Renewable Thinking

Fall Breaking in the Mountains
by Alex Osteen -- October 21st, 2012

This past weekend was fall break and I got to go home to Highlands, North Carolina, a small town lost in the woods in the mountains. It’s been said that sometimes it takes leaving a place to recognize its special features. Over the years since I graduated high school I haven’t really spent much time in Highlands. But being back in October always reminds me how beautiful a place it is. And one of the advantages of going to grad school at Duke is that it’s just a short drive to the mountains and a weekend getaway is always an option.

Some highlights of my trip (in no particular order):

    1. Hiking amidst the fall colors. Sure, growing up we used to make fun of tourists who show up just to stare at the leaves. But it really is quite spectacular.
    2. Eating unhealthy but delicious food at the town pharmacy’s new diner, a first certainly.
    3. My high school friend’s outdoor wedding. We were a little cold on the farm, amongst the antique tractors and nearby cows, but it was a nice ceremony and fun to see people I hadn’t seen since graduating high school.
    4. Strolling down Main Street in Highlands sipping coffee and watching the tourists do silly things.
    5. Listening to WNCW, my favorite folk and bluegrass public radio station, with the windows rolled down. There’s no better chance that I know of to get to hear Willie Nelson, the Mountain Goats and long-lost country jukebox ballads in one sitting, and no better way to solidify the mountain experience.

Lots of kids at Duke are not from the South and tend to have something of a prejudice against my home state. A line I hear a lot on campus is “We’re in the South, what do you expect?” On the one hand I see where they’re coming from. Jeff Foxworthy does a good job of explaining why. But I think that once you spend some time actually getting to know the places, the nature and the people of North Carolina, it’s hard not to enjoy yourself. So there was my plug for North Carolina.

Blueberry bush at the peak of its color!

Highlands, NC as seen from Sunset Rock.




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