This picture is not a trick. It really happened and was truly amazing! For about 40 some years, softball teams have gathered in Valle Crucis NC, the fourth full weekend in July to play a weekend of softball and antics! My brother, Paul, has been one of those gatherers. It was named Rhodo, because of the thousands of rhododendrons blooming in July.
Nestled in a little valley in the Blue Ridge mountains lies a unique place called Valle Crucis, meaning Vale of the Cross. This is a reference to a valley in the area where three streams converge to form a shape similar to an archbishop’s cross. The elevation is 2,677 and if you like mild mornings and evenings in the summer, this is the place that you need to be! Average temps in July are 77 daytime and 65 at night, and that seems Pretty just right to me!
Around 8-10 teams gather on the last Saturday of the month of July in 2 cut fields owned by a Valle Crucis farmer. The teams are from different counties in NC. 7 innings are played and wooden bats are a must. Sunday they gather again to eliminate teams down to 2 for the winner of Rhodo.
Most players camp at a camp ground close to the Mast General Store an iconic general store that has been a must for many Watauga County Mountain goers for almost a century. My brother Paul should get an award for his tarp abilities to create a refuge from the summer rain in the mountains. Paul and his friend, Fud Monroe and their “tarpage” and cooking skills are not to be matched. At night everyone gathers under the tarps to around 4 picnic tables end to end for a feast cooked outdoors. Everyone adds to the feast anything they want. Fresh veggies are a must.
So, I am not a camper. Not to say I would not camp for one night, but I prefer to rent a place in the mountains and drive down the road to the valley full of campers, tents and bath houses. The children gather at night after supper to play ball of any kind, along with the adults. During the day, the creek that runs through the camp ground is the best place to cool off in that it’s only about 6 inches or so deep the coldness is just enough while sipping a cool drink.
My siblings are much older than I, in that I was the late in life baby, so when I was 16, my parents let me head to the hills, with my brother and his wife for an 👁 opening hippy experience. That was 1979. Now granted, my parents thought my brother was the golden boy, and that he would take care of his baby sister and he did but it was a wild and crazy time. I’ve been back a few times and it’s always great to visit with everyone and see my nieces and nephews and many of the Rhodo gang. Much of the gang is from Laurinburg or Laurel Hill area.
My family rented a house next to the Episcopal Conference Center. THis year they were hosting a flute, drum and bagpipe camp there, and every afternoon at 5 they would gather outside and play and the music would rise from the valley into the home I was renting and circle around almost like you could see the notes in the air. Now heres what I think pertaining to Bagpipes…… Bagpipe sounds in the mountains are wonderful, but in enclosed spaces, they are just annoying And piercing and loud, but I guarantee that the Scottish heritage intended for them to be played out in a field of clover in the hills. Speaking of clover, here you go, with my find of the week: 🍀🍀🍀
Time with friends and family in cooler temps proved to be amazing. I did not watch the news one time or know what was going on, only to be shocked upon returning to find that we are sliding right back down into the covid issues again. I enjoyed our mountain escape and have already rented the house for next year!
Below are some pics from our week. Enjoy!