My Fall 2009 Travel Season came full circle. In October, I visited upstate New York and the greater Cooperstown area where James Fenimore Cooper wrote and set many of his novels, most notably, The Last of the Mohicans. In December, I visited North Carolina and the greater Asheville area where director Michael Mann and cinematographer Dante Spinotti used the vast wilderness of the Blue Ridge Mountains to double for upstate New York in their epic film adaptation of Cooper’s Great American Novel.
It was quite a thrill to drive up those winding roads into the mountains to Chimney Rock Park and see that rock-face where Alice Munro (played by Jodhi May) achieved the pinnacle of old-school romanticism by flinging herself off the edge in Mann’s The Last of the Mohicans. It’s one of filmdom’s greatest disembodied scenes, and to see where it was filmed is breathtaking. But that’s not all the trek had to offer, as the path up the mountain also served as inspiration for novelist Ron Rash when he conjured the Pemberton Timber Tract in his neo-epic American tragedy, Serena. To get stuck behind a logging truck halfway up gave this writer a bit of the old goose-bumps — and was eerily, though roughly 2,500 miles away from Washington State, rather Twin Peaks-ian as well.
Suffice it to say, western Carolina offers much for the seasoned traveler and writer alike. And, of course, no trip to the Asheville area would be complete without a visit to the world famous Biltmore Estate: the former home of George Vanderbilt, the largest house in America, and the site of over six million visitors a year and numerous film shoots over the decades. Though the films shot there are legion, my personal favorite would have to be that scene from Hannibal where Anthony Hopkins dines on Ray Liotta’s brain. Yeah…the place is pretty decadent…and totally awesome.
Without further adieu, here is a selection of some of the photos I captured on my trip:
Written and photographed by David H. Schleicher