Monday, September 08, 2008

Quick hits: News from one end of the state to the other

Fewer visitors to the Smokies
"Chip and Michelle Goodman enjoyed a quiet morning around the fire at Cataloochee Valley campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

"At 9.5 miles to the gallon, the rig [they drive] isn’t cheap to drive," says the A C-T.

"That didn’t stop the Goodmans from making the 300-mile trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway and to the park for a vacation. But the couple did scale back just a little.

" 'We were planning on going to Florida,' Chip Goodman said. 'We were going to the Keys and we changed our minds.'

"For the Goodmans, the change in plans put them in the Smokies, where they had a bit more elbow room than they would have found a year ago.

"With gas prices setting record highs this summer, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park says visitation is down 5 percent at its main entrances.

"The Blue Ridge Parkway is down 5.4 percent with 9.3 million visitors so far this year. ..."

Penland School a mecca for artists
"My image of a mountain crafts school has always been of a collection of old buildings in which people, almost all of them on the sunset side of 50, use traditional techniques to produce traditional items — the sort of stuff that graced Appalachian homes in the days when you made it yourself or did without," writes Bill McGoun for the Asheville Citizen-Times.

"I had suspected that the Penland School of Crafts, northwest of Spruce Pine in Mitchell County, would be different, and a recent visit confirmed my suspicions. Most of the students I saw are still waiting for their 30th birthdays and some of the buildings are new both in age and in style. And, while the techniques may be traditional, the products most certainly are not. ...

"Penland grew out of a weaving program established in 1923 by Lucy Morgan to help mountain families make extra money. Today, there are classes in books and paper, clay, drawing and painting, glass, iron, other metals, photography, printmaking, textiles and wood. There are one- and two-week classes in the summer, one-week and eight-week sessions in spring and fall.

"There is no permanent faculty, thus each class is unique. For instance, this summer there were 14 different glass classes with a total of 20 instructors. Subjects included beads, Venetian figures, lampworking, glass sculpting, goblets and working sheet glass. There will be a beginners’ class this fall and sculpting and imagery classes next spring. ..."

Nags Head a top-10 'car-free' destination
Sherman's Travel offers to places to vacation where you can "[l]eave the pump behind." In fact at some of these spots, cars are "optional -- or altogether banned."

North Carolina's Nags Head made the list, which can be found here.

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