Silver Run Falls is a small waterfall found in Cashiers, NC. The path to Silver Run Falls was difficult to find and took our group a few tries to finally pinpoint the sign that led to the trail. The sign, tough to detect between all the trees and winding roads, pointed toward a downward slope which was our trail. The trail was short and provided and few nice photo spots, including a bridge over a little watering hole. After walking for about five minutes, we arrived at the falls, which were hidden beneath all the trees and mountains.
Silver Run Falls had many rock formations that made it easy to navigate for picture taking or seeing the falls from a different perspective. With the water freezing cold, the rocks were our life preservers keeping us out of the water as we moved around the falls. The falls weren’t particularly massive since there had not been a significant rain for awhile in the area. But the sights and sounds of the area were still incredible.
Our group spent around 30 minutes at the falls, relaxing and taking pictures. It was a great time to climb on the rocks to see how close you could get to actually touching the falls. The falls also allowed us to pause momentarily during our busy day and just enjoy cool mountain air and the sound of the falls. It was a welcome escape to all the town visits we packed into the day and brought us up close to the scenery we had been driving through all day.
Once we left the falls, we made our way back, except instead of walking on the bridge we crossed the watering hole on a fallen tree. This conclusion to our short visit was a quick, fun experience for an overall wonderful experience at Silver Run Falls.
When driving to Highlands, our group was caught up in the beauty of the landscape around us. We were all trying to quickly take pictures of the mountains with the changing tree colors when we spotted ahead a gravel parking space that directed us toward a spot on the Cullasaja Gorge. Our group had been driving alongsidethe gorge for quite some time at this point and decided we could take a spontaneous detour and absorb the nature around us.
The path we made to get down to the gorge was trail blazed by us. Since there wasn’t any form of walkway, we had to carefully step down the steep cliffside in order to reach the bottom. After breaking ground and forging our path, we reached the bottom of the gorge and were welcomed to amazing scenery. We were right up close to the Cullasaja river which was flowing and covered with the colorful leaves that were falling from the trees. It was a great time to bask in a hidden gem from this ride as we were the only people within the gorge. After some time walking around and taking pictures, we climbed back up to the road and continued on our journey to Highlands.
My name is Christian Kowalski and I am a senior majoring in English PWR and minoring in Political Science and African and African American Studies. I am currently a Lead Consultant at the Elon University Writing Center and a member of the Periclean Scholars Class of 2017. Through my time at Elon, I have had the opportunities to travel abroad to Nicaragua and South Africa along with the many weekend excursions I’ve taken to explore the Eastern United States. After graduation, I aim to work in the nonprofit world focusing on community development and growth.
Established in 2012, The Phoenix is Brevard’s premier farm to table restaurant, promoting food from local sustainable farms. Its motto is “Live Music ~ Local Food ~ Lovin’ Life ~ Livin’ Good.” The purple front door immediately sets the tone, giving off a unique, hipster-like vibe, and you won’t be disappointed when you walk in. On the right, a comfy lounge area invited guests to sit and enjoy the live music up close. New artists and seasoned musicians alike played live music 7 days a week. The lounge reminded me of a ‘70s living room with bright orange sofas and olive green recliners arranged with a few wooden tables in the center. Beside it, a bunch of high tables were placed around the room as normal seating, and a bar was in the back. Chalk boards hung over the bar, displaying the daily specials and the musician’s name. Although it was dark inside, the paintings and drawings of local artists showed up vibrantly on the purple walls.
By the time we ordered our food, every table was seated in time for the live music to start at 9pm. As I looked at the menu, I peaked at other customers’ dishes. There was poached pear salad made with mixed greens, poached pears, Gorgonzola, and pecans. My mouth watered for an appetizer of fried green tomatoes made of cornmeal encrusted tomatoes, blackened NC shrimp, and Cajun cream sauce. I decided on shrimp quesadillas that were stuffed with grilled onions, green peppers, mushrooms, and blackened shrimp. The quesadilla was worth the long wait time. It was overloaded with all the items and knowing that the ingredients were procured locally made it extra tasty.
There was a mix up in the kitchen, so everyone got their meal before me and I had to wait an extra ten minutes until mine was ready. Since it was crowded and it looked like the servers were understaffed, we were not assigned one specific waitress, but had several waitresses who seemed to bounced between tables. One of the waitresses apologized to me for the extra wait and explained, “Oh honey, I’m so sorry. This place is crazy right now, so I think your plate was given to another table instead. Everyday there is some mix up, and I guess you are the lucky one today.” She was very nice, which I appreciated. I really didn’t mind getting my food after everyone; I was enjoying the live music, anyway.
The female duo was called Blown Glass. One woman sang lead vocals and the other harmonized and played the guitar. They performed indie/singer-songwriter original music that had a melodic and organic sound. The music complimented the atmosphere of the restaurant and enhanced the dining experience. Surprisingly, the music and mood was interrupted when a bunch of men in ridiculous, matching outfits called Pisgah Thunder randomly enter the restaurant and start to dance around the diners (*hyperlink to travelogue).
After a marathon day of sightseeing Brevard and all the other Mountain towns along Highway 64, we were happy with our choice to eat at The Phoenix. If you are in Brevard looking for local, sustainable food, live music, and a retro, fun vibe I highly recommend stopping at this purple restaurant.
Before we explored the Franklin Pumpkin Festival, we wanted to warm up with coffee. Crabtree General Store and Coffee Vault was just the place for that. It was an old-fashioned, yet modernized general store, reflecting the small-town feel of Franklin. Friendly cashiers welcomed us with a smile, and the coffee aroma filled the store. Crabtree General sold every type of coffee drink from cappuccinos to green tea chai lattes at their fully coffee bar. Their coffee beans were imported from Black Mountain. Tucked away there was a tiny Wifi lounge where we sipped our coffees and talked about our plan to conquer the festival.
Once we finished our drinks, we walked around, looking at all sorts of wonderful, random, and unique items that cluttered the store. There were barrels spilling over with old-fashioned candy like colored taffy, crystal rock candy, giant gummy bears, and both mini and supersized jawbreakers. Creams and lip balm from J.R. Watkins and Burt’s Bees lined a shelf, along with local jams and jellies. Hung up on the wall were “Home” shirts, the t-shirts with the state of NC printed on the front. There was a whole toy section with Melissa and Doug stuffed animals, puzzles, board games, wooden trains, and model cars. Another section displayed cute wine glasses with funny sayings like, “It’s wine o’ clock somewhere” and “I tend to wine a lot,” in addition to other home décor items.
As we were looking around, a woman with curly, short blond hair wearing a glittery pumpkin asked how we were doing and if we were enjoying the festival. Much to our surprise, she was Karen Crabtree, co-owner of the General Store with her husband and three grown sons. The Crabtree family opened the store in 2015, and although the store had been open for less than a year, it has made a name for itself as a community gathering spot. Mrs. Crabtree grew up in Franklin, and after moving away for college, was drawn back to the small town to reconnect with relatives, bringing her own family, too. She was glad to come back home because she “enjoys the sense of family that Franklin offers.” After telling her about our Highway 64 trip, we thanked her and went outside.
The wrap around patio of Crabtree General overlooked the town, providing a panoramic view of the festival. White rocking chairs added to its southern, homey charm. At a table selling General Store logo t-shirts and hoodies, we were offered samples of an assortment of apple, pumpkin and banana butters. We taste tested all three and couldn’t pick our favorite. The butters were only the first of many delicious festival foods we tried that day. We left the store warmed from the coffee and ready to explore Franklin’s annual Pumpkin Fest.
The excitement was palpable as we pulled into a parking space in front of a coffee shop called The Daily Grind & Wine in downtown Murphy, NC. A four-plus hour car ride from Elon to Murphy had stiffened my legs—and “nature called.” The café was situated in the “Town of Murphy,” which was founded in 1835. Originally founded as Huntington after the first Postmaster Col. H.R.S. Hunter, Murphy gained its current name after Archibald D. Murphey, later dropping the “e” in Murphy. Since 1851, Murphy has been the county seat of Cherokee County. The Cherokee Indian Nation called Cherokee County and the surrounding area home prior to 1839, until they were removed to Oklahoma over the “Trail of Tears,” which follows a pathway out of town.
Located downtown in the historic building, The Daily Grind is nestled among several shops, including a neighboring bookstore and a basement music shop. Since May 2000, the coffee shop considers itself to be “the ‘Cheers’ for locals and visitors alike” and serves espresso, cappuccinos, and lattes. All day customers can choose off the breakfast and lunch menu that offers fresh baked goods, wraps, salads and grilled Panini sandwiches. Hanging chalkboards display the menu on the wall behind the cash register.
I opted for a black bean vegan burger with a whole slew of toppings—lettuce, tomato, mayo, Italian vinaigrette, provolone, and pickles—all on a skinny wheat bun and served with a choice of chips, grapes, or potato salad. Trying to be health conscious, I went with grapes. (This health craze didn’t last long; my diet became progressively saturated in fats, carbs, and sugars throughout the trip.)
The cashier gave me a table tracker, where the number card was displayed upright, inserted between two wine corks. This was a fitting nod to The Daily Grind’s other service: wine. With its Celtic themed wine and beer bar, the coffee shop doubles as the only retail wine shop in downtown Murphy. The bar specializes in regionally crafted brews and prides itself in being “a great place to meet old friends and make new ones.” In a small section beside the bar, a few tall tables were clustered together, inviting people to sit and enjoy their wine. Close by, wine racks lined the surrounding walls, serving as a little shop.
I sat down with my number at a two-seat table with Dani. Sam and Christian occupied the one next to us. The seating area was small and cozy, brightened by the natural light streaming in from the long wall of windows. While I waited on the food, I spotted a photo album resting on a seat. Curious, I opened it to reveal a scrapbook that documented the history of The Daily Grind through pictures and news articles: a flyer announcing its grand opening and promotional free concert, the first menu, pictures of the shop’s original layout, and many more pages.
Although the coffee shop had been around for less than two decades, the history within the scrapbook and the bustling vibe of the small eatery showed just how homey it felt, helping to create the friendly environment of Murphy. I looked around and saw locals and visitors alike enjoying the quaint, comfortable, and chill atmosphere.
My vegan burger arrived shortly in a basket lined with newspaper. The vegan burger, textured with black beans and a combination of breadcrumbs, onions, corn, and other seasonings, was moist and flavorful. The toasted wheat bun was crisp and warm, complementing the burger and all of its condiments.
After the long car ride, The Daily Grind& Wine provided an excellent pick-me-up stop. The atmosphere was cozy and relaxed, making it easy to talk with people, and the menu offered many tasty breakfast and lunch options perfect for a light meal. From my co-travelers, I heard enthusiastic approval of the coffee and appreciation of the local wine collection. If you are looking for a place in Murphy to sit back and relax while eating delicious sandwiches and drinking rich coffee or regional, unique wines, I highly recommend you skip a chain or fast food place and come to The Daily Grind.
Armed with hot chocolate clutched between my cold hands, I was ready to explore Franklin’s Pumpkin Fest. The streets were crowded with rows upon rows of booths that offered handmade crafts from soaps to aprons. A few minutes into roaming the aisles, Sam, Dani, and I were attracted to the jewelry stand, Designs by Janette. Christian was not nearly as interested.
A variety of necklaces made from14k gold, sterling silver, brass, and copper hung from nails in a wooden box, evoking a simple, rustic vibe. The pieces were simple, yet caught the eye with their intricate detailing. Small pendants adorned each paper-thin chain: a bird woven into its nest, a tree entangled by its branches, and a simple bar inscribed with a word, BADASS (and yes, it fittingly was in all caps). The juxtaposition between the powerful, confident statement and the delicate design made the piece unique.
When I conversationally mentioned this juxtaposition to the lady overseeing the stand, I discovered that she not only was the Janette of Designs by Janette, but also appreciated that I had picked up on the contrast in her piece. “I draw inspiration from the juxtaposition of the natural and man-made world with the combination of organic and geometric lines,” she said. Among her most popular pieces include her Tree of Life design and Bird’s Nest necklaces and earrings. Framed by a rectangular border, the Tree of Life emerges from the intertwining wires that twist into sprawling branches. To add texture to the Bird’s Nest pieces, the eggs are made of freshwater pearls or aquamarine.
Growing up in Michigan, Janette loved art and the creativity involved. Today as a North Carolina artisan specializing in metal work, she employs wire-wrapping and metal-smithing techniques to create “elegant, lightweight, and feminine jewelry.” She participates in numerous art shows, festivals, and craft fairs throughout North Carolina. Last weekend she had set up her stand in Cashiers, NC for Art for a Cause. Before pursuing her career as a professional artist, Janette taught art class to elementary and middle schools in North Carolina for five years. She smiled at me, explaining, “While I enjoyed working with youth, a career as a professional artist was calling.”
After learning from numerous how-to books on jewelry making, she dedicated herself as a self-taught jewelry artist and started her company, Designs by Janette, in 2011. In addition to handcrafted jewelry, she creates oil and acrylic paintings, photographs, and prints. Her art is displayed in galleries across North Carolina, South Carolina, and Michigan. When I asked her about selling her art in multiple states, she replied, “My love of travel and exploring the outdoors serves as a constant inspiration and is reflected in my work.”
To create her beautiful one-of-a-kind designs, Janette starts at the beginning. “My creative process begins with the raw materials in my hand. My ideas go directly from my head to my hands with typically no sketch in between. I solder the wire, hammer the pieces and continue by adding gemstones or textures with the rolling mill. Each piece is completed by being filed and polished,” she described. Her designs center on reshaping recycled materials, metals and natural stones into wearable art. Many of her jewelry are inlaid with precious and semi-precious metals with natural and faceted gemstones. The malleable metal and wire undergoes hot- and cold-forging processes to be fashioned into her wire-wrapped creations.
After talking to this self-starting businesswoman about her labor of love, I couldn’t leave without a souvenir. I admired a pair of Tree of Life earrings and examined a Bird Nest necklace, but it wasn’t until my gaze turned toward the bar necklace stamped with “BADASS” that I truly smiled. That word doesn’t represent me at all – so naturally, I had to have it.
Janette swiped my debit card using her iPhone card reader, and started to put my necklace in a fancy box with her logo on it. “Wait!” I said, gesturing for it. “I want to wear it now, please.” She smiled and placed the delicate necklace in my palm. I thanked her and walked out of her stand to find my other Mountain group members, who were looking at handmade soaps next door. With the necklace fastened around my neck, I could feel the slight pressure of the bar every time I inhaled the crisp mountain air, making me grin as I was reminded of what I could be – or perhaps what I am: BADASS.
The meal at The Phoenix was normal up until a swarm of twenty men between their mid-twenties and mid-life crisis wearing matching outfits—head to toe—enthusiastically banged on the front window outside and swaggered into the restaurant drunkenly. They looked like too-old fraternity guys in their red letterman jackets with white tank tops with a black mustache on the front peaking out underneath. Some had actual mustaches. On the back of the jacket was their logo: their name, Pisgah Thunder, bolded in white and blue on top of a black lightning bolt. Short jorts (jean shorts) showed off way too much of their hairy legs; on some you could even see the tan line on their thighs. To complete the outfit, they all wore white crew socks with yellow stripes at the top, white sneakers, and a bright red sweatband around their head.
They were boisterous, and the room loved it, hollering and whooping at the guys as they shimmied, gyrated, and pumped their fist around the restaurant. These men were part of a “local Semi Synchronized Man Dancing Troupe” from Brevard, NC. From observation of how they erratically pelvic thrusted to imaginary beats, the phrase “semi synchronized” seems generous. As a charity group, they dance to raise money for the Boys and Girls Club and “dance because [they] were born to.”
After dancing for a few minutes around the tables, the troupe exited to a “thunder” of applause. Although not to be upstaged by the jeering diners, the men tapped on the windows again and danced without a care past the restaurant, embarking on to who-knows-what. Our normal meal had become much more interesting. We had no idea that we were getting dinner and a show!
Molly Spero is a junior English major with a double concentration in Literature and Professional Writing & Rhetoric, and a minor in Classical Studies. Molly lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, and much to her New Yorker family’s relief, does not have a southern accent. She is an Honors Fellow and works in the Undergraduate Research office. To keep her sane, she plays ultimate Frisbee on the women’s club team and runs in 5k races, with the goal of running a half marathon. Traveling is something that she’s learned to enjoy and hopes to continue. In the future, she hopes to pursue a career in editing and publishing.
Mayberry’s was an adorable bistro in downtown Brevard. A bar separated us from the kitchen as we ordered. I chose the ginger turkey sandwich and tomato soup combo, with a cream cheese swirl brownie on the side. This meal completely hit the spot. Warm and gooey sandwiches and thick, hearty soups warmed me up from the inside out. I saved the brownie for the car ride home.
Mayberry’s makes everything in house, whether it was sauces, soups, or their sandwiches and dinner entrees. They specialize in comfort food, which is exactly how I would define my own meal. Comfort food is all about gooey, homey meals that feel like you’ve eaten a hug. The restaurant was one of the few restaurants that was simply priced (about $8 for a sandwich and cup of soup) and was actually open on a Sunday in Brevard. Wine and beer were available for purchase (starting at 12p though since it is illegal in NC to sell alcohol before noon), as well as Bloody Mary, Long Island Iced Tea, and Screwdrivers. We all stuck to water.
Mayberry’s made us feel right at home in Brevard, with its wooden floors and walls, colorful signs featuring the White Squirrel Festival in May, and eclectic groups of people enjoying a casual meal as well. I would recommend this restaurant to anyone who needs a quick stop for a simple meal. The atmosphere warms you up as much as the food does and the restaurant bid us a fond farewell from Highway 64 as we headed back to Elon.