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Small Town Vs. The Internet

by Lisa Buchanan "Assistant on the Town"

I live in a small town. The kind of town where if I forget to lock my door when I leave the house for work, and I don’t worry about it. The kind of place where walking home from the local pub (I live in the city limits) at 11 at night is something I’ve done multiple times with no fear. I’ve gotten my car stuck and had to walk up to a complete stranger’s house to call Dex to come pull me out. And while the nice lady and I respected the boundaries of strangers, she let me use her phone, because that is the type of place I live in. So when once again, I had to try to explain to yet another concerned person who does not want to move to Murphy because of the crime, I got a little angry.

If you pull up the crime statistics, you will be shocked. If you have never been here, then you will wonder how so many of us can stand to live here. Some statistics quote that 3 out of 4 people are victims of violent crime. If you live or visit here, you’ll be scratching your head and be puzzled. Until you look at the map.

 

In the city limits of Murphy, there are 2,420 residents according to the 2014 census. The county wide census number claims 27,178, a large part living in what is considered Murphy.  The statistician’s in all their wisdom have not had the pleasure to visit our fair town. If they had, they would consider that while the city limits are only 2.625 square miles, the county is 467 square miles.

 There are two main “towns”, Murphy & Andrews, with several townships and areas. Andrews stretches to the boundaries of Swain & Graham counties. Murphy takes over where Andrews leaves off to the west and goes all the way to the state lines.

You can definitely see how problematic and inaccurate the statistics are. Unfortunately, strangers on google might only see the statistics. But we who live in Murphy know the difference. I’m a relatively recent transplant but the beauty and people of the answer were a perfect fit.

Murphy has definitely see some growth in the past few years. We’ve gotten a new Harrah’s Casino, and while it hasn’t been the huge boon projected for the housing market, it’s added hundreds of job opportunities to the area. And county wide alcohol sales have been approved, paving the way for new restaurants and gas station locations all over the county.

But we’ve still got out small town charm. If you head out to The Daily Grind & Wine, you’ll likely see familiar faces sitting enjoying a strong cup of coffee with their cigars. Taking a walk down main street, you’ll see Mr. Cowan, hurrying to put an overnight package in the UPS box.  If you stop by in at Fatback’s Gas Station, Pat will probably be there manning the store. And if you decide to enjoy a relaxing Friday evening at Doyle’s Cedar Hill Restaurants tiki bar, well you’ll most likely see some of us from RE/MAX. We don’t only see ourselves as fellow denizens of this cozy, magical place in the mountains, but we’re your neighbors.

Give us a call for anything you need. We’re only too happy to help.

 

Cherohala Skyway

by Lisa Buchanan "Assistant on the Town"

 

Hooper Bald- Photography Credit LK

I’ve traversed the “Skyway” as we call it, many times. And no matter what season, or time, the beauty is astounding.  Whether it’s the crisp almost blinding colors of fall, the stark beauty of leave less trees in the winter against the snowcapped mountains, or the bursting bright colors and fresh wind that herald’s spring, it’s always awe inspiring.  

This road wasn’t always here. Of course, that can be said of all roads. But this road, is recent. For the first six years of my life, to get “home” twice a year (from Arkansas) we took another famous road home, The Tail of the Dragon. And while it is a favorite for many motorcycle enthusiast, my mother does not count herself as one of its’ fans, especially late at night with a toddler and a new born. With the completion of the Cherohala Skyway, our family’s, and others, road trips became much easier.

Historically, the area has always been remote and hard to reach. The first settlers used whatever “roads” they could. When a lodge was built near Hooper’s Bald, wagons were the only way to access it. Rough logging roads were put in, as the area was logged for its timber rich treasure till 1911.

The land the Cherohala passes over offers a glimpse into the primitive land that the area once was. The Cherokee Indians were the original residents. After the Indian Removal act, additional settlers started moving into the area. One of them (a relation) Dr. Ennis Hooper is who Hooper Bald is named after. In 1908, a large tract was bought by the Whiting Manufacturing Company (logging) and they allowed an agent to lease 1600 acres for a European style shooting preserve. Most of the “exotic” animals did poorly and were eventually sold or shot but the Russian Boars found the climate to their liking and escaped, multiplying into the wild boar population the area boasts today. In fact, while driving the skyway it’s always wise to keep an eye out for them.

Until the construction of the Skyway, the various bald’s were only accessible by a tough four-wheel vehicle or a motorcycle or the old school version, by wagon train. With the completion of the road, the natural beauty was suddenly available and accessible to everyone.

The Cherohala Skyway is THE most expensive scenic route highway in North Carolina, costing over a 100 million dollars. And it took quite a bit of time to complete. Official planning for the skyway began in 1958.  Almost forty years later, it was completed in 1996. Instead of the original plan of building the road from Tellico Plains, TN to Murphy, NC the road was built from Tellico to Robbinsville, NC. The original estimates of traffic have proven false. The first figures estimated that there would be 10 cars per min year round. The true average is fifty cars, and a hundred motorcycles a day. Some days that you venture up onto it, you won’t see a single vehicle. The tourist and sightseer’s flock to see the colorful leaves in the fall. And the locals count it their favorite four wheeling place to go in the winter when it snows.

Named after the two national forests it passes through (the Cherokee National Forest & the Nantahala National Forest) the 42-mile route was built for enjoying the view. If you’re looking to get your feet on the ground, there are great hiking trails. Parts of the Appalachian Trail, Joyce Kilmer Forest, and Hooper Bald, to name a few, varying from easy hiking to a bit more difficult. If the skyway entrances you not to leave, there are numerous camp sites for every level of comfort.

If you haven’t ventured up the mountain to the top of the Cherohala, trod the hiking paths, gazed over the waving grass on top Hooper’s Bald, smelled the mountain laurel as the rain soaks the mountain ground, what are you waiting for?

Awesome Date Ideas in the Mountains

by Lisa Buchanan "Assistant on the Town"

Whether it’s the first date of the relationship, a weekly occurrence, or you & your spouse’s night off to keep the romance kindled, we live in a fantastic place to exceed your romantic date expectations. If you’re a transplant, then planning a great time may seem daunting. The nearest Dave & Busters is a good couple of hours away, and pre-made date excursions are hard to come by. As a half transplant myself, the romantic possibilities dazzle me.

 

  1. The All Day Date (not for beginners)

This is probably not a good first date. This is a beautiful endurance race not suited for the faint of heart or the not-yet-comfortable-with-each-other people. This date begins at your favorite farmer’s market. Stroll through the booths, hand in hand if you dare, and pick up ingredients for an early dinner. Come up with a recipe as you go, or have a recipe prior. After shopping locally and getting as many ingredients as you can for dinner, head over to Blairsville, GA and stop by Michaelee’s Italian Caffe, and pick up a couple of decadent desserts. From there Helton Creek Falls. A short hike, bring a blanket or a chair and eat dessert and have some good conversation with the relaxing backdrop of the loud falls. Leave there and head to your house, to create not just a meal, but memories together.

  1. Beginners Luck

Your date may not be comfortable going to a remote mountain top to check out the stars on the first date (read: don’t creep them out). However, gazing at the stars is a tried and true romantic experience. Thankfully, tucked into the Young Harris College campus is Rollin’s Planetarium. Not only do they do shows about the universe (and music shows, holiday themes, etc) but they do so at a reasonable price (super cheap) at 5.00 per show.  The only caveat is to plan ahead as tickets stop being sold 30 mins prior to the show.  This is a thoughtful first date that doesn’t make you sound like a creeper (i.e. lets go to a remote mountain all alone even though we just met).

  1. Group Date Competition

Group dates can get a bad rap. But honestly, spending time with each other and with other people is healthy, fun, and can alleviate pressure. A great idea for a good time is going to a large flea market or local antique shop and have a contest to see who can purchase the coolest item for less than 5.00.  After everyone is done head out to eat and have everyone vote on which is the coolest. You can offer a prize, like winner gets their dessert paid for by everyone else.

  1. Rolling on the River Date

You can’t not live in Murphy or the local area and not know about the two great water sport rivers, The Ocoee and the Nantahala River. My favorite is the Nantahala, personally, because I like a mostly tame ride, with a break for pizza at Pizza By The River. But if you and your date prefer a more adventurous and labor intensive afternoon, then you have to check out the Ocoee River, site of the 1996 Canoe Slalom for the summer Olympics.  Either River has great food options after you’ve worked up an appetite rafting or kayaking.

  1. Dinner & A Movie – At The Swann Drive In

One of the only 4 Drive-Inn movie theatres operating in Georgia, The Swann Drive In has been in operation since 1955. They accept only cash, and have a wonderful concession. From Burgers, to Fries, to standard movie fare, they also feature devilishly sweet concoctions such as the deep fried Oreo’s and funnel cakes. Watch the movie in your car or bring a blanket and lay in the back of your truck or on the grass to enjoy the movie. Not only is this a great, different movie night idea, the people are friendly and the food is delicious.

 

  1. Mercier Orchards

Luckily, there are many orchards that offer events like “U-Pick” but Mercier’s has been moved to the top of the list. Not only do they have U-Pick events for their apples, blackberries, and other fruits they have cool things like their own Winery where they craft their own hard cider and wine. They also host weddings and other events, which would be cool if this date turns out to be with THE one.  Anniversary or wedding venue would be a no brainer!

 

Basically, anywhere around here is a great place for a date. All it needs is a little thought and ingenuity. But, if you need help coming up with a perfect date then you should keep this list around. We don’t mind sharing our local knowledge/genius anytime you need it!

Fading Voices

by Lisa Buchanan "Assistant on the Town"

As the sun makes its’ ascent over the mountains, the valleys of Snowbird begin to almost glow. The dew that covers the grass captures the rays of light, and a blanket of fog rises off the surface of Little Snowbird Creek.  Deep in Little Snowbird lies a playground, a portico with tables, and a covered stage, all of which will be utilized today at The Fading Voices Festival.

Fading Voices is a celebration of national Cherokee traditions. It is a rare glimpse into a culture almost lost to time, history, and genocide. Snowbird area is one of the strongholds in the state, dedicated to the preservation of tradition and language, so it is fitting that this beautiful celebration is held here.

Beginning with The Sacred Mound Ceremony, the festival is open to everyone, and participation is encouraged. There are demonstrations set up to watch, and in some cases take part in. Wander through the beadwork, pottery, Wood Carving & Coffin building sections. Watch strong, sinewy arms churn fresh milk. Listen to the voices float through the air, or watch kids and adults practice their Blow Gun skills. Sample Bean and Chestnut Bread or Wild Greens. Wait in line (it’s worth the wait) for freshly fried traditional Frybread, golden and warm. Try and Indian taco, or strawberry covered frybread. Watch, or if you’re brave, play Fish; an all gender version of Stickball that pits women against men.

It should be noted that there are almost no rules, and the women are historically vicious in their pursuit of victory (the Women almost always win). After you watch the brave men get their butts kicked by the awe inspiring women, then watch Stickball.

The opening of Stickball Ceremonies has a certain amount of reverence. More than just a game, its historical roots played a role in keeping peace between different tribes who played it, as well as training for young warriors. Here at Snowbird, leafy tree branches are driven into the ground, two on each side, for “goals”. As the game begins, there is almost a holy silence throughout the spectators waiting for the first cry. The two teams, at opposite ends of the field, start their battle cries. Answering and responding, the cries echo across the field.

The game here is relatively small. The players today number less than 20 and are as young as 10. Each player is matched up against an opponent roughly their size. If one of them is unable to continue the game for any reason, his opponent must also leave the game.  The “Sticks” are wooden sticks generally made from hardwood saplings or trunks, bent around with leather strips stretched across the back of the loops to catch the ball. In the past, there were no rules to the game which led to some fatalities. In modern day, while injuries are common, there are rules in place. No touching the ball, no hitting below the knees, etc. Today, in the hot sun the players all play well, and end the game in good spirits, some taking a dunk in Little Snowbird Creek to cool off after their exertions.

After Stickball, the festival starts to wind down. Visitors and participants make their last purchases, perhaps grab some frybread for the road, and start wandering to their vehicles. This year’s celebration is over. But next years is only 364ish days away, and everyone is already anticipating another great celebration of culture, history, and community. 

Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4

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Photo of Dex Hubbard Real Estate
Dex Hubbard
RE/MAX Mountain Properties
1151 W US Hwy 64
Murphy NC 28906
828-361-4710
828-837-3002
Fax: 828-837-8372