Step Into My Cave…

I’ve been a very bad blogger lately. It seems like the warm summer days are flying by in a blur of activity, one melting into the next. I’m surprised each night to find that I’ve barely had time to sit down before bedtime rolls around. And I’ve been working more, somehow, instead of less. Things on that front are very stressful and insanely busy due to staff shortages.

On a happier note, I have managed to squeeze in some scenic and interesting family day trips. The photos you see were taken at Linville Caverns, which is inside a mountain about 2 hours northeast of Asheville, NC. These are a few of the formations that have been created by water pressure over eons. The colors are the product of various minerals and semi-precious gems.

The caverns actually have 3 levels, but the public is only allowed to tour a small portion that has been stabilized. There is a “bottomless pool” that runs beneath the structure. Apparently, scientists have tried to measure it’s depth on several occasions using various tools, but they have yet to find the bottom. A nifty part of the tour involves having visitors wiggle their fingers in front of their eyes and then turning off all the lights. This is said to be one of only two places where one can experience the complete absence of light, the other being the bottom of the ocean.

I think they were mistaken, however. The third place would be a hospital lab:)

 

 

Daily Prompt: In the Summertime

Ahhh, summertime! I can feel you so near, yet you tease me like a child playing peek-a-boo behind a picket fence, just out of reach. How I long to spend lazy days with my face turned toward the sun’s warmth, one toe dangling effortlessly in a cool, crisp stream.

And summer is the season of grand adventures, big and small. Whether on the road or in my own backyard, I am a curious wanderer, always seeking new experiences to feed my soul.

The pictures above were taken during a recent glorious stretch of warm summer-like days at a Mennonite farm less than 30 minutes from my house. The family lives in the top story of a white farmhouse, while the bottom holds a country store and deli. They bake bread and pies daily in the “garage” and sell non-homogenized milk, free-range eggs, and a myriad of jams, pickles, and dry goods. A friend and I ate delicious sandwiches on the wide front porch while gazing through the gardens at the blue mountains in the distance.

Summertime….haven’t we waited long enough?

Shades Of Fall And Echoes Of The Past

GUEST CANCER JAM OF THE DAY (really awesome live performance):

We ventured out on Saturday to catch the last glimpse of golds, oranges and reds splashed across a Fall tapestry of rugged mountains. It was a cool crisp day adorned by a bright blue Carolina sky.

Our adventure took us to  Cataloochee in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, about an hour southwest of Asheville, NC. The name Cataloochee comes from the Cherokee “Ga-da-lu-tsi”, meaning “fringe standing erect”, a reference to endless rows of tall evergreens surrounding the lush, fertile valley. This was a tribal hunting ground for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians before the white men came in 1814.  Early Euro-American settlers were friendly with their Cherokee neighbors, even becoming fluent in their language.

Pioneer families in the Cataloochee valley were rugged and independent by necessity in this rural Appalachian outpost. They raised sheep, cattle and hogs on the rich pastureland and traded furs for such necessities as lead, salt, and coffee. Although they were on good terms with the native people, they were sometimes raided and killed by rogue bands of Cherokee.

By the 1930’s, most of the residents of Cataloochee were forced out by eminent domain as the area was turned into a National Park. Many of the original buildings still stand, including one of the original homes, the one-room schoolhouse, and a small church.

.As we toured the Caldwell house, built in 1898, we came upon what must have been a teenager’s room. It was completely papered with tattered pictures out of an old Sears clothing catalog, circa 1920’s. We could almost feel the giddy excitement of the girl who inhabited this room. Did she dream of leaving her sheltered valley becoming a flapper like the glamorous models covering her walls? Did she even know about life in places like New York City? Or was she resigned to being a pioneer woman, sewing shoes for a dozen children out of the remnants of old felt hats?

Before we left the Park, we stopped to admire the growing herd of Elk which were reintroduced in the region over 10 years ago. Elk roamed freely in these mountains in the 1700’s but were driven out by overhunting and population growth. Obviously comfortable with the constant parade of tourists, the elk barely flinched as throngs of eager photographers edged toward them in the grass seeking the perfect shot.

I stood still for a moment before we got in the car and took it all in. As I closed my eyes, I could hear the rhythmic beating of the deerskin drums and the soulful chant of the Cherokee song. I could smell the seasoned oak of the campfire burning under a clear starry sky. Sometimes the most amazing history lessons are in our own backyard.

Adventures Of The Bald And The Breastless, Part 1

80’S CANCER JAM OF THE DAY:

As promised, today I am bringing you a photo pictorial of my weekend trip to downtown Asheville with the girls. Many pet names have been bestowed upon Asheville by the local residents; “Freakville” and “Ashvegas” come to mind. Many people sport the bumper sticker “Keep Asheville Weird”. We take pride in the fact that we live in a city where you can eat lunch flanked by a lawyer in a business suit on one side and a stoned Reiki master Gypsy named “Flower” on the on the other. And all the magic happens while you are being served by a dreadlock-laden philosophy student who only wears shoes to work.

Enjoy. I promise you’ll want to visit soon. Sure you can sleep on my couch:)

We ran across this jazz ensemble playing ragtime for money on the street. They were trying to make a name for themselves, and they were awesome.

Don’t worry, I have more for you next time! This was only two streets worth of fabulous sights.