Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Little Southern Americana

Traveling through the Southern Appalachian area of North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia, and  driving through the back roads and small towns in these states, I was reminded of the word, "Americana."  

To me, that term is appropriate to describe American culture in many forms,  but most often I think of that word describing the more simple and charming aspects of American life.

It was so much fun for me to take my camera and try to capture some of the flavor of what I call Americana.

A foggy mountain top, outhouse and hay bales in a field outside of Townsend, Tennessee

Turning around and looking in the opposite direction I spotted this field of Goldenrod still in bloom.

The Heartland Little River Wedding Chapel
7765 River Road
Townsend, Tennessee

What a charming little chapel.

Entrance into Blackberry Farm Hotel
A 4,200-acre Luxury Hotel
Walland, Tennessee

Guests of the Blackberry Farm Hotel touring the property.

Walnut tree.

Have you ever seen a Walnut Tree?  When my husband and I spotted this tree,  at first we thought it was a lemon or possibly even an apple tree.

While I was trying to get a picture of this unusual tree,  a lady and her two children walked by where we had parked the car.  My husband asked her if she knew what kind of tree this was.   She told him that it was a Walnut Tree.

According to Mr. Google walnut trees grow well in hardiness zones 5 through 9.

We live in hardiness zone 8, but I have never seen one in our area.

Fall photo at the mountain cabin.

Mountain view from the front porch of the cabin.

A view above the clouds from the front porch.

Sugar Maple leaves in the mountains.

Hard to spot our mountain cabin in the middle of nowhere,
located in the second mountain range,  to the right.
You can barely see a little white dot which would be the tin roof.

McGuire Valley in Robbinsville, North Carolina

Hunting Boy Wood Carving in Robbinsville, North Carolina

A carved horse with wooden wagon all decorated for Fall.

Chainsaw art.

This chainsaw wood carved chicken was almost life-like.

Carved wooden statues.

There are many Cherokee Indians living in and around Robbinsville, North Carolina.  This particular woodcarver is one of the Cherokee Indians living in this area.  He told us he worked at a lumber mill for many years and then one day discovered he had a wood-carving chainsaw art talent. 

In the below photo we see an owl wood carving in progress.

Historic Episcopal Church of the Messiah
Established between 1896-1897.
Murphy, North Carolina

Pretty Fall decorations on the door.

A lovely stained glass window in this old historic church.

A charming old home in Blue Ridge, Georgia
Blue Ridge, Georgia is considered the Antique Capital of Georgia.

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
Blue Ridge, Georgia

We ended the back roads portion of our trip in Blue Ridge.  We traveled on the Interstates through Atlanta and continued on back home.

It is so much fun trying to capture the beauty all around us with my camera and never knowing what we might spot just around the bend.

I'm so glad you traveled along with us and wish you a very nice weekend.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Week in Tallahassee

Even though it was raining yesterday,  I just had to get my umbrella, grab my camera and walk around the yard trying to capture some of the beautiful Fall leaves of these colorful Japanese Maple and Ornamental Pear trees. These were planted by my husband many years ago.

There is more extreme cold weather in the not too distant forecast,  and before too long the trees will be totally bare,  and sleeping for the long winter.

Living in North Florida just about 10 miles from the Georgia line, we definitely experience a change of seasons.

 In this photo you can see a little fog in the air from the rain.

It would have been nice to have had more time today to capture more colorful photos around town, but today was the day to take care of Thanksgiving errands.  I showed you some of the trees in town a few posts ago, but now the trees are even more colorful. 

There was a Holiday feeling in the air as I drove to take care of my errands.  While visiting the grocery store, shopping for Thanksgiving Day dinner, the shoppers were almost elbow to elbow.  When we drove out to Costco it was the same way.  I am always amazed at the availability of all the wonderful food choices in all of the grocery stores.

In the below photo you can see the rain water glistening on the colorful leaves.

Tallahassee is a fun town during the holidays.  Thanksgiving Day begins early with what we call the "Turkey Trot."   This will be the 39th year the city has sponsored this fun run.  Last year 5,000 runners finished the race.  Nine members of our family were there and crossed that finish line. 

No, I did not run with them.  I was home cooking and when they finished the race they returned home to help me with the cooking.

For those folks who may not have family in town, have resource problems,  or for whatever reason will not be having Thanksgiving dinner at home,  there are so many places in Tallahassee where they can have a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner absolutely free.

I saw where the Salvation Army will be serving Thanksgiving Dinner as usual this year.  Also, the local American Legion say they usually serve between 800-1300 folks each year.  Dinner is free.

Many churches in town will be serving Thanksgiving meals as well.  Our church collects food donations from the church community.  Then a  group of members get busy and put together several hundred "Meals on Wheels" dinners.  Additional members from the church deliver these meals to many who may not be able to do for themselves.

 I'm so glad to know that not one family in town must do without Thanksgiving dinner.

An then, the icing on the cake for the little ones in the family, and the big ones too on Thanksgiving Day,  is watching the wonderful Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, live on the ABC television network.

Did you ever see the movie Miracle on 34th Street?  It is an extremely old movie, but if you have never seen it, it really is worth watching.  It was filmed in New York City and is a wonderful story about a little girl who does not believe in Santa.  Part of the story includes the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Great Movie!  It is still available at Amazon and if you are interested you can find out more by clicking on the below link:

For the sports enthusiasts in the family on Thanksgiving Day there will be lots of football to watch on TV later in the day.

It should be a very nice Thanksgiving week here in Tallahassee.  And, of course, we hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with lots of turkey and pumpkin pie and everything else you enjoy,  wherever you may be.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Drive Through Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

Every October we travel to the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee.  We love to watch Mother Nature at work as she turns the mountainsides from a lush green to a spectacular Fall flush of oranges, yellows and reds.  To accompany all of this beauty there is a fresh, invigorating and cool crispness in the air that is beyond comparison.

One of our favorite places to visit in the mountains is the resort city of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. In October the main street of downtown Gatlinburg is elbow to elbow with visitors. There are many hotels, restaurants, game arcades, gift shops, fudge shops and candy stores, a Karmelkorn shop, other snack shops and much more.  There is even a haunted house to visit and a wax museum.  

For the ladies there is a wonderful shop called Mr. Tablecloth and More.  If you would like to know more about this shop you can check out a previous Sweet Southern Days blog post below:

The hustle and bustle of Gatlinburg is fun and exciting, but if you would like a change of pace,  you can turn East at traffic light #8,  on the main street,  and follow the signs to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail,  which is only one mile from Gatlinburg.

The narrow, winding, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a good way to slow your pace.   You can enjoy the beauty of the forest, see an amazingly beautiful creek, and visit several old well-preserved historic pioneer homesteads along the way.

The Motor Nature Trail is a 5.5-mile-long, one-way, scenic loop road.  If you enjoy hiking there are some very scenic hiking trails along the way including a hike to the very beautiful Rainbow Falls.

In the below photo you can see the narrow, one-way roadway with a speed limit of only 10 miles per hour.  The drive is so beautiful and picturesque you really do not want to travel any faster than this required speed limit.

Along the way there are a couple of pull-off parking spots as in the below photo where you can park your car and walk to see the spectacular views of the mountains.

Noah and Cindy Ogle Cabin

The first old homestead we saw along the way was located two miles before the actual entrance to the Motor Trail.   This log home is one of several along this route.

The Ogle family was one of the first to settle in the backwoods of what is now called Gatlinburg.

Noah "Bud" Ogle and his bride, Cindy, started out on this farm of 400 acres in 1879. This is an extremely rocky area and they were told the land was "not fit for farming."

How nice to have a "picture window" even back then!

Using my imagination I can see the whole family huddled all around this fireplace.

As seen in the below photo we see a long back porch.  We were told that clothing, children's faces and many other things were scrubbed on the back porch of this house.   I'm sure this was a wonderful place to be in the Spring and Summer.

The early log homes were constructed from oak, maple, ash, cedar and pine. According to what I can find out from Mr. Google, log homes have been built in North America for over 500 years.  Even the Pilgrims lived in log houses when they first came to America.

The Ogle family made a living here for many years.  The woods have reclaimed much of the farmland, but using your imagination you can see the apple and plum trees the family grew close to the house.  Looking past the fruit trees you can see a pasture with some cows and probably some horses.

Downhill a few yards you could see the hog pens.  Close by, the vegetables were growing in the garden, and were handy to the kitchen.  There were also bees darting about busy manufacturing the favorite mountain sweetener.

On the way to the garden you could see the crib full of dried corn and the chickens walking around.

If you come out the front door of the cabin, and look up the hill to your right, you see the family barn.  The barn was the main activity center of the farm.  The tools of living - plows, harness, hoes and rakes, harrows and saws were all stored in the barn.  The upstairs loft was a good place to store hay for the animals.  The open spot in the middle, which you can barely see, was a good place to store their wagon.

We continued on our way along the Motor Trail. As we drove along I looked for wild creatures to come hopping out of the woods at any moment, but they had other things to do on this day.  We did not even see a squirrel.  

When we got out of the car to see the beautiful mountain views off in the distance I spotted these acorns all over the ground.  Possibly one day one of them will be a huge oak tree.

Another pretty mountain view.

In the below photo we see the exuberant Roaring Fork mountain stream that gave this area it's unusual name.  Roaring Fork is one of the faster flowing mountains streams in the area.  We will see more photos of this beautiful mountain stream as we travel on our way along the Trail.

It was not long before we came upon another well-preserved historical log homestead.  
The Bales family settled in the Roaring Fork area sometime in the 1830s.

Ephriam and Minerva Bales Place

I loved the beautiful artwork of this old chimney, and the old wooden 
hand-made shingles for the roofing.

Can you believe Ephraim and Minerva Bales lived in this little cabin with their 'nine' children.  The Bales family owned 72 acres here.  They farmed 30 acres and the rest remained wooded.  They say this was like many other farms along the Roaring Fork, where families scratched out a hard living from a very rocky land.

This area along Roaring Fork is considered a Historic District and 
was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

We drove along beside or passed over the Roaring Fork stream 
many times along the Motor Nature Trail.

As we drove along the rain began and the stream became true to it's name.

In the below photo, off to the right, you can see the roadway beside the creek.  

In the below photo we see what is referred to as a tub-mill.  During this time period, there were several of these tub-mills in operation along the creek.  They were used to harness the power of Roaring Fork to grind corn into meal.

Another cabin along the way.

An inside look at this old cabin.

In the early days, traditional fencing material in the Smoky Mountains were rails split from a rot-resistant hardwood,  such as chestnut or yellow locust.  After the logs were split these fences were very easy to construct,  and they lasted a long time.

Cabin corners were often set on large stones.  From what I can find out,  cabins were set on these foundations to keep them out of damp soil, but also to allow for storage space.

How fortunate we are,  so many years later,  to be able to get a glimpse back in time to what life must have been like for these early pioneers.  It must have been a very difficult life in many respects, but then too, it must have been so peaceful in many ways.  How life had changed since then!

This peaceful and beautiful drive is closed for the Winter season beginning December 1st and will not open again until mid-March.

We enjoyed having you drive along with us stepping back in time to see how our mountain forefathers lived in  this beautiful Southern Appalachian area of the United States.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend and a fun beginning of Thanksgiving week.