ARTICLES PUBLISHED IN MAGAZINES
By Jim Herman
Cherokee, North Carolina is not the Cherokee of our youth. It has grown up and matured to now offer much more than handmade Indian crafts and pottery. Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel, located within one mile of the many craft shops in the small village, is not just another place to sleep and participate in gaming. It is a place richly decorated in the almost forgotten history of the Cherokee Nation.
Gambler’s Paradise and More!
Located between the Blue Ridge Mountain range and the Great Smokey Mountains of western North Carolina, Cherokee is a short two and one-half hour drive from the Atlanta area. The scenic drive consists mainly of four-lane divided highways with only a few miles of two and three-lane state roads. Mostly the two-lane roads traverse through small hamlets and towns where adequate facilities to eat or rest are a welcome respite.
Regardless of the time of year, this short trip offers scenic beauty. From the spring and mid-summer coolness of mist and majestic green mountain ranges to the spectacular colors of autumn and into the stillness of light snow in the winter -- any time is the right time to visit.
Your stay at the Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel offers distinctly different restaurants and a coffee shop bistro. The casino has an upscale steak house, huge buffet, two other restrauants and a sandwich shop. Prices are affordable. Should you wish to try your luck at the many gaming slots or tables, the meals could even be free with a Harrah’s gaming card that accumulates points whether you win or lose. There is no charge for the card
The best time to visit is Monday through Friday, when the crowds are smaller. Weekends are usually packed. Rooms at the hotel are more readily available during the weekdays and should you visit several times and accumulate Harrah’s points, free nights are available. The casino offers smoking and non-smoking areas, as well as plenty of nickel slots available near those other slot machine that accept higher amounts.
Whether you’re a gambler, or just along for the ride, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel will captivate you. The North Carolina Mountains will beckon you to return season after season. Try your luck – you can’t lose!
In-between Travel: Backyard Diamonds
By Jim Herman
Autumn is quietly settling in just before releasing a barrage of golden foliage softly floating to earth from their spring and summer’s lofty perch. It is the in-between time of summer and winter travel–the perfect time to take advantage of the scores of diamonds available in our own backyard.
Your first stop should be at one of the many free parks paid for by the taxes you pay. This could certainly be a diamond in the rough. Most all have small lakes for fishing. Going there alone or with your spouse, children or grandchildren will surprisingly open up a dialogue that could be interesting if not different. Teaching someone to thread a sharp fishing hook with a slippery slimy worm is not an easy task, but much easier that learning how to cast the line from the lake shore into the water without hooking a personal body part or someone nearby. To make the fishing experience a real treat, be sure to take the fish home for cleaning and prepare them for the family meal. If it has been a few years since you experienced catching, cleaning and frying fish, your next dinner out to a nice restaurant will be more gratifying than you can imagine.
Perhaps the park visit was rougher than a diamond should be. There are other fish to fry--so to speak--read on.
Living near a large city is an advantage often overlooked. Most always there are numerous smaller towns surrounding the mega cities where you can still experience the richness of nostalgia with the spirit of not being ignored by the masses. Searching diligently will produce oddities in entertainment that flourish, almost in your backyard. One place, near Atlanta Georgia in a small town that has a quaint southern name of Suwanee, is the Everett Brothers Music Barn. Most every Saturday night from September to May, the heartfelt and lively sound of bluegrass music abounds from this tiny red barn located in an obscure neighborhood. Throughout our United States there are countless country and bluegrass gatherings in facilities similar to the Everett Brothers Music Barn, everettbrothers.50megs.com. Admission is usually free where the only question asked is for you to have a good time. In fact most encourage you to join in if you own a guitar, banjo, fiddle or bass.
Regardless of your musical preference, it is a diamond that is most likely in your backyard.
Does combining discount shopping, watching a free sporting event and free food sound inviting? The actual cost to you is about an hour or two of time on a Saturday morning. This jewel of a diamond should qualify for the three carat range. Community neighborhoods that were built during the past 20 years, most notably in the Atlanta Georgia area, are swim and tennis communities that have organized leagues playing competitive matches on Saturday mornings. These ALTA League (altatennis.org), or USTA League (usta.com), teams offer some entertaining competition along with free food and beverages. Hang around the courts for 15 minutes and you will be invited to the food table before you have a chance to see which team wins the first set. Following your fill of food and tennis, cruise the neighborhood and browse around the many yard/garage sales. If there is no purchase to be made, at least you will get an idea of what people are throwing away. Viewing some of these items can rekindle memories that have been long lost and forgotten.
Unplanned and informal backyard travel will contrast significantly from the more formal travel getaway vacations that we all look forward to. Just looking around and finding local festival or community activities are little diamonds just waiting to be discovered. Most are small and sometimes difficult to locate—but they are in your backyard. During in-between travel, pick up a few and wipe the soil off—you may find a truly remarkable gem!
Tailgating not just for Football Games: Try a Steeplechase!
By Jim Herman
If you love tailgating at football games during Indian summer Saturdays where cool nights and warm days compete just like the game—you will fall in love with a three day steeplechase event. Two of the most prestigious steeplechase events in the United States are held at the Springdale Race Course in the quaint hamlet of Camden South Carolina.
The Springdale Race Course is home for The Carolina Cup Races, held each year in the spring, and The Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup in the fall. The Carolina Cup was established in 1930 while The Colonial Cup was added 33 years ago in 1970.
The pageantry of the riders, wearing multi colored silk jackets with matching helmets, sitting atop a majesty powerful thoroughbred horse while galloping 35 miles per hour over a difficult obstacle course, will hold you in suspense constantly. The suspense is doubled, even tripled, since they are competing against each other, horse to horse, jockey to jockey and the obstacle course. Compounding all of this is the unforeseen fall of either horse or rider at any moment.
Every seat or viewing area is a good one. From standing along the white railing near the galloping hoofs and snorts from those magnificent animals, to the comfortable seats in the large grandstand, every ticket holder feels part of the action. Surrounding the huge emerald green race course, tents, banners and flags dot the landscape, adding a touch of surreal uniqueness to this age old sport. If you close your eyes and let your imagination run wild, the sounds of hounds chasing the fox through the moors of merry old England will drift through the air.
Both of the Cup Races are three day events. Parking, with a purchased pass, is allowed on the grounds so take plenty of food and stay for an entire day or all three. You will be very close to the animals so please do not throw any chicken bones near the race course or stables—well, maybe an apple!
There will be a lot more going on which will make it pleasingly difficult in choosing what to attend. There is a museum nearby on the grounds; Morning gallop schooling; Horseman’s Golf Tournament; Blue Jeans, Bluegrass, BBQ and Oysters (yes, oysters and BBQ), and this is just the first day for the November event. There is so much to see, a review of the WEB site is a must to get the feel of the entire event. Both events are listed on the same WEB site (http://carolina-cup.org), or phone 1-800-780-8117. Tickets and directions are available both at the site and phone number. Ticket pricing ranges from $15 for general admission to $400 for a grandstand box of six seats.
There is time to get your ticket order in for the spring event (Carolina Cup) that will be held March 2013—do not delay as this event sells out early; however, if you want to go to the fall event (Colonial Cup) November 2012, better saddle up old Betsy and gallop on line or make that phone call pronto!