by David Cecelski
At dusk I love walking through the old family campgrounds aroundLinville Falls, in Avery County. The campers come from all of the country, though I think mainly from Tennessee, South Carolina,Georgia, and here in North Carolina. This time of year they make their own community, sweet and fleeting.
Tonight crowds of children raced through our campground, giddily happy. Around the tents and RVs, I saw fathers and sons putting away fishing gear, young couples making dinner together, and bikers sharing stories from their ride down the Tail of the Dragon. Everywhere I heard the comforting little hiss of propane gas stoves.
In the day’s last light, the long-timers, the ones who come every summer and stay a month or two, gathered at one of the RVs. After supper, a group of them pulled out guitars and played and sang into the night. I sat with them and listened awhile.
Most of the campers fix their own suppers, but the long-timers occasionally like to go out to eat. One nearby favorite is Famous Louise’s Rock House Restaurant, a legendary little joint at the intersection of NC 183 and NC 221, right where Avery, McDowell, and Burke County come together. (You can pick what county you want to sit in.) A local stonemason named Franklin Lenoir opened the restaurant, which was then a roadhouse called the Linville Falls Tavern, in 1938.
I’m also very fond of a restaurant in Crossnore, a little community on US 221. There’s a diner there called Loaves and Fishes that’s one of my favorite places to eat in Western North Carolina. I especially like the chicken pot pie, but everything is good. A feeling of community and caring is strong there, too. Sharon Arnold, the proprietor, once told me that her restaurant is dedicated “to the glory of God.”
The desserts at Loaves and Fishes are irresistible. Tonight we fixed hot dogs here at the campground, but for dessert we got take-out orders of Loaves and Fishes’ peach Napoleon, made with fresh peaches, puff pastry, and real whipped cream.
Another nice place in Crossnore is the Miracle Grounds Coffee Shop and Used Bookstore. The students at the CrossnoreSchool operate the coffee shop as part of their vocational training. Founded in 1913, the school serves abused, abandoned, and neglected children. The coffee shop is downtown, next to the volunteer fire department, in a beautiful old stone building made out of rocks from the Linville River.
Loaves and Fishes is located at 176 Maple Street at NC Hwy. 221. It’s open 11 AM to 8 PM on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 11 AM to 8:30 PM on Fridays and Saturdays. You can reach Famous Louise’s at (828) 765-2702 for hours (closed Tuesdays). And for hours at the Miracle Grounds Coffee Shop, call the Crossnore School at (828) 733-2247 .