Jochen Lucke

Hot Spot Day Trip

Even just twenty years ago, Greenville was far from cool.  Many described it as a decaying town with few job prospects and a waning population due in large part to the mass exodus of the textile industry in the 60s. Fast-forward to today and Greenville is on fire! It is not only a hot destination but also a vibrant and bustling city boasting a fast-growing population of almost 70,000. CNN Money has ranked Greenville as one of the Top 10 Fastest Growing Cities in the U.S. while in 2017 Condé Nast Traveler ranked it as one of the best small cities in America. The secret is out, making it a great time to plan a visit to Greenville now. 
Only an hour and a half drive from Cashiers and a little more from Highlands, Greenville makes an exciting day trip (or overnight) to experience all that this vivid city has to offer. Between their array of live music, historic sites, over one hundred restaurants, festivals, and outdoor fun, this is a small city with a fast pulse.
If you arrive early enough for breakfast, make your way to Biscuit Head for one of their specialty biscuits, like their decadent pulled pork, jalapeno pimento, bacon, poached egg, and maple syrup option. In keeping with southern tradition, their biscuits are the size of a cat’s head. This small breakfast/lunch chain based in Asheville makes you break any diet in a snap, but then again Greenville is not a place to go on a diet. It’s a foodie town.
Before even thinking about your next meal, work off that biscuit by walking or biking the Swamp Rabbit Trail, a 19.9-mile scenic path created on a historic rail bed. This well-maintained, paved trail offers gentle walks or easy rides along the Reedy River and through Falls Park, a 32-acre park that runs through downtown. One of the most photographed parks in all of South Carolina, Falls Park should not be missed with its abundant lush green spaces, scenic overlooks, botanicals, waterfalls, and the architecturally renowned suspension Liberty Bridge. For bike rentals, Reedy Rides, or Sunrift can set you up for just about any outdoor sport. For more active cyclists take the Swamp Rabbit all the way to Traveler’s Rest, a tiny town nine miles away, which was once a “resting spot for weary travelers” and home to several Indian tribes.
For guided excursions, there are tours for history buffs, food lovers, and adventurers. Greenville Glides offers a popular guided Segway tour, a refreshing way to see the sites. For baseball enthusiasts, the Greenville Drive, the Class-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, plays competitively at a downtown minor league ballpark resembling Boston’s Fenway Park where spectators lounge on picnic blankets. Greenville was home to legendary baseball player “Shoeless” Joe Jackson whose one-time residence is now a memorial library and small museum.
Greenville’s very walkable downtown has a charming Main Street area chock full of outdoor cafes, specialty stores, a historic district, museums, and even a zoo. Looking for a nostalgic place to shop with kids of all sizes, look no further than Mast General Store, which is a step back in time. For trendy home décor, Vintage Now Modern on South Main is a definite stop for one-of-kind items. A few miles off of Main, West Greenville Village is an area getting a total makeover with many eclectic boutiques, coffee houses, and artisan pop-ups. 
Greenville’s devotion to food is abundant with choices to fit all tastes, budgets, and occasions. When you are ready to break for food, a favorite eatery for a relaxing wine lunch is Le Passerelle, a casual French bistro located at the base of Liberty Bridge overlooking the Falls. For a lively culinary experience try J Rz, a family-style farm-to-table Greek restaurant. Craving a burger and a draft from one of the local breweries? Stop by the gastropub called Nose Dive. If a picnic is more your style or you want to pick up some culinary specialties for home, stop at Caviar & Bananas just off Main on North Laurens Street. Post lunch, and to settle your food coma, stroll to Methodical Coffee at 101 North Main or CR Tea off of South Main for an afternoon “pick me up.”
If you can stay into the night or overnight, catch a show at the Peace Center’s Gunter Theatre which hosts everything from ballet to plays to comedic and musical acts. Theater is nothing unless paired with dinner on the town, but with the culinary mega show going on in Greenville, the decision is a difficult one. A favorite among foodies is Husk, from the James Beard Award winner Chef Sean Brock (dinner only, closed Mondays), specializing in melt-in-your-mouth southern cuisine using local ingredients. Pre- or post-theater drinks are a must-do at either the rooftop bar of SIP Whiskey and Wine or go where the locals go for craft cocktails at Ink N Ivy. 
With so many enjoyable things to see and do in Greenville, if you should need trip planning advice for bigger groups or longer stays, professional companies like Tick Tock Concierge at ticktockconcierge.com will plan everything for you from soup to nuts. For day-tripping-made-easy, check out visitgreenvillesc.com for information on current events, festivals, retail and restaurant hours, and suggested itineraries. With moderate temperatures, Greenville is a year-round destination for playtime anytime with friends or family. •

Lunch off the Beaten Path

 

Journeying for lunch away from the 
familiar is a great way to learn about the area outside of your own backyard. While taking in the fresh, cool mountain air on your drive, you will come across spectacular scenery no matter which direction you venture. We have put together our top ten most interesting list of eateries with many being within an hour drive from the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau. As you meander toward your destination, take in the spectrum of color, the diverse terrain, and explore a bigger playground. Happy eating!

// Rizzo’s Bakery & Bistro
91 Georgia Road, Franklin, NC
Lunch Thursday-Saturday 10 am to 3 pm
rizzosbakeryandbistro.com, 828-369-7774

One of the closest destination lunch spots on our list, Rizzo’s is well known for their daily homemade breads and custom cakes, and most recently their mouthwatering lunch. With a daily changing menu, attention to detail is obvious with their creative use of locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. Make sure to save room for dessert!

We recommend: Baked In-House Tomato Tart or Quiche //Applewood Smoked Ham & Brie Cheese Paris Sandwich //
Barbara’s Meatloaf Sandwich

// Fortify
69 North Main Street, Clayton, GA
Lunch served Wednesday-Saturday 11:30 am -2:30 pm
fortifyclayton.com, 706-782-0050

Since the opening of Fortify in 2014, Clayton has never been the same. The dining scene was suddenly elevated by the partnership between award-winning Chef Jamie Allred and the seasoned restaurant manager Jack Nolan who teamed up to bring an inspiring new restaurant concept to town. Using sustainable practices by supporting local farms, this farm-to-table bistro offers New American fare in a hip, relaxed setting in the revitalized downtown of Clayton. With the success of Fortify, the owners seized the opportunity to grow into the next-door space with Fortify Pi, a gourmet pizza pub.

We recommend: Gouda Fritters // Fortify Reuben // Fried Oyster Plate

// Lake Rabun Hotel & Restaurant
35 Andrea Lane, Lakemont, GA
Open April-October for Sunday Brunch only 11 am- 3 pm
Reservations recommended
lakerabunhotel.com, 706-782-4946

A beautiful country road will take you around the magnificent Lake Rabun to find this well-hidden dining spot. While the historic hotel dating back to 1922 is interesting enough in itself, the superb restaurant is a recipient of several awards. Claiming to have started the farm-to-table movement in the area, the kitchen works with local farmers to bring the freshest of seasonal ingredients to their guests. Their adventurous cuisine is a fusion of American Southern with influences from France and the Middle East. On a nice day, ask for a table on the porch to sit under a canopy of trees and get a small view of the lake.

We recommend: Southern-Style Crab Oscar // Low Country Shrimp & Grits // Smoked Local Rainbow Trout Rillettes

// Fire & Water at Fire Mountain
700 Happy Hill Road, Scaly Mountain, NC
Open to the public seasonally for lunch only (call for hours)
Reservations required at least 48 hours in advance
firemt.com, 828-526-4446

Upon finding this magical spot just south of Scaly Mountain just off Route 106, you will be surprised you didn’t know about this well-kept secret. Opening as an inn some twenty years ago, a recent million-dollar renovation of the property allowed the owners to add a state-of-the-art kitchen, indoor/outdoor restaurant, and a chic water feature that breathes fire. The mountain views from this elevated plateau are spectacular. The ingredients are fresh and creative with all menu items sourced from their own backyard. It is nothing short of a peaceful, relaxed dining experience.

We recommend: Salmon Niçoise Salad // Vegetarian Club // Chocolate Mocha Icebox Cake

// Belle’s Bistro @ Chattooga 
Bell Farms 
454 Damascus Church Rd, Long Creek, SC
Open March 30-December, Tuesday-Sunday 11 am -2 pm
chattoogabellefarm.com/farm/belles-bistro, 864-647-9768

Along the Chattooga River at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this 138-acre working farm is set in a historic area of South Carolina that was the largest apple-producing area east of the Mississippi in the 1950s. Belle’s treats you to a diverse menu of farm-fresh local ingredients in a unique spot to gaze out at rolling hills, fruit orchards, and green pasture. After lunch, visit their distillery and pick some of the many varieties of fruit from their trees to take home.

We recommend: Bacon Herb Burger // Portabella with Cilantro Walnut Pesto on Ciabatta // Roast Turkey with Apple (from their farm) with Pesto on Ciabatta

// The Phoenix & The Fox
14 S. Gaston St., Brevard, NC
Lunch/Brunch Monday-Sunday 11 am- 3 pm
thephoenixandthefox.com, 828-877-3232

The restaurant movement of farm-to-table and locally sourced ingredients is also a big part of this American gastropub’s mission. Executive Chef Miles Hogsed offers inspiring organic menu items from local farms and many vegetarian options. Unique craft beers and cocktails also flow freely from the bar. 

We recommend: Classic Crab Hushpuppies // Apple, Bacon, & Brie Burger // Shrimp & Grits

// Frog Leap Public House 
44 Church Street, Waynesville, NC
Lunch/Brunch served Saturday and Sunday only 11am-3pm
Reservations recommended
frogsleappublichouse.com, 828-456-1930

Finding a good restaurant in the bustling town of Waynesville is not difficult, but this eatery stands above the rest with its inspiring Southern menu that changes daily. Executive chef and owner Kaign Raymond says, “We prepare everything from scratch and use local products in our bar and kitchen every day of the year to produce innovative, but simple interpretations of traditional Appalachian dishes.” Enough said.

We recommend: Butternut Squash, Chard, Chipotle Quesadillas // House Smoked Pulled Pork Sliders // Devils on Horseback

// Guadalupe Café
606 W. Main Street, Sylva, NC
Lunch served Tuesday-Sunday 11:30 am
guadalupecafe.com, 828-586-9877

This casual, vintage style dining spot calls its food “Caribbean-inspired fusion cuisine.” Of course, it too is sustainable and farm-to-table, but out of all of our restaurant recommendations, this one offers the most unique menu choices including many vegan and vegetarian options. From tapas to entrees, their menu has something for everyone and even allows diners to customize their own quesadillas, burritos, and nachos.

We recommend: Curry Bowl // Huevos Rancheros // Pulled Pork and Dark Cove Goat Cheese Tacos

// The Bistro at the Everett Hotel
24 Everett Street, Bryson City, NC
Brunch only; Saturday and Sundays 8:30am-3pm
Reservations strongly recommended
theeveretthotel.com, 828-488-1934

With a philosophy of “Eat with Integrity-Live with Gratitude”, the Cork & Bean Bistro, simply known as The Bistro, wants you to have a dining experience that engages all of your senses. The chef strives for food that is organic, local and seasonal while being influenced by traditional Southern cuisine. 

We recommend: Eggs Benedict // Breakfast Crepe // Pimento Cheese BLT

// Pisgah Inn
on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Mount Pisgah, Milepost 408
Open April-October, lunch 11:30 am- 4 pm
First come, first served, so go on “off” times
pisgahinn.com, 828-235-8228

The furthest of all of our lunch spots (a good hour and a half trip), this historic inn sits on property once owned by the Clinghams followed by the Vanderbilts at an elevation of 5,000 feet on top of Mount Pisgah. It opened as an inn in 1919 as a resting spot for weary travelers. Sitting majestically just off of the BRP (that’s the Blue Ridge Parkway for newbies), the Pisgah Inn calls itself “A window on the world.” Often it’s crowded and you’ll wait for a table, especially on the weekends, but there is a reason people go-the view! It is worth the drive.

We recommend: Walnut Crusted Mountain Trout // Mountain Fried Chicken //Blue Ridge Mountain Beet Salad •

Camp Merrie-Woode: Following the Gleam

If you’re lucky enough to live above Sapphire Valley’s Fairfield Lake, you’ve heard the mystical sounds that waft from the water’s edge on many summer nights. It could be, of course, the sounds of “Follow the Gleam,” Camp Merrie-Woode’s traditional final pageant. It could be the score from a musical performed by the campers in the drama program or just the voices of tired campers singing around the campfire.  Either way, it’s pure magic.
The campus itself is a jewel in the already-breathtaking Sapphire Valley of North Carolina. Founded in 1919 by Mabel “Dammie” Day, Marjorie Harrison, and Mary Turk, the camp pays homage to Dammie Day’s British roots with designations like King Arthur’s Court for the building that houses the gym and climbing wall. The Castle is home to the Merrie-Woode stage and theater classes, while Merlin’s Alderley Edge houses many of the summer staff. The infirmary, said to be staffed with the nicest nurses ever, is called Cloud 9 and the camp’s directors live in a beautiful home on the property called Tintagel, named for King Arthur’s father’s castle.
The current residents of Tintagel are Jim and Denice Dunn, who took the reins as directors in 2002.  The parents of two grown sons, they are now summer parents to hundreds of daughters and embody the enthusiastic culture which drives Camp Merrie-Woode.  Jim, formerly the headmaster of Summit Charter School in Cashiers, and Denice, a former engineer for General Electric, have been instrumental in Merrie-Woode’s participation in the wider community, by supporting a campership program, which provides funding for children with exemplary qualifications who otherwise would be unable to attend.  In addition, they have encouraged the use of the campgrounds during the off-season, welcoming after-school programs for the Boys and Girls Club of the Plateau as well as team-building activities for the New Century Scholars of Jackson County.
Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2019, the 435-acre campground has welcomed girls from around the mountain and around the world, holding fast to its original charter to encourage the empowerment of girls and young women through physical, intellectual, and spiritual growth. It is, perhaps, more than coincidence that the camp opened its gates the same year that women won the right to vote.
The campers who are lucky enough to spend their summer days here are designated according to age, as pages, yeomen, squires, and knights. And, in another nod to Merrie-Woode’s British roots, the centerpiece of the entire camp experience is the production of “Follow the Gleam” which reenacts the story of King Arthur’s quest for the holy grail.   
The alumnae are a loyal sorority. Many return to the camp as counselors, board members, or for reunions.  Dorothy Moss Williams, a curator at the National Portrait Gallery who spent more than ten years at Merrie-Woode, convenes with ten camp friends each autumn in the camp’s guest lodge, which is available to rent. Merrie-Woode is also a desirable venue for weddings, although the camp holds to a strict policy requiring that the bride be an alumna. Additionally, only four weddings may be conducted on the property per year and never during camp weeks.  The wedding of a former camper has been booked well in advance for the day after the August closing of this season’s final session.
Mary Leland Davenport Hutchison, who attended Camp Merrie-Woode during the 1970s and 80s, recalls a camp fundraiser she attended many years ago when she lived in Atlanta.  Husbands were invited and one seasoned spouse stood up to tell the gentlemen gathered: “You have married into a cult and the sooner you pull out your checkbook, the better it will be for you.” The camp’s alumnae have been faithful supporters of various fundraising efforts over the years, making possible such things as the 2005 acquisition of land across Lake Fairfield opposite the camp, which was poised for real estate development. To honor the 100th anniversary, a capital campaign has been launched to fund an endowment, as well as attend to several capital improvements. Hutchison, whose daughter Jane has also been a camper, says that raising money for Merrie-Woode is easier than most causes because of the common heart of the alumnae. “The Merrie-Woode connection is neverending. It’s just second family.”
Camp Merrie-Woode’s program today has four major components, each of which the campers may experience throughout their stay.  They are boating, horseback riding, mountaineering, and drama.  In addition, the girls have a chance to choose classes in multiple other sports, as well as traditional art courses such as dance, ceramics, and painting.  Knitting has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years and is now part of the offering.  Depending on a girl’s interest, she can earn recognition in any of these disciplines through extensive study and practice over several summers.  One camper may pursue becoming a Horsemaster, for example, while another seeks to earn a King’s Player designation for drama.
Founded as a Christian camp, Merrie-Woode is nonetheless inclusive. All of the campers participate in daily devotionals, with various cabins taking turns in leading them, and a weekly chapel service is held every Sunday in the outdoor stone amphitheater.
Alumna Madeline Edwards, who today works as a journalist based in Beirut, Lebanon, remembers her experiences in the drama program beginning in 2005.  She recalls being named a King’s Player, the highest designation possible, and receiving the King’s Player necklace from her best friend at the honor ceremony.  Later, as a counselor, she was a ringleader for creative undertakings like decorating the dining hall for Harry Potter night.  Borrowing old wedding dresses from the costume shop and covering their faces with white face paint, she and the other counselors entertained the campers from the rafters. Her passion for drama was honed as she played the role of Anne Frank one summer and, another time, garnered the role of Mozart in a performance of Amadeus.  But despite these exceptional experiences, she concludes that her favorite memories were “just any downtime spent with my best friends.” Her grandmother, Nancy Edwards, adds, most emphatically, that Merrie-Woode made her the young woman she is today.

For others, the outdoor experiences inform their eventual life path. Holly Pierce Ambler, who lives in Boone, North Carolina, spent ten summers at  Merrie-Woode, as both a camper and later as a counselor.  She began as a very homesick ten-year-old, sending home several impassioned letters the first week, begging her parents to come get her.  But somewhere into the second week, the counselor who held her in her lap at the nightly campfire and the others who urged her to try outdoor activities turned the tide, and she was hooked.  She admits that prior to her camp experience she had very little outdoor experience, but the summers on Lake Fairfield were so influential that she eventually earned a college degree in outdoor experiential education.  Her first post-college job was as an instructor at the National Outdoor Leadership School. As is often the case, her aunt, sister, and cousins are also alumnae.
Sara Elizabeth Jackson, a sophomore at Auburn University, is returning this summer for the 11th time. It will be her third year as a counselor, an experience she has come to treasure even more than her time as a camper. She loves seeing the young campers return year after year, noting their development, and considers it a privilege to encourage and guide them.  She has become what is called the “Weaving Head” in the arts department and supervises campers as they make pillows and seats for chairs or stools at the camp.  A business administration major, she thinks her passion for this art has developed because it provides such a wonderful opportunity to get outside of her element.
Director Denice Dunn acknowledges that changing times have demanded adaptation.  One such change came a few years ago when the campus became “unplugged,” meaning no cell phones, no iPods, no computers.  The only exception is the iPod in each cabin which contains the music the girls have chosen to enjoy together during “downtime.”  However, earbuds are completely off limits and Denice confirms that as soon as the new rules took effect there was a noticeable increase in conversation and singing on hikes, on bus trips, and around the camp.
But many things have not changed. Uniforms are a tradition, and except for the substitution of shorts for bloomers, not a lot has changed over the past 100 years. It’s all part of a culture that encourages a young woman to throw on a uniform, pull her hair back into a ponytail, and get on with the joy of self-discovery, unencumbered.
Rudi Robbins Pillow, who attended camp for three years beginning in 1964, notes that today’s technical world has created an overly competitive environment for young people and cherishes the fact that Merrie-Woode is one of the few places where a girl has only to compete against herself.  She learned to love hiking and canoeing during her camp years and has memories of three-day hikes in the Smoky Mountains. Her three daughters attended Merrie-Woode, as have three granddaughters.  A resident of Killen, Alabama, she recalls a recent family wedding which was attended by six Merrie-Woode alumnae from all over the country.
This year, Denice confirms a wide geographic diversity will be once again represented, with campers from 38 different states and six countries. Over 140 people will be hired for staff positions, many of them former campers who are returning as counselors. The return rate is enviable and several full-time directors of the camp were at one time campers.
The camp’s centennial is a good excuse to look back at the vision of the three founders who wanted to offer young women a chance to explore their capabilities and challenge themselves in a nurturing environment.  That vision has become laser-focused as the years have passed.  Whether a girl’s dream is to hike Old Bald Mountain, sing her heart out in a musical lead, or earn a Captain’s Hat for accomplishment in the water, it will all be hers for the taking beginning this June, as a new century of campers follow the gleam. Girl power is clearly alive on the beautiful banks of Fairfield Lake.

Pets on the Plateau

Lizzie Morse looks forward to her regular visits to the spa. There is nothing quite like the luxury of a gentle manicure, a stylish haircut, and a sumptuous bath. Her biggest concern of the day is which soap will be chosen: lavender and mint or aloe and coconut. Tipping may be appreciated, but Lizzie does one better: she leaves with her tail wagging.
Lizzie, you see, is one of many coddled pets of the plateau, a charming mixed breed rescue dog who hit pay dirt when she was adopted by Ruthie and Jack. Say what you will about the strong constitutions of mountain folk, when it comes to their pets, they are marshmallows.

To confirm this observation, go no further than The Village Hound, a home goods emporium in Cashiers which emphasizes canine comforts. Housed in a charming 1920s era building which is listed on the Historic Registry, the carefully culled inventory is a brilliant combination of lovely antiques and decorative dog-themed accents and accessories.
“Many of my clients are waiting for grandkids,” owner Lee Dages says, to explain the popularity of monogrammed dog blankets, sweaters, custom harnesses (fit is important for dogs!), and treats.
Lee is a passionate dog lover and “mama” to four rescue dogs who can be seen around the shop. Eve, for example, is a frequent sidekick, having been adopted by Lee at a Humane Society Gala where she lost her heart to the homeless chihuahua.
So passionate is she about dogs’ wellbeing, Dages began a dog biscuit company 24 years ago because she attributed dogs’ intestinal diseases to the ingredients in many commercial offerings. Made with quinoa flour, cut into fun shapes with doggy cookie cutters and never frosted, her treats fly off the shelves as testament to local owners’ devotion to their pets.
Dages identifies a certain personality who loves dogs as she does. “They’re homebodies,” she says, explaining that they love being in their home and that a pet provides the special ambience and good company to keep them there.
Cat lovers get a nod as well, as the shop offers cat paintings, a vintage cat calendar, catnip treats, and cat collars. But make no mistake, The Village Hound is first and foremost all about dogs.

Dages’ comments about the ingredients in dog treats leads one to Paws on the Mountain in the Ingles shopping mall, a friendly shop that caters to the responsible care and feeding of pets.
Matt Stanley, who with his wife Angel owns the Cashiers store, is a zealous proponent of nutrition for dogs, citing study after study revealing that dogs’ lives are shorter and more diseased today because of the processed ingredients in much commercial dog food. Stanley has a freezer brimming with organic meats and vegetables which clients from as far away as Greenville buy from him. He has developed a reputation on the Plateau for his passion for canine health and holds regular nutritional seminars.
But it’s not all serious, because he has a “self dog wash” in the back of the store, where for ten dollars an owner can bathe a dog using healthy shampoos (oatmeal and plum, for example), hair dryers, and big thick towels.
Dogs quickly learn that if they behave they will be rewarded with a treat for the ride home.
The store is also generously stocked with dog and cat toys and accessories.  One “regular,” a bloodhound named Star, very politely peruses the merchandise while his owner does a quick errand in the mall.

Not far away, on Highway 107, Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming is booking grooming appointments at a feverish pace. Julie Roberts, who manages the store, says that smart dog owners call in January and book for the whole season. Lilian Popescu, the shop’s groomer, who is certified by the Raleigh Grooming Academy, holds a record of sorts for having groomed seven Havanese in one day, which he says is almost as challenging as the two Newfoundlands he tackled in one day.
Woof Gang’s, which is one of 70 locations in the United States, also sells a wide array of pet treats, some of which are prepared in the Orlando corporate home office. But the oven in the Cashiers store sees lots of “doggy dough” as well, and the array of dog treats on a center table suggests a fancy bake shop.  Wolfgang’s is also a great stop for gifts for pet lovers, like the “sleeps with cats” nightshirt and the “no love like dog love” tee shirts.  

Another fun source for dog treats and accessories is Highlands’ Mountain Paws on Main Street. Check out the “chicken stogies” treats, that resemble cigars, and the wide array of treats from Smokey Mountain Dog Bakery. A line of locally produced “doggy cologne” is also available.
Of course, one can dial it up a notch and head for the nearest pet spa. Rayne Hellstrom, the assistant manager at Mountain Dog Spa on Highway 64 in Cashiers, oversees grooming, which includes “doggy manicures” and teeth brushing services, as well as boarding and, yes, day care. She says they have many regulars whose owners work outside the home, who are dropped off in the morning for the day. They are organized into play groups, based on size, temperament and energy and spend as much time outdoors as possible when the weather is nice. The hours of noon to two are sacrosanct, as the spa is closed to the public for “nap time.”
If you are boarding your dog, you can rest assured that regular play and exercise will be part of the day, and in the off chance that the power goes out in a storm, the spa shares a power circuit with Ingles so the lights will stay on!

Over in Highlands, Posh Paws Pet Spa also offers a wide variety of grooming services, from tooth brushing to toe nail service to a full groom service which includes a bath, blow dry, and full haircut. The spa does not board pets, but the four-legged clients awaiting service look very much at home beneath a floral fabric canopy in the window.

It’s also good to be canine (or feline) at Dogz Best Friend in Glenville, the personal passion of Susanne Anderson, a former physical therapist who opened the business four years ago. Her medical background makes her a natural for caring for pets who might need injections or medication for conditions like diabetes and epilepsy. Her cat guests hang out in the main office building, which has the feel of a comfortable family room, because they would find the dog kennel too noisy. The dogs have the run of a state-of-the-art kennel, which provides each pet its own indoor and outdoor space.  Pets from the same family share space to make sure they feel right at home.  All the dogs share a generous double-fenced outdoor play area, though they are sometimes separated by size and temperament. Susanne, who lives in a private home on the property, stresses that the animals are never alone, and that she monitors their wellbeing 24/7 with surveillance cameras.
Susanne has also been certified in dog grooming and says that her clients also tend to schedule their appointments for the year by February. But her first love is the interaction with the animals she boards, sometimes as many as 25 at a time. She points out Tristan, a gregarious poodle, whose “parents” are in Europe for three weeks. Tristan appears very much at home, as do the other dogs, some of whom are day care clients.
“The returning customers’ dogs get out of the car, realize where they are, and literally pull their owners in with the leash,” she says.

Humorist Will Rogers was quoted as saying “If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” True, perhaps, but if you’re lucky enough to be a pet on the plateau, you may be experiencing a little bit of heaven on earth, right here and now. •

Legendary Origins: Golf in Scotland

Scotland is significant to golf lovers around the world as the birthplace of the world-renowned sport. Noted as the most prized invention of Scotland, comparatively to whiskey, it draws visitors from all over the world to tour and play historic clubs that have been around for centuries. 

Golf was played in Scotland as early as the 14th century and possibly even earlier. Other countries have attempted to lay claim to the invention of the sport. However, there was one thing missing from their game formula: a hole. Driving a tiny ball through innumerable obstacles to eventually drop it into a tiny hole is a uniquely Scottish invention.

Originating on Scotland’s east coast, the game has since become part of the country’s spirit. Once the sport became popular in the 1400s, the government tried to ban the game because it took away from archery practice. Converting to the sport, King James IV helped to build upon the legends and soul of Scottish heritage. Golf had spread throughout Scotland by the beginning of the 17th centurythe same period the game was properly organized with rules of play. The national pastime is celebrated during the PGA Tour’s visit to The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, which was established in 1754. Several clubs try to claim honor as the first golf club in Scotland, as several started earlier or had to move locations to create a full 18-hole course or changed names. The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers Gentlemen dates to 1744 when it was known as the Golfers of Leith. 

It was not until the 1800s that golf became an international sensation. Tourists flock to Scotland to glimpse stone-lined historic courses and play what may become the most memorable rounds of their lives. 

Where to Play When Visiting Scotland?

Old Course at St. Andrews 
Edinburgh Area

A global household name, Old Course at St. Andrews stands iconic in the world of sports as the first complete course conceived in human history. Fairways, bunkers, hills, and greens mesmerize with hues of green and gold set among picturesque stone and architectural backdrops. The Swilken Bridge on the 18th hole has adorned television spots and photographs for years. Every name in golf has left a footprint on this par 72 course. 

About St. Andrews, Scotland - As the birthplace of golf (boasting 11 courses), this seaside village northeast of Edinburgh is rooted deep in heritage and pride. With twelfth-century cathedral ruins, along with remnants from a thirteenth-century castle and dungeon, its treasured Fife coastline remains a global spectacle for nature, wildlife, arts, and culture. 

Royal Dornoch
Highlands

Set amidst a village of 1,200 people, the links are storybook picture perfect. Royal Dornoch, one of the most elite courses of the world, was ranked number five globally by Golf Digest in 2016. I was honored to test my skills on The Championship Course, both a challenge and a delight. The landscape takes even the most well-traveled player’s breath away with its natural beauty and sea views. The par 70 course can add a few strokes if the wind blows across the curving bay of Dornoch Frith. Embraced by effervescent sandy beaches, majestic fairways run parallel to the shorelines across two distinct levels of ridgeline. 

About Dornoch, Scotland - Dornoch’s motto is “you can do it all from here.” It is a fairytale setting rumored to have played host to Madonna’s wedding to Guy Ritchie. While the golfers play, others may enjoy the quaint shops and cafés, or enjoy what Scotland is famous for—Scotch. If you love five-star dining, dinner at the Royal Golf Hotel is a must. The menu changes with the season, but they always offer something fresh from the sea.

Machrihanish
West Coast

This par 70 course set amid the sandy dunes and Atlantic Ocean winds can stimulate a challenging start to your game at the private course known as Machrihanish Golf Club. The majesty of the dunes and fescue grasses play well with the cry of the seabirds at this 19th-century course. 

About Argyll, Scotland - Experience the west coast of Scotland by viewing stone castles, exploring the sea, or getting outdoors in Argyll and the Isles. With over 3,175 miles of coastline and 60 castles, there are many activities from the mountains to the shore and 15 whiskey distilleries in between. This historic area is only a 20-minute flight from Glasgow and offers three golf courses and fresh fare from the sea. Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world are found here.
 

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A Good Walk Spoiled: A Self-Proclaimed Duffer Continues Her Golf Struggle

By all rights, I should have given up the game of golf years ago. There was the time, in the beginning, when I dutifully followed my husband to the practice range and proceeded to hit every golf ball in my bag with robotic precision. It was only as I swung at the last one that I noticed the huge baskets of range balls provided beside me.
There was the time I unknowingly wore a pair of my husband's many golf shoes that I had nervously pulled from the trunk of our car upon arriving at a friend's course. It was maybe on the second hole when I noticed I was sliding a bit in my backswing and I was too embarrassed to say a thing. Note to self: I can play a full round in a pair of men's size 10 shoes, though not very well.
Perhaps I should have hung it up when I got a big laugh from my foursome when I asked my young caddy for my “five arm,” or the day I discovered that my 51 handicap was the highest of all the women in our club, including one extraordinary lady who happened to be legally blind.
Why, 35-plus years into my golf odyssey, do I continue the struggle? Quite simply, I live on this beautiful plateau in the Blue Ridge Mountains and giving up the game would be like cutting off the proverbial nose to spite my face.
It's not enough that drop-dead vistas of waterfalls, craggy mountains, lakes, and streams gift wrap each one of the public and private golf courses in the Cashiers-Highlands area. It's the rare place where you can ask a good golfer (of hole-in-one stature) to name her favorite hole, and she chooses a particular one because of the breathtaking flowers planted around the green.
It's the place where Justin Thomas can break the course record at Mountaintop Golf and Lake Club one day, shooting a 64, and a University of Alabama sophomore, Robbie Shelton, can go out the next day and shoot a 61, according to Micah Hicks, the private club's director of golf. He also remembers the Bryan Brothers (George and Wesley) agreeing to caddy for the club's member/guest tournament and using the time up here to shoot a trick shot video at Mountaintop and Old Edwards Club. The video went viral on YouTube, raising enough money for Wesley to go on tour, where last year he won the RBC Heritage championship.
There is a laid-back culture in this mountain air that attracts players of all levels. Tom Fazio, who is renowned as the golf course architect of more than 120 courses worldwide, is a part-time resident of western Carolina and a frequent local player. The designer of both the Mountaintop and Wade Hampton golf courses, he and his wife are partial to Mountaintop which allows family dogs to ride along on a round. Their dog Maggy frequently accompanies them and avails herself of the dog treats that are available at the course's comfort stations.
The setting here allows golfers to get up close and personal with all sorts of wildlife as well. Golfers at the Country Club of Sapphire Valley remember the year that a mother bear and her cubs took up residence in a covered cart bridge on the sixth hole. After several heart-stopping encounters with golfers, the mama bear was “nudged” to a more remote area by a team of maintenance staffers. 
For years, there were sightings of a three-legged bear called “Tripod” by the locals, and area golfers experience the occasional sightings of deer, bobcats, and turkeys. A sun-worshipping garter snake hung out on the same drainage pipe day after day one season, to the point that he came to be known as Freddie.
People like me, as well as the good golfers, find pleasure in the “good walk spoiled” as John Feinstein famously wrote in his book of the same name.
For someone new to the Plateau, there are numerous golf venues. The immediate area features 15 golf courses, three of which are public. The public courses are all different but together can provide an overview of the special nature of mountain golf.
v The oldest is High Hampton, recently purchased by Daniel Communities, which is planning an extensive upgrade of the golf course-among other major improvements. A fun local legend explains the fact that for years the golf course had only 11 holes. The story goes that a previous owner, E.L. McKee, got the bill for those first 11 holes, was shocked by it, and cut off the project there. It would be decades before the other seven holes were added. High Hampton boasts some recent color, too, as the television version of the classic Dirty Dancing was filmed there in 2016, and many people on the staff were enlisted as extras.
v Sapphire National Country Club offers a true traditional mountain golf experience. Rated four and-a-half stars by Golf Digest, the course showcases mountains, valleys, and waterfalls and a memorable fifteenth hole island green.
v For a real change of pace, check out the Red Bird Links in Sapphire Valley. An executive course, which consists of six par three holes and three par fours, it's a great course for beginners as well as more seasoned players interested in polishing a short game. A weekly golf clinic is available during season, as well as a junior golf program, and the winter finds the course used for “foot golf,” a family-friendly game utilizing soccer balls.
Like all golfing paradises, there are funny stories in those majestic mountains, another factor that keeps people like me coming back. One full-time resident, who has been know to tee it up on “mild” days in January, recalls an older gentleman who loved the game and had, in fact, “shot his age” several times. On one memorable outing, everyone drove onto the fairway from the tee box to hit their second shots. The gentleman struggled to find his ball, temporarily stopping the play, until he remembered that he hadn't hit a tee shot.
There are countless stories of determined golfers falling into water in search of errant golf balls. What these stories all seem to have in common is white pants. I also heard the story of one friend trying to help another who had fallen into a pond, only to fall in himself for a double-whammy.
Water, of course, is a huge component of the mountain golf scene, to the extent that one local golfer walks a course early some mornings, retrieving lost underwater balls as he goes. He donates his considerable yield to the First Tee Foundation which promotes values like integrity and perseverance in young golfers, a comforting thought to golfers like me who have left many a ball behind in the water.
Then there was a gentleman from Japan who had very limited experience with the game. His host explained that the containers of sand on the cart were for divots. At the end of the round, the host discovered that his guest had carefully placed each and every divot he made into the container.
As I write these stories, I'm beginning to feel better about my golf game. Did I mention the time I won a nine-holer season championship, only to be informed, post-award ceremony, that I had not played enough rounds to qualify? I can't make this up, but my Waterford bowl prize was taken away and handed to the second-place winner as I sipped my celebratory champagne. 
And still, as long as I live in this beautiful place, I can't find the heart to quit. Nine and dine anyone?

The Nirvana of Fly Fishing

The mountains of western North Carolina lure those far and wide seeking higher elevations, stunning views, waterfalls, and verdant forests. However, it is the copious streams, creeks, and rivers lying within these mountains that draw fly fishermen of all levels and skills, year-round. North Carolina’s waterways are abundant with wild or stocked rainbow, brown, and brook trout, as well as smallmouth bass in midsummer.

When asked what attracts them to the sport, many fly fishermen find it hard to put into simple terms. The collective agrees there is no easy formula in making “the catch,” for an angler is challenged before even stepping into the water. The sport requires thought, instinct, and strategy. Great consideration goes into understanding the fish on that particular day, on that particular stream, since it varies day-to-day, stream-to-stream, season-to-season. Sometimes it varies hour-to-hour. One must consider the fish’s relationship with its environment, the weather, water temperature, level, and current. The answers are key in crafting a cunning approach to the day’s journey.

“There is an art to fly fishing,” according to Ben Elmer, an avid fisherman, prominent local guide and manager at Brookings Anglers in Highlands. “The draw for me comes with chasing the fish and convincing them to eat my fly.” With tens of thousands of artificial flies to consider, wisely choosing a fly that best matches the current bug hatch creates a greater opportunity for this to happen. Equally as important to an aspiring fish catcher is mastering casting techniques where the fly mimics the actual habits of the “bug du jour.”

Elmer describes the scene on the river. An angler first strategically scopes out an ideal location where the fish might be found. He then chooses his fly, not just any fly, the right fly that will tempt the fish. After quietly wading into the water, he fortifies his stance, chooses his cast, and delivers his fly. Patiently he waits. Feeling camaraderie with nature and perhaps his fellow fisher friends nearby, he enjoys the whip and grace of his cast as his fly dances on the surface. There is no impatience in the wait as the rewards are great, and then suddenly, possibly many casts later, STRIKE! He hooks one. A rush of adrenaline courses through his veins as he works to keep the trout or bass on the line. His skill at properly setting the hook will hopefully secure the catch as the duel plays out. However, stalking and catching the fish is only part of the game. “It is not over until the fish is successfully in the net,” says Elmer, “and that is a challenge in itself.”

Gail Bell, a ten-year veteran fly fisherwoman from Scaly Mountain, North Carolina says, “Fish are spooky and smart. Stealthiness is always your mantra. Imagine, now the fish has his choice from tens of thousands of natural food floating by. What are the odds he will choose your artificial fly? But when he does ... POW ... lights out awesomeness! It can be spiritual and technical with a little luck thrown in.”

“You don’t have to catch a fish though to have a good time,” Elmer shares like a secret. Fishermen vary in the experiences they seek. Some choose to float rather than wade, some want private over public waters, and some prefer to fish in the quiet winter months when they can take their catch home. Finding a peaceful experience grounded in nature is ideal for some who want to “get away from it all,” while others seek the thrill of the chase.

American author Norman MacLean who wrote A River Runs Through It equates fly fishing to a piece of music that slowly builds to an exciting crescendo. Maybe this metaphor best explains the growth of the sport and its captive audience of all genders and ages. Regarded as being meditative and therapeutic, restorative fly fishing retreats are plentiful and hosted by groups such as Casting Carolinas for cancer survivors and Project Healing Waters for military personnel and disabled veterans.

Brookings Anglers, with locations in Cashiers and Highlands, is a trustworthy resource for finding the best experience. Their guided trips are a terrific way to learn, grow, and perfect techniques. In addition, they offer fly-tying courses, licenses, and full or half-day packages for individuals, couples, and groups. Packages start at $200.

Like-New Mountain Getaway in Cedar Hill

Situated at 4,000 feet in the prestigious Cedar Hill community, this mountaintop getaway is based on a design by renowned local designer Travis Mileti. Featuring old-school appointments throughout, including a sliding barn door to the butler's pantry, shiplap wall coverings throughout and rustic, wooden window shutters, this home is the perfect meeting of comfortable, mountain-inspired design with modern, state-of-the-art creature comforts and fixtures.

A multi-level deck featuring a covered porch and prominent stone fireplace offers the ideal setting for outdoor entertaining, with breathtaking views to the east of the striking 144-foot granite cliffs of Lonesome Valley and Bald Rock - among the largest exposed rock faces in the southeast - as well as Toxaway Mountain and Sapphire Valley. If cooler weather prompts company to move indoors, the spacious lower level features a full-service wet bar and ample sleeping arrangements, with two guest rooms and a pair of bunkrooms downstairs in addition to the two master bedrooms on the upper level.

The open layout kitchen conjures images of friends and family gathering around the sprawling kitchen peninsula, topped with Cambria Quartz countertops, enjoying time together over food and a glass of wine from the adjoining wet bar and wine cooler. Another imposing stone fireplace is the focal point of the great room, which features a towering cathedral ceiling and offers its own incredible views of the surrounding mountain ranges.

 

Highlands Motoring Festival

 

Longing to have a close-up encounter with a coveted Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing worth somewhere to the tune of two million dollars? Look no further than in your backyard to experience such a rare moment. At the Highlands Motoring Festival in Highlands, North Carolina, you never know which spectacular collectible car will take your breath away. This festival draws a sophisticated group of car collectors who showcase their pride and joy and give you the opportunity to admire and inquire. So, rev your engines and mark your calendars for this year’s Festival, an extraordinary weekend of unforgettable cars, community,  and camaraderie. 


Touted as the “Festival with an Altitude,” the Highlands Motoring Festival (HMF) is proud to shout from the Blue Ridge Mountains that it is the highest motoring festival east of the Rockies. Celebrating its twelfth year, this rapidly-growing, family-friendly event attracts car collectors, enthusiasts, and the curious. This June, it is expecting around 3,500 attendees from across the nation, including 125 car owners for Saturday’s main judging event, “Cars in the Park.” 


The vision behind the Highlands Motoring Festival is to produce a unique educational and social car event, creating a fundraising platform to give back to the community. With most car shows charging a hefty entrance fee, this festival is free to the public, making it even more special as a gift to the community. According to the motoring festival spokesman Steve Ham, “It is exciting to think that an open-to-the-public event like this could inspire someone to start collecting. It is a spectacular opportunity to celebrate the history of the automobile and experience many rare and exotic cars in one place.”


The HMF weekend is chock full of daily events, from “Monte Carlo Night” to a scenic 160-mile technical driving rally called “One Lap of the Mountains” to the grand event, “Cars in the Park,” where a judging competition takes place. Trophies created by a local artist will be awarded to cars designated as Best in Class and Outstanding in Class. This year’s competition registration is already filling up with collectible sports cars like the 1966 Chevrolet Corvette and 1967 Porsche 912 making their inaugural trip to Highlands. Showcased at this year’s festival is an exciting new class of vintage racing cars with an established racing history in famous races such as Le Mans and the Daytona 500.


The level of sophistication of this regional car show is quite evident by the impressive competition. Remarkable past entries include a 1926 Model T and the most unusual of entries, the Amphicar, which operates as both a car and a boat. Copious touring models and high-performance cars are also present. In the case of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing, there was not only one at the show a couple of years ago, but three! Entrants are judged in eight different classes with an awards ceremony to follow. The car owners have gone to great monetary and physical lengths to restore and prepare their cars for show. 


Fundraising dollars are raised through Platinum sponsors like Mercedes, Porsche, Ferrari, and BMW, as well as important local supporters, ticket sales, donations, and registration fees. All net proceeds from the HMF go to charity with this year’s event serving three beneficiaries: The Literacy Council, which endeavors to advance lifelong learning and a knowledgeable community; R.E.A.C.H., whose mission is to prevent family violence in all its forms; and the Community Care Clinic, which provides free medical services to the needy.


If you have a pre-1990 collectible car you would like to register for the Saturday, June 8th competition, go to highlandsmotoringfestival.com. If you want to feel like you are walking onto a James Bond movie set, make a plan to attend any one of the weekend events. The pulse and enthusiasm of this unique class of people and cars is something you don’t want to miss.

Monte Carlo Night
THURSDAY NIGHT, June 6

A high-stakes “gambling-for-good” fundraiser that kicks off the weekend hosted by Highlands Falls Country Club. Expect game tables, hors-d’oeuvres, cocktails, exotic cars, a live auction, and chances to win lots of “play money.” Cost per ticket: $75.

One Lap of the Mountains
FRIDAY DAY, June 7

In its sixth year, this popular road rally is an adventure of a lifetime, giving participants an opportunity to explore a bespoke curvy route through the countryside. A technical rally rather than a timed rally, the event allows participants to meander 160 miles as a group over paved rural roads taking in vast mountain vistas, lush forests, waterfalls, pastures, historic landmarks, flora and fauna, and a multitude of lakes and babbling brooks. Passing road markers like Happy Place Lane and following detailed maps with directional cues such as “take a left at the hound dog by the red mailbox” make the route even more interesting and fun for drivers and their passengers. The lap begins at 9 am and ends at 3 pm with a stop for lunch along the way. Only a max of 40 cars are allowed. Register now so you don’t miss this special event. Cost per vehicle: $125 (includes one passenger).

Welcome Party at High Dive
FRIDAY NIGHT, June 7

An evening meet and greet at Highlands’ newest watering hole, from 6 pm to 8 pm for all “gear heads” (that’s industry talk for car enthusiasts). Free to participate. No registration required.


The Main Event: 
Cars in the Park
SATURDAY, June 8

This classic car show with a judging competition takes place in the heart of Highlands at the Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park beginning at 11 am. Entrance is free for all spectators, but donations are greatly appreciated to benefit three local charities. Competition cars are judged and awarded Best of Class in the following car classes: Touring, Classic, Street Rod and Custom, American Sport and High Performance, Foreign Sport, Foreign Classic, and Trucks/Utilities. This year’s special interest class is Vintage Racing Cars, requiring a racing background in such prestigious and varied venues as Le Mans, Indianapolis, Daytona, Monte Carlo, etc. Competition entry cost: $35.

After the car show ends at 4 pm, “Music in the Park” will round out the night beginning at 6 pm. Free to the public.

Cars and Coffee
SUNDAY, June 9

Located in Wright Square, this casual morning send-off at 8:00 am allows participants and spectators alike to gather one last time, relive the weekend, and make future plans. Free to participate. No registration required. •