Grandfather Mountain Highland Games

“The mountains are calling and I must go.”

John Muir

Confession: I saw T-shirts for sale with this quote in the quaint shops in Boone, North Carolina. I didn’t fully appreciate the meaning until I spent four days at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, walked along the sidewalk in Boone, and drove the Blue Ridge Parkway on the way to Blowing Rock.

I prepared for my road trip to North Carolina and my first visit to Grandfather Mountain by going to AAA to get maps and travel books.  I also talked to my friend who grew up in the area, and she said, “You are going to love Grandfather. It is beautiful and magical.”

I embarked on my journey with three Outlander fans from Jacksonville, Florida.  On our first night in North Carolina, we ventured up Grandfather Mountain to attend the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games Calling of the Clans. I have gone to the Northeast Florida Scottish Games and Festival, but I’ve never seen the Calling of the Clans. describes the event, “…the torchlight ceremony on Thursday, where representatives of more than 100 clans announce their families’ participation in the gathering.” Chill bumps broke out on my arms as each clan announced their arrival, “Clan Macfie is here!”  The poetry recited during the ceremony was as meaningful as the moments of silence. I could imagine highlanders gathering on similar mountaintops in Scotland hundreds of years ago as I sat in the groves nestled around MacRae Meadows.

Cooklander Cookbook Committee ran the promotion “Find Jenny Mac” while I was at the Games.  The reward? Getting Cooklander for $20.00.  Thank you so much to those who purchased a copy of Cooklander!  Proceeds benefit Bloodwise UK, World Child Cancer, and NPH USA.  We’re still running the promotion for anyone unable to attend the Games.  Go to, and enter Coupon Code FindJennyMac to get $5 off your order.

From Left to Right: Deb, me, Mary

I have been dubbed “Haggis Hunter”  by my fellow Cooklander Committee members.  I spotted Elliott MacFarlane (historian, raconteur, spirit sommelier, chef) within the first 15 minutes of arrival at the Games.  He was conducting a demonstration of how to make haggis.

This is a still from the video I posted on my Facebook – Jennifer McAfee

Novel Adventures hosted David Berry at their tent at the Games. I was so thrilled to meet the actor who plays Lord John Grey on the Starz series Outlander on Saturday.  He was so nice! I had the opportunity to talk to him for a few minutes and gift him a copy of the Cooklander Cookbook. He said, “I’ve heard of your book. Thank you! The Outlander drivers were talking about it. He has a recipe in it.”  Thank you David “Davie Hollywood” Stewart for telling him about our cookbook!

Photo Credit: @Sheugs

I love a parade! I represented Cooklander in the 2016 NYC Tartan Day Parade when Sam Heughan was the Grand Marshal.  The Novel Adventures Group marched with David Berry and Matthew Copley in the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games Parade. I’m not in below picture, but I proudly marched in the parade with my Macfie tartan and Cooklander button pinned on my blouse.

This is a still from a video Sam Kraupner posted to her Instagram.

I was so happy to meet fellow Outlander fans and My Peak Challenge participants from all over the US at the Games, and I met several sweet ladies from North Carolina. I joined Outlanders North Carolina on Facebook.  NC Outlander Fans on Facebook is the official group for residents of North Carolina.  Both groups are doing fun and fantastic things for fans of the Outlander books and television series.

Photo credit to owner

Luckily, I saw Elliott MacFarlane on Saturday before we rode the bus back down the mountain.  I was able to tell him of my tale of trying to find the elusive haggis recipe. He boomed, “You’re weird! Get out of here with your infernal ground beef cooked in panty hose haggis recipe! That’s not haggis!”

He directed me to below recipe.

“This is haggis!”

At the end of the day, he said, “Email me! Use good whisky when you make the Drambuie Sauce!”

On Sunday, we drove from Boone to Blowing Rock. We stopped at the Moses Cone Manor.  It is the home of the Southern Highland Craft Guild.  I browsed through shops filled with handmade crafts. The beautiful pottery was decorated with bees and dragonflies.  Beeswax and Fraser Fir scented candles and soaps filled the shelves.

I’m a Florida girl. Everything is flat. I don’t see mountains or flowering trees growing out of mountains. I kept asking, “What is that? It’s not Dogwood.” I discovered that I was seeing Rhododendrons. I’ve never seen them so big. My new North Carolina friends told me, “they’re not usually blooming this late in the year.”

***Spoiler Alert***

I will be writing about scenes from the fourth book in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, Drums of Autumn.

As I took picture after picture of Rhododendrons, my traveling companions kept saying, “I can’t wait to see how the TV series adapts Roger getting lost in the Rhododendrons.”  To which I would reply, “Spoiler!” I’ll be honest, I haven’t finished the book. Their response was “Get reading!”

We wove through the slopes of Grandfather Mountain crossing the Linn Cove Viaduct.  Pausing at an overlook to take pictures, I talked to a family on the sidewalk looking for blackberries.  The bushes had just started to bear fruit, and one little boy leaned over to get a closer look at the small pink berries.  His mother said, “Be careful, don’t fall into the bushes!” He said, “Oh no! There are bears in there! I won’t go in there!”  His mother said to me, “There really are, we’ve seen bear trails right here.”

We visited The Blowing Rock. The views were stunning.

I wandered through the Photo Gallery. I loved this black and white photo of past Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. The photo didn’t have a plaque with a description or a date.

Photo Credit to owner

For the eight hour road trip home, my companions and I listened to the Audible version of Drums of Autumn narrated by Davina Porter.  I’ve continued to listen now that I’m home as I run errands and operate my Mom Taxi.  I’m on Chapter 13.  Lots of exciting things are happening at River Run.  I’m sure I’ll be finished by the Season 4 premiere of the television series Outlander in November.

After four days in the mountains, I discovered that these mountains had seeped into my skin, gotten into my blood, and touched my soul. I live at the beach. I have always said the beach is my happy place.  The sand in between my toes and the sound of the waves crashing never fail to bring me peace. I now have two happy places.

My friend was absolutely right! Grandfather Mountain was beautiful and magical. The mountains called, and I went, and I will return.

Thank you so much for reading!

Jenny Mc

Jenny Mc @jennymcinspired – Twitter

Jennifer McAfee – Facebook