Mountain Living: Winter Weather Damage

From Atlanta to Asheville and beyond, folks are feeling the affects of the polar vortex. The South may not face life-threatening temperatures and instant freezing like our friends further from the equator, but the cold has taken its toll. Burst pipes, fallen trees, and malfunctioning temperature regulators have struck southern states hard. As the weather starts to warm, assess your Lake Nantahala home for cold weather damage and prepare your North Carolina real estate for the next cold snap.

Pipe Damage

frozen pipesDid you know that our relatively temperate North Carolina climate increases the risk of burst pipes? Bursting pipes aren’t simply caused by freezing water, but the continuous thawing and refreezing of pipes, which builds pressure until cracks begin to form. Pipes rarely freeze above 20 degrees, but installing basic pipe insulation could protect your pipes in the months to come. If cold weather hits and your pipes are not prepared, turn your faucet on, letting water drip through the pipes. The small flow of water relieves built-up water pressures, limiting the risk of long-term pipe damage.

Outdoor Home Maintenance

When the temperatures drop, the North Carolina mountain forests often seem like a bigger threat than burst pipes. Carefully check trees on your property for cracks or less than solid limbs. If a brittle bough looks in danger of falling, remove the home hazard. Contact a tree removal professional if the cold weather has compromised the integrity of the trunk. Clear walkways of potential tripping hazards like scattered limbs or fallen shingles. To keep your lakeside cabin warm, check your roof for loose shingles, replace worn weather stripping, and reinforce window seals.

Preparing for Another Storm

The polar vortex may have taken the world by surprise, but we had enough warning to prepare. Before the next dose of North Carolina winter, stock up on basic cold weather supplies. Check your canned food and water bottles seasonally in case they need replacing. Prepare emergency supplies for each family member, setting aside additional blankets, flashlights and batteries, and a basic tool kit for home repairs. Clean out your fireplace seasonally and keep firewood stocked in the garage. A lit fireplace may blaze merrily around the holidays, but its heat is crucial when the heater fails.

Did your lakeside cabin escape the effects of the cold? Lend a helping hand to a Reflection Lake Nantahala neighbor cleaning up their yard or fighting frozen pipes.

Getting Off to a Good Start

listEvery year, after New Year’s champagne and the laughter of friends have faded, we pull out our list of resolutions and determine the best ways to achieve our new goals. Early January is full of stocking up on rubber gloves and breaking out storage boxes, lacing up our sneakers and trudging toward the gym, and eating the leftover holiday treats so we can start fresh next week. Almost 50% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but only 8% of people keep them through the end of January. So what gets in our way? Hectic schedules, culinary temptations, and, well, life. If you’re ready to achieve your goals in 2014, here are 3 tips to make your resolutions stick.

  1. Choose manageable goals. It’s easy to jog every morning and eat nothing but veggies when the thrill of 2014 is fresh in the air. But if you’re seeking self-improvement, the road to success is paved with lifestyle changes. Make your resolution something achievable and specific. Instead of swearing to “exercise more,” make a goal to hike through the Nantahala forest once a week. You’ll see better results—and have more fun in the process.
  2. Choose goals that matter. It doesn’t matter if you’ve sworn to stop eating chocolate or to cleanse the environment one recycle bin at a time; no one’s going to make an effort for results they aren’t committed to. Make New Year’s resolutions that matter to you, whether it’s learning more about the Lake Nantahala flora and fauna, getting to know your Reflection neighbors, or simply to smile more often.
  3. Every bit counts. It’s easy to get discouraged when the mountains of junk you haven’t found time to organize are obscuring the view outside your window. Whether you’re renovating your Nantahala cabin or learning a life skill, plan step-by-step goals to keep you on track. If you fall off the wagon, take a minute to reassess where you went wrong and keep going.

Still worried about keeping your resolutions? Make a pact with one of your neighbors in the Reflection community and keep each other on track.

A Holiday Home

merry christmasWhen the holiday season rolls around, we’re reminded of the blessings of our daily lives: beautiful homes with lakeside views, the freedom to celebrate peace and abundance, and family and friends to share in our holiday joy. Our neighbors around Nantahala, NC encourage our Christmas cheer by creating elaborate holiday lighting displays, highlighting the natural wonders of our North Carolina home on tours like the Polar Express train tour, and planning festive nights full of live holiday music. We’re given the opportunity to relive our childlike wonder with family, friends, and new generations of holiday revelers.

Christmas gives us a chance to reflect on the wonder we see every day. There’s nothing quite like enjoying a cup of hot cocoa, cuddled on the back porch with your spouse as you watch fog curl up from the lake. And the joy of watching kids dash across the front lawn in their new holiday boots is the perfect tonic to the stress of holiday shopping.

We hope that your holidays are filled with love, laughter, and the perfect latte maker. Happy Holidays from the Reflection Lake Nantahala community!

Reflect on Holiday Traditions

christmas decoratingFamily traditions pepper our lives, making our experiences richer and our memories more vivid. The members of our Reflection community have traditions as varied as they are: hiking expeditions with siblings, lucky lures for fishing trips, or baking that special family treat for the holidays. Family traditions ground us, giving us something intangible to share with those we love. Whether you’re a North Carolina native or you’re freshly experiencing the natural wonder of our lakeside mountain, a new holiday tradition is the perfect way to make your cabin feel like home. Here are 5 holiday traditions to start with your family this year.

  1. Cut a fresh Christmas tree. Whether you’re visiting your favorite tree farm or chopping a tree from the Nantahala National Forest, there’s something about cutting your own Christmas tree that brings the holiday spirit home. Trim the tree together for another classic holiday tradition.
  2. Give back to the community. It’s the season of giving, and providing food, presents, and holiday services for those in need is the best way to spread Christmas cheer. Volunteer to serve holiday meals, donate gifts for underprivileged kids, or start a free gift wrapping service.
  3. Explore the great outdoors. Embark on a holiday adventure your family can revisit year after year. Ride the Polar Express and marvel at a Nantahala winter wonderland. Plan a game of Christmas football when the extended family comes to town. Or simply sit outside with a mug of cocoa and enjoy the stillness of the forest.
  4. Bake a holiday treat. There’s nothing quite like pulling out a recipe you only use once a year. Make the holiday special by making that Christmas dessert, then tuck the recipe back into its book until next year.
  5. Soak up the holiday season. Take advantage of the holly, jolly world around you by gathering your family for caroling, Christmas movies, and insights into other people’s holiday traditions.

photo from flickr

A Very Kokanee Christmas

It’s easy to forget that our beautiful mountain lake home sits atop a cornucopia of magnificent flora and fauna. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s nice to step back and admire the marvels of the world around us. The weather is long past for afternoons lazing by the lake, but the creatures of our crystal clear Lake Nantahala waters are busier than ever. Our North Carolina Kokanee salmon have begun the last run of their lives, swimming upstream to spawn a new generation of brightly colored fish.

Kokanee Salmon

salmonAnglers know that Lake Nantahala hides a variety of fish, from trout to protected species like the spotfin chub. But causal fishermen might not know that Lake Nantahala is the only location in North Carolina to shelter the Kokanee salmon. The Kokanee salmon, a landlocked variety of sockeye salmon, have reproduced naturally in our waters since their addition in the 1960’s. This remarkable fish is one of the rare representations of salmon in the South.

Kokanee Salmon Spawning

Every autumn, mature Kokanee salmon transform their scales from shiny silver to russet red, swim upstream or into shallow recesses at the edge of the lake, and spawn. Though the Kokanee salmon can spawn any time between August and December, our southern climate often delays reproduction until the last weeks of the spawning season. The spawning runs are fascinating to observe with friends and family who are intrigued by the marvel of nature. After laying eggs, the Kokanne dies, providing winter fare for the carnivorous creatures that live in our woods. Fishers can catch Kokanee salmon while they’re still spawning, but be careful: catching them is both challenging and highly regulated. Do your research before attempting any fly-fishing adventures.

photo from flickr

A Very Nantahala Christmas

christmas parkIt’s the season for frost-tipped foliage, icy walkways, and crackling hearths. Families across the country are gathering in cozy living rooms to decorate their homes for the holidays, take advantage of online Christmas sales, and admire the white-coated mountainside. Christmas traditions remind us about the heart of the Lake Nantahala community: family, hospitality, and natural beauty. As you dig into boxes of stockings and dust off your nativity scenes, take a moment to appreciate the blessings of your mountain lake home.

Christmas Activities

The Reflection Lake Nantahala gated community offers an endless span of Christmas delight right outside your doorstep. Investigate the Christmas adventures at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, breathe in the crisp mountain air on a family hike, or take part in the holiday celebrations at our national parks. Whether you’re hunting for a stress-buster or a diversion for kids and visiting relatives, there’s no end to the activities around our mountain home.

Christmas Trees

Family tradition plays a crucial role in finding the perfect Christmas tree each year. While some North Carolina residents prefer tromping through the forest and discovering that one magical Christmas fir, others enjoy strolling through lots of trees to find the simplest and loveliest holiday centerpiece. Before you break out the tinsel and ornaments, discuss your options with your family. If you want a Fraser fir from the Nantahala National Forest or Great Smoky Mountain National Park, you’ll need a permit. If pre-cut trees are more your style, it never hurts to research prices and longevity of trees from each lot. Our mountain soil may lack the richness of Midwestern farmland, but our Christmas trees are fluffed, fresh, and full of the scent of home.

As you plan your family Christmas celebrations, take advantage of the unique opportunities provided by the North Carolina mountain region.

photo from flickr

Happy Thanksgiving!

polaroid-the-village-2If you live in the Reflection community, there’s no end to the abundance of blessings to cherish: stunning views of the crystal clear waters of Lake Nantahala, fresh mountain air, and a world of exploration and adventure just outside of your backdoor. We live in a land of bounty, of beauty, and of backyard wonder. Our vivid fall foliage and rugged mountain peaks create a one-of-a-kind backdrop for the laughter and love of your Thanksgiving table. The crisp mountain air makes it easy to delight in the spiced, earthy scents and warm hearth of your cabin home. And the greatest blessing of all: the friends and relatives traversing windy mountain roads to spend Thanksgiving with you and your family.

While you’re giving thanks for elaborate Thanksgiving meals and visiting loved ones, take a moment to remember your community. We’re thankful for the idyllic setting, cabin life, and amenities of our Reflection homes, but most of all we’re thankful for the blessing of our friends and neighbors. Share your gratitude for those who welcomed you home with a holiday card, an unexpected gift, or a simple holiday greeting. When it comes to love, you reap more than you sow.

Nantahala Heritage

pc_apr_05_lThanksgiving is a time of reflection, of community, and of remembering the blessings and beauty present in our everyday lives. For the friends and neighbors in our mountain hamlet, that means enjoying the beauty of the docks and lake, the hiking trails, and the brilliant tapestry of fall foliage hanging just outside our cabin windows. But it also means remembering the journey of our forefathers. Lake Nantahala and its facilities have a rich and varied history. The Reflection community is proud to share the heritage of this scenic mountain lake getaway.

History of Lake Nantahala

Lake Nantahala, NC was once a home to over 4,000 Cherokee Indians. Our secluded home later drew several small communities of settlers who developed schools, stores, and mills in the area. The Nantahala Power and Light Company created the lake in the late 1920’s, giving our mountain home energy, water, and a bevy of recreational activities. In the 70’s the US Military used our lake for training drills, bringing a breath of excitement to our corner of the Nantahala National Forest. Today countless homeowners, tourists, and adventurers enjoy the same fresh air, outdoor exploration, and amenities as the Army Green Beret and Special Forces did then.

History of Lake’s End Diner

We couldn’t truly give thanks for the bounty of succulent dishes, savory spices, and decadent desserts gracing our holiday tables without thinking of our hometown mealtime getaway: Lake’s End Diner. The site opened in the 50’s and quickly became a community staple. In the 1960’s the Griffing family added the diner and store that have served 50 years of friendly North Carolina folk. Lake’s End Diner has seen years of tourists, army trainees, and familiar faces from the Lake Nantahala communities. Whether you come by boat, by car, or by foot, Lake’s End Diner has all the homegrown southern cookin’ your taste buds could desire.

As you give thanks for your family and friends this Thanksgiving, don’t forget to say a blessing for the heritage-rich mountain lake community that you call home.

Always Prepared: Facing the Trail

Every so often we hear a story that reminds us how blessed we are to live in a gorgeous world of lakeside adventures, cascading mountain waterfalls, and stunning fall colors. We enjoy easy access to hiking trails in the Nantahala National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains National Forest. Whether we’re hunting for adventure, a crackling campfire, or a lazy fishing trip on the lake, the next great exploration is just beyond our backyard. But for some reaching that life affirming fresh air isn’t so easy. Hiking aficionado Trevor Thomas has explored trails from North Carolina all the way to Colorado. But what’s truly remarkable is that this hiker didn’t start conquering the mountains until he went blind in 2006.

A Helping Hand

boy scoutThomas has faced his share of troubles, but he’s also succeeded beyond anyone’s dreams. Balancing his desire to blaze new trails with the necessity of hiking safely, he has become an inspiration for hikers everywhere. Thomas is the first blind person in history to hike the Appalachian trail from Georgia to Maine without assistance. And people are taking notice. A Boy Scout Troop in Massachusetts approached Thomas about partnering for the blind ambassador program. With Thomas’s skill and knowledge and the boys’ willingness to help, Scoutmaster Fred Rossi hopes to unfold the vast world of hiking to the vision-impaired.

Learning a New Way

The key is to provide hiking assistance without infringing on the hiker’s adventure. The scouts worked with Thomas and several other blind athletes to develop awareness about the trials and tribulations faced by the sight impaired. The boys learned when to give aid, when to call a warning, and when to step back and let the hikers tackle the mountain alone. Thanks to these compassionate individuals, the crisp mountain air and natural challenges of the hiking trail are available to anyone gearing up for an outdoor adventure.

photo from flickr

Count Your Blessings

autumn beautyThanksgiving is drifting through the crisp North Carolina mountain air, bringing warm hearths, rich smells, and the promise of bounty to our homes on Lake Nantahala. Jack O’ Lanterns have given way to pumpkin pies, and Halloween spooks are quickly shifting into a new holiday spirit. As much as the holidays are about comfort and blessings, holiday planning is often as stressful as the celebration is rewarding. With just a few weeks until turkeys, stuffing, and pies, it’s time to assess your holiday checklist so you’re prepared for the Thanksgiving festivities.

Thanksgiving Dinner

The final flourish of the fall season is Thanksgiving dinner. Many families prepare the same traditional dinner every year, but your menu may change based on personal preference, your guest list, or dietary restrictions. Jot down a rudimentary list of family, friends, and neighbors attending your Thanksgiving dinner. Do your new Reflection neighbors have food allergies? Has your college student discovered a Thanksgiving recipe from their roommate? Do you have enough plates and silverware for all your guests? Plan your menu and buy nonperishable food before the holiday madness. You’ll enjoy cooking more if you’re not worried about last-minute grocery runs. Crack a window to let the brisk Nantahala air mingle with the warm fall spices of your kitchen and enjoy the tapestry of red, orange, and gold foliage gracing our North Carolina mountain home.

Thanksgiving Visits

Few things in life are as rewarding and demanding as overnight guests around the holidays. Whether you have kids visiting for the week or aunts, uncles, and cousins staying for a few days, preparing your home for guests and Thanksgiving is a two-person job. Prepare your table displays and front porch decorations now to save time and energy the week of Thanksgiving. If you’re in charge of the Thanksgiving menu, put your husband or teenagers in charge of food for the rest of the week. Give each member of the family a checklist of tasks to accomplish before the relatives come knocking. By delegating and supervising pre-Thanksgiving cleaning, washing, and decorating, you can keep yourself from getting overwhelmed and keep the family out of the kitchen.

photo from flickr