Custer State Park in South Dakota

Custer State Park in South Dakota
We saw a LOT of these guys at Custer State Park in South Dakota!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Ski Lift at Gatlinburg, TN Postcard

This undated postcard says on the back- All Seasons of the Year find the double chair lifts crowded, for no other tourist attraction offers this inspiring panoramic view of the Great Smokies, and the City of Gatlinburg.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

OLD MILL Pigeon Forge, Tennessee Postcard

This old postcard is dated 1969 and on the back, it notes- Completely water powered and utilizing most of its original machinery, the Old Mill has been operating since it's construction in 1830 producing eleven different flours and meals for commercial sale.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

"Into The Mist" by David Brill

I found a copy of David Brill's "Into the Mist: Tales of Death and Disaster, Mishaps and Misdeeds, Misfortune and Mayhem in Great Smoky Mountains National Park Volume I" at the Sugarlands Visitor Center in the National park.

I have to admit that there was some hesitation about buying this one.  There are some other well written and researched books on this and similar topics (I've mentioned some of them here, here, and here).  AND I have read some material that pretty much rips off some of the previously mentioned works.....  I wasn't sure if much could be contributed to this topic.

Well, author David Brill has absolutely added a lot to the discussion of bad things that have occurred in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The first several chapters give stories about all sorts of things that have happened in the park.  Brill does a great job of looking into some obscure information too.  I particularly enjoyed the chapter on the park preparing for nuclear attack during the cold war.  Another area neglected by other volumes is weather.  Brill covers it here. 

To Brill's credit, even when he is covering familiar topics (bears/bear attacks) he tries to cover more ground, and he gives a lot of details.

The author is big on facts and statistics too, often noting where he gets his information from.  AND, this book includes a large section in the back noting all known fatalities that have occurred in the park.  He does do a breakdown of the deadliest years, places, and causes of death in the park.

Actually, after reading the book, I do feel that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a fairly safe place.  If you are careful, you really have little to fear (only ONE fatality by bear attack has ever occurred in the park).

The author does note at the beginning of the book that it was in production while the 2016 fires were occurring.  He suggests that he may cover that in a future volume.  I would like to see future volumes, as Brill has covered his topic thoroughly.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Gatlinburg Tennessee

We are getting to where we have to make it to the Gatlinburg area at least a time or two each year.  We love this place.

I am starting to realize that there are certain things I REALLY like doing in the area.  I like trying new things, but there are just so many things that I would feel bad if I missed.

There are a few things we have had to cut out too as time has gone by.  I LOVE the AA ballpark in Kodak.  As a fan of baseball, this is simply one of the best places to catch a game period.  However, as I have gotten older, and I am not as into baseball as I used to be...  we have stopped making a pilgrimage to see the Smokies each season.  Plus, attending a baseball game can really eat into time that can be used to take in more things while in the area.  Especially this area.

One thing that is a must in the area though, is walking the strip in Gatlinburg- seeing whats new.

There is a new ski lift operation, taking people up to another level of Gatlinburg.  That kind of makes 3 businesses doing a similar thing in town.

There are still lots of Moonshine places.  Looked like there were some impressive crowds there for tastings.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Smoky Mountain Knife Works in Sevierville Tennessee

Smoky Mountain Knife Works in Sevierville is simply one of the coolest stores on the planet.

I have mentioned it before, but this is just a great place.  Four of us went in, and we all ended up buying something cool.  My pal Mark found a good deal on some nice binoculars, my wife found a pie pan, and I bought a lot of stuff in the relic room.

This is another place in the area that I have to stop at when I am nearby.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Old Mill Pottery House Cafe & Grille in Pigeon Forge Tennessee

The Old Mill Pottery House CafĂ© has become a MUST VISIT whenever we are in the Pigeon Forge area.  We took some friends who had never been there with us this time, and they also loved it.

They have great food, and they are one of the more reasonably priced places in the area. 

Again, I have gone on and on about this restaurant in the past, but it is one of my all time favorite places to eat anywhere.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Holston's kitchen- Sevierville Tennessee

Holston's Kitchen was recommended by Berry Springs Lodge.  It wasn't far from Berry Springs, so we decided to check it out.  This was our first visit to this nice restaurant.

This was a great recommendation.  Like I said before, we have found some places in the area that we REALLY like, and trying something new can be so hit or miss.

I know I didn't take the best pictures of what we had in the dim light of the restaurant, but our meals were delicious.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Burg Coffee in Gatlinbrug, TN

I wanted to give a quick mention to Burg Coffees in Gatlinburg.  We were able to get some tasty drinks here and they actually had a bit of a seating area, so we were able to take a nice break while we walked around the strip in Gatlinburg.

I know that some chain stores have been sneaking in to Gatlinburg....  including a chain coffee place, but it was nice to find this quality local place!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Berry Springs Lodge, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

I mentioned our first stay at Berry Springs Lodge about a year ago.....  Well, we enjoyed our stay so much that we wanted to stay there again on this trip.

As soon as we arrived, we had that, "man, it is nice to be here again" feeling.  It was great coming back to spend some more time at a place we like so much.  AND we even had the same room!

The Lodge still seemed very familiar, though they have made a couple of small changes we noticed.  We did see some posts going up the driveway made to hold lanterns.  Actually, during this stay, they would add lanterns for light to these posts.  Also, some very cute wooden animals had been added to the poles.

Our experience here this time was almost identical to last time, which was exactly what we wanted.

We again had excellent breakfasts in the morning and desserts in the evenings.  The thing we enjoyed most was simply setting at the back porch and relaxing.  We made a point to spend a few hours each day on the porch with a book.

On this visit, the Lodge was mostly occupied by a group of people who graduated from a local high school in 1961!  This fairly large group actually gets together YEARLY.  For a group of people in their 70s, this was a youthful, lively bunch.

The class of 61 was a fun group, and we ended up spending some time talking to several of them.  One brought some delicious fudge he made, and he shared it with us.  This was actually a very nice group to share the Berry Spring Lodge with while we were there.


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Buckhorn Inn- Gatlinburg Tennessee

In 2016, we were able to spend a few nights at the very relaxing Buckhorn Inn in Gatlinburg.

This is another great place to stay while you are in the Great Smoky Mountains.  One thing that they offer that many other B&Bs in the area don't offer is an amazing dinner each evening.

The evening meal is not included in your stay at the Buckhorn, and you don't have to be a guest to indulge in this.

I think it is currently around $40 a person to do their dinner, and it starts at a set time (7pm).  There is no menu to order from.  This is pretty standardized, though they did provide a chicken substitute for my wife who does not eat fish (the substitution must be requested in advance).

We actually called about getting a dinner reservation several days before our trip, but they were full.  We asked to be put on a wait list just incase someone cancelled.  Well, we felt very lucky when we were called around lunch time on Friday and told that we could come by that evening!

This is a very nice place to go in Gatlinburg.  It is not uppity (with no real plans for dinner before driving up, I wore jeans and a t-shirt...  I felt underdressed for sure, but the Buckhorn assured me this was no issue).

The four-course dinner is so pleasant.  I loved everything.  Here is the menu from the night we were there:

Grilled Atlantic Salmon with Black Bean Puree and Avocado Salsa
Spring Harvest Blend and Organic Green Beans
Paella Soup
House Salad with Homemade Salad Dressing
Strawberry Cake

I can honestly say that some of the tastiest food I have ever had has been at the Buckhorn Inn.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

"Bear in the Backseat II: Adventures of a Wildlife Ranger" by Kim DeLozier and Carolyn Jourdan

I read "Bear in the Backseat" by Kim DeLozier and Carolyn Jourdan last year while we were hanging out in the Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg.  I found out that the authors put out a follow up to this fun book!  I figured I should read that one to go along with another trip to the Smoky Mountains/Gatlinburg area!

Just like the first collection of stories from Kim DeLozier, this volume contains more simple, easy to read stories from Kim about his time as a ranger in the Smoky Mountains.

AND, that's what I really like about these books.  It is packed with short stories that any one will enjoy- young readers, old readers, etc.  Plus, there are a lot of stories. 

Hey, remember that time that an unconscious bear woke up in the back seat of your car?  What about the time your buddy thought he had absorbed a drug 10,000 times more potent than morphine through his skin?  Or, that time you got into a fight with a wild boar while a TV crew from CNN taped the whole thing?  Of course you don't remember anything like that happening to you...  It only happens to rangers like Kim DeLozier!  He covers those kind of stories in his book!

AND, just like in the first volume, there are lots of bear stories.  He is big on elk in this one too, which I thought was pretty cool.  He mentions one of my other all time favorite parks (Land Between the Lakes) as elk from LBL are transported to and tracked through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Elk are big critters, and can cause a lot of issues in a park!  Kim includes a VERY touching story about a mother elk and her struggles with motherhood.

This book, along with the first volume, is the perfect thing to take along on your trip to the Smoky Mountains, or to read before you venture out to help get you excited about the journey.  It gets my highest possible recommendation.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Buffalo in the Great Smoky Mountains

We passed by an area with some buffalo while we were in the Smoky Mountains!  They are fenced in, and at a distance, but it was still nice stopping briefly to admire them.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee

We are getting to where we have to make it to the Smoky Mountains area at least a couple of times a year.  We can't get enough of it.

We are getting into a thing too, where, there are some very specific things we like to do while we are there.  There are a LOT of things we have never done, and we want to do at some point....  but there are those things we look forward to doing again.  It creates a bit of a dilemma- are we doing the things we know we love to do, or are we trying something new?

We ended up going on this trip with another couple who hadn't been to the area in some time, so I think they enjoyed us taking them to the places we had gone to before.  The places were new to them, and safe bets for us.

We did try a few new things.  We had lunch at the newer restaurant, The Local Goat...  it's gotten some good reviews.  We weren't impressed though.  It was OK, but not great. 

We did try the Holston Kitchen, and we loved that place.  More on it later.

Otherwise, we pretty much stuck to the safe bets.

We did get to spend some quality time actually driving and walking around the park this time, and that was nice.  I know on our last trip I felt like a lot of the burn scars from the 2016 fire were starting to look better.  Well, on this trip, it just didn't.  We noticed a lot of burned areas.  I think, on this trip, we actually got a little deeper into the park and you could really see burned patched here and there.  That fire really did some jumping!

We again stayed at the Berry Springs Inn, which has become our favorite Inn- not just in Tennessee.  Its our favorite place to stay and I think we will always look forward to getting back to this great place.

BUT, we really like the Buckhorn Inn too.  Both are great, relaxing places to stay in the Smoky Mountains.  Luckily, we were able to enjoy time at both places by having dinner at the Buckhorn Inn one evening.

We heard some owls, saw lots of birds....  but I have still never seen a bear here.  This really bothers me, as a pal of mine says he has seen AT LEAST ONE on all of his trips to the area.

We spent some time on the strip in Gatlinburg, which is fun, but I think we spend less time there on each trip.  I do enjoy it a lot, but I feel the need to do more stuff away from that area each time.

Whatever you do in this area...  its gonna be fun.  I think of my trips here as very relaxing!