Friday, October 25, 2013

Show & Tell Friday: Fall Festivities & Quotes to Ponder On

I still look like I did last week. But I’m powering through.

Some good stuff to share on this cold October weekend:

Print1.) Halloweenfest & Osktoberfest in Transylvania County

I live in Transylvania County, North Carolina, and if you haven’t guessed from the name, we are serious about Halloween. This Saturday (Oct. 26th) is the annual Halloween festival. Downtown will be blocked off for food and craft vendors, stages filled with live, local music; there’ll be the annual Pumpkin Roll down the hill from the Courthouse, a hay ride, costume parade and more. After hours Oskar Blues Brewery will kick off Osktoberfest with food, music, and good beer. There truly is something for the whole family here!

The festival will also feature Mountain Mash, an old-time bluegrass competition, to be held at various times during the day.

For more info about Osktoberfest, and all the beers and bands, click here.

2.) Stingy Jack’s Pumpkin Patch

My family and I have been trying to get out to this quirky little blast of a Halloween event for

stingy logoa couple of years now.  We plan to make it happen before Halloween! Located on a farm in Pisgah Forest, NC, Stingy Jack’s only opens on the weekends and in the evenings, and has a pumpkin carving contest, a spooky trail, enchanted hayride, and something called Stingy’s Ultimate Pumpkin Chunker, which is sure to appeal to the kids and the dads in the crowd, especially.

3.) Quotes on my bulletin board

Yes, this is random, and has nothing to do with Fall festivities. Humor me.

This is my bulletin board. It hangs on the wall to the left of my neat-as-a-pin writing desk. Why are you laughing? It’s not my story board–that’s different, and contains all kinds of notes on scrap paper, photographs, and anything inspiring me or having to do with my work-in-progress. The bulletin board holds my calendar, photos, the little reminder cards from the doctor’s office, etc. It also has stuck to it whatever quotes are speaking to me, my life, and my current (often crazy) state of mind.

Here are a few that I’ve lately found to be relevant. Basically, they shout to me from the bulletin board.

“Your purpose in life is to find your purpose, and then give your whole heart and soul to it.”
~ attributed to the Buddha

“Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”
~ Confucius

“A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world.”
~ John Le Carre

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Photos from the Cataloochee Valley, North Carolina

Happy Hump Day, everyone!

It finally feels like Fall here in Western North Carolina. We woke up to 38 degrees this morning, which isn’t so unusual at all this time of year in the mountains, but hadn’t happened yet. If you’re planning to travel to see the leaves, especially on the Blue Ridge Parkway, this is definitely the time to do it.

Last week I posted about getting ready to head to the Cataloochee Valley of North Carolina to see the elk. Well, we went, we saw, and we had an incredible time. There were six of us: two of my best friends, one with her 2 year-old son, and me and my girls (ages 4 years-old and 5 1/2 months). We met in Waynesville, NC, which is about midway between all our towns and the Cataloochee Valley, regrouped, and caravanned into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We’d waited for two weeks for the government to reopen so we could go, so we were psyched to be there among the gold, red, and orange trees, the other visitors, and of course the elk.

Driving through the Valley this time of year is a little like driving through a less-crowded

picnic funversion of Yellowstone.

People stop their cars, hop out to take pictures, and get much closer to the wildlife than they should. This year there were signs near the road warning cars to stay out of the fields. You’d be surprised–or maybe you wouldn’t–at what some folks will do around wildlife.

Cough. Including us. We unfurled our picnic blankets in the middle of a meadow where a turn of the century (the 20th century) church sat, pulled out our PBJs, yogurts, Goldfish and hot chocolate (can you tell we were with kids?), and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. My 4 year-old and my friend’s 2 year-old ran around squealing like little happy banshees. (Yes, I know banshees are NOT happy. But that’s what they sounded like.)

During all this, my friends and I–all of whom have been outdoor educators and worked in the field–kept wondering aloud if it was really smart to picnic in the middle of the meadow during rutting season. But then we shrugged, since we’d done it before. About that time an enormous young male elk wandered across the creek from another meadow near by and walked right past our blankets. We gathered the kiddos close and stayed still. A park ranger with a big ol’ stun gun slung over his shoulder wandered our way and chatted with us while we watched it walk by.

Yep, we were THOSE people. We felt like idiots. But boy was it fun to see the elk up close!

looking at elk

The ranger told us that though the elk are doing fairly well, they’ve had a few die lately due to various causes, including being hit by a car, caught and tangled in underbrush, and shot by idiots. I mean people. One man apparently drove into the Cataloochee Valley, walked right up and shot one of the elk.

Eventually, of course, there’s hope that the elk will do so well that there’ll be a hunting season for them, especially since their ancient natural predators–mainly wolves and panthers–no longer roam the Southern Appalachians. But that’s a long time coming.

At the end of the evening, when the sun had set below the ridges and the clouded sky grew dark, we loaded up our cars and headed out of the Valley. One friend (sans kids) decided to camp. The other and I had to get our children home to bed. It was a 10-mile drive down a pitch dirt road to reach highway again. We all agreed we’d do it again in a heartbeat.

leaving the Valley