Tag Archives: travel

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.

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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.

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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.

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