Today we welcome author Elaine Cantrell who is here to tell us about her visit to Sugar Mountain, North Carolina. Thanks for being here, Elaine!
Once upon a time on a very cold day a young father and mother put their two sons in the car for a drive to Sugar Mountain, North Carolina. They were on their way to look at some vacation property.
The children didn’t like to ride for such a long distance so their mother bribed them. ‘We’ll have dinner at McDonald’s if you’ll be good,’ she promised. It was hard to be heard over the noise made by the younger boy’s imaginary pink rabbit. (The younger boy always spoke for the rabbit.) The father didn’t like the rabbit. When the younger boy made rabbit ears with his fingers and put the rabbit on his shoulder, he growled, ‘Get that rabbit off me.’
They arrived in Sugar Mountain and drove up the side of a mountain where they met a real estate agent who took them into a beautiful condo. But the beauty of the condo couldn’t compete with the beauty outside. From the balcony they saw hazy blue mountains stacked one behind the other. In a valley far below they saw the small town of Banner Elk. And it was so quiet! No sound could be heard except the sighing of the wind through the trees. The air was so clean it amazed the mother and father. They bought the condo and then went to McDonald’s to reward the boys and the pink rabbit for being good.
Every year after that, they took the boys to Sugar Mountain. It was ten to fifteen degrees cooler than it was in South Carolina where they lived so everybody appreciated the relief from the heat. They went hiking and visited some truly wonderful wilderness areas. The children never grew tired of visiting Grandfather Mountain, so named because the mountain looks like a grandfather’s face and beard in profile. Grandfather Mountain had bears that people threw peanuts to. The bears scared the imaginary rabbit. He was afraid they’d eat him alive, but the younger boy assured the rabbit that he would protect him from the bears.
Sometimes they went horseback riding. The pink rabbit rode on the front of the younger boy’s saddle and urged the horse to go faster. The first time the older boy went riding he found he didn’t like it. ‘I want off right now!’ he yelled, but since they were in the middle of a rough trail he had to stay on the horse until they got back to the stables.
The boys liked to go river rafting too, but the mother thought the water was too cold. She went shopping at the Tanger Outlets while the river rafting was going on.
Blowing Rock which was about twenty miles away was one of their favorite outings. The little town looked like something out of a storybook and had so many wonderful shops and restaurants. Once they actually went to the blowing rock and walked out on it. According to legend the wind blew an Indian maiden’s lover back to her after he jumped from the rock. That’s a colorful explanation for why even the snow blows upside down near the rock.
One thing that the mother enjoyed but the boys and father didn’t was going to look for furniture in Lenore which was only a few miles away. Everybody enjoyed going to Linville Caverns which were miles underneath the surface of the earth, but the rabbit didn’t like it when they turned off the lights. The father sometimes played golf, but none of the other family members liked golf. When the boys were small they always took them to the Tweetsie Railroad, a small amusement park.
Sugar Mountain is a popular winter ski resort, but the mother never enjoyed this. She was (and is) far too uncoordinated to ski.
And of course they went to movies, toured the Mast General Store (an old fashioned general store in business since the 1800’s), found some super restaurants, and explored all the little towns and byways in the area.
But the best thing of all was the beauty of the place and the total relaxation and peace.
Over the years the boys grew up and stopped going very often, but soon they had children who went with their grandparents. The pink rabbit is still going too. He attached himself to the younger boy’s son. The grandfather doesn’t mind the rabbit too much now. His son was not ruined by playing with the rabbit so he guessed his grandson would be fine too.
Sugar Mountain is located in the North Carolina high country in Avery County. It’s between Boone and Banner Elk. I recommend you stay at The Highlands at Sugar if you plan to go there. Even if you go in the winter they have an indoor pool, a weight room, a game room, a sauna, and scheduled activities sponsored by the resort.
Sounds wonderful, Elaine, and a wonderfully romantic setting! If you’ve used this as a story setting, please let us know which book.
If you want to check out Elaine’s romances, go to her website or blog.