It's all about the creek…and the mountains

Cherokee Indian Museum

Cherokee Heritage Day
Cherokee Indians
Cherokee Indians
Cherokee Indians

If You’re lucky enough to be in our little corner of the mountains this week, be sure not to miss Cherokee Heritage Day in the city of Cherokee, NC.  Just a ninety-minute drive from Blackwell Branch Cabin and Gili’s Cove Cottage, a visit to Cherokee makes a perfect day trip.  The city is home to the Cherokee Indian Museum, where visitors can learn about the history of the Cherokee bands of Native Americans here in western North Carolina and the Trail of Tears—the forced resettlement of the Cherokee to the West.   

Experience the 11,000-year-old Cherokee story vividly. If your idea of a museum includes dusty displays tended by a boring curator, get ready to rediscover what a museum can be and this museum will captivate young and old alike.  On a visit to the museum, the visitor can learn about and experience every facet of Cherokee life through the many interactive videos, intriguing displays and exhibits. Stepping through the doors envelopes the visitor in a world where the Cherokee people’s spirit of inventiveness, resilience and will to survive are told in the stories and objects of the Cherokee people. The museum provides a moving experience that illustrates who the people of Cherokee really are, where they came from, and why they’re still here and it’s a journey that you won’t soon forget.

OPEN: 7 days/week year-round. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Summer Hours: (Jun–Aug): 9 a.m.–7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Sundays.
Winter Hours: (Sep–May): 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday-Sunday.

ADMISSION: Adults $11; Children (ages 6–12) $7; Children 5 and under admitted free.

LOCATION: 589 Tsali Blvd. Cherokee, NC, at the intersection of Tsali Blvd. and Drama Road.

A Blooming Affair At Hamilton Gardens

Azalea orange
Azalea orange
Garden bench
Rhododendron

If it’s springtime, it’s a Blooming Festival at Hamilton Gardens!  Yes, Spring has finally arrived in all its splendor here in our little corner of the mountains and with springtime’s warm sunny days and cool comes the colorful and aromatic show of blooms from the plentiful rhododendrons and azaleas that blanket the area.  There’s no better place to see this magnificent display of flowering trees and shrubs than at Hamilton Gardens.  Just outside of Hiawassee, GA, Hamilton Gardens is located within the grounds of the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds.  Covering more than 33 acres, this woodland garden paradise is the largest collection of rhododendrons in the Southeast.  It is listed by the State of Georgia as a botanical garden and lives up to its name through the diversity of native wildflowers, plants, shrubs and trees scattered throughout the grounds.  You’ll find wildflowers such as Trilliums, Shooting Stars, Wild Ginger, Trout Lilies, May apples and Solomon’s Seal tucked in and around the paths and walkways. The gardens are a truly unique venue to see and experience the best of southeastern flora.  But what makes this garden really special are the more than 1,500 rhododendrons and native azaleas within its borders. There are as many as 400 varieties of rhododendrons in the garden—the show of blooms is amazing and quite memorable, coming in all sizes, shapes and colors.

Although the best time to visit the garden to view the springtime blooms is from mid-April to mid-May (depending on local weather conditions), the garden is open year-round and offers a wonderful opportunity for a quiet walk on well-groomed paths surrounded by nature.  The trails wind through the garden, surrounded by the lush foliage and offering glimpses of Lake Chatuge and the nearby mountains (see if you can spot the tower atop Brasstown Bald!).  Guided walking and golf-cart tours are available by appointment. If you visit during the spring season, be sure to stop by the greenhouse – you might just find that perfect plant to take home.

 

If you’re lucky enough to be in our little corner of the mountains in late May, be sure to take in the very special “Full Moon Concert” being held at the gardens on May 29th at 6:30pm in the Pavilion (rain or shine). Entertainment will be provided by musician Teddy Baker, known for his songs about the wonder of life, love, and stories from a life filled with passion, faith, listening to others and an undying love for writing  music!

Hamilton Gardens is open year-round, from 8am until dusk.  Admission to the gardens is free of charge most of the year with a small fee during the rhododendron blooming season. There is a donation box available for maintaining the gardens by the local Lions Club for year-round guests.  No pets allowed.

Dining At It’s Finest-The Copper Door

Dining The Copper Door
Dining at its finest…right here in our little corner of the mountains.  The Copper Door is our go-to spot for some of the finest dining you’ll find anywhere in western North Carolina or even the entire state.  Chef Dennis Barber has created a team of super-talented individuals who share his passion for the very best in food, wine and dining.  Having grown-up in New Orleans, a town renowned for foodie culture both traditional and contemporary, Dennis was influenced by experiences he had in college when a grand historic old home was converted into a fine dining restaurant. He loved the charm, ambiance and unique dining experience that this restaurant brought to his college town and from there developed a passion for good food and great wine. Fast-forward to 2005—Dennis and his team are hard at work renovating an old service station just off the town square here in Hayesville and two years later The Copper Door opened to the delight of local residents and visitors alike.  Chef Dennis created the only fine dining restaurant in the region.  His menus are created around the freshest local ingredients and are presented by some of the highest caliber staff to be found anywhere in the country.  The Copper Door offers guests a warm inviting dining room, a romantic garden patio and courtyard, and a full bar.  Foodies from all over the Southeast and beyond find their way to The Copper Door for Chef Dennis’s cooking classes, wine-pairing dinners and catering for special events.  Indeed, many of the reviews submitted by patrons who have experienced a meal at The Copper Door comment not only on the exceptional food and wine they enjoyed, but also make a point of mentioning the skill, knowledge and friendliness of Dennis’s team.  Here’s an example: This restaurant gave us one of the best dining experiences we’ve had in quite a while. We like to eat well (and don’t mind paying for a really good meal) and this place gave us everything we’d hope for. Our sever, Steven, was friendly, knowledgeable and very professional. The three of us had different appetizers and all were delicious, but my Shrimp Kristine was the best. Can we discuss those popovers? Two baskets were devoured with great joy. Our rib eye steaks were done to perfection as was the prime rib. Desserts were outstanding but the choice for “best” was difficult – bread pudding or Creme Suzanne, tough call! They also pour a good cocktail here. We’d go back in a heartbeat! Details:      The Copper Door Address:    2 Sullivan St, Hayesville NC 28904 (right off the Square) Phone:       828-389-8460 Hours:       Monday to Saturday, 5pm to 10pm. Closed Sunday. Reservation are highly recommended and can be made easily online:   http://thecopperdoor.com/reservations/ Dress code is “smart casual” – nice jeans with sweater or collared shirt are appropriate.
steak and wine dinner
Copper Door dining out

The Incredible North Carolina Restaurant That’s Way Out In The Boonies But So Worth The Drive

While North Carolina certainly has plenty of incredible restaurants in its larger towns and cities, sometimes you’re richly rewarded by venturing further afield. Here’s a restaurant in the tiny town of Hayesville that’s well worth the journey.

Open Tuesday – Saturday 5 pm to 10 pm
Call 828-389-8460 for reservations and questions
Located just off the Historic Hayesville Square
Smart Casual Dress Code

Chatuge Dam & Lake Chatuge

Lake Chatuge sunrise

Chatuge Dam and Lake Chatuge – one of the great natural treasures here in our little corner of the mountains!  Ever wonder where all that water came from that sits gently lapping against the lakeshore at the foot of Lake Chatuge Dam?  Or how much water this huge earthen dam actually contains?  Built in 1941, Chatuge Dam holds back the incredible 7,000-acre Lake Chatuge, which straddles the North Carolina-Georgia state line here in the Hiawassee River valley. And that 7,000-acre lake is one of the great outdoor treasures that Hayesville and Clay County has to offer visitors of all ages.  But first a little history…

Chatuge Dam is named for an 18th-century Cherokee village once situated near the site, and the name is believed to mean “the meeting of the waters”.  Authorized in 1941 in response to the increasing demand for electricity during WWII, the dam’s hydroelectric potential, combined with the expected benefits of flood control, did not come without cost to the local population of Hayesville, particularly in the Shooting Creek community.  Construction of the dam required the purchase of over 11,000 acres of land and displaced almost 300 families, many of whom had roots in the area going back more than a century.  Family graves had to be relocated as well as over 40 miles of roads, including portions of Highway 64, a major thoroughfare for thousands of people who lived in the tri-county area.

The dam on Lake Chatuge earth-and-rock dam now provides unlimited opportunities to residents and visitors to get outside and play.  Several marinas are located around the lake where everything from small [powerboats and pontoon boats to paddleboards and kayaks can be rented.  If you’re hauling your own boat, you’ll find a half-dozen uncrowded launch ramps with a 15-minute drive.  Lake Chatuge is home to several professional and collegiate fishing tournaments each year, with lucky winners hauling in record-sized bass.  At the north end of Lake Chatuge, the dam is home to a 4+ mile round-trip paved walking path, a favorite of runners, families and folks just out for a stroll in some of the most beautiful mountain scenery to be found anywhere.  Playgrounds, picnic areas and swimming beaches offer families a great way to enjoy a day at the lake.  Hikers and bikers can hit the trails at the Jackrabbit Recreation area and enjoy miles of trails that follow the lakeshore and offer stunning views of the nearby mountains.

Come discover this uncrowded natural gem that anchors so many great outdoor opportunities for folks of all ages here in our little corner of the mountains.

Boundary Waters Marina

Big Ol’ Fish Guides

Jackrabbit Recreation Area – Hiking Trails

 

 

All Aboard Scenic Railroad

railroad locomotive

All Aboard!  The Great Smoky Mountains Scenic Railway is not just for train buffs!  Be sure to put this one-of-a-kind train ride on your bucket list for your mountain vacation. Families of all ages will enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime adventure on this restored old-fashioned railroad. The Great Smoky Mountains Scenic Railroad offers scenic train excursions through the mountains along Nantahala and Tuckasegee Rivers, across beautiful valleys, cruising through deep gorges and chugging through tunnels carved right out of the mountains.  Board the train at the depot in downtown Bryson City and enjoy a variety of trips and even special-event trains like the Peanuts Great Pumpkin Patch Express in the Fall and the Polar Express, certain to create lasting holiday memories for children and grown-ups alike. 

“Through the dark night chasing the morning light,
That headlight streaming white through the night” 
― Richard L. Ratliff

The magical story of the Polar Express comes to life as you depart Bryson City for an imaginary journey to the North Pole on The Polar Express. A beautiful display of holiday lights and decorations welcome you to the Christmas season here in the mountains. Imagine listening to the story of the magical Polar Express, sipping on steaming hot chocolate while the mountains rush by just feet away. When the train arrives at the North Pole, Santa Claus and his reindeer will be waiting to greet kids of all ages. Sing along to the carols and take in the magic of the moment.

If you’re lucky enough to be in the mountains in the Fall, take a ride on the Great Pumpkin Patch Express (select dates in October). Put on your costume and enjoy hayrides, storytelling, face-painting and trick-or-treating. Plus you’ll get to meet Snoopy, Charlie Brown & Lucy and even select your own pumpkin.


Are you a movie buff?  Read on…

The famous train wreck scene in the 1993 blockbuster movie The Fugitive starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones was filmed right here in Dillsboro along the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. The wreckage set can still be viewed on eastbound Tuckasegee River Excursions departing from Bryson City. The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad was also used in the filming of 1996 comedy My Fellow Americans starring Jack Lemmon and James Garner when they stumble on to a charter train full of UNC-Chapel Hill fans headed for the NCAA Final Four. And train scenes in the 1999 film Forces of Nature starring Ben Affleck and Sandra Bullock were also filmed on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. And for the train buffs—the railroad’s “2-8-0” steam locomotive #1702 (formerly of the U.S. Army) was featured in the 1966 film, “This Property is Condemned,” starring Natalie Wood, Robert Redford, and Charles Bronson. 

railroad locomotive
scenic railroad close-up

“Through the dark night chasing the morning light,
That headlight streaming white through the night” 
― Richard L. Ratliff

Tail Of The Dragon

Man on motorcyle

Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap – Are You Brave Enough?

Tail of the Dragon is the ultimate in mountain driving experiences.  Starting at Deals Gap, the road follows the mountain pass along the NC-Tenn border.  Not for the faint of heart, the road boasts 311 curves in just 11 short miles with no intersecting roads – not even a driveway –  to slow you down.  Bordered by the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest, it offers chills and thrills in a drop-dead beautiful mountain setting.  Riding the “Dragon” is at the top of the bucket list for motorcycle and sports car fans across the country.  With plenty of curves with names like Wheelie Hell, Brake or Bust Bend and Gravity Cavity, the Tail of the Dragon is guaranteed to be the ride of your life.  Are YOU brave enough?

“You don’t stop riding when you get old, you get old when you stop riding.”
― Anonymous


“Only a biker knows why a dog sticks his head out of a car window.”
― Anonymous

Tank Town USA-Drive Tanks, Crush Cars

Tank crush car

Ever wanted to drive a tank?  Ever feel like smashing into a car that’s wreaking havoc in rush-hour traffic?  When the peace of the forest and the tranquility of the mountains still haven’t reduced your stress levels and calmed your jangled nerves, there’s one more option you can try.  Now you can do both, right here at TankTownUSA.  Here’s what Roadside America had to say: “When I opened, I thought people would say, ‘Oh, this was pretty cool,'” said Todd Liebross, Tank Town’s owner. “Instead it’s been, ‘This was the most awesome thing I’ve ever done in my life!'”  Todd grinned. “People like driving tanks.”  Indeed they do.  

TankTownUSA                                                                                                      Morganton GA (706-633-6072)

Best Trout Anywhere!

trout dinner

You haven’t had real southern cooking until you’ve tasted some of the local specialties at Mary’s Southern Grill.  Our younger guests have raved about the pancakes and locals say that Mary’s serves up some of the best fresh trout to be had anywhere here in our little corner of the mountains.

Here’s what one recent diner had to say:  “A friend recommended Mary’s Southern Grill to us for some of the best local, Southern food around.  We tried it, then we went back two more times and it was just as good each time. The atmosphere would best be described as plaid shirts worn mostly by people North of 50/55. The staff never stops running and never stops smiling. You can count on Mary stopping by your table to say hello.”  

Mary’s Southern Grill is located in the Tower Place  Shopping Center at 1615 State Hwy 17 in Young Harris, just north of the intersection of Hwy 17/69 and Hwy 76.  Phone: 706-896-1046
 Note – Mary’s Southern Grill is cash or check only, but there’s an ATM onsite if you need it. 

Welcome Y’all!

And thanks for stopping by!  Take some time to look around our new website and see what’s new here at Casa on the Creek.  Be sure to bookmark this page so that you can stay on top of every new little thing here in our little corner of the mountains!