Blue Collar Dreams: A decade in, Balsam Range looks ahead

Ten years into his tenure with Balsam Range, Tim Surrett can only shake his head.

“The most amazing factor is that somebody hasn’t gotten killed in 10 years,” he chuckled. “It’s amazing because every band in the world is one bad weekend from nonexistence. We’ve been through a lot, ups and downs, frustrations and traveling distances, and it’s still relevant after 10 years. I don’t know how long that will last, but it’s cool to me that it’s still top-shelf relevant.”

Aw, shucks: Haywood County crafter keeps heritage craft alive, vibrant

You’ve probably driven by the Red Barn Greenhouse & Garden Center on Dellwood Road between Maggie Valley and Waynesville. But, have you ever stopped in?

Tucked between rows of beautiful flowers on one end and the Mountain Museum filled with Appalachian artifacts on the other are several shelves of corn shuck dolls. The intricate doll designs and scenes they’re set in come straight out of the creative mind and nimble fingers of Karen Collis, a highly-sought after artist in this centuries-old craft medium.

Brewing success: Two WNC craft breweries win national medals

With sunshine spilling into the taproom of Currahee Brewing Company in Franklin one recent afternoon, brewmaster Taylor Yates is all smiles. A hearty beverage raised high, the sun’s rays are a cherry on top of the news currently floating around the facility.

On your plate, on the plateau: Chef Ken Naron of Canyon Kitchen

Though the culinary and agricultural history of Southern Appalachia is as vast and robust as the tall and rigorous mountains that make up this region, the intense worldwide focus and adoration for the ingredients, recipes and folks who stir it all together is more of a 21st century phenomenon. 

Tibetan tour connects women across cultures

Standing on a mountaintop ascending above 10,000 feet — an ancient farming village in the valley below and a Buddhist nunnery behind her — Julie Thorner of Bryson City couldn’t be farther away from the life she’s known in the U.S. Yet each time she returns to Tibet, it starts to feel more and more like where she’s meant to be. 

Audio books a real pleasure when traveling

For 16 years, I have made several annual trips between Western North Carolina and Front Royal, Virginia, a town located about 70 miles west of D.C. on I-66. My children all graduated from a small college in this town, and three of them have settled here. Over the years, I have come to know every rest stop, every exit, and many of the gas stations and fast food joints along I-81. I also appreciate beauty in this part of Appalachia, the mountains around Johnson City, the rolling hills of the Shenandoah Valley, the austere landscape in winter and the spectacular Irish-green fields and forests of late spring.

This must be the place: I know I'll see you again in the long run

Somewhere around central South Carolina my mind began to drift. 

‘Your everlasting summer. You can see it fading fast’

Half the battle is just getting out of the house and on the road. Whenever we travel, we all understand that if we need to leave at 8 a.m., we will pretend that we really have to leave at 7 a.m. so that we can actually lave by 8:45 a.m. 

We set the alarm clock an hour earlier than any sane person would deem necessary, more than enough time to pack the car, eat a nutritious breakfast, run through the checklist of things that need to be turned on and things that need to be turned off, water the plants, leave a note for the house sitter so excruciatingly detailed that it resembles a manuscript, and say ‘goodbyes’ to our pets in a fashion that is so cute and so urgent that they seem confused, and probably alarmed, at what is unfolding here in front of them.

This must be the place: ‘Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues again’

When you’re young — full of confusion about the ways and means of a “stable adulthood,” amid a hazy sense of what and who you are (or hope to become) — the idea of clarity is something you desperately want to find and obtain. 

Globe-trotting evangelist Billy Graham dies at 99

By Dale Neal • Special to The Smoky Mountain News

Evangelist Billy Graham — a spiritual guide to generations of American evangelicals, a globe-trotting preacher who converted millions to Christianity, and a confidante to presidents — died today at the age of 99.

Graham personally preached the Christian gospel to more people on the planet than any other evangelist in the 2,000 years of Christianity.

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