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Volume 6 • Issue 7 July 2011

Eat, Drink Be Merry


A History and Celebration of Dining in the High Country

DI A N N E DAVA N T & A S S O C I AT E S Excellence By Design Since 1979

Dianne Davant

B A N N E R E L K , N O RT H C A R O L I N A 828.898.9887 S T U A R T, F L O R I D A 772.287.2872 W W W. D A VA N T - I N T E R I O R S . C O M


High Country Magazine

July 2011

July 2011

High Country Magazine


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High Country Magazine

July 2011

Ken's Magazine_June 2011 6/20/11 10:57 AM Page 1

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July 2011

High Country Magazine


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Fun Happens

High Country Magazine

July 2011

July 2011

High Country Magazine


Double The Fashion Why settle for one gorgeous summer outfit when you can have two?




C O N T E N T S Restaurants Than You Can 20 More Shake a Pen At Long-time area writer Randy Johnson’s look back at old restaurant review notes reads like a culinary chronicle for the High Country history books.

42 Super Citizens Joan and Dick Hearn

The Hearns aren’t your average seniors. The couple plunges into icy waters in the winter and runs marathons in the summer. Though these feats are astounding for their age, it is their relentless commitment to the community that makes Joan and Dick remarkable.


Roller Derby Wheels Into Boone The fastest growing sport in the world has made its way to the High Country thanks to the Appalachian Rollergirls, who in June hosted the first roller derby bout in Boone’s history at the Holmes Convocation Center. Bolstered by enthusiastic local support, these women on wheels put a modern face on female athleticism.

66 Avery County’s Tommy Burleson

Once a household name known to basketball fans across the country, Avery County native Tommy Burleson remains an active, regularly seen face in his hometown community. In case you didn’t know—High Country Magazine shares this legendary local’s biographical highlights..

86 Kenneth Wilcox

From Wilcox Drug Company to downtown Boone’s Wilcox Emporium, Kenneth Wilcox and been an active local businessman and civic leader for 52 years.



High Country Magazine

July 2011

on the cover Photography by Frederica Georgia To capture the essence of high summer outdoor dining in the High Country, photographer Frederica Georgia spent an evening with Lisa Crane, Paige Daganhardt, Dane Phillips, Mike Ragan at the Table at Crestwood in Blowing Rock. Frederica is one of the region’s most accomplished photographers, specializing in editorial, travel, portraiture and commercial photography. To view more of her work, click to www. Or visit


The first High Country Press newspaper was published on May 5, 2005, and the first issue of High Country Magazine went to press in fall 2005. We publish the newspaper weekly and currently publish the magazine seven times a year. Both are free, and we distribute the newspaper and magazine in Watauga and Avery counties. Our newspaper is packed with information that we present and package in easy-to-read formats with visually appealing layouts. The magazine represents our shared love of our history, our landscape and our people. It celebrates our pioneers, our lifestyles, our differences and the remarkable advantages we enjoy living in the mountains. Our guiding principles are twofold: quality journalism makes a difference and customer care at every level is of the greatest importance. Our offices are located in downtown Boone, and our doors are always open to welcome visitors.


We are now offering subscriptions to High Country Magazine. A one-year subscription for seven issues costs $40, and we will mail issues to subscribers as soon as they arrive at our offices from the printer. Individual copies cost $5.00. To subscribe, call our offices at 828-264-2262.


Back issues of our magazines are available from our office for $5 per issue. Some issues are already sold out and are no longer available.


Photography and page reprints are available for purchase. For sizing, prices and usage terms, please call our office. Some photos may not be available and some restrictions may apply.


Obtain information about advertising in our publications from our sales representatives by calling 828-264-2262 or emailing us at

Contact us at:

High Country Press/Magazine P.O. Box 152 130 North Depot Street Boone, NC 28607 828-264-2262 July 2011

High Country Magazine



92 Backpacking 101

Professional photographer Todd Bush is also a lover of the outdoors, and he shares personal experiences and advice from the experts for someone looking to try backpacking and backcountry camping for the very first time--from boots and bears to gear and grub


104 Mountain-Made Surfboards

A former Boone bicycle shop owner finally gave in to his love, selling his shop to spend more time surfing the Mexican shores. But the tides couldn’t pull Bill Pressly away from the High Country for good, and it’s in the quiet Valle Crucis that he finds the time to craft surfboards for himself and his friends.


114 Linville Land Harbor

A unique residential concept developed by the prolific Robbins brothers, Linville Land Harbor continues to stand out as one of the most active neighborhoods in the High Country.


10 12 16 128


High Country Magazine

July 2011

From the Publisher Calender of Events Mountain Echoes Parting Shot: Doc Watson

July 2011

High Country Magazine



A Publication Of High Country Press Editor & Publisher Ken Ketchie Creative Director Courtney Cooper Senior Graphic Artist Tim Salt Associate Editor Anna Oakes Advertising Sales Beverly Giles Amber Smith Ken Ketchie

Let’s Eat! L

Harris Prevost

et’s go out to eat! Everyone likes to hear those words. But where to go? Well, I’m glad you asked—because in this month’s issue of High Country Magazine, we have some great ideas about dining out at our local restaurants across Watauga and Avery counties. We called on Randy Johnson to write our leadoff story that takes you on a trip down memory lane across the culinary landscape of kitchens and restaurants serving up dishes for locals and visitors alike for more than a hundred years. Randy’s a long-time resident of the High Country and an ace writer who has been covering topics across this region for local, regional, national and international publications since 1978. Back in the 1980s, Randy wrote a dining out column for my newspaper, taking the time to visit a restaurant just about every week for seven years. For a publisher concerned about selling ads, I always had my fingers crossed that he’d come back with a “good” review of my restaurant advertisers, and I have to say for the most part he always made everyone happy. It became somewhat of a joke that Randy “never had a bad review.” He took care to point out the great things about our local restaurants and introduced our readers to the growing array of the many diverse eateries that were popping up all across the region. Randy claims to have thrown in a few punches “in between the lines.” But I always appreciated the fact that Randy kept his reviews positive and helped restaurants find new customers. When we began talking about this story, Randy showed up with a box of old newspaper clippings of his reviews he had from back in those days along with his notepads, as well as some old menus. Looking through the box was a thrill. We found that many restaurants from those days are still around, and many of the chefs mentioned are still working in the High Country. For those of you who have lived up here since the 1980s, I think you’ll find Randy’s story a fun read remembering some of those old restaurants. If you’re new to the restaurant scene, we think this story will convince you that dining has a long, rich history, and it would be really worth your time to make a culinary adventure part of your summer plans. Independent restaurants really rock up here in the High Country! I hope everyone gets inspired to suggest to someone, “Let’s go out to eat!” 10

High Country Magazine

Contributing Writers Randy Johnson

July 2011

Tim Gardner Jesse Wood Todd Bush Eric Crews Bill F. Hensely Contributing Photograhers James Fay Todd Bush Peter Morris Lonnie Webster Finance Manager Amanda Giles High Country Magazine is produced by the staff and contributors of High Country Press newspaper, which serves Watauga and Avery counties of North Carolina

HIGH COUNTRY MAGAZINE P.O. Box 152, Boone, NC 28607 828-264-2262 Follow our magazine online where each issue is presented in a flip-through format. Check it out at: Reproduction or use in whole or part of the contents of this magazine without written permission of the publisher is prohibited. Issues are FREE throughout the High Country. © 2011 by High Country Press. All Rights Reserved.

July 2011

High Country Magazine


Calendarof Events JULY 2011 9-11

Alumni Arts and Crafts Show, Cannon Student Center, Lees-McRae College, Banner Elk, 828-898-2489


Ensemble Stage: Dead Certain, Blowing Rock School


Cockman Family, Fred’s General Mercantile, Beech Mountain, 828-387-4838


Oil Painting Workshop with Bill Farnsworth, Carlton

Auditorium, 828-414-1844

Gallery, Grandfather community, 828-963-4288


Swing! The Musical, Hayes Auditorium, Lees-McRae College, Banner Elk, 828-898-8729


Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Farthing Auditorium, ASU, 828-



Wolf Creek, Tate-Evans Park, Banner Elk, 828-898-8395


Holy Cross Episcopal Church Rummage Sale, Holy Cross Episcopal Church, Valle Crucis, 828-297-2693


Miracle on the Mountain, Sloop Amphitheater,

Dierks Bentley, July 23


Crossnore, 828-733-4305

Berry Pie Contest Day, Ashe Farmer’s Market, Backstreet, West Jefferson, 336-877-4141 Cool Summer Nights, Tweetsie Railroad, Blowing Rock,

k.d. lang and The Siss Boom Bang, Farthing


Innovative Art Day Get-A-Way, Avery Arts Council



Sunset Stroll, Sunset Drive, Blowing Rock, 828-295-6991


De-Lovely, Ashe Civic Center, West Jefferson, 336-846-2787


Folk & Dagger and Michael Reno Harrell, Jones House,


Movie on the Lawn: Wild & Scenic Film Festival, Duck

A Day in the Park with Barney, Tweetsie Railroad,




Auditorium, ASU, 828-262-4046 15

Gallery, Linville, 828-733-0054

Pond Field, ASU, 828-262-4046

Boone, 828-264-1789

15-17 15-17

Fine Art and Master Craft Festival, Banner Elk


Family Day, Turchin Center, ASU, 828-262-3017


Toe River Storytelling Festival, downtown Spruce Pine,


USO Liberty Bells, Hayes Center, Blowing Rock, 828-295-9627


Mountain Home Bluegrass Boys, Fred’s General Mercantile, Beech Mountain, 828-387-4838





Oil Paintings from Photos Workshop with Egi Antonaccio, Carlton Gallery, Grandfather community, 828-963-4288

Old-Timey Picnic and Storytelling, Buckeye Recreation

Center, Beech Mountain, 828-387-4236

High Country Magazine

Free Summer Concert with Amantha Mill and Eric Ellis, Cook Memorial Park, Todd, 336-877-2565

Blowing Rock, 877-893-3874

Elementary, 828-898-5605

Art in the Park, American Legion Grounds, Blowing Rock, 828-295-7851

July 2011


Music, Minds and Motion with Lisa Baldwin and Dave Haney, The Children’s Playhouse, Boone, 828-263-3011



Free Summer Outdoor Concerts Nothing can be finer than listening to live music from a soft blanket or worn-in lawn chair at numerous area outdoor concerts, and best of all, they’re free! Check out Concerts on the Lawn at the Jones House in Boone, Music on the Lawn at the Best Cellar in Blowing Rock , the Riverwalk Concert Series in Newland and bluegrass at Todd General Store on Friday evenings, Concerts in the Park in Banner Elk Thursday evenings and concerts at the gazebo at Fred’s in Beech Mountain on Sundays in July and August; and live music at the courtyard at the Village Shoppes in Banner Elk on Wednesdays.


An Appalachian Summer Festival Appalachian State University’s An Appalachian Summer festival is one of the most anticipated events of the summer, with concerts, dance performances, film screenings, lectures, workshops and more throughout the month of July. Highlights include k.d. lang, Broyhill Chamber Ensemble, Eastern Festival Orchestra, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Tony Rice and Mountain Heart and Dierks Bentley and the Manhattan Transfer.

Through JULY

Horn in the West One of the nation’s oldest Revolutionary War dramas being performed today, Horn in the West portrays the lives of pioneers who braved the wilderness to settle in the Blue Ridge Mountains, seeking freedom from British tyranny. Numerous performances will take place June 17 through August 13. The historic Horn in the West amphitheater and Hickory Ridge Homestead, tucked in a wooded area in the heart of Boone, are worth exploring before the show.

Through AUGUST 13

Hiking & Biking Trails Open Monday, May 2nd through Sunday, October 16th Miles of hiking and biking trails intertwine throughout the Village of Sugar Mountain. Trail access is free of charge. Trail maps are available online or in a black, marked mailbox located at the base of the Flying Mile slope.

Weekend Scenic Chairlift Rides Friday, July 1st through Monday, September 5th Chairlift rides are available every Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 am until 5:30 pm. Bring the whole family, a picnic lunch, your mountain bike, or just a friend and enjoy a breathtaking forty-five minute roundtrip lift-ride to Sugar’s 5,300 foot peak. Special weekday lift ride dates include Friday, July 1st, Monday, July 4th and Monday, September 5th.

Yodel Lah He Ho - Oktoberfest Saturday, October 8th and Sunday, October 9th Enjoy a two-day Oktoberfest on Sugar Mountain. The event features live German music, German and American food & beverages; a children’s fun center; hay rides; a local & regional art/craft fair; chairlift rides; forty percent off select winter apparel and footwear in our sports shop; lodging specials and much more.

Sugar Mountain Resort

1009 Sugar Mountain Drive • Sugar Mountain, NC 28604 • (828) 898-4521

July 2011

High Country Magazine


k.d. lang, July 15

Alumni Art and Craft Show, July 9-11


Mountain Palette Arts Gala, Linville Ridge Country Club, 828-733-0054


Centennial Smash Softball Tournament, Avery Parks and Recreation field, 828-733-8266


Jeanne Robertson Performance and Silent Auction, Ashe Civic Center, West Jefferson, 336-846-2787


Sheets Family & Elkville String Band, Jones House, Boone, 828-264-1789



Rhythmic Circus, Hayes Center, Blowing Rock, 828-295-9627


Fine Art and Craft Awards Show, Valle Crucis, 828-260-1041


Diana & Sarvis Ridge, Fred’s General Mercantile, Beech Mountain, 828-387-4838


Tour of Homes, St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church,

AUGUST 2011 1 2-7


Rosen Outdoor Sculpture Walk, ASU, 828-262-4046


BJ’s Dog Show, Buckeye Recreation Center, Beech Mountain, 828-387-9283


Mountain Home Music: Fiddling and Dancing, Blowing


Rock School Auditorium, 828-964-3392


Fireworks Concert with Dierks Bentley, Kidd Brewer

Stadium, ASU, 828-262-4046 23-24

Fine Art and Craft Show, Banner Elk Elementary School, 828-260-1041


K-9s in Flight Frisbee Dogs, Tweetsie Railroad, Blowing Watauga Community Band, Fred’s General Mercantile, Charity Horse Show: Hunter Jumper I, Blowing Rock BRAHM Art and Antiques Sale, Blowing Rock School, 828-295-9099


5-6 5-7

Traditional Music Showcase, Jones House, Boone, 828-264-1789


Avery Centennial Festival, Newland, 828-898-5605 Ensemble Stage: Pageant Play, Blowing Rock School

Auditorium, 828-414-1844

The Manhattan Transfer, Farthing Auditorium, ASU,

828-262-4046 14

High Country Magazine

International Wizard of Oz Club Convention, Land of


Firefighters Fundraiser Ball, Beech Mountain, 828-387-9283


Crafts on the Green, Fred’s General Mercantile, Beech Mountain, 828-387-4838


Exhibition Reception: Tim Ford & Lisa Stinson: New Explorations, The Art Cellar Gallery, Banner Elk, 828898-5175


July 2011

Mountain Home Music: Tribute to Hank Williams & Lefty Frizzell, Blowing Rock School Auditorium, 828964-3392




The Bronx Wanderers, Hayes Center, Blowing Rock,


Mountain Heart with Tony Rice, Farthing Auditorium,

ASU, 828-262-4046


Ken Lurie & Buck Haggard Band, Jones House, Boone,


Equestrian Preserve, 828-295-2700


The Sound of Music, Hayes Auditorium, Lees McRae College, Banner Elk, 828-898-8729

Beech Mountain, 828-387-4838 26-31

Charity Horse Show: Hunter Jumper II, Blowing Rock

Equestrian Preserve, 828-295-2700

Oz, Beech Mountain, 828-387-8283

Rock, 877-893-3874 24

Taste of the Finest, Grandfather Golf and Country Club, Linville, 828-733-4305

Blowing Rock, 828-295-7323


Movie Night Under the Stars, Banner Elk Winery, 828-898-9090

Symphony by the Lake, Chetola Resort, Blowing Rock,

828-295-7851 22

USO Liberty Bells, July 16-17

Riders in the Sky, Tweetsie Railroad, Blowing Rock,

877-893-3874 7

Forget-Me-Nots and Joe Shannon, Fred’s General Mercantile, Beech Mountain, 828-387-4838


Sunset Stroll, Sunset Drive, Blowing Rock, 828-295-6991


Art in the Park, American Legion Grounds, Blowing Rock, 828-295-7851



Lees-McRae Summer Theatre Lees-McRae Summer Theatre, one of the most esteemed acting productions of the High Country, returns with a full three-show season this year. With performances at the Hayes Auditorium, the company performs Swing! The Musical Wednesday to Monday, July 13 to 18, and The Sound of Music Wednesday to Monday, August 3 to 8.


Symphony at the Lake Any opportunity to enjoy the grounds of Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock is a pleasure, but especially so in summer, when cool mountain breezes make for a perfect evening each July at the annual Symphony at the Lake. Bring a blanket and enjoy music by a symphony orchestra under the stars. Bring a picnic meal or enjoy cuisine prepared by the Manor House Restaurant. The special evening, which ends with a fireworks display, takes place on Friday, July 22.

FRIDAY July 22

BRAHM Arts and Antiques Weekend The fifth annual Blowing Rock Art and History Museum Arts and Antiques Weekend takes place Thursday to Sunday, July 28 to 31, at the Blowing Rock Elementary School on Morris Street downtown. Featuring the best in antiques and fine art, the weekend serves as a fundraiser for the museum, which will open a brand new facility this fall.

JULY 28 to 31

July 2011

High Country Magazine




Insider tips, fascinating facts, conversation starters and fun stuff to do

Get Outside and Paint Ll

ocal amateur, aspiring and professional

For more information, call Blowing Rock

artists have plenty of chances to paint this

Realty at 828-295-9861.

summer outside in the “plein air.” “Plein air”

There are Paint-Outs happening at Mt.

is a French term meaning “in the open air,”

Jefferson in Ashe County on Saturday, July

and there’s lots of places in the High Country with scenic beauty.

23, and Tuesday, August 30, hosted by Florence Thomas Art School. Mt. Jefferson rises more than 1,600 feet around the surrounding

There are four free Plein Air Paint-Out events in July and August, starting with

area and is a landmark in the area. Partici-

an event in the Sweet Grass commu-

pants are asked to sign up online (www.flor-


nity in Blowing or by calling 336-982-2499.

Rock on Friday,

Park rangers will give a short program at 8:00

July 15. This

a.m. at the picnic shelter, and then painting begins and lasts until the park closes.

event, which begins at 9:00 a.m. and lasts until 4:30 p.m., is spon-

The third annual Banner Elk Paint-Out,

sored by Sweet Grass, Blowing Rock Realty and

sponsored by the Avery County Arts Council, will

Kevin Beck Studio. Painters will have a chance

be on Saturday, August 27. Artists will gather

to paint landscapes around the mountain lake

along the Banner Elk Greenway to paint. Par-

community and show off their work at an infor-

ticipants show up at 8:00 a.m. to check in with

their blank canvases. Artwork will be viewed and judged at the Art Cellar Gallery from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., where prizes will be awarded. For more info, click to www.averycountyartscouncil. org. Non-painters can show up to watch artists at their easels and ask questions.

By Jason Gilmer

mal voluntary “wet painting show” at 5:00 p.m.

Hawksnest Expands Zipline Course

Banner Elk Winery’s Movie Nights Under the Stars



n July 1, Hawksnest Resort in Seven

anner Elk Winery intro-

Devils opened a new zipline tour

duces a new special event

called the Eagle. It is a two-and-a-half-mile

called Movie Night Under the

tour with nine cables and is longer and

Stars. The first event held in

higher than the attraction’s 10-cable tour.

June was a success, and Movie

Hawksnest staff recommends that you have

Nights will take place on the

some experience ziplining before getting

third Sunday of each month this summer, through September 25. A movie will be shown at 8:30 p.m. on a large screen on the lovely grounds of the winery following a live music performance from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. Movie tickets are $10, and picnic baskets are available for $35. The next Movie Night Under the Stars is Sunday, July 31. For more info, call 828-898-9090 or click to


High Country Magazine

on the new Eagle tour, which costs $75 per person. Kids 10 years and older can test out the Eagle. The 10-cable tour is one-and-a-half miles long and features a swinging bridge. This tour costs $65 per person. Kids 5 years and older can ride this course. Enjoy zipping over creeks, through forest canopies and sighting animals such as wild turkeys, deer, groundhogs and the occasional bear. Reservations are required for all tours. The tours start at 10:00 a.m. and end around 4:00 p.m. every day during the summer. For more information, call 828-9636561 or 800-822-4295.

By Jesse Wood July 2011

An Appalachian Summer Festival



nce again, some of the biggest shows

“Whether you are interested in bluegrass

in Boone are here thanks to An Appala-

or symphonies, there is something for the young and old,” Megan Stage, marketing

chian Summer festival. An Appalachian Summer festival at ASU is a multi-arts festival that began in 1984. The

manager, said. k.d. lang and The Siss Boom Bang per-

Southeastern Tourism Society named the

form Friday, July 15, at 8:00 p.m. at Farthing

summer festival one of the top 20 events in

Auditorium. On Saturday, July 16, at Duck

the Southeast for 2011. Each year the festi-

Pond Field, the festival presents Movies on

val draws nearly 26,000 people to the High

the Lawn: Wild and Scenic Environmental

Country each summer.

Film Festival from 9:00 to 10:30 p.m.

The summer festival has a diverse lineup

On Friday, July 29, Mountain Heart and

of activities and artists and features art work-

bluegrass legend Tony Rice will perform at

shops, theatre, film and music, including an

Farthing Auditorium at 8:00 p.m. For more

outdoor fireworks concert at Kidd Brewer

info or to buy tickets, call 828-262-4046 or

Stadium at ASU with country star Dierks

click to

Bentley on Saturday, July 23, at 7:30 p.m.

By Jesse Wood

Fine Art and Master Craft Festival in July and August The 20th annual Fine Art and Master Craft Festival sponsored by the Avery County Chamber returns to the quaint one-stoplight town of Banner Elk on Friday, July 15, from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m., Saturday, July 16, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, July 17, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. This free juried art and master craft festival will host 85 local and internationally trained artisans on the lawn of the historic Banner Elk Elementary School in mid-July and again on Saturday and Sunday, August 20 and 21. Artisans will sell unique handcrafted items such as pottery, wood bowls, special jewelry, furniture, mosaic tables and more, and on Friday will be special events for the whole family to enjoy, including an opportunity to meet alpacas from nearby Apple Hill Farm. For more info, click to or call 828-898-5605.

By Jesse Wood


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July 2011

High Country Magazine





The Rock Gets a New Look


he grass at Kidd Brewer Stadium will have

supposed to last longer

a freshly mowed look this season, but

and drain better.

ASU will never have to cut it.

There will be

After eight years of use, the FieldTurf has been replaced. The project began on March

some slight changes to the field’s look, as the color will change slightly every five yards to give it that “freshly mowed” look. The Block A logo will be at the center of the field (there were two small logos on the 25-yard lines on the previous turf), the endzones will be green instead of black, and there will be no field hockey or soccer lines on the turf. Along with replacing the turf, the crown

1, and work has gone on throughout the

on the field was also removed, and the high

summer to ready the field for this season.

jump pit that was located near Owens Field

Kidd Brewer Stadium will be one of the first

House will be moved to the other end of the

stadiums in the country to have FieldTurf’s


new “Revolution” playing surface, which is

Corey Smith To Play Fan Fest

w W

hen he strums an acoustic guitar and sings about his life, Corey Smith is certain to

connect with people. On Saturday, August 20,

the country singer-songwriter performs as part of ASU’s annual football Fan Fest. The show, set to start at 8:30 p.m., will be in Kidd Brewer Stadium. The cost for Fan Fest and the concert is free for

By Jason Gilmer

season ticket holders and just $10 for others. Tickets go on sale at


9:00 a.m. on Monday,

Avery Centennial Bash July 29 to 31

July 11, and can be bought by calling 828-262-2079, going online to or by stopping by the Holmes Center ticket booth.


Smith has made a name for himself by word of

very County, the 100th and last

mouth and giving away mp3s on his website, but

county to form in North Carolina,

there’s now a video for fan favorite “Twenty-One,”

celebrates its 100th birthday this sum-

and he’s playing bigger gigs across the country.

mer. The highlight of the Centennial is

“The thing that

the three-day celebration in Newland

pulled fans into my

Friday through Sunday, July 29 to

music in the begin-

July 31. The Centennial festival features

ning is that I wasn’t

a car show, fireworks and a parade—all

trying to sell them anything. I wasn’t trying to please anyone; I was

open to the public and free. The weekchronological order. There will be Revolution-

end ends with a countywide church service featuring traditional mountain singing. On Friday, July 29, at 8:00 p.m. fireworks will burst in air above Newland. On Saturday, July 30, at 11:00 a.m., the heritage parade

parade relates to the history of the county in 18

High Country Magazine

ary War representatives and Native Americans

Along with Smith’s concert, Fan Fest will

featured in the parade. After 1911, something

include an intrasquad scrimmage at 4:00 p.m., a

for each decade will be featured. For more info, contact the Avery County Chamber of Commerce at 828-898-5605 or 800-972-2183

starts in downtown Newland. The heritage

just doing what came natural,” Smith said recently.

or click to

July 2011

By Jesse Wood

performance by the ASU Marching Band, an autograph session with players and coaches, along with players leading on-field football drills, ASU cheerleaders painting “game faces” and inflatable rides for young fans.

By Jason Gilmer

Croquet, Cooking and Charity


High Country Women’s Fund Active in August and September he High Country Women’s Fund (HCWF),

T t

Friday, September 16. Robinson, who hosts

an initiative of the High Country United

two popular shows on the Food Network,

Way, works to create positive change for

brings her time and talents to the Blowing

women and their families in Avery and

Rock Country Club as guest speaker at the

Watauga counties and has special events

luncheon, an annual event by the HCWF to

planned in August and September to raise

raise money for women in need in Avery and

money for its efforts. For more info about

Watauga counties. Robinson’s presentation

these events, call 828-264-4007 or email

will also touch on her career path—both the

challenges and the rewards.

Croquet for a Cause August 21

The luncheon will also feature an auc-

In addition to the double-elimination tournament, the event will feature a contest for

tion of a work donated by Blowing Rock artist

Wine & Wickets: Croquet for a Cause tournament

best period attire, a poolside dinner and musi-

Gisele Weisman titled “Woman in Motion.”

at the Eseeola Lodge Croquet Court on Sunday,

cal entertainment.

Weisman is a long-time member and supporter

August 21. Registration begins at 1:00 p.m., and

Power of the Purse Luncheon September 16

The HCWF invites the public to its inaugural

play starts at 2:00 p.m. “Croquet is a traditional sport and has been very popular in Avery County for more than a century,” said Tricia Wilson, event chair.

Claire Robinson thinks you need only five ingredients, or fewer, to make cooking easy, fast and irresistible, and she’s going to tell you why at the Power of the Purse Luncheon on

of the HCWF and all proceeds from the painting will serve its mission. Invitations to the September 16 luncheon will go out six weeks prior to the event. Seating is limited, so RSVP as soon as possible.

July 2011

High Country Magazine


Homage to High Country Restaurants Story by Randy Johnson

A Look Back at Great Meals and Ahead to Great Memories


t’s not easy being a restaurant reviewer. Wearing dark glasses in a dim restaurant is an occupational hazard. It’s not pleasant missing your mouth and getting a fork in the face. Spilling water and wine blows your cover when the server sees you dabbing your notebook dry. Actually, I never had those problems over years of “reviewing” restaurants for the Mountain Times during the 1980s. The paper was not The New York Times, so the restaurants around the High Country almost always knew who I was and when I was coming to review them. Some might even dispute calling my weekly submissions “reviews.” At least one person close to the restaurant series still leers at me, saying—”Never a bad review!” Actually, a recent reread of the old columns dropped my jaw at just how unbelievably blunt those articles were. True, I was subtle. Lack of enthusiasm for some dishes was couched between the lines, but mainly I wanted to let readers know what was truly great about our local restaurants. My “Dine Out!” series basically featured area eateries—but there was a bigger message. The articles announced what many people were realizing—the High Country was no longer a backwater of dining. Independent restaurateurs and a wealth of great new 1980s restaurants—some of them still here today—were making northwest North Carolina a dining hotspot. With the summer travel season underway, this is a great time to remind ourselves of something that many people don’t fully appreciate—the area has a vibrant, distinctively urban-quality restaurant scene.

Food for Thought

I recently dug into a trove of old and yellowed restaurant reviews, menus 20

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July 2011

and stapled note pads— complete with mentions of “wine coolers” and “corkage fees”— remember those? Yes, we used to haul a bottle of wine into a restaurant in an ignoble act called “brown-bagging” (whether or not a brown bag figured in). Then you had to pay to open the wine in a restaurant that couldn’t sell it to you. Besides offering a lengthy list of long-gone restaurants, a look back at my columns reveals a remarkable number of back-in-the-day dining spots that are “still here and thriving.”

A Short Menu of High Country Dining History

Imagine dining in the Boone area in the 1800s, back when the old Watauga County jail in Boone was still a jail and not a new restaurant called Proper. By 1882, the Green Park Inn in Blowing Rock was serving guests in a fancy dining room. And by 1892, the Eseeola Lodge was catering to affluent Linville vacationers. Both landmarks are still serving—the Green Park, recently reopened and reinvigorated under the new ownership of Eugene and Steven Irace. Chew on that for a minute. America has historic eateries—and two of them are right here, epitomizing the appeal of


Country dining 130 years later. The Todd Hotel opened in 1912 and “served meals to non-boarders.” Both Mayview Manor (1922-1978) and The Daniel Boone Hotel in downtown Boone (1920s to around 1980) had dining rooms. The awards and public acclaim still roll in for the Dan’l Boone Inn more

Chef Stan Chamberlain at Crippen’s than a half-century after its 1959 start. Recent magazine accolades praise its overflowing spreads of country cooking served family-style. Hound Ears Lodge and Club opened in 1964 and still serves meals to residents and lodging guests. No one would claim that Antlers Bar in Blowing Rock was a gourmet dining spot, but it had a following for food from the 1930s to the ‘80s, when famished folks from all over the dry High Country came to wet Blowing Rock for beer, wine and an ABC store. Dockside Ira’s followed, a tasty, seafood-forward eatery. Today, one of Blowing Rock’s popular dining spots occupies the space, Bistro Roca—and the restaurant’s bar preserves the old Antlers name.

Chefs and Owners

High Country dining history might not be full of nationally known celebrity chefs, but there is a who’s who list of tal-

Owner and Chef Sam Ratchford of Vidalia’s ented chefs and owners who populate our past and present. Fabian Botta was a legendary light in the darkness of High Country dining in the early resort years. His Tack Room in Foscoe was a special experience from the first step over a gushing stream on a dimly lit wooden bridge. It was cozy, with equestrian gear on the walls and what some remember as the first spoken menu they ever heard. The Buenos Aires-born chef’s food was “light years” ahead of the competition. Gone, but not forgotten. He later founded The Village Cafe and Louisiana Purchase in the High Country, Fabian’s in WinstonSalem, and most recently, The Ruddy Duck in Morehead City. When I first moved to the area in the mid-1970s I often found myself dining at The Corner Restaurant in Banner Elk, run by Eva and Bruce Jones. Their friendly atmosphere and good food put the perfect face on High Country din-

Kitchen staff Matt Vetter, Matt Murphy and Zach Martin at Cafe Portofino

ing for me. Then the restaurant burned down, later the Corner Palate arrived, and now the space is empty. It’s hard not to sing Mike Sollecito’s praises. Famous for his silver curls and tableside crooning to Dean Martin tunes, “Mr. S,” and “Mrs. S” too, were High Country classics at Sollecito’s Pizza. Frederick Coffey ranks high. When he opened Coffey’s beside the Blowing Rock bar called Clyde’s, his restaurant was one of the most refined in the area. Coffey reprised his sophisticated sensibility too briefly in Boone at Coffey’s during the first decade of this millennium. Today, Char occupies that location with similarly crisp decor and great outdoor seating. Add Cha Da Thai next door, and this little Howard Street strip in Boone has choices. Randy Plachy, one of my favorite local chefs, probably debuted in the area at New River Inn. Later I was a big fan of his Riverwood Restaurant in Blowing Rock. One of my favorite area eateries of alltime—Heidi’s, near Sugar Mountain— was run by Swiss restaurateurs Heidi and Walter Vollenweider. They retired, but memories still have my mouth-watering. On a snowy evening, overhearing the accents of local European ski pros—you coulda been in the Alps. Other names crop up in my notes. German chef Harald Gesser cooked at various spots. Eventually he offered takeout entrees and even cooking classes in his own storefront gourmet butcher shop in Foscoe, Enzian. I chronicled Doug Usko’s great qualifications through his offerings at Banner Elk’s Corner Palate (where he served the area’s first sushi) and now in his popular eatery Zuzda, with its amazingly diverse small-plate, tapas-style menu and an upstairs bar with live weekend music. Makoto’s in Boone, another High July 2011

High Country Magazine


Country restaurant still popular from the 1980s, took over the sushi niche. With flame-flinging chefs going table to table and four sushi chefs, Makoto’s is one of a few local eateries that can call itself an attraction. Louisiana Purchase elevated and broadened the area’s offerings under chef/owner Mark Rossi. It’s now run by Patrick and Laurie Bagbey. Also in Banner Elk, Chef Dean Mitchell made waves with the now closed Morel’s, a very upscale menu that showcased cooking skills renowned in South Florida before his journey north.

Down Memory Lane

Italian eateries Casa Rustica in Boone and Sorrento’s in Banner Elk have made the long haul from the early ‘80s and continue as ever-popular staples. Today’s new Italian choices include Primos, Capone’s, Joe’s Italian Kitchen and Cafe Portofino, all in Boone. Joe Cafaro of Joe’s Italian Kitchen is a true New Yorker—his restaurant in Boone Heights shopping center features a “wall of honor” of 9/11 images. Joe epitomizes how people from a lot of places end up in the High Country. “I started disliking big cities, so I left New York for Charlotte in 1980,” he says. “That was enough to convince me I wanted to live in a really little city.” He chose Boone, and will be open 10 years this August. Near Joe’s in Boone Heights, Mountain Bagels features Mediterranean dishes and bagels made from scratch. The historic 1911 train depot on Boone’s Rivers Street houses Cafe Portofino. I recently caught some of the kitchen staff busily preparing for lunch with the kind of camaraderie that brings many young people to restaurants. The

Owner Larry Imeson of Blowing Rock Cafe and Bert’s Bar

eatery’s two energetic Matts, Vetter and Murphy, and Zach Martin, all agreed that owners Olga Esterson and Joanna Sahm have created “a great place to work”—not to mention to eat. Near Sugar Mountain, Bella’s attracts the Italian-inclined crowd between Boone and Banner Elk. In a new storefront setting in Foscoe, four-star chef Dominic Geraghty and wife Meryle offer a take out and dine-in gourmet menu at Eat Crow in Grandfather View Village. Dominic, a Brit formerly of Hound Ears Club and the Inn at Crestwood, features sandwiches, desserts, sweet and savory pies, and frozen entrees to take and bake. Accomplished chefs mean upscale eateries are plentiful in the Boone area. Between Blowing Rock and Hound Ears, you’re “spoilt for choice” as the Brits say, with Gamekeeper and The Inn at Crestwood within feet of each other. Both are former private homes with rich settings and fine food. Every time I roll by Crestwood when their “Sunset Dinner Drinks” sign is out I have to fight to keep from turning in. Blowing Rock has fine dining figured out, and Chetola’s The Manor House restaurant, located in the Bob Owners Joan and Bernie Keele of Storie Street Grille Timberlake Inn, 22

High Country Magazine

July 2011

David Bartlett of Speckled Trout Cafe is a case in point. I’ve always loved the bark-sided beauty of the Ragged Garden Inn on the village’s Sunset Drive. Various in-house eateries came and went—then The Best Cellar moved in, and an enduring name in the local restaurant industry (since 1975) found the perfect spot. The dining room is lovely, but the best seats at The Best Cellar are literally in the cellar—surrounded by wines sleeping in racks or under the vaulted ceiling in a setting worthy of a castle hotel. I remember reviewing the Sunshine Inn on Sunset Drive. It’s been Crippen’s for some time, one of the area’s top-rated dining experiences. The story at Jimmy Crippen’s place is the brand new decor. Words like warm, rich and sophisticated all nail the new interior—and the food. Just down the street sits another longstanding eatery still making people happy from my restaurant review days: Blowing Rock Grille. Six years ago the restaurant had a “concept change,” says

owner Larry Imeson. He eliminated breakfast, upscaled a bit, and zeroed in on wine with 38 choices by the glass, “a nice pour,” and many boutique labels on the list. “Our outdoor dining is a hit,” he says. “People driving by often see friends and pull in to join them.” I have great memories of outside dining under towering white pines at Tijuana Fats during its long tenure on Main Street in Blowing Rock. You can still dine today outdoors under those same pines—now at Glidewell’s. Dave Bartlett’s Speckled Trout Cafe & Oyster Bar cornered the Blowing Rock intersection of Main Street and U.S. 221 25 years ago and still anchors that spot with stellar seafood and more. Talk about the importance of community on local restaurants—Speckled Trout’s menu memorializes Paul Tate, a man Owners David and Leeann Berry of Hearthstone Tavern who “adopted me,” says Bartlett. “Without his help over the years, I wouldn’t be crab, and au poivre sauce). “Later,” says notes, I couldn’t remember where some here.” Tate was a tireless physical plant Bartlett, “Tate told me, ‘Dave, that’s the of the places were even located! Where problem solver for the young restau- best thing I ever ate in my life.’ When I in the heck was Sandpiper Seafood? rateur. “There are still things running asked him if I could put the Paul Tate Oregano’s? Remember the fancier hotel around here that he fixed 10 years ago!” Special on the menu, he said, ‘Nobody restaurant atmosphere that arrived with While Tate worked late one night, will order that!’” Ever since, it’s one of Rob’s in Boone’s new Sheraton at the Bartlett created a great steak dish for him Bartlett’s best-sellers. corner of U.S. 421/U.S. 321? The build(a blackened filet, topped with shrimp, As I sorted through stacks of 1980s ing’s now an ASU dorm.

July 2011

High Country Magazine


summer dining bandana’s bar-b-que & grill

boone. Serving Boone and the North Carolina High Country since 1996, Bandana’s is a local favorite for great food, service with a smile, and exceptional dining value. All of their Bar-B-Que items are smoked on premises using a unique blend of local hardwoods. Best known for their Baby Back Ribs, the Bandana’s culinary team smokes the ribs until they are tender and juicy. After marinating in their signature Bar-B-Que sauce, the ribs are grilled to perfection! Also, be sure to check out the fresh Salad Bar, which has over 40 items from which to choose. n 828-265-2828.


Banner elk. Bella’s Neighborhood Italian Restaurant is a local favorite and serves the best Italian cuisine in town. Everything is made to order with the finest homemade ingredients. Bella’s is known for authentic Italian food along with a variety of delicious hand-tossed pizza. Perfect for families, locals and visitors alike. Come dine with the Fellas from Bella’s and you are guaranteed not to go home hungry! Located across from Sugar Mountain in the Food Lion Shopping Center. n 828-898-9022.

Exquisite Authentic Thai Cuisine

Daily Lunch Specials

Also Open for Dinner Every Day: Mon-Sun 5:00-10:00

173 Howard Street in Downtown Boone 828-268-0434 Fax: 828-268-0439 24

High Country Magazine

Open Wed-Sun Brunch 10-5 • Dinner 5-10


506 West King Street Boone NC 28607

Best Cellar

Lunch Hours: Mon-Fri 11:00-3:00 Sat-Sun 11:30-3:00

* Serving beer and wine *

Local and Organic Foods Outdoor Dining in Downtown Boone All ABC Permits

Blowing Rock. While in Blowing Rock, come by and have lunch or dinner at the famous Best Cellar restaurant, located within The Inn at Ragged Gardens. Famous for the Roast Duckling—half a duckling roasted until crispy, boned and served with raspberry sauce you will not soon forget—or the Almond Crusted North Carolina Black Grouper, melt in your mouth grouper, seared and finished with white wine and Gouda cheese are sure to please any palate. n 828-295-3466 •

July 2011

Fresh Italian Cuisine

• Patio Dining • Live Music • Daily Specials Located at Boone Mall next to TJ Maxx


Tues-Sat 11-9 • Sun 12-5:30

summer dining Blowing Rock Grille

Blowing Rock Blowing Rock Grille has become a favorite for locals and visitors since 1982 by offering incredible food, exceptional service, and memorable nights. Serving lunch and dinner, guests are able to experience the cozy, interior atmosphere or the beautiful and welcoming patio while enjoying a signature cocktail or bottle of wine. The Broiled Rainbow Trout is phenomenal; fresh mountain rainbow trout is seasoned with lemon pepper, garlic, paprika, and fresh dill and broiled to perfection. Another fabulous entrée is the 10 oz. Grilled Pork Chop, which is served with a house-made mango and red papaya salsa. n 828-295-9474.

Boone Bagelry

Boone. If you want to revisit the nostalgic days of Southern diners and drugstores, head on in to the locals’ favorite hangout, Boone Drug Downtown. While you’re there, saddle up to the counter and order Boone Drug’s famous Cheeseburger, served any way you want it. We like it with bacon or grilled mushrooms and onions. Or go the healthier route and order one of the Boone Drug’s mouth-watering Fresh Salads, which include hearty greens piled high with grilled chicken, homemade fried chicken, or a classic chef salad topped with good old-fashioned ham and turkey. n 828-264-3766.

Over 120 Small Tapas Plates

Boone Drug

Progressive Alternative Dining

Open Daily 4pm-until... 502 West Main St. Banner Elk 828-898-4166

Two Fabulous Bars • All ABC Permits

Boone. Boone’s oldest bagel shop, Boone Bagelry is a full-service restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch all day. You’re sure to find something you’ll love, like the popular Bagelicious, with fried egg, bacon, ham and melted American, Swiss or Muenster cheese on whichever freshly-baked bagel flavor you want. Or Build Your Own Sandwich with items like the Best Chicken Salad in the High Country. Patio dining is available, and Boone Bagelry also offers eat in, takeout or delivery options. Open late Thurs, Fri and Sat 11:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. n 828-262-5585.

Extensive Wine Selection • Live Music Fri. & Sat. July 2011

High Country Magazine


Beech Mountain’s dining scene has ebbed and flowed, with various chefs and styles coming and going at mile-high hotels (Beech Alpen Inn, Four Seasons and Top of the Beech all have dining spots now). I always enjoy Beech Alpen, with its see-through fireplace in the bar. There’s also Vazarely’s (remember the restaurant before that—Moguls?). Back in the day, I really liked Rascals, the fun barbecue joint that was extremely popular after its 1984 debut as the town’s first restaurant to serve beer and wine with live entertainment. Today the place to be is Archer’s Inn, with fine food and vistas at Jackalope’s View Restaurant. For years, the Beech Haus was marketing mountain trout at the bottom of the mountain, and a half dozen names have followed since (from Jeremiah’s to Mexican and beyond). Mexican cuisine has come a long way in the High Country. Los Arcoiris stepped it up, and the newly popular Puerto Nuevo Mexican seafood restaurant is bringing Vera Cruz to Banner Elk. Back in the early ‘90s, Bart Conway’s Tumbleweed Grille in Boone was one of my favorites. Now there are entire chains devoted to the fresh Southwest-

ern cuisine Conway was creating. Bart moved to Blowing Rock and now serves it up with one of the area’s great views at Canyons. “The view almost makes us an attraction,” he says, “but this isn’t one of those oceanside eateries where the menu is an afterthought.” Conway also displays memorabilia from a remarkable list of local landmarks he’s been involved with— the old Holly’s Tavern where Canyons is now located and the legendary music club P.B. Scott’s. Other one-off names come to mind, and among the most evocative was Marvin’s Gardens, a pivotal Boone eatery if there was one. The Woodlands was one of my earliest reviews. I just enjoyed telling the story of Butch Triplett and Jim Houston. What a savvy switch they made from a bar that couldn’t make its 51 percent food quota (remember those days?) to one of the area’s landmark barbecue joints and live music venues. The last time I looked, my review was still framed on the wall. There are more barbecue choices in the area now—Bandana’s in Boone comes to mind, Carolina Barbecue in Newland and Pappy’s at Tynecastle. Just down U.S. 321 from Woodland’s

A Perfect Evening Join us on Thursdays for our lively seafood buffet, or another evening for one of Chef Maisonhaute’s savory offerings such as Boeuf Bourguignon or Grilled Mountain Rainbow Trout. Call for reservations.

The Eseeola Lodge at Linville Golf Club

175 Linville Avenue Linville, North Carolina 28646 • 1-800-742-6717


High Country Magazine

July 2011

John and Jack Pepper of Pepper’s is Papa Joe’s, formerly Ichabod’s. “The old name just wasn’t about Italian,” says Joe Papa, born in Brooklyn with four grandparents who came through Ellis Island. A new interior pairs with the newly invigorated Italian-American menu. Not far away is the new Foggy Rock, owned by Burt Myer. The longtime chef at both Chetola and Green Park Inn started Café Portofino, then sold it and “went traveling. But I always knew I’d be back. It’s what I do.” It took Myer six months to write the menu. “So many people

us o am dF

o r t s i B

rl Wo

Village Shoppes Downtown Banner Elk


summer dining Café Portofino Boone. Whether it’s the unique taste of the Spicy Chicken Fold-Over on a pita with Portofino’s signature sauce, or Burt’s Legendary Spaghetti, with garlic cloves and Italian sausage, locals and visitors agree that a stop by Café Portofino is a must. The self-described ‘garlic house” features a menu with Thai, Eurasian and Italian influences. n 828-264-7772 •

ining 5 Star D he Prices without t al in a Casu re! Atmosphe ining All Day D


Blowing Rock. Canyons’ diners have discovered a menu packed with variety. From the ever-popular south of the border Las Enchiladas—corn tortillas stuffed with jack and cheddar cheese with beef chicken or spinach— to the signature Chicken Maui, which is a grilled chicken breast topped with tangy Hawaiian barbecue sauce and crisp bacon, sautéed mushrooms and jack cheese, we like the special board, where the chefs show off their culinary flair. There’s always something to please every taste. And did we mention it’s the best view in the High Country? n 828295-7661 •

capone’s boone.

Capone’s has been voted “Best Pizza in the High Country,” and for good reason. With a great beer list, pizzas, strombolis, calzones and pastas, Capone’s is a great place to stifle your hunger and quench your thirst. Try the Super Supreme Pizza, which has pepperoni, bacon, peppers, mushrooms, fresh garlic and onions. The staff favorite is Machine-Gun Mike’s, which is composed of a mouthwatering combination of teriyaki chicken, pineapple, bacon and teriyaki sauce. n 828265-1886.

carolina barbeque

newland. A regular favorite is the

Large Pork Plate with baked beans, coleslaw and hushpuppies. For the health and protein fans, there’s the 3 Piece Smoked Chicken with home-

970 Rivers Street • 828-264-7772 • w w w. c a f e p o r t o fi n o . n e t

F  

Southwestern • Sandwiches • Salads • Tempting Lunch & Dinner Specials

FeastSenses A









HIGHWAY 321 • BLOWING ROCK, NC • ALL ABC PERMITS • 828-295-7661 Serving Lunch & Dinner Daily 11am until... • Reservations suggested for parties of five or more July 2011

High Country Magazine


summer dining

Celebrating 4 years in the High Country

made green beans and dirty rice served with a dinner roll—this healthy meal is even approved by the YMCA! Don’t forget the delicious banana pudding and CBBQ no-bake cookies too! n 828-737-0700

Casa Rustica

Boone. Casa Rustica offers some of the finest northern Italian-American cuisine in the High Country, accentuated by a cozy, fireside atmosphere. Casa’s award-winning fare includes the Bourbon Street Filet Mignon, a mouth-watering frilled filet mignon cooked to perfection and topped with a delicious bourbon and brown sugar sauce. Just off the boat Seafood Fra Diavolo, loaded with an extravaganza of shrimp, scallops, calamari and clams simmered in a rich red sauce over the pasta of your choice! n 828262-5128.

• The High Country’s only made from scratch, boiled & baked on premises • All Natural Recipe • No Fats or Preservatives


828-265-4141 Mon- Fri: 7am - 2pm • Sat: 8am - 2pm & Sun: 9am- 2pm 211 Boone Heights Drive • Boone (Turn at Burger King on Hwy 321)

Cha Da Thai

Boone. Cha Da Thai is the only place in the area where you can find authentic Thai cuisine. The eclectic and large menu is very popular with locals and, in addition to many other savory selections, features Pad Thai, a classic Thai dish served to your spicy liking. If you’re daring, try the Thai hot, stir-fried rice noodles sautéed with a delicious Tamarind base red sauce, egg, bean sprouts, green onion and crushed peanuts with chicken, shrimp or beef also tofu for our vegetarian friends. Pad Nam-Prik-Paow, which is steamed rice seasoned with flavorful Thai sweet chili paste sauce, broccoli, carrot, Napa cabbage, snow peas, bell peppers and basil leaves. n 828-268-0434 • www.

Family Style Meals Serving for 50 years, Dan’l Boone Inn offers diners in Boone and the High Country delicious homecooked meals, just like you remember at Grandma’s house.

char modern american restaurant

Boone. char…where New York City meets the Blue Ridge Mountains! A unique, contemporary bistro located in downtown Boone, offering diverse, creative and delectable brunch, lunch and dinner cuisine in a warm, open, cosmopolitan setting. Featuring a covered deck


High Country Magazine

July 2011

130 Hardin Street in Boone 264-8657 Please Call for Seasonal Hours

summer dining

dining and a sleek modern bar. Serving modern American cuisine including signature dishes – Low Country Shrimp & Grits…Angus hand-cut Ribeye Steak … Turkey & Brie Sandwich and Grilled Tilapia Fish Tacos. Nightly Entertainment. Come join us at char for Food • Drinks • Music • Art • Fun… n 828-266-


Modern Mountain Cuisine


Boone. With so much to do in the High Country, you’ll want to refuel quickly to have time for it all. Whether it’s a pre-hike breakfast or a lunch break during your epic, daylong shopping extravaganza, you can count on Chick-Fil-A for a delicious way to fill up fast. And if you’re hosting a large event of family gathering, Chick-Fil-A’s party trays will make it easy for you. n 828-264-4660. boone

TOP 50 U.S. Restaurants As ranked by over 7 million OpenTable reviews

Shulls Mill Rd beside Yonahlossee

(828) 963-7400


Boone. What do you crave? If it’s a world-inspired, handcrafted martini menu, an extensive wine list, or a 90-plus item food menu, then Crave World-Inspired Tapas and Martini Bar is your place. The dishes are tapasstyle, meaning that they are smaller, individual plates meant for sharing. Chef Josh Grogan recommends The Espresso Dusted Filet, which combines the flavors of Ghirardelli chocolate and a cabernet espresso sauce. Another delicious option is the Mushroom Risotto, with sautéed mushrooms and aged asiago cheese. n 828-355-9717. www.


Blowing Rock. Nestled in the heart of downtown Blowing Rock, Crippen’s is famous for its pan-seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras with farmpicked blueberries. First-time diners and regulars alike are enjoying our new fresh water NC catfish served with collard greens and Watauga ham butter sauce. We invite you to welcome our new executive chef, Stan Chamberlain. n 877-295-3487 July 2011

High Country Magazine


order the same thing at restaurants—I envisioned a menu with so many good choices it would be hard to decide what you wanted.” Myer “grew up in the business” and proudly says, “many members of the staff started working with me in high school.” Murray Broome still hand-slices great steaks at The Peddler, (where else can you find caviar on the salad bar?). Out in Banner Elk, Stonewall’s—which originated as Chuck’s Steakhouse in Boone—always has a justifiably packed parking lot. Don’t overlook Boone Drug. The lunch counter is a fixture for a spectrum of down-home dishes that now include locally grown items prepared the mountain way. Distinctive independent sandwich shops and lighter fare eateries have been a strong-suit for Boone. A downtown fixture since the mid-‘80s, Our Daily Bread is popular for tasty, healthy, homemade soups and a big selection of gourmet veggie sandwiches. Donna and Tony Nicastro of Boone Bagelry have been open since 1988—23 successful years in downtown (and a new late night menu on weekends). Klondike Cafe is

Chef and Owner Doug Usko of Zuzda another college town spot still serving from the old days. Near Klondike, and also still attracting locals and visitors, The Red Onion Cafe got my thumbs up back in the 1980s (and still does). Jack Pepper’s enduring Pepper’s Restaurant debuted in 1975, now beside

Harris Teeter in the Shops at Shadowline. Sons Josh and John are stepping into Dad’s shoes, but “I want to get my 40 years in,” Pepper says. With a laugh, he says “Restaurant years are like dog years—each one feels like seven! No, but seriously, I wouldn’t trade it. We’ve had

daily drink specials! monday – $4 mojitos and live music 6:30-9:30 tuesday – $1 off martinis wednesday – ½ price select bottles of wine thursday – $2 drafts and $4 shot & well drinks saturday – $12 pitchers of white or red sangria sunday – $4 mimosas and $5 bloody marys

203 boone heights drive open seven days a week bar open late | 828-355-9717 30

High Country Magazine

July 2011

summer dining crossroads

Boone. With over 35 years experience in the restaurant industry, Crossroads Pub aims high to provide guests with a comfortable and fun dining experience! Try the App State Cheese Steak, the real deal with grilled onions on a hoagie with white American cheese or cheese whiz. Or enjoy the Hand Cut Ribeye, grilled to perfection and topped with a peppercorn demi glaze. Crossroad’s also serves up wings galore, with 20 flavors to choose from! n 828-266-9190. www.

dan’l boone inn

Boone In 1959, the Whitaker family opened the Dan’l Boone Inn as a family style restaurant. For over 50 years, the restaurant has served family style meals, making it the oldest restaurant in Boone. General Manager Jeff Shelman recommends a meal of Southern Fried Chicken, Country Ham Biscuits, Real Mashed Potatoes with Gravy, and Fresh Stewed Apples. All of these items are made fresh daily. If you are looking for genuine, authentic Southern cuisine, swing by and experience historic Dan’l Boone Inn. n 825-264-8657. www.

simple, seasonal, memorable


LINVILLE. Step back in time to a place where going out to eat is an experience to be savored at Eseeola. Although the menu changes daily, customers can bet they’ll find these mouth-watering items on the list: Eseeola’s Pork Tenderloin, a sage roasted and pan seared pork tenderloin medallion, hickory smoked pork belly and garlic and herb Toulouse sausage accompanied by a green lentil salad; and Vegan and Vegetarian Delight, a mushroom duxelle and ratatouille wrapped in a zucchini pastry served on a layer of local tomato jam. n 1-800-7426717.


BLOWING ROCK. Conceptualized in August 2010 and then opened in October, Foggy Rock Eatery and Pub is chef

A contemporar y American bistro ser ving local meats and seasonal produce

828.295.7075 | www.storiestreetg rille .com 1167 Main St., Blowing Rock, NC 28605 Monday through Saturday | Lunch and Dinner Andrew Long, Executive Chef & General Manager.

July 2011

High Country Magazine


summer dining Burt Myers’ next original restaurant in the High Country. Try our Shrimp and Tortellini Pasta, sauteed shrimp and cheese filled tortellini with roma tomatoes, spinach, eggplant, garlic, white wine, and olive oil and topped with Parmesan cheese. Or maybe our Mojo Pork Chops, two 4 oz. center cut pork chops marinated and dry rubbed with house seasoning. Grilled and served with creamed rosemary potatoes and an avocado and tomato garnish. A casual dining experience for both lunch and dinner and great food at low prices. Check out the 15 drafts that include local breweries and favorites! n 828-295-8084.

Gamekeeper Restaurant

Blowing Rock. Why Gamekeeper? The answer is easy enough—the eclectic food and the atmosphere. Housed in a 1950s stone cottage, Gamekeeper is an upscale restaurant that offers an eclectic mix of Southern foods and mountain cuisine. With choices such as Buffalo Tenderloin, served with herbed blue cheese macaroni and horseradish, Don’t miss the local favorite Mountain Trout (you will soon understand why it is a favorite) served alongside a grit cake and caper salsa, there’s so much to love at one of the most unique and tasty restaurants in the region. n 828-963-7400 •


BANNER ELK. Owners David and Leeann Berry invite you to join them at the Hearthstone seven days a week this summer for a delicious meal. The Hearthstone features hand cut Filets and Ribeyes, New Zealand rack of lamb, fresh wild-caught Scottish Salmon and North Carolina trout, Manchester Farms quail, and many other specials to please your palate. Live entertainment in the Tavern every Friday and Saturday. n 828-898-3461 • www.


High Country Magazine

July 2011

summer dining HOB nob farm café

Boone. Hob Nob Farm Café is the only restaurant in Boone to offer local meats year-round. The beef, sausage  & chicken are local all the time (beef & sausage supplied by New River Organic Growers and the chicken by Springer Mountain). In addition, owners Mike and Nova have their own farm, where the focus is on fruits and vegetables for the restaurant. Hob Nob Farm Café also offers a variety of vegetarian dishes. Try the Tempeh Gouda Tacos, which are topped with chunks of fresh avocado and delicious Gouda cheese. Another great dish is the Watauga Farm Burger, which is made of locally grass-fed beef, topped with smoked Gouda, onion, lettuce, and tomato, served with chili aioli and Dijon mustard. n 828-262-5000.

Jackalope’s View Restaurant at Archer’s Mountain Inn

Beech Mountain. We provide an intimate dining experience for every discerning taste. Enjoy elegantly prepared and creative entrées including weiner schnitzel and fresh mountain trout prepared one of three ways: nut-crusted, blackened or lemon and butter. An exceptional wine list complements any meal. Enjoy our dining room or dine on the deck, both with stunning views. Located at 2489 Beech Mountain Parkway. n 828-898-9004


BOONE. As “Purveyors of Fine Food and Drink,” Joy Bistro features a menu of delicious food and delightful cocktails. This small fine dining restaurant is located in the New Market Center and has a casual, warm and inviting setting. Chef Melissa Claude suggests the Certified Angus Beef Filet, served over Boursin cheese mashed potatoes, local summer squash and asparagus topped with roasted garlic & chive compound butter and a caramel jus. Or if you’re in July 2011

High Country Magazine


a pretty good little family here. A great staff of smart ASU students. And now my kids. I really like seeing them coming in to keep the place going.” One of the best Pepper’s stories happened the first year. A Blowing Rock resident named Jean Lawson started ordering a custom sandwich, and the more people saw her eat it the more people ordered it. That’s how “I want what she’s having” turned into the Jean Lawson, a Pepper’s classic, and another local honored on a local menu. There’s a changing of the guard at Pepper’s, but at Vidalia’s in Boone, 34-year-old restaurateur Sam Ratchford is the next wave. The New England Culinary Institute graduate grew up in Boone, worked in restaurants for years and plunged in himself four years ago when he bought the then two-year-old restaurant. It’s a big job, even with help from wife Alyce. “Restaurants are a young man’s sport,” he says. That’ll be true as long as the vibrant Boone area dining scene continues reinventing itself with the talent and drive of young chefs and their staffs. That’s just the start. Any great meal

Owners Laurie and Chef Patrick Bagbey of Louisiana Purchase you’ll have this evening at one of the area’s unique restaurants has a story of passion and perseverance behind the man or woman making it happen in the kitchen or the office down the hall.

It’s the Economy

The restaurant biz is one of the most volatile to tackle. There’s challenge out there for new and established eateries alike. Food costs for local res-

Mexican and Seafood Restaurant Our artisan gelatos &sorbets are handmade daily from fresh,local ingredients.

Try our Puerto Nuevo Special Quesadilla

------------------Bring This Ad For 10% off Any One Item

12-inch flour tortilla with grilled steak, chicken, shrimp and vegetables with rice or beans, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and guacamole

Serving Lunch & Dinner Daily 2120 Tynecastle Hwy • Banner Elk 828-898-3332 34

High Country Magazine

July 2011

(828) 295-7676

capONe’S uNtOuchable! pizza like No Other !

Specializing in Ny Style and chicago Style

gOurmet haND aily S! D tOSSeD Special piZZa!

homemade Dough homemade Sauce

every Day!


454b West King St. Downtown boone across from the turchin center

summer dining

Olde est. 1919


the mood for southern comfort food, try the Shrimp and Grits, sautéed shrimp with prosciutto, shitake mushrooms and roasted onions served over creamy grits and finished with house made red eye gravy. n 828-265-0500.


BANNER ELK. Louisiana Purchase has been Banner Elk’s premier restaurant and wine bar since 1984. Made to order elegance and the largest wine list in the area. Join us for our house specialty Creole or Cajun cuisine in a fine dining environment. Chef owner Patrick Bagbey’s menu evolves with the changing seasons, and will always include favorites like BBQ North Carolina shrimp, Cajun Seafood Etouffee, and Creole Jambalaya. All food is prepared in house daily and made to order, using the finest seafood and fresh local organic produce. Reservations suggested. n 828-963-5087 or 828-898-5656 • www.

“Step back in time… Walk along the worn wooden floor and plunk yourself down at one of the two J-shaped counters...” ~New York Times

Enjoy one of our daily lunch specials! Treat yourself to an old fashioned chocolate soda, a real vanilla coke or fresh squeezed orangeade!

617 W. King Street 828-264-3766 YOUR PRESCRIPTION FOR A GOOD DAY!

The Manor House Restaurant at Chetola Resort

Breakfast served from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Monday – Saturday!

2082 Blowing Rock Road Boone, NC 28607

Call: 828-264-4660

Blowing Rock. The Manor House Restaurant and Chef Michael Barbato are the 2011 winners of Fire on the Rock! Let our award winning Chef prepare a culinary creation for you. Dine in the historic estate home or on the patio overlooking Chetola Lake. Our Prix Fixe Dinner at $28 features three courses including starter, entrée and dessert. Select Grilled Carolina Mountain Trout, Spiced Baby Back Ribs, Wild Caught Scottish Salmon, and several other delicious creations. All desserts are house made from scratch. n 828-2955505


boone. The Best Tasting Show in Town! Dining at Makoto’s Seafood and Steakhouse of Japan is a unique July 2011

High Country Magazine


summer dining

The high CounTry’s Premiere sTeak & seafood house Since 1985

Serving Sunday Brunch through Labor Day 11am-2pm All ABC Permits Children’s Menu Available Highway 184 Downtown Banner Elk Serving Daily From 5pm 828-898-5550

experience. Your personal chef will provide a little free culinary entertainment while cooking your dish right in front of you, or enjoy fresh, made-toorder sushi and drinks in the sushi bar and outside patio. Makoto’s offers a lunch and dinner menu. Try The Emperor featuring a selection of teriyaki steak, jumbo shrimp and chicken. And don’t forget to pair your meal with any of the countless Sake or Wine options! n 828-264-7976.

Mountain Bagels

Boone. Known as serving up the “Best Bagels south of New York,” Mountain Bagels has been feeding hungry mouths with quality fresh food for everyone. From homemade Quiches and signature deli sandwiches made with Boar’s Head meats & cheeses to made-to-order salads and a Lebanese menu featuring Hummus, Babaganouch (seasonal), Falafel & more, Mountain Bagels has something for everyone. n 828-265-4141.


BANNER ELK. Offering our new Summer menu with your choice of great Summer salads, wings, burgers, quesadillas, steaks, salmon and much more in Nick’s Restaurant. Nick’s has all ABC permits and a relaxed atmosphere. Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, it features 828-898-9613

The Painted Fish Café and Beer Bar

Banner Elk. An upscale experience in a relaxed, casual ambience. Inspired food, fun beers and superb wines all at surprisingly reasonable prices. Organic and locally grown/raised ingredients used wherever possible. Plenty of outdoor dining. Inspired food for friends and family. n


High Country Magazine

July 2011

Sushi On Our Patio Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar 2124 Blowing Rock Road, Boone NC 28607 828 264 7976

summer dining

The Manor House Restaurant at Chetola Resort

Papa Joes

Blowing Rock.

Locally owned and operated since 1982, Papa Joe’s offers casual dining in a warm, friendly atmosphere. The menu is made up of Italian-American cuisine, steaks, seafood, pastas, chicken, pizzas, sandwiches, and more. Be sure to try the “Sterling Silver” Charbroiled Ribeye, cut to order and cooked to your own perfect temperature. Served with the chef’s choice of side, a soup or salad, and fresh bread, this entrée will fill you up and keep you happy for hours. Papa Joe’s is famous for serving over 21 pasta choices, including Joe’s own famous lasagna recipe, with Italian sausage, beef, and three different cheeses. This is a great place for fun and food with friends or family. n 828-295-3239

Chef Michael Barbato

NER WIN11 20

Fire on the Rock

3 Course Prix Fixe Dinner


Includes Starter, Entrée, Dessert

Try our brand new menu selections 828-295-5505


BOONE. Diners keep coming back to Primo’s for the Parmigiana Sub served hot with marinara, mozzarella cheese and your choice of eggplant, meatballs, veal or chicken all mouthwatering to any taste. Or how about the penne Oscar made with jumbo crab meat, roasted red peppers and garlic, sautéed together with marinara, a touch of cream and penne pasta. n 828-3559800. www.primosrestaurantofboone. com.


Blowing Rock. With a name like Pssghetti’s, the food has to be magnificent! Of course Pssghetti’s delivers the goods with its Lasagna al Frono, a hearty portion of fresh lasagna stuffed with homemade meatballs and sweet Italian sausage, or its Pesca Panna, a seafood lovers extravaganza of jumbo shrimp, bay scallops and crab meat in fresh, made-from-scratch sauce, you will think you are on the Italian Riviera. n 828-295-9855 • www.pssghettis. com


You would be hard pressed to find a local who is not in love

Bringing together delicious fare, top-notch service and a stylish, new atmosphere! Can’t you just taste it?

Blowing Rock is Crippen’s... Crippen’s is Blowing Rock. LUNCH & DINNER:

Tuesday–Sunday, RESERVATIONS:




(Just off Main Street)

Stan Chamberlain

Carolyn & Jimmy Crippen

July 2011


High Country Magazine


Owners Gary and Chef Melissa Claude of Joy Bistro

It’s Always Trout Season

In Blowing Rock!


LOBSTERFEST - Every Thursday

Call Ahead By Tuesday To reserve Your Lobster

828.295.9819 • Main Street, Blowing Rock

Serving Dinner

Tuesday - Saturday 5:00pm - 9:00pm 38

High Country Magazine

July 2011

taurants have gone up 5 to 10 percent so far this year. Owner Rick Pedroni says that for the first time, Casa Rustica has introduced a bar menu in La Buca Lounge “where you can have dinner and beer for $10. Not every night out can be a special occasion. We’ve seen a surge of dining there.” Pedroni was 7 when he started hanging around the restaurant in 1981, the year his parents Peter and Sara Pedroni opened it. After 12 years on Main Street in Blowing Rock, Joan Keele of Storie Street Grille says, “Price is the No. 1 issue for restaurants.” She and husband Bernie have reacted to the sour economy “by offering more smaller plates and at least three entrees every evening that come in two sizes. People just don’t want to buy twice as much food as they can eat.” After operating a Hilton Head deli, the couple moved to Blowing Rock because “this is the kind of community we wanted to live in.” Though the stats can be disquieting for those setting out to feed their fellow men, new folks keep coming. Have you heard the buzz about Joy Bistro at New Market Centre? New owners Gary and Melissa Claude just started spreading their brand of culinary “joy” a year ago. At the Tynecastle intersection near Banner Elk, David and Leeann Berry’s Hearthstone Tavern is heading into its second year. Nick’s is just across N.C. 105—called Nick’s New York Deli when I reviewed it as a new eatery in 1980s.

Buying Local

The trend in American dining (and much else) is local—and I don’t mean just appreciating the homegrown dining spots we have in the High Country. People are focused on buying Americanmade products and patronizing locally owned businesses. For many restaurateurs, that means trying to serve locally grown and sourced foods. If that sounds like the latest trendy marketing lingo—John Blackburn of Eseeola Lodge takes a long-range view. “It’s funny,” he says, “one hundred and twenty years after we started serving at Eseeola Lodge in 1892—our increasing use of local and organic products is just going back to our roots. Transportation was horrible back then, and for decades we served a sophisticated clientele solely with local foods—chickens from Montezuma, beef from Newland. No 18wheelers were rolling up back then!” Today Eseeola buys lettuce, vegetables, blueberries, trout, duck—even flowers—from High Country sources. Local restaurants can’t exclusively serve local foods, but the independent eateries are trying. Like locals who show up at the Watauga County Farmers’ Market each week, local restaurants are putting local foods on the menu. Jack Pepper serves buns from Stick Boy Bread, coffee from Bald Guy Brew and pasta from Pasta Wench. “If we’re going to ask local people to patronize us,” Pepper says, “then we have to buy local, too.”

summer dining

Truly one of the most romantic settings in The High Country.

with Puerto Nuevo Mexican Restaurant in Banner Elk. Puerto Nuevo’s authentic flavors shine in the Pollo Poblano, grilled chicken breast served with sliced poblano peppers, Chihuahua cheese, onions, pico de gallo, rice, beans and flour tortillas. Or tempt your taste buds with the Burritos Tipicos, two rolled, flour tortillas filled with tender beef tips, beans and topped with nacho cheese sauce and guacamole salad, Mucho Grande. n 828-898-3332.

Red Onion Café Boone.

Discover why the Red Onion has been a dining pleasure in Boone for all these years. Taste tempting menu items like its Cajun Chicken Pasta— blackened chicken breast, tasso ham and broccoli with penne pasta—or our world famous Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pizza, which features mozzarella and feta cheeses, artichoke hearts and fresh spinach, you’ll understand why Red Onion’s claim to fame is wellearned, and appreciated by foodies everywhere. n 828-264-5470 •

Prime Rib Special on Tuesdays • Wing Special on Wednesdays • Thursday Night Music Series


Table At Crestwood Dawg Star Bar & Grill


OPEN NIGHTS A WEEK. | 3236 Shull’s Mill Road | 828.963.6646


BLOWING ROCK. Local owners Doug & Tonda MacLeod of “Revive! Java, Juice & Gelato” are committed to reviving the best traditions. Tonda recalls, “My mom’s family always prepared the best food in the mountains of North Carolina. Like much of our Appalachian heritage, Gertie’s recipe has been handed down, generation after generation, originating from European traditions. Their artisan gelato is made fresh daily using organic milk, free-range chicken eggs and local produce – if it were any fresher, it’d still be in a field on the slopes of Grandfather Mountain! Have an espresso drink while browsing their selection of Appalachian novels, crafts and art. n 828295-7878

Seed to Plate

If you’re planning a party or just would like an intimate dinner party, Seed to Plate offers catering. Grown organic July 2011

High Country Magazine


summer dining here in The High Country and creatively prepared by Chef Travis Grown. Call for more details or check us out on line n • 828260-3090


Banner Elk. Sorrento’s World Bistro has been satisfying Italian appetites for years in the High Country, and it’s no wonder with the delicious Tortellini Sorrento, which combines speciality cheese pasta with prosciutto, fresh basil and a light tomato and cream sauce, and Frutti de Mare, which is fresh clams, mussels, shrimp and calamari tossed with marinara and linguini. n 828-8985214

Joe Papa of Papa Joe’s Restaurant Farmers who attend the Watauga Farmers’ Market are working with a growing number of area restaurants. Farmers’ Market President Bill Moretz says, “It’s not unusual to see chefs and restaurant owners come through the market shopping for their menus.” Recently I got a taste of that at Proper in Boone, where the menu features smaller plates of Southern specialties. One Sunday brunch offering is “local sausage roasted red pepper ricotta strata.” Delicious local sausage from the Farmers’ Market has become a regular buy for me, so when Proper offered a grass-fed Watauga ground beef hamburger as a nightly special, I jumped at it. It was truly outstanding—and I’m not a big meat eater. Just goes to show you how higher quality and fresher fare can change your eating habits! Consider trying any item that’s listed as “local” on the menu. A lot of local eateries are leaning that way. There’s more to “local” than just food on the menu. Local restaurateurs support each other. That spirit is what many restaurant owners moved to the High Country to find—and what many visitors come to the Boone area to savor. It’s called community—and you can taste it at High Country restaurants. 40

High Country Magazine

Back from Memory Lane

It was fun looking back over my old review notes, clips and menus. One conclusion: There was so much great food going down the hatch during those seven tasty years that there’s no telling what I would have weighed if I hadn’t been climbing Grandfather Mountain almost every day as trail manager. When you take a look back at High Country dining, or look around at the area’s culinary landscape today, you can’t help but be impressed by the rich stew of entrepreneurial effort making the area such a satisfying place to pick up a menu. Whether or not you’ve ever held a fork and a pen in one hand at the same time, taking notes while tasting for a restaurant review—dining in the High Country area is an obvious feast for locals and visitors alike. I wouldn’t want to sound too positive—but I give High Country dining four stars. Randy Johnson tasted the world’s culinary treasures as editor-in-chief of United Airlines magazine Hemispheres for nearly 20 years. His articles about the High Country and international travel topics have appeared in many national publications. Check out his local trail books at

July 2011


BLOWING ROCK. Since 1986, the Speckled Trout Cafe & Oyster Bar has been pleasing both locals and visitors with its exquisite choices for dinner. The house specialty is rainbow trout from local waters, but the extensive menu covers everything from steak to roast duckling to catfish. This summer try their live Lobsterfest on Thursdays – call by Tuesday to reserve yours! Reservations are recommended. n 828295-9819.

storie street Grille

Blowing rock. A truly enjoyable meal is the sum of its parts: seasonal, sustainable and locally harvested ingredients prepared with distinction and served in a warm, welcoming environment. That’s Storie Street Grille.  Whether it’s Bernie’s signature meatloaf with Cheerwine bbq sauce, or Andy’s vegetarian sauté of zucchini, portabella mushrooms, baby spinach, roasted fingerlings and smoky adobo sauce, or the Pasta Wench’s handmade cheese ravioli, with walnuts, roasted garlic, Ripshin Dairy goat cheese and brown butter, at Storie Street, you are always enjoying the best of what the High Country has to offer. n 828-2957075.

summer Seasonality, Freshness dining and Taste.

The Table at Crestwood Blowing Rock. Our menu is

a creative mix of Southern fare with a European touch. Our spectacular views will captivate you while you enjoy terrace or fireside dining. We offer great food, sunsets and an unforgettable experience. Try our Garlic Stuffed Filet,
Creek Stone Farms all natural filet of beef stuffed with black garlic, topped with tomato confit and truffle oil, served with 
mashed potatoes and vegetables or North Carolina Mountain Trout,
Carolina Mountain Farm trout encrusted with almond flour, served with 
balsamicglazed sweet potatoes & crisp baby spinach. n 828-963-6646 •


Boone. Vidalia is a casual, upscale

restaurant featuring “creative American cuisine.” It offers daily specials, various events, wine tastings and special nights. Chef Sam Ratchford suggests the Creole Battered Fried Chicken with crispy waffles or the Toasted Sesame and Cracked Coriander Encrusted Tuna with teriyaki caviar and sweet chili slaw. Vidalia holds all ABC permits and has an extensive, 60-plus bottle wine list, craft beers, martinis, whiskeys, scotches and cordials. Vidalia’s menu changes twice a year to keep it seasonal and practices farm-to-table food, using local vendors as much as possible. n 828-263-9176.


Monday – Saturday, Opening at 5:30pm RESERVATIONS SUGGESTED:

828/963-5087 or 898-5656


BANNER ELK. Zuzda is a “tapas style” chef-owned restaurant that offers over 125 small plates of all cuisines. The “progressive alternative dining” offers the opportunity to taste and share small portions of food in a random order of presentation. Zuzda offers inside and patio dining and two bars. Zuzda holds all ABC permits, and the wine list is as extensive as the menu, offering many wines by the glass. n 828-898-4166. www. July 2011

High Country Magazine


Joan and Dick Hearn

Young at Heart

Story by Jesse Wood • Photography by Lonnie Webster 42

High Country Magazine

July 2011


t’s hard to imagine the High Country—and Blowing Rock, in particular—without Joan and Dick Hearn. Just about every day they are active in the community and eagerly engaged in making a difference in other people’s lives.

Whether it’s jumping into icy waters with homemade penguin costumes and participating in charity marathons or speaking to fourth-graders about protecting the environment or investigating child and elder abuse, the Hearns are more energetic than people a quarter of their age. Tracy Brown, executive director of the Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority, has known the couple for 20 years and plunges into Chetola Lake with them each winter. He called the Hearns the best cheerleaders our area has ever known. “They not only talk the talk, but they walk the walk. They are always raising money for different charities…and they are not there for show,” Brown said. “They are there to do their work. They are just a real gem of a couple.” In the ‘70s, Dick came to the High Country to run in the Grandfather Mountain Marathon. After the race, he told Joan, “This is where we should retire.” And two decades later they did. Joan and Dick met at the University of Maryland and within three weeks they were engaged. In 1954, they married. The couple worked for an insurance agency in the D.C. area and New Jersey. They have a son and daughter and two grandkids. In

the early ‘80s, the couple returned to the High Country so Dick could run another marathon. After the race, the couple got lost driving around Blowing Rock on Blackberry Road and saw a tiny sign that read Land for Sale. The next day they bought that parcel of land. In 1995, Dick retired, and the following year so did Joan. They moved to Blowing Rock, built their passive solar home with a vegetated roof and immediately volunteered their time, money and energy. In the past, they were too busy working to volunteer, and now time is one of the major things they can offer, Joan said. The number of organizations they have served is upwards of 20, maybe more. The first local organizations they joined were High Country Hospice, Adopt-AHighway and Watauga County Cooperative Extension (WCCE). Wendy Patoprsty, natural resource agent for WCCE, called them her heroes and said they were very proactive. They won’t just throw out ideas and expect someone else to do it,” Patoprsty said. “I’ve sat through a lot of meetings where there are all these ideas and nobody wants to do them. It’s awesome to see them take charge and make things happen.” Ten years ago, the Hearns and Patoprsty developed the Kids in the Creek program,

in which they visit fourth-grade classrooms. Joan dresses up as Mandy the giant mayfly and Dick as the Stream Doctor to teach students about the importance of clean water. “It’s magical to watch them grab the kids’ attention for the entire skit,” Patoprsty said. Joan and Dick have raised thousand of dollars to build streamside forests that stabilize stream banks and provide habitats for creek critters while protecting water quality. The couple practices what they teach, planting vegetation along the streams and extracting thousands of pounds of trash from the rivers during the annual Big Sweep River Cleanup. “The list goes on and on,” Patoprsty said. “I think because they are not afraid to say, ‘I can help with that,’ other people help out. They are catalysts in the community to make things happen.” The Hearns’ volunteer outreach spans many disciplines, from environmental advocacy and educating children to counseling seniors about health insurance. Since 2006, they have been board members with High Country United Way. “It’s incredible what they do for the community outside of United Way,” High Country United Way Executive Director Linda Slade said. “It’s clear they love the environment, they love children and they love the community.” In terms of volunteers, Slade said the couple is what every community wants a hundred of.

“They are like salt and pepper, lettuce and tomato. You see one; you see the other.” ~ Linda Slade, High Country United Way executive director

July 2011

High Country Magazine


Joan and Dick Hearn participate in the Blowing Rock Christmas parade as polar bears. Joan makes all of their costumes by hand.

They bring humor to every project they encounter. Last year for the annual United Way Pig Kiss-Off, they provided a treat for the pig. They bought the pig a bowling ball because pigs like to root in the mud and push things around. “Who would have thought of a thing like that?” Slade said. It doesn’t take long for the Hearns to make an impact on people they meet. Monica Caruso, a county librarian, has known them for a year or so. She’s sees the couple frequently, as Joan is the volunteer coordinator for Friends of the Watauga Library and serves with the Watauga Literacy Association, an adult literacy program. Also, Joan and Dick participate in the Reading and Rolling program, which delivers books to children in rural areas. “Their spirit and endless energy are a force to be reckoned with,” Caruso said. “Now if we could clone them and put them in every community, wouldn’t that be a fabulous thing?” Of all the organizations the Hearns serve, the Guardian ad Litem program is the one they take most seriously— one with which they are able to directly impact an abused child’s life. For the past five years, the Hearns, who were appointed by a judge, have served this program, where they investigate the surrounding life of an abused child. After a thorough investigation of documents and interviewing everybody who knows the child—parents, neighbors, teachers, friends, probation officers, social workers—the Hearns recommend to a judge whether custody of a child should be given to the Department of Social Services or stay with the parents. “We are basically an advocate for the 44

High Country Magazine

July 2011

“They are catalysts in the community to make things happen.” ~ Wendy Patoprsty, natural resource agent for Watauga County Cooperative Extension

Every year, Joan and Dick participate in parades throughout the High Country. They are rowing their boat down through the smooth waters of King Street in downtown Boone during the annual 4th of July parade.

While teaching fourth-grade students about the importance of clean water, Joan and Dick dress up in costumes to engage students and make the learning fun for their Kids in the Creek program. Photo by Wendy Patoprsty

kids. The parents have attorneys, and DSS has attorneys,” Dick said. “We are their voice in court.” Sometimes the court agrees with their conclusions. Other times it doesn’t work out like the Hearns think it should, and the abuse continues. “Some of the situations are indescribable…One I

cry over still. It’s just a shame,” Joan said. “We had a feeling it was going to work, but it didn’t. The family moved out of the state.” As Joan said, some of the situations are deplorable and Joan and Dick, who signed confidentiality forms, vent to them-

selves or at monthly meetings with other members in the program. To balance the emotional stress that comes with such serious, sometimes heartbreaking cases, the Hearns enjoy working on top of their roof, where they have a vegetable garden, several flower gardens and a gazebo. “We do a lot of things to balance it out. Pulling weeds is great therapy,” Dick said. Joan added, “They quiver when I come out there.” Also for fun, they take classes with ASU’s Lifelong Learning Program, and they exercise—walking and jogging, yoga and tai chi. For the past 11, they have taken martial arts with Tim Winecoff. They were among his first group of students, and they have learned the entire 48 poses of the Chen Hunyuan Taiji. This

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High Country Magazine


Joan and Dick (far left) and members of the Appalachian Lifelong Learning Program pose for a picture while the Doe River Valley looms in the background. When they aren’t volunteering, the Hearns like to exercise and participate in the Appalachian Lifelong Learning, a program offering non-credit courses to adults.

is no small feat, Winecoff said. “They continue to be active in class, and they’ve come quite a long way. They are inspiring as a teacher to have students that are engaged,” Winecoff said. “Where most people tend to plateau and go on to other things, they dig a little deeper and refine a little more.” When Winecoff has to leave town 46

High Country Magazine

July 2011

for other obligations, Dick has taken it upon himself to teach beginner students so they continue to learn and progress and become familiar with the routine of the lessons and poses. “Joan and Dick are quite encouraging to those who have just started, and they help them negotiate through what may be unfamiliar territory, which can be disconcerting

“We have found that age is not really anything except being on your driver’s license.” ~Joan Hearn to most folks, particularly older individuals,” Winecoff said. “They always add a great deal of humor and lightheartedness to keep it fun.” Over the years, the Hearns have run many marathons. Dick has run the Grandfather Mountain Marathon 11 times and Joan, seven times. Dick started running when he was 40. He decided he had to lose some weight after Joan asked him if he had life insurance. It took him a year to be able to run a mile, though he

The Hearns sit in front of their passive solar home. Their home has a vegetated roof where they have a vegetable garden, as well as flower gardens and a gazebo. Photos by Lonnie Webster

enjoyed running so much that he went from running short distances to “crazy stuff,” like ultra races, multiday races and running across the state of Indiana and Washington. “Adventures,” Dick said. Joan ran her first marathon when she was 52 and said she “drags her little tail up” Howard’s Knob each year as part of the Triple Crown Series benefitting the High Country Girls on the Run. “It can be pretty boring to sit while somebody runs for nine or 10 hours,” Joan said. “I started [running] because I got tired of waiting in the car.” John Weaver, director of the Grandfather Mountain Marathon and director of ASU Track and Cross Country, has timed them during many High Country races over the years. He said the Hearns are the nicest people he knows. “It’s good to see them at such good shape [at their age],” Weaver said. “They show up and

July 2011

High Country Magazine


Joan and Dick Hearn, dressed as a sailor and a mermaid, plunge into the icy waters of Chetola Lake in Blowing Rock. Over the years they’ve jumped into Chetola Lake 11 times as part as the Polar Plunge fundraiser for charity.






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High Country Magazine

July 2011

are a great inspiration for everybody to stay healthy.” The Hearns treat life like a continuous adventure, and of all of their activities their craziest yet may be their annual plunge into the icy waters of Chetola Lake in Blowing Rock and the Duck Pond at ASU. The Hearns don’t think it’s crazy, but Dick said it embarrasses the grandkids. When they first moved to Blowing Rock, they were looking for things to do,

and the polar plunge looked interesting. It was different, so they decided to take the plunge. It being for charity was all the better. “We thought we would do it just one time, but we enjoyed it so much we kept doing it,” Dick said. Each year for the plunge, Joan designs and creates their costumes. Over the years, they’ve been penguins, skunks, ducks, flamingos, sailors and octopi. They have jumped in the frozen Che-

The Hearns’ Commitment Listed below is a list of organizations the Hearns have served and how long. It is an approximate list. They have worked with so many organizations for a number of years that the numbers are a little hazy—and there might be a missing organization or two. Hospice Foundation

10 years


15 years

Watauga River Partners

11 years

Friends of the Library

8 years

New River Behavioral Healthcare

2 years

Watauga Literary Association

8 years

Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program

Blowing Rock EstatE JEwElry One-of-a-Kind Pieces • Custom Made Jewelry •

14 years

Watauga-Avery End of Life Coalition

9 years

Adult Services Coalition

9 years

Project Lifesaver

9 years

167 SUNSET DRIVE in BLOWING ROCK (one half block off Main St)


Elderly and Disabled Adult Abuse Prevention Taskforce 7 years Project on Aging

7 years

High Country Womens Fund (Joan)

2 years

Middle Fork Greenway Association

9 years

Polar Plunge in Chetola Lake

11 years

Watauga County Special Olympics Polar Plunge at Duck Pond 7 years Farm City Celebration High Country United Way

11 years 5 years

Guardian ad Litem program 5 years

tola Lake 11 times and the frozen Duck Pond seven times. Last year for the Polar Plunge in Chetola Lake, Joan and Dick jumped for High Country United Way. The Duck Pond plunge benefits the Watauga County Special Olympics (WCSO). “We always wonder what kind of costume they will show up in—whether it would sink or float,” Keron Poteat, WSCO coordinator, said. “We are always excited—and I gotta say a little scared—about them jumping.” July 2011

High Country Magazine


The majority of polar plungers at Duck Pond are students, so the Hearns stick out not only for their colorful and thoughtful costumes but for their age. Dick is 81, and Joan is younger. She didn’t want her age mentioned because people seem to downgrade others because of their age. “We have found that age is not really anything except being on your driver’s license,” Joan said. “Have you ever met people who tell you not to do things? Well, we never met them.” The Hearns are in the public eye, but not because they try to be. They have been in numerous newspaper articles not because they want the attention but because they are so engaged in the community. As Winecoff said, “They are not after fame or accolades. It’s just what they want to do. They are models in how a community should operate. You do what you can and when you can for those around you.” Joan and Dick love the High Country and the people who live here. They moved here because they loved the mountains, and they liked a university being within a small town. Joan said the university kept them from going stale, and there isn’t

Members of the Mast General Store present a check to the Middle Fork Greenway Association, which the Hearns organize. The association is a collaborative effort of volunteers to promote and organize the expansion of a trail connecting Boone and Blowing Rock. Photo by Heather Wagoner

anywhere else they would rather be. For them, volunteering isn’t a chore. It is not something they do because they feel like they have to. “We wouldn’t be a member of a group unless we didn’t enjoy what they were doing,” Dick said.

Joan added, “It is a wonderful way to meet people in your community. We love it. We learn something new from somebody every week. We meet so many great people, all kinds of people doing so many different things that I find incredible.”


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Opening Soon 251 Industrial Park Drive Boone, NC 28607



High Country Magazine

July 2011

July 2011

High Country Magazine


They Don’t Play Nice.

They Play

Derby. Story by Anna Oakes Photography by James Fay


High Country Magazine

July 2011

Appalachian Rollergirls Bring Roller Derby to Boone


he sound? Oh, it’s not pleasposted a few vague notices here and ant. Like fingernails slowthere, created a Facebook page and ly, agonizingly scratching then waited, hoping for a response. a chalkboard, the sound of skin and She got many. plastic grinding against concrete in a “I really didn’t take it was going to hard, screeching skid elicits uncomtake off like it did,” she admitted. Jordyn fortable cringes and shudders. Not to and five other women—including Megan worry, though. She’s okay. Carmody and Mason Herman, current It’s a Thursday night in June skaters on the team—strapped on skates at the National Guard Armory at Skate World in Vilas and talked derby. in Boone, where the ApAnd they decided, as Jordyn recalled, “You palachian Rollergirls are know what, let’s start this.” Another, morepracticing. Hitting—and falling—is a mapublicized meeting was held, and this time 80 jor part of flat track roller derby, which women showed up, much enamored with the has grown exponentially since a group of prospects of roller derby in the High Country. women in Texas reinvented the sport 10 They soon learned, however, that derby requires years ago. In a roller derby bout, each team much more than rolling up a pair of stockings and fields four blockers and one jammer skating applying a couple of coats of mascara. Of the origicounterclockwise around an oval track. The nal 80, only about 20 were able to stick with it. jammer, whose helmet has a star on it, tries to skate through the “pack”—everyone on the other team—and then scores one point for each opponent passed in the two-minute window after the initial pass through the pack. The blockers work to protect their jammer, who is the only one who can score points, while also attempting to knock down the opponent’s jammer. It’s fierce, feminine, strong and sexy, and no— none of these traits are mutually exclusive. Roller derby embraces womanhood while encouraging female athleticism and empowerment.

Why Wait? She had roller skated since she was 4. And the first time she witnessed the hard-hitting, swift-skating women on eight wheels of the Rogue Rollergirls of Fayetteville, near her hometown of Dunn, Jordyn Coats “immediately fell in love with it.” Jordyn left the Sandhills for higher altitude and higher education at Appalachian State University, and, as a sophomore English major, started looking for a team sport or activity in Boone in which to take part outside of class and other responsibilities. “There’s quite a bit to do, but nothing like I really wanted to do,” said Jordyn. “I decided, you know what, I really want to play roller derby.” She was going to try out in Fayetteville the next summer, but—“I just couldn’t wait that long.” In early 2010, to gauge interest in starting up a team in Boone, she

The Appalachian Rollergirls’ jammer Nell Raiser (left) works to maintain control and break through the pack during a bout with the Blue Ridge Rollergirls at the Holmes Center in Boone.

July 2011

High Country Magazine


A Brief History of Roller Derby From the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association The term “roller derby” dates to the 1920s, originally used to describe roller skate races. In the late 1930s, Leo Seltzer’s touring competition, Transcontinental Roller Derby, began to evolve from a marathon skating race on a raised track to a more physical competition emphasizing skater collisions and falls. This became the foundation of the team sport that still exists today: two teams of five skaters who score points by passing members of the opposing team. Both men and women competed in roller derby from its inception. Seltzer’s roller derby events drew increasingly large audiences once the sport began to be televised in the late 1940s. In the early 1960s, after Leo Seltzer transferred his business to his son, Jerry, competing roller derby franchises emerged, some of which emphasized theatrics more than sport. As popularity dwindled, Jerry Seltzer shut down his Roller Derby organization in 1973. There were several shortlived attempts to revive versions of the old sport in the 1980s and 1990s, including RollerGames, which featured a figure-8 shaped banked track and stunts like alligator pits. Some versions of roller derby, including RollerGames, included staged action and storylines, similar to professional wrestling leagues. In the early 2000s, modern women’s roller derby got its start in Austin, Texas. Starting with the Texas Rollergirls, these new leagues formed as businesses run by the athletes themselves. The flat track version of the sport spread like wildfire in subsequent years, as the ability to mark track boundaries on a skating rink floor or other venues, rather than building and storing a large banked track, made it possible to play the game just about anywhere. By 2011, there were nearly 500 flat track roller derby leagues worldwide.



High Country Magazine

July 2011

The pivot for the Blue Ridge Rollergirls French Broads tries to block Appalachian’s GoGo Ren from skating ahead of the pack.

In this 1950 photo printed in the New York World-Telegram, two women’s league roller derby skaters leap over two who have fallen.

“But the ones who stick with it, they’re so dedicated,” said Jordyn. “What I’m really surprised at is the type of women that it interests,” explaining that she assumed the new team—the Appalachian Rollergirls Boone Shiners—would be mostly college students. “I’m the only college student who’s actually

skating in the bouts right now,” noted Jordyn, age 20 and now a senior at ASU. The others? A bartender. A restaurateur. A massage therapist. Mothers. A boutique owner. An occupational therapist. Owner of a grading company. A banker. A pharmacy technician. The oldest skater is in her mid-40s, and most are in their late 20s and early 30s. “Almost all of them have very solid careers. It’s an array of people, and we’ve all come together not knowing anyone beforehand,” said Jordyn.

“We’re a much smaller team than the majority of teams that we’ve played, but we use our speed to our advantage.” Megan Carmody, who owns Black Cat Burrito in downtown Boone and is an avid cyclist, said it’s a competitive nature that drives all of these different types of women to roller derby. “Once women get through high school and college, who were athletic, there really isn’t any thing team-wise for women to do,” said Megan. “This is something that women are drawn to as a team competitive sport.” Megan had talked with others in the past about how cool it would be to have a roller derby

~ Megan Carmody, aka Hell Swatling

team in Boone. “I definitely wasn’t aware at that time of the commitment,” she said. “I’m good with the commitment, but it’s definitely a lot.” Jordyn agreed. Roller derby demands a hefty chunk of time. “There are many people who see it as a spectator and think, ‘My goodness, I really want to do that,’ but they see the show. Most people don’t realize how difficult it is,” Jordyn said. “Most of the time, people drop out before they get dedicated to the team.” July 2011

High Country Magazine







On Sale Now!

Scott Herman, aka Cool Hand Duke, is a former speed skater who coaches the Appalachian Rollergirls.


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As the coach of a new roller derby team, Scott has learned about the sport along with the skaters.

Bout Time June 18, 2011. It’s halftime at the Holmes Convocation Center in Boone, and the Appalachian Rollergirls aren’t used to this. They’re getting stomped. Just 15 months after organizing, the Appalachian Rollergirls were 4-0 heading into this bout, surprisingly undefeated thus far in their official season. It’s an evening of firsts: the Shiners’ very first home bout in Boone, hosting their first meeting with the Blue Ridge Rollergirls French Broads of Asheville, which, no doubt, will mark the beginning of a perennial Western North Carolina rivalry. And there’s something else to which the Appalachian Rollergirls aren’t accustomed. More than 1,300 fans, curious and intrigued, screaming and waving homemade signs— for them. Families with kids. Middle-aged men in ballcaps and overalls. A young woman with pink hair and orange-rimmed


High Country Magazine

July 2011

glasses. Business and community leaders. Said one man to his friend seated next to him in the eighth row, “I’d say this is about the best $10 ticket around.” “I think we were all a bit overwhelmed,” said Appalachian Rollergirls President Jennifer Pillow after the bout. “We were not used to that big a crowd that was for us.” Due to some stage fright and the size advantage and aggressive hitting of the French Broads, the Shiners were stomaching their first bit-

ter taste of roller derby defeat. But thanks to its speed and months of conditioning, the home team came back in the second period to keep the score respectable, 165-86. “The French Broads took control of the pack quickly, and they out-sized and out-played us,” Jennifer said. “In the second half we were able to re-group and re-focus, gain control and attempt a comeback. It was a great learning experience.”   The Appalachian Rollergirls practice two or

Fifteen months after organizing as a new roller derby team, the Appalachian Rollergirls prepare to skate before a home crowd at the Holmes Center in Boone for the very first time.

Rules of the Track A bout is composed of 60 minutes of play divided into two periods of 30 minutes, and bouts typically take 1.5 to two hours depending on timeouts and other stoppages of play. Each team fields up to five skaters per twominute playing segment, called a “jam.” Blockers play both offensive and defensive roles in a defined “pack” on the oval track. Jammers score points for their team by lapping opposing players. A team’s full lineup for a jam consists of one Pivot, three Blockers and one Jammer: • Pivot—The pivot blocker wears a helmet cover with a stripe on it. She generally starts at the first starting line and serves as the leader of her teammates playing in that jam. As most teams play the pivot position at the front of the pack, she is also often the last line of defense to stop the opposing emerge from the pack as quickly as possible. If jammer from escaping the pack. she is the first of the two jammers to escape the • Blocker—The other three blockers do not wear pack without committing any penalties, she gains helmet covers. Blockers may play offense and the strategic advantage of being able to stop the defense at any given time and frequently switch jam at any time by placing her hands on her hips. Once the lead jammer laps the pack, she begins between offensive and defensive tasks. • Jammer—The jammer wears a helmet cover scoring one point for every opposing blocker with a star on it. She lines up at the second starting she passes legally. She can continue to lap the line and begins play at the second start whistle. The pack for additional scoring passes for the jammer’s goal is to pass opposing blockers and duration of the jam.


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GoGo Ren J Gnaws Tin

Rolli Cannoli

Hell Swatling

Clockwise from top left are Appalachian Rollergirls GoGo Ren, J Gnaws Tin, Hell Swatling, Nell Raiser and Rolli Cannoli. All photos were taken by Rollergirl Punk Rotten, team photographer, who is Sheena Laine Honeycutt when she’s not on skates. Sheena graduated from the New England School of Photography in Boston in 2007 and started her own photography business at age 23. To view more of her work, click to Nell Raiser 58

High Country Magazine

July 2011

three times per week at the Armory, and their coach, Scott Herman, is the husband of skater Mason Herman and a former speedskater who has taken it upon himself to learn the sport of roller derby, seeking out advice and strategy from other coaches in the region. “He’s really helped us out a whole lot,” said Jordyn. “Not only are we skaters getting better…he’s had to learn derby. We have a coach who’s putting in probably more time than us. He’s only a volunteer. Truthfully, I don’t know what we’d do without him.” At practice, the team builds endurance by skating uninterrupted for long periods of time, and the skaters do drills to improve footwork. They practice hitting, as well as taking hits. “The sport itself is extremely physical. You’re constantly making contact with other people,” Megan explained. “We encourage all the girls to work out on their own.” Though both have their advantages, skaters don’t necessarily have to be big or fast—roller derby is also about strategy. “We’re a much smaller team than the majority of teams that we’ve played, but we use our speed to our advantage,” said Megan. For those looking to try derby for the

“We’re a new team in a small town making a wave in derby.” 

~ Jennifer Pillow, aka Rolli Cannoli

first time, there’s Fresh Meat, a gradual training regimen of at least 12 weeks. “We don’t throw somebody on the track—we have a training program,” Jor-

dyn explained. And in this tough sport, the first thing new skaters must learn is safety techniques—for example, how to “fall small,” which is falling with arms

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and legs controlled and tucked in so that other skaters can avoid you. Despite legitimate measures taken for safety, including elbow and knee pads, helmets and mouthguards, roller derby is no pillow fight. In only a year of bouts of scrimmages, Jordyn has seen broken wrists and ankles, a broken rib, concussions—“I’ve had a few myself,” she said—and worst, a broken femur. “Some of these girls hit very hard,” she said. “I think we all kind of come off with some nicks and bumps and bruises.”

Coach Scott Herman discusses strategy with his team early in the first period during the June 18 bout at the Holmes Center.

Making a Wave in Derby Practice? Well, that’s only part of it. Building a roller derby team from the ground up has been an enterprising, doit-yourself effort by the skaters themselves—an all-women owned and operated organization. There’s a whole host of activities involved, not least of which is fundraising. In addition to equipment, facility rental and insurance, the Rollergirls are still raising funds to pay off the debt on their $50,000 roller derby track, and they have to pay for its storage. There’s marketing, community appearances and service projects: the Rollergirls have donated proceeds from their events to OASIS, a women’s shelter in Boone, and donated a handicapped-accessible van for a child in need. “We are half of a derby team and half of a nonprofit organization,” said Jordyn. 60

High Country Magazine

July 2011

“We spend almost every bit of our free time together doing something for the Appalachian Rollergirls. I see these women almost every other day, if not more than that.” As the Shiners gain more experience

y b r e D n o t The Dir

ian Rollergirls, h c la a p p A e th r ligible skaters fo • Of the bout-e ge student rs old only 1 is a colle re 25 to 34 yea a rs te a k s f o ; t n • 63 perce dary education n o c e s t– s o p e m s • Most have so raduate degree g nder 18 ve a h t n e rc e have children u 20 p rs te a k s g in d n f respo • 31 percent o arried f skaters are m o t n e rc e p 6 3 •

Source: WFTDA

• Women’s flat track roller derby leagues in 2001: 1 • Women’s flat track roller derby leagues in 2005: 50 • Women’s flat track roller derby leagues in 2011: 500

July 2011

High Country Magazine


Foul Play These illegal actions could result in penalties and send a skater to the penalty box.

• Illegal Blocking: Skaters may not hit the back of an opponent’s body or anywhere above the shoulders or below the mid-thigh. • No Elbow Throwing: When engaging another player, elbows cannot be swung in a forward/backward or upward/downward motion, and elbows cannot be used to jab or hook an opposing skater. • Holding/Pushing: The forearms or hands may never be used to grab, hold or push an opponent. • Head Butting: The head may not be used to block an opponent. • Out of Bounds: Skaters can only initiate or pick up momentum for a block while in bounds, and an initiating blocker cannot cross the track boundary after forcing an opponent out of bounds. • Jumping: Skaters may not initiate contact with both skates off of the ground. • Outta Here: Intentional tripping; fighting; slide tackling; pulling the head, neck or helmet; and intentional, negligent or reckless contact above the shoulders are among the actions that result in immediate explusion.


High Country Magazine

July 2011

Roller derby is a full-contact sport, but there are standards for hitting and blocking with the skaters’ safety in mind. Several referees skate alongside the track to make sure skaters are playing by the rules.

“There are many people who see it as a spectator and think, ‘My goodness, I really want to do that,’ but they see the show. Most people don’t realize how difficult it is.” ~ Jordyn Coats, aka J Gnaws Tin

on the track, they’ll advance to higher levels of competition. Established derby teams such as the Blue Ridge Rollergirls have both A (most advanced) and B teams. The Appalachian Rollergirls have been competing with teams at the B level and—at least until the recent bout with the French Broads—have had such success that some teams have remarked that the Shiners should be competing at a higher level. “We’re a new team in a small town making a wave in derby,” said Jennifer. It is notable that the Boone squad has competed so well, added Jordyn, given that most teams

come from larger, more populated cities with larger pools of talent. “A smaller city is not the most popular place for roller derby,” she said. “I am surprised that we’ve had the successes that we’ve had.” Ultimately, the Appalachian Rollergirls want to become a member of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (“the be-all-end-all of roller derby,” Jennifer said), which will allow them to compete in regional and national tournaNot just for decoration, fishnets and stockings are also for protection, helping skaters slide when they take a fall.

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July 2011

High Country Magazine


Photo by Sheena Laine Honeycutt

ments. “We’re looking to really grow and expand and be a 40-plus woman team,” said Jennifer. “That would be fantastic.” Until then, the Appalachian Rollergirls are enjoying their new-found network of support, which Jordyn described as a family, and enthusiastic interest from the High Country community. “It was really great that the community came out and supported us. There was an amazing level of support,” said Megan. “I think, in the future, our plan is to definitely do more with the community and just be involved.” And Jordyn, well, she didn’t know when she decided to attend ASU that she’d be bringing roller derby to Boone. “All I thought I was going to do when I got up here was go to school, go to class, go to work. I never thought I’d be doing this. I’m dreading the day I need to decide whether I need to go back home or if I should stay up here,” she said. “These girls have become my family, and it’s really going to be difficult to leave them. “Derby girls take care of their own.”



High Country Magazine

July 2011

Appalachian Rollergirls

2011 Remaining Bouts 7/9 @ New River Valley, Christiansburg, Va. 7/23 @ Charlotte Rollergirls, Charlotte 9/10 @ Southern Illinois Rollergirls, Marion, Ill.

10/1 vs. Star City Rollergirls, Holmes Center, Boone 10/9 @ Star City Rollergirls, Roanoke, Va. 11/19 @ Ring City, Greenville 12/10 @ Little City, Johnson City, Tenn.

July 2011

High Country Magazine


Tommy Burleson The High Country’s Giant Basketball Star

Story by Tim Gardner • Photography provided by Tommy Burleson, the N.C. State University Athletics Department, Avery County Museum and Ken Ketchie


ne of North Carolina’s most decorated athletes, Tommy Burleson is all but assuredly the most famous to come out of its mountains. The 7-foot-4, 230-pound Newland native achieved national and even international fame, recognition and awards for his talent on the basketball court. His and his team’s accomplishments on the court not only are impressive; they’re downright remarkable. Continue reading for proof.


High Country Magazine

July June 2011 2011

N.C. State’s 103-100 win on against the Terrapins in the 1974 ACC Tournament Championship (March 9), generally called the greatest college game ever. Tommy scored 38 points and made 18 rebounds in the game and won his second consecutive Everett Case Award as the tournament’s most valuable player.

July 2011

“It was put-up or shut-up time for N.C. State on behalf of the whole ACC.” Tommy Burleson

Tommy puts up one of his famous hook shots over Maryland’s Len Elmore in

High Country Magazine


Honing Skills and Prep Career Born February 24, 1952, to Loren and Billie Ware Burleson of the Spanish Oak Community near Newland, Tommy is a former prep and collegiate All-American player who went on to make a mark in the professional ranks. He would play an integral role in some of the most dramatic games of his day. Tommy developed his game by playing one-on-one against his sister, Connie, who would also become a high school basketball standout, in their formative years. For a long time, she usually beat him when they played against each other at a goal attached to an old barn at the Burleson homestead. He was a 6-foot8-inch-tall high school freshman before he began to beat her regularly. By then, Tommy was on his way to stardom. He grew several more inches in height, and at his father’s insistence, Tommy began juggling oranges and grapefruits to improve his hands for playing basketball. He persevered, and soon became a prep phenom despite early on not taking full advantage of his physical abilities. He allowed his opponents to jab, shove and harass him.

“It really got to me in a game one night,” he recalled. “I broke an opposing player’s nose. I caught him with a quick elbow. From then on, I didn’t let anyone push me around, and that helped me become a much better player.” Tommy was a three-year prep AllAmerican at Newland High School and after consolidation, Avery County High. He led teams to Northwestern 3-A Conference regular season and tournament championships at Avery as well as a thirdplace finish in the state tournament his junior season (1968-1969) at Avery. Newland and Avery High teams always played to overflow crowds during each of Tommy’s games. One matchup Avery hosted with Marion High was moved to Appalachian State University’s Varsity Gym in Boone to accommodate several thousand fans who wanted to attend the clash between the state powers. Tommy was the state’s most valuable prep player his senior season and played in the Dapper Dan National High School All-Star Game in Pittsburgh, PA. Practically every college and university in America recruited the blue-chip play-

er. His coach for two of his varsity high school seasons, Roger Banks, eventually became an assistant at several colleges and universities and was ranked among the country’s top recruiters by some national magazines such as Sports Illustrated and Sport. The Collegiate Big-Time Recruited by N.C. State Coach Norman Sloan, Tommy chose to play there because he had been a lifelong fan of the Wolfpack and the university. It also offered his desired major, Agriculture Economics. He was one of several big-name players to sign to play during the same era for N.C. State. Others included David Thompson, Monte Towe, Tim Stoddard and Phil Spence. In two seasons (1972-1973 and 1973-1974), they compiled the best two-year record in Atlantic Coast Conference history (57-1), won two league regular season and tournament championships and beat defending National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) champion UCLA en route to the 1974 national title. The 1972-1973 Wolfpack juggernaut is the last ACC team to finish an entire season undefeated (27-0)

The 1969-70 Avery High School squad: Coach Bruce Daniels, R. D. Daniels, Brad Blalock, Billy Watson, Gerald Mckinney, Alton Franklin, Tommy Burleson, Gary Edwars, Jim Trivett, Cotton Trivett, Kenny Ward and Coach Charles Franklin. 68

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July 2011

This Sports Illustrated inscription says it all: N.C. State, led by David Thompson and Avery County’s Tommy Burleson (both pictured), along with Monte Towe, ended UCLA’s era as college basketball’s most dominant program with the Wolfpack’s 80-77 double-overtime win in the 1974 NCAA Tournament semifinals. July 2011

High Country Magazine


The 1973-1974 NCAA Basketball Champions, the N.C. State University Wolfpack. (From left) Front row: Mike Sloan (student manager), Steve Smoral, Craig Kuszmaul, Mark Moeller, Monte Towe, David Thompson, Greg Hawkins, Moe Rivers and Bruce Dayhuff; center row: Eddie Biedenbach (assistant coach), Art Musselman (assistant coach), Steve Nuce, Dwight Johnson, Jerry Hunt, Tim Stoddard, Steve Smith, Ken Gehring, Sam Esposito (assistant coach) and Norman Sloan (head coach); and back row: Bill Lake, Tommy Burleson, Phil Spence and Mike Buurma.

but was declared ineligible for postseason play because of NCAA recruiting violations involving Thompson. Sloan credits N.C. State’s signing of Burleson as an instrumental factor in the Wolfpack also getting Thompson and Towe, who wanted “to play with someone as good and as big as Tommy.” “After our coaching staff heard about Tommy, I watched him play in many of his high school games,” Sloan once said. “Not only did Tommy have tremendous

height, but he was also a very talented player. He is the best center in ACC history in my estimation. He had a very good shot for a big man and possessed as much energy and stamina as any player I’ve ever seen. He always seemed to play his best against the best competition.” Tommy’s accomplished level of play came about not simply because he towered

over opponents but because he moved well, played dogged defense, showed an assortment of short-range shots, including his monstrous hook, and tenaciously chased down rebounds, at times looking like a guard. Tommy can even dunk a basketball without even jumping—simply standing on his tip-toes. Thompson, a 6-foot-4 forward from


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Shelby, is considered by many as the finest player in ACC history and one of the best to ever play the game. He excelled in all its aspects and had a phenomenal 48inch vertical leap, meaning he could reach his hands approximately two feet above the goal. Towe was a 5-foot-7 point guard from Indiana who was a good shooter and floor leader. Dunking was not permitted in the major college game at the time, so Towe and Thompson made their way around that rule by inventing their famous “alley-oop” play. Towe would toss the ball high toward the goal, but off to the side a bit, and Thompson would rise high off the floor to catch it and drop it in the basket. Sloan used it often in N.C. State’s offense to take advantage of Thompson’s leaping ability. Stoddard, like Towe, was from Indiana. He played the forward position opposite Thompson. He was a standout baseball player for the Wolfpack and pitched his way into the major leagues, where he had a 13-year career with six different clubs. He was a relief pitcher in 485 games and was the first player, pitcher or otherwise, to drive in a World Series run in his very first at-bat. He is also one of only two

players to play in both an NCAA Final Four and a Major League Baseball World Series (the other is Kenny Lofton). Rounding out N.C. State’s elite starting five was shooting guard Moe Rivers. Its sixth man was Spence, who like Towe, went into college coaching and was head coach for a few years at North Carolina Central University. With Tommy’s dominating presence inside, the nation’s tallest player quickly became one of its best. He intimidated intimidating players like UCLA superstar center Bill Walton and University of Maryland All-Americans Len Elmore (center) and Tom McMillen (power forward-center). Complemented by Towe effectively moving the ball and Thompson shooting from the wings and from beneath the basket, Tommy and N.C. State became almost unstoppable. “I’m just an ordinary ‘ole boy from the mountains who God blessed with basketball talent and in so many other ways that they’re impossible to name,” Tommy said. But actually Tommy could in no sense be considered “ordinary.” Beds are only sold by special order for people as tall as him, and he must duck his head in almost every door he goes

through. People often stop what they’re doing and gawk when he walks by. “I grew up watching great college basketball,” Tommy recalled. “Players like Len Chappell (Wake Forest), Jack Marin (Duke) and Bob Lewis (North Carolina) were among my childhood heroes. Then to have the opportunity to play with David (Thompson) and Monte (Towe) at my favorite university, make the USA’s Olympic Team and have so many other mind-boggling, fun experiences…I truly got to live out a dream that sometimes seems to defy logic. I have a deep passion for the youth and I wish every young person, and especially every young athlete, could experience the happenings I’ve been a part of.” Olympics Controversy During Tommy’s collegiate career, he played in several “games for the ages.” His first epic game was also his most disappointing—the gold medal game of the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany. That year’s Olympics would become infamous for murders of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches by the “Black September” Palestinian terrorist group. Tommy was even briefly detained by a German soldier

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(Top left) Tommy’s blessing of being 7 feet, 4 inches in height also comes with a personal sacrifice of him having to duck through most doorways he enters. (Top right) Tommy has long being active in the success of the High Country’s Woolly Worm Festival. He’s pictured with Roy Krege, master of ceremonies, during one of the annual events. (Bottom left) Tommy has taken various missions trips to Africa, including this one in 2006 to Malawi, where he is pictured with a few of the country’s underprivileged children. The primary purpose of the Tommy Burleson Christian Evangelistic Ministry, in partnership with Fletcher Presbyterian Church of Newland, is to support the work of Dr. Barbara Nagy, resident physician at the Nkhoma Hospital in Nkhoma, Africa, to provide needed commodities to the residents there.

when he was walking along a tunnel and came across the terrorists and hostages as they were being relocated. A few days later, some teams and athletes chose to leave the Olympics because of fears of more terrorist attacks. But Team USA went on to play the Soviet Union in a Cold-War tilt in what is arguably the most controversial basketball game ever played. The Soviets beat the USA, 51-50, in what many Americans still call “The Great Munich Bank Robbery,” ending the USA’s streak of 77 consecutive Olympics victories. The game’s final three seconds involved a series of bizarre decisions that may always remain a mystery. With three seconds to play, N.C. State’s Doug Collins hit two free throws to put the USA ahead 50-49, and 72

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when the Soviet Union’s inbounds pass was knocked away, the game was apparently over, and America’s perfect record was preserved—or so it seemed. The Soviets protested, demanding that three seconds be put back on the game clock. The game officials ruled that the Soviet coach had been trying to call a time-out while the ball was put back into play and ordered the clock reset to three seconds. One official was Brazilian, the other Bulgarian. And USA Coach Hank Iba (formerly of Oklahoma State University) didn’t speak either language. The teams had to run a final play again. But when the second attempt did not produce a Soviet victory, the secretary general of the International Amateur Basketball Federation, R. William Jones of Great

July 2011

Britain, came out of the stands and ordered that three seconds be put back on the game clock because it had started before the ball was put into play. As play resumed for a third time, the Soviets’ Aleksandr Belov went up with USA defenders Kevin Joyce and Jim Forbes and out-positioned them to take a length-of-thecourt pass from Ivan Edeshko at the foul line and scored a layup at the buzzer, giving the Russians the verdict. Inexcusably, Tommy was on the bench for those final seconds despite not having fouled out and would have been a key defender to stop the Soviets from scoring the winning basket. Again, the USA protested the game’s outcome, this time to the FIBA’s five-man Jury of Appeal, which had three Communist-bloc members. The vote was 3-2 for

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July 2011

Tommy Burleson’s Basketball Achievements • High School All-American at Newland and Avery County High Schools • North Carolina Most Valuable High School Player, 1970 • Member of Third Place State Tournament team at Avery County High School, 1969 • Played in Dapper Dan National High School All-Star Game, 1970 • All-Atlantic Coast Conference, 1972, 1973 and 1974 • Everett Case Award recipient as ACC Tournament Most Valuable Player, 1973 and 1974 • NCAA All-American, 1973 and 1974 • All-Final Four, NCAA National Championship, 1974 • NCAA Eastern Regional Most Valuable Player, 1974 • Member of N.C. State University’s ACC Regular Season and Tournament Championships teams, 1973 and 1974 • Member of last ACC team to finish an entire season undefeated (27-0), 1972-1973 • Member of teams that compiled the best two-year record in ACC history (57-1), 1972-1973 and 1973-1974 • Member of N.C. State University’s National Championship team, 1974 • Member of 1972 United States Olympic team • Member of the World University Games team that claimed Gold Medal, 1973 • Drafted first overall by the American Basketball Association • Chosen third overall by Seattle Supersonics in 1974 NBA Draft • Named to 1974-75 NBA All-Rookie Team, playing for Seattle Supersonics • Enshrinee of North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame • Enshrinee of Western North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame • Selected to the ACC’s 50th Anniversary men’s basketball team honoring the 50 greatest players in its history, 2002 • Featured and co-featured in Sports Illustrated cover stories

Russia to keep the verdict. Soon after, the Americans voted to boycott the awards ceremony and not to accept their Silver Medals, a first in Olympics history. The vote was 10-2 against accepting the medals. Interestingly, Tommy voted to accept them, although he believes Team USA was robbed of a win and the gold medals. Many of that year’s players have strict stipulations in their wills for their family members not to accept the silver medals. Tommy has it in his will that his family can accept his silver medal—but only after his death—as a reminder of his participation in the Olympics. “Even though we were cheated, I’ve accepted the loss,” he explained. “It took time for me to get over it, but if people are willing to take a win, they should be willing to accept a loss as well. I have no animosity toward anyone. I learned to let hard feelings or grudges go and to turn the other cheek as a Christian.” Team USA featured several of America’s finest college players, and its primary strength was the fast break. However, Iba went with a slower, disciplined attack, which all but cost the Americans the win, as Tommy admitted: “Actually, we should

Major College Basketball’s premier centers of the early 1970’s-- Tommy Burleson (left) and UCLA’s Bill Walton. Both were All-Americans, played on National Championship teams and enjoyed productive professional careers. They are close friends.

have won the game going away. I love Hank Iba and he was a great coach for his era. But we were not allowed to get into a running game and that killed us. We’d let Russia set its defense and we never got in a transition game, and that’s why the final score was as low as it was. We had a much better team than the Soviets.”

Tommy has continued to enjoy watching Team USA play basketball, but he maintains that the current player selection process that involves college and professional basketball players can be overkill. For future Olympics, he favors a mixture of collegians and pros with a majority being collegians. “For many years the Olympics were only for the true amateurs,” Tommy noted. “But if they’re going to remain amateur-dominated, collegians should be the majority on the rosters. It opened the door for pros in other sports such as boxing and wrestling to be part of USA Olympics teams. If professional players had been eligible for the ’72 basketball Team USA, I would have never been chosen for it. Instead, it would have been pros

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“We’d let Russia set its defense and we never got in a transition game, and that’s why the final score was as low as it was. We had a much better team than the Soviets.” Tommy Burleson Tommy (back row, last on right) in the 1975-76 Seattle Supersonics team picture. Tommy’s best season as a professional was during this campaign, when he averaged 15.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots per game.

like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bob Lanier or Dave Cowens playing center.” Though he played on a national championship team, Tommy declared his greatest athletics achievement was playing on the Olympic team, despite the controversial loss. “I’m most recognized for being part of a national championship team, but my biggest thrill was being an Olympian,” he said. “It happens only once every four years and is the world’s most famous athletics event.” Milestone Wins and a National Championship The first of what Tommy lists as his favorite three college wins came in N.C. State’s 103-100 overtime triumph against Coach Charles “Lefty” Driesell’s nationally fourth-ranked Maryland Terrapins in the 1974 ACC Tournament finals. Maryland featured Elmore, McMillen and fellow All-American guard John Lucas. The media selected Elmore over Tommy for the All-ACC First Team, pushing Tommy down to less prestigious All-ACC Second Team status. Tommy, Sloan and the entire Wolfpack team took that as an insult, and in what is generally regarded as the greatest college game ever, Tommy completely blew Elmore away and played at or near his pinnacle of perfection. Tommy supplied great defense, consistently harassing Maryland’s offense, and scored 38 points and grabbed 18 rebounds (both game highs) to propel the nationally top-ranked Wolfpack to the ACC’s sole NCAA Tournament bid. Elmore managed less than half the points (18) Burleson did. Maryland jumped to an early 25-12 76

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lead, hitting 12 of its first 14 field goals. But the Wolfpack cut the deficit to five points (55-50) at halftime. In the second half, the teams swapped leads repeatedly. The Terrapins tied the score at 97 with nine seconds left in regulation to force overtime. But they didn’t score a field goal in the extra session. Spence hit the game winner with 1:59 to play, and Towe sank two free throws with six seconds left to seal the victory. Afterward, Driesell stepped in the N.C. State locker room, shook Burleson’s hand and said, “Son, that’s the greatest game I’ve seen a big man play.” It marked N.C. State’s sixth consecutive win against the Terrapins over the previous two seasons. Tommy recalled: “Wow, what a game that was. I was fortunate to play what I consider my very best game in the best game of all time. We had beaten Maryland twice in the regular season my junior and senior campaigns, and it took an absolute monumental effort to beat the Terrapins to win that ’74 ACC Tournament crown. Maryland had one of the best college teams I’ve seen my junior and senior

July 2011

seasons at N.C. State. We were better than the Terrapins, but not by much. Us, Maryland and UCLA were far and away the three best teams in the nation those two seasons.” The N.C. State team and its fans had hoped for a rematch with UCLA after losing 84-66 to the Bruins in December 1973 in St. Louis. And when the Wolfpack confronted the presence of Coach John Wooden’s mighty Bruins a second time in the national semifinals, the ACC was seemingly at a crossroads of sorts. UCLA had won seven straight national championships heading into the game, and as Tommy succinctly noted, “It was put-up or shut-up time for N.C. State on behalf of the whole ACC.” Walton had fueled the fire by ridiculing the game’s playing location of Greensboro and regional predictions that N.C. State would actually win the game. Also, history seemed on the side of the Bruins. UCLA had romped past North Carolina by 23 points in the 1968 NCAA Tournament, then won the 1970 national title on Maryland’s home court and had already

Stats and Rankings • 10th all-time in scoring at N.C. State with 1,598 points (19.0 average per game) • Scored 30 or more points six times during his collegiate career, with his personal best of 38 points against Maryland in the 1974 ACC Tournament finals and against Virginia during the 197172 regular season • 1,066 rebounds during his college playing career (12.7 average per game), including his game-high of 24 in the 1974 Eastern Regionals versus Providence. He led the ACC in rebounding as a junior and senior, averaging 14 and 12 per game, respectively. He ranks second among N.C. State players in alltime rebounds.

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humbled the Wolfpack that season. Although the ACC still was considered the nation’s top league, it had not produced a national champion since 1957, and an ACC team had not beaten UCLA in postseason play since Wake Forest won 82-80 in the 1962 national consolation game. But Tommy’s astute defense of the burly Walton was a major factor in the top-ranked Wolfpack’s 80-77 doubleovertime win over the second-ranked Bruins. Walton outscored Tommy 29-20, but Tommy pulled down 16 rebounds, blocked several shots and kept Walton away from the mainstream of the action on various key plays. N.C. State twice made stirring rallies, including from seven points behind with 2:07 to play in the second overtime, to prevail for Tommy’s next favorite win of his collegiate career. “The Bruins were playing with tremendous confidence since they had won so many consecutive national titles and 88 straight games before losing at Notre Dame that season, and, of course, because they had already beaten us,” Tommy stated. “But even though they were great, we thought we had the better team and that we just didn’t play near our capabilities in that first game. We believed we also had the nation’s best team the previous season (1972-73) when UCLA won the national title. Coach Wooden has said that UCLA team may have been his best, but had we been eligible to play in the NCA A Tournament, I think we would have won another national title and would have beaten UCLA had we played each other. We were certainly ready to play well the second time we played the Bruins. During the last five or six minutes of the second overtime, David (Thompson) and I took over. Every shot we threw up went in the basket.” The Wolfpack next defeated Marquette 76-64 in the finals to climax Tommy’s most meaningful win—a national championship. That game was not nearly as intense as the N.C. State-UCLA clash. Marquette’s coach, Al McGuire, received two technical fouls and was ejected from the game in its first half. The Wolfpack ripped off a 10-0 run just before halftime and coasted in the second half, leading by as many as 19 points. Tommy finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds. He commented, “While we knew Marquette was a very good team, we realized that we had crossed the biggest hurdle in our quest to win the national championship by beating 78

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The High Country’s all-time premier basketball standout, Tommy Burleson, and his towering presence, in front of the Avery County Courthouse in Newland.

the Bruins. We stayed focused and refused to be denied in the title game, and what a relief it was when we beat Marquette to claim all the marbles.” Undoubtedly the 1973-74 N.C. State basketball team changed the direction of college basketball. Although UCLA came back and won the 1975 national title to mark Wooden’s retirement, parity had been restored, and the NCAA Tournament field was soon expanded. No longer did a team have to win the league tournament to qualify for “The Big Dance,” and the entire ACC fed off the momentum generated by that 30-1 Wolfpack team. Pro Career Tommy was the first player chosen in the America Basketball Association (ABA) draft and the third chosen in the

July 2011

1974 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft. He chose to play in the NBA and was taken by the Seattle Supersonics. Tommy was named to the 1974-1975 NBA All-Rookie Team. Playing under Coach Bill Russell, Tommy recorded strong playoff performances in both the 1974-75 and 1975-76 seasons for Seattle. He remains the second-leading scorer in Supersonics playoff history, averaging 20.7 points per game in the postseason. For his playoff career, Burleson averaged more than 20 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks per game. Tommy’s best season as a professional was also his second (’75-’76), when he averaged 15.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots per game. He played with the Supersonics from 1974-77. His professional career spanned eight seasons, during which he also played for

the Kansas City Kings (1977-1980), Atlanta Hawks (1980-1981) and Chicago Bulls (1981-1982). While playing for the Kings, just as it seemed he might become a consistently dominant NBA player, he was injured while trying to break up a fight between a teammate and a Philadelphia 76ers player. As he tried to pull the two men away from each other, an opposing player gave him a kick in the left knee, blowing it out and all but ending his career. He only played sparingly the rest of his professional career. The Man Home has always Avery County, where Tommy is as much a local attraction as the Fraser firs that make up the “Christmas Tree Capital of the World” and the mysterious Brown Mountain Lights that have inexplicably flickered since any of the county’s residents can remember. He accepts the warm greetings of people who live in this beautiful mountain hamlet as well as tourists who often frequent the area. He retired back here where he is currently Avery’s director of inspections and planning. Tommy also served two four-year terms as an Av-

ery County commissioner. Additionally, he has been instrumental in the success of the High Country’s ever-popular Woolly Worm Festival, held each year in the Banner Elk area. Tommy is an avid supporter of North Carolina State University and Avery County High Basketball. He and his wife, Denise, have three sons: Robert, David, and Quentin. The playing floor at old Newland High’s Rock Gym, now used by the Avery County Parks and Recreation Department, is named “Tommy Burleson Court” in his honor of his superlative playing career at the school and his efforts in the preservation of the historical landmark. An ordained minister, Tommy operates Tommy Burleson Christian Evangelistic Ministry, a partnership with the Western North Carolina Presbytery and Fletcher’s Chapel Presbyterian Church of Newland. He has traveled as far away as Africa to do missions work. He also hosts the popular Tommy Burleson Basketball Camp in Avery County each July, designed for players who want to improve their fundamental skills in offense, defense and team play. The camp’s staff features former college players and coaches and has read like a

“Who’s Who” in basketball circles. Its instructors and guest speakers have included Sloan, former Duke University head coach and television basketball analyst Bucky Waters (who like Sloan, has called Tommy “the ACC’s best-ever center”), Thompson and Towe. Carl Clayton, world record holder for continuously spinning a basketball on the tip of his finger, also has been featured as a camp clinician. Access more information about Tommy, the camp and his other endeavors by clicking to Tommy, who earned his degree from N.C. State in 1974, has experienced serendipity in his own life, as it’s been exciting, adventurous and always fulfilling. And despite his success, he’s regarded by those who know him best as one who never let fame go to his head. That’s one of the best testaments that could be given him. “Foremost, I thank God for all the opportunities that he has blessed me with, my family, who has always supported me, my coaches, support staffs, teammates, friends and fans and just the people of Avery County and the High Country in general for the family-type closeness that we all share. I pray God’s blessings on them all.”



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Not Slowing Down Anytime Soon Businessman and Civic Leader Kenneth Wilcox Story by Bill F. Hensley • Photography by Peter Morris


fter Kenneth Wilcox won another award for his outstanding business leadership, a local newspaper called him “the Godfather of Boone.” And so he is. The man has done a little bit of everything during a colorful and illustrious 52-year career. He has owned a historic botanical company, hotels, restaurants, retail businesses, apartments, a Christmas tree farm and student housing units. In addition, he has been a county commis86

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sioner; helped start a new bank; served on the boards of Appalachian State University, the Watauga Medical Center and First Baptist Church; and played key roles in the Boone Chamber of Commerce, the Jaycees and the county Economic Development Committee. “You name it and he has done it,” said Cecil Greene, a retired Boone business executive and a lifelong friend and business partner. “He is a true friend and an astute business man who is honest, dedicated

July 2011

and hard-working. I admire him greatly and appreciate everything he has done for the community. He is one of a kind.” Wilcox, a Boone native, has been an imposing area figure since he was graduated from ASU in 1959, receiving a degree in business. With diploma in hand, he hit the ground running and joined the Wilcox Drug Company owned by his father Charles and founded by his great-grandfather in 1865. The company bought a variety of

“Slowing down is something that Kenneth can’t do. He has tremendous energy and leadership ability and can get things done without a lot of red tape or fanfare.” Spencer Robbins

Wilcox got his start in business at his father’s drug company and oversaw its growth into a large national firm.

herbs and natural products from local farmers and sold the botanical goods to pharmaceutical companies for medicinal purposes. Even today, the hottest item was ginseng, which has sold for up to $500 a pound. Other botanicals included witch hazel leaves, sassafras bark, angelica root, wahoo and wild cherry bark, and balm gilied buds. The herb market has remained strong for decades and helps provide farmers with extra income. He took over as president in 1969 and watched proudly as the company expanded steadily, hitting the $40 million mark in annual sales during its prime.

“My father was a tremendous influence on my career,” he remarked, “and I learned a lot from him. He was a brilliant man. If he couldn’t find a product to assist in operations, he would invent one. He was truly gifted.” Charles Wilcox died in 1969 at the age of 60. Wilcox ran the drug company, which later changed its name to Wilcox Natural Products, for 25 years before selling it in 1994. It ceased operations in 2000. After retiring, the energetic businessman continued to invest in numerous ventures. At one time, he owned the Dan’l

Boone Inn, the Cardinal Motel, the Western Steer and Sagebrush restaurants and a variety of real estate. In 1996 he converted some buildings he owned in downtown Boone into the Wilcox Emporium, an eclectic combination of shops and resJuly 2011

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(above) Wilcox was founder and director of the High Country Bank. (right) Motels and restaurants have been a part of his varied business enterprises.

taurants that soon became a local gathering place. After a successful 12-year run, the complex was converted into a student housing facility convenient to the ASU campus. “I have served on numerous committees with Kenneth, “offered Dr. Harry Davis, an ASU faculty member. “In many cases he had many projects started and finished before they came before the committee for approval.” Now 74, Wilcox hasn’t slowed down in his “retirement” years. He is a partner in two residential developments; owns motels in Boone, Lenoir and Mt. Pleasant, S.C.; serves on the Yadkin Valley bank board; and continues to be active in a number of civic and charitable and organizations. “Slowing down is something that Kenneth can’t do,” offered Spencer Robbins, a friend and frequent golfing partner. “He has tremendous energy and leadership ability and can get things done without a lot of red tape or fanfare. This area has benefited greatly from his life-long contributions, and he continues to lead.” 88

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His residential ventures included Councill Oaks, a 92-acre site in Boone, and Elk Creek Mountain, a 284-acre property in Todd. Wilcox is delighted that his son started a new botanical business in 1994, continuing in the family tradition. The firm, North American Natural Resources, is located on N.C. 194 in Boone and is doing well. “It’s nice to be back in a familiar industry,” he said, “and to visit with many long-time farmer friends throughout the region. “I take pride in a lengthy friendship and business relationship with these mountain folks. They are the ones who made Wilcox Drug Co. what it was, and I

July 2011

can never forget that.” Over the years, Wilcox has been honored many times for his outstanding contributions to the Boone area. “Awards are nice,” he commented, “and I am most appreciative for the recognition I have received. But my biggest reward is in doing something positive—something successful—for my hometown. This is a great place, and I am proud to be a native son.” Wilcox will say quickly that two of his most successful ventures were in taking the natural products company international with a vast overseas demand, and the creation of High Country Bank, which later merged with the Yadkin Valley Bank.

By the same token, a major disappointment was the failure of a botanical company he organized in California. “We just couldn’t make it work,” he explained, “because of the location and management. That hurt.” When business affairs permit, Wilcox and his wife, Gerry, enjoy traveling and seeing other parts of the world and making new friends. They also delight in being with their three children, seven grandchildren and one great grandchild at family functions. She is the former Gerry Brown, also a Boone native, and they were married in 1955. In addition to their son Chris, the Wilcoxes have two daughters, Kim Davis and Laura Pace, both of whom live here. Wilcox’ business acumen also carries over to the golf course, where he is a fierce competitor and plays to an 18 handicap at the Hound Ears Club. But his golf game gets around and takes him to such local favorites as the Boone course, Linville and Red Tail. “I must admit that I like to win,” he smiled, “so I play hard.” And so he does, but his work doesn’t suffer.

Growing Christmas trees is one of Wilcox’s many business interests.


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Back pack ing Any one?

Sweet Summer in the High Country Woods Your heart may jump for joy crossing the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Linn Cove Viaduct from the comfort of a minivan, or perhaps you delve a little deeper in your outdoor adventures and partake in one of the areas great drive-up campsites. But for those seeking soul soothing far from civilization, going backcountry camping is the ultimate way to experience wilderness. Backcountry camping—typically reachable only by backpacking— brings a deep satisfaction knowing you walked yourself into the woods needing nothing other than the provisions on your back and the ground beneath you. 92

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Story and Photography by Todd Bush


eople often comment on why they live in or visit our High Country, and one answer tops the list: the nature you can experience here. Mountains, lush forests, waterfalls and wildflowers abound just a glance or trail away. Backpackers become part of it, melding in it, drinking it and sleeping under the stars. Overnight outdoors, nearly touching the piercing Milky Way of a sweet, southern  Appalachian night sky is an encounter like no other. Even on a brief weekend-warrior backpack outing, you sense in your skin the changing mountain air through dusk and dawn. You become aware, revitalized and reconnected to the natural world around you, then discover who you are is not just what you do. If you are a first-timer interested in backpacking, picking up some tips before setting out is the way to go. If you can, attempt your first outing with someone who has backpacked before. If you know someone who backpacks, chances are they are a good source to help you start figuring out what you need, equipment-wise, or to suggest possible trip destinations. Rounding up gear is the next step, and this does not have to be expensive or complicated. Use the “try before you buy” method, borrowing or renting equipment to test the waters without spending a lot to see if backpacking is your cup-o-tea.  One experienced area outdoor enthusiast, Brandon York, tells his friends planning their first outings to get inexpensive items initially. That way if they like backwoods adventures, they can always upgrade later. Others ready to take the plunge feel, why not spend a little more and invest in state of the art equipment that will last for years to come? Going with pricier specialized outdoor gear with more desirable features may mean the gear will be more comfortable and practical in the long run due to lighter weight, better ergonomics and durability. Preparedness is the key to an enjoyable camping experience, especially when backpacking. If you plan on hiking or backpacking during seasons besides summer, be sure

Top: Three ladies trek beside a profusion of pink lady slippers flourishing in woodlands on the Appalachian Trail north-bounding towards Lost Mountain Shelter below the summit of Whitetop Mountain Va. just northwest of Ashe County, NC. Middle: Jason & Edyth Berry and JD Dooley roam a highland meadow north of Boone. Below: Katie McCoy packs her gear from a summer trek along the Appalachian Trail.

to find out about hunting schedules and wear and carry something bright orange during those times when hunting is allowed. If you bring a dog along on your trips, be sure they are accessorized in orange as well. Many wilderness areas are multi-use, and some hunters even use the Appalachian Trail. One winter on an Appalachian Trail section hike between Roan Mountain and U.S. 19 East, I hiked out of camp early hoping to catch sunrise from atop Hump Mountain and was a bit ahead of our group. Fog developed quickly and thickened at the summit, so I continued on and shortly after cresting Hump, heard a turkey call coming from the woods beside the trail, and I answered it. It gobbled, I clucked. This

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High Country Magazine


Finishing a crossing of the Linville River at the bottom of the Linville Gorge south of Table Rock, Nick Bush uses his trekking poles for balance.

went on a few times, when suddenly a hunter draped in camouflage came out of the bush sporting a muzzle loader in one hand and a turkey call in the other. We both shook our heads at our close call (so to speak) and walked off in different directions. More than one friend later commented, “It’s a good thing you don’t do a better turkey call!” Another thing about bringing your canine companion: not all dogs can handle long distance hikes. Like you, they all need to be brought up to speed by gradually increasing miles per day. Too often I’ve seen and heard of people having to carry their worn-out pooch out of the woods. Trails can be especially hard on a dog’s bare feet if they are not conditioned to it. Bring enough food and water for your companion, remembering that during exertion a body needs more than usual of both. A one-night trip can be a great way to see how much you may enjoy backpacking. Wes Wisson, an Appalachian Trail (AT) shuttle driver in Georgia who Bill Bryson wrote of in his classic A Walk In The Woods, once told me of all the folks that he drops off at the start of the trail in Springer, Ga., expecting to hike the entire AT, and how many call him after a few miles or days and want out. Rather than starting off with a long-distance hike (the AT generally takes six months from Georgia to Maine), try a one-nighter after a short hike to a great campsite. 

Last summer I invited my brother Bruce, who hadn’t backpacked for years, on a trip to the Wilson Creek area with a few other experienced backpacking friends. We all agreed to a laidback trip just for the fun of it. No high-mileage bagging was intended, so we strolled a leisurely 1.5 miles to a campsite along South Harper Creek. We set up tents and explored the area, taking in a swimming hole, roaming the nearby trails and scrambling up a hill, discovering a fantastic overlook of the falls. We made friends at camp with two fun-loving medical students from the Triad area who shared a riverside evening meal with us. After dusk,

we all laid out on huge water-smoothed rocks as the river rushed around us, an ideal open area to view stars. Dozens of bats buzzed us, adding to the essence of our brief but blissful time in nature. We had the area to ourselves, and after a few moments of enjoying each other’s company in such a special space, retreated to our campfire and finally to our tents, smiling and content. A current trend in backpacking is to use ultra-light gear. Ultra-light backpacking is a way to spare the body the rigors of heavy loads. You carry less weight and by the end of a day are less fatigued. Most of the ground hiking in the mountains is far from equal or level, and backpacking is a real workout. Using trekking poles is helpful to minimize body strain by distributing some of the load off your legs onto your arms and help with balance as well. My first backpack was a K-mart external frame model with a green and white ecology flag design. As an early teen, I had a rather foolish notion that the heavier your pack, the more likely you were to gain the respect of your peers. Toting a fully loaded, more-than-50-pound pack,

Gathered beside camp on South Harper Creek are (back row, from left) Steve Blind, Nick, Bruce and Todd Bush; and (front row, from left) Adam Zurkey, Brittany Collins, Jessica Vincent and Brandon York. 94

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We no sooner set up tents on a section hike of the Appalachian Trail when the bottom fell out of the sky for a brief summer shower followed by a rainbow atop Max Patch near Hot Springs, NC.

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High Country Magazine


camping destinations:

Favorite Backcountry Grandfather Mountain—The mystique, power and beauty of this ancient icon of the Blue Ridge offers its wonders to all. Grandfather is best experienced by an overnight outing, taking in every nuance of its ever-changing environs. You can backcountry camp on Grandfather Mountain at several designated sites with a free (for now) permit from the state park allowing you access to camping via the Profile Trail (105 side) and just off the Tanawha Trail near the Boone Fork parking area (Parkway side).

Four Appalachian Trail thru-hikers gather for a lunch stop at the Abingdon Gap Shelter in Tennessee near Damascus, Va. Seated in the center is “Reststop,” one of the few people to have the Triple Crown distinction having hiked The Appalachian Trail, The Continental Divide Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. Reststop was on his third AT hike in this 2010 photo and had hiked over 10,000 miles in the last few years. Only around 150 people have done this. Mike Boone and Bruce McKenna at Nuwati Trail permit box preparing to go backcountry camping on Grandfather Mountain’s Parkway side.

The Linville Gorge Wilderness Area—Rugged and dramatic, mesmerizing and spectacular, the gorge has numerous backcountry sites off the challenging trails of its east and west rim-to-summit and rim-to-river routes as the Linville River pours through this deep chasm. The trails of the popular tourist destination of Linville Falls, which is at the head of the gorge, are nothing like the other gorge trails in accessibility or level of difficulty. Do not underestimate the seriousness of the need to be prepared for backcountry camping in the Linville Gorge! A map, compass and adequate supplies are a must. Permits may apply; the cabin visitor center just out from the town of Linville Falls on Kistler Memorial Highway is the place to check on that.

beat! Multitudes of streams, rivers, cascades and some of the area’s tallest falls reside here, including the over-200-foot South Harper Creek Falls. Dozens of trails lead to backcountry campsites so removed from the sounds of civilization you’ll think you stepped back in time. There is a designated map for this area, and one could be lost in seconds here without a map and compass. The Appalachian Trail—This is the big one, folks, and part of it runs through Avery County. Grab your pack and head up Hump Mountain from Roaring Creek or Elk Park for your first sunset on a section hike and wind up a few days later wandering with wild ponies in Virginia. Or put

The Wilson Creek Wilderness Area—For camping near water this area can’t be

Two backpackers hiking up the boulders of Wilburn Ridge into the sun near Mount Rogers, VA.


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in nearly atop Roan Mountain at Carver’s Gap and head north or south…as far as you want! About 88 miles of the Appalachian Trail’s nearly 2,200 miles runs through North Carolina with another 200 miles along our shared border with Tennessee. Every 10 or 15 miles along the trail are shelters that can accommodate a dozen or so campers who don’t have a tent. But be warned, I’ve seen a mouse try to drag a backpack across the floor of a shelter and heard tell of ‘em running across your face. So you might just bring that spiffy new tent of yours. The Mount Rogers Area—Broadly located where Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee meet, roam amongst these rolling meadows and rocky slopes with the famous herds of wild ponies in one of the largest collectively joined, shared bordered state and federal wilderness and recreational areas in the south east. The AT runs through it and so do herds of waist-high, rasta-style-shaggy wild ponies. Lots of backcountry camp spots along streams, atop ridges and amongst the boulder crags of Wilburn Ridge are available. Mt. Rogers is the highest summit in Virginia.






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Top: Lightning loves to hike or camp on Grandfather Mountain, and here he is at the white and blue blaze marking Grandfather’s highest summit, Calloway Peak, 5,946 feet. Middle: Boo the Border Collie, of Todd, went on many a backpack trip, and he seemed to relish every moment with tail wags. Bottom: Maggie, one trail-loving pooch, rests beside an AT marker near Hump Mountain’s summit in Avery County. July 2011

High Country Magazine


A Basic Gear List For Summer Blue Ridge Backpacking

Backpack—External frame, internal frame

or frameless. Consult with a qualified area outfitter on what may be best for you and learn about how to adjust it for yourself and the various terrain conditions you’ll encounter. As a good trip start target weight, try keeping your entire gear load including pack, food, and water at around 20 to 35 pounds (for ultra-lighters, 12 to 20 pounds). Remember, your pack gets lighter as you go as you eat and drink! A waterproof pack cover is a useful accessory. Shelter—Tent, Tarp, Hammock, Bivy.

Considering your shelter, the lighter the better, especially for summer. 1 to 3 pounds is a good weight for a one-person shelter. 4 to 6 pounds for a two-person tent is good and you can split the components 50/50 with your tent partner. A lightweight ground cloth can be a useful accompaniment and can even be used as a rain shelter itself, in a pinch.

High Country resident and devoted backpacker Chip Norwood managing his morning pack-up of gear before getting back on the Appalachian Trail for a section hike. Though Chip regularly backpacks and leads trips into the Grand Canyon, he still finds time to hit the trails locally.

Water Filtration Method—Whether you use a filter, tablets, treatment drops or boil your water, it’s best to have a provision to purify all remote water before drinking it. Small Trowel— Some shelters along the

AT have privies for bathroom needs, but most backcountry sites do not. Dig your holes far from water sources, trails and camping areas. Food and related supplies—Food choices are

ed. It’s great to have a summer and winter sleeping bag but if you only have one, a 35 degree bag is a good all-around choice. Down is lighter and packs best but is more expensive. 1 to 2 pounds is a good weight for a summer sleeping bag.

really personal. Some trekkers cook and need a pack stove, others go cook-less. Some choose dehydrated pre-made backpacker meals, while others eat like they do at home. The key is to plan every meal and snack for the entire trek plus a little extra for emergency. A good mix of food groups and a higher-than-usual caloric intake is essential. 1 to 2 pounds per day can be a practical target weight for your food, depending on your size.

Sleeping Pad— Unless you are a hammock

Bear Bag—Having a stuff sack as a food

Sleeping Bag—These are temperature rat-

user, a pad for beneath your sleeping bag will assure a better night’s sleep, as will toting a lightweight pillow. Trekking Poles— Optional but very helpful. Headlamp/Flashlight—With backup extra

light and batteries. Map and Compass—Know where you are

going and always tell others back home of your travel plans. Use the buddy system. Water Bottle—Hydration bladders with

hoses to drink as you walk are also a popular choice. Staying well hydrated is mandatory. Carry 1 to 3 liters per day (depending on water availability) and have a second container in case one fails. Review your map and know your water sources along your trek. 98

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bag and 50 feet of line to hang it high when you are not eating keeps bears and assorted other critters out of your tent. A skunk once chewed a hole through a side pocket of my pack to get at an apple I left there overnight. The pack was just outside my tent right next to my head. I woke up, opened the tent to see what the racket was and came face to face with Pepé le Pew. Always hang your food! Plus the line you carry can be used to string a rain shelter or for gear repairs. A little duct tape is handy to have, too. First Aid, toiletries and personal items—Try

using scent-free products. Hang anything with scent (toothpaste deodorant, etc.) in your bear bag at night. Clothes—Rain jacket, hat or cap, shirt,

pants, shorts, socks and extra socks. Quick dry, breathable materials are best. Shoes— Comfortable footwear with good tread designed for trails and hiking. Many backpackers have gone away from the old “waffle stomper” hiking boot and use cross-trainer almost-tennis-shoe style footwear with fine results even on through hikes (a term for hiking the entire Appalachian Trail). Consult your local outfitter for advice on this based on your needs. The heavier the pack, the more supportive footwear you need—another reason to keep pack weight down. Trash Bag—Bring a trash bag or two along, they are multi-functional, as you can use them for their intended purpose or as a seat or hat or to protect your gear if things get wet.


Bringing eggs and milk along for camp stove pancakes, Nick Bush sits at the rim of the Linville Gorge near the Chimneys.

Above right: North and south-bounders passing on the AT near Elk Garden, VA. Steve Peterson (on right) was section hiking a 75 mile stretch from roughly Mt. Rogers, VA to Watauga Lake, TN and stopping off for Trail Days, the annual event celebrating the AT held every May in Damascus VA - a must for backpackers. Below: The joy of backpacking in wilderness finds this group of friends high above the Linville River south of Table Rock. From left, Amy and Michael Darling, Carly Randolph, Steve Peterson, Nick Bush, Katie McCoy and Todd Bush in front.

my scrawny legs were lucky to stand me up, let alone carry me on a decent hike. What was I thinking? Now I use a 14-ounce frameless pack that can be loaded in such a way that my sleeping pad and pack contents form a rigid support. With my 8 oz. uber-light Z-Packs Hexamid cuben fiber tent and my 1-pound sleeping bag (total start weight of pack, gear, food and water around 15 pounds for summer trips), I have never enjoyed backpacking more. On a section hike of the Appalachian Trail I met a couple in their 70s (trail names: Spock and Frito) who made their own ultralight gear. Spock had this backpack that, when empty, looked like a pile of material.


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Finding idyllic spots to camp backcountry is part of the “Trail Magic” of backpacking. Always use designated campsites or places where you will have low impact and do not have to clear any living flora like this spot along the AT beside Feather Creek.

Spock explained that when you pack your pack in a certain way (some say with heavier items on the bottom or middle) you can get the components filling every corner of the pack to create a well-distributed load. Using your sleeping pad as a large roll, load that into the pack, then stuff all your gear into that chimney-like tube, cinch pack tightly using compression straps, and put it on. With all packs, you can make adjustments as you go, depending on the terrain conditions and how your pack feels to you. Getting instruction on your pack’s adjustments when you purchase it is an important step you should not skip. If your pack is properly balanced and adjusted, you will experience hiking with a comfortable load that rides along your hips, back and shoulders 100

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evenly but can be adjusted by shifting changing load emphasis on and off those specific areas as you go. Mike Boone, a local leading expert in backpacking and outdoors, got me into serious backpacking in the early ‘90s as we chaperoned and assisted with scout trips from Roan Mountain, Tenn., to Mt. Rogers, Va. At some point we stopped doing the scout trips and decided to simply go as an informal group of friends, roughly monthly, from September through May. Back then, we avoided the hotter busier months of summer. But summer trips require less gear and are, in many ways, safer. Plus, the swimming holes are warmer! After years of exploring the local trails, then getting somewhat serious about section July 2011

Etiquette Pack it in, pack it out—learn about and practice “Leave No Trace,” a philosophy and an outdoor ethic of leaving no evidence of your wilderness visit. Stay on the trails when hiking. When leaving camp or from your rest breaks, thoroughly police the area, leaving it as it was or better than you found it. If you find trash, even if it isn’t yours, pick it up. Never litter anything, including food items. Have you ever been hiking along and come across; candy wrappers, cigarette butts, orange peelings, peanut shells, beverage cans, bottles or worse and thought how out of place it looked?

Peace and quiet—How much do we miss simply by not paying attention? While on one of your outings, you and your friends can try the experiment of going an hour or so without any talking. Allow the experience—for you, for the others, and for nature—to be one of passing through with minimal sound impact as well. Conservation—All these rules and protocols for good behavior in nature may seem excessive, but the backcountry needs to be kept pristine. The more minimal the impact from your visit is, the better the experience for you, for the next visitor and certainly for the inhabitants. In the wilderness, perhaps even more than in the city, awareness is the key to a life of quality. All this becomes intuitive once you get it. It becomes, well, second nature. 


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High Country Magazine


Atop Grandfather Mountain in the fading light of day a pool catches a reflection of the passing traveler.

Outfitter List Local and regional stores that carry extensive backpacking gear:

Footsloggers 139 South Depot Street, Boone • 921 Main Street, Blowing Rock • 828-262-5111 • 828-295-4453  

Mast General Store

Boone and Valle Crucis, Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville, NC, Columbia and Greenville, SC and Knoxville, TN. • 630 West King Street Boone, NC 828-262-0000 • 828-963-6511  

Mountain Outfitters

Quality Service value

828-898-7544 102

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July 2011 • 102 South Jefferson Avenue West Jefferson • 336-246-9133  

Mt Rogers Outfitters - 110 Laurel Avenue, Damascus, VA – 276-475-5416  

SunDog Outfitter - 331 Douglas Drive, Damascus, VA – 866-515-3441   Many other area stores carry camping supplies and may have backpacks, but the shops mentioned above have sections dedicated to backpacking and have qualified staff to consult and assist in planning and outfitting your serious outdoor exploration.   There also is a used market for backpacking equipment: Summer yard sales, consignment and second-hand stores, backpacking classifieds locally and online, to name a few. It’s worth considering recycling someone’s perfectly usable handme-downs.

Joining a group of six newfound friends at the Hangover Lead overlook in Slick Rock Wilderness, near Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, our group of five local trekkers had enough hikers to wave hands with headlamps and do “light painting” during a long exposure with the camera shutter open.

hiking the Appalachian Trail, our trips started to require more and more effort and planning as we struck out for different locales, traveling ever-further with each new outing. There still is a group of friends committed to these treks, and we’ve grown

quite content to re-visit our cherished local backcountry sites. Some of the faces have changed over the years, but we try to get out as often as we can, knowing that being in nature, in remote wilderness, affects us in positive ways we find nowhere else.

Experience the wilderness whenever you can. Watch clouds roll by where the only sounds you can hear are bird calls and the wisps of wind; dip in a stream without caring how you look; but by all means—whether with a pack or without—get out more!

July 2011


High Country Magazine


Story And Photography by Eric Crews

Bill Pressly and Surfboards Shaped by the Mountains and the Sea


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High Country Magazine



ill Pressly has been many things throughout his life, but through it all, he’s been a surfer. For years, Bill worked as a carpenter, gaining the skills he needed to build his own house in a lush valley in the mountains of North Carolina. After that, he bombed hills on some of the first mountain bikes ever made, fell in love with the sport, and purchased Boone Bike & Touring, a bike shop that he owned and operated for a number of years. Six years ago, he sold the business and started shaping surfboards, and in turn, those boards have helped shape him. These days, when Bill heads out the door of his rustic home in Valle Crucis on his way to work, he doesn’t have far to go. His commute is short—a mere 20 paces to his workshop where he designs, shapes and finishes all of his boards. Along the way, the morning sun angles through the fog in the valley, and the birds, deer and other wildlife that share his backyard are there to greet him. It’s a quiet life; simple, with few interruptions. That’s one of the main reasons Bill calls the small community of Valle Crucis his home and main headquarters

for his signature line of hand-shaped, custom surfboards known as BillBoards. At the end of 2010, just before the ball dropped on another year, Bill completed his 100th board for a good friend of his who he met in Mexico in 2005, the year he first started making surfboards. “I met Thomas on the beach in Mexico the year I started making surfboards,”

Bill explained recently. “After a few days, he invited me over to the shack on the beach that he was using as his studio, where he was preparing for a big art show. While we talked he drew me an awesome logo, and I was stoked! A few days later I offered to make him a board. He declined, saying he’d wait ‘til I got a few more under my belt. ‘Like

Karen Barker

828-406-2816 David Barker

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Bill carefully shapes surfboards for himself and friends by hand from his home in Valle Crucis.

maybe 100,’ he said with a laugh.” The 100th board is a 5-foot-11-inch bellyfish with a modified nose that is inspiring for all the right reasons. “The inspiration is pretty much coming from everything that’s come before,” Bill said in a recent interview at his shop. “What I’m doing combines [these different] elements of the past to go into the future. What has come around in popularity in

the last 10 years are the types of boards that I’ve been making—which are really just updated versions of boards we’ve been surfing since the ‘70s. They were the standard boards back then, and they just have a little more volume, [meaning] they’re a little more user-friendly, a little more fun.” Bill has been surfing since 1972. He got his start catching waves on the coast

of Maryland and North Carolina during family vacations. Since then, he’s been surfing as much as possible, every year, for 39 years. All that time, shaping his own board had always been something he’d really wanted to do. But, like most of us, life sometimes gets in the way. For 13 years, Bill ran the bike shop. In the winters, he’d escape the long, snowfilled months of the High Country by making an annual trip down to the tropics to get his fill of surfing for the year. “I started out going to Costa Rica,” Bill said. “Then I went to Mexico. My first trip to Mexico was pretty much just a magical trip. This was 16 years ago. It was very uncrowded. Things weren’t so Americanized. The climate was absolutely perfect in the wintertime, and there were waves, great waves. At that time it started out as

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High Country Magazine


“To me, being able to watch your friends surf them and have a good time on them—that’s almost as much fun as surfing it myself.” Bill Pressly

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a couple of weeks. The next year I did two or three weeks and then each year I kept adding a little bit more. At the end, just before I sold the bike shop, I was going for two to two-and-a-half months. Then, as soon as I sold the business that’s when I spread it out. That first year after I sold the bike shop, I spent three to four months down there, just surfing, hanging out with friends.” After his return to Valle Crucis, Bill

knew exactly what he wanted to do with his free time—he wanted to start shaping his own boards. “That’s the very first thing that I decided to do: make some boards just for myself and a few friends. So I ordered up some blanks and a few tools and got to it. The first board I made was a reshape from a board I bought from the North Carolina coast in the late ‘70s that was sitting in front of someone’s yard with a $25 sign. So I bought that in the

July 2011

High Country Magazine


Bill spends about half of the year chasing surf from Carolina to Mexico. To view photos of Bill’s handmade surfboards, click to

‘70s. I surfed it. Kept it around for friends to ride. It was a 9-foot-8-inch Con Wing Nose. And it was a beast. It was very, very heavy, water logged, falling apart. So it sat under the house for years. But I lugged it around everywhere I went when I’d move. When I decided to make boards, I decided to start from that. That blank had a history. I’d surfed it. If I screwed it up then it wasn’t a big deal. So I stripped down the old board and started shaping. I used no power tools on that one. I just wanted to go through it slow and feel it all, learn to understand the rails and the foam and how it cuts and works. When I finished it up, I waxed it, surfed it once and put it on the wall. And then after that, I really got 112

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into making boards.” He worked through the summer shaping his first surfboards, and when the colors of autumn faded and the cold winds began to blow, he loaded his truck with a quiver of fresh boards and pointed it West toward the setting sun and Mexico. “When I went to Mexico that year I took about four boards with me and I surfed them, and I let my friends ride them. I really didn’t have any time on them before I left. I had no idea if they were going to work, but they did,” he said. “It’s a pretty cool feeling to surf a board you made. That, that feeling, that was enough right there to pretty much at least guarantee that I was going to keep

July 2011

making boards for myself.” So he did. He came back to the mountains of North Carolina to his small shop in the valley, and he kept right on where he left off. Slowly and surely he refined his technique, improved on his designs, learned what worked and what didn’t by how the boards felt in the water, and he made boards that made him happy. “It’s a great feeling to come up here [to my shop] or go surfing and decide on something that I want to change. A different style that I might want to try with my surfing, a different turn, and then come home and make a board that allows that to happen. Then, to go back down to the coast the next time and put it in

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the water and see that come to life and feel it—there’s just something about that that brings me satisfaction and joy.” Over time, his friends and their friends started asking if they could ride his boards, check them out, see what they were all about, and Bill obliged, learning that their stoke fuels his fire. “To me, being able to watch your friends surf them and have a good time on them—that’s almost as much fun as surfing it myself.” Bill’s shop is six hours from the nearest surf break, six hours from the sounds of waves peeling down an empty beech, six hours from friends stopping by to say hello, drink a beer, shoot the breeze. That bit of separation that he has from the surf break to the shop is important. Bill gets his inspiration from the coast but needs the serenity and peace and quiet that comes with living and working in the mountains to get things done. “When there are waves, I want to be out surfing,” he says. “So if I was there all the time, and the waves were good, I would be surfing. I wouldn’t get much work done. Up here at least, I can choose to let those days that are very marginal go and save my energy and my time for the days that are really good. “Don’t get me wrong,” Bill explains, “I’m always checking surf reports and weather charts two or three times a day when there’s something happening. I’m always planning ahead so I can drop everything and go if a swell comes in—and I pretty much do. Most of the time, when there are waves, I go. But I think if I lived 10 minutes from the beach, I’d be making that 10-minute drive to the beach five times a day checking it. Sometimes, living here in the mountains, it allows me to just get into it. Sometimes I’ll be in the shaping room and I’ll step outside and it’s dark and I have no idea where it went.” On a rainy afternoon on the first day of summer, Bill is hard at work. He is wearing a respirator mask as he puts the finishing touches on a new shape. On the different workstations in his shop are three more nearly completed boards in various stages of completion. Upstairs is a room full of foam core blanks. Bill makes surfboards— for himself and a few friends—and he plans to keep it that way. “I was talking to a friend the other day and he was just like, ‘Yeah, you know, I guess you make the best boards in Valle Crucis.’ Yeah, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.”





July 2011

High Country Magazine


Linville Land Harbor

Photo by Carly Fleming

A Happening Place Story by Harris Prevost


High Country Magazine

July 2011


Airstream that was called a “land yacht.” Since recreational vehicles were the primary focus of the development, “Land Harbor” would be an anchoring place for the land yachts of the RV world. Linville Land Harbor’s 1,000 acres were originally divided into 1,933 lots. Most of the lots were for RVs or Port-AHomes, a small, livable house with an RV parked beside it to expand its living area. Some were for Park Model Units, which are RVs that, according to Perry, are meant to be “destination motor homes.” They do not have self-contained water and sewer and thus once in place, they stay put. These units typically were attached to decks and storage units. The rest of the lots at Land Harbor were for homes. Since RV lots were extremely small, they made up 1,510 of the 1,933 lots. Houses took up 372 lots, and PortA-Homes and Park Model Units occupied the remaining 51 lots. Later, housing and travel trends shifted to more demand for houses than RVs. Dennis Lehmann, who helped lay out lots for camper sections and cottage areas said, “The project was too nice. People wanted to stay here longer and longer, so we took out many of the camper lots.” By the early 1990s, two additional Land Harbor sections for houses were added, and many of the RV lots had been combined and converted into home sites. Thus, the number of developed lots dropped to 1,641, and of those, house lots more than doubled to 871.

he view you see of the lake and its surroundings as you drive two miles south of Linville on U.S. 221 is one of sereneness and beauty. It looks like a nice, quiet, nothing-happening type place to chill out on a lazy summer day— but don’t be fooled. Beneath the leaves that block out the ground level view lies a vibrant community of more than 1,400 homes. Its residents are filled with energy, and they have a great time enjoying each other’s company. Welcome to Linville Land Harbor. It’s a 42-year-old recreation-based community like no other in the High Country, or for that matter, anywhere else! Land Harbor is a unique development concept designed around a centerpiece 48-acre lake. About 15 percent of its residents live there year-around, with the rest seasonal or on weekends. If Land Harbor were incorporated, it would easily be Avery County’s largest town. The resort has more residences than all the other golf communities combined, and if it were incorporated, it would easily be Avery County’s largest town.

What Is Linville Land Harbor?

The Land Harbor concept came from the creative minds of the Robbins brothers—Grover, Harry and Spencer—who founded the Carolina Caribbean resort development company and brought us some of the High Country’s most famous landmarks. Those include Tweetsie Railroad and the Hound Ears Club and, under the auspices of Carolina Caribbean, the Beech Mountain golf course and ski resort, the Land of Oz attraction and Linville Land Harbor. The Elk River Club, ranked among North Carolina’s top 10 golf courses, came later. With Land Harbor, the Robbins’ idea was to build a recreation resort for people who take vacations or extended-stay trips using their campers or recreation vehicles (RVs). Those who purchased an RV site could come and go as they pleased in their RVs and even rent their lots out to other RV vacationers. Back in that day, an RV was a travel trailer hooked onto the back of a car. “Those days are gone,” said Jim Perry, who heads up property sales for Land Harbor. “Now, people have motor homes that can cost over $1 million.” Campers were the rage in the late ‘60s/ early ‘70s, and the lake-based RV recreational area concept excited the Robbins so much that they decided Carolina Caribbean would build other Land Harbors—

Photo by Carly Fleming

one north of Myrtle Beach and 20 in Florida—and then franchise the concept across the country under the name “Land Harbors of America.” Carolina Caribbean began purchasing land to build Land Harbor in 1968. By July 3, 1969, its real estate office was open for business under the direction of Rev. Ben Lee Ray and a 24-year-old Lees-McRae grad—Perry. Today, Linville Area Mountain Properties, the original sales group, operates independently from the resort. Spencer Robbins said, “Jimmy was one of our best salesmen at Beech Mountain, and we needed a strong person to get Land Harbor started off right.” The Land Harbor name came after the property was purchased. Robbins thinks maybe his brother Harry came up with the name, but some think it came from a real estate salesman for Carolina Caribbean who owned an

So Much to Do!

Golf is the featured activity at Land Harbor, but it is less so than at any other High Country golf community. Only 30 to 40 percent of the residents play golf. Land Harbor has numerous other outdoor recreation options: fishing, beach bingo, boating, canoeing, tennis, walking trails, a heated outdoor swimming pool and shuffleboard courts. There is also a dog park. Indoors are even more activities. Bridge and other card games take place every day. There are non-denominational church services and men’s and women’s Bible studies. Exercise and yoga classes. Arts and crafts include knitting and crocheting, basket weaving, pottery, painting, drawing, quilting and stained glass. Jam sessions are scheduled each week for those who love to play musical instruments. Even more people love to dance to the music. Land Harbor brings in nationally known callers for its square dances, which many consider the best summer July 2011

High Country Magazine


Land Harbor residences come in all shapes and sizes. The original concept called for more RV-centered residences, but later houses became more popular. At bottom left is a Park Model Unit “destination motor home” and middle right is a Port-A-Home “small home with RV.” Photos by Peter Morris 116

High Country Magazine

July 2011

square dance program in the country. Want to shag, line dance or ballroom dance? You are at the right place. Saturday night is THE dance party, sometimes with a DJ, sometimes a band. And then there is the Show Group. There are many talented people at Land Harbor, and they love to perform. Each July, they treat sold-out audiences to a major production. Last year’s program was “American Bandstand,” and this year’s is “Country Jamboree.” Better get your ticket early! Land Harbor even has a group that re-creates famous oldtime radio series from the 1930s and ‘40s, when everyone listened to the radio. Sometimes they do mysteries, other times comedies. This year, it’s “Fibber McGee and Molly.” If there is a special event taking place at Land Harbor, it is usually accompanied by a party or a parade. Since 90 percent of the golf members have their own cart, on July 4 they have a Cart Parade! About 60 golf carts get dressed up for the “Show Your Colors Parade,” and prizes are awarded for the most patriotic and most original designs. If some people tell you there is nothing

to do around here, you know they aren’t from Linville Land Harbor!

The Golf Course

Land Harbor had an 18-hole golf course in its master plan from the beginning. “The land here is beautiful,” Robbins said. “It was a shrubbery farm when we bought it, and so was Augusta National when Bobby Jones acquired it. We could have built the Augusta National of North Carolina here, but that wasn’t what we were trying to do.” The front nine was a joint venture with architect Tom Jackson and Land Harbor’s Ernie Hayes. Jackson said, “Ernie and I collaborated on the design. I did most of the shaping and Ernie did all the drainage and the grading, and he grew it in. It was a fun course to build and play, and Ernie and I had fun together. I found him to be very personable, conscientious and capable. He wore a lot of hats at Land Harbor.” The course opened for play in 1972. The par 36 front nine measures around 3,000 yards, but small greens and wellplaced hazards make it a nice challenge. Don Hermon, a Land Harbor member, said, “Whoever designed the course did

Fishing is one of many popular recreation activities at Land Harbor’s 48-acre lake. Photo by Carly Fleming

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Golfers teeing off the par three 7th have a beautiful view of Grandfather Mountain in the distance. Photo by Carly Fleming

a pretty good job keeping you honest.” Tweetsie Railroad’s spur route from Montezuma to Pineola ran through parts of the front nine. The first hole is a great start to your round. It’s a downhill dogleg left par five, just under 500 yards long. A creek crosses the fairway diagonally about 120 yards from the green and feeds a pond to the front left of a small undulating green, with trouble all around it. The green is reachable in two, but a less-than-perfect shot can quickly turn into a double bogey. The front side occupies 53 acres and the back side only 23, making the whole course 76 acres. Generally, championship golf courses need at least 100 acres. The back side would have been longer, but Carolina Caribbean was beginning to have financial problems and it sold some pre-development contracts on property that would have been used for the course. After Carolina Caribbean declared bankruptcy, the property owners at Land Harbor took over the resort. The only acreage remaining was rough mountain terrain with little land suitable for a golf 118

High Country Magazine

course. Land Harbor’s property owners asked Hayes if he could design and build the second nine. It would take a mountain man to carve a golf course out of those ridges and steep hollows, and Hayes was that man. “I did several routings,” he remembered. “I finally figured out one that worked. Builders didn’t want to get involved, so we built it ourselves. Rob Bentley did the heavy construction and with Boyd Coffey and me, we made a great team.” The par 33 back side, only 1,927 yards long, makes the course just under 5,000 yards total. The back is different than any course you will play, but it’s fun. Four dogleg holes are lay-up holes where the tee shot is no longer than 130 to 180 yards. For safety reasons, Land Harbor rules prohibit trying to drive the greens on the lay-up par fours. Backside fairways are very narrow with trouble on both sides. Perhaps the most interesting hole on the back side is the 112-yard 17th. Many mountain courses have downhill par 3s with dramatic drops in elevation. This

July 2011

hole is exactly the opposite. It has a 75foot vertical uplift, making the hole play more like 130 yards. The green is only 11 yards wide and 20 yards long, and it is perched on a ledge. The hole was affectionately named “Ernie’s Revenge” by Land Harbor’s membership in appreciation for creating nine holes that no one thought could be built. The Land Harbor course and its greens of bent and poa annua are in superb condition thanks to superintendent Paul Waycaster and his crew; Waycaster is highly respected by superintendents in the area. Land Harbor is private: guests must play with, or be sponsored by, a member. The resort’s general manager is Mike Simpson and the golf shop manager is Bruce Abbott.

Land Harbor Property’s Incredible Previous Owner

At the turn of the century, the Linville area was so heavily logged that its nickname was “Stump Town,” and a large chunk of logging property south of Linville was owned by the Ritter Lum-

Ernie Hayes, Mr. Land Harbor Ernie Hayes, now 88 years old and retired, grew up in Blowing Rock with Spencer Robbins, and they have been lifelong friends and mutual admirers. Robbins says of Hayes, “We were on the high school basketball team together. Ernie was a great player using either hand. He and Carter Lentz were the best high school players I ever saw.” Hayes’ golf career started at age 13 as a caddie at the Blowing Rock Country Club. Robbins remembers his matches with Hayes in Blowing Rock and at Pine Needles, where he and Hayes played LPGA Hall of Fame golfer Peggy Kirk Bell and the head pro. “Ernie had all the shots,” Robbins said. “His swing looked as smooth as Ernie Els’. When he and Bill Greene played matches, everyone went out and followed them. They had some epic matches where both shot in the mid-60s.” Hayes won five Golf Course Superintendents Association of America tournaments, the Boone Club Championship and the Linville Four-Ball.

Jim Perry, Spencer Robbins and Ernie Hayes are long-time friends who played a major role in Land Harbor’s colorful history.

There were some exceptions to Hayes’ golf career along the way. He served in the Navy in WWII and was a Blue Ridge Parkway ranger for 17 years. For several years, Robbins was overseeing the operations of Goldrush Junction in Pigeon Forge (now Dollywood) and he brought Hayes over to run it for him. Hayes used his work ethic, his ability to work with others and inspire them, and his seemingly endless skills (he can fix anything) to work his way up to the top wherever he went. In addition to managing Land Harbor and being its golf course superintendent and course

builder, he was golf course superintendent at Hound Ears. Hayes is loved and respected well beyond the borders of his beloved Linville Land Harbor. In 2002, Steve Sheets, superintendent at Linville Ridge and at the time president of the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association, had the honor of presenting Hayes with its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award. Sheets, speaking on behalf of the association, said to Hayes, “Colleagues were quick to praise not just your knowledge and impeccable professional conduct, but also the generous spirit with which you shared your expertise.” Hayes was also honored by the Western North Carolina Turfgrass Association with an endowed scholarship in his name.

July 2011

High Country Magazine


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ber Company. In 1923, Howard Marmon from Indianapolis purchased a 5,000-acre tract from Ritter located within a triangle formed by Pineola, Montezuma and Linville. Part of this property, which Marmon named Hemlock Hedges, is now Land Harbor. When Marmon was a teenager, his family vacationed at the Eseeola Lodge in Linville, and he fell in love with the area. He later contracted tuberculosis, and his parents sent him to stay with friends in Roan Mountain, where he said clean mountain air helped him fully recover. Marmon was an engineering genius who designed and built some of the finest automobiles during the first third of the 20th century. After achieving success with his car company, he and his wife Martha returned to make the mountains their summer home. In 1909, his Marmon 32 won the first Indianapolis 500 race and by the next year, his cars held 61 out of the nation’s 70 official speed records. He was the first to install a rear-view mirror and a radio in vehicles. Marmons became the class of the automobile industry during their time. Amelia Earhart rode in a convertible Marmon in the New York ticker tape parade after her record-setting trans-

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High Country Magazine

July 2011

a Marmon family history expert. He shows one

by Peter Morris

July 2011

High Country Magazine


It would take a mountain man to carve a golf course out of those ridges and steep hollows, and Ernie Hayes was that man.

The short 17th, affectionately named “Ernie’s Revenge, “ is unlike any other par 3 in the state. It gains 75 feet of elevation in 100 yards. The tee, where the plaque is located, can be seen to the left of the green.

atlantic flight. It is said that Bonnie and Clyde even chose a speedy Marmon for one of their getaway cars. In the 1930s, the company merged with another company, changed its name to Marmon-Harrington, and made fourwheel-drive construction vehicles. The company still exists today as The Marmon Group, and it is owned by America’s premier investor, Warren Buffet. Doug Clark, a tree farmer who owns Christmas Corner in Pineola, is an expert on the history of Howard Marmon and his family. Clark’s tree farm lies on part of the property and contains the Marmon residence, servant quarters, guest houses and 122

High Country Magazine

garages where he housed Marmons for his guests’ personal use. Clark also owns two Marmon automobiles. “Marmon built one of the largest evergreen nurseries in the world,” Clark said. “It had white pines, rhododendrons, hemlocks and azaleas— same thing we have today. “Marmon built Anthony Lake in 1927 so he and his friends could enjoy it. He added a trout hatchery on the upper end of the lake and he stocked the lake, and also nearby streams, for local residents, with 250,000 trout every year. He was a fine man,” Clark concluded. Marmon was part of the country’s elite business fraternity. Some of his friends

July 2011

who visited him at Hemlock Hedges were Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Harvey Firestone. They would get to Johnson City, Tenn., and ride Tweetsie almost to his doorstep. The lake washed away in the 1940 flood, and Marmon didn’t rebuild it. After his death in 1943, his estate was left to his wife Martha. All his property was sold over time. The fish hatchery and 243 acres east of U.S. 221 were sold to the State of North Carolina. The lake bed and nursery were sold to Sam Mortimer of Newland and Frank Payne of Boone. The Marmons had no children, so Martha passed on the estate to her sis-

ter’s son Robert Morrison when she died. When Morrison died, he left much of the fortune in a trust that built Avery County’s Morrison Library. The trust also provides substantial continuing support to Cannon Memorial Hospital as well as the library. Marmon also owned about 200 acres in the lower part of the county that, through Morrison’s generosity, became Avery County’s airport.

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Dark Days and Bright Days Ahead

In 1968, Carolina Caribbean purchased the nursery from Mortimer and Payne and also the fish hatchery property to develop Linville Land Harbor. Their first order of business was to rebuild and improve the dam. Carolina Caribbean set up property lines in the resort so that no private property lines reached the lake, thus leaving a common area so all members have access to it. Lots were surveyed and laid out by engineers Harold Burkett and Ken Winebarger. Lehmann joined them later. Lehmann first worked for Willard Byrd, who did land planning and design work at Beech Mountain for Carolina Caribbean. Byrd designed the Beech Mountain golf course and was in line to design the Land Harbor course, but when Carolina Caribbean hired Lehmann away from him, he sued them for “stealing his employee,” and the Byrd relationship ended. Carolina Caribbean sent Lehmann to plan its Walden development in Charlotte (now Ballantyne) and the Carolina Shores and Little River Land Harbor (now called Windjammer) projects at Calabash. He returned later to Beech Mountain and Linville Land Harbor. In 1972, the Linville Land Harbor Property Owners Association (POA) was formed by Carolina Caribbean. People were buying property, nine holes of the golf course was open for play, infrastructure was in place, amenities were being added and things were good. Two years later, Carolina Caribbean was feeling a financial crunch due to overexpansion while using borrowed money. Then, the economy tanked, and interest rates soared to 20 percent. Carolina Caribbean could not generate enough property sales to pay for the high cost of its rapid expansion, much less the interest expense of a highly leveraged company. On September 12, 1975, Carolina Caribbean declared bankruptcy. What turned out to be Land Harbor’s darkest hour actually was the dawn of a new day. The bankruptcy courts awarded the Bank

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July 2011

High Country Magazine


Howard Marmon’s estate, through the generosity of his wife’s nephew Robert Morrison, has provided several million dollars to enhance the quality of life for the people of Avery County. Direct financial support built the library and helped build the Cannon Hospital, which houses the YMCA. The library has a reference book about Howard Marmon. Photos by Carly Fleming

of North Carolina ownership of Land Harbor in lieu of its $1.8 million claim against Carolina Caribbean. A number of speculators wanted to buy Land Harbor, but the bank felt the property’s best interest was with the property owners. It agreed to sell them the unsold properties, and it gave the POA a fiveyear option to purchase the front-nine golf course, the land reserved for the back nine, all Land Harbor recreation ameni-

ties and its utilities. Hugh McColl, representing the bank, and Boone attorney Banks Finger, acting as president of the POA, were instrumental in making the purchase happen. Since the POA was a nonprofit organization, it couldn’t engage in for-profit activities like selling property, so in 1976 it formed the Land Harbor Development Association (LHDA). It was responsible for the sale of

the lots and payment of debts while the POA operated the resort. The mid-1970s were rough economic years, so property sales were slow. Land Harbor’s finances then took a dramatic turn for the better. In the next seven years, a big increase in prop-

The Spirit of Land Harbor Frances Banner, Land Harbor’s business manager, has worked at the resort for 30 years, so she knows a little about the place and its people. “This is a wonderful place to work,” she beamed. “There are good people here. They are friendly. It is mind-boggling what the volunteers do. They love this place and have given generously to it and they help out in the community, too.” Land Harbor’s beautification committee keeps the grounds looking great with flower gardens and other plantings. Members do a clean sweep of the resort and the Linville River each July. They volunteer at their golf course and other recreational venues and on numerous other committees. They give very generously to an employee Christmas Fund; each full-time employee received a $700+ bonus last Christmas). Land Harbor residents are the primary source of volunteers for Cannon Memorial Hospital. They hold Red Cross blood drives and promote and participate in all kinds of local fundraisers for wor124

High Country Magazine

Photo by Peter Morris

thy causes from a Habitat for Humanity breakfast to a Yellow Mountain Walk-AThon. They are big supporters and volunteers at three other Avery institutions: Lees-McRae College, Crossnore School and Grandfather Home for Children. In addition to their volunteer work, Jim Perry says Land Harbor provides a significant economic boost to its Avery

July 2011

County neighbors. “Its 2,000 residents frequent area restaurants because they don’t have formal clubhouse dining,” he explained. “And they are everywhere in the shops and stores. People in Avery County know when they are back for the summer! We are proud to say that Land Harbor’s success is also our area’s success.”

that Linville Land Harbor was in excellent financial shape and that the second home housing collapse that has crippled other places has had a minimal effect there. Abrams praised the POA board and the membership for making “Linville Land Harbor an affordable paradise in the mountains.” Perry, with Land Harbor from the very beginning, reflected on what he sees today. “The Robbins family gave to the worker in a textile plant or furniture factory a class resort to enjoy that’s as good as those frequented by corporate presidents, but we have them, too. We are in the same general location. We have the same weather and the same wonderful community life. And we have the same essentials— the rescue squad is next door, and the hospital is only three miles away.”


Major contributions to this article came from Dr. Will Saunders’ very thorough “The First 25 Years, A Brief History of Linville Land Harbor” and Sally Treadwell’s excellent article in the April 2010 issue of High Country Magazine, “The Fastest Car in the World.”

Re Pr du ice ce d!

erty sales provided funds to meet debt service and make needed infrastructure improvements, to include building the back nine of the golf course. Land Harbor sold 200 of the acres across the road, improving its cash position even more. By 1986, the LHDA had completed its purpose so it merged into the POA. Land Harbor has thrived since. The resort made major utilities and infrastructure upgrades along the way and still operated basically debt-free. In 2008, it faced a new challenge. After hurricanes Ivan and Francis dumped more than 20 inches of rain on the High Country in September 2004, the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA condemned the dam and called for its complete replacement. The $6.1 million project was completed last spring, and the lake was filled after being dry for two years. Land Harbor planned to pay off the debt in five years, but after only one year, the debt is down to $1.3 million and the resort has cash reserves of almost $1 million. In the “President’s Report on the State of Land Harbor” in the resort’s June 2011 issue of its “Harbor Lights” newsletter, POA president Chuck Abrams declared

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������������������������� 90 Banner Elk Winery & Villa................................. 260-1790.......................119 Bear Creek at Linville........................................ 733-5767���������������������������� 9 Bella’s............................................................. 898-9022�������������������������� 36 Bella’s Bloomers.............................................. 295-4000.........................85 Best Cellar, The................................................ 295-3466..................... ....3 2 BJ’s Resort Wear.............................................. 898-4229�������������������������� 84 Blowing Rock Estate Jewelry............................ 295-4500...........................49 Blowing Rock Grille.......................................... 295-9474�������������������������� 30 Blowing Rock Valet Service......................828-414-9224........................113 Blue Ridge Vision ........................................... 264-2020 ����������������������� 113 Boone Bagelry................................................. 262-5585�������������������������� 35 Boone Drug Sundries....................................... 264-3766�������������������������� 35 Boone Endodontics.......................................... 386-1144������������������������ 102 Boone Mall...................................................... 264-7286�������������������������� 46 Boone Paint & Interiors.................................... 264-9220������������������������ 103 Broyhill Home Collections................................ 295-0965�������������������������� 45 Bulldog Beer & Wine....................................... 865-9663.......................125 Café Portofino.................................................. 264-7772 ������������������������� 27 Canyons.......................................................... 295-7661 ������������������������� 27 Capel Rugs...................................................... 295-9979.........................63 Capone’s......................................................... 265-1886.........................35 Carlton Gallery................................................. 963-4288������������������������ 120 Carolina Barbeque............................................ 737-0700�������������������������� 33 Casa Rustica.................................................... 262-5128�������������������������� 25 Celeste’s ........................................................ 295-3481�������������������������� 82 Celtic Building Company, Inc........................... 963-6229�������������������������� 73 Cf Home by Charleston Forge........................... 264-0100...................... . . . 5 0 Cha Da Thai..................................................... 268-0434�������������������������� 24 Changes Salon................................................. 265-4006�������������������������� 60 Char................................................................ 266-2179.........................24 Chick-fil-a....................................................... 264-4660�������������������������� 35 Classic Stoneworks.......................................... 737-0040�������������������������� 99 Crave............................................................... 355-9717�������������������������� 30 Crippen’s Country Inn & Restaurant.................. 295-3487.........................37 Crossroads Pub................................................ 266-9190..................... ....3 2 Dande Lion, The............................................... 898-3566���������������������������� 5 Dan’l Boone Inn............................................... 264-8657.........................28 Deer Valley Luxury Condos............................... 963-0219������������������������ 125 de Provence et d’ailleurs.................................. 295-9989...........................2 DeWoolfson Down ...................................... 800-833-3696 ������������������������ 7 Dianne Davant & Associates . .......................... 898-9887 ��Inside Front Cover Doe Ridge Pottery............................................ 264-1127�������������������������� 46 Echota......................................................... 800-333-7601 ��������� Back Cover 126

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Eseeola Lodge, The...................................... 800-742-6717����������������������� 26 Finder’s Keepers Antiques................................ 898-1925�������������������������� 61 Flora Ottimer Banner Elk 898-5112 / Blowing Rock 295-9112��������� 5 Foggy Rock Eatery & Pub................................. 295-8084.........................29 Foggy Mountain Gem Mine.............................. 963-4367.......................121 Foscoe Fishing Company................................. 963-6556.........................56 Fred’s General Mercantile Co........................... 387-4838 ������������������������� 90 Gaines Kiker..................................................... 295-3992���������������������������� 2 Gamekeeper..................................................... 963-7400 ������������������������� 29 Gladiola Girls................................................... 264-4120�������������������������� 80 Grandfather Vineyard & Winery......................... 963-2400�������������������������� 51 Greater Avery Tour de Art�������������������������������������������������������������������������� 123 Green Leaf Services, Inc................................... 737-0308���������������������������� 1 Hemlock Inn.................................................... 295-7987...........................2 Haircut 101...................................................... 262-3324 ������������������������� 85 Hardin Fine Jewelry.......................................... 898-4653�������������������������� 97 Hawksnest Zipline............................................ 963-6561�������������������������� 49 Hearthstone Tavern & Grille.............................. 898-3461.........................33 High Country Association of Realtors................ 262-5437.........................89 High Country Dentistry..................................... 386-1033.......................123 High Mountain Expeditions........................... 800-262-9036������������������������� 4 Homestead Inn, The......................................... 295-9559...........................2 Hob Nob Farm Cafe.......................................... 262-5000.........................24 Isley Construction Company............................. 898-7544.......................102 Jackalope’s View.............................................. 898-9004.........................36 Jo-Lynn Enterprises, Inc................................... 297-2109�������������������������� 73 Joy Bistro........................................................ 265-0600�������������������������� 32 Julia Tyson, DDS.............................................. 265-1112.........................90 Keller Williams Realty...................................... 386-1086...................... . . . 5 7 Keller Williams Realty / John Volpe.................. 386-1086...................... . . . 5 9 Keller Williams Realty / Nena Alsaker............... 386-1086...................... . . . 7 1 Keller Williams Realty / Karen & David Barker... 386-1086.......................106 Keller Williams Realty / Michael Parkins........... 386-1086.......................110 Keller Williams Realty /Eric & Crystal Brooks.... 386-1086.......................117 Lavender Fields................................................ 265-1029�������������������������� 85 Logs America, LLC........................................... 963-7755 ������������������������� 70 Lousiana Purchase........................................... 963-5087.........................41 M.C. Adams Clothier........................................ 268-1505�������������������������� 83 Makoto’s Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar... 264-7976�������������������������� 36 Main Street Antiques & Mercantile................... 898-8645.........................65 Manor House Restaurant at Chetola.................. 295-5505.........................37 Maple’s Leather Fine Furniture ........................ 898-6110 ������������������������� 79 Mast General Store .....................................866-FOR-MAST���������������������� 11 Mountain Bagels.............................................. 265-4141�������������������������� 28 Mountain Construction Enterprises, Inc............ 963-8090 ������������������������� 73 Mountain Dog & Friends.................................. 963-2470�������������������������� 91 Mountain Land............................................. 800-849-9225����������������������� 74 Mountain Tile................................................... 265-0472�������������������������� 75 Mountaineer Landscaping................................ 733-3726�������������������������� 77 Neighborhood Yoga.......................................... 265-0377�������������������������� 48 Nick’s.............................................................. 898-9613.........................38 One Venue Range / Jim Watts....................... 843-709-4969����������������������� 60 Page Dentistry.................................................. 265-1661������������������������ 120 Painted Fish Cafe, The...................................... 898-6800.........................39

Papa Joe’s....................................................... 295-3239���������������������������������������������������������������32 Park Place Florist............................................. 295-3626�����������������������������������������������������������������2 Precision Cabinets........................................... 262-5080���������������������������������������������������������������91 Primo’s............................................................ 355-9800���������������������������������������������������������������24 Proper Southern Food...................................... 265-5000���������������������������������������������������������������23 Pssghetti’s....................................................... 295-9855���������������������������������������������������������������41 Puerto Nuevo................................................... 898-3332���������������������������������������������������������������34 Red Onion Café................................................ 264-5470���������������������������������������������������������������31 ReViVe!............................................................ 295-7676���������������������������������������������������������������34 River’s Edge Outfitters...................................... 765-3474�������������������������������������������������������������107 Rug Company, The........................................... 295-4271�������������������������������������������������������������111 Rustic Rooster.................................................. 898-5161�����������������������������������������������������������������5 Seed To Plate................................................... 260-3090���������������������������������������������������������������34 Shannon’s Curtain, Bed & Bath........................ 264-8321���������������������������������������������������������������90 Shoppes at Farmer’s Hardware......................... 264-8801���������������������������������������������������������������19 Sorrento’s World Famous Bistro....................... 898-5214���������������������������������������������������������������26 Speckled Trout................................................. 295-9819���������������������������������������������������������������38 State Farm Road Apartments............................ 263-2341����������������������������������������Inside Back Cover Stone Cavern................................................... 963-8453���������������������������������������������������������������17 Stonewalls....................................................... 898-5550���������������������������������������������������������������36 Storie Street Grille............................................ 295-7075���������������������������������������������������������������31 Sugar Mountain Resort..................................... 898-4521���������������������������������������������������������������13 Sunalei Preserve.............................................. 263-8711�����������������������������������������������������������������3 Table at Crestwood........................................... 963-6646���������������������������������������������������������������39 Tatum Galleries & Interiors............................... 963-6466������������������������������������������������������������...73 The Silk Road................................................... 295-9455�����������������������������������������������������������������2 Todd Bush Photography................................... 898-8088���������������������������������������������������������������91 Todd Rice, Blue Ridge Realty............................ 263-8711���������������������������������������������������������������48 Vidalia............................................................. 263-9176���������������������������������������������������������������28 Wahoo’s.......................................................... 262-5774������������������������������������������������������.......101 Zuzda............................................................... 898-4166��������������������������������������������������������.......25

Sugar Top Resort Sales Dennis Lacey–Broker

Enjoy Breathtaking Views Prices Starting at $149,000


303 Sugartop Drive • Sugar Mtn, NC

July 2011

High Country Magazine


Parting Shot...

Ken Ketchie

Lonnie Webster By

Doc Comes Full Circle N

early 1,000 people attended the Doc Watson Sculpture Celebration at the Jones House to watch Doc Watson and his friends play music. The Jones House lawn, which is across the street from where Doc used to strap a tin can to his guitar and play for tips, overflowed with people who danced in the aisles and in the grass. John Cooper, who spearheaded the statue project, said gracious words before the music and thanked the supporters of the statue that rests at the corner of Depot and King streets. After the kind words, Doc mentioned his wife Rosa Lee, who has been in the hospital for several months. He said, “I’ve been married for 65 years and I wouldn’t take nothing for any of those years. I love to entertain people, and I love earning a living for my wife and my family.”

 Doc played with his friends, David Holt, Jeff Little, Charles Welch and Herb Key for an hour or so. In between songs, the musicians told stories about Doc.
Before the song, “The Train That Carried My Girl from Town,” Holt said the tune was the song Ralph Rinzler, who discovered Doc in the ‘60s, first heard Doc play. Rinzler was in another room and 128

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couldn’t see who was playing the song, but Rinzler knew it was amazing. “In some way [that song] was kind of a beginning for him,” Holt said after the show. Throughout the show Doc played an excellent set, but during this particular song, Doc seemed to perk up and the inflection of his voice was more commanding.
 “That’s one thing about playing with him now,” Holt said. “There are definitely flashes of the young Doc Watson.” When the concert was over, Doc received a standing ovation and the audience hollered, “Encore. Encore. Encore.” But Doc was done. The crowd filtered onto the closed streets of downtown Boone, and some gathered around the new statue. Lo and behold, Doc appeared and sat next to the bronze version of himself. Mostly he was silent, running his fingers over the sculpture as photographers scrambled for the once-in-a-lifetime shot. “It’s a special way to honor Doc because in the late ‘40s and ‘50s he played across the street,” Welch said. “It’s almost come full circle.” — Jesse Wood

July 2011

High Country Magazine


View of Grandfather Mountain from Chalakee


You’ve dreamed about a place of your own in the High Country. But why? Because you want the best view ever of Grandfather Mountain? An outdoor kitchen? Nine-foot ceilings and resortstyle amenities? Or is it because you want to make real, lasting memories with the ones you love? Chalakee is appropriately priced for today’s market with condominiums and townhomes from $199,900 to $599,900. See it for yourself. And you’ll understand that opportunity is not just about the time in the market. It’s about the time in your life.

Call 800.333.7601 to arrange a visit.

C HALAKEE The BesT e choTa YeT

Visit one of our sales offices located at Hwy 105 S, the entrance to Echota at 133 Echota Parkway, Boone, NC or 1107 Main St, Suite C, Blowing Rock, NC. Visit for more information.


High Country Magazine

July 2011

High Country Magazine | Vol 6 Issue 7 | July 2011  

Features: Eat, Drink & Be Merry: A History and Celebration of Dining in the High Country, Super Citizens Joan and Dick Hearn, Roller Derby W...

High Country Magazine | Vol 6 Issue 7 | July 2011  

Features: Eat, Drink & Be Merry: A History and Celebration of Dining in the High Country, Super Citizens Joan and Dick Hearn, Roller Derby W...