Remember those reports you had to write in school about a past president, a book you read, a country you were studying? That’s kinda what I’ve been up to lately. We did all the initial research on where cultures of the top 21 most internet using countries are most prevalent in the United States, but not exact locations, or rather cultural centers or groups. So, in preparation for the promotional trip I have been researching where to find the best examples, or most experienced people, for each of the cultures we will be visiting and talking about throughout the trip.
The first stop was relatively easy. We originally planned to start in Highlands, NC. It’s close to home so I figured it would be really easy to find a cultural center to visit. There are actually quite a few Scottish traits that have been passed on from one generation to the next. The least of which is being very proud of our history. According to Scotland.org, “tourism is one of Scotland’s most lucrative assets, focusing on such attractions as golf, walking and a rich history. In industry, too, the country is pioneering and enterprising. Key business sectors include life sciences, electronic technologies, energy and financial services.” If you have ever visited Highlands, North Carolina, you’d think they were describing the Highlands in North Carolina, not the Scottish Highlands. Though, we don’t have much in the way of electronic technology or industrial type business here, there is tourism, golf, walking or hiking, and financial services aplenty.
Highlands, North Carolina, is a huge tourist town during the Summer Season each year. Downtown is bustling with vacationers sampling the local restaurants and seasonal residents catching up in the coffee shop or seeing what’s new in the antique and gift shops. Compare that to the Fall and Winter here and you’d barely imagine this area holding so many people. According to the 2000 Census, Highlands swelled from a population of just over 900 in the winter months, to between 10 & 15,000 from spring to fall! Scotland saw approximately 15 million tourists to their 5.3 million local populace in 2013.
There are also numerous trails that lead to magnificent vistas or breathtaking waterfalls all over the mountaintop. After watching this YouTube video, I think Scotland has their own piece of paradise they are very proud of too. (Good to watch the whole video, if you want some ideas on things to check out if you ever visit Scotland.)
The differences, I have found, are not so obvious as you would think. They enjoy water parks, sports, and the outdoors just as much as we do. They love good food, listen to a wide variety of music, and enjoy traveling. The major differences I’ve seen are the accent (a given, I know) and they live on a peninsula and outlying islands, whereas Highlands, North Carolina, is landlocked. So how do I find out more? Well, that is what our trip is for.
So I looked for the best place in this area to learn about Scotland and how it is similar, but also maybe more importantly, how it is uniquely different. Surprisingly, the best place to go to discuss Scottish heritage is not in Highlands, but just down the mountain in Franklin. The Scottish Tartan Museum is located in downtown Franklin and is educating residents and tourists alike about the Scottish and Cherokee people that lived and died here. So that is where we will start our journey next summer.
Do you live in Scotland? Or have you ever been there? We’d love to hear what you think. What things to we have in common that aren’t obvious? And what makes Scotland so magical despite her similarities?