Travels in Tennessee 2023

For me returning to the Great Smoky Mountains is inevitable. Most all who visit here fall in love with everything about this magical place. The air smells fresher, the people are welcoming and there’s no end of things to explore. While this trip featured several new experiences for me, I always make the drive through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cades Cove Loop, seeking out scenic overlooks and photo-ops to capture the beauty all around me. Once you’ve driven through, you’re always drawn back. It’s ever-changing with the passage of time yet it remains clean and well maintained, a credit to our national parks workers. Photos can never do it justice but I wanted to share a few favorites from this vacation.

And one more thing, if you’ve never been here, I hope you will one day.

Smoky Mountain School of Cooking Appalachian Store & Cafe – a new experience

Always looking for new experiences, I came upon this cooking class and signed up for it during my recent trip to Tennessee.

With an ever-changing menu, I attended the class with one other couple and learned to make Bananas Foster French Toast, homemade pork sausage patties and an omelette with ingredients of our choosing. We each got a chef’s apron to take with us.

Stephanie Foley, the owner and instructor was delightful and the class was interactive and fun with the added enjoyment of consuming the delicious food we prepared. I’m now planning to sign up for a class whenever I’m visiting the Wears Valley area.

Rocking Chair Farm – an interactive Alpaca experience

I’ve vacationed in Tennessee for years and am so in love with the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains, the kindness and hospitality of the people, southern food and the endless fun things to do there.

This trip I sought out new experiences and happened upon Rocking Chair Farm. Located in Corryton, it was an easy 30 miles drive from my Sevierville cabin. A cool day with a possibility of rain (which didn’t happen) it was perfect for a tour of this special farm run by David and Christine Rogers.  I was their only customer for the 10 a.m. tour and got to have lots of interaction while learning about and feeding these adorable animals.

The herd is comprised of Huacuya and Suri Alpacas guarded over by the couple’s four livestock guardian dogs. Before we entered the first of three pens, David and Christine went over a number of rules for my safety as well as the alpacas. I was told there are some that are really friendly and if there were those who didn’t approach me, not to worry.  I learned how to feed them with a flat, open palm; it was the sweetest feeling as they gently nuzzled my hand.  There is a gentleness about them, their personalities and curiosity is endearing.

After the tour we visited their gift shop. David designs and makes the lovely hats, scarves, gloves using yarn made from their alpaca’s wool and there are a number of other quality items to choose from. Given the opportunity I’ll visit again – this was an experience I’ll never forget!

Scenes from Tennessee

Sunrise, Sunset Repeat

There is something magical about Tennessee that draws me back year after year. With the Great Smoky Mountains as a backdrop and overlooking Wears Valley, the view from my cabin is ever-changing. Rising early to watch the sunrise – this year with a rooster cock-a-doodle-doing in the valley and enjoying a glass of wine while witnessing every sunset is a priority for me. It’s a perfect way to bookend a day in Tennessee and never disappoints.

Surprise on my Porch

In September I took my first (and only since Covid) vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. Traveling solo during a pandemic, I sought new experiences that were safe and uncrowded. The first was a pottery class at Fowler’s Clay Works, something I’d always wanted to try and I loved it!

My creation had to remain behind to cure, be glazed and fired. My expectation was to receive it after three months which would be mid December. To my surprise, it arrived on my front porch this morning. It’s so pretty and I flashed back to an especially fun and memorable day. I’m including photos and this link, to my earlier post about the art classes I took in Gatlinburg if you’d like to check it out.

Tennessee – the Beauty of Storms in the Smoky Mountains

One of my favorite things is watching afternoon thunderstorms roll over the mountains. Protected by my covered deck, I watched one front move through Wears Valley followed thirty minutes later by another. The heavy downpours, booming thunder and crackling lightning set against the Smoky Mountains is magnificent to witness. As the storm passed, thick fog slowly blanketed the valley, making the mountains disappear before my eyes. The air cooled as mist enveloped my cabin. It seemed I was in a cloud.

First storm coming my way
The clouds and fog roll in
Mountains disappearing
Peace, tranquility and the beauty of nature.