Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Weekend Whirlwind

Posted July 14, 2008

It was a weekend whirlwind. As soon as I got off the air Friday I zipped up to Linville for the 53rd annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. I emceed the games with James K. Flynn out of Charlotte. During the games I stay with my sister Stephanie and her husband John Scott. They have a home in Blowing Rock. Friday night we went to a fund raising and informational event for the UNC Lineberger Cancer Center where we learned about the alarming rise of melanoma across North Carolina. It was a sobering reminder to avoid the dangerous rays of the sun especially between 10:00A.M. and 2:00P.M. and to always lather up with sun screen.

Early Saturday morning I made the wonderfully peaceful 30 minute drive from Blowing Rock to Grandfather Mountain via the Blue Ridge Parkway. That gorgeous stretch of blacktop takes you by Moses Cone Manor and Julian Price Park with one of the most inviting little lakes in North Carolina.

The Scottish games at Grandfather Mountain were terrific. Marathon runners began trickling onto the track at MacRae Meadows at 9:40A.M. after running 26 miles from Boone. Some of the participants had already made a five mile run straight up Grandfather Mountain Thursday and a 65 mile bicycle race on Friday. Maybe I’ll try that next year!

The Highland Games offer an incredible blend of pageantry, brute strength, musicianship, dancing grace, and border collie corralling skills. Crowds were outstanding throughout the games.

Saturday night I dined with Stephanie and John at Bistro Roca & Antlers Bar in Blowing Rock. It was an excellent choice. The NC Mountain Trout and salmon entrees were both superb. We capped the evening with apple pie and ice cream on the Scott’s back porch.

Sunday morning I draped myself in a Leslie kilt and made the gentle journey to Grandfather again. While driving I had a chance to critique my new CD “Blue Ridge Reunion” coming out this fall. I feel really good about the music.

Later at the Highland Games I had a nice chat with the Voice of the Duke Blue Devils Bob Harris about his new book coming out soon. Bob was sporting a handsome kilt this year. The Parade of Tartans was the highlight of the day featuring Scottish clans from Anderson to Young. Bob marched as part of the Campbell clan. Sunday’s activities were cut a little short by an afternoon downpour. With wet wool and drenched hair I made my way down the mountain via Highway 181 to Morganton. It was another rich and full weekend. By the time I got home it was bedtime. 2:35 comes awfully early in the morning. From Celtic warrior to mild mannered newsman – the transformation was complete.

What did you do this weekend? Please share! By the way, we will announce the winner of the Make Mike Maze Laugh Contest tomorrow.


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  • Reader Jul 15, 2008

    My family spent the weekend at the GMHG's, also. We camped at a great little place in Linville Falls, near Louise's Famous Roadhouse Restaurant. Anyway, we missed you somehow at the reviewing stand this year, Bill, though certainly we have seen you and your performances in years past. We spent much time in the Celtic Rock Grove #2 this year, by demand of our four teenage children. The Saturday night Celtic rock concert was also "killer" and much more crowded than previous times we have been. The Games just seem to grow more popular every year. We didn't get to climb McRae's peak this trip, but did get drenched on a hike to the bottom of Linville Gorge on Thursday before the games opened. It's one of our favorite family vacations nearly every year.

  • LMRA Jul 14, 2008

    Talk about a whirlwind! I live at Mc Gee's Crossroads and I met my best friend from college at the Smithfield outlets on Saturday (after spending most of the day cleaning my house!). She lives in Poughkeepsie, NY and drove down with her husband to see her in-laws in Wilmington. She spent Sat night we me and we talked and talked and talked. Sunday we went to church (St. Mary Mother of the Church in Garner), had breakfast at the Garner IHOP and then we met her husband at the Wallace exit on 40 (after a quick stop back at my house!). THEN I headed to Pinehurst via Rt 41 and then Rt 211. OH MY I had never been that way. Can you say scenic? I got to Pinehurst at about 7:00pm. Stayed all day Monday and then tomorrow (Tues) I'm bringing my niece (whi is visiting from the Tampa, FL area) to RDU and THEN I meet another college friend at Streets of Southpoint in Durham!!!! By the time I get back to work on Wednesday I'll need a vacation from my mini-vacation!!!

  • kathyNC Jul 14, 2008

    My weekend excitement was a dining experience in the wine cellar at the Angus Barn! First time for me!

  • MaplesMom Jul 14, 2008

    Bill and others on public speaking: When delivering a speech, find passion in your topic. If you find that passion, speaking is ALOT easier. When delivering your speech, do not have your full speech written out with you. Simply make bullet points for each section. If you have your full speech, you can very easily et of track then spend 5-10 very precious seconds of dead silence looking for where you are supposed to be in your speech. PRACTICE until you can do it in your sleep. Tape yourself making the speech so that you can see where your problem spots are. Keep your hands to your side- not in pockets and not constently moving. Look at your audience 98% of the time. The other 2% can be looking at your bullet points. But above all else- speak with passion. Public speaking is fun if your train yourself well.

  • bleslie Jul 14, 2008

    curound - congrats on your son! That's terrific! Come say "hey" next year at the reviewing stand.

  • curound2811 Jul 14, 2008

    We also spent the weekend at the GFMHG- our son is a piper with the NC State pipes and drums. It is a busy but fun weekend each year and the mountains are always beautiful! Although the weekend ended with an afternoon rainstorm- our son left with a 1st place with 3 other NC State pipers in a quartet competition. We love those bagpipes!! Can't wait until next year to experience it all over again.

  • bleslie Jul 14, 2008

    dejr fan - beautiful story! Thanks for sharing.

  • ARmy Strong Jul 14, 2008

    glw- my son did his training at Ft. Benning also. Those trips are nice but sad when you leave them again. I wish him the best of luck! My son is now at Ft. Bragg and only 1 1/2 hrs away instead of 9 hrs. Maybe you will be lucky enough to have him come home every weekend soon.

  • Wheelman Jul 14, 2008

    James K and Bill both worked at WKIX in the early 80's. James K found true love at the station with a local Raleigh lady, got married, moved to Charlotte and was a popular morning personality on WBT before starting his own production company. Bill was at several other local stations before he left the market.

  • dejrfan Jul 14, 2008

    Bill, mine was not a weekend tip but a weeklong vacation from July 5-12 at the beautiful Outer Banks. It had been 22 years since I had seen this part of our beautiful state. My last trip 22 years ago was my grandmother's final trip to Salvo and to her second home. My grandfather sold the home shortly after my grandmother passed so I never had the chance to go back until last week. I enjoyed the slower pace of life, cruising down Hwy 12 with the windows down and looking at the beautiful sand dunes and ocean/sound. I found my grandmother's cottage and stood in the front yard and cried. In a weird way, it was like saying goodbye to her all over again. My children loved the trip and my son fell in love with lighthouses. Before we left, he had to purchase all of the postcards that he could find with lighthouses on them. This was trip that I had been wanting to make for years and I am so happy that we finally d




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