Fraser’s Ridge, a location any faithful Outlander book fan would easily recognize. With its lush mountains and thick wilderness, it’s a place Jamie and Claire will call their home while in America. Closing our eyes, we imagine what it may have been like actually living in such a secluded setting where they lived off the land. So much was developed there: relationships, family, community, and a life. Besides Scotland, it is one of our favorite spots – it is special.
In the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, lies a small historic town called Blowing Rock and another named Boone. Nestled between these two towns, a very unique experience is created by a remarkable company, Novel Adventures, allowing participants to travel similar paths as our favorite Outlandish characters. On July 5 – 8, the “Gathering on the Ridge” event took place at The Mast Farm Inn where about 50 people met to enjoy four days of “Fraser” living. The highlight of the occasion was the attendance of Cesar Domboy, Outlander‘s Fergus Fraser. One of our very own, Mela, was fortunate to take part in the culminating function, dinner with Cesar. In this blog, Sass3 shares her experience of that magical evening.
As a loyal follower of Diana Gabaldon’s books, Outlander, I find ways to reconnect with my all-time favorite story. Outlander is everywhere to me, or I find it in all places I go; I cannot help it. Jamie and Claire are always on my mind, and I often wonder what they are doing at certain times of the day. Our readers can relate and know exactly how I feel. It’s a normal phenomenon to a die-hard fan like me, and only those who have experienced the marvel of DG’s series will understand. So, when I found “Fraser’s Ridge,” it was an extraordinary moment that had to be shared.
The quest to find Fraser’s Ridge brought me to the gorgeous state of North Carolina. It’s beauty, landscape, nature, and peaceful environment are images that come to mind when describing it. A relaxing region, I can easily say, “Jamie and Claire were here.” I have visited the east coast in the past, but this was my first time in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. A quaint small town in the Appalachian Mountains, where Sam Heughan visited back in November 2016, it and the surrounding areas boast many hiking and walking trails. Nearby, a special event took place, the “Gathering on the Ridge.” There I met Fergus Fraser, adopted son of Jamie and Claire, played by newest Outlander cast member, Cesar Domboy.
Dinner at Mast Farm
I arrived at Mast Inn just shortly before 6:00 pm when it began to intermittently rain. People were already gathered by the home. After checking in with the lovely Kim, co-owner of Novel Adventures and hostess of the evening, my husband and I ran for cover at the porch of the main house. We waited there until the showers subsided. While on the deck, I noticed some dinner guests also waiting for the rain to stop at a different location, a cottage across the way. The crowd that was gathered by the house also sought shelter and moved into the veranda right next to us. There, I noticed a lithe young man signing autographs and taking photos. He seemed friendly and comfortably spoke to the women taking pictures. He was simply “hanging out” with the group like old-time friends. Suddenly, it registered – the young man was Cesar Domboy! He was getting acquainted with the visitors. My husband and I began conversing with a couple of the guests as well. One in particular had a French accent that hinted he was with Cesar. We chatted about North Carolina, the weather, and California. Later, during dinner, I realized I was talking to Benoit Ponsaille, Cesar’s manager. As you can imagine, I was thankful for the dreich weather!
The drizzle finally ended, and we left the porch to join the rest of the dinner guests. With strung lights above, elegant floral centerpieces, and beautiful trees as a backdrop, the setting was very impressive. The property also included a very small, tranquil pond not too far off. My husband and I had some cocktails while walking through other areas of the property. The Mast Farm is simply gorgeous!
Participants who purchased the “Gold Tickets,” about 10 people, sat at Cesar Domboy‘s dinner table. My husband and I were not fortunate enough to dine there, but Cesar roamed around freely speaking to others throughout the evening.
A Dinner Surprise!
My husband and I found a romantic table for two where we sat sipping our drinks. We took in the relaxing ambiance of the outdoors and enjoyed some time together. During that time, I noticed a friend of mine in the distance walking towards our table with the kind gentleman I was chatting with earlier during my refuge from the rain. My friend asked to join us and grabbed two other seats to add to our table. It was here, I was formally introduced to Cesar Domboy‘s manager, Benoit Ponsaille. Benoit sat with us the entire dinner!
Conversation was effortless and entertaining with Benoit, especially with my friend present. We talked about many topics like France, TV shows, and some of his adventures, to name a few. I was slightly nervous, knowing who he was, so, from time to time, I felt self-conscious when contributing to the discussion. However, Benoit’s pleasant personality allowed me to remain composed. I appreciated my two other companions because they spoke with ease. Towards the end of our meal, an unexpected person wandered over to our table and pulled up a chair to sit with us. Could you guess who that was? You got it – Cesar! I couldn’t believe it! That very moment seemed to freeze – everything pausing and then moving in slow motion. Have you ever experienced that? Well, I did. Even now, I can replay every second and recall exactly how it happened. I didn’t want to stare at the young man or look like a crazed fan (even though I was- ha!). I kept my cool like any mature woman would! I was surprised how freely he mingled among the group, and, even more so, when he sat down with us! After the initial shock, I settled into the topic at hand. He spoke a bit about France, and shared his ideas and opinions to the political dialogue taking place. Cesar is kind and good-natured – I didn’t feel at all anxious while with him. After a pretty lengthy talk, he was whisked away to take photos and sign memorabilia with fans.
The “Bronze Dinner” ticket holders, at this time, had the opportunity to take pictures and get mementos signed. My dinner comrades and I continued our conversation until it was my turn to take a photo with Cesar and get an autograph. I was lucky to be the last person because I was able to have another chat with him.
Cesar Answers Two Questions
At the photo and signing session, I asked Cesar two Outlander questions and here is how he responded:
1. Fergus is such a huge character in the books. He is one of our favorites. What is one aspect of Fergus you like or respect?
Cesar responded to the first question saying, “His loyalty to Jamie, of course,” smiling, raising both hands. With his French accent, which to me also had a mild English tone, he continued to express how he loved Fergus’ dedication to a man with whom he has no blood relations. Cesar admires this aspect of his character.
2. You now have an Outlander family. Which person do you get along with the best?
“Lauren Lyle, of course,” Cesar said without hesitation, “who plays Marsali. She and I are good friends.” He continued to say that they get along really well. His response was agreed by his manager, Benoit Ponsaille, who also joined him. It was a response I was very pleased to hear, and I am sure the fans will be too.
Cesar also signed some artwork I brought from my fellow Sass3, Lady K and Jae. My favorite is the one featured below. It was a piece actually designed and created for Novel Adventures 2017 “Gathering on the Ridge” event, by Outlander Love & Art.
The evening ended with music, played by Seven Nations, around a fire. Dinner guests and, yes, Cesar joined in to hear Celtic and Scottish songs. The party participated in clapping and singing familiar tunes. It was the perfect way to end a perfect evening – an evening with new found friends at a place I call Fraser’s Ridge. Thank you so much to Kim and her team at Novel Adventures for such a fun-filled evening and an experience that will last a life time.
If you would like to learn more about Novel Adventures, read our blog, Novel Adventures: Redefining the Face of Travel, or go to their website at www.noveladventuresvacations.com. Also, additional photos of Cesar Domboy can be seen at Samantha’s Facebook.
All photos from our blogs are owned by Timeless Sass3nach Journeys, unless noted or attributed. The use of our photos is not permitted unless consent is given.