Friends in the Mountains

I think it was Marie at Blue Ridge Blog that first pointed me to the Hillbilly Savants Blog. Since her tag line is…”All I need is an outhouse and a dream….” I thought this link back would be appropriate.

The shack out back

Tennesseans called it the “la-la.” Elsewhere known as the john, the shanty, the shack, the throne, the shed, the relief office—it was the humble outhouse. The little buildings “out back” were as important as any building built before indoor plumbing. This was the building you located as soon as possible when you came to visit, and if your guest was the preacher, you invited him outside on some pretext so he could spot “the necessary room” without asking.

Take a minute and wander over and sit a spell…They serve up some interesting storytelling.

Source: Hillbilly Savants: The shack out back

I want to apologize for the fact I seem to be letting this blog slide a little as I post my daily muses at Coffee Muses these mornings. I’ll try and figure out a better method of keeping track of where I need to be spending some time soonest…

Story of Place – Mountain Dreams

I find that most of the places I have come to love in my search for my “North Carolina Mountain Dream” revolve around stories. Not just stories of the past, either. Many of the stories are being written by others who love these places. Each of the stories that have touched my life and heart are by special people who have a dream, a vision they wish to share, a myth they wish to live.

What originally brought me to Valle Crucis was just such a story. It was the story of the renewed life of an old time staple of this mountain village, The Mast General Store. I was intrigued by the history and the revival following the purchase of this once vital center village life by the Coopers. I no longer remember exactly how I serendipitously stumbled upon their website back then because I had no knowledge of the area what so ever.


My one and only trip into these eastern mountains had occurred a few years earlier during a business trip to Charlotte. I had only driven a couple of hours down the Blue Ridge Parkway on a day off during that stay. I had started my drive in Little Switzerland and headed south until the road was closed (this was early March) then turned around and drove north to Blowing Rock. So as I planned that first family trip for August of 2003 I surfed the internet for anything I could find out about North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

There were three websites that I stumbled upon then and have been bookmarked ever since that first virtual exploration. They are (in the order I discovered them, I think):

  1. The Mast General Store
  2. Grandfather Mountain
  3. The Orchard at Altapass

Each of those places have a story to tell…A story of the past and the people who lived there…A story full of people who love the place and are willing to fight for it…A story that will carry on into the future as new people discover and love these places. It was the story of Valle Crucis that led me to book a cabin up on the side of a mountain that first year. It was all of these stories and more that keep me coming back. Sitting out on the porch each morning with that first cup of coffee is where my mountain dream was born.


And it was the “News from Valle Crucis” newsletter published by the Mast General Store I subscribed to back in 2002 that made me feel like I could learn to love this mountain village and the daily life they lead there.

In the coming weeks I will try to tell some of the stories I have learned about these places, and others, that have come to be encompassed by my “North Carolina Mountain Dreams”. I am going to start a new category for these posts, they will all be tagged as “story of place”. I hope to build something here that will be usable as a reference and inspiration for others so…”bear” with me as I map out the path I will follow.

For anyone looking for the meandering muses I posted here in the past…I am now serving them up over at Coffee Muses. Stop on by and sit a spell…