At The Inn

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 on Great Smoky Mountains National Park Road Closures & Piecing the Puzzle

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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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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Fireworks and F-16’s, Toads and Frogs, Sunset and Me

Posted by on Jul 8, 2009 in At The Inn | Comments Off on Fireworks and F-16’s, Toads and Frogs, Sunset and Me

Frog Hunt

The Frog Hunt

Fourth of July Week was our time for the Air Force, past and present.  We had one couple here for five days, a third grade teacher, Lois, and her husband John who is a dentist and retired Air Force.  They spent their days running the roads, seeing all they could, got in a few hikes, and were back at the B&B every evening in time for sunset.  John is an avid photographer and set up his tripod and snapped away each night. For two of those same nights we had another couple; she also taught, and he was a retired pilot from the Air Force who went on to fly for the airlines.

Sunset 1, 07-05-09

Sunset 1, 07-05-09

Fast-forward, they all check out and the same day Frank and Janice check in to celebrate their first anniversary.  She worked for the State Department and he is an F-16 pilot and instructor.  Where am I going with all this?  Don’t know.  Wish they could have all been here at the same time, along with another F-16 pilot that stayed here last month.  None of them know each other but it would have made for interesting conversation!

Sunset 2, 07-05-09

Sunset 2, 07-05-09

The evening of the same day Lois, John, and his camera checked out, and Frank and Janice were holed up in Gatlinburg waiting out a monsoon that dropped a couple of inches of rain in an hour, I had the most incredible sunset I’ve had in while.  I was sitting in the living room when I realized the lighting was really eerie and the room was glowing.  I managed to snap these photos between cloudbursts, spaced about 10 minutes apart.  Too bad it was just me.

The next morning Frank and Janice are telling me about this frog that re-visited the same rock on the waterfall outside their room.  After breakfast they went on a frog hunt in the back yard by the other waterfall.  I have never really paid attention to what plops around in the pond as long as it is not slithering.  Maybe I should start.  There was a tiny little thing, about an inch long on the flagstone.  I looked it up in my reptile and amphibian book and I’m dipped if I can tell if it was a baby green frog, or a baby common toad.  The body looked a little like a toad and the head like the frog.

Sunset 3, 07-05-09

Sunset 3, 07-05-09

I had repeat guests here about a year ago and the first thing out of their mouth was, “Is the frog still here?”  I said sure, we have a variety of noisemakers in the back yard.  They said, “NO, THE FROG!”  I said, “What frog?”  They said, “The one whose picture has been on our fridge the past two years.  He was sitting on a lotus pad.”  I said, “Jeepers, I am a complete and utter failure as an innkeeper cause I don’t have a clue if it is the same one or not, and furthermore I don’t know where he/she might be at this very moment!”  At least as far as I know, Janice didn’t take any photographs of the little leapers so I don’t have to go through this again.  Hopefully.  (Although, she did name the baby Lil’ Kermit….)  Mizkathleen @Gracehill

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Bears in Cades Cove, Bat Houses, and Claiming my blog on Technorati

Posted by on Jun 29, 2009 in At The Inn | Comments Off on Bears in Cades Cove, Bat Houses, and Claiming my blog on Technorati

Weekdays in June have been surprisingly busy with guests while weekends relatively slow, which is a little odd.  Have had a few drop-in one-nighters, but most of the reservations have been three to five-nighers.  Almost all of our guests these last 16 days have been hikers, rather than the shop until you drop variety!   Cades Cove has been busy with numerous bear sightings.  Weather continues to be beautiful.  Gardens doing well and the dog fur has kept the rabbits away.  Ta Da!!! (See my previous post.)

We put up a bat house.  Bats (five or six) had started roosting under the eave on the front of the house in an area that wasn’t ideal.  They showed up last year in the same spot and we ran them off.  This year I decided I wanted them as permanent tenants, just not in that spot.  They appear to have found the bat house.  We rubbed a little bat guano on the house hoping that might help them find it.  It can take up to a year or longer for them to find a house, could I be so lucky to have the bats find it that soon?

On a personal note, I woke up one morning ten days ago and decided I needed to start painting again.  I mean right then, like, serve breakfast, clear the table, and pick up a  paint brush.  Don’t know where the urge came from.   I haven’t done much in the way of art these ten years I have been inn-keeping.  A dear guest who has become a good friend shamed me into a little painting last summer but it is  always easier for me to find work to do around the  B&B.  I finished one painting, worked on another, and started two others in the last ten days.  Today is my first day without guests in a while and I thought I would paint all day.  Thank the Lord common sense prevailed and I have been a good girl working through the piles on my desk today.

I have been trying to submit/claim my blog on www.Technorati.com for the last three weeks and today it took me one step further than before.  I need to post the following number- ynvcjgiqrd, for it to find me.  We’ll see if it works.  mizkathleen @Gracehill

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