This week I wanted to take an opportunity to spread some local love with all our blog followers out there. After all, February is “Love the Locals” month in downtown Waynesville. We most often talk about all the incredible things there are to experience here in the NC Smokies from the standpoint of sharing our beautiful little corner of NC with outside visitors. But this week, I want to share with you Haywood County from a different perspective – that of a brand new local. We want to not only encourage those from far and wide to come visit, but we want to encourage our local Haywood County residents to make the most of their majestic surroundings by being a backyard explorer. From experiencing a new hiking trail and dining at a restaurant you may have never visited before, to checking out a shop you’ve never been in or visiting a local attraction you’ve driven by a hundred times but never stopped to see why our visitors love it so much.
So with that said, I give you a guest blog from our own Ron Bower, Group Sales Manager for Visit NC Smokies. Ron moved to Haywood County in 2015 and has since spent his spare time exploring his new home. He loves it here and hopes his blog will encourage you, whether you are a local or visitor, to experience all the Haywood County has to offer!
The New Local
By Ron Bower
After nearly 6 months of being a new resident of Haywood County, I still haven’t had time to experience everything this beautiful county has to offer. I relocated here in August 2015 from the Midwest. The scenic beauty of the mountains was a big part of my decision, why wouldn’t it be. The Smoky Mountains are stunning. The other reason for my move was career oriented. When I was offered the position of Group Sales Manager for Haywood County TDA, I knew there would be a bunch of places that I could have groups experience.
One of the first places I experienced was Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park to go elk watching. Those magnificent creatures took my breath away. They are beautiful, and quite large. Being from a large city, I had never been so close to wildlife unless it was at a zoo. The day I was there, I witnessed a herd of about 75 grazing the field. I even heard the distinct sound of an elk bugle. If you’re not familiar with bugling, it is their mating call. I admit, I was a little hesitant being so close to wild animals. But I learned from National Park Rangers that if I respect them, they will respect me. Don’t disturb them. Don’t go towards them. Just watch. That’s sound advice.
While at Cataloochee Valley, I also toured one of the historic homes that housed families before the land became a National Park. It is fascinating to see how folks lived back in in the early 20th Century with no electric or modern amenities that we take for granted. There was a fireplace that was presumably used to cook and keep the family warm. I also toured the town church. There are still pews, a small stage with a podium, complete with an old Bible. It was like being in an episode of Little House on the Prairie, without the drama.
In the coming months, I will share my experiences of Haywood County and hope to open the eyes of locals who may have forgot what there is to experience and to show visitors how incredibly beautiful this part of the country is. So until then, get out and explore Haywood County!
A little more about Ron….
Ron Bower is the Group Sales Manager for the Haywood County TDA. He has a Master’s degree in marketing and communications from Franklin University in Columbus, OH, and is a Certified Travel Industry Specialist (CTIS).