When we arrived in Western North Carolina to check into Creekwood Farm RV Park we were told by a concerned worker that we might have a hard time backing into our site. Since we were staying for 10 nights, she couldn’t find any other place to put us that wouldn’t be occupied by someone else during that time. After Mark looked at the “problem” spot he thought it would probably work out okay. When I had called several weeks beforehand to book a stay, I was told that they had one site left and it was usually only used as a vehicle washing area. The person I talked to thought it would work for our truck and trailer and a reservation was made. Now it was our check in day and the office was questioning if it would work and whether we wanted to take the site or not. I said that at this point we really didn’t have any other options except to contact RV parks in the area for availability and it was getting close to the end of the afternoon. Writing about this isn’t meant to be complaining, but to show the uncertainty when moving regularly from place to place. I am just glad we have never arrived any where and found our reservation lost or been turned away! Although I have heard of this happening and even saw it once. In the end we took the spot and set up our trailer fine. Our site backed up to another RV and there was only about six inches between our two ends which seemed pretty close, but worked out okay.
It is fun arriving at a new campground and seeing if there is anything special or unique about each one. Usually I know about the amenities from researching and if there is a creek or river on site then I want to check it out right away. Creekwood Farm has a nice rushing stream that runs through the park. Some of the sites are next to the creek where people can sit outside and enjoy the sight and sound of the water. When you get the last spot in the park like we did, you aren’t going to be next to the creek, but there were still places to go and relax near the water. Below is a picture of a glider on a deck with a view of the creek. A few times I took my chair down close to the water and sat and read or watched the leaves falling.
When I was planning our North Carolina trip one of the main attractions I wanted to see was the Biltmore, built by a Vanderbilt and the largest home in America. I had seen Vanderbilt homes in the Hudson River Valley of New York and Newport, Rhode Island. I talked to a number of people during our travels who said we had to see the Biltmore when we came to North Carolina. I had high hopes for a visit there but we ended up not going. This is the first major attraction on my to do list we decided to skip. While trying to book online I found out the tickets were $80.00 each with an extra $14.00 for the necessary audio set since the tour is self-guided with no signage inside the house. With tax it was going to cost us $200.00 to see the home and gardens. I had never seen such a high admission cost any where else during our travels. It was also annoying that the ticket price changed from day to day, sometimes lower, sometimes higher and I couldn’t find an explanation why. Tickets are for timed entry to help manage the crowds, but it was the crowds that made me realize it wouldn’t be worth the cost. Due to popularity, visitation is heavy with traffic issues and lots of people to maneuver around inside the home. I came across the word “cattle” in several recent reviews. Perhaps I will regret having missed the biggest home in America, but as Mark sometimes reminds me, “you can’t see everything.”
The town of Cherokee is the North Carolina gateway to Smoky Mountains National Park, the ending point of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the home of the Eastern Cherokee Nation. In 1838, most Cherokee in the southeastern U.S. were forced to relocate to Oklahoma, marching on what became known as the “Trail of Tears.” Some Cherokee from this region had taken land and were allowed to remain and others hid in the mountains to avoid being located. After arriving in Oklahoma, some Cherokee walked back home to North Carolina. Today, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians do not live on a reservation given to them by the government but on property they purchased in the 1800’s called the Qualla Boundary. They live in beautiful and rugged country with mountains, rivers and forests, a sovereign nation with over 14,000 members. I took the photo above at a stop looking down on Eastern Cherokee lands.
Prior to doing research about visiting North Carolina, I did not realize that the Eastern Cherokee lived so close to the Great Smokies. During my social work career I often had to interact with the Cherokee tribes including not only the Eastern Band but also the United Keetoowah Band and Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. Since we worked with families through juvenile court for child protection issues, we had to inquire if families had Indian ancestry. Cherokee was one of the tribes frequently mentioned by our clients and involved written notice to each tribal office to determine if the children were eligible for enrollment and if the tribe wanted to get involved. So it was interesting to drive around the town of Cherokee and see the enrollment office, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the tribal court building, etc. I took the photo above because I thought it was neat how all of the street signs as well as some signs on buildings were in both English and Cherokee. I read that students are taught the Cherokee language in school and each high school student is required to pass a Cherokee language class before graduation. It is encouraging that active measures are in place to keep the language alive among tribal members.
The Museum of the Cherokee Indian was an informative and worthwhile visit to learn more about their history including interaction with the European or white settlers, their livelihood and culture. Outside of the building is a really neat statue carved from a single redwood tree from California and donated and shipped by Georgia Pacific Company. The statue honors Sequoyah, a Cherokee who invented the Cherokee alphabet. We learned that Sequoyah, who was illiterate, believed it was important to capture the thoughts and words of his people. It took him two years, but in 1821 he completed his first syllabary, a writing system or kind of alphabet in which each character stands for a syllable. It was a success with the people easily learning to use the syllabary allowing them to communicate and keep records in their own language to help and preserve their culture.
Below is a photo of one of my favorite pieces in the museum, a face mask made from a hornet’s nest. It is difficult taking photos through glass so sorry for the spots of light in the picture.
After the museum we headed across the street to Qualla Arts and Crafts, a Native American Cooperative for Eastern Cherokee artwork.
There was a large selection of baskets, pottery, wood carvings, beadwork and jewelry. I really enjoyed seeing the many baskets made from a variety of materials, such as river cane, honeysuckle and white oak. Some were behind glass like in the photo below due to their museum quality and others could be purchased in the gift shop area. They were all quite beautiful but also very expensive.
Leaving the town of Cherokee we drove to Mingo Falls located within Cherokee lands. As is typical with most falls in the Appalachian mountains, a long set of steps had to be traversed to get to the falls. The Falls cascade 120 feet down a rock face in a lovely forest setting.
Thanks for checking in! In the next post we find ourselves in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.