Sunset in the Coconino National Forest, looking northeast toward Sedona, AZ, 4/17/15

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Blue Ridge Parkway (NC), Part 2,
August 31- September 7

Restored Dellinger's Mill
Delightful serendipity.  Here, near Spruce Pine, NC, is where I experienced the heart of the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

I'd been going north on the parkway for almost a week and had yet to hear any live music.  I love bluegrass, old timey country music, and folk.  So, when I saw the tourist information center co-located with the Minerals Museum I was visiting, I asked where I could find some local mountain music.
Terry McKinney and band mates
at Dellinger's Mill

The volunteer behind the desk lit up and said I was in luck this Tuesday.  There was a special afternoon concert at the Dellinger's Mill.  But, I had to be a bit adventurous to find it because she didn't have any exact directions.  It was outside of Bakersville, about 16 miles away.  Yup, that was right up my alley!
Local Dellinger Fiddle Maker
accompanying neighbor on guitar

And find it, I did!  It's an old water-powered grist mill that has been lovingly restored.  Jack Dellinger's great-grandfather, grandfather and father ran this mill.  Jack, however, left this small town as a young adult and made his mark as an early computer programmer, having written code for the Apollo 2 mission.  But, in retirement he came back home and decided to bring his family's mill back to working order.  It's truly beautiful in design and engineering.

The Orchard at Alta Pass
as viewed from Blue Ridge Parkway
The concert at Dellinger's Mill was a small band made up of local talent.  They were very good.  The audience, on lawn chairs and blankets, was made up of people passing through, like me, snow birds, and locals.  And, there was even a woman from India visiting her friend, a local artist.   For the first half of the concert, Dunham and I sat next to each other and shared some almonds.  The whole experience was such a wonderful treat.   At the end of the concert I met Beth, a local, who I told of my travels and of my current quest for mountain music.   We made arrangements to meet at The Orchard, the next day where local musicians play every afternoon.
One of the many musicians
performing at The Orchard

How I so quickly changed my plans still surprises me.  Because I had realized that Labor Day weekend was coming up, I'd planned to stake out a site on the Parkway early and stay put to avoid the holiday competition for campsites.  I was planning to lay low, enjoy the campground, do some people watching, and explore some local sights.  Instead, I accepted an invitation to stay at someone's guest house.

The reasons this surprises me are several.  I've been adamant about sleeping in my car every other place I'd visited. I've been exceedingly cautious and these folks were complete strangers.  And, it's just very much unlike me to accept such an offer.  But, accept it, I did.  And I am so glad I did!

A play at The Orchard --
"Two Charlies" about a couple
of local historic characters
To back up a bit, The Orchard at Alta Pass is a 501C3.  Before it was a non-profit, Bill & Judy Carson and Kit Carson-Trubeyin, Bill's sister, bought the place in an effort to keep this old apple orchard from being developed.  Their goal is to keep the mountain arts and stories alive.  They tell visitors these stories at concerts, plays, and weekend wagon rides.  And they have free music every afternoon by the local folks, complete with a dance floor which is sometimes dusted with cornmeal for clogging.  For the holiday weekend, there was even more music, dancing and a covered dish picnic (pot luck).  At the bottom of this blog is a video of a clogging group that performed on Labor Day.

The canon was set off to signal the
start of the Covered Dish Picnic
Beth, the woman I met at the end of the Dellinger's Mill Concert, it turns out is the Executive Director of the Alta Pass Foundation which supports The Orchard.  Bill and Judy Carson are managing The Orchard in their retirement.  Bill was a computer programmer working for NASA who also did some of the early programming for the Global Positioning System (GPS).  I thanked him for that work as I have truly depended on my GPS systems during this trip.  Judy is a graphic artist and conducts monarch butterfly preservation at The Orchard.  Judy's sister, Margaret, is the one who offered her guest house to me.   Margaret is a retired corporate librarian.

During my week's stay, I became fast friends with Margaret ... and finding friendship so quickly is quite unusual for me.  I enjoyed visiting with her over lunch and in the evenings.  She introduced me to others in town, too, including her neighbor Jo of the Upper Street Café where I had a delicious piece of buttermilk pie for the first time, Pat who gave me a signed copy of her book Lifted to the Shoulders of a Mountain: A story of the people who climbed a mountain before their home became Little Switzerland, N. C., and Pam who runs the Food Wagon at The Orchard and who makes some of the best mac & cheese I've ever had.
Margaret's Other Place
(guest house)

I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Margaret's Other Place (guest house) in Little Switzerland, NC.  It was beautiful inside with knotty pine paneling, a small kitchen, table, bathroom, several beds, couches, and was fully stocked with food, snacks, books, board games, and local information.    I loved loved loved all of the rocking chairs -- 2 inside and 4 on a covered porch.  I didn't realize how much I missed just simply rocking.

Rocking Chairs
at Margaret's
I'm keeping in touch with Margaret through email and hope to see her again ... maybe for a visit in Washington State, or during another trip to North Carolina.

I thoroughly enjoyed all of the music at The Orchard and loved watching folks dance, especially the clogging.

I think I left a piece of my heart at this place.  It was truly a highlight of this trip.

originally posted 10/6/10

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