A Night for That…indeed….

I live my life in real time. Here. It can be a never ceasing go-go-go and give-give-give. Sometimes it can get messy, and tangled and so easy to forget myself in the midst of it all, but sometimes, right when I need it the most there is a night when the universe gifts me with the path back home.

This night, tonight is a night for a hard pour of whiskey in the glass, the way the ice cracks and the heart says  “Oh yes, I know exactly how that feels.”

86fa46f7a09c799b86f7ef950a35c9d2It’s for sitting on the floor in front of a roaring fire, cupping both hands around the glass and closing your eyes and breathing and raising it to your lips and soaking in the ritual. This small act is a great gift indeed when you allow it. It’s the way the mouth feels as it hits the ice cold lip of the glass, and the perfect burn that remains after the glass is pulled away.

It is sage and cedar candles on the mantle and bedside and the burn down smell of matches and smoke. It is Hinoki oil rubbed deep and liberally on bare skin until the scent of it and you are ground together as one. It’s for music that hurts, the exact right kind of ache that has an edge mingling with its sweetness in a way that could never be untangled. That should never be untangled. Because there are some things for which ache is the beauty. It’s the night you stop avoiding the words that never stop chasing you. Where you sink into the solitude and finally breathe out all that air trapped in lungs, waiting to fully exhale.

It’s knowing that at some point tonight there will be a dance. That you’ll follow the movements of your body on the wall, silhouette painted by the shadows of candlelight. That you’ll move and look with long glances until something rises in you that has not risen in a long, long time. It’s a night for coming home and gathering in and calling in the powers of nature and the howl of the wolf. Looking at the moon and stars with wonder and awe. For laying out the stones and sitting still inside the space that is you and honoring all that is holy and remains when sound ceases and the quiet surrounds you.

tumblr_n68j5kU5ZA1sowezvo1_500It’s the way when you tilt the glass all the way up and the candle light glows through and you know your face is illuminated in the most holy of ways. And the song that holds an inexpressible ache plays with every last bit of memory it holds and you are thankful, especially for that. It’s for wood that looks like bone, for cigar boxes and rusted locks and for running your fingers along all the things you’ve collected. For feeling the memories that live in each one as it travels from fingertips to your center and hearing the whispers of all the stories you have yet to tell. It’s for knowing that some stories must remain untold in order for others to be born.

It’s for remembering and honoring the past.

That moment is also to know the hope and the struggle and the stay still and run away and come here and  push back. And also what it is to say yes, to be present exactly where you are. It’s for the space where missing and the gratitude for solitude meet in the center. Where you know that one brings fullness to the other and you can give thanks for both. It is a night for contemplating.

It’s the way the wax looks as the candle burns down. The mellow that the whiskey spreads like hot wax melting into tight held bones. It’s the expansion into space. It’s the cedar and sage and Hinoki rising and carried inside of those scents.

It’s a night for calling the ghosts and welcoming them. Sitting back while they dance, all liquid heat and the yearning skin of lovers long separated. It is a night for remembering. The words. The whiskey. The music. The candles. The smell. The loves long gone and the life that is here, right now.

It is a night for coming home.

To myself

Thank you for sharing the journey with me

Robert Rankin

Innkeeper, Adventurer, Explorer

The Treasures are all right in front of us….

It was one of those perfect winter days. Not to cold. The sky a bright blue and sun shining bright. IMG_1454The creek was calling. Loading up the fishing gear and heading down to Santeetlah creek to try some of my winter luck I was full of excitement. For me, that time on the water can be sacred and not to offend anyone, but it is very much like church. Those moments when I am at one with all that surrounds me. Focused concentration on the water. Working hard on picking the right fly…casting in exactly the right way….and right place…trying to draw a trout to the surface…..and SMACK…..there he is……ready to reel in, be admired…and then returned to the water….awaiting another day…..pure bliss for the trout fisherman…..

Yep…this was that kinda day, everything was just right…….Except me! No matter what fly pattern I chose, none of my presentation skills. as vast as they may be, caused a fish to merge with the fly as it drifted effortlessly across theP1000941 water. Hunting the deep pools and the rapids I could see the fish…moving gracefully…darting to and from, hiding under the rocky shelves….yes, they were there….I just couldn’t seem to coax them to take what I was offering. Challenged, I continued the effort for a while, but after a couple of hours I’d had enough of “church”. Of course, it could have been JB and Lakota playing in the water, watching me and the fish with interest, but more than likely it was me and just that moment.

Laying down the rod and reel I began to explore the nooks and crannies of the creek as it wound through the woods. I’m always searching. Always looking to see what is out there.FullSizeRender (19) Finding cool twigs or branches and even large boulders to sit on and bask in the warmth of the sun on a chilly winter day. Grabbing sticks to toss into the water for the dogs to retrieve. Today the pebbles, rocks and stones caught my dreams. Wandering along the banks and wading into the pools I was on the hunt. Reaching into the water I picked out dozens and dozens. Sliding them in my pockets and then slipping some out, I skipped them across the surface like a kid. A short while later I sat…in one of my favorite spots…..on a large boulder that juts out into the stream and drew all of my treasures out of my pockets. Laying them out across my lap, I was searching…….searching for the very perfect one….you know the one I was looking for. Round, smooth, perfect color, perfect shape……..and then….it struck home….hitting me like the proverbial bat……they were all PERFECT!

I laughed out loud (the dogs looked at me as though I was nuts) and gathered them once again and headed along the banks. I was seeing with different vision, a new awareness in my eyes. I began to look at them differently…..no imperfections, only beauty…..jagged edges, rough bumps, cracks, all were perfect shapes and color…every single one remarkably different than its neighbor, but ….WOWZA…..what a moment.

I began to celebrate with that knowledge. Joy overtook the search and the discovery was complete. Those rocks are just like you and I….and…….well hell….everyone else. Once we stop trying to find the idea of “perfection” that has been placed or created in our minds and open ourselves to the possibilities then we can discover that we’re all perfect…..Oh….I don’t mean that we aren’t cracked, beat up, slightly out of shape, but we are all perfect in just this moment, all different and all shapes and sizes…..and in the scheme of things…if we look closely enough…we can see it……the beauty that lies within all of us……

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Well. that was it…my lesson for the day. I wandered back to the truck, broke down the rod, took off the waders and boots. Loaded the dogs into the back cranked the motor and headed up the mountain towards home. Come to the mountain for a visit. Let’s sit and talk. I’ll take you to that special spot on the water and let you see for yourself.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot…on the way to the house I felt those bulges in my pockets. I pulled out the rocks gathered at the creek and caressed them. Rolling each of them in my fingers. Feeling every nook….every bend…every crease and indention….noticing all of their varied colors…the warmth and shapes….I just grinned and grinned….I still am.

Life at the end of the lines, From the INNSide looking out and In Celebration of the Great Adventure Ahead!

Robert Rankin

Innkeeper, Adventurer and Explorer


Fill Your Soul

“Jobs fill your pocket. Adventures fill your soul”

                                                                   -Jamie Lyn Beatty

I just returned to the mountain and realized something undeniable. Spirit and adventure run deep in my soul—there can be no doubt. I am an explorer. Come, share the ride with me.


The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest of wilderness”

                                                                                                        -John Muir

I love to ramble. I lust to wander and love the freedom that comes with the unknown adventure. My senses adore the feelings of the elements as they touch me. I want to travel and will aimlessly seek out adventures in cities, crossroads and in the woods. I often find myself taking dirt roads beside creeks, streams, rivers and woods just to see where they lead. I love the way it feels to be in cities, seeing the grandeur of the buildings, art, restaurants and the masses of people. Then always I return to the peace of my home. To think, reflect, share and be in solitude. Is that a contradiction?

If home is indeed where the heart is then this is where mine belongs. After returning from Atlanta I sat in the foyer, a spot in the house that often is just passed through. Drink in hand 2015-01-14 18-29-24 -0500I spent about 40 minutes gazing at the digital photo frame that sits on a table there. The pictures of adventures scroll by. Elizabeth sat with me and asked about each photo as it passed. We laughed at many. Every single one has a story, each a place or moment frozen in time. Oh yes……..while I’d love to be able to catch the next flight out and surf the world for a great adventure, that’s not where my life is right now. So I take time to find it in all of the simple things. Dinner, laughter, gazing at the stars, long walks and just everyday moments.

I seek treasure, but not the kind you think. I search for clues and answers, scrambling over rocks in the woods and through the minds of those who cross my path. I will not be pinned down or placed in a box. I don’t have a shelf life or expiration date. My imagination is both friend and enemy with whom I often question and argue, but I look at with awe and love to set free. Those pictures of friends, family, life, adventure and exploration set that imagination free. Sharing the sense of wonder with Elizabeth created a list of places to go and people to share it with. All of them are flames that burn bright. Brought out by those photographs….I realized that I forget to let my inner child lead the way. I allow myself to become mired in fog. My head gets filled with a thousand thoughts, I carry baggage and often absorb the mess. It was good to have a reminder.

“My scars tell a story. A reminder of times when life tried to break me, but failed. They are markings of where the structure of my character was welded”

                                                                                                     -Steve Maraboli

I am fascinated by the way we operate in this world. I watch people scurry about and wonder if they are on a grand adventure or just going through the motions…. We all do it, getting caught up in our routines so much that we fail to find the adventure in everyday life. I however, won’t be forgotten. We all should refuse to be forgotten in spite of our fear, tears, scuffed knees, broken hearts and bones that mark our lives. We are like treasures from deep in the mountain, We possess so much, yet we remain hidden gathering value until we sense that the time is right to be discovered. I don’t wish to disturb you or to be disturbed, but I hate to be labelled, discussed and placed on a table or shelf for all to view.

photo (33)I love to dig for the truth in myself and uncover things, trying to unravel an endless rope of hopes and dreams gone awry. I can be wild, my hair long, ride fast and am furious and untamable. I go slow down country roads, lost in the woods because this is where my magic can be found. I am a piece of art appreciated by a few, those who resonate with embers of the flame by the light of the fire. I like bare feet, my heart beating and my hands and mind open. My eyes are full of magic to be shared.

So, if you ever pass by my magical place on this mountain, I ask you to stop for a moment. Share with me as I will with you. Tell me about your journey, the adventure and exploration that you’ve had so far. Talk to me of your days and nights and let’s unleash our fantasies. We are blessed beyond belief and have time to rest. I will not tire, so sit with me, lie down on this meadow on top of this windy mountain and tell me where you began, let’s fill our souls. Purchase this image at http://www.stocksy.com/480968

“It is easy to be a Holy Man on top of a mountain”

                                                                -Somerset Maugham

In Celebration of the Great Adventure Ahead!!!!!!

Robert Rankin

Innkeeper, Adventurer & Explorer

Oh yes….I want…..

I want to be surrounded by your old walls, the dim light settling on my shoulders. The creak of the cold wood floors on icy nights under warm wool socks that cover my feet. I want to be taught to value life through each meal at the table, nicked by hands that built it. To teach my children the value of a life that’s more than material desire.

I want my pen on pages that may someday be read under your roof. Our coffee brewed over open fire. Make me a rugged lover with grace and passion.  Let’s spend afternoons stacking wood to warm our passions bringing heat to our lives, sweat trickling down the curves of our backs and the creases of chests. I want my chores and worries accomplished with hard work, my life cradled in this wondrous natural world. Let me build a life with you, if only for a while.

Give me candlelit dinners, with wax that drips silently onto the table…..then floor. I want to sleep, cradled in so many blankets that I am lost in them and rise with the sun’s first light. To dance in the kitchen, whisky bottle in my hand, swaying to the rhythm of life with you. I’ll find my god in the wild woods around you.

Open your door to the creases of mountains grand enough to make weather all their own. Watching the clouds and mists, hung so low that they look like a sea beneath your mountain caps. Sip the cold fresh water, the smells of the kitchen filling us completely. I will bathe on hot days outside your walls in the creek that swiftly runs by. To have the sea at my weathered fingertips.  

“As you walk upon the Sacred Earth, treat each step as a prayer”                                                                                                            -Black Elk

To huddle at your ashen hearth as snow silently settles like a coat, to feel the pure bliss of new life when the ground is covered by wildflowers. Let me stare out the window in silence with my hands in warm soapy dishwater. I want to hear my kettle each dawn and dusk. To hear the rustle of my laundry drying in the wind. And pop and crackle of fresh split wood in the fire. I want to let crisp air fill you in spring, to heat it for clear-minded sleep at night.

Give me one simple life. Each modern luxury is an understood gift. Each trip to town to remind me why I love living here…at the end of the lines. My fear to come only from nature’s constant balancing act. I want to die with a soul cleansed by life with you. I want you to be my greatest footprint remaining when my days are numbered.

Oh yes….I want this…..

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A time…

It all started with the gift of a book…a book created by my friend Neil Spencer and his incredible wife Sam.  It was a collection of my writings and photos taken over the years off of Facebook. Views from the INNside looking out. Living where I do, at the literal ends of the power lines in rural, remote western North Carolina certainly has its advantages, but the are disadvantages too. Creating a social and magical place where others can relax, reconnect, refresh and just “be” has become one of Snowbird Mountain Lodge’s hallmarks. Creating that space has been a lifelong quest for me and the team that surrounds me. Have we succeeded? Some days yes…others no, but we keep at it because we believe that in this connected world nothing is more important!

This blog is a space where I can reflect, pause and express ALL of my feelings…without fear…and can always tell the truth beyond what is expected and expected. I have chosen to live my own life here – one that isn’t always “constrained” by the feelings or thoughts of the general society. Where I can be exactly who I am. I invite YOU to share the experience with me, make comments, enjoy the ride (or not). You should know that I make TONS of mistakes..spelling, grammer, living and otherwise. I’ve loved, been loved, hurt and been hurt. Yet here we are – survivors all. I enjoy being alone and recharging my batteries, but like you, I don’t like being lonely….and yes, I get that way too…..

Living at the end of the power lines has rewards that go far beyond the small community of Robbinsville North Carolina and it’s here that I get to call home. A magical, wonderful, strange place in the southern Appalachians.  It’s here where these pages will be written, often sitting at my desk reflecting on the day, week or months that pass. Join me and let’s…

Celebrate the Great Adventure Ahead!

Robert Rankin

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