we went up to the mountains last week. it was the annual conference of the western north carolina united methodists. I was the delegate from our church, so rich, tony and I went. laura, our preacher went, as well as her family – her daddy is a minister in the same conference. we all stayed in maggie valley, which is about 10 minutes from the united methodist assembly at lake junaluska. it’s so beautiful there, a cozy little community of methodists built around the lake.

we stayed from wednesday through saturday, in a great little lodge. we ate too much food, country cookin’ being popular in those parts. one restaurant has family style dining, which is like a buffet that comes to your table. I had the best country fried steak there, it was so crisp and crunch, but not dried out. yummo!

we went up to the touristy cherokee one day and let tony mine for gold. he found some rubies, sapphires and topaz. they all look alike to me, just rocks. the people there identified them for us, and would have happily cut them, especially the 10 carat ruby, for only $99.

I didn’t take many pictures, I just didn’t think of it. I was busy relaxing and enjoying my guys. I did, however, think to snap a pic of tony and the big chief.

I also went to some meetings, although they were boring and sweltering. meetings are held in stuart auditorium, which doesn’t have air conditioning, so it got really really hot with close to a thousand people in there. I did get to see some of our former ministers, so that was cool. of the 4 that have been there previously to laura in my time, only 2 of them are still in the pulpit.

I think it’s a pretty tough job, without much pay. since our church is a teaching church, we get a new student every 4 years. and we pay them $12,000 a year. of course they get a house to live in, but they pay some utilities, and laura has to commute to duke several times a week. gas alone puts a big dent in her pocket.

it was pretty warm in the mountains these last few days, although not quite as hot as here, mama says. I guess raleigh got up to 101* one day. I even packed a sweater and some warm shirts, but I never had to use them. everyone I talked to up there said that it was unseasonably warm. atleast it cooled down in the evenings, when we sat in the pavillion drinking our wine.

I just hope it’s cooler next year.