Gracehill Bed and Breakfast was lucky enough to be chosen to host The Red Chair, for a couple of days, during a cross country trip Red is doing staying at hundreds of B&B’s across America. What are The Red Chair Travels? His own website and blog does a better job describing it than I can! The following is an account of Red’s stay while being hosted at six different bed and breakfasts, December 2013, here in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Red showed up in Townsend (TN) on a windy, blustery day when weather was pounding the east coast with snow and rain. He retired early his first night after having had a hearty dinner at Berry Springs Lodge in Pigeon Forge. Red was the first guest up the next morning. We chatted while I prepared breakfast, and he was patiently waiting on the other guests when they surfaced at 9:00. He enjoyed lively conversation along with popovers with honey butter (no jam for this guy), caramelized pears pistachio, and chicken crepes mornay with a fresh orange cranberry relish. He had seconds on OJ and decaf coffee. He said he was so excited about staying at Gracehill and visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that he needed to watch his caffeine intake for the next couple of days. I did learn he was not keen on sitting too close to the fire. Good thing I had put him in the only bedroom without a fireplace!
Wouldn’t have wanted to spark any bad dreams! We hung around after breakfast for several hours doing this and that waiting for the weather to clear. It didn’t, so we took off around 3:30, picked up another friend, and the three of us visited the most popular attraction in the most visited National Park in the United States, Cades Cove. It is a pioneer settlement, an 11 mile one way loop drive ringed in by mountains. Of course, Red had to hop out of the car each time he saw a different animal- white tailed deer, turkeys, but no bears today. He was quite the attraction himself as several dozen kids and parents wanted to make his acquaintance. After being disappointed that Berry Springs didn’t really have a nude beach, he decided to go skinny dipping in one stream we had to drive through as water was a little high from all the rain. He met us on the other side, chilled of course, so I cranked up the heat. We skipped the hike I had planned to Abrams Falls as he was just warming up, but we did stop at several of the old homesteads. Back to Gracehill Bed and Breakfast in time for sunset, the big attraction here at the highest house in the county. Red chatted up our guests this morning, but stuck to coffee himself claiming he had to watch his figure this time of year. With all the Christmas celebrations, he had packed on a few pounds. Off today for a stop at Sweet Berries Bed and Breakfast on the Tail of the Dragon, 318 curves in 11.2 miles. But that is their story to tell. Maybe it’s a good thing he did skip breakfast. I’ll pack a Dramamine for him!
Hugs and Kisses, Red, mizkathleen @Gracehill Bed and Breakfast.
A comprehensive list of events was posted in the Daily Times and online at www.smokymountains.org. The emphasis was the history of the area, and mountain music was predominant. Mom and I attended Friday afternoon’s, “Music of the Mountains” by Great Smoky Mountains National Park Park Ranger Lisa Free. It was a combination of lecture on the oral traditions of passing music down or along, playing various instruments and some singing and foot tapping! Instruments were made out of just about anything and there was a definite bias about which sex could play what instrument. For instance, a 150 years ago you normally would not see a
woman playing the fiddle or banjo as Ranger Free and Visitor Center’s Manager of Partnership Events, Jeanie Hilten, are doing in this photograph. They would have been considered “loose”! I knew Townsend was a hot bed of emancipated women!
In addition to all of the events listed above, Steve Fillmore of Miss Lily’s Cafe and the Lily Barn decided to test the waters to see if there would be interest in holding an annual craft beer festival in Townsend. National beer sales are in decline overall, but craft beer sales are on the upswing as interest grows. The event was held on Saturday at Laurel Valley Restaurant and Golf Course and was a sold out. Attendee’s were effusive in their praise! Blessings, mizkathleen@ Gracehill Bed and Breakfast
The Cades Cove Preservation Association is celebrating their 10th anniversary with a day long celebration at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center in Townsend, TN, on Saturday October 22nd, from 10am to 4pm. The featured speaker is Dwight McCarter, a retired ranger from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Mountain Folk Reunion and Mountain Gap are providing the music. There will be door prizes every hour, horse and buggy rides, and old time toy demonstrations and games for the kids. You can get your photo taken with Cades Cove pioneers. For more information, contact Stephen Weber at firstname.lastname@example.org .
The mission of the Cades Cove Preservation Association (CCPA) is to help preserve the heritage of Cades Cove located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The majority of the members are descendants of the Cove and many were born and lived there as children. There are others, like Kathy and Dave Rudd, who have joined out of a love for the Cove. Non-natives, such as the Rudds, Kathy says, as she agreed to be interviewed, have been warmly embraced by those who have deep roots in the community. It’s an enjoyable group of those who work to preserve both their history and some of the early history of our nation.
Members participate in several events throughout the year to educate the public on the Cove’s history and share their experiences and memories of living there. Some members have published books. In addition to monthly meetings, they also have several ongoing projects during the year, such as maintaining the cemeteries, clearing trails to old home sites, etc. One project, in the summer of 2010, was cleaning up the Caughron barn that was destroyed by winds late last year to salvage the materials for the Park to use in restoring the other buildings of the Cove.
In Maryville, is the Thompson Brown House that houses many Cove artifacts and is staffed by CCPA members. My nephew and I stopped there recently and were warmly greeted by a volunteer who gave Kane a behind the scenes tour. Currently older descendants of the Cove are being interviewed, videotaped and recorded as a way to preserve their stories. My hat is off to those volunteering their time.
PS, I read one of Dwight McCarter’s books, Lost, several years ago. Since then I have never hiked without a whistle. Furthermore, my guests hike with whistles. Period. If you are too macho to wear a whistle, I send you to Pigeon Forge to shop instead of giving you an overview and map of trails in the Park. After a day in Pigeon Forge, you will happily wear a whistle. Over time, I have populated the entire eastern seaboard with at least a gross of Wal-Mart whistles that my guests have taken home in their glove boxes, dreaming of orange and yellow leaves against the blue skies, rivers and mountains of the Smokies. Blessings, mizkathleen@ Gracehill Bed and Breakfast
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All day long events going on in Cades Cove a pioneer settlement in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park along its 11 mile loop road.Read More
Before Mom and I moved to Tennessee 25 years ago, we left Illinois in a motor home with a motorcycle and scooter hanging off the front and back. My goal was to see every national park in the United States, and Canada from Victoria to St. John’s, Newfoundland. We were able to do that, over the course of 17 months, and even better, was the decision to settle in Townsend, TN just outside the Cades Cove Loop Road entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Of all the beautiful places on the North American continent, there is nowhere I would rather live.
I have been in the tourist/hospitality industry ever since, with the last 10 years as the owner/operator of Gracehill Bed and Breakfast. During that time, I have sent and given directions to thousands of people looking for the Cove. Furthermore, if you only have two nights, one full day in the Smokies, I say a drive around Cades Cove with a little hiking on its many trails, needs to be at the top of the list.
The Great Smokies is the most visited National Park in the U.S. and Cades Cove the most visited “attraction” in it. It is a pioneer settlement from the late 1800’s, early 1900’s, in a bowl depression surrounded by lofty mountains. (Think spacious skies and purple mountain majesties…) It’s filled with log cabins, churches, cemeteries, a gristmill and my favorite, the barns.
It helps to know some things about the Cove. It features a newly paved 11-mile, single lane, one-way loop road. It opens at sunrise, closes at dark, and those are the two times you will see the most wildlife. If you are the type to take home a pic of every deer, pull over so the car behind you can pass. It is closed to vehicular traffic on Saturday and Wednesday mornings till 10am, May through September, for bicycle and foot traffic. You can rent bikes at the entrance or bring your own. In the winter or early spring, with no stops, the drive can take an hour and 15 minutes. Weekends in the summer plan on a couple of hours. In October, arrive very early and preferably during the week. I’ll pack you a picnic breakfast to go. Bring your camera and tripod for the mist rising off the water shots. A Saturday afternoon in October, could take four hours. Make sure you have enough gas. The last gas station at the Townsend entrance is the Marathon at the KOA Campground. If you make it out of the Cove on fumes, you can just about coast the nine miles back into Townsend. The only tricky spot is the stop sign at the “Wye.” I tried coasting once. Was probably a little irritating to the driver behind me, but what the heck, I was in pursuit of empirical knowledge!
There are two gravel roads that bisect the Cove going in both directions. If you start going through sugar withdrawal, hang a left on Sparks or Hyatt Lane and it will shorten the trip. A little more than half way around, by the Cable Mill, is a visitor center and restroom facilities. The last 1/3 of the drive is more heavily wooded, but my favorite. Everything is closer to the road and most of the barns are there.
Books have been written about Cades Cove and the history of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, many of them here on the library table. You can Google Cades Cove and come up with 100s of articles from many different perspectives. The Park puts out a good brochure with numbered stops. You can pick it up at the entrance for $1, or I have multiple copies here, if you want to read it before you go. My intent was to write an article on the Cades Cove Preservation Association, with a little history of the Cove first. Hmmm. Next installment another day. Blessings, mizkathleen@ GracehillRead More