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The Disappearance of Rural America

Did you read the recent article about the disappearance of rural America? It seems that only 16% of the nation’s population now lives in a rural setting… the lowest percentage ever. By contrast, there is a growing number of “megalopolises”. In fact, the boundary lines between many cities is becoming more and more blurred. Moderate size metro areas are blending together to form larger and larger megapolitan areas.

The article went on to point out the many advantages folks see in larger communities from economic opportunities to mass transit systems, to the many conveniences larger cities offer. Anything you want or need can be found just a short distance from home. I remember years ago, when Bryson City finally got a McDonald’s (we still have only one small one). A guest asked how long it would take us to drive to it from the inn. After we told him it would take about 10 minutes, he told us he had 5 within 5 minutes of his home.

But with all its advantages, there is a also a downside to metropolitan living as well. Lainey had a birthday last week and wanted a manicure and pedicure. I offered to drop her by the nail salon while I ran some errands. The nail salon was busier than usual and I ended up having to wait for her for a while. After reading all the People magazines they had (one) and passing on Women’s Wear Daily, I struck up a conversation with another husband. He was visiting the area and when I asked where he was from, he named a North Carolina city which will remain nameless. Then the fun began. He proceeded to tell me everything that was wrong with the city from traffic to crime to schools. If that was not bad enough, a lady, waiting her turn to have her nails done, joined in conversation saying “You think you’ve got it bad, I live in ……..”(another unnamed city in a bordernig state). For the next few minutes, these two adults argued over who lived in the worst city while I sat listening, amazed at what I was witnessing.

blog48Our mountain community does not qualify in any way shape or form as a metro area. We have about 15,000 year round residents. 87% of the land in our county is owned by the government and is very rural…including much of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Nantahala National Forest land, TVA (Lake Fontana is part of the TVA system). We don’t have many of the conveniences or resources of the larger areas.

My nephew, Chad Gilbert, just moved here from Marietta, Georgia to help us with the inn’s operation. We are delighted to have him here. One of the first things he did was try to get internet service in his home. After two days of discussions with the service provider, he was told that the lines were full at this time and he would not be able to get service until someone moved. Welcome the the mountains Chad.

We are not perfect, we have our share of problems too, but I also believe we have something very special. Peace, quiet, and tranquility. Rather than super highways, we have tree covered trails. Rather than water parks, we have mountain streams Rather than huge shopping centers, we have small towns filled with unique shops of local interest. Rather than big resort facilities, we have quaint country inns and bed and breakfasts. We may have to drive a little ways to find something we need, but the drive is beautiful and pleasant.

In closing, the article said… “Far Flung rural counties boasting vacation and outdoor recreation will continue as popular destination points for young couples, retirees, and empty nesters”. I believe that is true and hope that if you live in a big “megalopolis”, and are looking for a quiet get away, come see us. We’ll be sitting in our rocking chair looking over our mountain valley….waiting for you.

–Mort

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