Category: blog (33)

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Spring time on the Plateau is a magical time. Birds are chirping a bit more cheerily and flowers are starting to bloom, from a blue covered meadow, to the blaze of color of rhododendrons adorning our yards. Spring also brings our animal neighbors, the American Black Bear, out of hibernation and on the prowl for food after a cold, harsh winter. When visiting our area or arriving for the season you will likely encounter one of these beautiful animals, often with cubs in tow, and probably closer to home than you imagined.

We’ve  been living peacefully side by side for many years but it is important to use common sense and ensure our safety and theirs. First and foremost don’t leave anything out that will attract bears. Don’t leave bird food, trash or any other food out, or even in your cars. Once they see your home as the perfect picnic stop they are likely to visit over and over. The old adage is that a “fed bear is a dead bear” is sadly too true. A bear that looks to humans as a food source is a bear that can become a problem bear.

While watching them through a closed window is an experience we all enjoy, an encounter closer than that can leave our hearts racing and adrenaline pumping. It’s important to keep your wits about you and keep a few safety tips in mind.  Bears are wild animals and should always be treated with caution and respect. Keep as much distance between you and them as possible. Make a wide detour around them, or back  away slowly.  If a bear sees you they may stop and stand up to get a better look or smell. As hard as it sounds don’t panic, make sudden movements or run. Talk in a soothing tone letting it know you are no threat and back away slowly while extending your arms over your head.  The bigger you seem, the more powerful a bear thinks you are and the less likely they are to bother you. If you’ve come upon one too suddenly, gotten too close, or come between a Mamma and her cubs, it may feel threatened and try to intimidate you by popping its jaws or swaying from side to side. It may even bluff charge. As impossible as it seems stand your ground until the bear turns away, then slowly back away.

It is extremely uncommon for bears to attack humans so knowing the proper safety tips and acting calmly helps ensure that we continue to peacefully co-exist.

Whiteside Hiker

For residents and visitors alike Whiteside Mountain is one of our areas must do hikes. The views are breathtaking and the hike is moderate and accessible to almost everyone. On a recent sunny Sunday we noticed how many families jumped at the chance for a family outing and hiked up the mountain. Facebook was filled with pictures of families sharing their memories of what for many was the first real hike of the season. For more information on this geological wonder check out a recent Asheville Citizen Times article here. Next time you make the hike you will approach it with a whole new sense of wonder. Happy Trails!

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When we are in winter survival mode it is easy to put off until tomorrow what it’s too cold to do today. This is particularly true with respect to inspecting our homes to be certain that everything is in good repair. When it comes to home maintenance an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s why it’s a good idea to spend one of the first beautiful spring days strolling around your home making an inspection of the exterior. It doesn’t take but a few minutes to inspect the following exterior features that can become problematic over the winter:
o Roof: From the ground do a visual inspection for evidence of damage, checking for cracked, curled or missing shingles. If you notice any vines or moss growing on your roof this is a sign of moisture. If you notice any signs of damage call a contractor for evaluation and necessary repairs. While the contractor is on the roof, have him clean leaves from roof valleys and any limbs or other debris that has accumulated over the winter. Also, check your attic and be certain that your vents are unobstructed and free from debris or animal nests. Also check for roof leaks which will be discernable by signs of moisture or discoloration on your rafters or wet spots on your insulation.

o Chimneys: Examine outside of chimney for damage. Have the flue cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep.

o Siding: Examine the siding for signs of disrepair, Pay special attention to the area under the roof eaves for signs of water or discoloration, indications that ice dams might have created leaks along the roof edge. Have your siding cleaned to remove salt, mildew and grime that may have accumulated over the winter.

o Decks: Check for loose or buckling boards which may need repair Also check for water stains where the deck ties to the house. Ongoing water leakage can lead to wood decay, weakening the deck structure and the house. If you have any doubt about the structural integrity of the deck, call a professional to investigate. Pressure wash your deck to remove mold and mildew. You may do it yourself or hire a contractor. If doing it yourself remember that if you see wood damage, like raised fibers you need to increase the distance between the spray nozzle and the decking.

o Garage Doors: To check that the door is balanced, release it into the manual mode and lift it by handle. The door should lift easily and smoothly and stay open on its own about 3 feet off the ground. If it doesn’t, hire a garage-door technician to counterbalance its overhead spring. Next, set the reversing force on the opener as low as possible.

o Driveways: This step is especially important for our area where freezing and thawing during the winter months. Nip cracks in the bud in the driveway and paths before weeds take up residence. Home centers sell patching materials and fillers designed for asphalt and concrete surfaces which will work for small repairs. For more extensive damage you’ll need to hire a professional. For walkways ensure they are in good repair and free from uneven surfaces, mossy patches or holes.

o Gutters: Clear gutters of debris and check them for corrosion, joint separation, and loose fasteners. Flush out downspouts and unclog leader pipes. Leaders should extend at least 5 feet to direct water away from the foundation.

o Foundation: Examine your foundation. Look for cracks and discolorations that point to a water leak or moisture source. Seal and treat as necessary. Small fissures are generally normal, but large or gaping cracks signal potential foundation failure. Consult a structural engineer if you notice any significant signs of structural damage.

o Outside faucets: Check outside hose faucets for freeze damage. Turn the water on and place your thumb or finger over the opening. If you can stop the flow of water, it is likely the pipe inside the home is damaged and will need to be replaced.

2. Have air conditioning serviced. Now is the time to have a qualified heating and cooling contractor service your air conditioning unit. Clean equipment operates more efficiently and an annual service call will keep the system working at peak performance. Also, remember to keep your filters changed throughout the spring and summer to ensure good airflow.

3. Don’t forget your septic system. Have your septic tank inspected and pumped as necessary. This can prevent a major issue down the road which could result in soil consolidation, plumbing repairs and extensive cleanup.

4. Clean windows. Boost natural light throughout your home by cleaning the windows, inside and out. For second-story windows hire a service to clean the outside, or use a hose attachment to clean them yourself (while standing safely on the ground!). Check your window screens for damage as well.
5. Tune up lawn mower and gas grill. Make sure all of your outdoor equipment is clean and in working order. Stock up on the types of fuel you will need to run your lawn mower and gas grill.

6. Spiff up the porch. Inspect the floor and repaint if needed. Sweep away dust and cobwebs, wipe down the light fixtures, get a new doormat and prepare your containers for spring planting. If your porch furniture or cushions have been in storage, set them out now.
7. Landscaping. Take a look at your trees and shrubs to see if any look diseased or weakened. Pay particular attention to those that have dangling limbs that need to be removed.

The perfect tonic for the end of a long, long winter? A bowl of subtle heat washed down with a mouthful of cornbread and an ice cold beverage. Don’t miss the Highlands Chili Cook-off, 6:30 to 9:30 P.M. Saturday, March 14, at the Community Building.
Good times and good food; where do you go to find that combination in Highlands in March? Look no further
than the Highlands Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Chili Cook-off slated for 6:30-9:30 on Saturday,
March 14, 2015 at the Highlands Community Building.
This annual event has become known as the place to shed winter’s gray, cold mantle, kick the snow off your
boots and add some spice back into your life. Join your friends and neighbors for an evening of culinary
delights, cold beverages and dancing the night away to the sounds of the Southern Highlands band.
You will enjoy chili and cornbread recipes of every kind and nature, from mild and traditional,
to knock your socks off hot and fiery. Some will have you asking for a second helping so you can
identify that subtle spice that makes it so unique. Others will have you rushing to the drink
stations where beer, wine and soft drinks will be served to cool you off and cleanse your palate
for a second round.Prizes will be awarded for Most Traditional Chili, Hottest Chili, Most
Unique Chili, Best Salsa, Best Cornbread and Best All Round Table Decoration.
Tickets are $25 each and are sold at the door on the evening of the event. Children 12 and
under are admitted free. Anyone needing more information or interested in being a
competitor should call Jennifer Smathers at the Highlands Chamber of Commerce (828)526-2112.

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The beautiful snow is rapidly melting but even now we have an opportunity to enjoy a few more days of those last, glimmering reflections of nature’s beauty. The pace is a little slower, the earth a little quieter and it’s a great time to take a moment to look around and enjoy the abundance of wildlife we have in our area. Look down and you will notice tracks of animals or better yet you might be more likely to see the animals themselves as they are less camouflaged against the stunning background of white. Rabbits, deer, turkey, foxes, bobcats and racoons are on the move looking for food and their tracks are easily identifiable in the snow.

The easiest way to observe wildlife is to hang a bird feeder and watch the colorful cardinals, blue jays, chickadees, juncos and titmice that clamor for free food. Actually, it’s not entirely free as they are more than willing to sing for their breakfast! A word of caution about bird feeders though. While they are generally safe from attracting bears during the cold, harsh days of winter it is important to make certain that your feeders are appropriately bear proofed. Bears sometimes remain active during our warmer winter days. Many people in our area enjoy feeding the birds only during the winter months when their need is greatest and the intrusion of bears less likely.

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It looks as though our first winter storm of the year is imminent so this is a great time to brush up on winter driving tips. Additionally, take time to give your car a quick inspection to be certain that your battery , lights, brakes and tires are in good condition. Your windshield wipers need to be in tip top shape as well so check them for wear and tear and replace as necessary. The Highway Patrol urges everyone to stay home unless you absolutely have to travel. If you must travel allow yourself extra travel time and keep extra distance between yourself and the car in front of you. Up to date information on road conditions can be found at the North Carolina Department of Transportation website.

AAA Carolinas offers helpful winter driving tips so visit their page. Additionally, they advise that you keep an emergency kit in your car in case you find yourself stranded. A well stocked kit should contain these items:

  • Bag of abrasive material (kitty litter works great)
  • Small shovel
  • Traction mats
  • Flashlight
  • Window-washing solvent
  • Gloves
  • Ice scraper
  • Cloth or paper towels
  • Jumper cables
  • Blanket
  • Reflective triangles
  • Cell phone and car charger
  • Energy Bars or other nonperishable snacks
  • Bottled water

 

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Be prepared, be careful and enjoy the beauty!

 

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Now that you’ve made your plans to visit the Plateau for Valentine’s Day and found the perfect place to stay it’s time to start planning your weekend activities. Check a few of these out and we think you will agree that you’ve picked the perfect place to celebrate.
Our area boasts some great restaurants so make deciding where to eat your first order of business. The Laurel Magazine has a great guide to help you make your choices. This will be a busy weekend so remember to make your reservations early.
You’ll find things to do here in Highlands and Cashiers that are uniquely ours. We guarantee that bragging rights will be yours when you claim to have been one of the lucky few to actually see someone race an outhouse on skis down a hill! For the ultimate in whacky fun and for a good cause Sapphire Valley Ski Area is hosting their Outhouse Race at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 14. This event raises funds to sponsor ski scholarships for area children to attend Sapphire Valley’s after-school ski programs.
The Bascom invites you to bring the whole family and create a piece of artwork for someone you love at their My Funny Valentine workshop from 10:00 until noon on Saturday, February 14. You can choose from jewelry making, card making or string and nail art. This event is free and fun! Check out the Bascom’s website for more information.
Need a reason to stay over one more day? The Highlands United Methodist Church is having its annual Heart of Highlands dinner and dance on Sunday the 15th at 5:00. This is a special party for your entire family and includes steak for the adults and hot dogs for the kids. There is no set price, but donations are appreciated. Reservations are required for this event and you can make them here.

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Romance awaits you on the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau this Valentine’s Day so pack your bags and head to the mountains for a weekend to remember. Whether you’re in the mood for an extravagant weekend of pampered luxury or a quiet secluded weekend just for the two of you, you will find what you’re looking for on the Plateau.

Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday this year and our area Hotels and Bed and Breakfasts are pulling out all the stops to entice you to get away for a romantic stay. In Highlands Old Edwards Inn and Spa, named Trip Advisor’s # 5 Top Hotel in the US in 2015, offers the ultimate in pampering and spoiling. There you can indulge in a rejuvenating spa treatment, have a romantic dinner and sip on a special Valentine cocktail. Relax at Mitchell’s Lodge & Cottages in a Deluxe Room, Suite or cabin with Kilwin’s hand dipped chocolate strawberries and a dozen red roses waiting. Main Street Inn includes a bountiful breakfast in their package. Request the staff at Park on Main to add festive touches to your stay and they will happily have chocolate covered strawberries, wine or champagne awaiting you.

The Cashiers area boasts AAA 4 Diamond Innisfree Inn by the Lake known year-round as one of the great romantic destinations in the area and especially so at Valentine’s Day. They will make your stay one to remember with fresh flowers, full bedside breakfast, afternoon hospitality service, chocolates, and sherry by your fireplace. The Hampton Inn and Laurelwood Inn will also make your stay a special one.

Our Plateau is an epicure’s delight. Whether you’re looking for fine dining with an extensive wine list, a quaint place for lunch, a bountiful breakfast or the best burger around you will find it here. You can also enjoy the quiet ambiance of a local coffee shop with a gourmet cup of coffee and pastry.

Days can be spent in quiet solitude or you can hit the streets for boutique shopping or checking out local galleries featuring arts and crafts for any taste. You will want to visit The Bascom: A Center for the Visual Arts to enjoy their exhibits. You might find yourself checking out their class schedules and planning a return trip to take a ceramics class or a journaling class.

If you want to step out at night you will find several places that offer live music. The Ugly Dog Pub in Highlands is usually the spot to be on a Saturday night with live music and a great menu. The Highlands Playhouse offers movies if a quiet evening out is more your style or just linger over dinner and enjoy the company.

For more information please visit the Highlands Chamber of Commerce here or call them at 866-526-5841 or the Cashiers Chamber of Commerce here or call them at 828-743-7543. You can also visit the Laurel Magazine’s website here.

A community Halloween celebration that has been a tradition for over 20 years. On Friday, the streets will close down at 5:30pm while witches, goblins, ghouls & zombies alike will fill the town. Enjoy music, free hot dogs, pizza, hot chocolate & cider as you watch the creatures of the night collect their sweet treats, making for an unforgettable evening of fun.

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Landmark Leads the Market in 2013

Landmark has substantially outperformed all area firms and ranked #1 in the Highlands-Cashiers Multiple Listing Service for cumulative sales volume and number of units sold again for 2013. Landmark has been the real estate market leader since our inception in 2004.