Flat Stanley makes the rounds in Black Mountain

Joyce Pemberton Columnist

I have a cozy little guest room in my house that, in my opinion, is not used near enough. I love having visitors, and absolutely love sharing everything about our sweet mountain town.

So imagine my delight when an unexpected visitor arrived this past week all the way from Hawaii. His name is Stanley. Um …. actually, his name is Flat Stanley.

Perhaps you are familiar with the story of Flat Stanley. As a small boy, through an unfortunate accident, Stanley was rendered flat as a pancake. No worries, however. As the story goes, Stanley was not hurt by being flattened. In fact, a benefit he now enjoys is he can be folded up, put in an envelope, and mailed away to exciting places for fun adventures.

And that’s how he arrived in Black Mountain.

My youngest granddaughter, Mia, who lives in Hawaii, sent him to me for a grand mountain adventure. When Stanley arrived I had about 10 days to plan as many adventures as I could before sending him back to share all of his journeys with Mia’s third-grade classroom.

The idea is that through his travels, Stanley is able to expose children to far off places they might otherwise never see. Brilliant, huh?

Here in the Swannanoa Valley (and surrounding area) there is no lack of things to do and see, as you well know. The challenge is choosing what sites are best suited to each visitor. So, over lunch at the Veranda restaurant, with Stanley leaning precariously against the salt shaker, my friend Rusty and I excitedly planned the rest of Stanley’s adventures.

Considering Stanley’s mission to share as much about our area as possible to a group of youngsters, we reluctantly ruled out the local breweries that Asheville is famous for, and opted instead for some of our most notable sites and a few of our favorite places.

Where to start our tour was a no-brainer. One of my most favorite places in the world is right in the heart of Black Mountain, at Lake Tomahawk. Walking around the lake never fails to calm any angst I might have. So, with the backdrop of the Seven Sisters looking on, Stanley and I started our journey together.

Saturday was a full day of some of the best sights within an easy drive of home. First up was our local iconic castle – Biltmore House. The 8,000-acre estate provides a perfect history lesson about the Vanderbilt family and their impact not just in Asheville, but around the globe. The fact that we have a slice of that history right in our back yard was not to be overlooked.

One of my favorite geographical landmarks is just a short drive up the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway. Did you know that we live less than an hour away from the highest point east of the Mississippi? That’s Mount Mitchell at 6,683 feet elevation. Pack a picnic and sit a spell, you won’t be disappointed. And that’s just what Stanley and I did.

From there, we headed back to town to the Black Mountain Center for the Arts. Ours is a very artsy town with so much local talent, and I wanted Stanley to see firsthand some of the local creations on display there.

We stopped at many more places in and around town, but our last stop was the best. We paid a quick visit to Black Mountain’s finest, where Stanley got to sit in a fire truck!

Yesterday I took Stanley to his last stop – the post office. There I gently folded him up for his journey home. As I sealed up the envelope, I reflected on our time together. Stanley’s visit was a great reminder of how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place.

But it’s not just the place, I realized. It was the people. Everyone accepted Stanley for who he was, never questioning the oddity of a flat little paper boy and his curiosity about our town.

Thank you, Black Mountain.