NC Trip Report

This is going to be a long posting since I’ve fallen so far behind and have so much to report from North Carolina.

Back from the big Anniversary bash in Franklin NC and I can’t recall ever having a better family gathering. The accommodations were fabulous, the weather was fabulous, and the company was fabulous. We were there for a full week with a base group of 9 that swelled to 21 for a few days. The youngest party goer was 3 and the oldest 73 with 4 generations represented including 2 great, great nieces. I think Fred and Martha traveled the farthest from Staten Island with little Tommy a close second, coming from Chicago. Simon was the closest, winding out his summer job in the Smokies less than 100 miles away. Franklin is located in south west North Carolina, close to the Georgia border and the Tennessee border and close to the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. And about a 2-3 hour drive for the Sheronik’s, Yearta’s, and Edwards’. The little Tennessee River runs through it flowing north to Cherokee NC. The cabin was located about 5 miles north of Franklin, a miles or so down a dirt road and directly on the river. Very isolated and private.

The cabin was large and luxurious. Because it was made of logs and out in the wilderness you have to call it a cabin but get any thoughts of primitive out of your head. None of us live in accommodations as nice as these – cable TV, wi-fi and heated toilet seats that had special plumbing and sprays attached (or so I’m told). Not counting couches, blow up beds and floor space, there were comfortable sleeping arrangements for 10. There were three social gathering areas – a large living room with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the river; a large deck out from the living room; a patio area down by the river complete with a gas log fire pit, a gas grill, and a wet bar. A typical night would find a monopoly game going on in the living room, a beer and wine social happening on the upper deck and a marshmallow roasting, wine event down on the river patio.

Aside from catching a few smallmouth bass from the deck, one feature of the cabin that particularly appealed to me was a couple of rows of blueberry bushes, 20 plants, out the front door. They were loaded with berries and we picked them as needed on a daily basis. Still, there were more berries ripening than we were eating everyday so we did a large final picking and have them in the freezer here already. I can assure you that the next group to occupy the cabin will have just as many to deal with, there were that many red berries and blossoms on the bushes.

Insofar as other activities, during the day there was nominally a group floating tubes on the river; a group playing some lawn game; a group at a local U-Pick vegetable farm; a group trying there luck at one of the local gem mines; a couple fishing; or a group taking a generic sight seeing trip in the mountains to local eateries, antique shops, or souvenir hunting. One trip was particularly memorable for me. We were on a windy mountain road following a white water creek when right in front of us a kid jumped off a cliff into a pool below. We stopped immediately and Simon said it was “butt buster falls” and that he’d jumped it before. So he stripped down to his underwear and gave us a breath taking demo off the cliff 30’ above the pool. I flashed back about 15 years when he did the same thing during a camping trip at Starvation Reservoir in Utah.

The fishing could have been better but only because the river itself was running fast and muddy from heavy rains a few days before we got there. By the last day it had dropped a foot, slowed a bit, and was much clearer so I managed to catch 4 bass including one pretty good one just fishing from the deck. Tom had gone off hiking while I caught the fish so he took his rod with him on the next float tube trip and hooked two bass. Think about trying to land a nice bass while floating in a tube downstream about 3 mph. Maybe next time we go we’ll catch the river at a better time and get quite a bit more time fishing. There’s a place close by that rents canoes for a 7 hour float. I did that trip a few years ago and we caught a grundle of fish so I know it’s a productive area.

We took a small detour on the way home to stop at a place Tom recommended called Mercier Orchard. It’s in Blue Ridge Georgia and they had stopped there on the way up and purchased some fresh made fruit pies and other goodies. It was well worth the extra time. We ate breakfast there – excellent biscuits-then picked up peaches, nectarines, apples and assorted fried pies, a house specialty. And while on the topic of food – we all ate out one night at a place called the Dillard House in Dillard Ga., about 10 miles from the cabin. It’s home style, all you can eat Southern cooking. If you’re into southern style vegetables, it’s worth driving 100 miles out of your way. I don’t know if it still is or not, but at one time, it was Tom’s favorite restaurant in the galaxy.

The rest of the trip home was uneventful – just what we wanted. We had a 4 car caravan going for 90% of the trip and split up just south of Gainesville. We did nothing but unpack last night and then crashed but first thing this morning I got started cleaning up the garden and Nancy started cooking the stuff we’d picked in NC. That means a dozen or so large stuffed bell peppers and a few peach/nectarine cobblers and crisps.

I observed one social factor that I call the I Phone circle. That’s when a small group, 4-6 maybe, sit around with each other but are digitally communicating with others not in the group. So they are physically with one set of people but mentally with another. Several times there would be 3 such independent groups doing their thing, one in the living room, one on the outside porch and another down on the patio by the river. There could even have been another in a bedroom that I didn’t see. It reminded me of my college days when you’d go to the library and there were students clustered around tables, each person doing his own thing-reading, writing or whatever but there was zero communication between those around the table; total silence. A couple of times I thought about the old song that has the line “Love the one you’re with” and thought a more appropriate line for this generation would be: “be with the one you’re with.” There were 4 of us super senior citizens – 70+ and electronically deprived- and we would naturally cluster to have conversations among ourselves the old fashioned way; you know with facial and other body gestures and with verbal ramblings that could extend beyond a fixed number of words.

I’m going to post this but I’m sure there are loads of anecdotes that I’m not including.

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