This is the reason why people love to live in the mountains: today is June 17, and when I walked our dog about 6:50 AM, the temperature was around 60 *F. After about noon, it’ll get up to perhaps 70 to 75 or so.
The Blue Ridge Mountains, at their southern tip is always 10 to 20 degrees cooler than Atlanta. It’s always been that way. Being about 3/4 of a mile higher up in the sky has a lot to do with that, and a slightly more northern latitude. People around here call it “God’s air-conditioning.” And we get from 100 to 200 inches of precipitation each year, in the form of rain or snow (more often rain).
The air is cool and clean and invigorating. Walking outside, I get the feeling that I’ve been transported to some wonderful region, halfway to Heaven. There is a sacred and joyful stillness in the mountains that informs you that you are someplace special, like a magical place from some children’s book.
We are in one of two Alpine Rain Forest ecologies in the United States. The other one, I’ve been told, is the the Tacoma, Washington State area, where I designed a nice timber frame custom house a while back, along with a Master Plan for a client’s acreage. Technically, that was in the Hood Canal area of Seabeck Bay. Interesting, how a rare ecologies like these can be so far apart from each other physically.
Mountains have always held a special place in the hearts of people, and it hasn’t been until the last hundred years or so that we have finally been able to enjoy an major improvement in the biggest drawback to living there: convenient and speedy physical transportation into them and Up them. Trying to hike or ride a horse up into the mountains has always been and still is, a daunting task. Watch some past episodes of the Canadian show “ManTracker,” to see what people go through scaling mountains on foot or on horseback. It’s no fun. Thanks to our modern highways, traveling to mountainous regions is as easy as driving to your local supermarket.
Edison, Firestone and Ford used to come up here to summer in the Lake Toxaway area, to escape the summer’s sweltering heat. Edison had a main laboratory in the Fort Myers, Florida area. I’ve been there during summer and temperatures of up to and over 100 *F with high humidity makes you sweat like a longshoreman unloading cargo. As Thomas, Harvey & Henry discovered, is it much more pleasant to enjoy God’s air-conditioning, not to mention the gorgeous views.
While there are hummocks here and there around the USA, the main two mountain ranges are the Rockies and the Appalachian chain, whose southernmost portion is called the Blue Ridge, so named for the faded bluish color when looking at a layered mountain view.
One unexpected aspect of mountain weather is the fact that between rainfalls, the air can be very dry. It is not uncommon to have the skin at the tips of your fingers start to split, unless you use a quality moisturizer. I’ve gotten used to doing that and no longer have that problem. Like any specialized environment, you find solutions over time to adjust to the peculiarities of the place.
But let’s get back to the view for a bit. I have found the Rocky Mountains to be spectacular: their peaks rise to 9,000′ ASL, even 13,000′. Amazing. They are, geologically speaking, young mountains; whose younger portions were uplifted from the Earth’s crust during the Cretaceous period (100 million to 65 million years ago). In contrast, the Blue Ridge Mountains are their great great grandparents, having been formed over 1 billion years ago! Our planet is dated at 4.54 billion years old, so the Blue Ridge Mountains have been around for about 1/4th to 1/5th of the entire age of the planet. That is why the Blue Ridge Mountains look much rounder and shorter: usually from about 3,500′ ASL to perhaps 6,000′ ASL. They are like the teeth of a thousand year old person, if you could ever find such an individual: ground down by the elements over the millennia.
The views in the Blue Ridge, however, are also breathtaking. This was the view from one of my family’s houses for several years. That’s the tallest sheer granite cliff face in the Eastern USA.
Okay, gotta go. I am designing the renovations for a client’s home in Highlands, including a a kitchen remodel, water penetration corrections (hey, I didn’t design the original home), bedroom renovations, a new exterior driveway up around the rear of the house and several features to improve accessible and “Aging in Place” to allow wheelchair access. And whenever y’all have a spare weekend, do visit the mountains nearest to you; you’ll be glad you did. They have a way of capturing your heart and soul. And if you need a mountain architect to design your place there, please keep me in mind: Rand Soellner of the HOME ARCHITECTS ® , 1-828-269-9026. Rand@HomeArchitects.com .
Talk with you next week; have a good one!
tags: custom, residential design, Atlanta, Tacoma, Chicago, New York, Orlando, Highlands, Hendersonville, Asheville, timber, post and beam, castle, cottage