care of


in Avery County

Learn about the ways in which you can take action by calling 828-898-3805.

To donate funds for local animal welfare work that is not supported by county or state funding, visit


Animal Control in Our Communities By LouAnn Morehouse

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here have been good things happening in Avery County that help people and animals in need, and the High Country Charitable Foundation has been a big part of it. In recent years, the foundation has demonstrated profound interest in the well being of Avery residents, people and animals alike, with grants that fund a wide variety of projects. Most recently, Foundation chair, Jim Ward, has turned his concern about the status of animal welfare in the county into a new initiative. An animal lover himself, he says we need an animal control program, and he’s “taking it up as a cause.” While the Avery Humane Society is a step forward in improving the quality of life here by taking in strays and providing medical care for low cost, there is still a big gap in how animals are rescued from abusive situations. There’s also a big difference between the services provided by the Humane Society and those accorded an animal control department. In simplest terms, the Humane Society cannot go out and remove an animal from someone’s property, even if that animal is in dire need of help. So when laws are being broken— and animal abuse is an offense covered by several statutes in North Carolina—it is a matter for law enforcement officials. With the exception of Avery County, every county in North Carolina has an animal control department. Jim Ward isn’t the only person who is concerned about this situation. It’s been an issue raised repeatedly over the years.

In 2017, the Avery Journal-Times looked into the matter when editor Jamie Shell interviewed County Sheriff Kevin Frye. Frye explained that, while his department investigates animal abuse complaints, without “having the training nor the equipment for animal control, it makes it very difficult.” And as for the more routine matters of picking up strays, Frye reported that “It is not currently being done.” It’s not that Sheriff Frye doesn’t want to handle the county’s animal control issues. In fact, he’s been managing for years by sending his officers out when the animal abuse calls come in. But as he says, if animal control were to become an official obligation of his department, “it would take a new officer, because there is no way I can take someone off the road answering the calls we currently field.” The lack of county animal control doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem in Avery. Earlier this year, news reports covered the sheriff ’s prompt action taken to remove a dog from an abusive home, and the subsequent charges filed against three members of the household. The problem exists here as elsewhere. In fact, as law enforcement and social services agencies well know, statistics show that animal abuse and domestic violence are closely related. It begs the questions: if the violence against animals was identified and dealt with, would the violence against women and children be lessened? Would protection for abused animals offer another way for reaching violent offenders before the abuse escalated to human victims? As Sheriff Frye and Jim Ward and in fact, a lot of other people know, the decision to go forward with instituting an Avery animal control unit rests with the county commissioners. Ward has some ideas about finding the funds, and as Sheriff Frye said in the Times interview, there are different ways to make it happen: “Different counties do it different ways. Some counties utilize the Sheriff ’s

office… other counties have their own animal division within the county…” The need is persistent and unceasing, and the laws are now in place, all the way to the Federal level. The will is there, but it takes a response from the community to make it happen. If you would like to get involved or support efforts to establish an animal control department in Avery County, contact Jim Ward at 828-898-3810.

More to know: n In the absence of an animal control unit in Avery County, the Avery Humane Society has taken in 834 stray dogs and cats over the last 2 ½ years. n Our local Humane Society spends $150 per animal for vaccines, tests and treatments, plus additional funds for animals in need of extra medical care; in most counties with animal control operations, these expenses are covered, at least in part, by the county. n Avery County is currently home to many stray and feral animals; according to the Avery Humane Society, one stray cat, if not spayed, could lead to 20,735 cats over a four-year period, while one stray dog could lead to 4,372 dogs over a seven-year period. n Avery County Humane Society receives around 8 calls per month with reports of suspected animal abuse, which must then be reported to the Sheriff’s Office; the Avery County Sheriff’s office currently lacks the manpower to respond to many of these calls. n A recent report of animal abuse in Avery County involved a malnourished dog chained to a tree; the Avery Humane Society provided care for the rescued dog at a cost of $2,000. n Another recent incident involved a jogger being attacked by six pit bull dogs; in most counties, animal control would have been called to the scene. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Autumn 2020 —





Leucistic squirrel

Snapping Turtle


Common loon

An Update from the

May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at Lees-McRae College What do you do at a wildlife center when a pandemic hits our country and most of the people have to shelter at home? At the May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center many options were discussed about what we were to do with the ‘human’ resources we had. We closed for all visitors and split up the wildlife between two facilities. Dr. Amber McNamara managed the injured wildlife at the center, while Director Nina Fischesser took the resident ambassador wildlife to her home, where she has a full facility with caging that has been in use for overload patients and some resident animals since 1995. We supported around 60 animals at the two facilities and managed them with a skeleton crew of full- and part-time staff and a few volunteers. We had only two people working at a time at the center so as to keep the risk of spread low and developed a daily disinfecting protocol. We accepted injured and orphaned wildlife on a case by case basis locally,


and not the usual patient admissions from all of western North Carolina. This kept it at a manageable number so as to provide adequate care for the injured wildlife. The summer clinical session for students began on June 15. Health issues required Fischesser to teach classes virtually and to care for the smaller, more delicate hatchling birds at home while caring for the resident wildlife. Dr. McNamara developed a comprehensive safety protocol at the Center that included dividing the students into separate work teams that did not interact faceto-face with one another. Classrooms at the Center were set up so that students, teachers and staff stayed six feet apart, and masks were worn properly at all times. The college IT team set up another classroom so that we could hold daily rounds to share information about the patients; half the students were able to participate remotely with our virtual system. The college also set up a command

team that led the charge of keeping all staff, students, and employees as safe as possible while on campus. Even though it was a shortened summer for the students, they remained enthusiastic throughout the time they worked with the animals. From midJune through mid-August, we admitted roughly 300 patients and released over 100, which many students participated in. The Center continues to be closed to the public except to deliver injured and orphaned wildlife. Hopefully in the near future that will change. The central command team of LeesMcRae College continues to work tirelessly to follow CDC guidelines and manage a system to keep everyone safe. We don’t know what the future will bring, but for now classes are back in session, mostly face-to-face, and the Center continues the important work of caring for injured and orphaned native wildlife.

About the Photos: New Ambassador Talon, is a one-year-old Bald Eagle. He will get his full white head at five years old. Photo by Allison Alvarado Leucistic Squirrel – by Allison Alvarado Fawn by Kelli Johnson Hummingbird by Kelli Johnson Bald Eagle

Tube feeding a Great Blue Heron by Kelli Johnson Common Loon under heat lamp by Kelli Johnson Student feeding a young Cottontail by Samantha Galvin Student holding a Snapping Turtle by Samantha Galvin Students assisting in surgery by Samantha Galvin Staff

Great Blue Heron

Even though it was a shortened summer for the students, they remained enthusiastic throughout the time they worked with the animals. From mid-June through mid-August, we admitted roughly 300 patients and released over 100, which many students participated in.

S O C I A L D I S T A N C I N G – Naturally!





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The Virginia Creeper National Recreation Trail offers a leisurely 34-mile ride from Whitetop, VA (near the Virginia-North Carolina state line) to Abingdon, VA.

You’ve Got Trail!

Virginia Creeper Brings Bikes and Business to Virginia Towns By Frank Ruggiero


he Virginia Creeper National Recreation Trail is celebrated for its downhill course, offering outdoor recreationists a leisurely trek through some of southwest Virginia’s most picturesque landscapes. But things are looking up for the Creeper’s lesser known trailhead, based in historic Abingdon, Virginia. Spanning 34.3 miles between Abingdon and Whitetop, VA, the trail is named for the locomotive that once chugged along the very same path. Historically, Damascus, VA, has served as the trail’s virtual hub, offering outfitting services that shuttle cyclists to and fro the fan favorite starting point of Whitetop Station. It’s literally all downhill from there, as cyclists cruise, wind and weave a comfortable 17 miles through forested corridors, over lofty railway trestles and aside babbling brooks on the way back to Damascus.


There, they can relax and refresh at some of the town’s numerous restaurants or watering holes, such as the popular Damascus Brewery. However, if they’re willing to cycle an additional 17 miles, they’ll find a whole new adventure awaits in—and on the way to—Abingdon. On this stretch of the Creeper Trail, visitors—don’t call them “Creepers”— will find rolling countryside and lush valleys, with rushing rivers and other points of interest, like Abingdon Vineyards in Alvarado, the de facto halfway point between Damascus and Abingdon. “The whole trail is beautiful,” said Amanda Livingston, assistant director of tourism with the Abingdon Convention & Visitors Bureau. “It runs through a lot of different landscapes, some more forested and others more open. The section between Abingdon and Damascus has always been popular with locals, and visitors are now discovering it, as well.” The Abingdon trailhead, which is actually the trail’s official starting point

at mile marker 0, offers visitors an entirely new experience. At 17 miles, the Abingdon-to-Damascus section is significantly flatter, although downhill portions assist cyclists to the Alvarado area, where the trail bottoms out before assuming an ever-so-slight uphill grade toward Damascus. Livingston said one of the stretch’s more popular spots is Trestle No. 11, a bridge that crosses the South Holston River and offers some second-to-none photo opportunities—just one of many scenic stops between the two towns. “But oddly enough,” she said, “a lot of people come and do (the trail), and they don’t ever make it into Abingdon.” However, one of the Virginia Creeper Trail’s benchmark outfitters is hoping to change that. Michael Wright, owner of Adventure Damascus and Sundog Outfitter, both in Damascus, offers bike rentals, shuttle service and souvenir gifts. Wright is finding more and more people extending

explore! their trips from Whitetop to Damascus to Abingdon. “People love that section,” he said of the latter. “It’s beautiful. You’re in the valley and looking up and get to see the mountain along the river most of the way, with some gorgeous bridges and scenery, as well.” Furthermore, he’s noticed an increased demand for shuttle services that would accommodate cyclists on any section of the trail. With all that in mind, Wright will be expanding his shop to Abingdon this fall. “With a shop in Abingdon, our plan is to have people start their ride to Damascus, and we can bring them back to Abingdon,” Wright said. And Livingston hopes they’ll stick around, as Abingdon has much to offer. That includes not only the worldfamous Barter Theatre, but also a burgeoning dining scene. In fact, in 2019, Abingdon was voted the No. 1 Small Town Food Scene in the country by USA Today. One particular highlight is The

Tavern. Originally built in 1779, the space still features its original woodwork and flooring, while its modern menu showcases upscale American and German cuisine. For those who prefer German beverages to cuisine, Wolf Hills Brewing Co. is located conveniently at Abingdon’s Virginia Creeper trailhead. “We have nightlife and art galleries, and the whole downtown area is on the National Register of Historic Places,” Livingston said. “People here are very passionate about historic preservation, so you’ll see some very beautiful architecture downtown, as well.” However, Livingston said the Virginia Creeper Trail remains one of Abingdon’s most prominent attractions—to those who make the trip. “The trail is now over 30 years old, and people are wanting to have even more experiences on it,” she said. The trail itself was established in 1987 through the efforts of private

Photos courtesy of

citizens, local government and the U.S. Forest Service, all of whom worked together to purchase the original railroad rights-of-way to create a multi-use, recreational trail. “The Creeper Trail area is centrally located to all of the outdoor recreation in southwest Virginia—canoeing, kayaking, bouldering, hiking, all of that sort of thing is close to us right here,” Wright said. “So, if people plan a little bit ahead, they can spend a few days up here away from the rest of the world. Just get outside and go.” To learn more about the Virginia Creeper Trail, Abingdon and Damascus, visit,, and



The Perfect Weather for a Great Adventure—Guaranteed!

Inside A Mountain Constant 52O year-round • Guided tours • Explore our Gift Shop Visit our website for hours and recommended safety precautions

Linville Caverns

19929 US 221 North, Marion, NC 28752 Between Linville & Marion, just 4 Miles South of the Blue Ridge Parkway 800-419-0540



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Camp Catawba: A Place of Wonders By Jon Elliston

Of the myriad camps that have hosted sensational summers in the Blue Ridge Parkway’s environs, it’s safe to say that none was quite like Camp Catawba. Tucked into 20 acres adjoining what is now the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park near Blowing Rock, the camp began as a haven from the perils of the world and evolved into a cultural incubator with few parallels. A camp for boys, Catawba was run by two remarkable women. The director, Vera Lachmann, was a classically trained poet and educator who fled Nazi Germany with her Jewish family in 1939, narrowly escaping Hitler’s grasp. In the United States, she taught at schools including Salem and Bryn Mawr colleges and Yale University before founding Camp Catawba in 1944. Joining Lachman in 1947 was her life partner, the composer Tui St. George Tucker, who played the crucial role of the camp’s music director. The arts loomed large at Catawba. As former camper Dean Pearlman remembered, there was an ever-present “emphasis on creativity, plays, composing, music, singing, drawing, arts and crafts.” In 1954, a camp newsletter could rightfully boast that “no other camp … wakes up to Bach cantatas, oratorios, passions, masses, fugues and unaccompanied cello suites.” At first, Catawba hosted mostly Jewish refugee children who sought refuge from the war. Over the years, its base expanded to include campers of many backgrounds, and in 1964, the camp integrated. “We are trying the unlikely,” Lachman wrote in a letter to parents. “We should like to have the boys learn to live in a group, respecting other individuals. To be happy without tramping on anybody else’s rights. To enjoy the beautiful instead of the cute. To have the courage, both physically and morally, and the fun of their age, instead of imitating the boring amusements of helpless grownups.” Catawba wasn’t all lofty idealism and high culture. It also offered a generous regimen of traditional summer camp activities: horseback riding, hikes up Grandfather Mountain and on the Cone estate, dips in the river, archery and a range of other sports. There were nightly campfires, with campers transfixed by Lachman’s storytelling while they roasted marshmallows. By the time the camp closed after the summer of 1970, Catawba had shaped the lives of more than 400 boys. Many of them, sparked by their Renaissance summers at the camp, went on to become noted artists, musicians, teachers and writers. Lachman and Tucker continued to summer at the site until Lachman passed away in 1985. Tucker then moved there full time, composing music until her death in 2004. In accordance with Lachman’s wishes, the property became part of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Today, Camp Catawba’s few remaining buildings are slowly crumbling and succumbing to vegetation. Still, the occasional visitor to the site can sense that it was, as Lachman reverently called it, a “place of wonders.” This fall, an interpretive sign highlighting the history of the camp will be installed along the Middle Fork Greenway near Tanger Outlets in Blowing Rock. The project is a collaboration between the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, Middle Fork Greenway, and Town of Blowing Rock. Learn more about the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s work, which focuses on education & outreach, historical & cultural preservation, visitor amenities, and natural resources: https://www. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Autumn 2020 —


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The Legacy of the Apple Tree By Edwin Ansel


e were at the top of Old House Gap Road getting up firewood. Hikers came by, a couple. Audrey greeted them and asked where they were going. “Up to the old orchard,” said the woman. “We’re gathering apples.” They were of a certain age, but acted like teenagers. They didn’t really see us, they were the only two people in the world. Her Adam and his Eve. Looking for their apple. It was a good year for apples. We found them everywhere, and brought them home. Audrey makes pies. She chunks apples into the crust she’s made, piles them way up high, and then covers them with a sheet of hand rolled dough. When it comes out of the oven it looks like a boulder. Or a stump. Not a restaurant pie. But after you’ve had some, with ice cream, you don’t want restaurant pie. Half a lifetime ago, in college, we drove out in the country. Hopped a fence and gathered many shirttail loads of windfall apples. Back at the dorm we smashed them and strained out the juice into a big glass jug and stashed it in the closet. A few days later the scent of that fresh cider! In our otherwise loathsome rooms. If you could live on just that perfume… Apple trees have their own virtue. The big, old ones—in their branches a child may sit. Audrey grew up in an oldfashioned house in an old community. The kind where people had apple trees. “I climbed that tree every day. In the summer, nobody can see you. Later, you have apples to eat, or you can throw them at your brother.” Has this ever happened to you? You’re chatting with a new person, just being sociable. You mentions apples. The person looks around, leans in, and whispers. To you only. “The old apple trees, up Sleepy Hollow road. Have you been there? No? Go past that old chimney, and there’s a dirt


road on the right…” It’s a secret society. A unique one. Apple people are good and kind. Their treasures they share, eagerly. The “apple of your eye” is someone you care for above all others. On the other side of this same coin, a person who is corrupt and corrupting of others is a “rotten apple.” See the power of the apple, to bless and to curse. If a maiden is “apple-cheeked,” she is lovely. The image only works with the round, rosy apple. Try it with “tomato.” Try it with “red rubber ball.” The apple is more than fruit. Apples fallen into the street, jumbled at the curb, unloved, uneaten, is a vast sadness. Apples up in the tree are a little closer to heaven. As is the child sitting there. Old apple trees at the edge of a pasture likely mark the spot of a homestead. The wooden cottage is gone, and there may not be even a pile of stones from a chimney. But the apple trees, perhaps a hundred years old, carry through. A legacy. People love the trees and the fruit. They visit, it’s a pilgrimage. They may recall the ancestors who planted them, say their names with reverence. Sometime later we returned to Old House Gap, Audrey and I. The trail takes you to the bottom of a steep pasture. It was cloudy and a little warm. We marched through the tall, dense grass. It’s every color—gray and green and black and rust. Blackberry canes. Sticker vines. Decorative grasshoppers that you never see at home. The trees are at the top. Hunkered. Their gnarled elbows sticking out. They’re old. And they were heavy with fruit. Small brindled apples. A little soft, most of them. It was late in the season. Looking back, I’m thinking cider, definitely. How about this? Pack up a picnic. Round up the usual suspects. Go apple hunting. Go on familiar routes, but this

time look for the apple trees. Go up that shadowy road you’ve always wondered about. Go where the old homesteads were. When it gets very quiet, you’re getting closer. Researching this article I took an unfamiliar route from Crossnore to the Parkway. I pulled over at a crossroads to get my bearings. Looking up from my map I found that I’d stopped at an apple tree. Right there in front of me. See? And even if you don’t find apples that first time, you will find something good, because you’re looking at your world in a new way. Better still if you can guarantee the apples. You could end your search at the Crossnore Heritage Orchard, located at the intersection of Maple Street and Middle Street in Crossnore. There you’ll find more than 40 trees and over 20 different varieties. As a preservation and tasting orchard, you can learn about heirloom apples, sample them and take some home. Free and open to the public through November. Or visit the Orchard at Altapass on the Parkway, where their mission, in part, is to share apple heritage and Appalachian culture. Visit their website first to plan a visit—see what’s ripe and ready to eat! ( Planning beyond the apple hunting season? The North Carolina Cooperative Extension is committed to fine old apples. They can help you establish your legacy orchard of heirloom apples, and they offer young trees at their Annual Plant Sale in the spring. Even though I don’t yet have a place to put trees, I’ll go. After all, who’s going to be there? Apple people. Edwin Ansel is a writer and Art Director for Kudzu Press, an independent publisher of popular fiction and literature here in the High Country. Find Kudzu Press on Instagram and at



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Homeschooling for the First Time?

Ten Ways to Teach your Child and Save your Sanity By Elizabeth Baird Hardy


s the 2020-21 school year continues, both parents and children are facing major changes. Many families are embarking on a new adventure: homeschooling! While parents have been choosing homeschooling for a variety of reasons for decades, health concerns and changing schedules are driving record numbers of families to take the plunge. That plunge can be scary for both parents and children. Though it can be daunting, homeschooling can have academic, social, and personal benefits that far outweigh the challenges. To help you face some of those challenges, here are ten tried-and-true veteran homeschool pointers that may help you fill your child’s mind without losing your own. 10. Don’t turn Homeschool into School at Home—While many students are taking part in virtual schools and other great distance learning experiences from their schools, that is different from homeschooling. If you are setting up a true homeschool, don’t feel pressured to make it just like a school, only in your home. 9. Try a Spoonful of Sugar—Not every part of school is fun, even for students in pajamas with a dog under their feet. Just as in any educational journey, there are going to be subjects and topics that children love, and ones they hate. One advantage of homeschooling is being able to use subjects that students love to help them tolerate the ones they don’t, or using a little whimsy to make the challenges more fun. For younger students, wearing a fun hat or sitting in a special chair can help, and that dog and PJs might just work, too. 8. Use the Machines; Don’t Put them in Charge—There are some terrific virtual schools and wonderful online courses that can help teach both academics and enrichment courses. You don’t have to be the leading authority on supernovae or polynomials. There are resources just

a click away. At the same time, don’t be tempted to plop those eager young minds down in front of a screen for hours every day. 7. Develop Lifelong Learning— One of the best parts of homeschool is the opportunity to learn along with your students. Explore topics you find interesting, express interest in what they are learning, and you will gain knowledge yourself, while modeling for your children that learning isn’t some boring thing we do at school; it’s part of what makes us human and keeps us alive. 6. Make Connections—Even with social distancing, there are homeschool groups, teams, clubs, and other opportunities that can help you and your children to thrive. Seek out support groups for yourself and your children and take advantage of resources available from the public school system, for any student. 5. Ask Questions—Ask your children how they are doing. Get their input on topics that interest them. Ask veteran homeschoolers how they cope with problems you face. Ask about regulations you don’t understand. You’ll not only get answers for yourself, you’ll show your children that asking questions is an important part of how we learn and grow! 4. Customize! —Many families choose homeschooling to better fit their individual children’s needs. Don’t feel you have to use a complete boxed grade if you have a child who is on different levels with different subjects. If reading is a struggle, but math is a breeze, a homeschooled student can move on to more advanced math while catching up with reading. Projects and areas of interest can also be explored with homeschooling in ways that will allow each child to have a unique and meaningful learning experience.

3. Get out of the House—Strangely enough, homeschoolers are often not at home. The current situation makes us more housebound than in the past, when homeschooling took us to museums, parks, libraries, science centers, and theaters. However, there are still plenty of ways to take learning out of the house. Learning can happen outside, in the garden, on a creekbank, or any other of the myriad of places we are blessed to have in our area and which we can enjoy without being too close to anyone else. 2. Be Flexible—One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard was “Blessed be the flexible. They shall not get bent out of shape.” Homeschooling, like anything else involving other humans, can be frustrating. There will be rough days, for parents and kids. One homeschooling advantage is the flexibility to deal with those frustrations. You can switch subject order, change topics for the day, or try different approaches. Don’t feel like you have to keep doing something that doesn’t work. That’s why many of us went with homeschooling anyway. 1. Don’t Panic—No matter what, do not panic. Homeschooling will have wonderful days. Homeschooling will also have horrible days when you want to throw in the towel. Don’t give up on it, yourself, or your children. There are so many issues out of our control these days, but we can control how we react. We can laugh at our mistakes and at those of our children, and we can help them learn what they need while also helping them learn that we care. As a parent, you’ve been teaching your child from the beginning, so don’t panic. Go make some memories and foster some learning!



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Charlie & Penny VonCanon

A Model A Couple By Carol Lowe Timblin


harlie B. VonCanon, a native of Banner Elk who was elected to the town council in 2000, is a rare individual who still has just everything he has ever owned. He still has his first car—a 1931 Model A Ford Coupe—which he keeps in a historical barn. He still owns his first house—now a rental property overlooking the Shawneehaw Creek in Banner Elk. His house and workshop are filled with family treasures—old letters, vintage pictures, antique furniture, books, tools passed down through the family, and more. He even owns a red caboose that once ran over the Clinchfield Railroad and is now being restored. He has been married to his wife Penny for nearly 58 years. Together, the two make a wonderful team, each sharing with the other whatever they might be doing, whether it’s preserving the Banner Elk Cemetery, working on a town project, or hosting a family reunion. Charlie B’s father served as Mayor of Banner Elk for 14 years, beginning in 1971. When Jim Morton launched the popular Woolly Worm Festival in 1977, he chose Mayor VonCanon to be the official prognosticator, predicting the winter weather based on the worm’s stripes. Though a busy man, family was always a priority for VonCanon, who taught his two sons (Charlie and William) some important life lessons. “When I was about 13 years old, my father bought me a cow, which I had to feed, water, and milk,” Charlie B. recalls. “I sold the cow’s milk, cheese, and butter to town neighbors and saved the money.

My mother churned the butter and made the cheese. When I turned 16, Dad decided I had taken good care of the cow and could trade it in for my first car— the Model A Ford Coupe. We brought the car home knowing that it was going to require some work. Dad sent me to Ed Jennings and Arvel Norwood, local mechanics, who taught me everything I needed to know about the car—how to take care of it and how to fix it. Working on the car was a lot more fun than weeding the garden.” The black shiny car—with its wire wheels, pin-stripping, rumble seat in the back, and loud ooga horn—was just what the handsome young Charlie B. VonCanon needed to sport about town— and to attract girls. “In my sophomore year (1959) at Lees-McRae, I invited three other students to ride with me to Fort Lauderdale during spring break. They paid for the gas—15 cents a gallon at the time—and I drove for 24 hours to my cousin Steve Brinkley’s home. We drank Cokes and ate Moon Pies all the way to Florida. After we had rested from the trip, Steve told me I needed to get a date. He showed me pictures of all the cute girls in his high school annual. I picked out this blonde girl with a ponytail named ‘Penny Clark’ and called her up. She was the Brinkleys’ neighbor and agreed to be my date.” After dating for three years, Charlie B. popped the question, and Penny said Yes. The couple married in Fort Lauderdale in December of 1962 and moved to Fayetteville, NC, where Charlie B. was

stationed with the U.S. Air Forces, supporting the ground power equipment for C-130 airplanes. Their daughter Cathy was born there in 1965. Upon his honorable discharge, the couple moved back to Banner Elk to complete his degree in Industrial Arts at Appalachian State University. Unable to find a teaching position in the area after his graduation in 1967, they moved to Wilmington, where they welcomed son Charles III (Trey) two years later. That same year (1969) an opening at Avery High School prompted the VonCanons to return to the mountains. Meanwhile, Penny worked as a substitute teacher for several years. Eventually finishing her college degree at App State, she taught Food Service and Nutrition at Avery High School. They both retired in 1999. The VonCanons remain active in church and community affairs. They have also enjoyed traveling with family and spending time with their children and three grandchildren. They worked with the Greater Banner Elk Heritage Foundation for several years and have continued their preservation work at the Banner Elk Cemetery. Penny joined the town’s Planning Board in 2005. She also manages Vonderosa Properties, LLC, in Banner Elk, is a member of a book club, and has been involved in Friends of the Park and a local garden club. “Living in Banner Elk is wonderful,” says Penny. “I feel as if I have died and gone to Heaven.” “I thank God every day that I live in Banner Elk,” adds Charlie. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Autumn 2020 —


Wisdom & Ways

Makin’ Molasses By Jim Casada


hree or more generations ago, as was true for virtually everything “store bought,” refined sugar was considered a luxury. My father often talked about “sweetenings” from his youth, and it was obvious sugar was precious and little used. It could be purchased along with some of the other basic cooking necessities—salt, black pepper, and the like—but whenever possible, substitutes were used to satisfy the sweet tooth. There were multiple options available. Most required hard work and considerable expenditure of time, but those were two ingredients mountain folks possessed in ample quantity. The most common sweetening was molasses. Families typically set aside a plot of good ground for their patch of sugar cane each year, annually saved seed to plant, and made a special event out of cane cutting time. When it was harvested they turned to someone who owned the equipment to press the juice from the stalks and “boil it down” until the syrup reached a satisfactory


color and consistency. Most communities had an individual with the necessary skills and machinery (a press, large vat-like containers, and a skimmer) for the process. Much like millers, that person usually received a portion of the syrup as payment for use of his equipment. Often “molasses makin’s” were a community event with multiple families hauling in their crop of cane, helping out in feeding the press, seeing that the horse or mule which provided power to crush cane stalks kept moving, maintaining the fire beneath the vat of juice at the right temperature, skimming foam off the top with a special device made for that process, and all the while being part of a holiday-like atmosphere. There would likely be a picnic as part of the festivities, sometimes imbibing of moonshine or the “skimmings” which quickly developed significant alcohol content, music, and dancing. The end product, stored in cans (lard buckets), would keep indefinitely and could be used in a variety of ways. While I’ve seen more than one supposed authority who insists the end product wasn’t molasses but cane syrup, for my part I’ll go with the word High Country folks invariably used. To them, it was molasses. Some of Daddy’s fondest reminiscences of youth revolved around molasses. The type of cane they raised, how the family harvested it, the pleasure of chewing on a mature stalk to get sweet juice, and the manner in which molasses figured in the family’s diet. Often the lunch he and his siblings carried to school consisted of a big chunk of cornbread or a couple of biscuits with molasses to sop them in. Any true-to-its-roots recipe for stack cake utilized molasses. Dried beans were sometimes cooked with some molasses and known as baked beans. And it was a staple on the mountain breakfast table. The sweetening had a distinctive flavor, and folks developed specific preferences for variations ranging from light-colored syrup to hearty “blackstrap” molasses with its hint of an iron aftertaste. It was also used, come time for administering a spring tonic in the form of sulfur powder, to make the noxious blood thinner at least somewhere close to palatable. In a related medicinal context, one of the notable features of molasses, unlike refined sugar, which has no nutritional value, is that it contains a number of vitamins and minerals. Ironically, once popular because it didn’t require “cash money” to acquire, it is far more costly than sugar in today’s world. Molasses is now a somewhat obscure item, seldom featured in normal diet, and often unavailable in chain grocery stores. The best place to get the “real McCoy” is likely from a local produce stand or roadside market. Yet molasses remains a distinctive and tasty treat, useful for everything from candy pullings to making popcorn balls. Some seasoned gourmets with distinct hankerings for the foods of yesteryear will even readily aver that the only thing better than a cathead biscuit decorated with a liberal application of molasses and home-churned butter is two such biscuits.

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Farmer’s Market! MOLASSES PIE


When I finished undergraduate school and ventured out into the real world beyond the blessed bosom of North Carolina’s mountains, my first position found me teaching and coaching in a Virginia military academy. The school furnished lodging (of sorts) but without kitchen or cooking facilities. Accordingly, I was reliant on the decidedly indifferent food eaten by the cadet corps or eating at local restaurants. In one of them I noticed they had brown sugar pie on the menu. Curious and possessing a sweet tooth always in need of some satisfaction, I ordered a slice. It was enjoyable but after the first bite I thought to myself: “I’m eating molasses pie made from brown sugar.” It lacked the extra taste touch molasses offers, or maybe I was merely a gustatory prisoner of my raising. Whatever the case, a properly made molasses pie made with free-range eggs and featuring homemade crust, is a genuine treat.

Sometimes called taffy, because pulling is part of the process, this sweet is distinctively different and a real treat for anyone who likes molasses and enjoys sucking on a piece of hard candy.


• 2 cups molasses • 4 large, free-range eggs (regular eggs will work, but they aren’t as good) • 2 tablespoons cornstarch • Pie pastry shell


Pour the molasses into a small pot and heat it until it shows the first signs of bubbling, then turn down the heat, keeping the syrup warm. Break eggs into a bowl and beat well with a whisk. Slowly add the eggs to the molasses, stirring constantly as you do so. Mix the cornstarch with a bit of the syrup-and-egg mixture to make a paste, and then place it back in the pot and mix in well. Turn the heat back up and allow the mixture to come to a slow boil, stirring consistently as you do so. Once the mixture thickens and stiffens enough to make stirring a bit difficult pour into the pastry shell and bake at 325 degrees until the pie sets.

Ingredients: • 3 tablespoons butter • 1 cup brown sugar • ¾ cup Dixie Dew (or other light corn syrup—I’ve always been partial to Dixie Dew because I remember what graced the label of this sweetener in the 1950s—“Covers Dixie like the dew and gives a biscuit a college education”—that’s advertising genius) • 2 teaspoons vinegar • ¾ cup molasses • Pinch of baking soda


Grease a baking pan with a tablespoon of butter and set aside. Combine sugar, corn syrup, and vinegar in a saucepan and cook slowly on low heat, stirring regularly, until the sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium, stirring as needed, until a candy thermometer reads 250 degrees or until the mixture is fairly firm. Add molasses and two tablespoons butter and continue to cook, stirring as needed, until the candy mixture reaches its previous consistency. Remove from heat, add a pinch of baking soda, and beat well with a whisk. Pour in the previously prepared pan and let cool until you can handle it with buttered fingers. Pull and work the mix as you would taffy, making it into ropes. Cut in one-inch pieces and wrap in waxed paper. Jim Casada’s latest book, A Smoky Mountain Boyhood: Musings, Memories, and More, will be out later this fall. For more information, to reserve a copy, or to sign up for his free monthly e-newsletter, visit

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All ABOARD… the High Country Caboose Express! By Steve York


he idea for this story was initially suggested by Fred Pfohl, proprietor of Fred’s Mercantile on Beech Mountain. Fred, an avid train and caboose enthusiast, went on a pilgrimage of sorts to visit several relic cabooses on display here in the High Country. So, it occurred to him that others might also enjoy that adventure while further exploring the communities where these cabooses are displayed. But before we hop aboard that adventure, let’s look back at the origin of cabooses and how their legacy has marked our nation’s long and proud history with trains. In early 1830-something, a small, roughly hewn wooden shanti building was attached atop an out-of-service flatbed boxcar and coupled to the back end of a freight train. It was built to shelter the conductor, his crew and their basic needs. That became the very first train caboose. By the 1840s, dedicated caboose cars with “cupulas”—or windowed lookout compartments on top—became standard. The cupulas aided the conductor with enhanced views of the cars ahead and approaching trains from behind.


They had platforms on each end with handrails and steps, plus breaks to either help adjust the trains’ speed or make emergency stops. Cabooses were generally considered to be even more critical to the train’s safe operation than the locomotive. From before Abraham Lincoln to recent history, the rear platform of the caboose was often used by presidents and candidates to deliver their messages directly to the public. And in those early years before air travel, the train was the fastest, most practical way for political leaders to make personal contact with tens of thousands of people across multiple states and communities. Since the late 1980s, most active cabooses have been retired and either junked or discarded in abandoned railroad yards. But there are six notable ones on public display right here in the High Country. Here are their towns and a little bit about their legacies: Newland, NC: Perhaps the most famous caboose in this area is from the old East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad (ET&WNC) line, better known as “Tweetsie” (named

after its shrill steam whistle). Its grand red caboose, No. 505, was part of the ET&WNC system which transported iron ore from Cranberry through Elizabethton and Johnson City, Tennessee, and also made runs from Linville to Boone, North Carolina. It was in service from 1926 to 1950 when the ET&WNC was abandoned. It passed through a couple previous owners and locations before Jerry Turbyfill, VP of the ET&WNC Historical Society, and volunteers helped acquire and restore it to its new home alongside the old Linville Depot next to the Avery County Historical Museum, which is adjacent to the county courthouse on Newland’s Town Square. Banner Elk, NC: This resort community boasts two High Country cabooses. Coming from Hwy 105 down Hwy 184 into Banner Elk, the first one is sitting at the entrance to Sugar Creek Gem Mine/ Sugar Creek Ski Rentals. Previously located behind the Great Train Robbery and Puerto Nuevo Restaurant, this caboose was moved, restored and painted red by Sugar Creek’s owners, Matt and Chris Leonard. When their winter ski and board rental business became so

busy that customers had to wait outside in the cold, the brothers found the old 500-square-foot caboose to be an ideal and eye-catching overflow indoor setting, not to mention a tourist attraction in its own right. Then, as you enter the town’s hub, there sits another red caboose and a Banner Elk landmark owned by Charles VonCanon. Named the “Clinchfield Caboose No. 1024,” this wooden-built gem served the Clinchfield Railroad from 1948 to 1964, making nearly 4,500 trips between Spartanburg, SC, and Elkhorn, KY, before finding its Banner Elk home in 1971. In 1990, the VonCanons added on a depot and a full finished basement creating at total of 1,324 square feet to the structure. After serving as several different enterprises and even surviving an interior fire, “No. 1024” is currently under additional restoration by the VonCanons. West Jefferson, NC: “Connie the Caboose,” at the Caboose Park on the Backstreet in downtown West Jefferson, was originally part of the Norfolk and Western Railroad’s rolling stock and was used on the Ashe County line. It found its new home in 2017 and was officially

donated to West Jefferson by the Ashe County Historical Society in May, 2018. In an effort to restore it to its original glory, the Caboose Committee held fundraising to repaint the exterior back to the car’s original blue and yellow, and then renovate the interior to replicate its original look and feel. Todd, NC: Located near the site of the old Elkland Train Station in the quaint community of Todd on Hwy 194, you’ll find a rusty and weathered red caboose. Once a vital part of the Chesapeake Western Railroad Line, it is now on display as a proud and silent monument to its service. The community of Todd is set by the New River and was once a boom town when served by the Virginia-Carolina Railway system. Spruce Pine, NC: Known as the “Chessie Cat” caboose due to its Chessie Cat System logo on its side panel, this rusted yellow caboose was donated to the town of Spruce Pine by the CSX Transportation railroad operating system. It was part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Line and has lineage to the 190-year-old Baltimore & Ohio Railroad system. According to railroad enthusiasts, the “Chessie Cat” caboose

was built in the 1970s and in use by the Clinchfield Railroad system up until about a year ago. Historical organizations or Chambers of Commerce in these five communities should be a good source for more information. And if, like Fred Pfohl, you’re a train and caboose fan, there are more retired cabooses on public display across the state and region. Their creative uses range from railroad museums to visitor centers, to restaurants, to cozy bed and breakfast inns, complete with authentic caboose ambiance. So, make tracks, hop aboard and be sure to grab a window seat!



Former App State Chancellor John Thomas: In the Right Place at the Right Time By Karen Rieley

“John E. Thomas, chancellor,” Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections, accessed November 21, 2019, https://omeka.library.appstate. edu/items/show/7485


ohn Edwin Thomas, DBA., the fourth of eight chancellors for Appalachian State University (1979 – 1993), epitomizes the famous quote, “The two most important requirements for major success are: first, being in the right place at the right time, and second, doing something about it.” Now retired and living in Valle Crucis with his wife Janice, John, 88, reflects on passions pursued, risks taken and legacies achieved. “It’s been a damn good ride,” he said. John and Janice have lived in the High Country since 1974, when he was asked to join the administration of Appalachian State University as vice chancellor for academic affairs. The move to academia was a major shift in John’s career focus. John’s varied career path actually made him uniquely qualified to lead App State at a pivotal time in its history. The university recognizes John as a leader in technology and international education by contributing innovative ways for the university to achieve the expansions it sought. John’s life story begins in Ft. Worth, Texas. He was born in 1931 into a middle-class family, two years after the Stock Market Crash of 1929. His father, mother, sister and he moved from Texas to Kansas City, Mo., where he attended grade school and high school. He attended Central Missouri State College for a year, taking pre-engineering courses.


“I chose engineering because I like math, so I thought I’d be good at it,” John said. In 1949, as soon as he turned 18, he enlisted in the Navy at the urging of his best buddy, who convinced him that life in San Diego, where he was based, was a lot more fun than in Missouri. After boot camp, the Navy sent him to electronics school for a year as a Seaman First Class. Then his reserve service was transferred to the Naval ROTC at the University of Kansas. He graduated in 1953 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. After graduation, because he was a member of the ROTC, he was called up as a Second Lieutenant reserve officer and went to boot camp again in the Marine Corps, this time in Washington, D.C. In 1953, John was hired as an electrical engineer for Wagner Electric Corporation in St. Louis. “I wanted to be a design engineer of power transformers and work at the blackboard doing the mathematics for that,” John said. Instead, Wagner made him start out in the factory where he could see the products being made and talk with the workers. Wagner gave John his first life lesson: Hands-on experience helped him more effectively lead others. In 1955, John was called to active duty and sent to Camp LeJuene in Jacksonville, N.C. He was put in command of a radio relay platoon teaching electronics and supervising troops in stripping down equipment. At one of the dances held at the camp, John met a young woman, Ellen, who had a six-year-old daughter named Laura. Ellen and John married, and in 1956 the couple decided that John should return to Wagner Electric where he could make $400 as an electrical engineer instead $250 per month as a Second Lieutenant. In a true case of being in the right place at the right time, John attended a company picnic where he met Wagner’s sales manager who offered him a job in sales.

“I decided on the spot to make a career change from design engineer to selling things.” He was moved to Kansas City. When John decided he needed to polish up his lack of liberal arts, he enrolled in law school at the University of Missouri at Kansas City in 1957. While working in sales full-time, he took classes at night, graduated in 1961 and passed the bar exam. Law school was the beginning of John’s second life lesson: A well-rounded education and commitment to lifelong learning helped John stay current and presented him with new career opportunities. By then, Ellen and John had two children together, Johnny and Christa, along with Ellen’s daughter. John was promoted to district manager, and the family moved to Atlanta where he managed a sales force and worked with large customers such as Georgia Power Company. “I was really happy. We had built a nice home near Atlanta,” John said. Once again fate stepped in and took John’s life in a new direction, when John watched on television as Alan Shepard became the first American in space. That was a sign for John. He decided to go into the aerospace industry. He moved his family to Cape Canaveral, where he wanted to work in the launch area. “They said they were interested in hiring me because I had both an engineering and law degree,” John said. He joined an impressive team of experts whose one goal was to get a man on the moon and back to Earth safely by the end of the decade. Dr. Kurt H. Debus, the first director of NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center, wanted to start a master’s degree program for NASA employees in research and development management. John was asked to negotiate a contract with the State of Florida. Florida State University was very interested. “They not only said yes, but also sent their top two professors to Cape Canaveral to work out the curriculum for a master’s

degree,” John said. He was asked to be a guinea pig and enroll in the class. Of the 26 students who started in the program’s first year, John was one of about 22 who finished. John began teaching R&D management to undergraduates at a new satellite campus for Rollins College at the Kennedy Space Center. Then, he created a satellite campus for Florida Institute of Technology at Melbourne. In 1965, John found himself single again, this time with two children, ages 6 and 10, and one 16-year-old. Laura, who graduated from high school that year, went to live with her biological father. In 1967, he talked his “present and final wife,” Janice, into marrying him. They eventually had two sons of their own. Scott has a degree from UNC at Charlotte, a master’s degree from Appalachian State and a doctorate from UNC at Charlotte. He lectures at App State in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and lives in Boone. Younger brother Brandon, a 1992 App State grad, lives in Hillsborough, N.C., where is a marketing writer with PRA Health Sciences. “Janice and I have been married for 53 years and have had a marvelous life,” said John. “She has been a lifesaver. She took on a man who is seven years older than she is and two young children.” In 1969, NASA gave him unpaid leave to go to Tallahassee to get a master’s degree at FSU. He graduated in 1970 with a doctorate in business administration. He knew that NASA’s Apollo program was winding down to be followed by the shuttle program. Because his real passion had been the moon landing, the challenge of working for NASA was gone for him. He decided to pursue academia. East Texas State University located in Commerce, Texas, needed a chairman of the General Business Department and offered the position to John. In the four years he spent there, he was promoted to dean of


the College of Sciences & Technology. Moving to academia was John’s third life lesson: To find success and fulfillment in his career, John was willing to be open to change and take risks. When Dr. Herbert W. Wey, Appalachian State’s third chancellor approached John about becoming his vice chancellor, John responded enthusiastically. “We just jived. He got me a lot of elbow room. When you had an idea, Herb encouraged you to take the risk.” John remembers five projects, in particular. As vice chancellor, he created The Loft program, which allowed student artists to live for a week in the New York City loft rented by the university. They met face-to-face with a range of practicing artists. The program is now called The Appalachian Loft. He also helped William C. Hubbard develop a faculty development program now called the Hubbard Center for Faculty Development. The center provides funding to faculty members who have creative ideas for improving instruction. John also spearheaded two projects focused on interconnectivity. He integrated computers throughout the university with wideband distribution. And, it was his idea to create a transportation system to help students move around the campus and community easier, especially during Boone’s inclement winters, now called AppalCART. After John took the App State position, Janice went back to school and became a nurse. “She had a very successful career as a senior operating room nurse at Watauga Medical Center,” John said. “Our social life expanded because of all the people she came to know, and I became known as Jan’s husband. I loved it.” John has continued to take on projects after retiring in 1993. Jim Hunt, North Carolina’s governor when John retired, asked him to serve as chairman of the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

“John and Janice Thomas,” Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections, accessed November 21, 2019, show/7484

Dr. Thomas, “bell ringer” at the 2019 Founders Day event celebrating the 120th year of the founding of Appalachian State University

And in 1995 Dr. Ken Peacock, Chancellor of Appalachian State, contacted John and asked him if he would come back and work with the faculty in the college of business as they continued to expand their international academic programs. John closed out by telling me, “Janice and I sit down on the deck of our house now and thank God for the blessings we’ve had. Even the tough years we would never change.” CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Autumn 2020 —



Classroom space at App State has been adjusted to ensure six feet of physical distance between students. All available space on campus, including the Plemmons Student Union meeting rooms, conference rooms and other meeting room spaces, are being used as classroom space in order to accommodate physical distance requirements. Classrooms are being cleaned multiple times a day, and heating and air systems are being optimized to provide the greatest possible fresh air exchange.

3,333 feet up, 6 feet apart By Elisabeth Wall with photo by Marie Freeman

Monday, Aug. 17 — Appalachian State University’s lead photographer is on campus to capture the first day of class. She reports from the scene: “It’s a beautiful day! A hint of fall and a light cloud hangs over Howard Knob. Each of the eight classrooms I visited this morning had a positive vibe. Students are distanced by spacing between seats and they are wearing face coverings and following traffic flow markers. It’s lunchtime now — students at the food trucks are placing contactless orders and calling out to friends they haven’t seen since March. The Counseling Center is open and the university is offering free COVID-19 tests at a pop-up station. I sense anticipation and excitement.” A month has passed since the start of the fall semester. Students, faculty and staff are on campus, in classrooms and labs. Here are some factors as to why. Immediately following Gov. Roy Cooper’s March stay-at-home order to help slow the spread of COVID-19, Appalachian Chancellor Sheri Everts convened a leadership team to work closely with the Chancellor’s Cabinet, Emergency Management Task Force, faculty and staff within the divisions, and more than 20 working groups and committees to identify, allocate resources for and return students and faculty to classrooms and laboratories. Everts meets daily with her leadership team to assess and plan, sends weekly updates to faculty, staff, students and their families, and attends regular meetings with faculty, staff and student leadership.

“We are charting new territory, for certain. Every aspect of university life has been assessed with safety at the forefront — from academics, to dining, to residence life,” Everts said. “The academic mission is our greatest endeavor and the work of our students is our greatest legacy. I am proud of the ways our campus community has shown its commitment to work together to keep everyone as safe as possible, and I continue to be inspired each day by our faculty, staff and students.” Before returning to campus, every faculty, staff and student was required to complete a community health and safety course that included facts about COVID-19; how to protect oneself and others and how to access health services and other resources. Each day before coming to campus, students, staff and faculty perform an online health assessment. Course delivery options were developed to include fully remote, hybrid and in-person options for instruction. Department chairs and academic advisors worked with students and faculty to find the best possible options to meet their needs. A student survey of attitudes regarding safety practices during COVID-19 indicates students are “very willing” to wear face coverings and engage in safe hygiene practices. Presidents of Appalachian’s fraternity and sorority councils developed safety guidelines for their organizations, which included strict adherence to group sizes for gatherings, Violations are addressed through the organizations as well

as the university’s Organizational Code of Student Conduct. App State Police are assisting the Boone Police Department with monitoring, responding to and addressing off-campus gatherings that violate requirements related to COVID-19. University Housing implemented policies and procedures to ensure physical distancing, intensified cleaning and other safety precautions. Special move-in instructions and a new visitation policy were enforced. Housing plans and accommodations were identified for students who would need isolation and quarantine. Each student, faculty and staff member received three free face coverings, with extras available for those who found themselves without while on campus. Pop-up testing sites provide free testing for Appalachian faculty, staff and students. Daily data for the university are reported in partnership with AppHealthCare on an online dashboard. The university partnered with AppHealthCare on the High Country “Show Your Love” public health campaign, with billboards, avenue banners, newspaper ads, and local radio and TV spots featuring Chancellor Everts and App State students. Student Government joined in with public health messages on social media, and students were hired to help serve as wellness ambassadors to promote positive behaviors across campus. The future is uncertain, but Mountaineer spirit prevails. For more information on this story and updates, visit our website: CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Autumn 2020 —


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A Celebration of the Porch …a Respite During Covid By Julie Farthing

“Nobody thought much about the front porch when most Americans had them and used them. The great American front porch was just there, open and sociable, an unassigned part of the house that belonged to everyone and no one, a place for family and friends to pass the time…” ~ from “The Front Porch,” by Davida Rochlin


t was early morning in July when I received the telephone call that I had tested positive for COVID-19. The only reason I took the test at all was because my husband’s workplace had encountered an outbreak the week prior. His test came back negative, so I questioned the nurse on the other line if she was sure of the result. I was a “germaphobe” even before this pandemic brought the world as we know it to a crashing halt. There had to be a mistake. I carry two bottles of germ-x in my car, always don a mask in public areas, and steer clear of anyone who isn’t wearing theirs. I hung up the phone and stared at the wall for a few minutes. It’s amazing how quiet the world gets when you crawl inside your head. Then I became frightened. COVID-19 was first named “2019 novel coronavirus” and with good reason. The word novel as an adjective refers to something new, original and fresh. SarsCoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was an organism unknown to science nine months ago. I didn’t have any of the original reported symptoms. No fever. No coughing. No headache. I had experienced muscle aches and pain in my neck

and shoulders. But I had also just planted roughly 1,000 pumpkin seeds. That seemed normal. But positive for Covid? How could I have let my guard down? For nearly two weeks following the positive result, I felt as though something had taken up residence in my body. I had periods of extreme fatigue and spinning dizziness. I could only explain this as hitting a “wall.” I would be speaking one minute and then searching for words the next. The only place I could feel normal was outside on my porch. It was where I would retreat when I wasn’t asleep. I found watching the news too overwhelming and even concentrating on my favorite cooking shows a bit perplexing. My porch gave me a normalcy that the inside walls of my home could not provide. Nothing in the space of smooth wooden planks and a tin roof, knew or cared about this pandemic. I curled up in a weathered rocking chair with a cup of tea and just stared into shades of green and blue beyond the porch rails. It was there that I healed. I searched my shelves for the wellworn book, “Out on the Porch: an evocation in words and pictures,” with an introduction by Reynolds Price. It features porches all over the south, but mostly in North Carolina, with the welcoming porch of the Mast Farm Inn, here in Watauga County, to beautiful verandas and modest porches throughout the piedmont and coastal towns. The book was an easy read because I could catch snippets of poetry and history of these outside rooms between naps.

The average literate American— especially one who’s well-read in American fiction—is likely, at the mention of porches to think first and last of a rangy white house... banked with old trees and dark green shrubs, and fronted or ringed by a broad shady porch with rocking chairs and a hanging swing that will seat at least two peaceful adults or (better yet) one drowsy adult and a much-loved child, stroked by the merest trace of a breeze and engaged in a soft-voiced dialogue of no great moment as to subject or theme, though deeply rewarding to heart and mind through a whole life’s memory. - Reynolds Price, “The Lost Room”

As I sat on my humble porch I did not want to know the death toll of the virus. So instead, I listened to songbirds in the morning and the sound of wind chimes stirring in the breeze as the sun faded behind the house at dusk. I could breathe deeply, in and out. The air, not too hot, the breeze, constant, felt good against my skin. During my time of Covid, I was forced to not talk or think of anything, to sit and think of everything. I remembered the porch of my grandmother—cement floor, one sturdy swing, big enough for the two of us to gently sway as she practiced hymns for the church choir. I remembered the unadorned brick stoop of my childhood home where we would sit and catch lighting bugs in mayonnaise Continued on next page CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Autumn 2020 —


Porch: Continued from page 83

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jars. I thought of porches of friends where we laughed, sharing stories, and recalling memories. After 10 days, I was counting each normal hour as a victory. My small club of Covid authorities warned that I would either get better by day nine or decline. I actually forced myself to stay up past midnight to be sure I was not in the latter group. Slowly I felt the disease lifting from my body. My prayer warriors had been mighty. After my quarantine ended I was afraid to venture out, but at the same time longing for freedom. When I felt secure in my surroundings, I enjoyed a wonderful meal al fresco at Over Yonder Kitchen in Valle Crucis. I have dined there many times, but never fully appreciated the slightly tilted porch with the ceiling fans and bucolic view of the valley beyond Mast General Store. I have a new appreciation for the porch. From the stately Moses Cone Veranda on the Blue Ridge Parkway to the long and wide sheltered decking of the Green Park Inn in Blowing Rock, where in the early 20th century summer residents would sanctuary in the cool, mountain air and its healing qualities.

They would have been there on any other night, but this evening they were gathered even before the sun was completely gone. ...For a moment nobody spoke. They sat or squatted along the veranda, invisible to one another, it was almost full dark, the departed sun a pale greenish stain in the northwestern sky. The whippoorwills had begun and fireflies winked and drifted among the trees beyond the road. ~ William Faulkner

Over centuries the sturdy people of the High Country have retreated to porches in escape of summer heat and kitchen cook stoves. They have been used as gathering spots for reunions, storytimes, wedding ceremonies and wakes. They contain secrets in their spaces. My porch has been a gathering place for five generations. The one with the weathered rocking chairs, and a bird cage with no bottom, because birds sound nicer in trees. May it continue to offer respite for those who enter there.

The Power of the Prayer Tree I

t took only 26 minutes for the fire to destroy every piece of merchandise inside Take Heart, a lovely gift boutique inside a small lavender-hued historic building on Main Street in downtown Blowing Rock. The fire took place in June of 2019. One year prior to the incident, Sheri Furman, owner of Take Heart, had an idea, or more of a “pressing on my heart” to place some tags (wooden at the time) and pens outside in the small garden next to her shop. A sign that read, “Wishes? Prayers?” accompanied the bowl of tags and pens. She said to her employees, “Let’s just see what happens.” When she returned to her shop after being away for a couple of days, the tags had been tied to a branch on the garden’s main tree. Some of the authors requested healing for themselves or loved ones, others expressed gratitude. With this handful of tags, the seed had been planted for what was to become Blowing Rock’s “Prayer Tree.” In the year that followed, droves of people visited the tree. Nearly 13,000 paper tags, all protected by plastic sleeves, were thoughtfully scribed and secured to every branchlet. Some prayer tags were even inside the store. And then the day came when flames swept through the building. While assessing the damage from the fire, Furman made an almost unbelievable discovery: not one prayer had been lost. “Everything burned except for the prayers,” says Furman. “The

prayers just refused to burn—everything else around them was ash.” The store has been closed since the 2019 incident, but the Prayer Tree continues to flourish. Around 40,000 wishes and prayers now cloak the tree and surrounding greenery. “Even though my doors have not been open, the prayer tree has grown and grown and grown…. The people come... to a burned out place of ruins to lay down their hope and script their heart onto a tag of paper.” On occasions when Furman is inside her hollowed out building, she sometimes looks out the window to observe individuals and families stopping at the garden, inspecting the tree, and composing thoughts on the paper tags. “It’s one thing to write the prayer, but there’s something about tying it that visibly moves people,” Furman says. “It’s as if they have ‘surrendered’ something.” From Furman’s perspective, the tree is a safe place for people to share their deepest thoughts—to ask for healing, pray for a miracle, let go of darkness, seek peace, and show faith. Perfect strangers have contacted her after hanging their tags to let her know their prayers were answered. “Some will get their miracles, some will get their healing.” Today her shop is in the process of being restored. “In preparing to rebuild, my thoughts, of course, have rested upon the prayer tree. How to protect it? And then it struck me: I have been built upon prayers. Mine, and now others’.” So in making

By Tamara S. Randolph

plans to “rise from the ashes,” Furman had an idea… or maybe it was a pressing on the heart. “I literally am going to be built upon prayers. I am going to place some of them in the building’s foundation. The prayers that refused to burn … the prayers wrapped in plastic that refused to melt. Upon that foundation, I will be rebuilt.” Furman looks forward to reopening Take Heart next spring. Construction activities will carefully be conducted to preserve the tree, and the garden will also see some upgrades. Furman plans to expand it and encase the garden in living walls of vines and other plant life, making it more of a secluded area where visitors can walk into one side of the garden and exit out the other. A fountain will be added, along with “amazing lighting.” Ultimately, she reveals, “It will be more sacred, more intimate, more peaceful.” As for the prayers that continue to pour in, Furman confides that the tree and surrounding garden will continue to shelter those prayers. “As long as people come, we will continue to be stewards. Even if you feel you have lost everything, you still have your faith and your prayers.”

heart... Visitors to the prayer tree website at www. can virtually add a wish or prayer to the tree; a smartphone app is also available. Keep up with the progress of Furman’s endeavors on Facebook: ThePrayerTreeBR and TakeHeart_nc. The store’s new website,, goes live this fall.



Mary Junell

Grayson Farmer

Chris Boseman

They Also Serve Who Serve Unsung… A Veteran Services Story


hen we think of Veterans Day this time of year, we naturally become humbled and nostalgic recalling images and stories of the bravery and sacrifice given by our military veterans; of those who were lost, those who were wounded and the exuberant reunions of veterans returning to their homes and families. Those are the images that naturally come to mind when we think of honoring our many veterans, both past and present. But there are also many behind-thescenes heroic services and organizations who help those vets excel in life both during and following military service. One of those here in the High Country is the Student Veteran Services at Appalachian State University in Boone. Proudly designated as one of the Top Military Friendly Schools in the country, App State is affiliated with the Student Veterans of America (SVA) and is currently ranked number eight among large public institutions nationwide for the year 2020 through 2021. Located on campus in the Major General Edward M. Reeder Student Veteran Resource Center, this department and its dedicated staff provide an incredible range of educational and advocacy services for veterans. The special relationship between those vital services and the exceptional caliber of the vets they serve may best be illustrated through the following personal stories. Mary Junell: Mary is an Avery County native, an App State senior majoring in communications and advertising, a U.S. Army Staff Sgt., and


a 19+ year veteran with multiple foreign deployments. She joined the U.S. National Guard in 2001 and enrolled at the University in 2002 but found herself deployed as a truck driver to Iraq and Kuwait in 2004, and again as a photographer for Army Public Affairs in 2009. Then, in 2015, Public Affairs sent her to Kosovo. While with Public Affairs, Mary applied her photography and communications course skills to begin chronicling her military experiences. And, today, as a proud student and beneficiary of Appalachian State’s SVS program, Junell is set to graduate in 2021. To her credit, Mary was also named the 2019 Paul D. Savanuck Writer of the Year  as part of the Army’s Maj. Gen. Keith L. Ware Communications Awards Competition. “I wrote about the PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) stuff, the things you don’t ever let go of. It was cathartic because I was able to share things I hadn’t talked about with anyone. It was really raw, writing that story,” Mary noted. Grayson Farmer: Grayson is a student veteran at Appalachian State, president of its  Student Veterans Association  (SVA) and was one of 124 student veterans selected nationally to participate in the 2019  Student Veterans of America (SVA) Leadership Institute  in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was an active duty paralegal in the U.S. Army’s Fifth Special Forces Group until being released July 2017. As SVA president and a senior marketing major with a concentration

in digital marketing, Farmer has been an active advocate for other student veterans on campus and has been commended for his dedication to SVA programs. As for Grayson’s own experiences as SVA President, “I am so proud to be a part of something that is much bigger than myself. I have watched individuals open up and grow—as better people, advocates and leaders. I’ve made new friends and mentors who I know I can count on anytime that I may need to reach out.” Chris Boseman: Chris is a native of Morganton, an Iraqi War vet, a father and a cancer survivor who served ten years with Army Psychological Operations. Currently he’s a senior at App State’s Beaver College of Health Sciences, does work within the prison systems and plans to devote his military and educational experience to help foster prison reform. In looking back on his military service, he noted, “The deployment experiences with your fellow soldiers are the most memorable. There is a level of camaraderie between soldiers that is unmatched.” Regarding some of the benefits offered him by the University’s SVA program, “For me, I would say the use of the Student Veteran Resource Center has been especially valuable. I have made many friends there. And the staff are very helpful in helping student veterans with school issues and many other areas,” Chris added. Dean Reed: Dean served a quarter of a century in active duty with the US Air Force from November 1981 till

By Steve York August 2007. So, he has seen more than his share of combat, loss of squadron mates and long separations from home, family and friends. On the other hand, being stationed all around the world turned out to be an invaluable cultural opportunity and one of his more positive experiences. “After 25 years of active duty service plus another twelve providing training to active duty members, I’ve learned the value of applying yourself to any task you attempt; to set your goals, stick with the task, and enjoy the journey. And, as a non-traditional student, the App State SVA program was especially useful in helping me to more smoothly transition from military service back into the world of college academia.” Mary, Grayson, Chris and Dean represent only four of the many stories connecting our vets with Appalachian State University’s SVA programs. So, as we honor our veterans, both past and present, we should also remember to salute the many “unsung” who serve our vets during and following active duty. For more information and more stories, visit NOTE: Special thanks to Jennifer Coffey, Program Director with the Appalachian State University Student Veteran Services, Elisabeth Wall, Managing Editor/Appalachian Magazine, University Communications and our featured veterans for their contributions to this story.

Photography by Skip Sickler Autumn It’s raining down leaves right now almost like snowing … those leaf-flakes wet and bigger than a tongue can catch and the throat can possibly swallow. Gold, red, some still green as if they refuse to let go of Summer determined to remain tied tightly to the branches that sprawl from naked trunks. The wind whips them into a disarray of colors whips the wind chimes on the porch sends stray leaves scurrying across the planks now wet with mist and puddled rain. High above us … high into the treetops the wind dances faster and faster to its own mountain melody like cloggers stomping their feet on a backwoods stage. She gusts, then settles … and gusts some more hot headed like an ole mountain woman cussin’ out her likkered stumblin’ man making sure we all know she’s fueled by fury. And with each bursting breath of air she shakes the leaves from their stems presses cool breezes into our faces threatens us that she’s knocking on Winter’s door. ­—Amy C. Millette, Vilas, NC CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Autumn 2020 —


SCORE & Float Therapy: A Business Startup Success Story By Steve York


et’s say you have a relatively novel idea for a business you’d like to start right here in the High Country. Let’s say your idea was inspired by a real-life experience that helped a loved one heal and recover from a broken back injury caused by an automobile accident. Let’s say your natural passion for wellness therapy added fuel to your inspiration, and that your Bachelor of Science degree in business and your work background helped give you the skills and confidence to believe you could successfully launch a start-up business. While we’re at it, let’s also say there’s no other similar business in the immediate area, so there’s no actual local track record upon which to base your business model projections. However, the service technology has been around since the 1970s in research on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the business model, itself, does have a proven track record elsewhere in other comparable markets. So…where do you turn for all the support you need to develop a business plan, organize an operational structure and execute a marketing plan? Answer? SCORE: Service Core of Retired Executives. By the way, those above-mentioned scenarios aren’t hypothetical. They are part of the real-life story behind Boone’s new 180 Float Spa; the inspiration of Angela Heavner and her husband, Brad Heavner. Brad, with a professional background in construction, is the one who suffered a broken back in a car accident about three years ago. Angela is the one with the business education and administrative position in the nursing department at Appalachian State University. She’s also the one with a long-time passion for wellness therapy. As fate can sometimes have it, Brad’s broken back led the couple to check out a float spa therapy treatment program in Asheville back in 2017. It was the only one of its kind in the area at that time


and the couple had heard positive reports about its value to the healing process. Sure enough, the float treatment did prove to significantly aid in Brad’s recovery. And that was all the inspiration they needed to begin the couple’s three-year journey from an entrepreneurial dream to a brick-andmortar reality. A critical ingredient in their three-year journey has been the strategic relationship developed between the Heavners and Ken Swanton, business mentor with High Country’s SCORE office located at the Appalachian Enterprise Center in Boone. Ken worked hand-in-hand with Angela and Brad every step of the way; from business and marketing planning, to the launch of the business. “180 Float Spa was the first company in North Carolina to receive startup financing through a NC investment crowd funding program, advised by Mountain BizWorks, raising an impressive $21,000,” noted Ken Swanton. “The therapy involved in their business is relatively new and is of great benefit to people who have suffered back and other joint injuries. The military is also using it for vets who are suffering from PTSD,” he added.  As Angela explained, “Float Therapy enhances your personal health and wellness through relaxation and mental clarity. At 180 Float Spa you will experience zero gravity in a completely safe, sensory

controlled environment, encouraging full mind-body connectivity while enjoying deep relief and healing of both mind and body. And, by the way, float therapy can be very beneficial for treating the added physical and emotional stresses people experience while trying to adapt their lives to the challenges of this COVID-19 period. So, we’ve structured our appointment scheduling and spa accommodations to fully comply with all health requirements during these difficult times.” As to the unique name for the business: “Well, 180 represents the degree of turnaround one can experience with float therapy,” said Angela. “As we found with Brad’s broken back, his float treatments helped him make a complete 180-degree turnaround during his healing process. And that result was all we needed to spark the desire to build our own float therapy operation right here in the High Country,” she added. 180 Float Spa is located at 249 Kimberly Drive in Boone across from the hospital. Brad handled the build-out of the spa facility, manages day-to-day operations and is a CPO—”certified pool and spa operator.” Angela is in charge of customer service, business planning and marketing. You can take a peek at their operation and services online at, or call 828-8328180 for more information.



Banner Elk Voted “Best Town to Live In” in 2020

National Alpaca Farm Days September 26 -27

Hawk Watch in September!

From atop Grandfather Mountain, visitors can grab a front-row seat to one of nature’s most stunning spectacles— thousands of raptors migrating over the mountains and heading south toward their wintering grounds. Guests can observe the raptors during the annual Hawk Watch, in which official counters and volunteers note the number of passersby in the sky throughout the entire month of September. Counts will be conducted every day the weather permits from an area inaccessible to the general public, and will be posted daily at For more information visit

Over 1,000 farms will participate across the country to celebrate National Alpaca Farm Days. Come take a tour of Apple Hill Farm in Banner Elk and see this year’s new animals and products. The farm is not offering a self-guided option for 2020, so if you’d like to see the animals, you can make reservations for one of their guided tours, offered all day long on both days. Find out more about this event, and the annual Christmas Celebration at

The Children’s Playhouse “Play Kit Project”

Providing a Splash of Happy Professional Service Grants

The Mayland Small Business Center is offering professional service grants to help area businesses affected by COVID-19. Their professionals can assist with consultations for business reopenings, CPA assistance and advice, marketing support that can grow sales, business legal consultations and more. Email acook@ or call (828) 766-1295.


The Avery County Best of the Best winners for 2020 are out! The Avery JournalTimes hosts this annual competition to recognize exceptional businesses, destinations and people. Banner Elk, NC is a great place to live because of many factors, including its richness of culture, variety of outdoor activities, and great local shops and restaurants. Learn more about what Banner Elk has to offer at and

A new art installation has just been completed on the outdoor grand staircase at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts. The Turchin Center is situated on King Street and lies at the crossroads of Appalachian State University and downtown Boone, and this staircase serves as a pedestrian connector between the two. The dynamic duo of Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn @jessieandkatey were commissioned to transform the stairs into what has become an eye-popping mural!

Playhouse Play Kits are care packages filled with love from The Children’s Playhouse to all the families they are not able to see in person during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each kit contains detailed instructions and all the materials for many hours of hands-on fun! A small donation to cover the cost of materials is requested. Larger donations help provide boxes for families experiencing significant financial hardship during this time. Learn more at

Grandfather Home Visitors’ Center & Museum

Free Guided Hikes

Beech Mountain offers a series of guided hikes this season along some of its most picturesque trails, including: • Smoketree on September 17 (Meet at the Public Parking lot across from Town Hall) • Westerly Hills on October 1 (Meet at the Fred & Margie Pfohl Buckeye Rec Center) • Emerald Outback, on October 15 (Meet at the Public Parking lot across from Town Hall) Guided Hikes depart promptly at 10 a.m. Bring water and wear appropriate footwear. Call (828) 387-3003 for more information. (Each hike limited to 25 hikers max.)

Located in Banner Elk, just before the main campus of Grandfather Home on Hickory Nut Gap Road, the Grandfather Home Visitors’ Center and Museum lets visitors experience an important part of our area’s local history. Enjoy the fire and beautiful mountain views while learning about different aspects of the lives of Grandfather Home children through the decades. Go back in time as you flip through photos of what it was like working in the orchard, canning vegetables and picking blackberries. To schedule a tour, call Madison Cornwell at (828) 406-2424 (mlcornwell@childrenshopealliance).

ARHS Opens New Heart and Vascular Center

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) announces the opening of the new Heart & Vascular Center at Watauga Medical Center (WMC) in Boone. Formerly known as The Cardiology Center, the 8,000-square-foot facility opened in late August in a new heart care wing at the medical center. The Heart & Vascular Center will provide more efficient and convenient access for patients, by integrating outpatient heart care with diagnostic services in the same convenient location.

Kudos to Local Student and History Buff

National History Day® (NHD) is a nonprofit educational organization that promotes the teaching and learning of history in middle and high schools around the world. The largest program is the National History Day Contest that encourages more than half a million students around the world to conduct historical research on a topic of their choice. Through documentaries, exhibits, papers, performances, and websites, students presented research projects earlier this year addressing topics related to the 2020 NHD theme, Breaking Barriers in History. We congratulate Crossnore, NC, student Isabella Hardy, for winning first place in the country in Junior Individual performance, representing North Carolina! She researched the life of Williamina Fleming, one of the Harvard female “computers” in the late 19th and early 20th century. In recognition of Isabella’s award from NHD, the American Astronomical Society also recognized Isabella and two other students who had winning NHD projects on women in astronomy. Congratulations Isabella!

Help Kids Connect with History History of Watauga County

Be on the lookout for the second edition of ‘A Short History of Watauga County,’ by award-winning local author, historian and CML contributor Michael C. Hardy. Originally published in 2006, the author has since added nearly 15,000 words. “It is amazing how many more sources I can access from home now as compared to when I wrote this in the early 2000s,” says Hardy. Stay tuned to CML for updates on the new edition’s release, or visit Hardy’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook. com/Michael.C.Hardy.

Show Your Love!

Show love for yourself and others and practice the 3Ws when you leave your home. WEAR a cloth face covering. It should fit snugly against the sides of your face, covering your nose and mouth. You should be able to breathe easily. WASH your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer. WAIT 6 feet apart from others and avoid close contact.

Check out the Heritage Trunk project through the Greater Banner Elk Heritage Foundation! Everything you need is either already in your house, or available for download through the Foundation’s website. Kids can learn to connect with history through family interviews, flag making, and other activities. Originally developed as curriculum enhancement for 2nd graders, it is easily adaptable to any age, and even something you can do remotely with your grandkids. Learn more at



• Sinus infections and strep throat • Sprains, strains and minor fractures • Urinary symptoms


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10 Ba te



Mica, the fine contemporary craft cooperative in downtown Bakersville, NC, invites art lovers to the exhibition of Fiber work by Burnsville artist Kathryn Lynch. Lynch creates handmade decorative fabric cuffs and fabric handbags. Her work is noted for its use of color and pattern on functional decorative objects. “I make each bag one at a time, and they are all slightly different,” she notes. “I don’t use patterns, since I frequently let the fabric dictate shape and size.” Lynch also incorporates a resourceful, environmental concern in her process. “My work starts with the simple idea of not adding to landfills,” she notes. “I use high quality materials like designer upholstery scraps, sample books or memos, remnants and dead stock. I work hard to use scraps of all sizes and waste as little as possible.” And lastly, Lynch focuses on durability and quality. “I take my time while sewing to make sure that all seams are double sewn, and stress points get lots of attention. Everything I make is lined, and typically interfaced several times for structure and longevity.” Lynch’s work will be on display at Mica through October 20, 2020. Throughout the year, Mica showcases the craft work of its 15 artist-members including sculpture, glass, jewelry, fiber, wearables, painting, and functional pottery. This extraordinary collection, enhanced by consignment artists, a rotation of guest artists, and the welcoming and beautiful setting make Mica a must-see destination for those who appreciate the hand made. Mica is located at 37 Mitchell Ave, Bakersville, NC in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, halfway between Boone and Asheville, and just down the road from Penland School of Crafts. Visit for hours; follow the gallery on Facebook at Mica Gallery NC, or on Instagram at micagallerync.


Get to Know Ballad Health Medical Associates

Free Audio Walking Tours of Downtown Banner Elk

The Greater Banner Elk Heritage Foundation & the Banner House Museum are offering free audio walking tours of downtown Banner Elk every day, at your convenience! Walk along the path of history as you learn about some of Banner Elk’s most prominent historic buildings and their roles in the community. Enjoy the sites of Old Banner Elk and wander through the original town center (it isn’t where you think!) at your own pace using the Pocket Sights Tour app. To access the tour, use your cellphone to search for and download the free Pocket Sights app from the Apple Store or Google Play store. You can also access the link by visiting There is no fee to connect to the tour, though donations are greatly appreciated. The audio walking tour is offered by the Greater Banner Elk Heritage Foundation; note that the Banner House Museum is closed for the remainder of the season. Stay tuned for another exciting opportunity in 2020 to learn about local history. The Civil War in the High Country: A Multi-Media Area-Wide Collaboration is a collaborative project that stems from research provided by the Appalachian Regional History Museum. You’ll be able to use the Pocket Sights virtual tour platform to drive by sites which played an integral part of the Civil War in the High Country. Go online and learn more at

When you or a loved one needs medical care for a minor illness or injury, Ballad Health Medical Associates Urgent Care is a local option you can trust. They provide high-quality, convenient medical services for patients of all ages—no appointment necessary. Just walk in for medical attention if your primary care provider isn’t available, or if you don’t have a family physician. The Ballad urgent care clinic offers: n Extended weekday and weekend hours – especially helpful when your primary care doctor can’t fit you in or isn’t available after hours n Walk-in clinic convenience – no need for an appointment n No costly ER fees – urgent care co-pay amounts are usually less than emergencydepartment co-pays n COVID-19 testing; Flu shots; n On-site X-ray; sports physicals and school physicals Urgent care clinics are a great option when you need help for: n non-emergency issues such as: n Cold and flu symptoms, including fever and chills, cough, headache and sore throat n Ear and eye infections n insect or animal bites n Migraine headaches n Sinus infections and strep throat n Sprains, strains and minor broken bones n Small cuts, minor burns or skin rashes n Urinary tract, pelvic pain and other minor infections Visit Ballad Health Medical Associates Urgent Care at 108 Park Ave., beside the Banner Elk Pharmacy in Banner Elk, NC. Walk-in clinic hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Phone: 828.783.9183.


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

The High Country Breast Cancer Foundation, a health-based, non-profit, allvolunteer organization, supports breast cancer patients, survivors, and their families in the High Country of North Carolina. The funds raised through events such as the annual High Country Breast Cancer 5K Walk-Run are used to assist local women and men fighting breast cancer. This year, the organization will hold a VIRTUAL 5K walk October 24-31. The foundation states, “We feel this is the only way for us to have fun together, raise needed funds for local breast cancer patients, and be safe.” The theme for 2020’s event is, “Still Here for You.” According to the event organizers, the theme expresses that the High Country Breast Foundation is… Still here helping patients across the High Country pay their bills and feed their families during breast cancer treatment, Still here giving 100% of donations directly to patients, Still here for patients who would like to use the Paxman Scalp Cooling System during chemotherapy to prevent hair loss. Still here feeling grateful to the over 1,000 runners/walkers who joined in the 2017, 2018, and 2019 walks, Still here loving our community! Register for the Virtual 5K for only $10 at, and mark your calendar for the Facebook LIVESTREAM fundraising event to be held at Appalachian Mountain Brewery on Friday, October 30, from 5 - 9 p.m.

River Bank Restoration Projects

Buckeye Recreation Center has a New Name

This summer, one of Beech Mountain’s most popular recreational facilities was renamed in honor of long-time Beech Mountain residents Fred Pfohl and his late wife, Margie. The Fred and Margie Pfohl Buckeye Recreation Center is a 22,000+ square-foot facility offering opportunities like indoor basketball, volleyball, pickleball and tennis; a fitness room; a conference room with catering area; and a playroom built specifically for children under 12. Outside you’ll find a paved walking trail, ropes playground and access to the Beech Mountain Birding Trail. The Pfohls have owned and operated Fred’s General Mercantile on the mountain for more than 40 years, and have been a force in the community. Last year, the couple received the state’s highest honor, “The Order of the Long Leaf Pine.” The award was presented by House Representative Ray Russell, who said, “We have many great people around us, but none have done more for this community than Fred and Margie… We cannot imagine what this community would be like without you.” The Fred and Margie Pfohl Buckeye Recreation Center is open to residents and visitors alike. Visit the rec center’s facebook page at: https://www.

The New River winds its way through three states and countless communities who have depended on its bounty for generations. The New River Conservancy (NRC) focuses on protecting it to ensure that the waters that feed it are clean; that the land supports vibrant plants and animals; and that the communities that rely on it are passionate and empowered advocates for a healthy New River. The organization has had to cancel many events, volunteer days, paddle trips, and river cleanups during 2020, but they​​remain dedicated to protecting the waters, woodlands, and wildlife of the New River watershed. ​ One of their current initiatives addresses erosion and water quality issues on the South Fork of the New River in Boone, NC.  The NRC staff is partnering with the Town of Boone and Watauga County to restore 1,700 feet of riverbank on the South Fork New River (SFNR). The ongoing restoration project will ultimately restore a total of 4,500 linear feet of stream bank, and permanently ensure the stability of Boone’s greenway, in addition to improving water quality. This fall, the group plans to begin construction to restore eroding streambank and address water quality issues along Brookshire Park and the Ted Mackorell Soccer complex on the South Fork. In addition, the Town of Boone is giving the NRC 18 acres of forestland and some wetlands along the property that the Conservancy will work to protect and restore. Learn more about the important work of the NRC at and CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Autumn 2020 —


Hunter’s Tree Service

If you visit or live in northwestern North Carolina, you have likely seen the work of Hunter’s Tree Service, Inc. Tony Hunter, along with wife Judy, have been serving the communities of Banner Elk, Linville, Boone, Blowing Rock, Newland, Valle Crucis, and beyond for more than 35 years. Their business specializes in safe tree removal, having a professionally trained staff and just the right equipment—cranes, a bucket truck, chippers, dump trucks, stump grinders, and more—to help property owners prepare for and recover from the High Country’s wild winter weather . Damage from high winds and heavy precipitation take a toll on trees during the winter months, so now is the time to prepare. Hunter says to inspect your trees for several things. “Look for large pieces of deadwood and hanging fragments in your trees,” adds Hunter. Often called “hangers” or “widow makers,” these larger branches present a hazard; they could drop at any time, especially during windy conditions. He also suggests that you check tree trunks and branches for cracks and splits, hollow or decayed areas, wounds, peeling bark, and mushroom growth, which often indicates a rotting tree. “All of these are signs that your trees may be weak or have an unstable root system,” Hunter adds. Depending on the location of damaged or dying trees, partial or complete removal may be the best option to protect your property from damage. “Whether you know exactly what your trees need, or if you’d like someone to just take a look, now is the time to call a tree care professional,” he says. Hunter’s Tree Service, Inc. provides complete tree care, including pruning, view enhancement, tree removal, stump grinding, bucket truck service, crane service, lightning protection, tree cabling, pre-construction consultation, fertilization and pest control. Both Tony and Judy are certified arborists through the International Society of Arboriculture. You can reach Hunter’s Tree Service, Inc. at, or at (828) 733-3320 / (828) 963-5094.

Military Surplus Knives • Tools Camping & Sporting Goods “Your Military & Outdoor Store”

Tupperware (Vintage to New)

150 Linville St., Newland NC 28657 828-733-3600

Collectibles & More


High Country Charitable Foundation

The High Country Charitable Foundation, Inc. (HCCF) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a mission to help the Avery County, NC community by providing for neighbors and animals in need. A new short video, by Dan Hickman Films, showcases the organization’s extraordinary local work supporting: n Feeding Avery Families n Avery County Humane Society n Habitat for Humanity n Hunger and Health Coalition n Grandfather Home n Book Exchange at the Historic Banner Elk School n Williams YMCA n Spirit Ride Therapeutic Center ...and many others that benefit from the generosity of our local community members and the HCCF. Through this touching video, you’ll learn more about their important and life-changing work in Avery County. View the video by visiting their website at highcountryfoundation. org, or their Facebook page.


-contributed by Joe Tennis As the colder months arrive and the heaters crank up, we’re reminded that the time has come to prepare for severe weather and possible power outages. It’s also a good time to take action to lower energy costs. Blue Ridge Energy supplies energy services to the mountains of North Carolina in all seasons, and their mission is “to make life better for people living in our area,” says Blue Ridge Energy’s director of public relations, Renee Whitener. “To achieve this, we work to provide reliable and affordable electricity, and propane and fuels services to people living throughout our service territory.” The company also offers a variety of resources to help members prepare for adverse conditions and lower their energy costs. Getting ready for winter Whitener says that members are encouraged to be prepared for severe winter weather and keep an emergency supply kit at home. Such emergency kits should include water, non-perishable food items, essential medications, first aid materials, flashlights, batteries and a radio. “Right now is also a good time to sign up for outage texting by using a cell number listed on the member’s account,” Whitener says. “To register, members can text START to 70216. Once they’ve signed up, they can report outages by texting OUT to 70216.” Lowering energy costs There are steps you can take now to lower energy costs before the winter weather sets in and bigger bills follow. Whitener says, “Blue Ridge Energy members are eligible for programs such as

Telehealth Visits:

smart rebates and energy saver loans, which help make weatherization and energy cost-saving upgrades more accessible.” She adds, “We also offer energy and money saving resources online at, and provide hard copy English and Spanish versions in district offices.” In 2020, members may have added concerns with energy costs. “Members with winter heating bill concerns are encouraged to reach out to us to discuss payment programs such as FlexPay or budget billing. Crisis billing assistance is also available to electric members and propane and fuels customers of Blue Ridge Energy through our In This Together Relief Fund.” Supporting the Community Blue Ridge Energy provides energy services to Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany counties in the North Carolina High Country, as well as portions of Avery County. The company also services Caldwell, Burke, Catawba, Alexander and

Wilkes counties in North Carolina as well as Grayson County, Virginia. In addition to providing energy services, Blue Ridge Energy supports these communities through economic development initiatives, involvement in schools in grant programs for teachers and college preparation for high schoolers, and support for healthcare workers and first responders. “The most valuable part of Blue Ridge Energy are the employees, or as we refer to it, our Blue Ridge family,” Whitener says. “Our employees are the key to our community-focused approach as a company. Employees work with a servant’s heart and have a passion to achieve goals that impact the areas where they live. It’s that same level of care that makes it possible to be a positive fixture in the community with programs and services that make life better for our neighbors and the people we serve.”



Watauga County

Farmers’ Market

SCORE…A Valuable Business Resource in COVID-19 Times By Steve York

As if starting or running a business weren’t challenging enough, COVID-19 has added a whole new level of unanticipated chaos to business operations. Fortunately, there are many resources out there to help struggling businesses manage, adapt and innovate through the malaise. National, state and local organizations have developed guidelines and support services to ease the pain and help right the ship. One of the best of those organizations is SCORE, the Service Core of Retired Executives. While their main function is to help advise and assist in the planning, running and growing of a business, their quick pivot to provide extra support for COVID-19 challenges has been both spot-on and actionable. And, although many of their guidelines are familiar and commonly shared since the advent of this pandemic, perhaps their greatest value—beyond their depth and breadth of successful business experience—is that they can be a “One Stop” resource helping to advise and connect you with all the right options for support, survival and success when trying to sustain and/or reopen your business. SCORE has a comprehensive set of guidelines, support contacts and webinars to help retailers, restaurants and manufacturers, plus arts & cultural, health & fitness, professional, day-care and all service-type businesses. Those guidelines and contacts are designed to help businesses navigate through the stormy seas of COVID-19. And all of them are spelled out in clear, easy-to-follow steps at their COVID-19 website links. Aside from their specific guidelines, here are seven basic steps to follow: Contact a SCORE Mentor. Provide a description of your business, the steps you’ve taken, your challenges and your goals. Follow the advised guidelines and maintain communications with your mentor. Be willing to adjust, adapt, innovate and remodel your business…if-and-as recommended. Keep a record of your actions and their results. Keep refreshing your action plans according to your results. Follow through and shoot for the best outcome. Perhaps the most important step is Number 1…Contact a SCORE Mentor. There are seven mentors serving businesses in the High Country. Go to At the top right of their home page (in green) you’ll see specific links for coronavirus concerns. And, remember…this SCORE mentoring support is free.


"Providing consumers a market to obtain quality goods directly from local producers since 1974.”

Open Saturdays

May - Oct 8-12 / Nov 9-12

We accept EBT & SNAP

591 Horn in the West Dr., Boone, NC 28607 • 828.355.4918

Celebrating 25 Years!

Everything Is Better at Boonies J

ustin Eads counts more than inventory at his popular Boonies Old Country Store. This storeowner also celebrates the artistry of living in the “boonies” of Northwest North Carolina. “It just means so many different things to so many different people,” Eads says. “If you think of what your grandma loved, we probably have it—cornmeal, grits, molasses, jams, jellies, honey…. we sell so much honey.” Boonies opened in 2017 as a retail space inside an old barley tobacco barn, warmed by a wood stove, just off of Hwy 105 at Hodges Gap in Boone, NC. Over the years, the old building has been a produce stand, a candle shop and a garage for automobiles. Today, you’ll find old and new coming together. In addition to the foods, crafts, candles, soaps, books and more, Eads has a fondness for “primitive hand-made antiques,” which give his old country store a charmingly eclectic feel. Popular Picks—Throughout the year, look for seasonal produce. Favorite items

include pumpkins, tomatoes, peaches, grapes, okra, pickles and pickled beets. “Those things are all locally sourced,” Eads says. “And then we have eggs.” They also have a good selection of cheese products. “Cheese curds are the most popular,” adds Eads. “And country ham is always on the shelves here in all varieties.” Suffer from pie cravings? You’re in the right place. Eads says that the fresh pies go fast. “And then we have frozen pies that you can cook at home.” Shop for gifts, too. “Every little thing in the store is something that is made from around here,” Eads says. That includes a large selection of wood trinkets and crafts. “It’s not just about what we have, but who’s made it. It’s what people do around here in Boone and Appalachia—they hewn, and they carve, and they make things.” Boonies also stocks handmade pottery and candles, plus homemade soap. “Goat’s milk soap is really popular.” Looking for a good read? The store displays a wide selection of books by local authors, plus titles about the North

By Joe Tennis

Carolina High Country. “Books are, wildly enough, a really big part of my business,” says Eads. Boonies, in many ways, reflects Eads’ life experience. “I grew up on a tobacco farm in Yadkin County and my family raised chickens for eggs. I started going to the North Carolina Farmers Markets when I was three.” Eads’ endeavor is also seasoned by his education in Appalachian studies through the Stephenson Center for Appalachia at Lees-McRae College. “I always wanted to do this. I’ve worked in and around North Carolina agriculture, dairy, honey and folk art my entire life. Boonies exists to help our people—the farmers, the potters, the bee charmers and the original mountain crafters—I want everyone to have the chance to experience our culture in all of its beauty.” Discover the Boonies experience for yourself and see what you’ve been missing. Located at 2963 Highway 105, Boone. 828-719-1219.

The Banner Elk Café, The Lodge Espresso Bar & Eatery, and the Tavern Are Under One Roof! Open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Located in the Heart of Banner Elk

Expansive Menu Indoor & Outdoor Dining Large Bar with Comfortable Seating ...and a Warm Fireplace! Live Music on Weekends

Schedule & Specials: Facebook, Instagram and at | Café 828-898-4040, Lodge 828-898-3444 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Autumn 2020 —



170 Woodthrush Way comfortable home is a bedroom, four and half residence sitting on almost acres of land.

This four bath two

132 Chestnut Trail This mountain retreat feels like a Swiss chalet and has three bedrooms, three full and one-half bathrooms on 3.71-acres of land.

514 Raven Ridge Road Great home on 5.4-acres with expansive decks on all levels and oversized three-seasons room. Adjacent lot 61 also for sale.

Lot 61 Raven Ridge Road Beautiful buildable +/- 31-acre lot in the Elk River community with stunning views and tons of privacy.

603 Elk Knob Drive, Unit D-2 Convenient condo makes mountain living easy with three bedrooms, four full and one-half bathrooms.

490 Clubhouse Drive, Unit G-2 Lovely, well-maintained condo overlooking Elk River's signature Jack Nicklaus golf course with lush, beautiful views.

7016/7015 Summit Forest Way Build your new home on 3.79 acres lot in wooded community with great views.

659 Clubhouse Drive, Unit D-1 Light and airy condo with vaulted ceilings includes two beds and two full and one-half bathrooms.

101 Elk River Parkway Just less than 1 acre of prime homesite property midway up the mountain. Near parks, trails and fishing.

Lot 17 New River Three quarters of an acre of beautiful unimproved waterfront property in a gated community surrounded by $1 million homes.

146 Summit Ledges Lane Over one and three quarter acres of gorgeous, lush property on which to build your dream home. Amazing views!

Lot 214 Meadows Lane One and a quarter acres perfect for new construction inside Elk River. Guard gate, nearby parks, golf and airstrip.

Lot 38 Summit Park Just less than 6 acres of lush gently sloping mountain-top property at the summit of Elk River Club.

198 Elk Creek Drive New Construction in the heart of Banner Elk. Modern two bedroom, two and a half bath beauty!

W NC Hwy 10 Nearly 100 acres of prime commercial/industrial property on the east side of U.S. 321. Curent zoning 321, general zoning R-40.

Tricia Holloway . Engel & Völkers Banner Elk 610 Banner Elk Highway . Banner Elk . NC 28604 Office: +1 828-898-3808 . Mobile: +1 561-202-5003 Learn more at

©2020 Engel & Völkers. All rights reserved. Each brokerage independently owned and operated. Engel & Völkers and its independent License Partners are Equal Opportunity Employers and fully support the principles of the Fair Housing Act.

A Bright Spot in the High Country Economy:

Area Real Estate Thrives

By Jason Reagan

Photography courtesy of High Country Multiple Listing Service


s COVID-19 infection rates climb across several U.S. states, the domestic economy feels the brunt of every new outbreak. From April to June, the U.S. economy shrank at an annual pace of 32.9 percent. As of June 31, more than 28 million people—nearly one in five workers—were collecting jobless benefits, according to the U.S. Labor Department. Despite the same inevitable challenges the High Country as a whole remains resilient. Even with the financial ups and downs, these tranquil mountains remain largely unchanged as they have for a few million years. The sun still sets magnificently over Grandfather Mountain. The forests remain as green and lush as the day the first settlers discovered this land. So, it’s no surprise that one of the area’s brightest economic jewels is still shining amid the chaos—the real estate market. For High Country Realtors, the market remains a bright spot in an otherwise uncertain economy. A recent report by the High Country Association of REALTORS shows sales topping 360 homes in July—a 72 percent increase compared to last July. The Association also recorded a 15year high for listings sold within a month by members of the regional group. The intense housing demand dropped inventory to its lowest level recorded in several years. “Going into August, fewer than 900 homes were for sale in Alleghany,


Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties,” an association spokesperson noted. “We are hearing from many prospective buyers that the pandemic has caused them to prioritize their interest in buying a mountain property in order to have a getaway from the larger population areas,” Banner Elk Realtor John Davis said. “[That] really makes this a very strong seller’s market.” And John speaks from experience. A Realtor with more than 40 years in the real estate field, John grew up in Boone until age six. “Remembering how much I had enjoyed living in the mountains as a child, I moved back to Boone and finished a master’s degree at ASU in 1975,” he added. After working as a ski rental manager at Beech Mountain and opening an outfitter’s shop in Banner Elk, John acquired his real estate license in 1980. He quickly found a home at Banner Elk Realty, a firm established in 1972. “In 1982 I acquired the business and here I am 40 years later—very fortunate to have picked a profession that allows me to help people with one of the biggest financial investment decisions they will make—buying and selling real estate.” John notes that the High Country Multiple Listing Service showed a slowdown in sales activity during the pandemic lockdown from March through May as the “realization became clear

that the country was facing an uncertain economic slowdown because of COVID-19.” He added that after the market picked up a bit in June, “the sales activity took off like a rocket in July. By August, market conditions had recovered and are as good, or better, than pre-virus.” Tricia Ward Holloway couldn’t agree more with John’s assessment. Tricia is a License partner (along with father, James Ward) with the newly established Engel & Volkers in Banner Elk. “I have found this summer to be extremely busy,” she said. “I think people are ready to get out of their main residence and want to be able to drive to a second home. That mixed with the extremely low rates has made it a very busy summer.” Tricia’s father purchased a home in the High Country 10 years ago. As he settled into the community, James quickly realized the many people in need across the region. So, he founded the High Country Charitable Foundation and later decided to launch a residential real estate office in Banner Elk, giving the profits after expenses and commissions to the foundation. Tricia later joined her father as a Realtor and partner, and is also the Broker in Charge (BIC). Both John and Tricia have watched the second-home market continue to thrive as their clients seek a refuge from the chaotic world.

Numbers by County (ending July 31, 2020) Ashe County

REALTORS® sold 47 homes worth $13.68 million in July. Unit sales for the month were more than sales recorded in April and May combined (21 and 25, respectively). The median sold price was $275,000.

Avery County

There were 93 homes sold for $32.68 million in July. The sales for July were the highest monthly unit sales recorded for the county within the MLS, which has all regional transactions dating back to 2005. The median sold price was $242,500.

“The restriction on air travel has made people rethink where they want to put their money. They would rather invest in a home in the mountains they can drive to and enjoy regularly,” Tricia said. “The fact [is] that the Baby Boomers are still retiring in huge numbers,” John said, adding that the demographic represents the lion’s share of vacation and second-home buyers in the Banner Elk area. Both Realtors are bullish on the home market’s continued climb. “Real estate is a cyclical business and I have seen several ups and downs in my 40year career,” John said. “Real estate market activity has more often than not been the driver of positive economic activity in the High Country and will continue to be a big boost to the local economy.” Tricia is likewise optimistic about the future. “I think the High Country is a special place,” she said. “Most people from here know that and those who come here to visit quickly learn that. “We are all hoping that this pandemic is over soon, and peace can continue everywhere. I know that businesses will get back to normal and the real estate markets will stay strong.” A resident of Boone for more than 15 years, Jason Reagan is a freelance writer and marketing consultant. Find him on Twitter @JasonPReagan, on the web at or via email at


Watauga County

Local REALTORS® sold more than 360 homes in July, a 72 percent increase over July 2019, and recorded a 15-year high for listings sold within a month by members of the High Country Association of REALTORS®. Prices were strong, with the region’s median sold price for the month also at a 15-year high. The median sold price in July was $280,000. The intense housing demand dropped inventory—going into August, fewer than 900 homes were for sale in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties. That’s the lowest active inventory level recorded in more than five years. Listings were sold almost as soon as they became active. S O U R C E :



There were 163 homes sold for $59.77 million in Watauga County. That surpassed unit sales for the entire four-county area in May (151 homes). The median sold price was $326,000.


REALTORS® sold 110 tracts of land worth $9.9 million in July. That represents the busiest month for land transactions in more than 10 years. The median sold price for the month was $55,000.

Interest Rates

Mortgage rates remain near record lows. The average 30-year fixed rate was 2.99 percent as of July 30, according to loan giant Freddie Mac. The average rate has been below 3.1 percent since the end of June. A S S O C I A T I O N



Even with the financial ups and downs, these tranquil mountains remain largely unchanged as they have for a few million years. The sun still sets magnificently over Grandfather Mountain. The forests remain as green and lush as the day the first settlers discovered this land. So, it’s no surprise that one of the area’s brightest economic jewels is still shining amid the chaos—the real estate market. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Autumn 2020 —



At Blue Ridge Energy, we understand … keeping up with your bills may be tough during this time of COVID-19. In response, we launched the In This Together Relief Fund to help members and customers with their bills for electric and propane and fuels. If you need help paying your electric or propane and fuels bill, apply for In This Together funds through the local helping agencies found at If you’re able to help, please consider donating to the fund. Every penny goes directly to help neighbors in need. Call or go to




For more ways we’re helping, visit 102 — Autumn 2020 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE

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Financial Planning Opportunities During the Pandemic By Katherine S. Newton, CFP® Certified Financial Transitionist™

Katherine Newton, Certified Financial Planner™ and Certified Financial Transitionist™, partners with Clients through Life Transitions, helping them craft protectorates for their resources, so they can pursue what’s most important in their lives. She can be reached at or at 828-322-9595.


egardless of the huge changes we have experienced since the beginning of 2020, and even though we know things are always changing, one thing never changes: Even in the most dramatic of times, there are always opportunities that present themselves. I want to share with you this quarter a few of these long-term planning opportunities for your consideration: If you have pretax accounts such as IRAs or 401(k)s, this may be a very good year to convert a portion of these accounts to Roth accounts. When you do a Roth conversion, you pay taxes on the amount of money that you are moving from the pre-tax account to the after-tax Roth account. You might do this if the value of your investment is down and you believe it might go back up in the future. You pay taxes now on the amount being converted and can allow your investment to recover in the tax-sheltered Roth account where you won’t have to pay any taxes on the earnings, either now or when you withdraw the money.* Other reasons why you might want to convert from a traditional IRA or retirement account to a Roth account are that you believe taxes might go up—a lot of people would agree with you just now; or perhaps your income is down because you have not been working and as a result you may be in a lower tax bracket this year. Tax loss harvesting, another possible opportunity, is a way to enhance after-tax returns. You sell an investment (in a non-IRA type account) which has lost value and replace it with a similar investment and then use the losses you realized in the transaction to offset gains, gains which you might want to take as you rebalance your portfolio. This technique is especially useful if you have assets with very low cost basis.  If you are young and able to do it, this is an excellent time to continue saving regularly into an investment account, including a Roth IRA. Theoretically you are buying at lower prices, prices which may go up in the future as markets may return to normal. Diversification is key just now. Values are resetting across the globe, and relative values are changing. That is, as the global economy recovers, certain parts of the globe may recover faster than others. It’s possible your portfolio is underweight in international equities. Knowing just how the recovery may occur is impossible, so being invested in various places in the world is a way to be exposed to the recovery wherever and however it might happen. Other things to be aware of are the changes in legislation affecting RMDs (Required Minimum Distributions). As a result of the SECURE Act**, the RMD beginning distribution date was changed from age 70 1/2 to age 72. Not only that, but as part of the CARES Act***, all RMDs of any kind were waived for 2020. This is a way of saving taxes on 2020 income, income which will be reduced by not taking your taxable RMD. Bottom line: No matter how uncertain the world may seem, there are always opportunities for those with the awareness and the courage to seize and act upon them. *Please consult your tax advisor for complete details. **SECURE Act: Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act *** CARES Act: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act

The views are those of Katherine and should not be considered as investment advice or to predict future performance.

Please note that neither Waite Financial LLC, Cetera Advisor Networks LLC, Carroll Financial Associates or any of their agents or representatives give legal or tax advice.

Past performance does not guarantee future results. All information is believed to be from reliable sources. However, we make no representations as to its completeness or accuracy.

Investors should consider their investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses associated with municipal fund securities before investing.

For complete details, consult with your tax advisor or attorney.

This information is found in the issuer’s official statement and should be read carefully before investing. A diversified portfolio does not assure a profit or protect against a loss in a falling market. CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Autumn 2020 —



Appointments with a hometown provider that you know and trust.

Our Same-Day Clinics now provide treatment for minor illnesses and injuries TODAY. The Same-Day Clinic is a convenient option for acute medical issues, such as colds, flu, sore throat, sinus pain, ear pain, allergies, bug bites/stings and minor injuries – things for which you would normally go to Urgent Care. High quality, efficient medical care is available for your whole family. Call to reserve a time that fits your schedule.

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MAHEC Boone Rural Family Medicine Residency Program Comes to the High Country By Koren Gillespie


n an ongoing effort to improve access to care, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) recently partnered with Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) to establish MAHEC Boone Rural Family Medicine Residency Program. For medical students specializing in primary care, Boone is now an option to complete their three-year residency program. A highly competitive recruitment process began last fall; the inaugural class allowed for only four spots. Recruits were chosen from a pool of 961 initial applicants, which was then narrowed down to 60 interviews. Next, ARHS submitted their preference list to the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), which matched them with John Cunningham, M.D., Jeb Fox, M.D., Erinn Murphy, D.O., and Lindsey Shapiro, D.O., who are now the Boone program’s class of 2023 resident doctors. “Once the residents moved to Boone, they were no longer medical students; they became doctors,” says Dr. Molly Benedum, M.D., Director of MAHEC Boone Rural Family Medicine Residency Program. “Our area is a great place for residency training. They will experience the full scope of what a family doctor provides to patients—from a clinic to hospital setting. Residents will see a full age range and diversity of patients in

need of primary care, and they will form deep connections with their patients over time,” adds Dr. Benedum. Rural family medicine requires a different skill set than is needed in more urban areas. With limited access to specialty providers, primary care doctors wear a lot of different hats. They work in pediatrics and women’s health as well as with seniors and the general population. This variety of patients requires them to be flexible, adaptable, and knowledgeable about available community resources. A welltrained family doctor can treat and manage a gamut of healthcare needs. Patients with chronic illnesses will save time and money if they choose to see their family doctor for this type of care. For example, the Boone area does not have any endocrinologists, but patients can often see their primary care physician to manage their diabetes. Additionally, family doctors oversee a wide variety of healthcare needs including high blood pressure, substance use disorders, arthritis and joint pain, minor sprains, injuries, and much more. They also play a critical role in prevention through check-ups and screenings. Dr. Benedum continues, “We want to instill in our residents the same values that align with MAHEC’s mission, which include going into a community and meeting its unique needs. We want them to gain confidence and versatility so that

they are able to go into any rural area, see a need, and be able to step into that space and meet the community’s needs due to their broad training skill sets.” Because of the wide-ranging nature of family medicine, residents are based out of Watauga Medical Center, but also work out of AppFamily Medicine’s clinic. They train and provide continuity of care for patients in many settings. From delivering a baby, to providing care for a stroke victim, as well as other hospitalized patients, residents will work in most every department. Along with Dr. Benedum, local physicians Charles Baker, M.D., David Brendle, D.O., Chris Bullers, M.D., Daniel Goble, M.D., Lisa Kaufmann, M.D., and Kyle Wilson, M.D. serve as faculty-level mentors to the resident doctors. “Each of our four residents wanted to practice in Boone for different reasons. One grew up in the Bethel community and wanted to practice in his hometown. Another went to Appalachian State, fell in love with Boone, and she wanted to come back. They are all excited to be a part of a new program,” says Dr. Benedum. “These residents have already received a tremendous amount of support from the hospital and community. We want to be innovative in designing the best educational experience possible, and our residents will have input in this process. I personally think Continued on page 110 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Autumn 2020 —


Be Well

Your Immune System:

The Most Effective Weapon against Illness (Part One) By Samantha Steele “Holistic Health” is the  practice  of working with the whole person to improve overall  health, well-being and immunity. Rather than a disease-based approach to health care—get sick, see a doctor, take medication—a  Holistic Health Practitioner  uses a wellness-based model to prevent and treat the whole person: mind, body, and spirit. As a practitioner myself, I exercise my intervention specifically through diet, lifestyle and supplementation. I believe many illnesses can be successfully prevented, and even some treated, this way. Because of these uncertain times, in this two-part series I would like to focus mainly on supporting the immune system, which starts with the basics of heathy living: whole foods, restorative sleep, reducing toxin exposure, effectively managing stress, building and maintaining a healthy microbiome, and emotional health. Good Versus Bad Bacteria Most of us have learned that our bodies contain both good and bad bacteria, and it’s our good bacteria that makes up a healthy microbiome, keeping bad bacteria under control. We have also learned how detrimental the overuse of broad spectrum antibiotics can be to us, as “Superbugs” such as C-Difficile, Acinetobacter, Gonorrhoeae, and the terrifying Enterobacteriaceae—otherwise called “nightmare bacteria”—are raging. Also due to the overuse of antibiotics, yeasts such as Candida have multiplied in our bodies, causing a cascade of illnesses, both obvious and concealed. Thus we have learned that conventional medicine may not always be the best or only approach. Here, we take a look at natural pathways for overcoming disease, harmful bacteria and threatening viruses.

Let’s consider our marvelous immune system. We are comprised of around ten trillion bacterial cells, that’s ten times as many microbial cells than human cells! And even more surprising, the human body contains an estimated 380 trillion viruses! That’s about eight percent of our body—all made up of viruses! Yet our immune system can distinguish what belongs and is helpful, and what needs to be managed and/or eliminated. Our bodies are designed to heal and restore naturally. Have you ever wrecked your car? No worries, just leave it in the garage for a spell and it will be back to new in no time, right? Not so! But when we humans have an accident and break open our skin, given the right environment, we will heal. What do I mean by “right environment”? Your body often exists in the right environment through a proper diet, a clean and healthy lifestyle, and personalized supplementation. Our immune system can also protect and heal us when given the right tools, environment and circumstances. Of course there are circumstances that require hospitalizations, surgeries, and other more “traditional” treatments. However, there are also many effective and proven ways we can fight disease through diet, lifestyle and supplementation.

b e well 108 — Autumn 2020 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE

Diet Healthy fats, such as omega threes found in fatty, wild caught fish, avocados and leafy greens, are important to build up the cellular structure that makes up your body. Cell walls contain phospholipids, glycolipids, and cholesterol. These components maintain the stability of the cell membrane and facilitate cellular recognition, which is critical to the body’s immune response. In order to maintain and

secure the integrity of your cellular membranes, consume high quality proteins such as grass fed, hormone and antibiotic free beef, pastured chicken and eggs, and wild caught fish such as salmon, sea bass and sardines. Sleep According to the Mayo Clinic, “During sleep, your  immune  system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote  sleep. Certain cytokines need to  increase  when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines.” Adequate sleep also regulates your cholesterol, and your body cannot make Vitamin D without Cholesterol. Vitamin D is critical for your immune system to function properly. Stress Management Practice stress management through exercise, earthing and forest bathing. Get outside and exercise! Appalachian State University conducted a randomized, controlled trial in 2005 that revealed how a mere 30-minute walk outside resulted in an increase in blood counts for neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, and natural killer cells! We have numerous places to hike in the High Country. Try the Blue Ridge Parkway, Price Lake, Linville Gorge, or Grandfather Mountain. Hop online and view many more options at Earthing Going barefoot and barehanded while touching and digging around in the soil can be especially beneficial. Don’t be Continued on page110

Urgent Care

Now open Urgent care services are now close to home for the families of Avery County. If you or a loved one needs medical care for a minor illness or injury, you can trust our team to provide high-quality, convenient care, when you need it most. We care for patients of all ages – no appointment necessary. Treating minor illnesses and injuries, including:

Additional services:

• Colds and flu

• On-site x-ray

• Fever, sore throat, cough and congestion

• Sports physicals

• Ear and eye infections • Migraine headaches • Insect or animal bites

• Flu shots

• Walk-ins welcome If you are experiencing life- or limb-threatening symptoms, don’t wait. Call 911.

• Minor burns, cuts and rashes • Sinus infections and strep throat • Sprains, strains and minor fractures • Urinary symptoms


Monday–Friday 8 a.m.–8 p.m. Saturday & Sunday 8 a.m.–6 p.m.

108 Park Ave. Banner Elk, NC 28604 tel 828.783.9183

Be Well: Continued from page 108

Rural Family Medicine: Continued from page 107

afraid to get dirty! Find a comfortable place to sit and simply watch, listen, and smell the world around you. Rub your feet into the earth and feel the soil on the soles of your feet. Dig in the dirt and leaves with your fingers. Crumble the soil and “forest litter” between your fingers. Lay down and look at the blue sky, the clouds overhead. Just rest on the forest floor or even take a nap! Here are some additional tips on Forest Bathing. n Set aside 2-3 hours to spend outdoors. n Start with an attitude of gratitude. n Your primary goal is to be meditative, not terribly active. n Set your mind on unwinding and resting, not achieving. n Ideally, choose a private, secluded setting with woods and water. n It’s important to unplug during this activity. Explore while untethered, and leave your devices at home.

the program is a huge win for Boone. In the longterm, we hope residents will want to stay here to practice and improve access to care. We need more doctors in the area. For the short-term, our hospital is becoming more of a teaching hospital, which elevates the level of care patients receive,” concludes Dr. Benedum. As the inaugural class settles into their first autumn working in Boone, Dr. Benedum and peers will once again begin the recruitment process for the next group of residents. Over the next few years, they hope to grow the program from four to six spots annually. They also foresee the residents working out of Cannon Memorial Hospital in addition to Watauga Medical Center. Collaborative meetings have taken place with Appalachian State University’s Health Sciences Department to expand research, teaching, and lab opportunities for the program. As a part of MAHEC, the program currently has partnerships through UNC Chapel Hill’s Health Sciences Department. MAHEC was established in 1974 to improve training and retention of healthcare professionals in western North Carolina. In addition to the Boone program, MAHEC offers family residencies in Asheville and Hendersonville. For more information, visit

In Part Two of this series, I will cover the importance of hydration, detox, meditation and deep breathing, hygiene and supplementation. These are all important aspects of a healthy life, so please don’t miss the next issue! • Samantha Steele is a nutritionist, food scientist and herbalist who loves spending time outside foraging for wild foods while appreciating the abundance of God’s creation. Samantha can be contacted at • The views are those of the author and should not be considered medical advice. Please consult your personal physician or healthcare professional before making changes to any treatments or regimens. • • • •

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Spontaneous Entertaining By Jeff Collins, CSW, Peabody’s Wine & Beer Merchants


hese are strange times for all of us. For several straight months, none of us dined out in a restaurant. Most of us did not have company. Those of us lucky to have a close circle of friends and a nice open place to be able to socialize have had at least a little company, lots of it being spontaneous. Spontaneous entertaining—the ability to throw together a round of drinks and entertain on a moment’s notice—is not only gracious, hospitable, and downright pleasant, but may be the best way of social contact with neighbors and friends, and a way to break the ice with someone new in the world we are currently living in. Now more than ever, life is uncertain, people are letting down their guard, talking to their neighbors, meeting new people, saying hello, and seeking each other’s company. So, are you ready to invite that neighbor in for a drink (socially distanced, of course)? Are you stocked up to meet various tastes, situations, and numbers of people at any time? What is on hand, what variety is available, what is enough? The basics for entertaining are food, beverages, your hospitality, and a place to entertain. You’ve got the hospitality and the place covered, so that leaves the food and beverage. A few key things, always in your pantry and refrigerator, will keep you set to entertain at a moment’s notice. For snacks with drinks, what is it that you like? Always keep two or three of your favorites around, such as mixed nuts, chips, cheese and crackers, dry cured sausages, etc. What is your “signature” dinner that you absolutely kill it every time you make it? Keep those

ingredients on hand, and make sure it’s a quick prep and cook. Easy! You’re set all the time, any time. For drink options, consider what you have for non-alcoholic beverages, beer, wine, liquor and cocktail mixers. It sounds like a lot, but can be very simple. Always opt for your personal preferences in all these categories, and keep enough on hand so you can imbibe whenever you’re in the mood, or when your guests are there. Kitchen staples like lemons, limes, and oranges are always a good idea, too. Non-Alcoholic Beverages - These should include a combination of tasty and interesting things that anyone can enjoy (like your neighbors’ kids), but can have secondary uses, like being a mixer. The necessities are your favorites; then add soda water, including flavored ones like LaCroix, a good Ginger Beer, and something tart or bitter like tonic water. It’s never bad to keep Coca-Cola on hand, too. Beer - Again, have whatever are your favorites. Most beer drinkers are up for one of anything. Having a little variety may keep your guests, especially spontaneous guests, from being “one and done.” For example, if you like light beers and Miller Lite is your favorite, grab a fourpack of a local craft Pilsner (yes Miller Lite is a pilsner), like Booneshine’s East Boone Pils, or Wicked Weed’s Uncle Rick’s Pilsner. Beer is sold in four-packs and six-packs, so by having one of each, you’re set. Beer, for the most part, is best fresh, so keep a little variety around without letting them sit for too long.

Wine - Wine is so easy, yet so complex at the same time. Let’s start with easy. What do you like, and what do you buy and drink regularly? Do you have more than a bottle in the house? What would you need to entertain anyone at any time? The major categories of wine are white, red, rose’, and sparkling. Think about light vs. heavy, dry vs. sweet, oaky/ rich vs. crisp/clean. You can have all of these styles covered in a very modest number of bottles, it just takes a little exploration to find what you like. Keep your wine at proper serving temperature, and have some decent glassware—you’re set. Liquor - The easiest liquor bar is one white and one brown liquor. Add a couple of good mixers that can also serve as a non-alcoholic beverage, plus garnish, ice, glasses, and cocktail napkins. If you have vodka and soda or tonic, a splash of juice, and citrus for garnish, you have half or more of all liquor drinkers covered. One good whiskey in a glass, neat or with a great Ginger beer, like Fever Tree, and you have the other half of the cocktail drinkers covered. Add gin, tequila, Scotch and any favorite adjuncts (vermouth, cherries, bitters, Amaro, etc) to make your guests’ favorite cocktails. We are in the South, where gracious hospitality is a cornerstone of our culture. While we live in uncertain times, the need to be social remains, and in some cases is stronger than ever. Remember that living is different from existing—be spontaneous, and enjoy those around you.



Follow the Trail to Watauga Lake Winery and Villa Nove Vineyards By Karen Rieley


his fall marks the eighth year of operation for Watauga Lake Winery, in Butler, Tennessee, and finds the award-winning business poised for continued contributions to the quality of life in the High Country. Along with its partner, Villa Nove Vineyards, Watauga Lake Winery is designated among the wineries of the Appalachian High Country American Viticultural Area (AVA). This AVA represents 2,400 square miles, all above 2,000 feet in elevation in North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, that provide unique growing conditions distinguished by distinctive climatic and geographic conditions. “AVAs are important to areas like the High Country because they increase tourism, not only to the vineyards and wineries themselves, but to related businesses like restaurants, gas stations, hotels, and shops,” said Linda Gay, who is the co-owner of Watauga Lake Winery and Villa Nove Vineyards with her husband, Wayne. Watauga Lake Winery and Villa Nove Vineyards Farm Winery joined with three North Carolina High Country wineries—Grandfather Vineyard & Winery, Linville Falls Winery, and Banner Elk Winery & Villa—to achieve AVA designation. Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell and Watauga counties are included, as well as Carter and Johnson counties in Tennessee, and Grayson County, Virginia. The Appalachian High Country AVA now covers 10 wineries and 21 vineyards. The original four wineries also established the Appalachian High Country


Wine Trail. Guests can pick up a Wine Trail Passport at any participating wineries and have the card stamped at each winery they visit. Once they complete the trail and get a final stamp, guests receive a special thank you gift. Learn more about the Appalachian High Country AVA at What eventually became Watauga Lake Winery and Villa Nove Vineyards Farm Winery began in 2002, when Linda and Wayne Gay decided to sell their Italian furniture import business in Florida, retire after 22 years in the import business, and build a farmhouse villa, reminiscent of the quaint villas, olive groves and vineyards they loved visiting on their buying trips to Italy. Back then, the couple wasn’t planning on running a winery business. But, clearly, fate had other plans, retirement for the couple not being one of them. Having noticed the similarity between the mountains around the North Carolina-Tennessee line and the Tuscan mountains they loved in their travels, the Gays were thrilled to find 35 acres overlooking Watauga Lake that they could buy. “There was nothing on the land when we bought it,” Linda said. “We found the perfect spot at the top of a hill to build our farmhouse villa. It took eight flatbed trucks to bring Texas limestone in from Dallas for the house’s exterior.” The couple originally thought they would plant a few grape vines, just to complete the image of a Tuscan villa, and maybe try making a little wine, grape jelly

and juice for themselves and friends. The concept of a few grape vines for home consumption grew to an initial purchase of 700 grapevines that produced 250 cases and five varieties of wine in 2006 to currently more than 4,000 grapevines that produce 2,000 cases and 18 varieties of wine. Linda and Wayne purchased the historic Johnson County Big Dry Run Schoolhouse, at 6952 Big Dry Run Road in Butler, Tenn., in 2010. The school was open to first through eighth grade students from 1948 until 1988. Originally, the Gays used the schoolhouse for storage and as a woodworking shop. But by November 2012, Linda and Wayne had transformed the five-room schoolhouse into a tasting room and an event center that can seat 100 guests. They have added a full caterer’s kitchen where food and wine pairings, gourmet dinners and “hands-on” cooking classes and demonstrations by guest chefs take place. The school’s gymnasium now houses the entire wine production area, and reservations for tours are encouraged. “We’ve also added a patio and deck for people to sit, sip and eat,” Linda said. Watauga Lake Winery offers weekend wine events such as Flatbread Friday, Sangria Saturday and Savory Sunday. In 2015, Watauga Lake Winery won the prestigious William O. Beach Award, an annual award given for “The Best of Tennessee” wine made exclusively with Tennessee fruit, for its Cracker’s Neck Red wine. And that’s just one award of nearly 30 that the winery and Villa Nove

Vineyards have won annually since 2014 in competitions throughout the South. “Most wines are named after local areas,” Linda said. Evidence is in the names of their wines—Laurel Creek, Doe Mtn., Watauga River, Forge Mountain Mist, Black Bear Ridge, Roan Creek, Copperhead Hollow, Duncan Hollow, Fox Hollow, and more. In all, the vineyards now include 18 different flavors of table, fortified, dessert and sparkling wines. Linda and Wayne’s Villa Nove Vineyards, located at 1877 Dry Hill Road, also in Butler, is a distinctive farm winery. All wine is produced from fruit grown on the land of the winery itself. Many wineries, including most commercial wineries, produce wine from fruit purchased from all over the United States. Farm wineries not only produce distinct, craftsman-style wine, but they support the local community and enhance the local economy. The six estate wine varieties produced by the farm winery include Amore red, Bella Fiore white, Bianco Secco white, LaDolce Vita Moscato-styled, Serenita red blend and Tramonto blush. Visitors to Villa Nove Vineyards drive through large, Italianate, wrought iron gates on a winding driveway up and through a lush grape vineyard to a large Tuscan-style villa and wedding pavilion. The pavilion can accommodate 200 guests. The exterior of the villa is the perfect site for a romantic wedding ceremony, complete with a tower and Juliette balcony, water fountain, and breathtaking

360-degree view of four mountains— Iron, Stone, Beech and Roan. “We’ve hosted destination weddings for couples and their families and friends from as far as Dubai, Egypt, England and Australia,” Linda said. Annual events are hosted at Villa Nove Vineyards, as well, like the Lucille Ball look-alike and wine-stomping contest before the grapes are harvested and a fall celebration in the vineyards with food and wine. Events have been modified for safety’s sake in response to COVID-19. Visit the Watauga Lake Winery and Villa Nove Vineyards Facebook pages or call to learn about current specials, discounts and updates. Linda and Wayne envision a bright future for the winery and vineyards. “There is unlimited potential for growth in this area,” Linda said. “It’s a special place to be outside and enjoy the mountains, fresh air, great temperatures and wonderful wine offerings.” Whenever you’re in the High Country, whether you’re in North Carolina, Virginia or Tennessee, Watauga Lake Winery and Villa Nove Vineyards are just around the curve and much closer than you think. Take the time to stop, browse in the shop, taste some wines, tour the wine-making production or vineyards and then take home a bottle or case or two of your favorite wines. Oh, and don’t forget to ask the Gays about helping you with your next event.

The Watauga Lake Winery schoolhouse has an aura of suspense. “The Heritage Hunters Society says the school is definitely haunted,” said Linda Gay. The society, a paranormal research and investigation organization based in North Carolina, has visited several times using cameras and audio equipment to research and investigate possible paranormal phenomena. Its findings of a few resident spirits will be featured on Amazon Prime sometime this fall. “One spirit is a former county employee who worked on construction of the gym that was added to the school. He was killed in another construction project and now visits the schoolhouse. We could see his image on the camera and one of the school’s former employees definitely recognized his voice,” Linda said. “One male student spirit sometimes calls out the name of his girlfriend, and there’s also a young girl spirit in one area of the gym. When a medium asked the girl her name, the entire room started smelling like a rose, so we think the girl’s name must be Rose.” But, not to worry. All spirits seem friendly and happy with the schoolhouse’s renewed life as a winery.



“Best Chicken Tenders Hands Down! “ Mon-Sat 10:30am - 9pm Sun 11pm - 6pm 828-737-0700 Catering for 25 - 1200 people! Voted Best BBQ in the High Country 16 years running! 2020 Best Chicken Award in the High Country! In Downtown Newland

Gragg’s Produce

Veggies, Fruits Jams, Honey & More Charming hand-made Crafts & Birdfeeders

EAT, DRINK, BE SOCIAL... Lunch • Dinner • Full Bar Tues-Sat, 11am-9pm 128 Pecan Street Abingdon, Virginia (276)698-3159


Open Mon-Sat, 9-6 Sunday 10-5 828-719-5624 105 Linville Falls Hwy Pineola, NC

The Woodlands Barbecue &Picken’ Parlor Chopped & sliced pork & beef BBQ Homestyle Mexican Food Ribs & Chicken Imported & domestic beer, drafts, wine & mixed beverages Carry-out service




Gideon Ridge Inn

WataugaLake Winery “Taste the Best of Tennessee!”

10 wonderfully comfortable bedrooms with evening turndown service Serving Dinner Tuesday - Saturday from 5:30pm - 8pm Reservations Required Dining & Cocktails Alfresco and the view... 202 Gideon Ridge Road, Blowing Rock, NC, 28605 / 828-295-3644

Open Thursday - Monday 6952 Big Dry Run Road, Butler, Tennessee 423-768-0345 • ••• Walk through history at our haunted, historical schoolhouse winery Enjoy daily deli specials and Sangria Saturdays featuring wood-fired pizza and our award-winning Sangria. •••


Villa Nove Vineyard Winery Open Sundays through October

Enjoy Wine Flights and Savory Sunday Picnic Baskets 1877 Dry Hill Road, Butler, Tennessee 423-768-3633 •

Lunch: 11 AM to 3 PM. | Dinner: 5 PM to 10 PM. Sunday Brunch: 11 AM to 3 PM. 143 Wonderland Trail, Blowing Rock, NC 28605 / 828-295-4008 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Autumn 2020 —


Inspire Your Tastebuds Painted Salad

Furniture • Appliances Small Household Items • Books Clothing & Accessories 1/2 Off on clothing every Saturday! Donations welcomed. Pick up available for furniture and appliances Thank you for your continued support


828-262-5029 877 West King Street, Boone NC Open Mon-Sat, 9am-5pm

2941 tynecastle highway • banner elk (across from the entrance to Sugar Mountain)





(Served on our homemade bread)

Pies • Cakes • Tarts Shepherd’s Pie Steak & Ale Pie Chicken Pot Pie English Specialties

Our 6th generation family farm makes farm- fresh cheese on site from our own happy dairy cows. Our farm store also offers other local goods! 828-756-8166 Fri-Sat, 10am-6pm, year-round 19456 US 221 North (.5 miles south of Linville Caverns) Marion, NC 28752


(On request)


Serving Dinner Twice Monthly Call or Check our Website for Dates & Menu


Catering Available | Open 7 days a week Mon-Sat 11am-9pm & Sunday Noon-9pm 190 Boone Heights Dr, Boone, NC 28607 Reservations Suggested 828-386-6101 – Visit our Banner Elk Location – Fabulous British Chef/Owner

Dominic & Meryle Geraghty


Open Tuesday-Saturday 10:30am-3:30pm Closed Sunday & Monday Lunch served 11:00 - 3:00 9872 Hwy. 105 S. in Foscoe (Across from Mountain Lumber)

BA Y O U µ

Bayou Smokehouse & Grill Restaurant

The Heart of Texas The Soul of Louisiana in the

High Country

of North Carolina

General Store Downtown Banner Elk (828) 898-TxLa (8952) CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE Autumn 2020 —


Pizza Dough

For 1 large pizza

Ingredients 4 cups of all-purpose flour 1 ½ cups warm water ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil 1 TBSP of yeast or 1 packet 2 tsp sugar 2 tsp salt

Visit for our CML Butternut Squash Pizza recipe with a roasted red pepper chipotle sauce and arugula salad.

Directions Add warm water to bowl with yeast and sugar. Let proof for five minutes. Continue if yeast turns foamy, or toss and start over with new yeast if it doesn’t.

From CML’s Kitchen Recipes & Photography by Meagan Murphy Goheen

Add olive oil, salt, and flour. Combine in stand mixer with dough hook on low. If too sticky, add additional flour one tablespoon at a time. Or let the kiddos knead the dough for 7-10 minutes. Dough is ready is when it springs back a little when you poke it. Add dough to an oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel; put in a warm place for about an hour. After rising, remove from the bowl and divide into two equal size pieces. Use immediately for your favorite pizza recipe or try our butternut squash pizza recipe!

NOTE: Cooking is a fun way to teach math to children. We hope you will enjoy making these recipes with your loved ones – we sure had a great time! Let us hear from you and enjoy!


Apple Brie Prosciutto Roses

Serves 12


Cut the apples down the side, core, slice very thinly. Immediately add apples to your bowl of lemon water.

2 Sheets Puff Pastry thawed according to package instructions (such as Pepperidge Farm, found in the frozen foods section)

Microwave the apples in the lemon water for 3 minutes to make them more pliable.

1 Lemon, juiced

Unwrap the puff pastry over a clean surface, lightly floured. Roll out the dough to about 9 by 12 inches. Cut each sheet into 6 strips, approximately 2 by 9 inches each.

5 oz. Brie

Spread a thin layer of apple butter on each sheet.

4 oz. Prosciutto, thinly sliced

Layer the apples overlapping across the top of each sheet making sure Âź of the skin side of the apple sticks out.

4-5 Apples of your choice (I used Gala)

Apple Butter Thyme

Layer prosciutto on top of the apple, then layer thin slices of Brie, and sprinkle with roughly chopped thyme.

1-2 TBSP all-purpose flour to sprinkle on counter

Fold up the bottom part of the dough.

Directions: Thaw puff pastry at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.

Starting from one end, carefully roll the dough keeping the apple slices in place. Seal the end by pressing with your fingers. Place in greased muffin tin. Continue with all 12 roses. Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Best eaten warm. Enjoy!

made with love

Preheat oven to 375 Degrees.

Grease a regular size muffin tin.

Prepare a medium size microwavable bowl, about half-way full of water, and add lemon juice.



OUR SPONSORS: 54............180 Float Spa 53............A to Z Auto Detailing 47,72.......Abode Home & Design 56............Adventure Damascus 39............Alta Vista Gallery 53............Amy Brown, CPA 58............Animal Control of Avery County 106..........App Family Medicine 44............Appalachian Blind and Closet 106..........Appalachian Regional Healthcare System 62,80.......Appalachian State University 56............Apple Hill Farm 51............Ashe County Chamber of Commerce 82............Avery Animal Hospital 53............Avery County Chamber of Commerce 84............Avery Heating & Air Conditioning 106..........Baker Center for Primary Care 109..........Ballad Health Medical Associates Urgent Care 46............Banner Elk Book Exchange 97............Banner Elk Café, Lodge, & Tavern 51............Banner Elk Realty 39............Banner Elk Olive Oil and Balsamics 12............Banner Elk Winery 111..........Barra Sports Bar 119..........Bayou Smokehouse & Grill 53............BB&T 39............BE Artists Gallery 61............Beech Mountain TDA 118..........Bella’s Italian Restaurant 117..........Bistro Roca 72............Blossom Nails and Spa 38............Blue Mountain Metalworks 102..........Blue Ridge Energy 17............Blue Ridge Mountain Club 15............Blue Ridge Propane 47............Boonies Old Country Store 54............Brinkley Hardware 23............Carlton Gallery 116..........Carolina BBQ

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96............Italian Restaurant 116..........Jack’s 128 Pecan 70............Jerky Outpost 58............Lees-McRae College 70............Life Store Insurance 72............Linville Animal Hospital 66............Linville Caverns 11............Linville Falls Mountain Club 72............Linville Falls Winery 89............Linville Land Harbor 7..............Lodges at Eagles Nest 116..........Lost Province Brewing Company 14............Loven Casting & Construction 70............Lucky Lily OBC.........Mast General Store 75............Maw’s Produce 68............Mayland Community College 36............Mica Gallery 103..........Mike Smith Builders 58............Mountain Dog and Friends 72............Mountain Grounds Coffee & Tea 112..........Mountain Jewelers 38............My Best Friend’s Barkery 72............New Force Comics 54............Old Greer House 118..........Painted Fish Café 94............Pack Rats 112..........Peabody’s Wine & Beer 56,53.......Peak Real Estate 119..........Pedalin’ Pig BBQ 52............Premier Pharmacy 72............Premier Sotheby’s International Realty 118..........Ram’s Rack Thrift Shop 72............Reid’s Café & Catering 36............Rivercross 54,72.......Root Down Hair Studio 41............Sally Nooney Art Studio Gallery 53............Salon Suites at Tynecastle 53............Shooz and Shiraz 23............Shoppes at Farmers 53............Shoppes 0f Tynecastle 52............Skyline/Skybest

111..........Sorrento’s Italian Bistro 118..........Stick Boy Bread Co. 103..........Stone Cavern 31............Stonewalls Restaurant 52............Sugar Mountain Golf and Tennis 84............Sugar Mountain Wreath & Garland 70............Sugar Ski and Country 104..........Sugar Top 56............Sundog Outfitters 56............Sunset Tee’s & Hattery 30............Tatum Gallery 45............The Bee & The Boxwood 112..........The Best Cellar 66............The Blowing Rock 82............The Cabin Store 44............The Consignment Cottage Warehouse 53............The Dande Lion 82............The Happy Shack 112..........The Inn at Ragged Gardens 39............The Twisted Twig 5,52.........The Village of Sugar Mountain 70............The White Crow Wedding and Event Venue 6..............Tom Eggers Construction 26............Tom’s Custom Golf 53............Tynecastle Builders 53............Tynecastle Realty 75............Ultimate Kitchens Direct 53............Valle de Bravo Mexican Grill 72............Verizon 117..........Villa Nove Vineyards Winery 39............Village Jewelers 105..........Waite Financial 53............Walgreens Pharmacy 56............Watauga Choose & Cut 96............Watauga County Farmers Market 117..........Watauga Lake Winery 72............Western Carolina Eye Associates 116..........Woodlands Barbeque Pickin’ Parlor 52............YMCA of Avery Co

thank you! 122 — Autumn 2020 CAROLINA MOUNTAIN LIFE



Get close to nature, And away from everything else.

Black bears, otters, cougars, elk, even eagles. Experience them all in natural settings at Grandfather Mountain. For the time being, ticket sales are online only. w w w. g ra n d f a t h e r. c o m


Profile for Carolina Mountain Life, Inc

Carolina Mountain Life - Autumn 2020  

Celebrating Autumn in North Carolina's High Country (and neighbors!)

Carolina Mountain Life - Autumn 2020  

Celebrating Autumn in North Carolina's High Country (and neighbors!)

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