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Column: Finding enjoyment in rural North Carolina
by Loran Smith
Columnist
October 17, 2013 03:42 PM | 4524 views | 1 1 comments | 96 96 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Loran Smith
Loran Smith
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CASHIERS, N.C. – The facts about Cashiers include that this rustic mountain settlement is a census-designated place, an unincorporated village with a population of 157. Folks here aim to keep it that way.

As late as 2003, the North Carolina General Assembly passed local legislation allowing for Cashiers to incorporate as a village, which would have permitted the crossroads junction to have its own government and levy taxes but would not be required to provide any services. In a referendum, the residents voted down incorporation. Here in Cashiers the residents don’t want any government and they certainly don’t want any taxes. Seems to me that the population ought to be considerably more than 157.

I like Cashiers for many reasons. It is an attractive place with a down-home feel. It is Cashiers’ country crossroads mentality that I particularly like. Nobody is compatible with buildings which rise above the smallest pine. You can get an oil change in Cashiers. You can grocery shop at Ingles. You can find a nearby restaurant or two. Happily, you can’t come here without slackening your pace.

There are plenty of businesses where you can find things that reflect mountain living, and if you are in the company of a female, no doubt she will be lured to places which show off creative harvest scenes.   Like a tractor made up of bales of hay and pumpkins, harvest scenes dominate here from just after Labor Day to Thanksgiving.

There was an invitation to spend a couple of days near here from longtime friends Bonnie and Truett Jarrard. I knew what was in store. The invitation brought about the glee of a little boy getting his first bicycle. Beautiful views in every direction from a place called Mountaintop. Fireplaces, which can be activated with the strike of a match, roaring away in no time with the seasoned firewood which Truett stored up in late summer. The leaves are about to peak into glorious hues. Makes you want to return as you see people gathering to socialize by an early October fire.

There are plenty of restaurants in western North Carolina, like Canyon Kitchen which sits in a picturesque setting on Lonesome Valley Road. You enjoy a libation before dinner as you watch the sun set by fireplaces which warm your backside and your heart. You don’t just get a steak at places like Canyon Kitchen, where chefs like John Fleer offer more than his culinary expertise but creative verbiage as well.

You can choose as a starter, Grafton Cheddar and Vidalia Onion Arancini with hard cider mustard. He offers Painted Hills Charred Skirt Steak as a main course, paired with Garcia+Schwaderer, Facundo, Santiago, Chile wine. Sounds like John might have interviewed Hemmingway before he printed his menu. Creative chefs can make a stalk of celery seem like a peppermint stick. If you are lucky, Audra Thomas, who lives in nearby Newfound, will stop by your table and bring you up to date on the history of this part of western North Carolina. With its barn-like construction, a vegetable garden outside with Bald Rock Mountain as a backdrop, you dine on atmosphere as much as you do the helpings set before you.   

Highlands, that upscale place where golfer Bobby Jones once hung out, is only 10 miles away. You can go there to shop and browse aimlessly. The Bascom Center for the Visual Arts is well worth the visit, which begins when you traverse a covered bridge which once was anchored in New England. Lunch at Wild Thyme garnishes a relaxed day. The most fun of all is dinner at home with Bonnie in the kitchen along with the golf cart rides around Mountaintop with the refreshing views of the Tom Fazio-designed golf course.

On the way home one afternoon, we paused at an evergreen fronted by a marker for Julie Caroline Jarrard. This memorial reminds our hosts of the loving times spent with their only daughter. She’s an angel now.

Loran Smith is an administrative specialist for the University of Georgia sports communication department. You can reach him at loransmithathens@bellsouth.net.
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Lise Dews
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October 26, 2013
Great article about our area! So glad you enjoyed it. We loved the area so much that we gave up "big city" life 18 years ago and purchased Laurelwood Inn! It was our way to step out of hectic pace of the coorporate life and live in a beautiful place! I can't say we don't still work hard, but it is so worth it!
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