Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Cascades

Jeffress Park, Blue Ridge Parkway

 

Nice little park with ample parking, picnic tables, and restrooms. The trail is well-worn and obvious. It’s 90% easy to make the half-mile hike to the falls. The last few hundred feet is a stone stairway with a rickety handrail here and there. Not bad going down but my knees got to burning on the way back up. It’s impossible to capture the entire cascade in one photo, but there’s an overlook at the top and another further down.

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The drive along the Parkway is a pleasant one with several overlooks.

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Below is the best shot I could get of the Cascades.

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One Month in the Mountains

We left our boat and the liveaboard life and moved into a log cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains on August 1, 2018. What a transition! We left the beaches to live near Beech Mountain, (and Sugar Mountain, and Grandfather Mountain, etc.) Our cozy little cabin in on McGuire Mountain Road, high above the lovely little town of Banner Elk, North Carolina.

We’ve been busy getting our new home in order and adapting to our new lifestyle. I’ve been splitting and stacking wood in preparation for winter. Kim has been crafting and cooking in a real kitchen. Although we thoroughly enjoyed our time living on a boat in Florida, I have to say we are now Living Large in a real house.

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We’ve explored nearby waterfalls and done a little hiking. Still trying to get our mountain legs.

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The weather has been outstanding. I think the highest temperature we’ve seen is 80 degrees, but mostly it tops out in the mid to upper 70’s, in August. Nights see low 60’s or upper 50’s. We’ve been sleeping with the windows open. The sound of the creek helps put us to sleep.

The air and water are so much cleaner than in Florida. The humidity is not an issue, although we’ve gotten light rains fairly often. We feel better physically and mentally. No stress!

Now we realize that winter will be a challenge for us thin-blooded Floridians. Check back with us in January.

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Crab Orchard Falls

Just four miles from our cabin there are some little-known falls, Crab Orchard. You won’t find it on Google Maps. If you want to visit, look for the Valle Crucis Conference Center. Pull into their parking lot and pay attention to the signs for “Waterfall Parking.”

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Here’s the deal; Although the hike in is only half a mile, it’s a steep climb. The first .4 miles is on a cleared path that just keeps going up, up, and up. The last .1 is a steep downward drop to the base of the falls, and a bit on the rough side. Don’t try it if it’s wet.

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You can’t get lost!

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Just as you approach the bottom, there is a rickety wooden walkway that’s seen better days. Be careful.

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It’s a beautiful little spot down there, with a small pool and various branches of cascading water.

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If you’re feeling adventurous, you can climb those big rocks and view the upper part of the falls, or backtrack a bit and follow a trail up higher on the mountain.

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It’s cool for us to have such a place so close to home. Might pack a lunch next time. The hike is a bit on the strenuous side, but it’s a rewarding one. Not long, just steep. Coming down was very easy.

Crab Orchard Falls, Banner Elk, North Carolina

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Where’s The Damn Waterfall? (A true story of bumbling about in the woods).

Kim and I took a nice country drive to Laurel Creek Falls today. At least we thought we were at the right place. We pulled off the road at an obvious parking space, but there were no falls. We poked around and found an extremely steep path down to the stream’s edge. It was well worn, and there was nothing else obvious in the area. Kim could not climb down. I went ahead and scrambled down the rocks and tree roots to the bottom.

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I soon ran out of dirt to step on and resorted to rock hopping, until I came to an intersection in the stream. One branch ran under the road.

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I didn’t want to get my shoes soaked so I didn’t take that route. Instead, I climbed up the hill by the side of the bridge. It was so steep I almost didn’t make it, but there was a handy tree root right where I needed it.

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I crossed the road and saw two posts sunk in the ground for no particular reason. I thought they were trail markers. The “trail” turned out to be almost completely overgown, but I picked my way to a cliff overlooking the stream. IMG_0794

I walked on mossy slick boulders and used hanging vines to climb to the next higher rock. This was a dead end. I thought that was the falls. Climbing back up and out was even more difficult. I was seriously winded when I made it back to the road. The car was only a few hundred feet away though!

Just as I was about to cross back over the road, I saw a nice clean trail cut into the woods almost directly across from the parking area. DOH! After resting a few minutes, Kim and I returned to the trail and made an easy hike to a better section of the falls.

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Your grandma could have made this hike in street shoes. I felt pretty dumb, but at least we found what we were looking for. Beautiful spot. No other people around, but plenty of evidence that folks frequent these falls.

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Panties – for example.

Laurel Creek Falls are less than ten miles from our cabin. The main falls is only a few hundred yards off the road, but once you’re back there it’s rugged country.

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It’s well worth the visit, just make sure you find the right trail, so you don’t go bumbling about the woods like I did!

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Popcorn Sutton

Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton (October 5, 1946 – March 16, 2009) was an American Appalachian moonshiner and bootlegger. Born in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, he grew up, lived, and died in the rural areas around Maggie Valley and nearby Cocke County, TennesseeHe wrote a self-published autobiographical guide to moonshining production, self-produced a home video depicting his moonshining activities, and was later the subject of several documentaries, including one that received a Regional Emmy Award.

Sutton committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning in March 2009, aged 62, rather than report to federal prison after being convicted of offenses related to moonshining and illegal firearm possession. Since his death, a new company and associated whiskey brand have been named after him.

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“Jesus turned the water into wine, I turned it into likker.”

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Sutton had a long career making moonshine and bootlegging. Sutton said he considered moonshine production a legitimate part of his heritage, as he was a Scots-Irish American and descended from a long line of moonshiners. In the 1960s or 1970s, Sutton was given the nickname of “Popcorn” after his frustrated attack on a bar’s faulty popcorn vending machine with a pool cue. Before his rise to fame at around 60 years of age, he had been in trouble with the law several times, but had avoided prison sentences. He was convicted in 1974 of selling untaxed liquor and in 1981 and 1985 on charges of possessing controlled substancesand assault with a deadly weapon, but he received only probation sentences in those cases.

He was a short, skinny fella, who always wore his hat – that was kind of his claim to fame, his hat that he always wore. And his bib overalls – he always wore bib overalls. Even when he came to federal court, he was wearing bib overalls. He was a friendly fellow, and of course every time you would talk to him, he would say, “Ray, I’ve run my last run of moonshine, I’m not gonna do it anymore, I’m just getting too old to be doing this stuff.”

— Radio reporter Ray Snader on “Popcorn” Sutton, 2009
He appeared in various documentaries and feature films including Mountain Talk, and This is the Last Dam Run of Likker I’ll Ever Make. In 2007, a fire on Sutton’s property in Parrottsville led to firefighters discovering 650 gallons of untaxed alcohol there, for which he was convicted and put on probation again by Cocke County authorities.
In March 2008, Sutton told an undercover federal officer that he had 500 gallons of moonshine in Tennessee and another 400 gallons in Maggie Valley that he was ready to sell. This led to a raid of his property by the ATF, led by Jim Cavanaugh of Waco siege notoriety, In January 2009, Sutton, who had used a public defender as his attorney in the case and had pleaded guilty, was sentenced to 18 months in a federal prison for illegally distilling spirits and possession of a firearm as a felon (a .38-caliber handgun). Sutton, 62 and recently diagnosed with cancer, asked the U.S. District Judge Ronnie Greer to allow him to serve his sentence under house arrest, and several petitions were made by others requesting that his sentence be reduced or commuted, but this time to no avail. The judge noted that Sutton was still under probation in Tennessee at the time of the federal raid, and said that putting a man on probation again after being convicted five times of various crimes would not serve the community interest. He also noted Sutton’s appearances on film surrounded by firearms and demonstrating how to make illegal moonshine. He said he had considered a harsher sentence of 24 months, but had decided on 18 months after considering Sutton’s age and medical condition.
Sutton committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning on March 16, 2009, apparently to avoid a federal prison term due to begin a few days later. His wife Pam, whom he had married about two years before his death, returned home from running errands and discovered her husband in his green Ford Fairmont (which was still running) at the rear of their property in Parrottsville, Tennessee. Mrs. Sutton said, “He called it his three-jug car because he gave three jugs of liquor for it.” His daughter said he had told her in advance that he would commit suicide rather than go to jail, adding that “the strength to die the way he lived: according to his own wishes and no one else’s.”
A conventional grave marker was used the head of Sutton’s grave, reading “Marvin Popcorn Sutton / Ex-Moonshiner / October 5, 1946 / March 16, 2009”. He had also prepared a footstone in advance for his gravesite, and for years he had kept it by his front porch and had kept his casket ready in his living room. The epitaph on his footstone reads “Popcorn Said Fuck You“.

A bottle of the namesake whiskey

On November 9, 2010, Hank Williams Jr. announced his partnership with J&M Concepts LLC and widow Pam Sutton to distill and distribute a brand of whiskey named after Sutton that was asserted to follow his legacy.

They were quickly sued by Jack Daniels due to the similarity of the bottle and labeling. The two parties settled out of court. The terms were not disclosed, but the bottle changed.

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I’m sure this stuff is available near me. I’ll have to give it a try. Cheers Popcorn!