Great Smoky Mountains National Park Road Closures & Piecing the Puzzle

Posted by on Feb 28, 2010 in At The Inn, What's Happening Locally | Comments Off

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail in early spring
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail in early spring
Pieces of the Puzzle
Pieces of the Puzzle
New Years Day 2010, the morning after!  Allen, Jodi, Ashley, and Craig
New Years Day 2010. Looking far too cheery for the morning after! Allen, Jodi, Ashley, and Craig

While  the Cades Cove loop road or Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail are big draws for our guests at this East Tennessee Bed and Breakfast, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is doing some needed repairs on these heavily trafficked roads starting March 1st, 2010.  Roads affected and the targeted completion of these repairs are:

Cades Cove Loop (that will  also close one-way Parsons Branch & Rich Mountain Rd)  5/21 (an update from the Park, the Loop Rd. will open a month early on 4/24!)
Clingman’s Dome 5/28
The Sinks parking area 5/25
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail 5/28
& Cherokee Orchard past the Noah B Ogle cabin 3/19

While these are some of the Park site seeing highlights, these closures will not affect normal  “drive through” traffic on the artery roads.  Trails accessed from the roads under repair will be closed also, but with 900 miles of trails in the Park, you have a plethora of choices to choose from.  As always, for up to date information on closures call the National Park at 865-436-1200.  Extension 631 will give you road closures, and extension 630 is the weather report.

So you might ask yourself WHAT IS A PERSON TO DO while we deal with the face lift?  Jeepers, :-O not to worry!  There are enough outdoor nature activities besides the shop till you drop experience in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge to keep you busy for a week.  Or, why not order a picnic lunch or appetizer tray and stay here?  Come to breakfast in your robe and curl up in front of the fireplace with a good book,  game, or watch a little satellite TV afterwards.

Several years ago on New Years Eve, guests Craig and Ashley stayed here while their friends Allen and Jodi got married in the area.  The next year they came back and brought Allen and Jodi with them,  appearing to have become a yearly tradition.  (Lucky me…) After breakfast on New Years Eve this year, Jodi dug a 1000 piece puzzle out of the game cabinet and said she thought she would put it together.  This was the last full day of their stay and honestly I was thinking she is out of her mind.  It would take me the whole three days of their stay just to pick out the straight edge pieces and get the perimeter put together. A few hours later I took the middle photo you see on the left.  They broke for dinner and went out and about; afterwards, with the four of them watching TV, Jodi continued.  Occasionally someone else would plunk in a piece.  By midnight she was down to the last couple of hundred pieces and had the full attention of all of us.  I think we/SHE finished around 2 or 3 AM.  I believe the government is missing the boat by not offering her a job.  (“Should she choose to accept…”)  I can see her sitting in a room with no windows, low light, and piecing together something that saves us from ourselves.  With five minutes to spare. What a gift.   mizkathleen@ Gracehill

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WBIR TV, Knoxville, TN, NBC affiliate contest nets Gracehill top honors!

Posted by on Feb 22, 2010 in At The Inn | 1 comment

A Winter's Snow at Gracehill
A Winter’s Snow at Gracehill

Local Channel 10 WBIR TV held a contest to determine the top five bed and breakfasts in East Tennessee.  Any one logging onto WBIR’s website could cast a vote for the several days the contest ran.  By Friday at noon, Gracehill B&B was at the top of the list with four of the five winners belonging to the Smoky Mountain Bed and Breakfast Association. 

This February, your not so intrepid innkeeper, moi, elected to take some vacation time, and for the first time in ten years, enjoyed the winter snowfall instead of obsessing about keeping the road open for guests and us to get up and down the mountain safely.  It was a tough call because the month of February brings us Valentine’s traffic every weekend.  By choosing to take some time off and let Mother Nature take her course, the up shot was, Mom and I were snowed in for nine days.  Beautiful, absolutely, but as the level in the propane tank dropped by the eighth day, I decided it was time to start shoveling.  Hans, our gardener, played a big part in this little 6/10th of a mile endeavor.  I started at the top, he at the bottom, and thankfully the twain did meet!  Besides, there was only one scoop of ice cream left in the freezer and we had eaten enough out of the pantry to see that I should probably repaint the shelves…

Twenty-four hours after getting the road opened back up I decided to ease on down the road into Maryville to run some errands.  My phone rang while there with the news of the contest and asking if WBIR reporter Josh West could meet me at Gracehill for some photos.  You might ask yourself just how fast can an old lady drive?  I beat him with just enough time to pull the car in the garage and fluff my hair!

I was asked why did I think we won?  My answers were bouncing all over as my mouth flapped, but to be honest??? Cause Gracehill has always been blessed with the very best of guests any innkeeper could ask for.  Thanks from the bottom of this transplanted Yankee to Southern heart to ya’ll who took the time to vote.  mizkathleen @Gracehill

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Four Wheeling with ATV’s in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains

Posted by on Feb 22, 2010 in What's Happening Locally | Comments Off

Keri and Tim Meeker on an ATV break at the top of Bluff Mountain in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Keri and Tim Meeker on an ATV break at the top of Bluff Mountain in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Keri and Tim Meeker, here at Gracehill Bed and Breakfast for four days on their 1st anniversary, ran the gamut of what Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Townsend, TN have to offer with one new activity, to me at any rate!  They went ATV four wheeling with Bluff Mountain Adventures  at 866-428-7711 in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Bluff Mountain offers guided ATV Trail Rides at Walden Lodge on Bluff Mountain.  Guests sign in at the ticket office on the parkway in Pigeon Forge, and then proceed down Wears Valley Road to Walden Creek and the site where they pick up their ATV.  Keri and Tim did the hour and half tour that took them up the mountain, crossing streams, to get to the top of Bluff Mountain at 2300 feet.  They said the company not only went out of their way to provide a safe yet scenic tour, they were very conscientious about the strengths and weaknesses of the group and tailor made the ride for them.  Definitely an activity worth repeating as the Meeker’s gave it two thumbs up.  The hot tub was waiting for them when they returned to the B&B.  ;-)  mizkathleen@ Gracehill Bed and Breakfast

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Knoxville, TN artist-muralist, Lisa Haggerty Palmer brings vision to Townsend’s Gracehill Bed and Breakfast

Posted by on Feb 22, 2010 in At The Inn | 5 comments

Gracehill Bed and Breakfast Living Room

Gracehill Bed and Breakfast Living Room

Gracehill B&B Hallway and Snack Bar

Gracehill Bed and Breakfast Hallway and Snack Bar Area

October 2009 brought Gracehill B&B its busiest month since opening at Thanksgiving in 2000.  As the pace eased in November and December, while most folks got ready for the holidays, I decided to jump in with both feet and do two projects that had been on my TO DO LIST for ten years.

Neighbor and friend extraordinaire, Jim Maness of Century 21 in Maryville, TN, moonlighted and painted the 16 foot dome ceiling in the living room a warm beautiful yellow and the hallway off  three of the guest rooms a light taupe.  Moving all the scaffolding was a chore in itself that was further complicated by two different Christmas parties!  We were rolling out the scaffolding an hour before the appetizers were going in the oven.  Once Jim was done, Lisa Haggerty Palmer came in and opened the skies for us on the living room ceiling and painted a beautiful sunset, sunrise??? Your pick.  Lisa had been a guest of ours at Gracehill in the past, and we became reacquainted when she painted the backdrop for the altar at St. Francis in Townsend.

I tackled the downstairs hallway.  I had always wanted to paint the words of a song, as a border, where the wall meets the ceiling.  I’d had ten years to pick the song so you’d have thought I wouldn’t still be agonizing over the choice… It also needed to fit in 68 feet of linear space using an 8” font.  Finally decided on the second verse of “How Great Thou Art.”  Hope you like it as much as I do.  mizkathleen@ Gracehill

When thru the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze.
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

Art Work of Lisa Haggerty Palmer

Art Work of Lisa Haggerty Palmer

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To Read or not to Read, Fried or Scrambled, Seasons in the Great Smoky Mountains

Posted by on Nov 13, 2009 in At The Inn | 1 comment

Scott and Jessica

Scott and Jessica

This must be Gracehill’s favorite rock, see the blog of July 8th, and, one of my favorite photos of the season,  took it  in August.  My office overlooks the back patio area and waterfall.  Every once in a while, I glance outside and see either guests or wildlife.  Suppose the wildlife would consider us the guests.

I am more of a flop in bed with a book at night, or an easy chair during the day, type of  reader, but Scott and Jessica were soaking up some rays sitting on the rocks before the long trek home.

I wonder how many readers marry non-readers? I’m not talking about what you have to read for work, but readers who carry a book with them in case they get stuck somewhere.  Surely a compatibility study has been done on this topic.   I think it really comes down to those folks who can sit together comfortably in a room for hours without talking to each other versus those whose vocal cords would freeze up with five minutes of silence. A reader friend of mine is married to a non-reader.  She says after 45 years of marriage they not only can but do sit in silence for hours on end.  ;-)

Wildlife  likes warm rocks also.  In retrospect, I wonder if there was anything lurking.  Looks peaceful enough, but my guests could have been living on the edge for the hour they were there, and never knew how close they came to a critter encounter.  Music of the  “Twilight Zone” grows louder.

6 30 AM on a November Morning

6 30 AM on a November Morning

Shifting gears,  it’s November and the green is gone replaced with lots of brown.  Splashes of red and yellow are here and there.   I took this second photo a few mornings ago.  Was on my way to the kitchen at 6:30 AM.   Looked out front and the moon was huge, glowing and just perfect.  Swung into my office to grab my camera and made the mistake of clicking on  my inbox.  In the two minutes  it took me to answer one short email , the moon all but disappeared.    Seems like life goes just as fast.  I attended a seminar in September, where the computer guru told  us innkeepers that if we didn’t have a photo of ourselves posted on our websites, we were missing the boat.  “Guests want to see who will be flipping their eggs.”   I went to my web page today to plunk a photo in and read the “Gracehill Story” for the first time in years.  Made me realize how much has happened since that first breakfast ten years ago.  I had a family of six.  At my first official breakfast, I made waffles for the main course.  By the time I got done making six waffles, the  first person who had eaten was ready for lunch!  Music from the “Twilight Zone” fades, and the jingle “You’ve Come a Long Way Baby” floats through my head.  By the way, if the urge hits to scope out my first time ever, newly released photo, please realize I have never flipped a fried egg in my life.  There’s still time I guess…  mizkathleen@ Gracehill

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Gatlinburg’s Craftsmen Fair at the Convention Center

Posted by on Oct 24, 2009 in What's Happening Locally | Comments Off

Fall Display 2009

Fall Display 2009

Sunday October 25th is the last day of Gatlinburg’s Craftsmen Fair at the Convention Center.  One guest said it was a step above most fairs of its kind; she is in retail and should know!  What is even more important, they made a lot of purchases for the holidays…

How do you go from the beginning of blueberry picking season to the middle of fall color without blogging about what is happening?  Guess I was too much in the thick of it to stop and write about it, but okay no excuses.  The good news is we have been incredibly busy.  It has been a roller coaster of a year, but concerning occupancy we had our best July ever, came within two nights of breaking the August record, and this October is the best month we have had since we opened ten years ago.

Fall color is a little late this year which is good if you want to stay in my empty rooms this November!  Had a long rainy season at the beginning and middle of October with cold temps.  Warmed up the last few days with some sunshine, and the colors are just starting to snap.  I’ll post a picture in the next couple of days taken from the top front veranda.

Cheese Enchiladas in Spinach Wraps

Cheese Enchiladas in Spinach Wraps

Have tried a number of new recipes in the last two months and have posted most of them on the recipe page of my website.  Have added photos to 20 or more of the 40 some recipes.  One of my new favorites is Cheese Enchiladas.  A real pain in the neck to make but oh my  gosh is it good.

Doing some more design work on my website, should be finished in a couple of days, hopefully. :-)  Mizkathleen

www.GracehillBandB.com info@GracehillBandB.com   866-448-3070

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Smoky Mountain Heritage Center’s Blue Ribbon County Fair and the Movie Julie, Julia

Posted by on Oct 24, 2009 in What's Happening Locally | Comments Off

Blueberry Almond Pound Cake

Blueberry Almond Pound Cake

A year ago we won Best Pie in the Cove at the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center’s Blue Ribbon County Fair, so, I was a little excited about entering the fair this fall.  Two of our recipes won ribbons, a third place finish in the pound cake division and surprisingly, a second place finish in the yeast bread category.  I experimented on a Blueberry Almond Pound Cake for a year and my church is probably happy the fair is over because I must have brought it a half a dozen times to various potlucks.  They’d ask, “What version is this?”

Rosemary Feta Cheese Bread

Rosemary Feta Cheese Bread

The Rosemary Feta Cheese Bread was a take off from a recipe in Southern Living.  Originally it was made as a loaf of French bread but rules said I had to put it in a loaf pan so I made some more modifications.  I wish I could have tasted every entry and picked the brains of the winners.

So, while we are on food… at the prompting of several guests, I took Mom to see Julie, Julia.  Actually it was more along the lines of I can’t believe you haven’t seen this movie.  What a wonderful film.  Meryl Streep is just the absolute best.  Walked out of the show and wanted to do some serious cooking.  Thank you Julie Powell for perserverance.  Mizkathleen

www.GracehillBandB.com info@GracehillBandB.com   865-448-3070

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