You learn something every day. Yesterday, I learned several things. First, in the age of anti-social distancing, people improvised delivery chutes on their porch rails, pipe sections designed to expedite candy to the little goblins waiting below. Second, despite the doomsaying, a large number of families carried on as normal last night. And third, I learned that October 31st is Saint Luke’s Day in the Serbian Orthodox Church. Happy belated St. Luke’s, all! And, today, we celebrate all the others.
November 13th: Tragedy to Triumph: The Return of Tweetsie Railroad!!!
Several times, over the years, I’ve written fondly of the magic and majesty that is Tweetsie Railroad. Somewhere, I even lamented my old pocket knife, lost forever due to centripetal jollification at my favorite little park. C’est la vie. Many years too late, this summer, I finally had the brilliant idea to contact the management about the little folding dirk. The gracious and lovely Meghan replied with the predictable and the obvious news along with heartfelt condolences. Not one to miss spinning a tall tale, I wrote what’s been called a “fun and refreshing” SHORT STORY that explains in most-plausible detail what happened to the blade.
However, there was something in an email from Tweetsie, about “those of us who are still here,” that got me thinking – always a dangerous proposition. Then I remembered! This is 2020, the chief year of insanity. As one might suspect, the park is closed!
And, I mean they’ve been closed most of the year. Yes, THAT issue, and a very heavy-handed government, intruded into the blissful reality and merrymaking like nothing else since the park opened in 1957. In mid-July, thinking the corona was clear, they braved a late opening, only to be shuttered again (by the State) a week later.
No Thomas! No Ghost Train! No quiet pondering of how such small mice could have possibly run off such a large giant! No Hopper! No Porter! No Cowboys, Indians, Can-cans, deer park romps, thrills, or anything else!
Just when things were looking terminal, an announcement arrived:
Tweetsie Railroad will be open every Friday, Saturday, and select weekday evenings from November 13 – December 31 for Tweetsie Christmas. Tickets are $44 for an Adult, $38 for a Child (age 3-12) and Free for Children age 2 and under. They will go on sale, Tuesday, October 13th.
Don’t wait! Call 877-894-3874, right this minute, or visit the website.
Tweetsie Christmas! Yes, in this most unusual year, the opening weekend also happens to be Masters Tournament Weekend. We’ll take what we can get, right? I’ve never been to Christmas at Tweetsie, but I can only imagine it’s like the following, but with snow:
Picture © by Perrin Lovett.
Hang on … it’s like this (maybe with snow):
Picture ©, courtesy of Tweetsie Press Room.
This is possibly the best news I’ve ever reported. So, mark your calendars! There’s no better escape from economic chaos, pandemics, riots, hoaxes, election fallout, and general mayhem like the North Carolina mountains. If you’ve never been, it’s the treat of a lifetime. If you’re an old hand, then it’s exactly like you remember it. Go make a memory. Salvage 2020 at Tweetsie.
Okay, the last post was a bit of a downer – a necessary expose – but still maybe a bit much for a fair Tuesday evening. So, here’s a cheery one! I’ll not sign off for the night, tonight, with sourness.
Nena (remember her?) looks almost the same as she did 35 years ago. Better maybe. And with 35 years of stored kinetic energy:
Bonus: It’s not just Nena. Kim Wilde (remember her?) is hanging in there too.
Somehow, somewhere, sometime. They gotta be, what, 55 apiece?
I have several burning hot and trenchant columns underway but this morning I figured they could wait. Christmas is almost here and this short post will brighten your day and lighten your heart – positive material for a crazed world. It has nothing to do with law, government, or any political or economic topics. It’s a the story about a great American business and tradition.
When it chances to rain I sometimes don a high-quality, hooded raincoat emblazoned with a “12” logo patch. People occasionally inquire as to the meaning and origin of the garment. I love telling the tale.
Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, about halfway between Blowing Rock and Boone, just off U.S. 321, there is the most remarkable hideaway. There one will find a tiny, tiny little (very small) amusement park on the side of a mountain.
Disney World it most certainly is not (praise God). It is a chapter from an older, homier book of Americana. It may be the ultimate roadside destination, a place to shame South of the Border or Wall Drug. Tweetsie Railroad is one of my absolute favorite places anywhere. Time stands still in the mountains.
Tweetsie started in the 1950s and, instantly finding perfection, hasn’t changed. I first went there in the very late seventies and was awed. Many years later, when my daughter was a tiny tot, we decided to visit the park for a family getaway. I was over-awed this time. Tweetsie was (and is) the only place from my childhood that is exactly the same as I remembered it from my youth. It literally coverts you into a little kid again. More magical than any kingdom.
The name from crafted from the defunct East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad. Tweetsie is also the name of old No. 12, the park’s flagship steam locomotive. Yes, they have real, full-size, and fully functional trains. No. 190, The Yukon Queen, puffs along on alternate days. The trains are the preeminent attractions.
No. 12 in station.
All day long these fire-breathing beasts of iron and steel haul delighted families around the mountain. The passenger cars are manned by cowboys. About a third of the way around the train stops at a little village. The cowboys get off and engage in gunplay. Sometimes it’s the result of a robbery. Later the show stops at a fort where another battle unfolds against a tribe of hostile yet inept Indians. Cowboys and Indians in the 21st Century. The fun is neither political nor correct, yet fun it is.
A chairlift carries patrons to the top of Miner’s Mountain. There, and down below, are a variety of shows, acts, rides and entertainment. Up top the summit is ringed by a smaller train ride. The smaller train enters a tunnel and stops so folks can watch mice ride around on an even smaller train. A train within a train within a train.
Behind the mine tunnel is a petting zoo filled with animals. Good, inexpensive carnival food abounds. Midway up the mountain is an arcade, a ferris wheel and a race track. Special occasions are common, including dog shows and Thomas the Tank Train. Thomas is there in the late spring: full size too. He’s propelled by No. 12 at Mr. Tophat’s request.
Tweetsie is open from early April through Halloween. Tickets are $44 for adults and $28 for children (toddlers enter for free). Season passes are $95 an $65, respectively.
Fun for all ages.
Fall is, in my opinion, the best time to visit. The scenery is perfect and the temperature is always ten to twenty degrees cooler than the low lands. The park is open at night around Halloween for the Haunted Train experience.
This is truly an old-fashioned family friendly place. There’s something for everyone. I have been many times during different seasons and always had a grand time. The type of thuggery and foolishness too common these days is simply not tolerated. I’ve never seen anyone out of line. I suspect the cowboys would shoot any hooligans.
Accommodations, from rustic cabins to modern hotels are all over within a ten-mile radius. Boone and Blowing Rock offer numerous other fantastic activities. Everything up there is clean, safe, refreshing and jolly. The smell of wood fires, pumpkins and apples permeates the air. The sounds are of laughter, wind in the trees, and falling water.
Tweetsie even boasts a number of convenient Cigar smoking locations. The towns are also Cigar friendly. Boone hosts a few small tobacconists while the gas station in Blowing Rock has a well stocked Humidor and a decent wine selection. Good food and ale is available in plenty. Blowing Rock even has a local brewery. The place to eat at is The Peddler Steakhouse. They have the finest beef and fare and are operated by attractive co-eds from App State.
Plan a trip if you can. Again, I really recommend the fall. Do be mindful of Appalachian State home football games on fall Saturdays. Even on game weekends early planning will provide a room reservation. I think the place would even benefit the modern micro-aggresion obsessed set. Initially, duct tape could ensure they don’t complain about the cowboys and Indians. The tape could be removed when they start laughing along with the normies. Highland therapy for the soul. Perfection incarnate. Plan a visit soon.
I’m not trying to inundate the web with posts but I feel like ramblin good today. This one is happier than the last. As some of you know I have recently embarked on a great weight loss adventure. As of the last time I checked I am down 38 pounds! What a loser! That puts me at a solid 200. I seem to have plateaued there for the time being – for good reasons, as follows.
This is more than a diet. I have made a great life change. Many have been the changes in my life in the past year or two. Many of those were not so pleasant. Perhaps out of depression or anxiety I put on a few pounds I really didn’t need. Then, last fall, I suddenly began to loss some of them. For no conscious reason I began to eat less. Oddly, eating more than you need to adds extra pounds. Once my pants began to loosen up I decided to formally have at it. In addition to lowering my daily caloric intake, I also changed some of those calories. Primarily I cut out carbohydrates (except my beloved dark ale) and processed junk food (that’s the majority of the Amerikan diet nowadays).
By early December I had lost 20 to 25 pounds. Then, as if I planned it, they opened the Evans Fitness Center (EFC). Visit them virtually: http://www.evansfitnessclub.com/. If you are in the Augusta area go in person. The website does not do the place justice.
Many, many, many years ago, in another century in fact, i was in excellent physical shape. Then I stopped almost all activity and began the transformation into a typical Amerikan slob. I have reversed the slide and I intend to never go back.
Now things are a little different. I’m not 21 anymore – not that you know, right girls? Right?… Hmmm. So, I did a free trial at EFC and was hooked. They have a basis economy plan which even a hobo like me can afford. I started off with weights, those heavy iron things with which I was once so familiar. I had forgotten most of what I knew about working out. EFC has so many different areas and types of equipment that I had to relearn and retrain myself. It happened fast.
This time around I took it slow and light. No more 400 pound bench presses or 600 pounds squats for me. No more squats, period. As it turns out, such massive weights are beyond my current capabilities. Fat makes you weak, Amerika. However, I have found that I do better with lower weights and more reps of them. “Reps” means repetitions or how many times one lifts the weight in sequence. As I am given to “bulk up” rather fast due to genetics or something (Daddy was a record-setting power-lifter) I have had to carefully watch to ensure I do not overdo anything. Getting to heavy to fast has been my weakness in my previous attempts to get fit. Eventually I hurt myself and swear off the gym.
As is I am quite happy with my progress. I have even incorporated a cardiovascular program into my routine. Typically, I hit the old elliptical machine for 20 to 30 minutes after my weight session. Once I hit 200 pounds I think the good muscle I gained began to offset the useless fat I lost. Fortunately, for me I still have plenty of fat to burn! I’m aiming for 190ish. A good weight for my frame I think. It’s all about aesthetics … and how the clothes fit. My fat pants fell off even with a belt so I got rid of them. Now my new pants are getting loose. I may be close to 7 or so inches off my waist.
In addition to looking good I also feel a hell of a lot better. Last week, due to the untimely arrival of spring in Georgia, I felt compelled to de-thatch and mow the front lawn. Once I had raked half of it I stopped for a second. Something was missing. I wasn’t sweating or out of breath. Fat makes you sweat and drains your lungs. I sleep better too. I go to bed earlier and wake up feeling like I actually slept. My beautiful queen says I have ceased to snore. Fat makes you snore.
Eating less and better, weight training, moving around, sleeping. What else has changed??? I had to change my FB profile pic to one of Arnold in his heyday. I drink more water and I breathe deeper. I also don’t worry about things they way I used to – differently perhaps. Some of this will be detailed in The Time Given. Pay off some of the credit card now.
EFC offers some amenities which I never thought to try before. They have not one, but two, inversion tables. While looking like a medieval torture device, an inversion table is actually the greatest invention in human history. I moved the air conditioner to number two, the shotgun to three, etc. Sorry, Mr. Carrier, you’ve been bested. One reclines on the table and locks one’s feet into the contraption at the bottom. Then with the flick of a switch an electric motor rotates you back and down – fully upside down if you like. That’s what I do. At full rotation the table is actually in a reverse incline of 5 to 10 degrees ( I have not measured exactly). What that means is that you, me in this case, get to freely hang upside down. The foot device is a wee bit uncomfortable the first few times and those times may cause a little dizziness.
All that hanging around (yuck yuck) performs a miracle on the whole body, in particular the spine and joints. Five minutes upside-down is like a visit to the chiropractor followed by a massage and a shot of lidocaine. Really. I always makes sure to invert at the very end of any workout. Once righted I feel right as rain. I may have to steal one of these machines for home use. Bolt em down or lose one, EFC.
I also, time permitting, enjoy a short sit in the sauna or steam room. After hanging around this loosens joints and muscles and sweats out evil mojo. A Scottish shower later and I feel like I am 21 again. Fat makes you age, Amerika.
There is a distinct downside – two parts. First, the hour or two spent in the gym is time lost on not sleeping well, snoring, worrying, or being a blob. Second, I am slightly unnerved by all of the women who constantly ogle me at EFC and elsewhere. Please be polite, ladies.
As for you, comrades – get out there and get fit! You may never look as good as me, but you’ll feel a whole lot better. By the way, how much ya bench?!