Smoky Mountain Park Views

Autumn Panorama

Have you seen the view of the trees during leaf season in Smoky Mountain National Park? If you have, lucky you, the colors as you know are beautiful and vibrant.  The changing leaf color continues for a month starting in early October at the top elevations and working its way down the mountain to the lowest elevations in late October/early November.  It is a gorgeous time of year to be in the mountains .

Autumn view from Black Bear Falls

Grotto Falls Hike in Autumn

If you haven’t had the good fortune to experience Leaf Season in the Smokies you can see it from the comfort of your chair via these National Park sponsored webcams.  Enjoy!

Look Rock Camera

Purchase Knob Camera

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Marry me?

I’ve heard that Gatlinburg as a wedding location is second only to Las Vegas.  And I wouldn’t doubt it with the number of chapels in the area.  You see them on the main roads and the back roads.  Some are really fancy, and others are simple little chapels.  Some couples get married on a mountain or in a vacation cabin.

In addition to the number of chapels as proof you can always spot newly-wedded couples by the congratulatory messages painted on their car windows.  Lots of the stores have trinkets and treasures geared to the honeymooners as well.  The local salons cater some of their services to brides and the bridal party.  There is a huge bridal store on the main road into Gatlinburg, and there are even bridal shops where you can rent gowns, tuxes, and whatever else you may need!

One must admit The Smoky Mountains as a wedding venue is beautiful, and what better place to profess your love and begin a lifetime with the one you love than in the mountains?  Need to convince your intended to marry you in the Smoky Mountains?  Perhaps the links below will help.

Gatlinburg Weddings
Jim Eastin Weddings
Start planning your wedding here
Stuff to know about getting married in TN
Wedding Deals

Moonshine in the Smoky Mountains

How much do you know about moonshine in the Smoky Mountains?  Did you know that NASCAR was borne from moonshine runners?  I don’t claim to be either a NASCAR or Moonshine expert, but I’ve read enough about both of them to understand the connection.

Apparently the hills of Tennessee and North Carolina were home to many moonshiners.  The mountains provided a refuge that was difficult for law enforcement to maneuver, but easy for the shiners to navigate to transport their corn whiskey.  As the cops got better at finding and chasing the shiners, the shiners souped up their cars to outrun the law.  Read about Moonshine Runners & Cars for stories right from the runners and their relatives.

So when you visit Gatlinburg make a stop at Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery in downtown Gatlinburg where you can read all about the history of moon-shining in Tennessee and the surrounding mountains, and have samples of moonshine.  But be sure to bring a designated driver!

Art School in Gatlinburg – Who Knew?

There is an art school in downtown Gatlinburg, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts.  The school is located on the parkway at stop light #5, on the left.  The school curriculum provides in -residence workshops one to two weeks in length, and night classes in the cold winter months.  I’ve not taken any of the courses but I will if I ever get to retire in Tennessee as planned!

English: The main entrance to the Arrowmont Sc...

The main entrance to the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts along the Parkway in the U.S. city of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’ve been to Arrowmont for a fundraising event.  Every fall they host the “Souper Bowl” to raise funds for the school.  For 25 bucks we got to pick a hand crafted bowl from a table of student designs and could fill it up as many times as we wanted with homemade soups and breads.  We sat on rickety old chairs at long cafeteria tables with people we didn’t know, and had a really great time.  We got there a bit late but had pre-purchased tickets so we weren’t concerned about securing a spot. Apparently there is a line out the door an hour before they open to make sure the best bowl is available for the picking!

Labor Day weekend is also eventful at Arrowmont.  This year is the 8th Annual Gatlinburg Fine Arts Festival at Arrowmont, August 31 to September 2nd.  Admission is free and there is ample room on the campus for the artists to display their wares and mountain musicians to entertain.  There will be demonstrations and an area for the kids to express their inner artist.

If you can’t make it to the Labor Day weekend festivities you can attend other events or tour the galleries any time of year.

Have you ever taken a class at Arrowmont?  Or would you like to?  Tell us about it…

Art in the Smokies

There are a number of art galleries in Gatlinburg, most of which are on the Arts & Crafts eight-mile loop in Gatlinburg.  Two of my favorites are Jim Gray Gallery, which also has a store in Pigeon Forge, and The Paul Murray Gallery.

Paul Murray Gallery

Aunt Emily

Paul Murray is my absolute favorite Smoky Mountain artist. Paul Murray spent part of his early life in the deep mountains and captures the essence of what the mountain people represent; simplicity and joy. He uses pencil, watercolor, oil and pastels. His art can be very haunting like this pencil sketch of Aunt Emily, but there is no other artist’s work I’ve seen that captures the essence of people as much as Paul Murray’s.

The best part of seeing Paul Murray’s art however is experiencing his ‘gallery’. You’ll find it on Glades Rd. Look for the old house with the dilapidated porch. Don’t be afraid to go in, you’ll experience not only the art, but have a better idea of the simple way of life of these mountain people.

Jim Gray Gallery

Jim Gray gallery is also found on the eight-mile loop that begins on Glades Rd. and is part of the Arts community. In addition to his own work Jim features the art of family members and other artists as well. Jim Gray paints watercolors of a lot of different subjects. Of course my favorites are paintings of the Smoky Mountains.

I love his water colors of the Smokies. He is really able to evoke the feelings you get when you are touring in the park or experiencing a stay in the mountains. There is nothing like waking up to seeing the ‘smoke’ in the mountains, and Jim captures this beautifully.

Useful Links:
http://www.paulmurray.com/gallery_appalachia.html#1018
http://jimgraygallery.com/
http://www.gatlinburgcrafts.com/map.html


Tulip Trees and Photography

Tulip Tree off the front porch of Southern Serenity

We attended “Taking Better Photos” which is a photography class conducted by Jim Eastin – it was fabulous!!  All 6 of our group loved the class and we definitely learned a lot about how to get more from our cameras.  In addition to the tips about photography Jim fills you in on Park history and the local flora and fauna.

Turns out we have Tulip trees right off the front porch of Southern Serenity.  Tulip trees grow very tall, the tallest in the eastern US.  The tallest recorded is 179 feet.  These trees  were important to the Smoky Mountain settlers, they provided long, straight trunks to use for milling the lumber that would create their homes and farm buildings.  You may know them as some kind of poplar, but I will forever remember them as Tulip trees now.

Take the photo class, it’s worth every penny.  And remember to seek out these majestic trees and appreciate their role in local history when you hike the Smoky Mountains.

Missing Tennessee

Right now I’m missing my adopted home state of Tennessee.  I really love Gatlinburg and all the things you can do in the area, and I love that if I don’t want to do any of those things, I can just sit in my cabin and enjoy it.

I’ll be there soon enough as I have a vacation planned with some friends, but I must admit I’m really anxious to get to Tennessee.  Today I was talking to some friends and one of them has been to the Smoky Mountains so we got to talking about the Park and all the cool things to do and see.  Big mistake on my part, now I’m missing Tennessee.  😦

Find this on the Roaring Forks Motor Nature Trail