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Photo of Autumn Ritz
Autumn Ritz
RE/MAX Mountain Properties

1151 US Hwy 64W
Murphy, NC 28906
Office: 828-837-3002
(M): 828-644-3121
(TF): 877-837-3002
(F): 828-837-8372

Harrah's Casino Cherokee at Valley River

After years of planning and construction the Casino opened in Murphy, NC at 2pm on September 28th. Traffic was backed up for 3 miles in anticipation of the grand opening! People filled the town from all over the states and stood in line for over an hour to be part of this exciting event. The casino has over 15,000 sq ft of gaming floor, accompanied by a food court, bar, and a beautiful full service hotel. It has been one of the largest events ever in our little town and as a local the traffic was a little overwhelming, but like most small towns, we locals know the backroads :-)

The day after the grand opening, traffic had totally calmed into a steady stream that no longer blocked or slowed down the 4-lane traffic and I decided it was time to see the casino with my own eyes. The 29th, after all, was National Coffee Day, so my 14 year old daughter HAD TO HAVE Starbuck's. I picked the kids up from school and off to the casino we went, which is literally 3 minutes from the school. We turned into Casino Dr. and are greeting by a smiling familiar face; the traffic director was one of my buyers. He, along with his wife and daughter moved back to Murphy after he got out of the military a few months ago and  had purchased a new home.

As we winded around the casion road, the kids' eyes were as big as saucers. They were in shock that this huge structure is tucked away in our little town. You can only see the top of the hotel from the 4-lane, so they had no idea how big it actually is. We parked really close to the front and went into the main entrance. There was a heavy presence of security separating the food court from the gaming floor, allowing all ages to enjoy the food court. We order our Starbuck's and began to walk around the food court. We stopped at the Panda Express where I saw another smiling familiar face working the wok. About a month ago, he, along with his wife and daughter from Hong Kong moved to Murphy and bought a home in town. Their daughter will finish out high school here.

As a local, born and raised, the fear of what might come from the casino and the traffic it brings scared me. Right now the effects have been wonderful. I have several friends who have been driving for years back and forth to Cherokee to work, they are now working here. I have be blessed to work with numerous buyers moving here to work at the casino and almost all of them have families that will be attending our local schools. We have buyers still coming to retire here and buyers investing in  vacation rentals. We have more new home and land packages to offer buyers than we have had in ten years. It is so nice to see young families moving here, because now they can find employment, and the dream of moving to the mountains to raise a family is no longer just a is a reality.




Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive

As a buyers agent, I typically can't just take the weekend off, but I took a long weekend to get away for my 1 year wedding anniversary to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive. One of my favortie things about living in Murphy, NC is that we are so close to so many beautiful destinations. I don't have to fly for vacation. I just jump on the back of the bike and go! I have ridden the Parkway years ago, but I don't think you can ever go enough to see even remotely everything it has to offer. We decided to start in Virginia and ride Skyline Drive first and then down the parkway back home since we are literally an hour from the southern end of the parkway. The Shenandoan Valley is breathtaking. It is so calming and relaxing...and that's hard for me because I literally had cell service and was checking my emails non-stop from the back of the bike. Haha. It's a little hard to hear when you are on a Harley, so emails were my only source of communication to the outside world and as any real estate agent will tell you, we are never off the clock :-)


We stayed near the beginning of the Parkway the second night and started out bright and early the next day.


Our first top was Humpback Rock. We look at everyone in their workout gear and hydration packs, which should have been a clue, but we hop off the bike in full leather and boots and head up the trail. As we get to first set of steps, I'm already chucking off layers.

After walking about 30 minutes and me apologizing to my husband profusely, because I told him it was just a short hike, we finally get to the top. Oh my was gorgeous!! So worth it and one of our favorite and definitely most memorable experiences on our trip. I'm really really afraid of heights. Seriously, really afraid, so once again the husband gets to pose for pics for me. Major brownie points for him...he hates pictures.


Our next big stop was to eat at Peaks of Otter to eat. They have a huge Sunday buffy and live music. The restaurant overlooks the beautiful lake. We watched the fish jump and birds swoop into the water while we enjoyed our meal. We made several more stops before we made our way to Banner Elk Winery and Villas where we stayed for the night. The room was beautiful and Banner Elk is a very cool town (no pun intended) I look forward to visiting in the near future (just not in the winter, because the snow never melts there). We found a cajun bar and grill and thought we would try it out for dinner, Bayou Smokehouse and Grill. I have a habit of always asking the waiter for a recmmendations and the waiter/manager recommended country fried steak, with mashed potatoes, and fried okra. Seriously?? Isn't this a cajun joint? But, nevertheless, I went with it. It was a huge portion and I look at the waiter and say, "there's no way I can eat all this." The next time I see the waiter, my plate looked like it was licked clean by my Yorkie!

After my comfort food, a good night's rest, and a homecooked breakfast at the Villas, we were headed the rain, but that's ok, we didn't melt!




Lakeside Fireworks

Fireworks are suppose to be a celebration of my birthday, or Independence Day, whichever you prefer :-) This year they were rained out. Anyone who lives here knows there is always a reason to celebrate! We headed to Lake Chatuge in Hayesville, NC for a friend's birthday party with live music, homemade barbeque, and of course FIREWORKS! I love being on the lake at night and there is nothing prettier than fireworks over the water! Living in the mountains you will never find a lack of good food, good friends, and good times!!!




Unlimited Weekend Getaway Destinations

I love love love living in Murphy, NC. I can sit on my porch swing and listen to the creek or I can take a short drive to an unlimited supply of other beautiful destinations. The possibilities are endless. I have lived here my whole life and this summer I visited 2 places I have never been, Blowing Rock and Chattooga Belle Farms. My husband, Mark, owns a commerical refigeration business. He had a job to install a cooler into the kitchen for the culinary department at a community college in Boone. (Fun fact, NC community colleges received a grant last year to create culinary kitchens and add culinary classes to their curriculum). I went along for the day and I'm so glad I did. Boone is such a nice town. I road the free Appalcart shuttle from the community college to Appalachian State University. It was a little funny, being told to walk up by the library, through campus, to get the the main street for shopping and dining. I felt like I was in college again :-) Like most mountain towns, everyone was so friendly. The vibe was very laid back and artsy, reminding me a little bit of Colorado. After Mark finished work we stopped at The Blowing Rock on our way home. Holy's gorgeous! Definitley worth the drive from Murphy, NC and it's a great weekend getaway. Blowing Rock, Boone, and Banner Elk are towns that are very close together, they are 3 hours from Murphy, and they are all unique, beautiful, and fun!

Chattooga Belle Farm is beautiful and located just 1 1/2 hours from Murphy, NC near Clayton, GA. My sister lives in Greenville, SC and I often meet her half way to swap out our kids. This time she wanted to meet at the Vineyard to get some pictures with her sweet pitbull, Tyson. They were actually setting up for a wedding when we were there and the owner was very friendly. I bought several bottles of wine. The peach wine is my favorite.










Busy Summer Season

So right now is one of the prettiest season in our area, except for autumn of course smiley It is also one of the busiest seasons in real estate and for area events. Houses are flying off the market right now. With the Harrah's Casino opening in just a few months it's a great time to buy before prices increase. It's also a great time to sell, because there are more buyers now than we have had in over 10 years! I have been super busy with family, fun, and showing properties.  I just wanted to give everyone a brief summary of what a summer here in Murphy, NC is like. I do work 6 to 7 days a week in the summer, but because there is so much to do in our area, I play just as hard as I work!!

Fires Creek Camping Trip. I love Fires Creek, so much I even got married there last year!!! I still go camping frequently and it's always a blast. It's the perfect place to camp in the summer, because it's always a little cooler there. Here are a few pics....I take lots of pics.


Boating on Lake Hiwassee. My husband has a really cheap boat that he has fixed up. It's quite funny when it won't crank on the lake, but there are always plenty of friends and family on the lake to tow us in if needed. So far, we haven't needed it...hahaha


Zeke's 11th Birthday was Father's Day weekend. We had a huge ATV ride with all the men (and some women) and the kids. It was a blast!

My birthday is the 4th of July. There is never a shortage of fun things to do on my birthday. This year it was so rainy, we couldn't go out on the boat and the fireworks were postponed...No problem, the WNC Wagon Train still paraded through Andrews, NC. My father, daughter, and grandson all road in the parade. My daughter, Hailey, actually rode a horse in the wagon train every day the week before the 4th in the pouring rain. Even in soaked boots she still had a huge smile on her face.


After the Wagon Train we drove to Tellico, TN to see the waterfall. I have seen it several times, but we knew it would be huge with all the rain and I desperately wanted my little daughter-in-law to go into labor and have my 3rd grandson on my birthday, so we figured the bumpy gravel road might just do the luck there, but the spray from the falls was so large that it felt like we were standing in the rain on the bridge.

So this is the summer here so far...This weekend is our 4th of July celebration in town. The RE/MAX hot air balloon with be giving rides and we will finally get to see the fireworks that were rained out last weekend. I'm super excited and hopefully my next blog with have a picture of my new grandson!!!