Real Estate – The Blue Ridge Mountains Are Perfect For the Outdoor Enthusiast

Is city life making you feel burnt out? If you long for the opportunity to raise your family in the great outdoors, far away from the madness of city life, there are few better places than the Blue Ridge Mountains region of North Carolina.

Buying real estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, and Hendersonville, North Carolina is a great decision right now. While in the rest of the country, housing prices are fluctuating, in North Carolina they have remained steady and the real estate market is definitely not stagnant. Setting up home in this area will give you access to some great outdoor activities and inspiring vistas of some of the highest mountain peaks in the Eastern US.

With some of America's most popular parks, The Great Smoky Mountains, as well as the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests, you'll have easy access to some great vacation destinations and outdoor activities. From hiking and climbing to mountain biking and rafting, there's something for everyone here.

If you buy a home in Asheville, you'll also have access to the amazing scenery, white water rapids, swimming holes, botanical gardens and historical areas in and around this area. That is when you're not busy taking in the art, music, museums, history and nightlife of the city.

75 miles north of Asheville is the rugged Grandfather Mountain, a nature preserve with miles of alpine hiking trails, where you can explore wildlife habitats and enjoy amazing scenery. You can bond with your kids while exploring the Appalachian Trail, biking in the mountain trails or rafting on the Nantahala. Other fun places to explore with your family are the waterfalls and gem mines.

You can enjoy the changing of seasons with the blooms of wildflowers that transform the countryside in spring and early summer. The fishing enthusiast will enjoy fishing in the many lakes and rivers and choose from some of the best waterfront real estate in the greater Asheville, Brevard and Hendersonville areas of Western North Carolina.

You could ask your real estate agent to show you around the beautiful man-made lakes like Lake Glenville and Biltmore Lake, and the spectacular Lake Lure. If you love living by the water, the river front areas of French Broad, Rocky Broad, Cane Creek, Davidson, and Swannanoa have great possibilities for real estate purchases. You could even own a private estate with a natural creek or stream, many of which are excellent for fly fishing.

Love to ski? Then the ski areas of North Carolina's High Country are the perfect place to buy real estate. Riding enthusiasts can opt for Asheville's scenic horseback trail rides. Rock climbing and mountaineering are naturally popular, with a number of schools offering rock climbing and ice climbing courses. If you're not afraid of the dark, the deep, dark underground labyrinths of Linville Caverns, located under Humpback Mountain, are Nature's very own masterpiece that beckons to the braver explorers.

When you've decided to make the Blue Ridge Mountains your home, make sure you find a good local real estate agent familiar with the areas of Asheville and Hendersonville to help you make the buy your very own piece of heaven in North Carolina.

Communities Attracting Retirees

In 2008, the North Carolina General Assembly created a Certified Retirement Community Program to be administered by the NC Department of Commerce. This is a community development program for those towns who want to attract retirees to their area as an economic and community development strategy.

The program designates a town as having a quality of living that the older community desires. The potential benefits for making a town attractive to retirees is substantial: accumulated wealth brought into the area, developers attracted to build affordable housing and senior facilities, existing retirees remain in the community.

Texas has been very successful with their Certified Retirement Communities (CRCs)and estimates that each retiree household who moves to the state creates 1.5 jobs. The GO TEXAN Certified Retirement Community Program has been in place since 2006 and is currently updating information on the impact of CRCs on member communities. The town of Cuero, Texas has had their CRC designation for two years. Randall Malik, the Executive Director for the Cuero Development Corporation, accredits his town’s newly built assisted living and adult daycare facility to the active marketing of Cuero as a Certified Retirement Community.


To be considered for certification, a local government must submit an application to the Department of Commerce’s Community Development Division. The town is evaluated on criteria important to retirees: affordable cost of living, low taxes, low crime rate, quality medical care, recreation, educational and cultural opportunities, and a welcoming community. Size of the population does not deter certification, nor does a rural or urban setting. The lack of affordable senior housing is also not an issue because, if certified, developers could be influenced to build. The designation has a five-year life, after which communities will need to consider re-certification at the end of the five-year period.


The Department of Commerce has established qualifying criteria for a Certified Retirement Community.

  1. Be located within 30 miles of a hospital or emergency medical services (does not have to be within the city limits).
  2. Gain support of churches, clubs, businesses, media.
  3. Remit an application fee to the 21st Century Communities program of $10,000. If the town does not receive certification, the $10,000 will be returned.
  4. Submit a completed marketing and public relations plan designed to accomplish the purpose of the Program to the Department of Commerce.
  5. Submit a long-term plan outlining the steps the community will undertake to maintain or improve its desirability as a destination for retirees.
  6. Establish a retiree attraction committee which must be in place for six months before the town can apply for certification. Applications are received twice a year in January and June/July, and several months are needed for review. The committee:
  • Assesses the community and submits a report to the Department.
  • Sends representative of committee to State training meetings conducted by the 21st Century Communities program.
  • Raises funds necessary to run the Program, organizes special events and promotes and coordinates the Program with local entities.
  • Establishes a community image, evaluates target markets & develops a marketing and public relations plan designed to accomplish the purpose of the program.
  • Develops a system that identifies and makes contact with existing and prospective retirees who will provide tour guides when prospects visit the community, invite prospects to special community events and maintain continual contact with prospects until the prospect makes a retirement location decision.

Communities selected for certification will receive inclusion in state-level marketing efforts, technical assistance, networking opportunities and grant funding to support their program.


When retirees look for a Retirement Community, a large part of the vetting process has already been completed by the state of North Carolina’s certification process. The retiree can rest assured that the town will be welcoming and have a minimum level of facilities and services.

At the time of this article, Lumberton, NC was the only Certified Retirement Community in North Carolina, developed in 2010. Connie Russ is the Downtown Development Coordinator/Retiree Recruiter for Lumberton and was instrumental, along with her committee, in developing the certification program for North Carolina. Today there are three other North Carolina towns certified as retirement communities: Asheboro, Marion and Sanford.

For more information, you can visit: and look under Tourism. Programs & Services


Carolina Panthers History – Intriguing

The Carolina Panthers are a member of the South Division of the NFC. They are based in Charlotte, North Carolina, but the team serves as a representative to both North and South Carolina. Along with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Carolina Panthers history is short, as they became part of the NFL in 1995. An impressive accomplishment in Carolina Panthers history is their Super Bowl appearance in 2003, only 8 years since their inception. When the Carolina Panthers first became part of the NFL, they were a member of the NFC West division. In 2002, they were moved to the NFC south division, which was made more sense considering their location. The Carolina Panthers mascot is Sir Purr, and they are managed by Marty Hurney.

Carolina Panthers history started in the late 1980s after the approval of a professional NBA expansion team. The Charlotte Hornets, who are now the New Orleans Hornets, the basis for former Baltimore Colts player Jerry Richardson to discuss the possibility of having an NFL expansion team as well. His company, Richardson Sports, chose an uptown location in Charlotte where they would build a privately financed stadium that seated more than 70,000 fans. Everyone joined the effort to show their support for the cause, an effort to prove to the NFL that Charlotte was worthy of an NFL team. Preseason games were held in the area in 1989, 1990, and 1991, which were all sold out games, again as an effort to show support for the NFL. In 1992, expansion teams were discussed in Charlotte, as well as Baltimore, Louisville, Memphis, and Jacksonville. The vote was delayed until 1993, considering there was still a dispute within the league. It was on October 26, 1993 that the NFL announced that Carolina would be the 29th franchise for the NFL, which made them the first new team in the league since the 70s.

Carolina Panthers history during the 1995 Season; Dom Capers was appointed as the head coach, and they acquired their team through a newly formed method of drafting. Aside from popular draft picks like Rod Smith, Mark Carrier, and Kerry Collins, the Carolina Panthers were also entitled to use the free agency process. A notable aspect of Carolina Panthers history is that they won their first game of their career, playing the Hall of Fame Game against the Jaguars, who was also a new team that year. Of course this game was known as the "Battle of the Big Cats", we'll let you figure out why. The Panthers new stadium was still under construction, so all their home games were played at Clemson University.

Carolina Panthers history was rough in the late 90s; Rae Carruth was sent to prison for conspiring to murder his pregnant girlfriend. At that same time, Kerry Collins was cut from the team due to problems with alcoholism and accusations of making racial slurs about his teammates. Fred Lane, who had traded to the Indianapolis Colts in 2000, was killed by his wife shortly after trading teams. During this time, the team made no notable appearances on the field, and Dom Capers was let go after the 98 season. In 1999, George Seifert was hired to replace him, as he had won two Super Bowl titles with the 49ers. However, his time with the team was disastrous, and he was immediately let go in 2001. The Panthers attempt to acquire Steve Spurrier and Tony Dungy in 2002 were unsuccessful. So they chose John Fox as their head coach, who was a former defensive coordinator for the Giants. In 2003, Carolina was a much better team, landing them in Super Bowl XXXVIII, which they ended up winning! Considering their short history, this Super Bowl appearance was a great accomplishment and something notable to go in Carolina Panthers history!

Who is the Pilot?

It was a mild summer day in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina when I boarded United Airline flight 7318 to Washington, DC. Like usual, I promptly located my window seat, with no doubts that the pilots would safely take me to my destination.

Suddenly, as I sat gazing out of the window waiting for take-off, certain questions unfolded in my mind. I wondered, "Who are these pilots that I wholeheartedly entrust with my life?" I wondered about my surety of knowing that they would, or could take me to my destination. I also pondered on "Why it is that I – or we as individuals, trustingly and unwaveringly allow others to continuously pilot our lives without questions or reservations?"

We permit others to pilot our lives while we unquestionably find our seat near the window – just watching – watching our lives quickly pass by. We lack faith in ourselves, because too often, we allow others such as bosses, friends, family and even enemies, to navigate our lives. We allow others to pilot our lives because of their negative words. We allow others to pilot our lives because they claim to know what is best for us. We live on autopilot without a clue as to where we are headed, or how we will get there.

We must declare that we will no longer allow other people to take control of our lives – or of our future. No matter how cloudy things look, no matter how dark our past is, we must remember that God is in control.

Allow God to be your pilot – as you co-pilot your own life into a prosperous and promising future.

Declare today: I will no longer sit back and allow other people to control my life into an uncertain and discontented future. The past is behind me – and only the best is yet to come!

Copyright 2003 by Audrina Jones Bunton. REPRINTING THIS ARTICLE: Permission is granted to reproduce or distribute this article only in its entirety and provided copyright is acknowledged. You can find other articles to choose from at

Asheville – Cosmopolitan City Meets Luxury Mountain Getaway

When planning a North Carolina getaway, Asheville is a must see on the travel-destination list. The allure of Western North Carolina’s largest city is becoming widespread and Asheville has been touted as the “Paris of the South.” The New York Times calls it a “surprisingly cosmopolitan city.”

What makes Asheville unique is that the sizzle of the city is within a stone’s throw of great outdoor adventure. Natural Geographic Adventure Magazine ranks Asheville the number one out of ten cities for popular outdoor sports in the region.

Charlotte, Raleigh/Durham and Atlanta’s close proximity to Asheville make it a perfect vacation destination when planning either a luxury-style mountain getaway or a family vacation.

Asheville boasts a vast array of accommodations. There is everything from luxury condominium rentals with 24-hour concierge service to more traditional mountain getaways. So, whether you are planning a corporate trip, romantic getaway, golf vacation, or fishing expedition, Asheville has something for everyone. Some accommodations are even pet friendly. Try booking during the weekdays to beat the weekend crowds and receive more discounts.

Asheville, North Carolina: Experience the Best in Mountain Travel

Downtown Asheville is a pedestrian-friendly city. Its unique skyline of art-deco style buildings are surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. The city has a year-round population of 74,000 and is home to America’s largest privately-owned home, the Biltmore Estate, and the historic Grove Park Inn. While accommodations are available at both, most people visit these urban legends and choose to enjoy other Asheville hotels and luxury mountain getaways.

“The Biltmore Estate and the Grove Park Inn are great places to visit,” Marge Nusser of New York, NY said, “but I prefer to seek out accommodations that are a bit more intimate, yet still upscale in their services.” Many accommodations offer discounted or complementary tickets to such attractions as the Biltmore Estate.

A fun way to kick start your mountain travel experience is to stroll through the Asheville Urban Trail. This 1.7 mile, self-guided tour stops at over 30 stations throughout the downtown area. “This trail gave me a handle on the downtown sites in less than one hour,” Howard Fortune, an Atlanta resident, explained. “I came here for the great outdoor activities, but quickly learned my way around the city.”

Downtown Asheville is primarily comprised of independent businesses. In today’s age of super-sized malls, the change is refreshing. Eclectic art galleries, micro-breweries and cozy cafes can be found at every turn. Asheville is also a food lover’s paradise and culinary offerings range from traditional southern comfort food to four-star cuisine. Bill Dykeman, a retired chef from Raleigh said, “Asheville has food from around the globe.”

Discover the Outdoors: Plan the Perfect North Carolina Mountain Getaway

When leaving downtown, choices still abound. The mountains that surround Asheville and the four major rivers that encompass the area make this an outdoor enthusiast’s dream mountain getaway. Take advantage of the travel concierge services at one of Asheville’s luxurious hotels. They can make dinner reservations, arrange for tee times, schedule outdoor events, and more.

In summer, whitewater rafting, hiking parts of the Appalachian Trail and fly fishing one of the hundreds of trout streams for native brook trout, rainbow or trophy brown trout are some of the more popular activities. Karl Danielson, a Charlotte native, avid golfer and fly fisherman explains that he can stay at a luxury condominium rental with concierge services that directs him to the some of the best trout streams east of the Mississippi. “And, the next morning I have a tee time at a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course within minutes from my room,” he added.

Nearby excursions include Chimney Rock State Park and Lake Lure to the south. To the west, there is Great Smoky National Park, and to the east, Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Rockies. Blowing Rock and Grandfather Mountain sit to the north and are filled with natural wonders that promise to enhance any romantic mountain getaway or family vacation plan.

Asheville is a year-round playground. The holiday season abounds with light festivals, Inn tours, dazzling sites at the Biltmore House, exceptional shopping and the famous Gingerbread House competition at the Grove Park Inn. Winter brings skiers and snowboarders to the area and spring is a wonderful time to explore the beautiful gardens at the North Carolina Arboretum.

So, next time you are planning a weekend mountain getaway or an extended stay, think Asheville where their motto is “altitude affects attitude.”

Mountain Residents Embrace Green Living

Sustainability, green building and energy efficiency are all words becoming part of today's mainstream consciousness. As global environmental awareness spreads, certain regions of the US are acting as leaders in the green living movement. One of the nation's hotbeds for alternative energy is Western North Carolina (WNC), home to the city of Asheville.

According to an article by Dale Neal, "Video Touts Region on Green Economy," in the February 22, 2008 Asheville Citizen-Times more than 80 green builders are based in WNC. In the 7-minute video, Neal mentions, titled "AdvantageGreen," is directed by American Green TV's Kurt Mann and discusses green building practices in and around Asheville, North Carolina.

The video features three WNC solar energy companies and highlights three major projects: FLS Energy's installation of solar panels on a Greensboro hotel, Appalachian Energy's installation of solar hot water systems on the roofs of Arby's restaurants and Sundance Power's installation of solar panels at Deltec Homes.

Simple Ideas for Living Green

Living a more earth friendly and healthy lifestyle is not as difficult as many people believe. Green building methods and alternative energy systems are increasingly affordable for the average citizen. There are even ways to make an existing structure more energy efficient whether it is a residential home or a commercial building.

Energy Star Efficiency Standards

One of the easiest ways to improve energy efficiency is to purchase products recognized by the Energy Star program. Energy Star is sponsored by the US Environmental Protection Agency and gives special certification to products that offer the highest level of efficiency in a particular category. All products certified must meet specific guidelines and are then allowed to carry the Energy Star logo. For more information about Energy Star, visit: .

Energy Efficient Lighting

Natural light is the simplest way to save energy at home. Consider the size and location of all the windows in your home. Well-placed skylights or atriums also increase natural light and electrical efficiency. Although it is easier to make these considerations when building your home, you'll be surprised at how quickly an investment in a smart, energy efficient renovation can pay for itself.

Energy Efficient, Green Living with Passive Solar and Passive Cooling

Passive solar and passive cooling are excellent strategies to maintain energy efficiency. Passive solar optimizes the use of heat-trapping materials. Many aspects of a home affect heating and cooling, even the direction it faces can decrease energy costs.

When choosing a passive solar solution, remember basic facts like homes facing the South are warmer than homes facing the North. Homes facing the East are warmer in the morning and those facing West are hotter in the afternoon. Passive cooling is facilitated by the wind in higher elevations. Mountain slopes facing away from predominant winds provide shelter and warmth. Slopes facing predominant winds are cooler.

Properly insulated walls, windows, roofs and floors are also crafted to attract or deflect the sun's heat. Special window glazing can increase heating efficiency in the winter and shades or blinds affect cooling in the summer. The correct use of ceiling fans in the appropriate season can also improve energy efficiency.

Energy Efficient Landscaping: How Trees Support Energy Efficient Homes

The trees in your yard also support energy efficiency. In an article titled "Passive and Proud: Green Energy Ideas for Your Home," writer and Northern California real estate agent Carolyn Gjerde-Tu of Discover David Homes, states, "Landscaping is another important consideration when thinking about energy efficiency. leafy in summer, bare in winter) provide wonderful shade for your home in summer, but allow the sun to help warm your home in winter. Plant these trees on the sides of your home that receive the most sun. break from chilling winds in winter. "

An Energy Efficient Initiative: NC HealthyBuilt Homes

NC HealthyBuilt Homes is an initiative supported throughout the state by the North Carolina Solar Center, the State Energy Office, the Asheville Home Builder Associations and the Western North Carolina Green Building Council (WNCGBC). According to the WNCGBC web site,, the NC HealthyBuilt program promotes improved energy efficiency, indoor air quality and environmental accountability.

Energy efficient building also offers a number of federal and state tax advantages. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE), is a comprehensive list of tax and homeowner incentives. North Carolina and Asheville information is carefully detailed in the database along with other cities and states.

Energy efficiency is a simple, affordable way to begin living a healthier, greener lifestyle. Whether you are building a new home or searching for a way to increase the value of your existing home, an investment in increased home efficiency is an investment in the future.

In the Know: Health and Wellness Website Legalities

When Health Consulting Businesses are Legally Responsible

One thing the internet is infamous for is being a source of advice for our health and well-being.

It doesn’t matter where we turn there is someone with a website telling us what to do to lose weight, slow down ageing or treat our illnesses.

We all do it. We aren’t feeling well so we type our symptoms into “Dr. Google” and voila, thousands of results telling us we have everything from a common cold to 6 months to live. We then take our results in hand to our doctor and tell him what we have.

Sadly, professionals in the health care industry, doctors, therapists, dieticians and nutritionists all have an everyday fight with misinformation that is provided on the internet.

If you are a blogger and have some experience with health-related issues, you may want to share this information with the world.

Or, you may be a professional with some education on certain health-related subjects and want to use that information to boost your business online.

Either way, you have to be very careful to follow the rules when it comes to providing health and wellness website information and advice to the masses.

Legal Responsibilities for Providing Health-Related Advice

So what are the legal issues for health consulting and coaching businesses when providing health-related information on a website?

There have been more than a few lawsuits in past years that have stemmed from sharing of health and diet advice with others on the internet.

In a recent lawsuit in North Carolina, a blogger changed his life and had experience with managing his Type 1 diabetes through use of the Paleo diet. He blogged about his efforts and when successful, he took his blogging a step further and began to share his meal plans and exercise regimens.

Eventually, he began providing one on one sessions to advise his readers in the ways of his experience for a fee.

In North Carolina, there is a misdemeanor law that makes it unlawful to practice dietetics or nutrition without a license. This blogger was charged with breaking this law and North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition is now threatening him with prison.

Research All Governing Bodies’ Rules & Regulations

When providing health and wellness information online, you must ensure you are following all the rules.

Each governing body has separate rules on what information you can and cannot advise the public with regarding their health.

Canada and the United States both have specific federal laws and then each province and state also have their own separate laws.

If you are going to provide information, then you must look up those laws according to where you live and where you are doing business from. And to take it even a step further, you then you have to consider the audience you are targeting.

A good guideline to follow if you are providing information on your health-related website is to ask yourself, are you being specific to a particular personal health situation. The blogger in the North Carolina lawsuit was doing OK with providing his personal experiences with the Paleo diet.

His suggestions for exercise regimens or providing his personal diet plans on his health and nutrition website may even have been OK with the law but as soon as he started consulting one-on-one with individuals and providing advice, he was beyond sharing his personal experience and fell into the realm of providing medical expertise in an area where he was not legally certified to engage in.

Remember, giving your opinion about a health-related subject or telling about your specific experience is one thing but if you are claiming to be an expert in anything on your health and nutrition website, you could be held accountable by the boards who are responsible for governing the public education on the subject and run into legal issues.

You must not in any way claim or pose as something you are not if you are going to provide reliable health information.

If you are handing out health or wellness advice you need to be very clear about what your education and expertise are and also be very careful of the legal issues surrounding any advice you do give.

This is where working with a professional web development firm could help steer you in the right direction and ensure you are not posting anything that could cause you legal problems while operating your business. Consulting a lawyer who is well versed in these matters would also be very prudent.

What You Need to Know About the Increase in Traffic Fatalities in South Carolina

In response to a recent report issued by South Carolina Highway Patrol, there has been an increase in traffic fatalities in South Carolina. South Carolina has seen a whopping 25% increase in deaths caused by traffic automobile accidents.

According to the National Safety Council, traffic deaths in the US from 2014 to 2016 increased by 18 percent. However, the state of South Carolina saw a 25 percent increase. In North Carolina, the number jumped to 26 percent during the same two-year time frame.

More traffic, increased distractions, and poor road conditions lead to higher traffic fatalities across the state of South Carolina. Remember, it is easy to call a death in a traffic accident a "fatality" -which is a generic term. But imagine if it were your loved one, or close friend, who died tragically in a preventable traffic accident. Deaths caused by auto wrecks are an unnecessary tragedy. All of us have to remember that it's not just a "fatality"; in fact, it's a the loss of a human being-the loss of a father, mother, son or daughter, brother or sister – in a preventable situation. As an auto accident lawyer, I witness how car wrecks affect the lives of real people in our community. And it's a terrible, terrible preventable tragedy.

What are some of the reasons for these high statistics? The program Target Zero discusses the state of South Carolina's goal of eliminating traffic related deaths to Zero. One of these factors is the increase in traffic due to tourism. Whether toting our gorgeous parks or our fabulous food, our state, especially the Upstate, has received a lot of positive media attention in the past couple of years. This has resulted in an increase in visitors.

Another contributing factor to the increased traffic could be attributed to people relocating here. In 2015, there was a 2.5 percent jump in the number of registered vehicles and a 2 percent rise in the number of driver's licenses issued in South Carolina.

With more traffic on the roadways of course there will be more traffic-related accidents. Nevertheless, there are still other reasons for wrecks. Distracted driving, drowsy driving, and drunk driving are still factors in fatality related auto accidents.

So, please be safe out there and be a defensive driver. And follow this simple advice: Slow down. Give plenty of distance between your car and other cars. Get off the cell phone or smart phone. Keep your eyes on the road. Keep two hands on the wheel. Never drink or drive or drive while tired. Take safe driving seriously.

Barbecue Wars

Okay, so here's the deal. What kind of meat, what kind of sauce, what method of cooking, what type of wood or heat, and how is it served. A lot to consider. And one thing is for sure – we're not talking a backyard Weber grill here, folks. This is serious business, so let's get to it.

In the South, especially North Carolina, the most popular outdoor version is the "pig pickin '." Named after the Cajun phrase cochon de lait , traditional Southern barbecue grew out of these gatherings, which entailed an entire hog roasted for hours, then letting guests pick their own meat off the finished product (hence the phrase "going whole hog").

But every region has its own version, usually pork, and the sauce is what makes the difference. In North Carolina, the three varieties of sauces include vinegar-based in the east, tomato-vinegar, sometimes mustard, in the central state and a heavier tomato-based sauce in western NC. The city of Lexington, just northeast of Charlotte, proclaims itself to be the "Barbecue Capital of the World," boasting one BBQ restaurant per 1000 people (talk about going whole hog). And throughout the South, the meat is more likely to be served on a plate, accompanied by hush puppies, coleslaw and baked beans, not in a bun smothered with ketchup (in some places considered a capital crime). When ordered, it's simply called Q and the sides are a given. (In Texas you might get a thick piece of toast, but that's another story.)

According to South Carolinians, only in their state will you find all four "official" sauces: mustard-based, vinegar-based, light or heavy tomato based. To the west, Memphis barbecue favors tomato- and vinegar-based sauces, and in some restaurants (or more likely BBQ shacks) the meat is rubbed with a mixture of dry seasonings before smoking over wood. Don't even think about charcoal briquettes, considered a misdemeanor at the very least.The dry rub ingredients are a closely guarded secret, setting them apart from the guy down the street. There may not even be a sauce basted over the meat, but simply served on the side.

Moving right along, in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee barbecue is usually pork, basted with a sweet red sauce. Some rebels even dare to use a mayo-based sauce with vinegar, mostly on chicken (which is not really considered a true barbecue, anyway.) A popular item in North Carolina and Memphis is the pulled pork sandwich served on a bun and often topped with coleslaw. Pulled pork is prepared by shredding the pork after it has been barbecued, then piled high.

In the Midwest, we're talking Kansas City-style, characterized by using different types of meat, which might be pulled pork or ribs, smoked sausage, beef brisket or ribs, smoked / grilled chicken, smoked turkey, and sometimes fish. Whew. They don't leave anything to chance, but remember, KC is a major meat packing city, no vegetarians allowed. Hickory wood delivers the best flavor and the sauce of choice is tomato-based, spicy or mild. No hush puppies – remember you're in the Midwest. And in Chicago, when they're not wolfing down Italian beef sandwiches, hot dogs or pizza, they like to season the meat with a dry rub, sear it on a hot grill, then cook it slowly in a special oven. The meat, typically ribs, is then finished with a sweet and tangy red sauce. Not to worry, they won't have you arrested if you order it on a bun (just no ketchup, understand?). Side dishes can be cooked greens, mac and cheese and sweet potatoes. Since many BBQ places are located on the South Side, they often comprise the main ticket item at soul food restaurants.

The state of Kentucky just has to be different, making mutton their meat of choice. In Maryland, beef is the ticket and it's grilled over a high heat, served rare with horseradish. Hardly even qualifies as barbecue, so why are we spending any time on this?

Don't mess with Texas, especially when it comes to BBQ. The bigger the better, and the Lone Star state takes no prisoners when it comes to their version (there ain't no other version, pardner.) This tradition runs deep, and king-sized barbecues, thanks in no small part to the number of famous politicians who have hosted them over the years, try to diminish their Northern wannabes by claiming the best darn barbecue in the world. The emphasis is on the meat itself, not a sauce. Usually "Texas-style" means "Central Texas-style" and that spells beef. Brisket is cooked over indirect heat, low and slow. They favor mesquite wood or a combo of hickory and oak, then served up on plates with potato salad, beans, slaw and a big ole slice of Texas toast. This is serious eatin ', y'all.

And there you have it. Exhausting, all these details and variations. Who's hungry? What will you choose and where? So much barbecue, so little time.

Ralph Earnhardt’s Biography

Ralph Lee Earnhardt was born on 23rd February, 1928 in Kannapolis, Cabarrus County in North Carolina, the youngest of four sons, to John Henderson and Effie Mae Earnhardt. The family were part of the farming community and on leaving school Ralph worked in one of the cotton mills for several years. The wages and conditions were poor and one of the ways to get out of the situation was to race.

During his later teens he began to build cars in the family garage with the intention of racing one on the local dirt tracks eventually starting in 1949. In 1953, at the age of twenty five Ralph turned professional and began his quintessential career, making a huge impression in the world of racing very quickly.

His first race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series took place on the 11th of November, 1956 when he finished second to Speedy Thompson in the Grand National (now the Sprint Cup Series) at Hickory Speedway, North Carolina. Also in 1956, he won his first NASCAR Sportsman title, a year in which he gained 32 victories.

Over his career, he held track championships at seven different venues. 1961 saw Ralph have his highest finish in the Grand National point standings, at 17th, and also saw him filling in for Cotton Owens as a relief driver in the Daytona 500, covering more than 300 miles and finishing in 5th place. His awards include:- Ralph was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame in 1989, the same weekend that Dale Sr. won the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Alabama, in 1997 and, along with his son Dale Sr., was named as one of NASCAR’s “50 Greatest Drivers”. During the 1998 celebration of NASCAR’s 50th Anniversary, in 2004 Ralph was an inductee in the Oceanside Rotary Club of Daytona Beach Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame and inductee in the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame in 2007.

His son, Dale Sr. later said about the award that he shared with his father, “This has been a very special time for me and for our family. I wish he could have been here to see all of this.” During an interview with Buck Knight of the Free Lance Star, Fredericksburg, Virginia on Friday the 25th of August 1967 Ralph was asked if he would like to drive on the Grand National circuit he replied, “It would be great fun to drive on the super speedways but the Grand National league is a bit rich for my blood – meaning my pocket book. It’s quite different from driving a sportsman car on short tracks but not so great that a man can’t make the switch. The major difference that I found is that on the superspeedways a man has to stay extra cool and extra-wide-awake. No time for easing up, taking a rest”.

In the old days Ralph raced with the old veterans such as Joe Weatherly, Buck Baker and Curtis Turner and many others. “The sport is a lot different than it was in those days, when I was starting out a fellow heard about the races coming up by the grapevine, or by a phone call from a friend or the promoter. Purses were mighty small and now and then a promoter took it on the lam before the pay-off. No-one will ever know what NASCAR has meant to racing, it made a haphazard affair into a business, and brought safety to a game where there was very little if any.”

When asked if he had any thoughts of retiring from NASCAR racing, he replied, “I feel fine and I believe I am driving better than I ever did, I should be, a man learns something every race he drives and I drive three times a week. Ralph had an interest in the up and coming young guns and it was he who started Bobbie Isaacs in the racing business. Ralph provided the guidance that started his son’s career in racing while growing up in southern North Carolina and Dale Sr. from a very early age wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. Sadly, Ralph Earnhardt died of a heart attack at his home on the 26th September 1973 at the age of 45. He was found by his wife, Martha, on the kitchen floor not as people like to believe, working on a car in the garage and found by his son, Dale Sr. He left behind his wife, Martha, sons Dale as Dale Sr. and Danny and two daughters, Martha Kay and Kathy Lee. He was the grandfather of Dale Jr, and Kerry Earnhardt.