A memorable return to Murphy’s Peace Valley campground
Her favorite viewing perch is in the cockpit of the Green Knight
Heidi searching for squirrels in the backyard.
“You won’t remember us,” I told Dee Witting, of Murphy/Peace Valley KOA near Murphy, NC., at check-in but you will remember our lovable and sometimes rowdy two-year-old golden retriever Heidi, co-pilot of the Green Knight. It’s late September and our third annual visit to this campground nestled among a bunch of leafless trees and bordered by the always flowing and bubbling crystal clear Valley River just a few miles outside Murphy.
Balmy days and nights so cool and peaceful (like the river) that sleeping with windows open under one of Martha’s homemade quilts makes this place so perfect.
At sundown after handling the RV hookup duties and while perched outside in an aluminum lawn chair, sipping on an adult beverage and watching Martha cook wieners over a nice wood fire with trusty Heidi lounging at my side, the evening entertainment is about to get underway. Martha needs something from the RV so I tether the leashed and snoozing Heidi to the lawn chair and take about two steps when a Harley-Davidson motorcycle suddenly springs to life at an adjacent campsite. I failed to mention that Heidi, although lovable and sometimes rowdy, is also spooky. Goose her in the rear end and she will literally take flight.
Straight up, she leaps, apparently believing something or someone is launching a sneak attack from the rear.
The cycle revs and roars and Heidi reacts accordingly. Straight up she leaps like a wounded armadillo then takes off hell bent for leather down one of the campground gravel roads with the tethered law chair bouncing three feet behind. Regardless how fast she runs, whatever caused that sneak attack is still right behind and in her frame of mind, maybe gaining ground.
She veers off the gravel road and still at full speed and dragging the bouncing lawn chair selects the pop-up tent campsite of a couple senior citizens and their miniature Schnauzer to terrorize. Without slowing a bit, she runs under their small canopy where the couple and their dog are chaired and quickly become unchaired just in time to avoid the coming disaster. Their chairs are sent flying, the senior couple stand frozen in their tracks while their Schnauzer takes off down the road in the opposite direction barking at nothing in particular but barking anyway.
During all this commotion people are leaving their RV’s and standing alongside the road, obviously disappointed they missed the source of all that racket which by now is coming from the direction of the playground area but is hard to pinpoint because the sound is moving fast. That is, all except the noise Martha is creating. She is also in full greyhound stride, running and half crying down the road and waving a stick with a half cooked-wiener on the end and screaming for Heidi to stop before the dog snags the chair on something and snaps her neck. Sans stick and wiener, I’m on the opposite campground road, trying unsuccessfully to head her off and also screaming Heidi’s name which she can’t hear because that aluminum lawn chair, the source of the sneak rear attack, is banging up and down with every step she takes. The Schnauzer has reversed course and decided to join the fracas and is at full gallop behind the moving lawn chair, adding a new sound element to the disturbance.
The ending occurred when Heidi ran through a small open gate and into the fenced playground area and miraculously without snagging the chair and into Martha’s arms who tackled the 75-pound dog and pinned her to the ground until I arrived seconds later to remove the leash.
In the meantime, owner Dee Witting is out of the office and shaking her head. “Lord,” she said, “I could write a book about the tribulations of owning a campground.”
This year as we were checking in we shared a good laugh recalling the incident with Dee. Yes, she remembered the Heidi affair. No doubt Heidi will have her own chapter in Dee’s upcoming book.
Campground personnel provided escort service to campsite number 35, one of our favorite spots, and backed the Green Knight to the edge of the Valley River. After hooking-up the RV lifelines, the same campground staffer delivered a bundle of clean, dry firewood and within minutes, we were cooking hot dogs. Tired after a long day on the road, Heidi is curled up at our feet sound asleep, oblivious to fame she earned here a year earlier.
Best coffee joint
The Daily Grind and Wine (http://www.thedailygrindandwine.com)just off the main drag in downtown Murphy at 46 Valley River Avenue. Specialty coffees are made to order. An early morning gathering place for locals, many who prefer sitting outside at street side tables.
Popular night time eatery
The Chophouse, 130 Valley River Avenue, offers fine dining in a casual atmosphere.(http://www.murphyschophouse.com). We both had filets and Caesar salads which were excellent. Reservations suggested. They are also open for lunch and serve a Sunday brunch.
Best Mountain scenery
Opened in 1996, the The Cherohala Skyway (http://www.cherohala.org) opened in 1996 and provides great mountain scenery, particularly when fall leaves are in full color. A National Scenic Byway, the Skyway crosses through the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee and the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina. The 40 mile long highway runs from near Robbinsville, N. C., to Tellico Plains. The Skyway is less than 30 miles from Peace Valley Campground and is a very popular daytrip for campers, particularly those with motorcycles.
Murphy N. C., is located within minutes of the borders of Tennessee and Georgia, offering many interesting day trips. Blue Ridge, Ga., is only 26 miles away and home to Mercier Orchards (http://www.mercier-orchards.com). This 100 acre pick your own apple orchard is owned and operated by the Mercier family. One of Georgia’s top tourist attractions, this place attracts thousands of visitors during harvest time. Mercier employees haul wagon loads of visitors daily into the hilly orchards to sample and pick many different apple varieties. It is a great trip for youngsters. Warmer than normal temperatures ripened the crop earlier than usual this year so be sure to check with the farm for harvesting dates. Strawberries, peaches and blueberries are also available at other times of the year.
Downtown Blue Ridge
A great small walking town with lots to see and do. Many fine shops feature hearty and popular outdoor gear and clothing plus typical tourist offerings such as homemade candies. We had a nice lunch of sandwich and soup, craft beer and a pita pizza with proisutto, brie and asparagus at the Blue Ridge Brewery. Visitors can take a ride on the (http://www.blueridgemountains.com/blue_ridge_scenic_railway.html) a four-hour excursion alongside the beautiful Toccoa River from Blue Ridge to McCaysville. Board the train in downtown Blue Ridge. Plan to be here during the fall leaf change.
Murphy River Walk
The Murphy River Walk and Canoe Trail (http://www.heritagepartners.org/riverwalk.htm) is part of the very nice Konehete Park that winds its way along the Valley and Hiawassee Rivers in downtown Murphy. Most of the three mile long trail is paved and shaded by trees. We walked here most every day during our week long stay in Murphy. Dogs on leashes are welcome.
Day trips to Helen and Hiawassee
Schedule your visit to Helen (44 miles from Murphy) any time of the year, but in the fall during Octoberfest(http://www.helenga.org/events/42nd-annual-oktoberfest)is your best bet. A walking town, Helen is a re-created alpine village along the Chattahoochee River. Enjoy German foods, beverages and entertainment. Hiwassee, Ga., is only 23 miles from Murphy. The 9-day Georgia Mountain Fall Festival http://www.georgiamountainfairgrounds.com/fallfestivalentertainment.php in October brings thousands of visitors to this mountain community for each October for exciting musical performances, Arts & Craft vendors, educational demonstrations, flower show and the popular Georgia’s Official State Fiddlers’ Convention.
Ducktown, TN, home to olympic venue
The Ocoee Whitewater Center, near Ducktown, Tennessee, and only about 20 miles from Murphy. It was the canoe slalom venue for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. The course was built on the riverbed of the Upper Ocoee River. A visitor center, parking lot, and suspension foot bridge were part of the Olympic construction project.
Today, the course is watered only in summer on weekend. The water in the river is controlled by an upperriver dam.