Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Land of Mountains and Waterfalls

Last week Mr. Forest Manor and I were able to get away for a few days, where we escaped to the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Waters Mountain Lodge.



It was a trip that was restful to the body and rejuvenating to the spirit.  This destination is 232 miles from our home (according to Google Maps), about a 4 1/2 hour trip, and driving through the western part of North Carolina on the way is always interesting.

We take Interstate 40 for a big part of the trip, and then get onto the Great Smoky Mountain Expressway.  As we pass Hickory, NC, we can see the mountains in the distance; and about the time we get to the town of Old Fort, NC, the mountains are suddenly looming all around us.  It's a sight that never ceases to amaze me from one year to the next.

I just have to tell you a little bit about these mountains.  Often referred to as "The Smokies," the Great Smoky Mountains are a sub-range of the Appalachian Mountains, some of the oldest mountains on earth. The Smokies are among the highest peaks in the Appalachian Mountain range, yet they are rounder and lower in elevation than younger mountain chains like the Rocky Mountains.  Almost 300 million years ago, the Smokies, as part of the Appalachian Mountains, began their formation beneath the ocean.  (source)

The Smokies originally looked more like the Himalayas than the rounded mountains we see today.  The relentless erosive force of water has sculpted their present-day appearance.



The Great Smoky Mountains are so named because of the natural fog that often hangs over the range, giving them their "smoky" appearance.  Evidence of human habitation here goes back at least 11,000 years.  They were believed to have been a breakaway group of Iroquois, later to be called Cherokee, who had moved south from Iroquoian lands in New England.  I've visited these mountains off and on all my life, but until recently, I never knew how ancient they really were.  (source)

I have mixed reactions to being in these western North Carolina mountains.  I find them amazing and awe-inspiring; they really are rugged and majestic mountains.  They can also feel overwhelming to me at times; when you're in one of the valleys, the mountains truly do loom over and all around you.  The Blue Ridge Mountains along the North Carolina and Virginia border that we like to visit in the fall offer much more pastoral scenery.  My husband commented this past weekend that the Blue Ridge Mountains we know seem small compared to these giants known as the Great Smoky Mountains.

Once again, we stayed at the beautiful Blue Waters Mountain Lodge at Lake Santeetlah, in Robbinsville, North Carolina.  We re-connected with old friends, and met new ones as well.


We ate our fill of delicious breakfasts of fresh blueberry pancakes, stuffed french toast, quiche, bacon, sausage, homemade scones, fresh fruit, cereals and oatmeal.  We didn't eat quite all of that, but those were the dishes offered each morning.  Yes folks, it's time to get back on the treadmill.  :)

We enjoyed the annual Friday night cookout at the lake in front of the lodge.




...and a special treat this year was a spectacular fireworks display by Mike and Maury, the hardworking owners and hosts of the Blue Waters.  The fireworks were to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their owning and operating the lodge.


 These fireworks were like something we'd normally see at a July 4th celebration at a park or baseball stadium.  I jumped when the first ones went off because of the echoes from the surrounding mountains.  The prelude to this was the lighting of a sky lantern.  Have you seen one of these before?  I never had (apparently I don't get out much).  These are the coolest things!


Sky lanterns, also known as Kongming, or Chinese lanterns, are small hot air balloons made of paper with an opening at the bottom where a small fire is suspended.


...airborne...

Mike and Maury had planned to light the fireworks on Friday night after the cookout -- a perfect ending to a summer cookout at the lake.  In addition to the guests at the lodge, several of Mike and Maury's local friends were in attendance.  Alas, the weather didn't cooperate.



On Saturday, everyone held their breath for good weather Saturday evening, and we were rewarded with a beautiful, festive show.





Our time there went by much too quickly, as vacations tend to do.  Thank you again, Mike and Maury, for being such wonderful hosts.  Your hard work and graciousness are much appreciated!!





I'll be joining The Tablescaper for her Friday party, "Oh the PLACES I've Been," and for "Seasonal Sundays."  I hope you'll stop by Alma's blog, The Tablescaper; I look forward to seeing what you've been doing this week.  :)

Denise

P.S.  If you'd like to see more pictures of the Blue Waters Mountain Lodge and surrounding countryside, you can read these previous posts:  "Enjoying the Blue Waters," and "The Blue Waters Mountain Lodge". 

14 comments:

  1. That looks like a lovely place! My hubby and I were married in the Smoky Mountains in 2009 and since we live a 2 1/2 hour drive away, it's a place we visit frequently. We will have to give this lodge a try some time. I used to live in your neck of the woods. I lived in the triad area of NC for 14 years before moving back to my hometown in Virginia. I miss NC a lot! Well, except for the heat in the summer! lol! I've enjoyed looking around your blog. Have a great day. :)

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  2. Beautiful pictures! So glad you didn't get the rain we had here. I know you look forward to the trip every year. Hope to see more pictures. Mom

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  3. Oh how wonderful to get away to such a beautiful place. Your words and photos captured it so well.

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  4. Beautiful pictures. What a lovely place to stay and the lake is stunning. So glad that you had a great vacation.
    Have a great weekend.
    Mary

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  5. Hey Denise, This looks like a great trip. Such beautiful scenery! So glad you had a getaway!

    Sorry about your AC .Would you believe we had the same trouble! The unit in the back of the house went out and our kids are coming but it is all done now.

    I am going to take a break while my kids are here and all of us are going to the beach. I'll be in touch when I can.

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  6. I have made almost the same trip many many times.

    we always go on up to silva cause we have my great grandmothers cabin there right on the river.

    I loved seeing these photos and cyber taking this trip with ya..

    gota love NC. we have it all~!

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  7. That looks exactly like the kind of place I want to visit these days. I have no desire to be at the beach right now. It's the mountains for me. I love the Smokies, but I really loved what you said about being overwhelmed when they are looming over you in the valley. I can't stop thinking about the spiritual applications of that very thought. Spot on.

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  8. What a beautiful place to visit and enjoy and simply relax in, Denise. The drive must have been refreshing and spectacular. Your photos are breathtaking....Christine

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  9. That looks like a great place to relax and have a nice long retreat, love the fireworks too!

    I'm inviting you to also join us for Travel Photo Mondays, it runs the whole week and starts on Mondays, come link up with us.

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  10. Spectacular shots of the fireworks and the last shot of the blue sky, mountain and water. I'd frame that.

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  11. What a beautiful setting for your getaway. The mountains and lake are gorgeous. Fireworks are always fun to watch - glad you had a great time.

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  12. The Smokey mountains are beautiful. I can see why you enjoy spending time there. Nothing better than a mountain lodge to relax. Here we live in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains; they are my compass. Great fireworks pics, too.

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  13. Thanks for taking me along on your trip through your pictures. I love the mountains...such peace, calm, beauty in them. Thanks for sharing the journey, sweet friend. xo

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  14. Wow! This sounds like a really fun getaway. I love being able to get to the mountains so easy. Such a beautiful place.

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