The Writer: What do you want for your birthday, a present or a trip?
Me: A trip!
The Writer: Where do you want to go?
Me: The mountains!
Denny Gross, you guessed right, the Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina. We stayed in Highlands in a lodge that was on several acres with a noisy stream right outside our window and a small lake,
an outdoor dining room ...
and a little porch right over the stream, nestled in the rhododendrons, for reading
and writing and drawing called
The Secret Spot.
The ducks are very tame. At eight every morning, when the dining room opens for breakfast for guests, a couple dozen ducks waddle up from the pond, across the parking lot in a line, and wait for the owner to come out and give them their morning corn. If it isn't forthcoming quick enough, they get very noisy!
In 1875 two gentlemen from Kansas purchased the land they named Highlands. The entrepreneurs were convinced that this spot, where lines drawn between Chicago and New York and Savannah and Chicago intersected, was destined to become the next center of commerce and trade in the United States. They missed the mark by about 130 miles. It's called Atlanta.
Oh, well. Instead the natural beauty of the mountains was preserved and Highlands gradually became a place for melting Southernors (like me!) to get away from the summer heat and bustle of places like Atlanta, and that's what it remains.
There are lots of shops and two historic inns in the village. The Highlands Inn opened in 1880 and has been restored to its original state with antique furnishings, wall coverings, and stenciling, and is in the National Registery of Historic Places. The other, Old Edward Inn, was built in 1878 as a boarding house and over the years has grown to cover at least a city block with swimming pools and spa facilities and I don't know what all. We peeked in the front door of one of the old parts and it was a lobby that looked like it had been furnished in the 1920s. The rest of it is new and very modern.
We went hiking and took some driving trips and I'll have some pictures of the mountain scenery next time.