I tore myself away from The Blowing Rock to return to my room, #300, at the Mountainaire Inn to make sure I knew how to get to my destination in South Carolina. Car packed and ready to go, I decided to first drive in the opposite direction to find out why several cars were parked on the side of the road not far from town. I took the road to the right just beyond the cars and stumbled onto a beautiful lake. I see this mansion on the hill. I don’t know where I am, but it is too beautiful to pass up so I decide to walk and soon discover this is why the others have come. They have come to walk amongst this beauty. A sign tells me this is Cass Lake and a fellow walker tells me the trail I am on is 7/10 of a mile around the lake. I could not believe what I had lucked into exploring. The photo above is a picture of the mansion and the photos below will take you around the lake where you will also meet Taffy. I can never pass up a dog. By the way, my later research named the mansion for me…Moses Cone Manor. I will definitely visit the house on my return trip to see the Tiffany windows and the artwork now housed here. The Cone estate is today the Blue Ridge Parkway Craft Center. You have to get on the Parkway to get to the house. The Cones started construction in 1899 and it became a self-sufficient estate that supported 30 families. I think it sits on Flat Top Mountain. Moses Cone left the estate to Greensboro Hospital, with life rights for Mrs. Cone. After her death, the hospital could not handle the upkeep with the funds left so they donated the house and surrounding land to the federal government. The National Park Service took over in 1949. So it kind of belongs to me. And you. We all have a beautiful park and recreation area that will take your breath away on a day like this. Yet another place I have to tear myself away from.
How do you drive away from a place like this? Map Quest directions in hand, I start the engine and pop in Paul’s CD entitled Old Country. Paul Hatfield works at the hospital in Blowing Rock and helps out at the Mountainaire Inn. He actually lives across the street. He was helping out last night by the fire when he learned I had lived in Louisville, KY. He grew up in Pike County and has a deep John Anderson kind of voice. (Detour: do you know anything about Pike County, KY? Corrupt. That’s all I am saying. It is what it is. I don’t want any trouble. Paul is a Hatfield. Of the Hatfields and McCoys.) As soon as he spoke, I wondered if he could sing. While he did not perform for us by the fire, I did learn that he does often bring out the guitar and sings for the guests. That did not surprise me. What surprised me was learning he has a CD. So I listened to Paul’s CD as I drove down the road. He gave it to me. It is sold at the Inn, but he gifted it to the girl from KY. He sings all the right songs…like That’s The Way Love Goes, Killing Time, Seminole Wind, Lukenbach Texas. I laughed as I recalled his story last night about a German Shepherd he trained to sniff out drugs when he was on the drug force in KY. He brought the dog with him when he moved to Blowing Rock (the town, not the mountain). He used to take her for walks on tourist-filled Main Street. I hope I do him justice here. “Evr thang wuld be goin’ long jest fine when she done smelt something. She’d take off to some car and be all over that thang. Owner wuld come over and say, “what she doing?””. Paul would smile knowingly and say “nothin’”.
You can’t make this stuff up. It has to come to you. Next I will tell you about the third leg of my trip. Hope you enjoy the photos. They are not enhanced or corrected. This part of the world truly looked just like this during my walk through.