18th Century Farmhouse Reborn

Over the past five years, I have documented the condition of the 18th century log cabin located deep in Otter Creek Valley. Last year, a new front porch replaced an older version, and thankfully, there was evidence that repairs were being made on the over 200 year old structure. Over the past two weeks, a new roof has replaced the older, sagging roof, and repairs continue on the exterior of the cabin. I couldn’t be more pleased. This farmhouse must be one of the oldest surviving homes in Rutherford County, and it would have been a shame to have allowed it to decay further.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

18th Century Farmstead

KODAK Digital Still Camera

porch-6Cabin during the winter before repairs were made…

KODAK Digital Still CameraThe original profile of the cabin has been restored with a new wood and metal roof. The image below shows the old roof line after the kitchen addition was added after the Civil War.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

New Rear View

KODAK Digital Still CameraA corner view shows work continuing to replace the rotted porch. Notice the concrete block construction underneath the kitchen addition, compared to the original hand placed stone foundation of the older structure.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still CameraIn rebuilding the side porch, the original 220 year old logs were revealed. The plank siding was added after the Civil War. The cabin might have looked like the one below before the siding was added.





Pink Laurel in Bloom

The first two weeks of May always bring the Mountain Laurel, and the pink is the first to bloom. The white will be opening next week.

Laurel Slope

Laurel bunches

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There’s a delicate scent when you get close…

House Laurel

Montford Cove Valley

Nestled along the McDowell-Rutherford County line is the farming and cattle community known as Montford Cove. Corn and Black Angus are the main reasons this area prospers, along with high nutrient Hay fields. 

I went to a spot overlooking the valley this morning to experience the sunrise. It was a cool 46 degrees with no breeze. With the passage of a cold front, the humidity was very low, making for unlimited visibility. With summer right around the corner, these dry conditions won’t last. My house is about two miles south of this spot. Charlotte is 100 miles to the east, and Asheville is 30 miles to the west. Lake Lure is seven miles further south. Hickory Nut Mountain at 3,100 feet, dominates the west boundary of the valley. 

Valley FieldTryon Mountain along the South Carolina border is the last mountain before Panama in Central America.

Kings MtnTom’s Mountain is toward the southeast and Charlotte beyond.

Oak MtnOak Mountain to the south overlooks my home, which is just on the other side.

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Tryon and Oak Mountains

PanoramicA panoramic view of the valley. Save this image so you can enlarge it later for full effect.

Toms MtnGlaxhorn Mountain to the southeast…

Sunny ValleyBear Gap to the west catches the first rays…

Tryon MtnAfter sunrise, Tryon Mountain, and Bill’s Mountain, east of Lake Lure, in the foreground…

Valley FarmCow pastures are scattered throughout the valley.

Pinnacle MtnTo the northeast is 2,500 foot Rich Mountain, with Pinnacle Peak to the right…

Pink LaurelMountain Laurel has bloomed this week along the mountain slopes.

cabinIn the valley, a 19th century farmhouse looks toward Hickory Nut Mountain to the west.

Azaleas and Orchids at Biltmore Gardens

With the beginning of May comes the most colorful time for the gardens at The Biltmore Estate. Azaleas are popping out everywhere, and the orchids inside the Conservatory are more varied that ever. Steady rains had fallen just prior to my visit today, and the variations of green can take your breath away.

While touring the Conservatory, I enjoyed the classical guitar performance of Shane Parish. Click below to hear Recuerdos de la Alhambra by Francisco Tarrega. He played as well as I’ve ever heard., especially this piece.

Frederick Law Olmsted’s approach road displays unusual spring reds…Roadway


This image is completely uncropped and untouched by processing… The azaleas are really this color.

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Fire Azalea

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Azalea Hillside



This very unusual flower is from the Lily/Amarylis family…

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I was fortunate to happen upon a classical guitarist in one of the Greenhouses, and I sat to enjoy his entire session. Shane Parish delivered a performance of Francisco Torrega’s Recuerdos de la Alhambra that rivaled Carlos Montoya and John Williams. What a rare treat, and much of the time he played just for me. At times, I was the only other person in the Greenhouse.

This two minute video will provide a more three dimensional tour of the gardens.



Steam Railroads near Yosemite Valley

The main reason we went to California recently was to serve as “Crew for the Day” in the cab of America’s oldest operating steam locomotive, the Sierra Number 3, based in the “Railtown 1897” state park in Jamestown. The 1891 treasure was restored five years ago, and carries passengers on trips through the Sierra foothills. 

The steam engine has been used in more Hollywood movies and TV shows than any other engine. It was the train used in the 1960’s TV series, “Petticoat Junction”, and had a prominent role in “Back to the Future 3”. It is a beautiful example of American engineering at its best. 

Steam 2Sierra No. 3   1891


Shay Side ViewOn the south side of Yosemite is another historic railroad, The Yosemite Valley Sugar Pine Railway, and we rode behind this historic “Shay” style locomotive through forest of Redwood and giant Sugar Pines. After each of our runs, we were taken aboard small “Speeder” cars that were used for fire patrol in the old days. Being in these small open air contraptions was in many ways, more exciting than being in the larger trains.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Railtown Speeder Car

Wildflower Track

I’ve produced a 12 minute video of both journeys. If you’re viewing this as part of your e-mail, click on the headline above to go directly to my blog, and see the video. It will be worth your while.

Blue Ridge Parkway at Mt. Pisgah

With storms approaching, I drove onto The Parkway at Asheville, and headed west toward Mt. Pisgah. Clouds and intermittent sun always make for dramatic scenes.

Southeast ViewToward Hendersonville

Pisgah VistaMt. Pisgah in the distance…

Mt. PisgahA closer look… The tower on the summit is over 6,000 feet above sea level, the highest transmission tower east of the Mississippi.  With most people using cable and satellite these days, the old tower is mostly obsolete.

Ellie and Vann

Having lunch at the Pisgah Inn along The Parkway is like flying in a plane…

From the InnThis view toward the southwest through the window at lunch rivals any view anywhere. That’s Looking Glass Rock, the round peak in the center, a favorite of rock climbers.

Looking GlassDiving off The Parkway toward Brevard, a visit to Looking Glass Falls is always memorable.

Cloud LineBack at home, storms were approaching from the west.  Three inches of needed rain fell overnight.


“Green Up” Time in the Mountains

That’s what the old Scots-Irish settlers used to call it when the first leaves began to burst forth in the woods, and everything was colored in many shades of light green. When I returned from California last week, “Green Up” was well underway. Here are my favorites from this year.

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Pollen Spiral on Otter Pond

Fence Overlook


Red Maple


Approaching Spring Storm

Vann SmilesYours truly………..



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