Once upon a time on a very cold day a young father and mother put their two sons in the car for a drive to Sugar Mountain, North Carolina. They were on their way to look at some vacation property.
The children didn’t like to ride for such a long distance so their mother bribed them. ‘We’ll have dinner at McDonald’s if you’ll be good,’ she promised. It was hard to be heard over the noise made by the younger boy’s imaginary pink rabbit. (The younger boy always spoke for the rabbit.) The father didn’t like the rabbit. When the younger boy made rabbit ears with his fingers and put the rabbit on his shoulder, he growled, ‘Get that rabbit off me.’
They arrived in Sugar Mountain and drove up the side of a mountain where they met a real estate agent who took them into a beautiful condo. But the beauty of the condo couldn’t compete with the beauty outside. From the balcony they saw hazy blue mountains stacked one behind the other. In a valley far below they saw the small town of Banner Elk. And it was so quiet! No sound could be heard except the sighing of the wind through the trees. The air was so clean it amazed the mother and father. They bought the condo and then went to McDonald’s to reward the boys and the pink rabbit for being good.
Every year after that, they took the boys to Sugar Mountain. It was ten to fifteen degrees cooler than it was in South Carolina where they lived so everybody appreciated the relief from the heat. They went hiking and visited some truly wonderful wilderness areas. The children never grew tired of visiting Grandfather Mountain, so named because the mountain looks like a grandfather’s face and beard in profile. Grandfather Mountain had bears that people threw peanuts to. The bears scared the imaginary rabbit. He was afraid they’d eat him alive, but the younger boy assured the rabbit that he would protect him from the bears.
Sometimes they went horseback riding. The pink rabbit rode on the front of the younger boy’s saddle and urged the horse to go faster.
The boys liked to go river rafting too, but the mother thought the water was too cold. She went shopping at the Tanger Outlets
while the river rafting was going on.
Blowing Rock which was about twenty miles away was one of their favorite outings. The little town looked like something out of a storybook and had so many wonderful shops and restaurants. Once they actually went to the blowing rock and walked out on it. According to legend the wind blew an Indian maiden’s lover back to her after he jumped from the rock. That’s a colorful explanation for why even the snow blows upside down near the rock.
One thing that the mother enjoyed but the boys and father didn’t was going to look for furniture in Lenore which was only a few miles away. Everybody enjoyed going to Linville Caverns which were miles underneath the surface of the earth, but the rabbit didn’t like it when they turned off the lights. The father sometimes played golf, but none of the other family members liked golf. When the boys were small they always took them to the Tweetsie Railroad, a small amusement park.
Sugar Mountain is a popular winter ski resort, but the mother never enjoyed this. She was (and is) far too uncoordinated
And of course they went to movies, toured the Mast General Store (an old fashioned general store in business since the
1800’s), found some super restaurants, and explored all the little towns and byways in the area.
But the best thing of all was the beauty of the place and the total relaxation and peace.
Over the years the boys grew up and stopped going very often, but soon they had children who went with their grandparents. The pink rabbit is still going too. He attached himself to the younger boy’s son. The grandfather doesn’t mind the rabbit too much now. His son was not ruined by playing with the rabbit so he guessed his grandson would be fine too.
Sugar Mountain is located in the North Carolina high country in Avery County. It’s between Boone and Banner Elk. I recommend you stay at The Highlands at Sugar if you plan to go there. Even if you go in the winter they have an indoor pool, a weight room, a game room, a sauna, and scheduled activities sponsored by the resort.
Melissa, thanks so much for hosting me.
By Elaine Cantrell
Liesel Wolf has a secret, a dangerous secret she’ll go to any lengths to conceal. When she’s paired in a charity game with sexy marshal Andy
Bryce, a man with secrets of his own, her carefully constructed world comes
crashing down, and Liesel’s on a collision course with her past.
Andy’s hand shot out. “Give me that gun,” he commanded.
He took it from her with ease. “I don’t know why you have this,” he whispered, “but if we get out of here alive you have some explaining to do. Now, keep moving but stay in control. Remember, no headlong plunges into the woods.”
Forty‑five minutes later, they exited the woods near the bridge that crossed the little creek. Liesel fearfully scanned the inviting, family‑centered area. “I don’t see anyone.”
“Two o’clock. Men in khaki.” Andy came to a halt and jerked her against him. “Kiss me like you mean it.”
Liesel didn’t mind if she did. Hopefully the khaki men would never imagine that two lovers out for a stroll had only moments before been running for their very lives. She prayed the men didn’t get too good a look at them. Throwing her arms around him, she pressed her body against his.
She wouldn’t have admitted to it for anything, but in spite of the danger, she felt a thrill from the top of her head to the bottom of her feet. Nobody could kiss like Andy Bryce!
Andy took her hand, and they strolled casually across the bridge as if they’d been on a leisurely little walk. He kissed her again before they got into the Mustang. The minute they got in, he put the car in gear and slowly made his way out of the park. “Now, Liesel,” he said. “Why don’t you tell me why those men are trying to kill you?”
Elaine Cantrell was born and raised in South Carolina. She holds a Master’s Degree in Personnel Services from Clemson University and is a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary sorority for women educators. She is also a member of Romance Writer’s of America and EPIC authors. Her first novel, A New Leaf, was the 2003 winner of the Timeless
Love Contest and was published in 2004 by Oak Tree Books. At present she teaches high school social studies.
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