Christmas in the Mountains – December Acivities

Be sure to check out the Artist’s Studio Tour page.  The dates are December 6 & 7, 2008. This is an opportunity to meet artists and see where they do their thing. It is very interesting to anyone who is creative and appreciates those with creativity.

snow covered Christmas treeAnd check out the Christmas Tree – Field Guide page.

Some more Mountain Tips to help you enjoy the season.






A Great Weekend to be in the Mountains

This is a great weekend to spend in the Southern Appalachian Mountains.  It is cooler here. This weekend, June 14 & 15, Saturday and Sunday, is the Toe River Arts Council open studio tour.  Check it out. I really enjoy meeting the artists and seeing their workshops.  Most of these artsy types also live in very artistic locations. Just getting to their studio is a great adventure. You can pick up your guide map at the Spruce Pine TRAC Gallery and at the Burnsville TRAC Gallery. Plan your tour first. Mark the types of art you would like to see. Then find their location on the map. This will allow you to group studios in geographic areas to save time and gas. My recommendation: start on Saturday morning. Then when you realize at the 5:00 p.m.  closing time and you still haven’t  gotten to all of the glass blowers or galleries, you can still come back on Sunday. There are great scenic roads all over the Toe River area, each trip is visually rewarding. Take your time and enjoy the ride. Also, this Saturday in Blowing Rock, NC is Art in the Park. Downtown Blowing Rock welcomes artists to display and sell their work.  These are very talented craftspeople. This is a jurried show by invitation. This high quality art show is in addition to the wealth of art on sale in the shops and galleries along Main Street. This Saturday would be a good time to get an ice cream cone and just sit in the park and people watch. I hope you take this weekend and make it a great one, in the Mountains. 

The best outdoor bargain in East Tennessee!


Spring is upon us here in East Tennessee. What happened to winter?  I blinked and missed it. I wonder it it is too late to harvest ramps?

 This link is to the Friends Of Roan Mountain.

Their Spring Naturalist Rally is May 2 – 3 – 4, Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday.  (No, it is NOT a clothing optional kind of thing.)

Friends of Roan Mountain

It is the best bargain in the outdoors!

Weekend activity fee: – $ 4.00

If you want to include the dinner and program: Socialization of Gray Wolves  – $ 8.75.

Dinner and a show for under $ 13.00 ! That is just the Friday schedule.

Saturday has 22 options in classes and feild trips. The full day including meals – $ 13.75.

The 6,285 ft high Roan Mountain is on the North Carolina – Tennessee border.

From Boone NC -about an hour west on

From Johnson City TN – about an hour east.

From Ashville NC – about an hour and a half north.

I’ll see you there.


P.S. – Also if you are going to be around the Smoky Mouintains, check out these easy vacation ideas: Smoky Mouintain Field School.

Have a great day in the mountains!

Apple Festival time!

Heritage Apple booth

Fall is Apple Festival time.

I spent Saturday (October 6) at the North Wilkesboro (NC) Apple Festival. 

The great folks from the Brushy Mountain Ruritan have been putting on this free festival for over 30 years. Over a hundred thousand people flood into town for this huge festival.

The entire downtown is blocked off for this one day event.

There were great crafts for sale. Many exhibits and demonstrations to enjoy.

I had the honor of manning the Heritage Apple booth for Tom Brown, who was doing another apple festival in Paintsville KY.

As my name tag said: “I’m not Tom Brown”, but I tried to dispense as much  of my limited knowledge as I could.

I met many really nice people.  Many were interested in the antique and heritage apples. The booth was mainly for educational purposes.

It was fun to educate people on the different uses for apples that our ancestors had. And the many different kinds of apples for each use.  Many children have never heard of dried apples or keeping food through the winter.

Once people learn about the hundreds of kinds of apples that were grown and now are not being grown, they realize that part of our culture and history is dying out  when these old apple trees die.

Also at the booth, many people stopped by and asked “Have you ever heard of an _______  apple?” Tom has found thousands of heritage apples and had provided me a list. So if I couldn’t find the apple listed, I would take their name and number and information about the apple and where the tree can be found.

This way, we can “rescue” another heritage apple from extinction.  Pretty cool, huh?

 I hope you make it to an apple festival near you.

 Here is a link to Tom’s Apple Search page.

Take an afternoon to seek out the apple orchards nearest you.  Try different apples. Learn what other kinds of apples are available in you area.  Apples are very regional.   

You may discover a real treasure.

 – Ken

Hawk migration at Mendota VA.

Well, the hawk migration has passed us by.

The Broad-winged hawk count for the weekend was under a hundred for Saturday and Sunday together. Although the total for the count since September 10 th. is over 5,200 Broad-winged Hawks. 

A great way to spend some time in the mountains! 

Plan your calendar a week either side of September 15, 2008.

My friend, Tom Hunter, and I still had a good weekend on a monutain top. 

Tom is a founding member of the Russell Co. (VA) Bird Club and is on the board for the Virginia Society of Ornithology.  He is very good at long range bird identification. Hear his interview below.)

I learned a lot.

You, too, can learn a lot from these nice people:

Virginia Society of Ornithology

Let’s go hawk watching!

Wow! What great weather we are having here in the Appalachian Mountains. It has been very difficult to work and know that the hawk count is still going on and I’m not there.

Last Sunday we counted 892 Broad-winged Hawks. Some were very high and hard to see with good binoculars.

It ws a five eagle day too!

I hope you are enjoying this great weather in the mountains.

Welcome to Mountain Tips – blog


Can you beleive how fast this year is flying by?  I still have lots of summer things on my “to-do” list.

Speaking of things flying by, one of the things that can not wait is the fall migration of Broadwing hawks.

Contact your local birding group. Find out where they go to count the hawks as they fly over. This is a lot of fun. 

You will learn a lot by just listening to the experienced birders. They will identify and point out the hawks to you. All you have to do is follow along where they are pointing.

Pretty soon you will be able to help them spot birds and help confirm the count.

For the Southern Appalachian Mountains, the broadwing hawk migration is mid September; from the 15 th to the 25th.

One of the best things about going to watch the hawk migration is that they don’t start flying until after 9:00 a.m.  You don’t have to get up at dark-thirty and be at the site before sunup.

Call your local birding group and find out when and where they are going to count the hawks.  You’ll be glad you did.

Here is a birding group that has a very active email list.  I learn a lot from them: