Sunday, September 7, 2014

"Oh, Kaye!" Talks About Life In Meat Camp, NC

Most of you have heard me talk about our home in the small town of Boone, NC, which is in the northwestern part of the state where North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia meet.

Photo by Don Barley

It is a beautiful part of the world.

Photo by Don Barley

But we actually live north of Boone in an area named Meat Camp.

Photo by Kaye Barley

Meat Camp.  What a name, huh?

When we first bought our house I swore I was going to petition to have the name changed (kiddingly).  But it didn't take me long to learn to be proud as punch to be a part of an area so rich in history and tradition.

Greene Farm in Meat Camp,NC - Uncredited photo found on the web 

Meat Camp is situated along the Old Buffalo Trail and was established before the Revolutionary War.  As the story goes, Meat Camp was the location where hunters stored their dressed animal carcasses in a cabin that served as a primitive packing house. 

In 1851, the Meat Camp Baptist Church was organized and is still in use today.

Photo by Kaye Barley

Meat Camp covers 30 square miles and has a rural population of approximately 2,700. Elevation is 3,402 feet (and up).

Our little part of Meat Camp is the coolest, most wonderful neighborhood I've ever had the good fortune to live in, with a pretty nice view from our bedroom window.  This is how we enjoy our coffee in the morning.  Watching morning arrive over Elk Knob.

Photo by Kaye Barley

When we first bought our house, our road was gravel.  We have moved up to being a paved road now, but other than that - things haven't changed.

Photo by Kaye Barley

I remember when I was still working at Appalachian State University, before retirement, someone asked where we lived and when I told her, she asked if we were on Rich Mountain (elevation 4,741 ft.).  I had to think about this - these mountains were a whole new thing for me, and still confusing.  When I told her our road was at the base of Rich Mountain and explained how it went up (and up and up), she explained how yes, we did live on Rich Mountain, just not on Rich Mountain Road.  okay.

She went on to say there were stories and legends about spiritual energy in this area.  These ancient mountains work some magic - I do believe that.

What is interesting to me is that our little neighborhood is small, and we're spread out from one another over a few miles from the base to the top of our mountain road.  We are a wide, wide range of economic and educational diversity.  Blue collar to PhDs and MDs.  And yet, more closely knit and supportive than any neighborhood I've lived previously.

More interesting to me is the creative vitality within this small group.  We have people who do pottery, who sculpt, paint, do some blacksmithing, stained glass, collage artistry, leather working, jewelry making, photography and writing.  Our get-togethers are not only fun, but inspirational and motivating.

Our most recent get together was at an Open Studio event neighbors Keith Lambert and Willie Baucom hosted yesterday. 

A combination of all good things - good food, good music, good friends - and surrounded by the natural beauty of the mountains along with the beauty of Keith and Willie's art.  Their first annual Open Studio in Meat Camp.

Life is Meat Camp is very good.

Moving to this part of the world was a major life-style change.  We came from big city Atlanta to small town Boone - living in the rural Meat Camp.  But, I have to say, I think I've adjusted well.  

How 'bout you, Reds?  Big city, small town, or the edge of the wilderness - what do you prefer?

(note:  I'm writing this while sitting in the waiting room of the Watauga Medical Center Emergency Room.  Where else would you be if your husband experienced a kidney stone attack on a Saturday night?  This while also suffering with a toothache he's taking antibiotics and pain meds for.  Not really such a great day to be writing about a great day after all, huh?)


  1. We are home from the ER. Donald is feeling okay (thanks mostly, I think, to the Percoset! He has prescriptions for pain, for nausea, and one to help him pass the devil that's done him wrong. Cross your fingers it happens soonest, pretty please.

    1. My family has always lived on meat camp as long as I can remember my cousins the canters I'm an ellison my grandmother was icenhour I've always loved it

    2. We moved from Florida 5 years ago to the spectacular Meat Camp! When my kids were young we’d come up to the Blue Ridge to get out of the heat. Now we are retired and chose what I consider to be the BEST place in all of the US!! Don’t know too many people here but would like to 😊

  2. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your husband . . . hope he's feeling better real soon.

    Your pictures are beautiful; it does sound as if meat Camp is a great place to live.

    When we were first married, John and I lived in southern California; he worked in downtown Los Angeles. We moved to Prattville, Alabama about fifteen years later, this move for a job I had been offered. After ten years, we moved again, this time back to New Jersey where I grew up. We'd owned a piece of land in the Pine Barrens for almost twenty years, so we chopped down just enough trees to make a space big enough for us to build the house. And here we are.

    There is a certain convenience to city living, but most of the time the deer don't come wandering through your yard. It's not exactly "edge of the wilderness" here, but it is home . . . .

  3. Glad you are home . . . Donald is in our prayers.

  4. Oh poor Donald--feel better soon!

    Kaye, what a gorgeous and interesting place to live. I was near Knoxville for four years and so familiar with those beautiful NC mountains!

    A dear friend's mother lived for a long while on Roast Meat Hill Road:)

  5. Prayers for Donald and you, dear Kaye. I adore your photos... what a gorgeous place you live in...some of the pictures remind me of my years at Sewanee, TN, not too far from Meat Camp... You'll enjoy my blog today on,,, I look forward to your comments! Thelma Straw in Humid Manhattan

  6. Oh, Kaye indeed! So sorry to hear about Donald. Glad he has you and good pain meds. Hope all is back to normal soon.... All good thoughts.

  7. Oh, Kaye indeed! So sorry to hear about Donald. Glad he has you and good pain meds. Hope all is back to normal soon.... All good thoughts.

  8. Holding Donald in my thoughts, and hoping he feels better ASAP.

    There's something about the green, and the mountains, and the crisp air, isn't there? It's like there's more oxygen to breath, and more balm to the soul. Thank you for sharing a bit of your little corner of Heaven on earth, Kaye.

    By the way, I've been rereading all the Outlander books, and in a couple of the ones where they live in the mountains of Tennessee/North Carolina they mention Boone. Thought of you while I was reading those passages.

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  10. Poor Donald! He's okay, right? xxo

    And I love where you live--it's gorgeous and spiritual. That said, I fear i am a city girl.

    PROOF: I was at the doctor sometime in the past month with various complaints (I will not admit to stress and exhaustion) and she wondered if I had Lyme DIsease.

    When was the last time you went for a hike in the woods, or camping? She asked.

    Ah...1979, I said.

  11. Oh, Karen, I will admit to loving Outlander on TV! But I haven't read the books. Are they good? (SO many people adore them..)

  12. Always in the middle of the night or the weekend, isn't it. Glad you're home.

    Home for me is Billings, MT, the biggest town in the state at 110,000. I wish I could find a photo that does it justice. Montana is place where (true story), a friend of my husband is moving and has left three cases of ammo on the edge of his truck for the last three days and they're still there. (he's not the brightest bulb in the box but he's lucky others are honest). This sadly is starting to change with the influx of people from out of state.

  13. Hank, I'm loving Outlander on TV (and my husband is watching too). Perfectly cast I think and I adore the accents and scenery. I'll admit I didn't keep up with the series. I think I read the first three out of the eight and the first of her mystery series set in the same world (Lord John). But, yes, do read at least the first one. Jamie is one of those male characters you fall in love with, like Darcy, just by reading him. That we have eye candy now is just frosting (and I like frosting).

  14. Mornin', Everyone! Thanks so much for all the kind thoughts and good wishes. Donald seems to be feeling okay this morning so I guess the meds are doing exactly what they're supposed to be doing.

    Joan, leaving all those trees to shelter you in your cozy spot. It sounds perfect to me, and lovely.

    Lucy/Roberta, I don't think I knew you ever lived in the south! Roast Meat Hill Road - WHAT a hoot! There must be a story behind that.

    Thelma, thank you my friend! I'm planning a peek at your blog this morning, for sure.

    oh, Susan, Thank you!

    Karen. Balm for the soul Perfect! YES! I have not read the Outlander books, but recently everyone is raving so that I think I'm going to have to give them a try.

    Hank. You made me laugh out loud. "When was the last time you went for a hike in the woods, or camping?" But wait - are you feeling okay now???

    PK, we've been here for 18 years and vividly remember the horror experienced by the community when faced with its first armed robbery in a convenience store. Sadly, the first was not the last - far from it. I miss the innocence of the Boone we first moved to.

  15. Glad to hear Don's feeling better today, and I hope that stone passes soon!

    Hank, Hank. Too much travel representing Sisters in Crime, discussing your books, while also working an Award-winning job. And, I know you'll be hitting the road again next month. Take care of yourself.

    Me? An apartment in or near a big city. I still miss my apartment in Glendale. I loved it, and the convenience of being right outside Phoenix. I could be right downtown in 20 minutes, and, as Rhys said, I loved being that close to The Poisoned Pen. I guess a year and a half later, I still miss The Poisoned Pen more than anything, and seeing all the authors as they come through. If things were different, I'd be back there instantly. The good thing about my present location - closer to family & I see them much more often.

  16. Kaye, I hope Donald is feeling better, both tooth and stone-wise.

    I enjoyed your write-up on Meat Camp. It sounds like you have quite a diverse range of neighbors. I like that you all have different arts pursuits. Keeps life interesting

    Although flat here on Kent Island and with vistas of water and coastlines vs. mountains, there is a varied arts community here too. I love seeing what people can create with a little driftwood and shells and lots of imagination.

  17. Mornin' Lesa!!!! I have a feeling Arizona and The Poisoned Pen miss you every bit as much as you miss them.


  18. David, Hey!

    You know how much I love the part of the world you live in. If life were really fair, Donald and I could live here AND have a place on or near Kent Island.

    I have so much respect and admiration for creative people. I think just being around them stirs us to find our own source of creativity, sometimes surprising us with what we discover.

  19. Kaye, your photos made me want to come to North Carolina. It's so beautiful, and the air smells different there, doesn't it? So crisp and clean.

    Hope Don is doing better! Ouch!!!

    I don't know if I'm a city girl or a country girl. For years, I dreamed of an English country cottage. Day dream #2 was living somewhere off the grid somewhere in the US. (I was MUCH younger then...) Then I fell in love with the town where we've lived for the last twenty years. And I fell in love with London. There's nowhere I feel happier than London.

    Oh, and Lesa, I miss you when I go to Phoenix and the Poisoned Pen!

  20. I love your photos, Kaye! That's an area of the country I would love to explore.

    I'm a dual-citizenship person ... I love being near an urban hub, but I'd also love to have a remote retreat. Deb's lifestyle sounds pretty optimal to me!

  21. Debs, I think one of these days you might want to consider adding Boone to your tour. We could shop, and play, and eat, and shop . . .

    And I do agree with all of you who have a love of the city, and I totally understand it. There was a time when the very thought of living in a rural area like the NC mountains would have sent me into a swoon. I'm sometimes surprised when I think of the person I once was compared to the person I now am. My basic core values haven't changed, but what I want and need in the way of creature comforts has - except for the need to have salt water and sand between my toes.

  22. Thanks, Lisa - Let me know whenever you're ready to explore!

  23. I grew up in southwestern Va, Marion, to be precise between Bristol and Roanoke. Worked in Carroll County, VA, over the mountain from Winston Salem, NC. Attended grad school in Knoxville. I've lived in Louisiana for over 30 years but when I go "home" to the mountains, a feeling of peace descends over me. P.S. I lived in Antelope in South Dakota on Rosebud Reservation, but never in He Dog or Upper Cut Meat.

  24. Glad to hear your husband is better. We vacationed in Boone a number of years ago..Lovely. Also visited Grandfather Mountain, and first found Wickles Pickles in Bat Cave, NC.

  25. Yay, Donald! Scary...

    And Kaye, this is the sweetest post. Meat Camp. Huh. Sounds... oops, make that LOOKS pretty heavenly, though I'm a city girl at heart.

  26. I especially loved seeing the country music and beautiful art -- wow -- people seem so relaxed.
    Football in the next room today (four grown men yelling at the TV) -- I could do with a day of pottery and dulcimer music.

    Prayers for Donald and for all Jungle Red Writers and posters and followers who are ailing today.

  27. Teresa, the mountains really do exude a sense of peace, I agree. And such funny names!!!!

    oh, Gram. Isn't Grandfather Mountain just glorious? Heaven on earth. Except for that bridge - that bridge scares me to death.

    Hallie - oh, the dichotomy of Meat Camp! for real.

    Denise - you have nailed it. When we say "party" it can mean such different things, can't it? And yesterday's was definitely all about gentle camaraderie, art and music equaling complete and lovely relaxation.

    And thanks, everyone, for all the kind words about Donald.

  28. My post got lost. Seeing your pictures evoked the time I cmped in the Smokies, and I saw closeup the beauty of the mountain laurel and the landscape. It was a long time ago .Seeing your pictures brings back lots of memories. Since it Sunday AM, I'm gad Don is recovering

  29. Kaye, I'm hoping by the time I'm posting that Donald's devil has passed on. Getting hit with the double whammy of tooth and stone must be especially tough.

    I, of course, love your post today on Boone. I know I've mentioned it before, but Daniel Boone, for whom Boone is named, is my great-great-great-great uncle, with direct descent from his brother Edward. The two had a close and interesting relationship. Daniel, having been gone for some time and presumed dead at one point, returned to find that Edward had taken very good care of Daniel's wife, who happened to be Edward's wife's sister. The baby that had been born in Daniel's absence was, well, I will leave you to your own conclusions as to her parentage. Unfortunately, Edward's resemblance to Daniel was a factor in Edward being killed by the Indians in Kentucky when they thought Edward was Daniel. Another brother of Daniel, Israel, produced the sons that were founders of Three Forks Baptist in Boone, NC. I should really visit there sometime.

    I wanted to mention separately, Kaye, how wonderful your pictures are and your description of the close-knit community. The mountains are spectacular, and the pottery makes me drool. I have a real weakness for beautiful pottery.

    I am at heart a small town girl, born and raised in one and thankful for the experience. My father was in real estate in our small town of Maysville, KY, and he knew everyone. Of course, it wasn't hard for everyone to know everyone else there, and while it was annoying to teenagers and young people that others always seemed to know your business, it became a secure, warm sense of community later. I haven't lived there for 38 years, but I still carry the feeling of comfort from it in my heart. I live in western Kentucky now in a larger town, where there just isn't the same closeness.

    Hank and Kaye, I am a huge fan of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. I started reading them in 2009, got up to speed, and have been reading them ever since. They are so worth reading and enjoying. The Starz Outlander TV show is doing an excellent job of depicting the story, with a cast that is as near perfect as it can be. Jamie and Claire are amazing choices.

    Hank, you crack me up. 1979!

  30. Hank, Kaye, and anyone else who wants to know about Diana Gabaldon's books: Yes.

    With one caveat. I read the first one, a gift from a friend who told me there were three at the time, in three days. Could. Not. Put. It. Down. We were on a trip to Salt Lake City, and my husband was working, so I got to sit and read while he was filming stuff for the Department of Agriculture. Since it was a week-long trip I needed to get another book to read so I made him take me to a Barnes & Noble to find the next one in the series. Couldn't find it in the store, so I asked at the desk. It was in the Romance section. That floored me, at the time.

    The caveat is this: now that I've written books myself, and have edited them, I will say that these are super wordy books. Not everything that happens is germane to the story, but it is still so incredibly fascinating, whether it pertains to 18th century clothing, or surgical techniques, or weaponry, or the historical details of the time and the daily life then. These books are so richly embroidered that you are there, period, full stop. The characters come to life, too, fairly leaping off the page, each one distinct. They're very well-written books.

  31. Lil, I remember the first time I ever camped in the mountains, and it was back before Don and I were married. We camped near Asheville and I remember telling him then, "I could live here, I think."

    Kathy, I love that you know so, so much about Boone! I forget until you mention it that you have such close ties. And I know exactly where Three Forks Baptist Church is.

    Karen, awfully strong support about Diana Gabaldon's books. I am one who loves super wordy, richly embroidered books so I'll be checking these out. Don't know why its taken me so long, truth be told.

  32. Oh Kaye--we've had a couple of late nights in an emergency room recently. Not fun. Sending you good wishes and loving the beautiful setting you live in.
    I love my view and couldn't live without hills.

  33. Rhys, Thank You! The whole time I was sitting there last night fretting about Donald, I kept thinking how much easier it is for me when it's me who's the one having issues rather than my loved ones. And I think the mountains gave me some comfort today. Along with nice words from friends, and yours are much appreciated.

  34. So glad to hear your Donald is doing better. I’ve heard that the pain of kidney stones is a 50 or so on a scale of 1 to 10.

    Your neck of the woods looks and sounds heavenly to me! I’m from San Francisco, and love the variety of opportunities available there, but have lived on a conservation cooperative in the Santa Cruz Mountains for the last 27 years and don’t see myself living anywhere else.

    My husband enjoys the occasional time in a city too (he’s from Chicago), but we had our home renovated recently and this is our retirement place.

    When we want to go to the City, it’s an hour away; Santa Cruz is 30 minutes and Monterey a little over an hour, so we feel we have the best of both worlds.

    Our community is fantastic. Neighbors look out for one another in many ways. We have our own volunteer fire department, water department (unusual for a mountain community), a community center that, among other things, serves as a polling place on election days, and a large playing field that doubles as a landing pad for LifeFlight helicopters.

    We have all manner of critters wandering around, everything from quail. turkeys and peacocks to bobcats and mountain lions. Our three indoor cats commune with them through the many floor to ceiling windows throughout the house.

    So I’m happy as can be here in what feels like a treehouse, with a view of Monterey Bay and air that’s perfumed by redwoods.

  35. I am proud to say that BOTH of my parents are from the Meat Camp area and I love it there!!!! I love and agree with all the wonderful things you have to say and show about Meat Camp. Hope you are still as happy as you seemed when you wrote this article!! Sincerely.

  36. Thank you for praising Meat Camp. I'm researching my family and Bless "God" a load of my kin started in Meat Camp. Alfred Squire Miller, waited till he was established and went to Tenn. to claim a Indian bride. Which I believe was "Big Joe Copeland's" daughter Louisa Jane Copeland.And they are my 4x great grandparent's. In my research, I feel a strange feeling of pride, that I can't explain. I too am a huge fan of the "Outlander" series. Thank's again for your post and pic's.

  37. As a child I remember being in awe and scared going from Bristol Tn to Meat Camp on very narrow mountain roads some with water rinning through them to amazing drop offs sometimes having to let mule riders pass as we made our way to family reunions at my great great grandparents house at their mill no running water pipe out ofthe mountain...their name was Moretz...awesome food shooting matches and big feather beds.
    I am 69