Summer Roadtrip Recap: Maggie Valley, NC
We didn’t end up blogging from the road as much as we thought we might. This was partly because we had to rely on inconsistent wi fi access at various stops along the way, and partly because we typically spent our evenings finding a local eatery, swimming in a hotel pool, and trying to get to sleep early so we could get an early start in the morning! Days were spent driving (of course!), and cramming in as much scenic wonder, historic sites, and fun pit stops as we could manage. Now that we’re home, we want to recap some of the highlights from our amazing 3,600-mile journey, in both words and images, and not necessarily in chronological order.
Maggie Valley is in the heart of the Smokies about an hour west of Asheville, and close to the Oconaluftee entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It also boasts the added attraction of Tom’s Stand, a magical mountaintop home on Bear Stump Gap where we were fortunate enough to have a beautiful visit with dear friends I hadn’t seen in literally decades.
The girls were meeting Jane for the first time, and we got to sleep in her incredible art-filled log house, surrounded by flowers, horses, cattle, hummingbirds, friendly Jay Jay the Jack Russell guard dog and — perhaps in the middle of the night — a roving bear or two.
The road to the house was shrouded in mist when we headed up off the highway in Maggie Valley near the pancake house, past the family’s Cataloochee Ranch.
The curving dirt road simply disappeared into the clouds in front of our eyes.
The Odyssey doesn’t have 4WD and this driver was modestly freaked out by the fog-shrouded drop-off at the edge of the steep road. So the B Bus had to spend the night at the ranch. And Jane picked us up in her intrepid Subaru for our overnight in the clouds. When we pulled up at the big hand-hewn log house with its elven guest cottage across the lawn, LHB’s reaction was priceless: “She lives in a fairy house!”
And so it proved. The cottage kept appearing and disappearing into and out of the mist like something from Brigadoon.
In spite of the rain that obscured the views, our visit was a joyful highlight of the trip, an evening of wonderful conversation and catching up with Jane, who was one of Emmy’s dearest friends back in NYC days, and son Ames, last seen by me sometime before either of us learned to read. The girls marveled at Jane’s multi-textured rooms brimming with art, photographs, ceramics, and curious objects. LHB took many photographs, including some of these.
When we awoke the next morning steady rain had set in, and we still couldn’t see over to the driveway.
We said goodbye to the hummingbirds and headed down to see the ranch and meet some of the other residents, including cows, horses, turkeys, and the staff and dudes (guests) at the ranch.
LHB hopped in and out of the car to take these great livestock and landscape photos.
We left a quahog from the Cape for Jane’s garden pond — a little piece of New England for her beautiful haven in the Smokies.
It was tempting to stay longer and we could have spent at least a week exploring these beautiful mountains, but we had to pull ourselves away from Cataloochee, bound for Chattanooga!