From yesterday, via The Piedmont Chronicles:
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. Ce 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!
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.
Hello. I’ve ranted and raved about Tweetsie Railroad before. And I’ve told you the sad tale of losing my pocket knife there. Last month, much too late and in my typical procrastinating style, I contacted them in re the lost and found department. Fifteen or so years, of course, is just too long. No such luck. I also roundaboutly found out they’ve had a rough season because of the hysteria over the common cold. The latter problem, I cannot remedy. However, and I am so happy to report this(!), I think I know what may have happened to the knife. I emailed the following story to Meghan – who I can’t thank enough for everything. See what you think:
Et Pisces Cultro
Perrin Lovett, 2020
‘One of you will finally catch him one of these days,’ Will said, not quite to himself, as he sat on the rear cargo deck of his SUV, looking down at something. ‘And, maybe they’ll promote you guys to a full eight cents.’ He laughed softly as he started digging around in a large bag with one hand. His other hand held a pocket knife. Rather, it held his pocket knife, a marvelous little folding device without, in his mind, rival or equal. He considered it the finest knife in the world, a tool of elegant, simplistic utility with a manly, if subdued, artfulness. It was unique.
It was a smaller design: slim, light, and made for unobtrusively resting in pants of any caliber – rugged denim or stylish wool. The construction was solid steel, with a simple hinge, and a locking release nestled at the end of the handle. Compared to other two-and-a-half inch knives, it was as functional, practical, and reliable as any. The handle set Will’s apart. For embedded under clear resin were three green-tinted postage stamps, set fringe to fringe in a row. Each bore the image of a brown trout leaping from the water in pursuit of an elusive dragonfly. Each boasted the nominal price of 7 ½ cents, as marked years earlier in the distant nation of New Zealand. In a way, he had always credited the fish (and the knife) for his long-ago visit to that far southerly land, his own On The Beach moment while en route to employment somewhere colder. The knife had accompanied him even then. Now, it was ready again for lacerative work.
From the bag, Will, at last, fished what he was looking for. That very evening, less than two hours hence, he and his lovely Wendy would take their little daughters, Willow and Wynter, for a night of spooky fun, courtesy of the Ghost Train and Tweetsie Railroad. With Halloween closing in and a chill in the air, warmer clothes were in order. That afternoon, following a day of ordinary, daytime mountain railway excitement, he’d purchased a little pink “No. 12” fleece pullover for Wynter. He’d only to remove the tags and triumphantly present it to her up in the room. He clicked open the knife and could not overlook, momentarily, the significance of the act.
Like the garment, his perfect pocket knife had also come from magical Tweetsie, though not from any gift shop. Many years before, when he was a boy, he’d been wandering around the Country Fair area, Dippin’ Dots in hand. Then, he had noticed a man with a rake, laboriously cleaning years of dust, dirt, and debris from beneath a ride. On the ground were a pile of grime, leaves, bubble gum wrappers, and other dingy trash, awaiting deposit into a rubber waste can. In the pile, little Will caught the gleam of shiny metal, something to naturally attract the attention of a ten-year-old boy. Oblivious of the encompassing filth, he’d simply reached down and lifted the object for inspection. Seeing no one else around, and adhering to the ancient law of Finders, Keepers, he dusted it off on his jeans and, after admiring it, placed it in his pocket. Later, at home, he’d polished the knife and oiled its mechanisms. Despite lying buried for who knows how long, it was sharp when he found it. He kept it finely honed to razor perfection, a feat he’d always found remarkably easy. It was as if this little blade wanted to remain keen of its own silent accord. As such, now he knew it would make short work of his project.
Retailers relish labelings. He pulled back a sticker, then another. He deftly sliced through two plastic tabs. The final challenge was a long nylon stem binding the price tag to a sleeve. With the fleece garment on his knee, he stretched the tag taut with his left hand, two fingers wound around the top of the stem. He placed the sharp blade and prepared to cut. Just then, a passing truck blew its raspy horn. He jerked. The stem snapped clean. But he felt the passing of cold steel across his curled digits.
‘Oh, wow,’ he exclaimed as that hot ripple down the spine that we all feel in such tenuous moments caused him to lurch again. He examined his fingers cautiously, surprised to find only the faintest, superficial lines of indentation that, even as he watched, receded to nothing. He tucked the sweater under his arm and closed the knife. ‘Woo. That was close.’
‘But we never harm our owner!’ said a small voice, the speaking of which caused Will to drop both coat and knife on the deck.
‘Who said that?!’ he asked with a start.
‘We did,’ answered the little voice; ‘and please don’t discard us so roughly.’
Will’s hand slowly, almost unconsciously inched towards the knife. He picked it up gingerly and, turning it in his hand, gazed at the three diminutive trout. ‘Was that you?’ he asked in disbelief.
His eyes went wide and his head reeled as the report came in: the first little fish turned its attention and its head away from the fly and straight to Will, and spoke! ‘Of course, it was us,’ said the fish.
‘You can talk?!’
‘The same as you, if more selectively,’ replied the second trout. ‘Well, except for him.’ – he nodded to the third fish – ‘He stays quiet. Missing his tail, you know.’ Will observed, for the first time he could remember, that the last trout in the line was creased-over the end of the hilt pommel with its tail obscured or deleted. He had never, in all those years, noticed. And he had never, in all his life, expected a conversation with at least two fish on a knife. (Honestly, he had never envisioned discourse with any fish, bladed or otherwise).
‘How do you— How do you two fish speak? Is it possible?’ he stammered.
‘Not possible; probable,’ said the first fish.
‘Not probable,’ said the second, ‘definitive.’
‘Oh,’ said the first, ‘and we are not two, but one. I am the knife of two voices though of one mind.’
‘You just called each other us,’ Will correctly noted.
‘There is no explanation for that. Is this better?’ they both answered at once.
‘That is— This is just a little odd,’ Will admitted.
‘We always expected mild confusion,’ the first fish said.
‘Why haven’t you spoken before?’
‘We have never spoken before,’ said the second, ‘except to each other. Long discussions we had beneath the Tilt-a-Whirl, our home for an age of fish.’
‘Ha!’ Will exclaimed. ‘So, you remember when I found you? When we first met?’
‘We do,’ said the first, ‘and many thanks for your rescue and kind treatment.’
‘How long were you down there?’ Will asked. ‘Or, better, start from the beginning. What’s behind a talking knife?’
‘The long or the short of it?’ asked the second. ‘Better to finish faster, eh?’
‘Indeed, time is wasting,’ said the first. ‘I’ll explain a little: Will, you yourself have noted, more than once, that we are marked Japan, rather than China or USA like so many common blades. We are the work of an old katana master, sold through a trading company to a certain menswear shop.
‘What was it? Thirty years gone by? We were acquired by a man who treated us well enough. He visited your favorite amusement park – and more than once. It happened that, upon a time, he and his daughter ventured onto the Tilt. We were if we can remember it, already dangling close to the edge of the pocket, so to speak. Sir Newton was right about motion. Once we started moving, started flying, we didn’t stop until we rolled, slid, and came to rest on the metal decking near the outside rail of the amusement. He could have found us, we suppose, if not for the vibrations. When the machine slowed down, the motor shuttered, the floor shook and we fell through the cracks – and not as a matter of mere saying. Lonely and forgotten—’
‘He never forgot us,’ added the second trout.
‘No, but he was most late in thinking of us when he finally did. And too slow to finally act,’ said the first. ‘For about a year we lay amid the crud and smut until you came along. And, thank our maker, that you did.’
‘You said it was an age,’ countered Will.
‘Yes, for us,’ said the second; ‘time passes differently for trout on a dagger.’
‘Oh,’ remarked the first, ‘and time is running away here and now. We can explain a little more at the park tonight. Does not someone need a certain pink cloak?’
‘Wow. Yeah. Thanks,’ Will said, then venturing to inquire: ‘What are your— What’s your name?’
‘Piscis Gladius, at your service as always,’ the knife answered as one.
Enlightened, and still amazed, Will stowed his new friend and former tool in his pocket, handled the pullover, and made off for room 414 at the Holiday Inn, Boone.
Wynter, aged three, was enthralled with her new outerwear. Donning it she became a fashionable sight to match her sister, two years her senior. Clad against the night airs and the threat of fog or drizzle, the happy family soon meandered down US 321 towards Blowing Rock.
On the short drive, as the girls chattered away in their car seats, Will asked Wendy: ‘Did you ever read The Children of Hurin?’
‘What’s that?’ Wendy remarked. ‘Is that a kid’s book?’
‘No, it’s Tolkien. One of his posthumous books, a tragedy.’ Will said.
‘No, I haven’t,’ she said. ‘Is there anything Halloween spooky in it?’
‘Kind of. It’s about Hurin’s son, mostly. He, among many adventures, found a talking sword.’ Will let the words fall out slowly, his mind somewhere else and his eyes on the road.
‘Well, no tragedy tonight. We’re out for spooky fun with the Ghost Train, right girls?’ Wendy said and asked, more to the back seat than to Will. Then she turned to the radio. ‘Let’s see if there’s some macabre music on!’
There was not, as it turned out, though the girls (and Wendy) had fun with a kid’s sing-a-long CD about a black cat and a jack-o’-lantern. Will kept thinking about his new fishy acquaintances. Fifteen minutes later, he did the honorable thing and, seeing a chance, dropped the ladies off nearer to the main entrance, himself resolved to seek out a parking space. For some reason, he parked as far away as he could, and as far as the attendants would allow. On his slow walk up the hill to the ticket office and gates, he checked to make sure no one was close or watching and he pulled out the knife.
‘Okay, now. What’s the real story behind a talking pocket knife, my postal friends?’ he asked.
‘Ah, yes,’ said the first trout. ‘We, as we said, were crafted by a great master in Seki. His skill, and perhaps something greater, lives on in us. We always knew we were smart – uh, smarter than your average knife – but we could never bring ourselves to speak out loud. That is, to anyone else or even to ourselves.’
‘We kind of thought together, if that makes sense,’ added the second fish.
‘Indeed, indeed,’ rejoined the first.
‘You never spoke to the first owner? The man with the loose pocket?’ Will inquired.
‘No, sadly,’ said the first. ‘He was a good enough fellow, and he took us on all sorts of adventures.’
‘We went to the World Trade Center, and to some, well, mysterious meetings in Washington, along with many other exciting places!’ the second said happily.
‘And, then you graciously took us to the home of our philatelic ancestors. And the frigid extremes of the Pole,’ said the first. ‘Exhilarating, if cold enough to freeze the fish off a steel blade.’
‘We’ve a mind to see our true home of origin, where the stamps met the metal, in Japan, someday. If it can be arranged. Perhaps this visit to Tweetsie can help us along,’ said the second, whimsical.
‘The Tweetsie magic, yes!’ said the first. ‘It’s probably not magic, per se – more of Divine Providence. But, it was here, in this blessed little realm, under the Tilt-a-Whirl, that we first spoke. To ourselves, of course. And it might just be proximity, tonight, that prompted our speech to you, dear William.’
‘You guys think there’s more of that magic ahead?’ Will asked.
‘We do, now that we see more clearly,’ said the second.
‘You talked about traveling. And you want to get back to Japan. You think there’s any chance I could help with that tonight?’ Will asked.
‘Possibly, if not probably or definitely,’ replied the second.
‘What can I do, if or when the time is right?’ Will wanted to know.
‘Cast me away,’ said the first trout, flatly.
‘Where? Like into a lake or something?’ Will asked with mild trepidation.
‘Oh, no! Nothing like that, Will,’ soothed the first fish. ‘Let’s just say, if and when the time is right, you will know him when you see him.’
‘I’ll just know him when— Oh, hey, people and the ticket office, guys! Back in the pocket, we go,’ Will said with a wink.
In a jiffy, he passed through the turnstile and into the true happiest place in the world. He was as awed as ever as he walked past the stroller rentals and the ironically-juxtaposed jail and began scouting for his family on Main Street. It was always the same at Tweetsie, regardless of the year, the season, or the time. The little park was (or is) the one place that is always exactly the same as one remembers it from childhood.
Will noticed a sign near the Cowboy Cantina. In a few days, the final day of the season, a concert was to be held at the Hacienda. Will reckoned they would have to miss that fun, even though he knew the band and wanted to sing along.
‘Dandy and the Bass Slayers! Boy!’ he said out loud.
‘Vee herb dap!’ came a watery call from his pocket.
‘Sorry guys. But it’s bass, not trout,’ Will explained. ‘They’re a rockabilly band from… Hello, baby girls!’ He had found his loved ones.
‘Daddy!’ Wynter practically screamed as she jumped up into his arms.
‘It’s me!’ he said before pecking her on the forehead.
‘Daddy! We should have worn our Halloween costumes!’ said Willow, excitedly if somewhat ruefully.
‘Well, now, let’s see,’ said Will; ‘I think we’re costumed enough. You two and mommy are obviously princesses.’ It was a kindly remark, true in a familial sense, pleasing to young daughters and it generated a smile from an appreciative wife.
‘So, daddy?’ began Wendy; ‘Just what are you? Our prince?’
‘No,’ he answered. ‘I’m just a greens manager enjoying a long weekend.’
‘That’s not a costume!’ Willow sang while pulling back and forth on Will’s hand.
‘Everyone else is making up for it! Look at all these characters around us! Now, what are we going to do?’ He placated.
They did just about everything, and some things more than once. The Ghost Train waited while the family had dinner in the Cantina. Then, there was a small matter of more shopping at the very same stores that they’d visited earlier that day. Some pictures were taken. Then! Then, they rode the Train, with frights, thrills, and chills aplenty. They found themselves in a delightfully dark haunted wonderland. There was so much to take in! Ghouls, ghosts, goblins, and more lurked around every laughing corner. The family found out that they call it a Freaky Forest for a reason. And, who knew candy corn worked so well in a funnel cake?! After seeing a spooktacular show at the Palace, they ventured up to Miner’s Mountain for more shows, more rides, more pictures, and more fun. For added measure, just to be safe, they even had some additional fun. On the way back down, via the chair lifts, Will had to ride by himself, a car behind the ladies. He listened to them sing and shout and yell Hello, spiders! to the giant, illuminated spiders down on the hillside. After a moment, he pulled the knife out once again.
‘Hey, guys. I’ve been looking for whomever this is supposed to be, and I haven’t really seen him yet,’ he said.
‘No, you wouldn’t,’ said the second trout; ‘not yet.’
‘You’ll know him when you see him, not before,’ said the first.
‘So, he wasn’t that tall, intelligent but dangerous-looking man with the very attractive woman at his side?’
‘It’s not the last owner, is it?’
‘No. We’re going forward, not backward.’
‘Is he anything like me?’
‘Like you, perhaps, as you were.’
The conversation ended at the lower lift station. The knife was again concealed and, roundabout, Wendy, Will, and the girls ran, skipped, and frolicked their way over to the Country Fair. There, the falls were free, the tornado was gusty, the turnpike was cruising, and the arcade was refreshing. Will and Willow even braved a car on the Tilt, while Wendy and Wynter dared to occupy another. Will almost assumed that the knife would once again fly off, literally, on a further escapade. But in the end, when he checked, it was still in his pocket. At last, as the evening drew towards its closing, the ladies wanted one final thrill. Space limits dictated that only they could ride the Ferris Wheel, so Will contented himself to sit and watch.
He had taken to a bench near the Tilt and was watching (and listening) as the women of his life circled high above. He knew that after the very next revolution, they would exit and this particular Tweetsie visit would come to an end. He didn’t know that he had inadvertently taken out the knife, nor that he was gently turning it in his hand. He had just realized what he was doing and was examining the stamps as they turned upwards to his face, kindled by the carnival lights all around him. Suddenly, a voice spoke – and it was not aquatically-accented…
‘That’s a nice knife you have, mister.’ Will looked up and observed a boy of about ten, who was keenly looking at the little folder. Without thinking any more about it, Will stood up and held out the knife to the lad insistently. After a second of hesitation, the boy took it.
‘That’s a nice knife you have,’ Will said with a smile.
‘Gee. Thank you, sir,’ said the boy.
‘Don’t thank me,’ said Will, ‘thank the fish.’ With that, he simply walked away, almost immediately running into the giggling womenfolk.
‘Will Ferrum, did I just see you give your favorite knife to that little boy?!’ Wendy asked perplexedly.
‘You did,’ Will said. ‘Somebody has to get them to Japan.’
While both the gift and the remark potentially begged a few questions, she asked him no more about it, and he explained no further. Instead, they all four wound their way back, past the Spice Ghouls, past the prize pumpkins, and past spills and chills galore, to the exit on Main. As they were departing – and maybe they didn’t hear it – thus began the melody of Pet Sematary by the Ramones. And a pale, strange man in a cape and a top hat, seated across the cowcatcher of Old Number 12, began to laugh.
Consider steel, as cold as night,
Allocution of the angled;
Find the sword a cordial sight,
So keeper be embrangled.
The Magic and Majesty of Tweetsie Railroad
It was the best of knives, it was the worst of ways to lose a knife…
So, they other day I reposted my old tale about the excellence in action that was George Gibson’s Menswear in Athens, Georgia. See: Fall of the House of Gibson.
A reader emailed me with a few questions and some information about the old shop. Therein, he mentioned that he still has a pocket knife he purchased about twenty years ago. That got my brain working. I replied that I too had once owned a knife from Gibson’s.
It was an awesome little work of art. In short, it was perfect and my favorite blade of all time. I own A LOT of knives. But none, none of them, compare to that little, 2 1/2 inch bladed gem.
For reasons I will soon disclose I cannot attach a picture. Nor can I find one on the web! (So maybe the AI takeover has a little ways to go?) Anyway, it was a small, simple knife, all steel construction, with a plain lock on the back (top) of the handle. It would have been ordinary, like so many good Bucks, etc. What set it apart were the stamps.
The handle, one side, has inlaid with a short series of New Zealand postage stamps. They each featured the picture of a trout. I cannot remember for the life of me exactly which stamp it was. I can’t even recall the maker – Svord?? maybe? Dunno… I cannot remember how much it cost, circa 1997, either. I imagine it was reasonable but not cheap – maybe $50-100. I do remember the stamps.
The stamp was likely this one:
It could have been this:
It could have been a similar stamp. Seeing these pictures you get the picture no doubt. It was a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.
And I lost it…
It had to be at the great institution that is Tweetsie Railroad, of which I have also previously raved, here.
In fact, I’m confident that my knife is probably still in the gravel beneath the Tilt-A-Whirl in the Country Fair section of the park. Tweetsie says, “Spin and spin, until this ride leaves you breathless and laughing.” You’ll certainly laugh until you realize that your knife flew out of your pocket while your child squealed with glee… I cursed over the matter. Sadly, I missed my knife, fish and all, only after I left and park closed.
I suppose that, if it is still there, then I could conceivably recover it. I imagine the elements these past, what – ten years? – have not been to kind. Is it better to let it go? Probably.
If you happen to read this, work in maintenance at Tweetsie, clean out under the Tilt-A-Whirl, and find the above-described knife, then please drop me an email.
The good news is that I got to, here, link together two of my favorite stories and places. Plus I got to share with you the reconstructed, approximated beauty of the blade.
Maybe Ebay has one. Gotta run.
*Safety note: Please check your pockets when attending fast-moving centripetal amusement rides. Laugh breathlessly.
To me and a few people I know, a properly cooked steak is one of life’s great luxuries. Cooked perfectly and it becomes almost a transcendental experience.
This is a continuation of my haphazard series on better businesses. It’s also a direct follow-up to my story about the great Tweetsie Railroad. Read that one if you haven’t before. As an aside and a testament to my snail-like pace of production, I started both of these articles some three years ago.
Let me tell you a tale. Usually in the fall I crave a mountain getaway. I like cool clean air, free-flowing water, and smaller numbers of people. The mountains feel more like fall that the rest of the South; it’s like the New England experience without the 16 hour drive or the hassle of Logan.
It’s a short drive and even makes a good day trip. There are suitable mountains in Georgia and Tennessee but this story involves those of North Carolina. On a hypothetical late-October day we might start early at Tweetsie. My daughter loves the place just as much as I did when I was her age and younger. As I written, it is exactly the same place today as it was in the 1970s.
After a fun day of train rides and funnel cakes finding a hotel is a must (for an overnight stay). I’ve tried the cabins and B&Bs. They’re great. The old … “family fun” motels I remember from my youth are still there – some of them. Sadly, they haven’t seen much maintenance or cleaning in the interim. For this story I will recommend the Holiday Inn Express right on U.S. 321 in Boone.
The Express is clean and modern and reasonably priced. The rooms feature balconies, fireplaces, and hot-tubs. Best of all it is right across the street from The Peddler Steakhouse of Boone.
There are other Peddlers out there, some of which are related to mine. Boone’s is the best. In fact, I call it the best steakhouse in the world. I haven’t been to them all but the Peddler puts to shame many of fancier variety and higher prices.
The restaurant is cozy. There’s a definite 70s feel in the darkness, the paneling, and the overall ambiance. There’s a little waiting room when you first walk in. Get there early as they are frequently busy. If you have to wait, order a drink and enjoy the good company.
Much of the staff are cute co-eds (Boone being a college town). That never hurts. Everyone is efficient and helpful. Once you’re seated the manager wheels around a wooden cart with the day’s best selection of meats. He offers assistance in ordering, cooking, everything. And I’ve heard him refuse an order because he thought the requested meat wasn’t up to Peddler standards. Phenomenal.
The menu is varied and I have sampled this and that. However, it’s a steakhouse and then and there I go all the way. I suggest the 10 oz. Fillet Mignon. Your steak will be grilled to order over an open fire by expert chefs. I say get it medium rare. I hold this is the best steak in the world, bar none. Forget a knife. Honestly you don’t even need teeth. Every filet I have ever had there has been 100% perfect. The price as of this writing is $34.95, a bargain for a priceless taste.
This picture really does not do justice. The Peddler.
As for sides I usual go with a sweet potato. This is really an afterthought. Nothing can compare, compliment, or detract from a Peddler steak. There’s also a full service salad bar of which you should partake. For $10.95 you can have greens, soups, fresh bread, and even caviar. Just save room for the steak.
The Peddler boasts an impressive wine selection. The one and only bone I have to pick is with the beers offered. They have all the usual American non-beers and a healthy number of real beers. It’s just that they could up the potential steak-pairing darks, bitters, and stouts. I generally have a Newcastle or a Pete’s Wicked Brown. This is a small imperfection, easily overlooked.
The women of my life say the desserts are excellent. I’ve never had one as, like I’ve said, there is nothing suitable to complement these steaks.
Boone is full of great places to eat. There is though only one Peddler. It’s simply the best.
After a perfect meal I like to float back to the hotel and enjoy a good cigar on the balcony. I’ve even witnessed an autumn snow with my smoke. If your now an aficionado, the hot-tub might be your thing. By the way, this scenario would work well in winter and a ski trip.
I don’t recommend many eateries; the Peddler is just in a class by itself. If you’ll excuse me, I have to drive to Boone now. High country perfection calls…
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.