North Carolina on My Mind


Growing up, an adventure lay in a ’77 Pontiac Bonneville that my sister and I named Yellow Flower. It had a backseat as large as Texas with enough room for us to each "claim" our side of the car, which was needed for our "Road Warrior" family. 

Speaking of adventure on the road...

One humid Florida summer, we decided to take a trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains, family friends had extolled the virtues of cool nights, and beautiful scenery.

Twelve stops later, (or what my pre-teen brain thought), we pulled into the cabin in the woods right in the heart of Beech Mountain. Our days were filled with a hot air balloon sky ride at the Land of Oz, where we also visited Dorothy’s house and saw characters come to life from the beloved movie and books. We were our version of 49'ers as we panned for gold and traveled to the wild west on the rails at Tweetsie Railroad. We sampled good old “country cooking” from Ma and Pa’s Hamhouse, The Daniel Boone Inn and fresh fish caught from a stream nearby and fried by the work of my mom. We hiked into the mountains where we saw roaring waterfalls, wildflowers, and other nature designed by God. Our family visited Grandfather Mountain, then spelunked in Blowing Rock’s Linville Caverns, where we discovered another type of “bacon” in the formations adorning this natural treasure. A white clapboard-sided store, Mast General Store, in Valle Crucis, drew us into its door. It harkened a time of ages past, and it had stick candy, a double bonus. Side note-my late father was a dentist, but, he too had a sweet tooth.  

As a family, we went several more times to this beautiful part of our country, and added to our waistlines with the great food, treats at the Mast General Store, and Fred’s General Mercantile (another gem), and plunked around musty antique stores-thank goodness for my husband’s patience. In fact, this was one of the last trips my father took before he exited this world to arrive in his Heavenly home. North Carolina holds a place near and dear to my heart for this reason and others.

Fast forward seven years later, and my husband and I were able to take our young girls to Banner Elk, NC. They experienced the gold panning, and wild west show riding on the train in Tweetsie Railroad, they favored the stick candy too in Mast General Store, and hikes along the beautiful trails. We still talk about the cabin on the hill, how we saw one morning a bagpiper in full kilt, and a violinist in an ethereal dress, playing their instruments on the grounds of a nearby inn as well. Another set of treasures to be tucked inside my heart in memories.

North Carolina’s on more than one Simmons family member’s mind.

I hope you get to visit someday, if you haven't already, and see the warm hospitality and natural beauty in person.

I'm thrilled to share this news with you, friends. Coming in March of 2022, I’ll release the first book in a series set in this idyllic place. I’d love to have you join me there in the small town of Briar Creek, North Carolina.

Where are your summer plans? Any road trips with family in the works?



  1. Your trips to North Carolina sound wonderful and it's terrific that you could repeat them with your own children. Although I'm a little disturbed you visited Dorothy there as we Mid Westerns tend to claim her for Kansas!

    My daughter has wanted to move to North Carolina for years. My nephew and his family just did. It's interesting how opposite vacations can be. My northern family drove from New York to Florida every year for vacation in the winter. In the summer we enjoyed the beach and boating at home on Long Island.

    I am so excited that your book has a release date! Congratulations a hundred times! Your news is so very exciting.

    1. Hi Barbara,

      How fun you have family now in NC. I wanted to live there like your daughter does for quite some time. But, Texas is now home to me.

      It's fun y'all went to Florida for trips, there's so.kuch to do there...and no snow. : ) I'd imagine Long Island summers are full of sun and surf, which is fantastic.

      As for Dorothy, her heart will always belong at home in Kansas. Sadly, Land of Oz has only been open for semi-annual tours. The park itself has been shuttered for years.

      Thank you for stopping by, it's always wonderful to chat with you. Take care, friend.


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