Saturday, October 29, 2011
Times are tough all over
Just got back from the mountains of North and South Carolina, a country of beautiful vistas, gorgeous waterfalls and (at this time of the year) bright autumn leaves. My husband and I stayed a couple of nights in Asheville, an oasis in the desert, in terms of being a bastion of progressivism in an otherwise conservative area. It also seemed to be one of the few places with a thriving economy. The rest of the region is horribly depressed right now, and I don't mean emotionally (although that may in fact be the case). Another area that seemed to be doing all right for itself was Cherokee, located in the Cherokee Indian Reservation. I only say that because my memories of Cherokee date from nearly twenty years ago when we lived in Charlotte. The only word that comes to mind when I think about the town back then is "crummy". The town is still crummy, but maybe not as much as it was. It's still littered with more moccasin stores than you can shake a stick at, although we did see one old guy, dressed in full Cherokee garb, apparently doing just that. I was tempted to walk into one of the stores to see if the moccasins were bearing a "made in china" tag. At any rate, the town has now been transformed by the presence of a huge hotel and casino complex that has actually brought in a number of other newer hotel chains to provide an alternative to the 1950's style motel courts that still seem to struggle on (one of these even offered "wi-fi" on a cardboard sign taped to the office window). The casino and adjoining hotel were packed, by the way. Still not much to choose from in the way of restaurants, however. Heading south of of Cherokee, the signs for "Hillbilly Bob's Flea Market" seemed to indicate the only commercial activity for miles - and when we finally passed it, it appeared to be shuttered and closed, perhaps for the season. The towns of Highlands and Cashiers were posh spots, akin to Aspen or Jackson Hole, and they were bustling - proving that even in a tough economy the wealthy have to have a place to go. Heading down into South Carolina, the road into Greenville provided perhaps the most depressing stretch of highway in the area. Mile after mile of shuttered businesses and house trailers, with thrift shops and auto repair shops being about only signs of commerce. All in all, if you're looking to invest in a vacation home in the mountains of NC, I would highly recommend that you do so now - prices are low compared to several years ago, and I would suspect that the sellers would be willing to cut you a deal.