The parking lot at Tsali Recreation Area was full of bikes Friday evening — more than 100 of them, strapped to the backs of sedans and SUVs, tied into beds of pickup trucks, license plates running the gamut from Florida to Virginia to Mississippi. Gears were spun, wheelies popped, hoorahs yelled as mountain bikes shot down the trail or gathered in a shiny metal line to await the start of the group ride.
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“I’m kinda excited,” said Rob Burgess, prepping his bike in the parking lot. “Tsali is one of the epic trails.”
The little storefront that serves as home base for Todd McDougall’s chiropractic office looks just about how you’d expect such an office to look — reception desk at the front, neutral walls and an exam room with padded table inside. But the smattering of framed mountain snowscapes on the wall of that exam room give a clue as to what “normal” looked like for McDougall before setting up shop in Waynesville.
“I would look back after those years, and I had climbed over 60 mountains over 20,000 feet,” McDougall said. “That was six times a year I was at 20,000 feet, and that’s kind of a lot.”
Franklin officials thought the controversy over banners would end when the board of aldermen passed an ordinance last year allowing them to be hung over Main Street to promote upcoming events.
Franklin residents have taken it upon themselves to get the word out about the town’s recognition as the “Top Small Town” by Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine.
Since the award was announced in November, the big question has been how to capitalize on the designation and bring more visitors to town. Because the award is given out each year, time is of the essence to spread the good word.
Outdoor shooting ranges could soon be under the microscope in Haywood County.
Lynda Doucett and her staff at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park were pretty excited to move into the new Oconaluftee Visitor Center when it opened back in 2011. The staff on that side of the park had been stuffed into the tiny little “temporary” visitor center next door in the old administration building since 1948, so the brand new $3.5 million building was definitely going to be an upgrade.
But the 2011 move involved change beyond increased floor space and better interpretive displays. The more impressive building enticed more of the visitors driving by to stop in, and because the timing coincided with an overall surge of visitation in the park, there were more passerbys overall.
Franklin will soon be joining other communities around the world who are incorporating a love for reading with a love of the outdoors.
Young people growing up in a small town usually have one main goal — to get out.
For Tim Petrea, it was a truck and a red box that launched a lifetime affinity for the outdoors. Growing up in southern Georgia, Petrea wasn’t close to a whole lot of mountains, but when he saw his father loading up the red box, he knew they were headed for yet another Appalachian excursion to Western North Carolina.
“Every time he put that thing in the truck, we were going camping. I think I’ve got a love for the outdoors and a love for just getting outside because of moments like that,” Petrea said. “They’d put us in the back of the tuck and we’d go to Maggie Valley or Cherokee and go camping.”
Franklin beat out 47 other small towns this year for the title of “2015 Top Small Town” in Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine.