Grab every chance you get to play! Try new experiences and choose JOY. Here are some suggestions as a good start:
1. Bubbles: Buy a bottle of bubbles and just watch them lift and float in the air. Take pictures of them. See how long you can make one last. Do bubble races. Hike to Hooper Bald or drive to one of the pull offs along the Cherohala Skyway and blow your bubbles there. You will see that all people love bubbles and it is a great way to get everyone smiling!
2. Kite Flying: Bring a kite or make one from newspapers. Take your kite up to one of the “Balds” along the Cherohala Skyway. You feel as if you were at the top of the world! There is plenty of room to fly a kite and no kite-eating trees to worry about. Pack a picnic lunch and if you are lucky you can feast on ripe huckleberries or wild strawberries that can be foraged at these two spots.
3. Gravestones: During the Civil War this area was crossed by many Confederate and Union Soldiers. Particularly in the Appalachian regions of Tennessee and North Carolina, the term “bushwhacker” was used for Confederate partisans who attacked Union Forces. It is interesting to learn about the history of the area by visiting the old graveyards and locating the marker stones of the various individuals who have stories that should be remembered.
4. Mead: Try mead, which is also called Honey Wine, at Wehrloom Honey in Robbinsville. Wehrloom allows you to sample a variety and you can choose your favorite or purchase a sampler at the store location. Their store is filled with numerous kinds of honey and bee-related gifts. Also, baskets, earrings and art can be purchased to bring home.
5. Go Treasure Hunting – Try your hand at geocaching. There are several caches hidden in Graham County. In order to find your clues, you need to create an account on Geocaching.com. Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called "geocaches" or "caches", at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world. As of 2021, there were over a million active players in the United States.
6. Dancing – Friday night Dancing on the Square in Robbinsville is so much fun! Try dancing! plenty of people will show you the traditional steps. Watch from the bleachers and remember to bring a soft cushion
to sit on. Appalachian Bluegrass music played by visiting local bands is a wonderful experience.
7. Snorkeling in the creeks and rivers – bring your snorkel and mask and explore what lies beneath. Graham County is the home of numerous multicolored bait fish that are as beautiful as the fish you find in the average marine tank. Hunt for the incredible Hellbender Salamander that loves to feel the river water flowing over its back. Search for the tiny mollusks and aquatic snails and the caddisflies and hellgrammites that live in the world of the creek.
8. Salamander hunting - The southern Appalachians contain the largest variety of salamanders in the entire world. We are a temperate rain forest, and we have the perfect environment for these beautiful creatures. Keep your eyes open for the “Wanderer”, the brilliant orange salamander who wanders the land for two years before entering the creek to mate and lay eggs. Look for the rare Cheoah Bald Salamander. Do remember to treat the Salamanders very gently and place them back exactly where you found them. They are delicate beings.
9. Night hiking with a black light – A black light is inexpensive and easy to purchase on-line. Taking a walk at night with one will introduce you to a whole new world. Mushrooms that seem to be a boring beige during the day explode into brilliant blues and purples under black light. Flowers change color and lines emerge leading pollinators directly to the pollen source like airplane runways. Green Maple seedlings emerging from the ground turn a beautiful crimson red when you shine the black light on the leaf’s surface.
10. Star watching - On clear nights our sky is pitch black. It is marvelous to spread a blanket on the ground and lay down on your back, gazing at the astounding stars and planets above. If you are lucky, you can watch a meteor shower and wish on shooting stars. Schedule watching a moonrise or a moon set from Maple Springs Observation Deck near the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. Drive to a pull off along the Cherohala Skyway and bring a folding chair and binoculars. You may even hike to the top of Huckleberry Knob and camp for the night, surrounded by stars.
Photography by D. Hunter Turner