There’s no doubt about it, Mavis and I love the N.C. mountains.
Just after spending a week in the higher country mountains of the Boone to West Jefferson area, we returned two weeks later to visit the Black Mountain area as the calling for more photos of the fall coloring beckoned.
But this time, Mavis invited our two close Raleigh friends, Gene McConnell and Ruth Duty.
Mavis made the destination Black Mountain where Ruth’s son Larry and his friend Becky live. We made reservations at the Comfort Inn there.
We were told to take the 111 exit from I-40, make a left turn and go seven miles on SR-9 until we found his little country store. He warned of one particular bad curve.
Ruth said several times, “Mercy, this must be the curve!” as she grit her teeth. The numerous curves didn’t bother Mavis and I after the sharp ones we had experienced in the higher country earlier in October.
Gene and I thought the seven miles must have been closer to nine, and we all were glad, and a little dizzy, when we finally found the little store.
After the usual huggings and introductions, we explored the old fashioned store which gave the neighbors the convenience of picking up everyday items like drinks, milk and bread.
After we remarked how nice the store looked in comparison to the barn next door, we learned some people were upset because the store was painted nicely and it lost some of its old charm.
While all the others were talking, Mavis and I scouted around for interesting items which may prove good for our camera club contests. An old weather-beaten barn with about 100 old auto license plates nailed to the end wall facing the roadway, got my attention. The puff clouds and blue sky enhanced the peak of the barn draped with a colorful vine.
We drove on and found Larry’s comfortable home. His friend’s son, Chris, had chopped a big bunch of wood for their fireplace — their main heating facility.
Our visit was like a walk into yesteryear and we enjoyed it immensely. On the way out to Black Mountain which again had many sharp curves, we finally reached a straight stretch only to find traffic completely stopped and a man we guessed to be a fireman standing in the left lane.
Gene got out and learned there had been a bad wreck and they were waiting for the Highway Patrol to investigate. It was another maybe 15 or 20 minutes before we could drive on.
Later that evening we learned from our motel clerk that two people were killed in that accident — a young girl who was to married in a week, and her mother. They were turning left into a private drive when a car passing in a no-passing zone crashed into them. The speed of the passing car was estimated to be 80 mph in the 45 or 55 mph zone, according to the Highway Patrol.
On the suggestion of our motel clerk, we all started out Thursday by driving through Black Mountain business section and going into Montreat where noted 95-year-old evangelist Billy Graham resides and was just recently saluted on his milestone birthday.
We saw the historic church where Graham was married, besides many other interesting buildings and places for good images.
We also visited Montreat College, founded in 1916, where fact and faith go “hand in hand.” The atmosphere was so quiet and beautiful, it makes you wish you were a student again.
We drove farther up the mountain and found some paved roads only wide enough for one-way traffic. We saw an interesting scene, stopped the car in the roadway and both Mavis and I jumped out and proceeded to shoot the scene lined with tall trees and a cabin in the background.
A woman walked by and we asked if she knew of any good places for making pictures and she said, “Yes. At my house. I have lots of flowers in my yard.”
Driving in the direction she gave us proved to be a strike-out. None of us remembered the name of the street, nor the house number.
Be sure to read next week’s column for more abut Montreat and visiting downtown Black Mountain.
—Bob Allen, publisher emeritus of The Wake Weekly, welcomes and encourages your comments or suggestions at 919-556-3059 or [email protected]