In my many travels around the Carolinas I meet a lot of people who are not from here. It seems as if they come from around the country for a variety of reasons: some for work, some for vacation, some for our natural resources, and some come to make this their new home.
I love hearing the stories about where they are from. After learning about them, I often ask what they enjoy or love about the Carolinas. Here are few of my recent interactions.
Not long ago I received a call from a friend who told me about Bright's Creek in Mill Spring NC. He invited me to visit him when he was there for a meeting. I sure am glad I made the trip.
It's not the kind of place you find just off the interstate; winding mountain roads are involved. Whether you play golf, enjoy horseback riding or hiking you will enjoy the peace and serenity at Bright's Creek. If you like the idea of beautiful mountains, waterfalls, great food and fine accommodations you will be set for a treat that you will want to tell your friends about.
While at breakfast the first morning I met a waitress named Susie Deluciano. She was not lacking in dynamic personality. She moved to the area from Marathon, which is in the Florida Keys. She told me she loves the Carolinas because it's a whole different mindset; life is slower here, and kindness is everywhere. She said she has finally found calm in her life. I asked her what it was like when she goes back to Florida for a visit.
Susie said, "Well, the closer I get to Miami, the more I can feel my claws coming back out." After we talked, I gave a her a welcoming Carolina hug, which lingered for just a moment, and she said, "That's it, that's what I love about people here. Hugs just because, nothing expected, just kindness."
I met Ret. Lt. Commander Jim Tabb at lunch. He was born in Missouri and had traveled the world in the Navy. Among his many accomplishments, he made over 300 landings in an A4D Skyhawk while in the 6th Fleet. When he retired from the Navy he went on to pilot for TWA for 29 years. He has now lived in the Carolinas for thirty years. He enjoys the climate, the lay of the land and the people.
Jim developed a love of BBQ many years ago and has become known for his ability to cook amazing BBQ. He was also a Kansas City BBQ judge and enjoyed the diversity of cooking styles and presentations. He is the founder of the Blue Ridge BBQ festival in Tryon NC, which has around 20,000 attendees, he has developed his own BBQ seasoning called “Pig Powder” He told me, "I feel like this is home now". That's a big statement from someone who has seen the world and knows a thing or two about a lot of places. His wife still works for the airline industry. She's tired when she gets home but she loves their home in the Carolinas.
The following day I made a drive to Chimney Rock NC, which is also home to the NC Chimney Rock State Park and adjacent to Lake Lure. This is where Dirty Dancing with Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey was filmed. I visited the Esmeralda Inn and Restaurant, which is owned by Don and Kim Cason.
The Casons met and fell in love in Florida, then move to Ohio for Don's work. After several years in Ohio they went to a family reunion in Gatlinburg TN. While there, they discovered an inn called Eight Gables Inn for sale, and within eight months they were the new owners. Kim told me that their kids mostly grew up in the inn where they developed great people skills and come to love the inn life. However, when they needed a break they sought the peace and solitude of Western NC.
Ten years would pass until an unexpected offer came that was simply too good to pass up. So, the couple sold their beloved Eight Gables Inn. Several years later the couple decided they wanted to get back in the inn business. They looked at a number of locations and to their great delight they came across the Esmeralda Inn and knew it would be perfect for them. It was a great inn with good history and potential and, more importantly, it was in Western NC. This is where Don and Kim plan to stay.
There are so many stories and reasons I could share about the people who have discovered and fallen in love with the Carolinas, but I think this is a good start: a fun loving lady from the Keys, a retired Lt. Commander/BBQ Cooker and a couple of lovebirds who finally found their special place in the Carolinas.