Tag Archives: tennessee

Travelling Fool

I just got home after a trip to northeast Arkansas to visit my family. It was a much-needed getaway after dealing with some health issues. Said health issues are still in progress and are causing me a huge amount of stress and worry. I know worrying won’t change the outcome of the tests, but it doesn’t make me worry any less. Some of them have come back normal so keeping my fingers crossed for the same result for the rest of them.

My family lives just across the Mississippi river from Memphis, Tennessee.  It amazes me how much different that part of Arkansas is from the part where I live.  East Arkansas is called the Mississippi river delta.  It’s flat and mostly nothing but farms and fields of winter wheat, soybeans, and cotton as far as the eye can see.  A few trees here and there.  Where I live, on the other hand, is the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains.  It’s beautiful and covered in lovely forest.  I never lived in the delta, but I’ll always have a special place in my heart for it.

All four of my grandparents grew up in that part of Arkansas.  My dad’s family, who I visited this time, grew up in Dyess, Arkansas. It’s really only known for being the boyhood home of Johnny Cash now, but I assure you he wasn’t the only one to grow up there.  I saw his old home, they’re fixing it up and turning it into a museum.  It looks nicer than I bet it did when he lived in it.  If you grew up in Dyess, odds are you were poor as church mice (that’s how my granny describes the level of poverty her family experienced when she was a girl).  Most of the old homes where the families lived are gone now. They lived there after President Roosevelt turned the area into a depression relief project.  Families (my own included) who qualified were given 40 acres of land and a mule to help plow it. They grew cotton and used the money to pay back the government when they could afford it.

My great aunt, granny’s sister, showed me where their farm had been, and where my great grandmother lived after my great grandfather died and she sold the farm and moved into town.  I saw the old high school, where my granny was the only one of her eight brothers and sisters to graduate.  The rest of them quit school by the time they were 16 to get married or start working.  The town is just a small community now, but thanks to it being Johnny Cash’s hometown, the town square is being restored to look like it did in the 30s-60s, when most of the poor farming families lived there.  It was amazing to see where my family was and how far they each came in their lives.  They may have been poor, but all the kids did well and the ones still living live comfortable lives now.

I come from a long line of cotton farmers.  All of my grandparents had 7 or 8 kids in their families and picked cotton all their growing up years.  Makes me thankful for how fortunate I am.  My grandparents, on both sides, are the only ones who left the area.  I’ve had to grow up away from my family, so I love any chance I get to visit my aunts, uncles, and cousins…of which I have MANY.  They are sweet people with thick southern accents.  I notice mine gets thicker when I’m around them.  I wish I could spend more time with them.  When it comes down to it, though, my home is near the mountains. I’m not sure I could be happy living in a place where there isn’t a mountain for over 100 miles.

My great aunt let me stay with her.  We talked for hours and travelled all over northeast Arkansas seeing the old ancestral homes.  She cooks like you would imagine any southern grandmother to cook–everything from scratch and tastes DELICIOUS.  No one makes sweet tea like she does. I think I drank half a gallon while I was there. I experienced true happiness this week, time with my family…and gained 3 pounds thanks to all the southern food and super sweet tea. That’s the good life, y’all.

Advertisements

Travelogue: Days 3-6 Mountains, Snow, and Rich People

I didn’t update the last few days because I was doing most of my updating via social media. A lot of plans got cancelled and re-arranged thanks to a surprise attack by Mother Nature.

We were going to travel to Asheville, North Carolina on Monday, but the forecast called for a slight chance of snow so it was decided not to risk it and to go Tuesday.  Well, it didn’t do a thing on Monday. We did enjoy some of the town of Gatlinburg, though.

Monday night the forecast called for light snow with little more than a dusting expected Tuesday, so we woke up early and went to eat breakfast before leaving for North Carolina.  During breakfast it began snowing heavily.  We put the trip off again thanks to the snow, and did some other things around Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.  The snow was starting to pile up so we decided we better get back up the mountain to the cabin. The roads were so bad we almost didn’t make it back. By the time it was all said and done, we had five inches of snow.

That left us pretty much snowed in Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon. Because we lost a whole day, we extended our trip by one day. We ventured down the mountain last night because the roads were better after being plowed and treated.  Unfortunately nothing was open, so we found one place open for dinner and came back to the cabin.  Watched  American Idol and saw a fellow drama student from high school. He received a golden ticket, so good luck Kenneth “Woody” Gaddie!

Since we had the extra day, we traveled to Asheville today.  The drive from Gatlinburg to Asheville is gorgeous. I was disappointed the more scenic routes were all closed due to snow, but the interstate was still absolutely beautiful. In Asheville we didn’t have a huge amount of time, so we sprung for the tour of The Biltmore house.  It was absolutely lovely, like Downton Abbey come to life.  Being a huge fan of Downton and early 20th century history in general, I was in heaven!

After the tour, we headed back to Tennessee, did a little shopping and ate at The Old Mill restaurant in Pigeon Forge.  The food was great, but if you go there, keep this in mind: the prices aren’t terrible but they may seem a bit steep for what you’re ordering, but the price includes unlimited sides, fritters, soup, salad, and a dessert…and the portion size is HUGE! One of us got fried chicken and received THREE full size chicken breasts. I personally ordered the chicken tenders, and was given EIGHT large tenders! I was able to eat two. I have six left to snack on during the 8-hour trip home.

Now we’re settled back into the cabin for our last night.  It’s been a lovely, much-needed vacation I’ll remember forever.  We’re returning to Arkansas first thing in the morning. I’m looking forward to getting back to my own bed and my babies (my two dogs Sophie and Dixie)!! Now that the trip is over, here are my favorites from the week…

  • The Loveless Cafe in Nashville, Tennessee. Fantastic food, friendly staff.  The wait was long no matter what time you arrived, but there was plenty of shopping around the property to keep you entertained while you waited because the beepers to alert you when your table was ready worked all over the property.
  • Gatlinburg Falls Resort. This is the resort community where our cabin was located. The prices are more than reasonable and the views are million-dollar. Our cabin looked out over the valley and the other fabulous cabins and had two back decks offering breathtaking views of Mount LeConte and the Great Smoky Mountains.  Visit their website if you are looking for a fabulous place to stay in east Tennessee. The price is right, the beds are comfortable, and everything is clean. They have cabins for every budget and every size group.  Can’t ask for more.
  • The Apple Barn and Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant.  The restaurant offered my favorite meal of the trip. Every meal is served with complimentary apple julep and apple fritters with homemade apple butter. MOTHER OF GOD. Delicious.  The chicken pot pie I ordered was delicious.  The Apple Barn offered their fritter mix, housemade ciders, various jams, jellies, and butters, t-shirts, and more.  There’s also a small cafe in the barn if you don’t have time to stop and eat at the restaurant.  The cafe has apple donuts, those fabulous fritters, and more. If you’re in Sevierville, Tennessee, you have to stop by.
  • Best Italian/Best Italian Parkway. It can be confusing because there are two Italian restaurants with almost the same name…but go to either one–they’re the same! Don’t be put off by the appearance of the restaurant. The Best Italian where we dined was located right off the Parkway in a shopping center. Not much to look at from the road, or to be honest, when you get inside either…but that was the end of the negative. The food was outstanding. The meals come with their famous garlic rolls–knot rolls absolutely covered in Parmesan cheese and sitting in melted garlic butter. I had the spaghetti with sauteed mushrooms and I have had very few restaurant spaghettis that were better. The sauce is hearty, rich, and flavorful. Full of crushed tomatoes and flavor. The mushrooms tasted great and had a hint of white wine flavor. Good, good food.
  • The Pancake Pantry and The Village Shops. The last item on the list are the Pancake Pantry and Village shops together because they’re so close to each other.  The Pancake Pantry offers one of–if not THE–best breakfast in Gatlinburg. I had the blueberry pancakes and they were out of this world.  They have many, many more varieties of pancakes and crepes to choose from, though. If you’re not into pancakes, they have waffles, french toast, and traditional eggs/bacon/sausage breakfasts as well.  The Village was a quaint little colleciton of unique shops including (to name a few) a candy store, a cleverly named pastry shop called The Donut Friar, and a Celtic Heritage shop with gifts from Ireland, Scotland, and Wales (why is a Celtic Heritage shop in Gatlinburg? I don’t know…except maybe because so many southern people–especially people in the Appalachian region–are of Scottish and/or Irish ancestry).  It’s worth a walk-through if you’re looking for a fun shopping experience on the Parkway in Gatlinburg.

Travelogue-Day 2: The Great Smokies

So, today we traveled from Nashville to Gatlinburg, Tennessee to stay in a beautiful mountain cabin for four nights. This is the main part of the trip, and a person could do some serious relaxing here!

The drive from Nashville to Gatlinburg is beautiful! You steadily notice that you’re climbing in altitude the whole way, and you begin seeing the foothills followed by the beautiful Smoky Mountains. Once you get off the interstate in Sevierville, the scenery gets even more beautiful. To get here, you have to drive through Sevierville and then you reach Pigeon Forge, the first major tourist town.

20140126_132237 20140126_133712The mountains where I live look like hills compared to the Smokies. It’s beautiful.

Once you get through Pigeon Forge, all the restaurants, show auditoriums, gift shops, mini golf courses, and go-kart tracks disappear and you start driving up a winding road through the woods as you enter Smoky Mountain National Park. The road has a meandering stream following it the whole way.  After a few miles, the forest opens up to another city strip filled with restaurants and tourist attractions. You’ve reached Gatlinburg.

Once we got to Gatlinburg, we checked into our cabin, settled in, and made our way to the back decks of the cabin.  The view we were met with was breathtaking.  A gorgeous scene of the Smokies, directly facing Mount Le Conte, all 6,593 feet of it.  Here are some photos of the view from the cabin.

20140126_140453 20140126_140820 20140126_140824At night, the lights of the cabins shimmer in valley, and off to the right, the sparkling lights of downtown Gatlinburg shine brightly. I wasn’t able to get an adequate photo of that.

After settling in to our cabin, we went to a park, where we drove up a mountain and saw an old homestead, some snow, and a few deer.

20140126_161534 20140126_16193920140126_161644Finally we stopped at the foot of the mountain to take a few photos of a lovely stream flowing through the woods.

20140126_160137 20140126_160158 20140126_160303 20140126_160700

After seeing the park, we went into town for a bit to get the lay of the land. We had dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. (which I do not recommend, by the way–exorbitant prices for mediocre food). After dinner we went to a candy shop where they make taffy, even moonshine flavored! We were going to make the trip to Asheville, North Carolina tomorrow, but now there’s a chance of snow. We’ve decided to stay in Gatlinburg tomorrow. If the snow isn’t too bad, we will visit some of the shops in town and eat out and visit Asheville Tuesday.  I’m looking forward to seeing some snow, as it’s so rare at home, but I hope it doesn’t keep us cooped up the whole time!

Until tomorrow…

 

 

 

 

Travelogue–Tennessee/North Carolina Style

Keep an eye on florencefallon.com for updates and photos from my adventures in Tennessee and North Carolina.  Probably will consist of photos mostly–unless some really exciting/funny stuff happens.

Tonight we’re in Nashville. Made a stop at Loveless Cafe before heading to the Ryman.  The Loveless Cafe was amazing. It was completely full with an hour wait at 3:30 in the afternoon! I hate to think of how busy they are at dinner time!  The food was so good. If you like southern food, you must stop there next time you’re in Nashville.  The fried chicken is out of this world, as are the biscuits and fried green tomatoes.  I didn’t try one thing that wasn’t good.

nash1It was a fast and furious afternoon/evening, and it isn’t over yet! Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of time for picture-taking here in Nashville, but I’ll have time for that at the other destinations!  I was able to snap this lovely picture of the sunset before it got dark.  More tomorrow.

nash2

SAG Awards, Vacation, and Other Useless Information

So, just coming off the emotional roller coaster that was the SAG Awards.  And by “emotional roller coaster,” I just mean the three times I got excited during the broadcast: Phyllis Logan and Michelle Dockery being interviewed by Giuliana Rancic and the “Glam Cam” pan of their dresses (and by “their dresses” I just mean Phyllis’. She looked GORGEOUS); The opening of the SAG Awards when Rob Lowe did his little spiel and Phyllis Logan was behind him being 500% adorable; and when Maggie Smith won the award for best actress in a drama series followed by the fictitious Dowager Countess twitter account tweeting “What is a #SAGAward?” That was pretty much the extent of my excitement for the evening.

(This also happened:

Thank you internet.)

I’m beginning to get excited about my vacation coming up in six days.  I’ve strategically made the preceding week extremely busy to make the time pass faster…because, let’s face it. Time moves slowest A) the week before a vacation and B) the last hour of a multi-hour car trip.  During my week, I have a couple of matters of business to attend to but overall it’s all VACA BABY.  I’ll be visiting the lovely cities of Nashville, Gatlinburg, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee; Asheville, North Carolina; and possibly a stop in Virginia.  I will be spending most of the time gazing at sprawling mountain views from the 3 levels of decks at a rustic cabin.  The cabin does have wifi…and flat screen TVs in every bedroom…and satellite TV. That’s still rustic, right?  It’s in the woods, it’s rustic dang it!  Anyone with suggestions on places to visit or eat in those locations, shoot them my way! I’m already visiting the Biltmore estate, other than that, I need options!

I have been put on a medication that has a side effect of increased blood pressure.  To try to keep the BP down, I’m also taking a BP med and was told to avoid foods with high sodium content. Well, I can’t avoid sodium all the time!  A friend told me to eat copious amounts of ice cream to offset the sodium.

Sounds legit…

Oh, and before I go, here’s Phyllis Logan’s dress everyone is going gaga over:

Just keep looking at it like:

Oh, and Michelle Dockery’s there too…

(Gif credits:
Gif 1 x
Gif 2 x
Gif 3 x
Gif 4 is mine)